As you may know, the first 22 episodes of this blog are the text of my ebook, 'How To Become A Crack Addict' (Jan to April 2013). You can read this here, or preview and buy it at amazon, if you're into that kind of thing. It has three very good reviews, and I would really appreciate as many as I can get. Nowadays, this blog is concerned with the aftermath of addiction, stories of living in the same neighbourhood in which I nearly killed myself, tales of temptation, repulsion, and boredom, and, I hope, hope. And here is today's tempting morsel...
Also, here is a youtube link to my most recent song, which I'm quite pleased with, so if you'd like a listen, here it is...
I'm Too Tired To Kill You
Below is an article I was asked to write for Therapy Today. It's a very condensed account of my addled and addicted life, and I hope the counsellors found it enlightening.
IN THE CLIENT'S CHAIR
I was working for a counselling service, but depressed. Since losing much of my sight to a childhood illness, aged nine, I’d felt disconnected from my peers, less-than, in particular around girls, and abuse in my early teens added fear and guilt to the mix. Then, boarding-school for the blind cushioned my sense of difference, but two universities, filled with sighted students, had me feeling like a minnow in a seething ocean.
So, in my mid-20s, I sat behind my desk at the counselling service, but the cracks in my life were widening to fissures, low spirits, worsening sight, and paralysing shyness keeping me stuck in all areas, so I sought the help of counsellor from our in-house register. I spoke about how I’d been visiting prostitutes as a quick fix for my broken love-life. It was during this time I called on Debbie, a working-girl I knew, seeking my usual dose of company, comfort, and closeness. At her door, hidden in the labyrinth of a neglected estate, I knocked, and waited, but a gruff redhead called Sandra opened the door, and invited me in. Debbie was at the shops.
In the semi-lit living-room, she asked if I smoked. ‘Smoke what?’ I gauchely enquired. There was regalia on the table, but I couldn’t see quite what. ‘Shit, white, crack,’ she replied. I’d smoked a bit of dope, had an E once, but barely heard of crack - but I was so down, and malleable, that I accepted, and drew in the innocuous white fumes with her blessing. Within days, my life was in freefall, with job, flat, finances, and numerous friendships falling by the wayside, and twelve years of full-on addiction ensued.
I attended my local drug-service for months on end, where counselling, relapse-prevention groups, hypnotherapy, ear acupuncture, reflexology, shiatsu, copious herbal teas, left no impression on the hardened kernel of addiction at my core. I was then referred to a residential rehab on the coast, but my designated counsellor left me feeling more damaged than I had on arrival, and, after five months, I returned to London to immediate relapse.
I began attending twelve-step meetings, and must have gone to hundreds, but found the ethos of the ‘disease of addiction’ unconvincing and stifling, and the general atmosphere one of compassionate collusion, in which conformity to the ‘message of recovery’ was requisite, else you might get left behind, a straggling heretic, doomed to chronic relapse. The fact I fitted this description quite nicely was enough for me to eject myself, on embarrassment grounds.
Beyond despair, I returned shamefaced to my drug-service, and a new counsellor offered me a short course of something called Intuitive Recovery. For me, it was a catalyst. A class taken by two former crack-users focussed on the ‘decisions’ of addiction, rather than the ‘disease’. It also questioned the twelve-step notion that one was ‘powerless’ over this alleged disease. It seemed to be offering facts to go away with, rather than asking us to sign up to a twelve-step-style ‘spirutual program of recovery’. I felt like I was being handed back an identity that meetings had overwritten in a spidery hand, casting a web in which I felt enmeshed, resentful, and obliged to talk.
I’d found myself in meetings speaking about the abuse I experienced, then leaving feeling unsettled, exposed, and sometimes with confusing feedback still ringing in my ears, like the oft-used phrase ‘have a look at your part in things’, which, in the context of abuse, had me feeling even more shame. The Intuitive course, because it wasn’t offering an ethos, a lifestyle, allowed for counselling and therapy, but wasn’t parading as either, whereas I’d felt subsumed in the twelve-step setting, an awkward nonconformist with only bad news and even worse views to impart.
The Intuitive approach helped me isolate my problems, the first of which was my crack use, which had to stop to help me begin repairing other areas. I reconnected with my doctor, have a suitable antidepressant, am seeing a new counsellor, and working on things without running to the secret, quasi-sexual bolthole of crack.
It was the language of ‘addiction’ and ‘recovery’ of twelve-step fellowships that troubled me, plus the notion that one was ‘powerless’ of the ‘disease’. It felt like a linguistic coffin, even though others seemed to flourish within its confines. Intuitive Recovery, fact-based, with no unspoken threat of relapse for those who wouldn’t believe, felt offered rather than proffered. I learned about the brain’s relationship with pleasure, and how addiction is a predictable state for the brain to adopt when presented with certain stimuli. In short, I trusted the message, largely because it wasn’t parading as a ‘message’.
I’ve never been one for conforming, and if there was a club for outsiders, I doubt very much I’d join.And that is all I have to say today.