In a year, I had quit my job, become a stay-at-home mom, made major shifts in my spiritual life, cared for a child with medical challenges and had significant changes in my friend group. To take a step back and view this with 20/20 rear facing vision, the writing on the wall was clear. Change is stressful. And then you add poor coping skills. One of the only things that can make challenges more difficult is to try and medicate your way through them.
My mind-implemented morality police gave me quite a few rules about drinking. I didn’t drink in front of teenagers. I didn’t have alcohol in my house. Even after my days on staff at churches, I had deeply held norms about my public consumption of alcohol. Looking back, these mandates were as much about cautiously approaching a substance that I knew I had a family history of abusing. The genetic component of addiction was clear in my family. While it was not a secret, it was almost a subject of generational lore. I had not seen the direct impact, but rather heard the consequences and tales from days gone by.
From the time that I took my first drink, I knew that the feeling of escape was a glorious high. As an overly religious teen, my fear and trembling pushed me far from drug experimentation. Always concerned about the approval of others, I was terrified of getting in trouble or disappointing someone I admired. These are valuable stop gaps for many teens, and I can honestly say that they saved me from many dark roads.
After my introduction to pain killers during my pregnancy, I knew of another path to escape. Suddenly, this temporary fix of all things hard was PRESCRIBED to me by a doctor. Sure, I knew that that these drugs had warnings about the harmful effects, but because they were given by my healthcare provider they seemed better, or at least safer than real drugs. After childbirth and surgery, I was given refills for pain medicines from both doctors. As those began to wane, I began to tinker with ways to find similar release points with anything I could easily get my hands on. On days when I felt particularly out of control, I would go back to the pain pills. As I began to run low on my stock of prescriptions, I began to get creative.
At the height of my insanity, I had 4 doctors that were all being used as supply agents. Sadly enough, I was a very convincing patient. I was nearing a desperation point when I discovered ways around the time release of capsules. One my doctors began to see through my antics and I felt the heat. It was at that point that I “perfected” the mix of the the pills and the alcohol. A little of this and a little of that meant that nothing was in excess. I considered this quality management.
I had a list of reasons in my mind that I needed the pills.
I was sure that the quantity that I was drinking was not problematic. Geez, all I had to do was look at a friend or neighbor to see what excess really was.
Because all of my life, I had been a high-strung, type A, full throttle gal. For the first time in my life, I was taking time to relax and unwind. This is NORMAL adult-ing, right?