Early in recovery I figured out fast that an addict has absolutely no problem calling a fellow addict out on their stuff. It’s not considered rude. It can be lifesaving. Addicts are the world’s best at hiding what they are going through. What you (as a non-addict) think you know about one, you may be lucky if you know 1/3 of what is really going on. We are masters at deception. Honestly, chances are the people who are with you day in and day out don’t know what is truly happening inside your mind or heart.
There was a guy in recovery that I had an incredible knack for getting under my skin. (The bonus was I got under his skin just as much.) He knew exactly when to call bullshit on me (and did) and I knew when to call it on him (and did). It was a weird relationship. We could piss each other off like no one else could but we depended on each other early a lot.
I knew if I even tried to cover up a real emotion, a real frustration or (heaven forbid) said I was fine, I knew without a doubt I would get bullshit called on me in no uncertain terms. It kept it real. It kept me from slipping. It kept me accountable not only to staying clean but to staying real.
About 3 months into my recovery, he called me. He wanted me to meet him at a bar near where I lived. He was there alone and had “scored” so he wanted to be safe and possibly enjoy one last time together.
One last time.
It scared me unlike anything I had every experienced during recovery. I called bullshit on his attitude. I begged him to get a cab to my house or a meeting and I would pay for it. I kept him on the line while I called his sponsor. I had to get someone to that bar to get him. I just knew it couldn’t be me. I wasn’t ready for that. Not one on one with that one last time right there for the taking.
After a while of begging me to come see him, he realized I wouldn’t. He told me he’d see me in a meeting that night of the next day but he just had to do this. He was losing his mind and he knew if he just did it just one more time he would feel better and be able to work harder and move on.
I called bullshit.
Because that thinking is total bullshit.
He lashed out a bit at me when I called him on it and told him he was justifying throwing away hard work. I asked him not to do it for his kid. I asked him not to do it for me. I begged him not to do it for himself.
His sponsor got to the bar after my friend left. I went to 2 meetings that night. I went to 3 the next day. I hung out at our home group so often, they thought I moved in. He didn’t meet me at a meeting.
Every addict I know has that tickle in the back of their brain that is always there- “One more time“….”It’ll be just a quick fix!”….”Just once more“…”One last time to remember” and mostly “I just don’t want to feel this way – for just a little while.” That tickle sometimes becomes a sucker punch to the gut.
I’ll be raw and honest and tell you that there have been times, even after a decade clean, where I have jonsed so badly I would pace the halls and scratch my arms until they bled. I paced. I rocked. I walked. I hit things. I threw things. I exercised. I ate. Nothing shuts that damn voice up. Being around supportive people makes it smaller and more insignificant. Talking to a sponsor or someone in the program makes it easier to deal with and push so far back you can hardly hear it. (But it sits and waits until you are just weak enough to listen to it.)
I wish the voice didn’t exist but when things are bad or you feel alone or you are hurting, it’s there waiting.
I never saw my friend again. I try to believe that he was embarrassed by what happened and went to another home group to get clean again. I try to convince myself he got help and moved to find a new environment. I’ve looked on Facebook and Google but I haven’t found him there either.
The one thought I don’t want to have is that his one last time really was his one last time.
If you’re in recovery and are now clean or sober, you’ve had your one last drink or drug already. You’ve already had it. You don’t get another one last time. You Do Not Get It. Ever. When you realize that, you find strength.
And then, when the voice tickles the back of your brain, you can call bullshit.