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Loss and Redemption
Jan 25, 2010
Dear Ones,

Weeks, months, have passed since I last wrote. The mods, in their wisdom, closed my long and tortured thread, “Scared, Almost Ready”. I could not return until now, until I could say that I had passed beyond “ready.”

I have returned because hope lives, and has been fulfilled. Promises have been met.

Early December, 2009 my use of hydrocodone had escalated to 120 mg/day, from 90 mg/day in September.

I went CT in September. Had 30 days “clean”. But was I sober? No. I longed for mother’s little helper. I knew I’d relapse. I wanted to use again. For some reason, 30 days of being clean seemed like some marker of success, even if I jonesed, obsessed, and indulged my longings for escape.

Acupuncture. Rebound headaches, back pain, leg pain. All pounded on me. Cravings dominated my consciousness, which I characterized as “thoughts of…”

At day 15 I had a face 2 face consult and got a script for 90 10/325 hydrocodone. A wonderfully sympathetic physician believed me. That little bottle sat in the drawer by my desk waiting for the time when I was return to return to the dark side.

The dark side came soon enough. And it became darker and darker with each day.

Early December a friend went away on a business trip. His DOC is coke. I hadn’t used that in over 25 years. For some reason, and nothing really happens by chance, does it? He left me some, saying, “Enjoy. I can’t travel with it.” I thought, well, why not, a few lines here and there…. After 5 days, all my dopamine depleted, I awoke on a Monday morning into the deepest, most absolute, most punishing, grimmest depression I had ever experienced in my life. More excruciating even than the grief I felt after my husband died leaving me with a 6 month old infant, and two other very young children, 4 years and 8 years old.

I was brought low and humbled. My life was laid bare. I had prayed, oh, how I had prayed to “want” to quit using. For 5 days the last 18 months of my life were revealed to me in all of their raw and selfish essentials, 18 months of sacrificing my children, my family, for a total escape from the reality of a life with three special needs children, one of whom is utterly brilliant and gifted, one deeply in need of extra help, and one, though sweet and precious, in such deep need of my presence that he screamed out his tortured isolation.

How could have I thought that I was meeting their needs? That just getting them fed, to school, to doctors’ appointments—when I actually managed to schedule them—to IEP meetings, was actually decent parenting?

Utter agony pierced my soul. My guilt was total. As each day I sank deeper and deeper into a gray and barren land, it was revealed to me how much I had abandoned my most holy commission, my children, on the alter of my addiction which fueled a consuming dedication to my work. I absolved myself thinking, oh so many women have careers that require 80-90 hour work weeks. How I groped for self-justification, anything to make right my hideous choices.

I fell to my knees, bowed lower and more broken than I had ever been in my long life. I was helpless. I was broken. As each day of the depression passed, I saw more clearly the extent of the damage, the chaos, I had created. The pain was utterly piercing as I recognized the depth of the damage, the absolute carnage wrought upon everything I cherished.

I turned to the Lord as my final recourse. I begged for forgiveness, the opportunity to make amends, freedom from my addiction, and for redemption.

Day five, I awoke. The depression was gone. Totally. I saw what must be done. I began to taper. 50% reductions every 4 days. Such torment. I called my addiction specialist. I didn’t want to do the suboxone route. For two weeks, I tapered. Restless leg syndrome set in with a vengeance. Finally, December 23rd, he said, you’re suffering. It won’t get any worse if you just CT at this point. I was at 60 mg/day hydrocodone. Christmas Eve I took my last dose.

Desperate for sleep I took a small dose of Xanax. .50 mg that night. The RLS drove me to the bath where I ran the hot water as I sat still hoping the trembling would subside. I awoke to the cries of my 16 y/o son, “Mom, Mom, what are you doing?” The bath was overflowing. The floor was flooding and running under the bathroom door. My head had been nodding up and down, I awakening only when my long hair fell down into the water.

My memory is that I stood up and wrapped myself in my robe. His memory is that I wandered through the house, nude, talking to myself, talking to my youngest child, saying meaningless words. I don’t know what the reality is. Probably somewhere in between. Nonetheless, it was an extraordinarily traumatic moment for him, one that he will no doubt never forget, and which will be a crimson stain forever on his recollections of me.

Five sleepless nights followed. I would sleep for 15 minutes and awaken, look at the clock and know I had hours to go before it was time to arise.

Fear and tension filled my days. A friend, a massage therapist, came three times to soothe me, the final time with my left arm and shoulder shaking so badly not even her touch could calm the spasms. Day four, I fell asleep at the wheel, two blocks from home and side-swiped a parked car. The $2000 repair bill was a blessing. It could well have been a mother walking her baby in a stroller.

