Some months clean from crack, and in reasonable mental health (as far as I can tell), I find myself as bewildered now as I was in the depths of my addiction.
Only two years ago, roughly to the day, I was using as compulsively, and dangerously as ever I did. I can clearly remember a day when my mum came to visit, and I contrived to squeeze a tenner out of her by the most outlandish means. I already had fifteen, but wanted twenty-five, so I could, on her departure, go round the corner and get two bits of crack and a poxy five-pound bit of heroin. There was I, and my mum, when I went into the bathroom, texted a using associate, asking her to ring me in a minute and ask for a tenner that I 'owe' her. I did this so as when I returned into the living-room, where my mum was, my phone would go, I'd pick it up, and have the live call from Kashka, requesting the tenner. It was such a childish, petty, and contrived deception that when I think about it now, I wonder if I'm still that person, if I would still do such a thing. I like to think I wouldn't (unless I was using, of course, and then all bets would probably be off). But the call came, I pretended in front of my mum that Kashka was asking for the money, even putting her on to my mum, to confirm the request, adding that her partner, Gregory, hadn't been working for a bit, and so the money was needed.
My mum, about 80 at this point, gave me the tenner, checking with concern that I would take it round to them as soon as she left, and wouldn't misappropriate it. I assured her I'd take it safely round. Then, when she left, as soon as her train pulled out of the station, I almost raced to Kashka's place to spend my twenty-five quid. This felt as compulsory, as natural, considering the context, as breathing. My stomach was churning about for about an hour before she left, and I had to go to the loo once or twice, and then, when she left, I couldn't get away quick enough. Needless to say, my twenty-five quid lasted me about half an hour, with an inadequate cushioning provided by the smudge of heroin to follow.
Now, after months of faltering progress, I'm in the fortunate position of not feeling, or behaving like that. But I'm as bewildered about this as I was about being in such a state. Years passed, with me using compulsively at the very moment money dropped into my account, regardless of the danger, or consequences. I might struggle a bit, as an overture to using, but my head would be an agonising haze, my gut in turmoil, and I knew I was going to use, whether it was in one hour, or two. Now, by no means 'out of the wood', I am beginning to get up in the morning, not even thinking about whether it's a 'money day' or not, without having to hope against hope that, somehow, I wouldn't use that day (knowing, however, that I would). I no longer am at the cashpoint at two in the morning, literally waiting for the cash to drop into my account. I no longer have my guts fall out as soon as it's a possibility that I could use. I might have told you (if not, I'll tell you now), I was once on my way to a twelve-step meeting, on the bus down the road, and the urge to go and score was so strong, so physically insistent, that I actually shat myself on the bus, and had to go into MacDonald's and chuck my shit-filled pants in the tampon-bin in the disabled toilet. Yes, that's how cutting-edge my using got. I then went a scored round the corner, still smelling faintly of shit. Needless to say, I didn't make it to the twelve-step meeting that day.
Now I don't go through this. I can think to use, about using, muse on the subject sometimes a little too dangerously, a little too in a spirit of euphoric recall, or euphoric projection, imagining how a use-up might be now, after some months clean. Could I, as I've seen a few people do, use responsibly now, once a month or so, do it right, get a pipe, rather than wander around Shepherd's Bush until I meet someone I can score through. Maybe I could just buy a couple of bits of crack and a bit of heroin, come home, watch a shopping-channel and/or some porn, and have a safe little session on my own. And I do believe I probably could do that. But, I don't really want to risk it, and nor do I want to wake up the next day with the compulsory hangover that even a couple of bits of crack gives me. I must have spent tens of thousands of pounds of my own, and other people's money, on all that, and I'm not sure I really want to line the pockets of my local vendors anymore. So, even despite myself, I'm holding a line, not going there, being 'vigilant'. And yes, I'm still having a tumbler of red wine some nights, eating a bit of weed, playing the odd 80s arcade game, writing a bit, tinkling on my keyboard (a gift of recovery, as they say), and leading a relatively normal life, without empty cupboards, without constant money worries, depression, remorse, rage and fear of the telephone ringing.
Even though I hate the clichés, in particular if they rhyme, I'm trying to adopt an 'attitude of gratitude', rather than snipe against all I've lost, still mourn, and miss. Yes, I sit here with my relatively new computer, nice blue rug beside me, denim armchair and beanbag awaiting, and food in the cupboard, enough for a doomsday-prepper, as it goes. I still have an overdraft, but at least I have a choice of trousers to put on in the morning, a few nice liquid-soaps in the bathroom, and a nice laminated Audrey Hepburn above the bath, too.
Perhaps Audrey is my higher power. If so, then I'm an Audreyist, an occasionally content, bewildered, better-nourished 'addict', sorry, 'functioning addict', sorry, person.
And this is a song I wrote, if you'd like to listen...
And that's all for today, thank. See you tomorrow?