Well, I made it. Four years sober today. For those of you that haven’t dealt with addiction personally, it hard to explain what the milestones feel like. They are at the same time no big deal and an incredible miracle. If you had told me four years and one day ago that this day would come, I’d have laughed at you. Hell, if you had told me I’d make it six months at that point I’d have thought you were insane. But being here now, it feels perfectly normal. I won’t tell you that I wouldn’t like to have enough money that 20-dollar bills would start flying out of my pant legs again, but I can’t imagine what it would take for me to really ever want that life again.
I wrote the first Milestones post a couple weeks ago and it got a bit longer than I expected. So as promised, here is part two.
The voices were almost as crazy as I was. They would be incredibly cruel one minute – like when I heard one said, “Oh my God. He just shit himself” (I hadn't, but that certainly sent me scrambling for the nearest Starbucks' bathroom) – and yet there was an underlying concern for my wellbeing – at least one of them was in a total state of hysterics when I was sitting on the edge of the east side highway trying to get the nerve to drop myself into traffic.
Occasionally I’d really piss them off for reasons that I thought were completely random. I figured out that I could really piss off the voice I hated the most by referring to anything as “retarded.” It completely sent her into a rage. Even now, I’m not sure what part of my brain hates that so much. Don’t misunderstand, I get why it’s offensive. But for me, since I used it in the same exact way I’d use the phrase “that’s so gay”, I’m not sure why my unconscious brain hates one and not the other.
Something else that would send her into a rage was Belinda Carlisle. She hated Belinda. I can only assume that was my internalized self-loathing because I can assure you there isn’t one fiber of my conscious being that feels anything but unconditional love for her. There was other music that she disapproved of too and whenever an offending tune would play on my iPod (which I wore constantly to try to drown out the constant chatter – to no avail), there would be a power struggle where she would talk louder and I would turn the volume up until it was at its max. If that didn’t work, I’d sometime resort to starting the song over so I could hear it. It’s hard to win a battle of stubborn will with yourself.
On this one particular morning I was walking around lower Manhattan waiting for it to be 9 am so I could start calling rehab centers (so it must have been close to the beginning of the first beginning of the end) when Mad About You came on. Now I could listen to MAY on repeat for about four days straight before I’d get sick of it, so I don’t know why anyone (even me) would try to stop me from hearing it once and moving on. But off to the races she went, calling Belinda talentless and saying I only liked her because she was a drug addict just like me. I don’t know why what I said came out of my mouth or why I thought it was so funny (I still think it’s a little funny, but for different reasons). I guess I should preface the remark by saying that the voices were always behind me, like kids creating chaos in the back seat while I was trying to drive. So it seemed perfectly natural to shout (aloud), “Look bitch, don’t make me turn this song around!” And then I laughed like an idiot for about a minute and played the song on repeat for about an hour.
One more for today, because a friend of mine from NYC who now lives in LA tells me every time he sees me that this is his favorite story. He must be telling the truth because the only time I ever told it in a meeting in NYC was when I had six months clean and he reminded me of it again about three months ago.
By about November of 2006, I had become convinced that there were cameras and microphones everywhere and people were watching and listening to every minute of my existence (which would have been the worst job ever now that I think about it). Specifically, I thought the microphone were installed just behind the base boards all through the apartment. It infuriated me that they were there, not only because it meant they could hear everything I was saying, but because they knew there was no way I’d try to take the base boards off because anything that involved more than a staple gun was beyond me. One night, however, I had a brilliant idea. It was pure genius. I loved it so much that I employed this tactic at least once a week until I moved out of the apartment in April.
I would get the dustbuster from its charger and go around the entire apartment dustbusting the base boards while laughing maniacally and taunting them, “Ha! How do you like that? I hope I’m blowing out your eardrums bitches!” It was one of my greatest victories.