The addiction specialist had me on increasing doses of neurontin. During Christmas break, I took the children and one of the 16 y/o’s friends to Magic Mountain. The younger ones wanted to come home, so I said I’d take them back, a 40 minute drive, and return at closing for the older ones. On the way home, I began seeing double. I scraped a freeway divider. With the Lord as my co-pilot, I made it home. I called a friend, the husband of my massage therapist friend and told him what had happened. Without pause, he said he’d go and pick up the big kids. I stopped the Neurontin. Three more sleepless days passed, hot flashes punctuating every hour.

What sustained me? Prayer. Head bowed, forgiveness begging, prayer. Turning to the Word, I found hope, and each suffering moment gave me strength as my faith deepened.

The sequence of events is hazy for me now, but as I recall, I called my psychiatrist and told him about the accident and the freeway experience. He said I had to sleep. He started me on Lunesta, and got me to resume my Trazadone, which I had stopped because I was afraid I’d OD. At last I slept.

Then, hideously punishing anxiety attacks began. At that point, I was about two weeks post-CT. These weren’t basic, run of the mill episodes. They were oxygen deprived, gasping, doubling-over 12 hour experiences of chilling tension.

Prayer. Prayer. Prayer. My only solace. Again, I called my psychiatrist. He said that the sub-acute phase of withdrawal was characterized by anxiety and that Neurontin would help, but the dose he prescribed was far lower than what I’d previously taken. Within 20 minutes, I was freed from those shackles. What a blessed relief.

Back to Day One clean. I had no cravings. It has been over 30 days now and I haven’t had a moment’s jonesing. Total freedom. My horror at the devastation my addiction had wrought is so complete that even if I do think about “mother’s little helper”, it is with such total revulsion that I recoil in horror. I believe the Lord knew what I could endure and what I couldn’t. He freed me from that prison. My physical withdrawal has been a tool of reinforcement, even though I’ve had no rebound headaches, or body pain of any kind..

The downside was that the Nuerontin gave me an incessant drive to eat. I think I’ve gained 15 pounds in 3 weeks. I was very thin, but OK. The Nuerontin also caused water retention. I feel puffy and bloated because I was driven to eat.

Four days ago, around 3 PM, I realized I’d forgotten to take my mid-day dose. I’d had no anxiety. I took my night time dose. The next day, only the morning again.

I had been praying to be freed from the anxiety, to be freed in His time, at His will, but the sooner the better. What more could the release from that particular torment be other than answered prayer? Yet another relief: no anxiety, no obsessional eating.

There is not a doubt in my mind that I could have done this without His healing hand. I mean, really, no cravings, no anxiety, strength to steer a new course, make amends to my family. I know, dear ones, I mean I know, that I am free, free at last.

It will no doubt take years to heal the wounds I inflicted on my precious children, but I daily pray for increased faith and strength.

I let my children sink into the abyss of electronic escapism. While I worked 8-10 hours a day, they played video/computer games from the time they got home from school until bed, and all day on weekends. I mean, what lovely babysitting all those “screens” did, how they kept the children quiet, even the most special needs ones.

And what special needs they have. I won’t elaborate, but just say that now when they are decompensating, screaming, acting out, I think, “Ahh, yes, not long ago, I would have taken another 40 mgs, and everything would have smoothed out.” I once was blind, but now I see.

No more “screens” at all during the week now. Two hours on Saturday and Sunday. Probably still too much.

I allowed my precious children to sink into academic failure as I ignored them and their pain. One child is a genius. He is failing nearly all subjects. He says he’s OK with failure. . . . . He refuses to go to a school I’ve found where he can redeem himself in one semester. He is nearly a man, the age that makes good canon fodder as boys in their late teens see themselves as immortal, invincible. I don’t know how to change his course. His father is dead. He is stricken with doubt. His faith has weakened. He has free will, but I bear the burden of having not kept my hand on the rudder of his life for the last 18 months, as he drifted further and further away.

Another child gained 50 pounds in a year due to medication he was taking, Abilify. I didn’t recognize that tragedy until his annual check-up a couple of weeks ago. How could I have been SO blind???? When he saw the scale, his sweet young body jerked as though he’d been struck. How could I How could I How could I???

A mother’s tears fall from a bottomless well. Daily I weep. However, these tears do touch the oldest boy’s heart. He holds me, asks forgiveness for his cruel words.

I awaken at 3:45 AM, to have a quiet time of peace for study of the Word, and prayer. At 6:20, I begin to rouse the children. By 7:20, my nerves are zinging, but my voice remains calm, regardless of the stress.

What more is there to say? Oh, so very much. This should be enough, however, to color the canvas of my life for the last few months I’ve been absent here.

I hope that something I’ve written will give someone hope, and some kind of strength to persevere.

There is redemption. There is hope. There is peace at last. I don’t know if my pain will ever ease, my sorrow pass, but I know I am forgiven, and that I have the rest of my life to make amends.

Blessings.





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