The Sad Truth, Part II

April 26, 2011

As promised. Part I is here, in case you haven’t read it.

Holy metaphor, Batman!

During this period, I started releasing information to my parents piece-meal. I wasn’t comfortable with giving them the full monty, I was too embarrassed, and I felt that it would all be too much for them to tell them the whole story. However, due partly to some events beyond my control (e.g., getting fired on the fifth day of a new job), I started to lose control over the flow of information.

I also recognized I needed a major shake-up. I was lucky to have survived this long, say nothing of the next six months or a year, and if something major didn’t happen soon, I feared I would become a casualty to this disease. So all on my own, I started to come to the realization that I needed to tell the whole story to my parents. But it didn’t matter because I was about to unknowingly do exactly that.

I was seeing a counselor for my depression – we had, in fact, only just gotten started – and she realized there was a major substance abuse problem that either existed because of the depression, or the other way around. She referred me to a specialist on the subject who worked in her office. I made an appointment with him, and just decided to tell him the whole ugly truth about my drug and alcohol abuse. It was probably the first time, ever, that I came completely clean with another human being about my drug addiction, and I did so in unflinching detail. Unbeknownst to me, I was ringing a bell that I would not be able to un-ring.

I had completely forgotten that I gave my counselors permission to share anything from our meetings with my parents. When I gave that permission, it was in the context of treating my depression. And since my parents were paying for the therapy and were very concerned about me, I felt like it was fair for them to know about my progress. It never occurred to me that I had given a blanket waiver for any treatment I received for any issue from any counselor who practiced under that roof. Thank goodness. If I had remembered that, I never would have been so frank with the addiction specialist.

I had barely gotten home from that meeting, when I got a call from my Dad. This was on a Thursday, and I was driving home so that we could go visit my brother for his birthday out-of-state on Friday. We were going to surprise him. Oh, and I was about 24 hours into withdrawal.

When my Dad called, he sounded completely different than he usually does. He just said, “we got a call from [name redacted] (my counselor)…” That was all that I needed to hear and I remembered the waiver. This lead to a cascade of other realizations. One thing I knew for sure: nothing was ever going to be the same. The concern at that moment was that I was going to have a seizure and that it wasn’t even safe for me to drive a car.

I was able to at least reassure my Dad that I wasn’t going to have a seizure within the next two hours. My counselor had misunderstood one fact about my situation. I had told him that I was in withdrawal, but that was just from opiates. He thought I was saying I had stopped everything, and cold turkey. Withdrawals from alcohol, as I have mentioned previously, can be very dangerous – even fatal – and often do include seizures. In my case, I felt like hell, but I was still drinking often enough that alcohol withdrawals were at least a few days away, even if I had any intention of stopping cold turkey. Which I did not (SHOCKING, right?).

Furthermore, I had found someone who had a little Suboxone, and I was able to quell the withdrawal symptoms for the remainder of the weekend. Which I had intended to do all along, because my Mom and my Brother deserved to have a good weekend, and I had promised my son a special road-trip weekend with his Daddy. Withdrawal would have ruined everybody’s weekend. That’s what it does. It had ruined Christmas for me, and I wasn’t going to allow that to happen again.

What I did do over the weekend, however, is stage my own intervention. I had everyone who cared the most about me all in one place, so we set aside a night to talk about me. I have a feeling that, under the circumstances, an intervention would have been happening whether I staged it myself or not.  But, since the hard part would have been telling my parents anyway, I decided to take charge, and I even wrote out a little narrative to read to the whole family.

From that point forward, my parents more or less made it their full-time job to find me help, find the money to pay for it, find the money to support my kids while I’m gone, and figure out how to provide for their mom while I was gone. I think we came up with a pretty good plan. And it was work. I had professional ends to tie up. I had personal ones. I had a few people that I wanted to tell what I was going through, and a few others I needed to kind of cook up a story for, so I would at least have the possibility of future employment once I return. Maybe.

Once we got back, we devised a plan to get me on Suboxone, detox me from alcohol, and figure out a long-term treatment plan to get me into, in all likelihood for sixty days (I will forever be grateful to Dr. Richards, the only person I will ever identify by name, because she agreed to help me come up with a creative solution to the many challenges we faced in getting me off to treatment; the woman is a saint, and has a special place reserved in my heart).

From there, everything started to fall into place, and right in the order we needed it. It’s like someone carbon-copied our to-do list to God. The more I think about it, I think he might have carbon copied HIS to-do list to us. (Can you feel me smiling through your monitor when I come up with something really clever like that ? I know, I need to work on that; it’s on my list.)

I have now more-or-less connected the dots between the last 18 months of heavy substance-abuse and how I ended up in treatment. The blog started about a week after that fateful weekend when we went to visit my brother. If I stop and think about the last few weeks, several emotions threaten to bubble up. I am extremely sad about leaving my kids, and about how I took a wrecking ball to my profession and to some of the people in my life I really took for granted.

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