I find it strange to hear others speak freely about an addiction. The world of an addict is a world without the freedom of speech. A memoir about addiction makes even less sense to me. Addictions create warped realities devoid of honest reflections. How would I classify my relationship with that pill? That little white pill. I’m not sure. But it wasn’t an addiction.
Okay. Technically I couldn’t stop taking it. Suffocating under an unyielding panic and its accompanying depression, I couldn’t function without it’s calming and euphoric touch. This powerful, little white pill. It started as a prescription – a medical effort aimed at meeting the challenges posed by my failing health. It wasn’t long until my Rx number transformed into my prisoner identification. This was a one-sided relationship, because I could no longer stand to be awake without it’s powerful presence. Without her powerful presence. She possessed me in a way that only an intoxicating lover could. Dilated eyes and slow, steady breathing became a staple of my consciousness. One pill became three, and three became six, and all the while the ticking of the clock served as a continual reminder to be prepared for my next dose. I wasn’t an addict. I was a survivor. Such a subtle difference can only be appreciated inside of such a painful reality. My father was right when he accused me of being unable to live without it. But it wasn’t an addiction.
Sure. Technically I had withdrawal symptoms when I was eventually forced off of it. But that was strictly a physiological phenomenon. My brain simply wasn’t used to the decreased levels and efficiency of gamma aminobutyric acid which I was now abandoned to. The cold sweats and insomnia were nothing more than a re-adjustment to a different sort of mental life. The inability to self-mediate would sometimes smother me. But it wasn’t an addiction.
Of course there are times when I am still tempted.These moments force me to work creatively, desperate for a way to distract myself. Distract myself from thinking about that beautiful, little white pill. The soft powder that would cascade off of it like snow from the mountainside. The swallow of relief. The surge of relaxation. The flood of peace. The steadying of my pulse. Yes, often I must stop myself from being consumed with the thoughts. There are days that my ghosts begin crying out to me again. Days when the only option to my suffering seems to be my never-forgotten friend. Days when I wonder if I will ever have an immediate reaction to pain that doesn’t involve her. Still, it wasn’t an addiction.
I reflect on our relationship like a husband dwells on his shattered marriage. A curious mixture of nostalgia and disgust. A peculiar combination of longing and resentment. Words remain outside my grasp. I fumble over sentences like a young boy explaining his first kiss. I don’t think a memoir about an addiction can be written with integrity. But then again, I’ve never had one.
*This is an essay I wrote a few years ago for a creative writing class. It’s a bit different from the normal content here at Cataclysmic -but no worries, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming soon. If you enjoyed it and/or would like more, let me know!