I am posting this now that I'm lying in bed and ready to turn out the light, thus I can be virtually certain I will be waking up sober tomorrow. I didn't wait until now because I think that luck and superstition have been integral in keeping me sober for the last three years. I don't. I do, however, think being arrogant and cavalier about my sobriety is a great way to lose it. So, I decided not to jump the gun, even though I had no plans and knew I would be presented with no opportunities to get drunk or high tonight.
Each year, as the day approaches I reflect back on the things that happened in the days (and weeks) leading up to it. Since now I have a blog, I decided to reflect in writing.
I've said it a million times, but I had no intention of staying sober. I simply wanted to get myself back together so I could start making money again. It may surprise you to learn this, but it's hard to do any job -- even drug dealing -- when you are psychotic and paranoid 24 hours a day. So my plan was to fix that problem and get back to work.
On August 26, 2007 I had 62 days off of crystal meth. But only crystal meth. Since that was my problem, I reasoned that as long as I didn't do that, everything else was fair game. There was Ecstasy on the 4th of July, beer three or four nights a week, pot a couple of times (but that really ramped up the paranoia so I backed off of that quickly) and one really ridiculous afternoon of GHB. In fact, that GHB incident -- which occurred two weeks prior -- probably was one of the things that finally got me thinking maybe my problem wasn't just crystal.
The day that I started outpatient rehab in June, I went online and bought tickets to see Paul vanDyk in Central Park on August 11. Then I called a drug dealer friend of mine that lived in San Diego and told him to make plans to come out to NYC and go with me to the concert. When you have no intention of actually staying sober, it makes perfect sense to keep in close contact with possible future connections.
When the day came, we headed out to the park several hours in advance to lie out in the sun before going to the concert. I had been holding on to a bottle of GHB -- for those of you that don't know what it is Google it -- that I absolutely should have gotten rid of when I threw out the crystal paraphernalia but I had convinced myself that it would be a shame to waste it. Ostensibly I was going to give it to someone, but since I wasn't hanging out with the people I used to do meth with I didn't know that many people that might appreciate the gift. Now seemed like as good a time as any to break it out.
We bought some Red Bull to pour it into and headed to the park. In combination with crystal, GHB can create a loopy, euphoric feeling that is a lot like being drunk. Without the amphetamine kick, it's just a really powerful depressant -- a dose of GHB might be the equivalent of six to eight drinks. It's also really easy to overdose on, so you have to be very careful about how much you're doing.
For whatever reason, the first dose took way longer to affect me than usual. So much so that I assumed I hadn't taken enough and did some more. And then a little more. And, what the hell, why not just a little bit more. All of this while baking in the August sun in the middle of the park.
When it was time to head over to where PvD was spinning, we got up and started staggering across the park. It only took about five minutes before it all hit me like a ton of bricks. I told my friend I had to sit down for a minute. And then, proceeded to vomit seven times and pass out in the middle of the park for almost three hours. Just lying there in the middle of Central Park, unconscious. Pretty. When I woke up, I had no idea where my friend was (and only a vague recollection of where I was). While I was still trying to figure it all out, he staggered out from behind a tree. Apparently he had passed out almost immediately after I did.
We decided to put that behind us and head over to the concert, but the day/night was completely ruined. We lasted about 20 minutes before we both had to admit we felt awful and had to go home. Now, this was something I'd been looking forward to all summer. In fact, the Paul vanDyk concert in Central Park was the highlight of just about every summer I'd live in NYC up to that point. So, when I realized that I couldn't even do something I loved without completely destroying it with drugs it put just a small dent in my shield of denial.
Fast forward two weeks. Another drug dealer friend (in hindsight, I can see how I could have been trying a little bit harder) asked me to cat sit for him while he was out of town -- a business trip for his real job. As an aside, I have to say always really admired this guy for being able to hang on to his regular job while dabbling in dealing drugs. Once I got a taste of the money and the lifestyle, it was impossible for me to do anything as mundane and monotonous as a day job. The funny thing about that is that 80 percent of everything I did when I was high was mundane and monotonous.
Anyway, he was going off to woo clients or sell the next big idea or whatever it was he did (he explained it a million times, but I was always high so I had no clue what he was saying). And I was watching his cat. Oh, and delivering a few packages to some of his good customers that would need to be dealt with while he was gone.
Yummm. This disaster is delicious. I MUST have your recipe.
Now, because I was so committed to staying sober, I barricaded the closet where most of the crystal (there was a lot) was so I wouldn't be able to get to it easily. Then I went to clean his kitchen. I'm such a good friend. Almost immediately, I found a small bag of crystal under the toaster oven. Hmm. Whatever should I do with this? I'll just put it on the mantle and forget about it. Uh huh.
That night I went to a meeting. And didn't bother to mention that I was cat sitting for a drug dealer, let alone that I'd found a bag of crystal that didn't have to be accounted for when he returned. And I went back to his place that night and went to sleep.
Because I was able to get through the night without using it, I was feeling really cocky. So, I went to another meeting and, again, didn’t mention anything about it. Why should I? I had it all under control. Meanwhile, I knew all along that I was going to use it at some point. I still had seven more days before he got back. Even I couldn't deny how astronomical those odds were.
So, the evening of August 26, I went to a meeting and babbled like a crazy person about how I was afraid I might relapse and I didn't know what to do. Except I still didn't mention the bag of crystal sitting on the mantle (or any of the other information that might have helped people understand why I was afraid I might relapse).
So, after the meeting I went to the tobacco store and bought a pipe. And I went back to his apartment. Since I didn't want to call any of the people I used to use with (because I'd told them all I quit using), I sat in his apartment. By myself and pathetic, I started smoking. Almost immediately, the paranoia and the voices went from five on a scale of ten to about 15. I was so terrified that I spent the next five hours sitting there, wanting to smoke more but certain that as soon as I did the police were going to burst through the door and arrest me. So I just sat and trembled.
At about 5 am, something amazing happened. Now usually, after a terrifying night of paranoia, upon seeing the sun start to rise I'd get a renewed confidence. I'm fine. I can do this. I was just being silly. But not this morning. I sat there and for the first time, I thought, "If this wasn't fun on Sunday night, how is it possibly going to be fun on Monday morning." And then, I realized it hadn't been fun for a really long time. And it probably wasn't ever going to be fun again.
And I took the bag and the pipe and I headed to my outpatient program. When I got there, I just handed them to one of the counselors and said, "I really think I'm done."
And then I started doing the work required to make sure I stayed done. Three years later and I think that might be the only decision in my life that I have never second-guessed. I'm not saying I've never thought about using again. But I've never once thought my life would be better if I hadn't made that choice that morning.
I'm really grateful for the new life I've gotten over the past three years. I'm not one of those people that thinks gratitude is about being thankful for every second, no matter how good or bad. My life isn't perfect. I can think of a few things right off the top of my head that I'd gladly trade.
For me, gratitude is about being thankful that no matter how good or bad something is, I can learn from the experience and become better from it tomorrow. When I was high, things just kept getting worse and worse and I had no idea how to fix any of it. Today, I have a chance and the tools to make tomorrow just a little bit better than today. The chance to be (as we say) Joyous, Happy and Free. How could I want anything more than that?