When I sit down opposite Melody* in her living room, the focus is taken off the fresh white roses on the kitchen table behind her, and now is entirely fixated on her. I am awe-stricken. She exudes an aura of empathy, understanding, and receptiveness. I don’t know her, but I am immediately drawn to her selflessness.
What she is about to tell me, tells me of a different time. A time when feeding an addiction was her only purpose. A time when she felt empty and lonely, and even the drugs that she was taking wasn’t enough to numb the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. As she starts, I listen. I listen intently as though the truth of her life somehow lightens a dark and hidden compartment in my own.
“There was no ‘big bang,’ no one BIG moment, no intervention by family and friends, lovingly, edging me on to give up my addiction. No event or occurrence that forced me to rehabilitate. I decided that I needed help. It was long and tiring, but the decision was my own. I want to tell you stories, my stories because addiction cannot be pinpointed to one instance. It’s a long and crooked road, and when we share, we share a whole timeline.
I was in a relationship with the man who introduced me to MDMA (a synthetic drug that acts as a stimulant and hallucinogen).
We were both very rebellious, and both loved a good party. At first, I would only do drugs when I was with him, but as my life progressed into the world of addiction, my drug abuse became more independent from his. I would regularly join my own group of friends on my own and do drugs on my own. Eventually, I had to start lying to him about where I was and what I was doing, because, even though we were both out of control, I was unstoppable.
One distinct incident I can remember vividly is when we went on holiday to Spain and Amsterdam together. As soon as we landed, we were doing drugs. We didn’t care that we had the whole holiday to do it. Pretty much everywhere we went, and whatever the time was, we were doing drugs.
By the end of the holiday, we had had a big fight, and I wanted to go and calm down on my own. My boyfriend didn’t want me to go off because we didn’t have cell phones and therefore had no way of communicating with each other. He didn’t want me to go, and I hit him in the face with a handbag that had a camera in it and gave him a black eye. After that, he left, and I remember feeling so shameful over my behavior. How could I have behaved like that?
It was at that time that I started praying and asked God to help me find my boyfriend and promised that I would never touch drugs again if He did. I started walking around the Red Light District in Amsterdam, and the first place I walked into was where I found him. It was like a spiritual experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick to my promise, and we just carried on enjoying the party.
The relationship soon fell apart, and I feel like it was because I was unable to stop the party. A lot of it also had to do with my behavior when I was drunk and high. I don’t know if I ever cheated on him, but I know that I was a massive flirt and I blacked out a number of times.
After our relationship ended, he moved on straight away to a girl who he is now married to. During that time, my mom was very sick and had to have a liver transplant, and we didn’t know if she was going to make it or not and I was just feeling so lost and broken. That year, 2013, I was on a downward spiral. I would get drunk and high more and more often. Of course, I would black out and hook up with some guy. One night I lost all my friends, I was literally all alone. My ex was there with a girl and, I can tell you, there is only so much that drugs can do for your self-esteem.
As bad as that was, nothing could compare to the next day. We had heard on the news that Paul Walker had been killed in a car accident and I felt complete and intent envy over his death. I asked God ‘why does he get to die and I must stay?’ I just wanted God to take my life. I felt so empty. Addicts are strange people. The laws of survival for a normal human being don’t exist for addicts. Normal people want to live, while addicts wish to die or get high.
Another incident happened when I was in Cape Town when I met a guy who I knew from childhood, and I made a joke with him and said that I had let myself go. He was honest straight away and said, ‘Yes, of course, you did. What did you expect with the lifestyle you’re living? You think you’re getting away with it, but you’re not.’
On that same holiday, I had asked my brother to take something home with him in his suitcase that wouldn’t fit in mine. I told him he was selfish and he burst out crying in shock by the fact that I, the drug addict, would accuse someone else of being selfish.
Before that moment, I didn’t realize how my addiction was taking over my life and altering the relationships I had, had with my family. I was kidding myself with how bad it was and when I opened up to my mom about it, she thought I had a handle on it and knew how to deal with it, but I hadn’t, and I didn’t.
Towards the end of my spiraling, at the airport, I remember being so desperate not wanting to live like this anymore. I prayed and prayed that God would give me the courage to stop living like I was or to take my life. After that, I walked into a bookshop, and the first book I saw was about standing up against evil and winning. When I read the book, I understood that addiction is like a spiritual attack. That book kick-started my road to recovery.
Later on, I had met a guy while having lunch with a friend who told me that we met before and we had had sex in the bathroom of a restaurant, when I heard that, I felt sick. That scared the sh*t out of me. Up until that moment, I knew I was blacking out, but I didn’t realize that sex with a stranger was a possibility for me.
For a while, after that, I tried my best to live clean and healthy. I prayed a lot, and I lived a very spiritual life. Sadly, that only lasted three months. I relapsed after three months of sobriety. I went for dinner with a guy on a date. I had a bad week and decided that I was not interested in living life on life’s terms. That night I decided that I didn’t have a problem and I had a glass of wine. Of course, one glass turned into more and we went back to my place to cut up my prescription Ritalin to sniff it. We met more friends, drank some more wine, bought and used some cocaine, and that led to the same reckless behavior – drinks- drugs-sex. I would, when I was using, blackout randomly and regularly.
The next morning, at a friend’s apartment where we all ended up, I took a look around, and I recognized the same reason why I decided to clean up three months earlier and decided that I didn’t want to live like this anymore. I remembered what my life was like in 2013 when that was all I was doing and here I am, yet again, on that same battlefield and I felt utterly empty. I decided that I am not doing this anymore.
I knew then my problem was never the drugs. It was always the alcohol. I knew that, that one glass turned into one hit and one hit turned into more drugs and another blackout until eventually I would wake up sober, regretful, empty and feeling absolutely hopeless.
I went onto Facebook and found a girl I used to know from partying who had been going through recovery herself and shared about a lot. She told me about these NA meetings. I immediately went to a meeting, got a sponsor and I haven’t used again since that night.
For so many addicts, the idea that something extraordinary has to take place before one is “classified” as an addict is a reality. People think that an addict has to have lost their job or lost a house or ended up in jail, or whatever, but it doesn’t have to be that severe for you to find help. If you’re asking yourself if you’re an addict, chances are you probably are. My advice to you is, find a meeting, get a sponsor and follow the steps.
When people ask me if I regret what I’ve lost during active addiction, I think of what I’ve gained through my recovery, and what I’ve gained is worth so much more than anything I’ve ever lost.”
*Name Has Been Changed
Come back to VINAZINE on Tuesday for Part 2 of the story. If you, or someone you know suffers from substance abuse addiction, visit The Recovery Village for many helpful resources.
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