Life on the Inside


Everybody knows it already, might as well wear the nametag.
I’m in another program.  All part of the quest to get my shit together.  While I’m still picking up the pieces from my tremendous fall off the wagon a few weeks ago, life continues to happen anyway and I’m trying to catch back up to it.

The Congressional Inquiry at the VA Hospital is still in progress.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  It’s on pause for a couple weeks while I clear my head in ADATP because the government loves their acronyms (Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Program).  Three weeks of inpatient classes while I go back to the “living facility” and spend the evening with a bunch of other addicts of varying chemicals and levels of addiction.  The living conditions are less than desireable, but I’m here for the classes moreso than the living conditions, and it’s only three weeks so I’ll just suck it up for a while.

I’m here to get my head clear and get back on track again.  I’m here to make what happened a few weeks ago less likely to happen again.

There’s a saying among recovering addicts that holds very true:

“I know I’ve got another good drunk in me, but what I don’t know is if I have another recovery in me.”

Kinda the nice way of saying, “The next time could kill me.”

I don’t ever want to be in this position again and the reason I’m here is nobody’s fault but my own.  Sure, there are underlying issues that were caused by other people, but the addiction to the fire water is my own to deal with.  Beat me down if you want to.  Call me an idiot.  Call me whatever you want, but no amount of verbal punishment you can give me can compare to what I’ve given myself.  Just as I am my own worst critic when it comes to my writing, so I am my own worst critic when it comes to my behavior.

If I could roll back the clock about six weeks and do things differently, I’d jump at the chance.

But I can’t and that’s not what this is about.  It’s about using my relapse to learn and re-align myself so that I don’t have to make that statement again.  It’s about overcoming the things that trigger my depression and learning how to deal with life on life’s terms.  Coming to accept that no matter how recovered I am and how grand life can be sometimes, the powers that be can always pour out a giant helping of suck and I have to be mentally prepared for that.

I have the misfortune of being a “dual diagnosis” client.  Severe Depression and Alcoholism.  One feeds the other.  It’s an ugly cycle.  I can be clean and sober and have life’s rug pulled out from under me and I fall into depression.  Depression hurts, alcohol numbs the pain.  Unfortunately, my brain is incorrectly wired and when alcohol is introduced to it, I transform into someone else altogether.  It’s not me.  It’s not the guy sitting here writing this post right now.  He’s an asshole and I don’t like him.  You wouldn’t either.

It works backward too.  I can be clean and sober and life can be grand.  I’ve got the tiger by the tail.  I’ve got the world by the balls.  I’m happy.  Healthy.  Things are good.  Nothing can bring me down.

A couple beers wont kill me.

Not yet.

Because if a couple beers was ok last weekend, a couple this weekend will be ok too.  Then next weekend maybe a couple MORE won’t kill me either.  I can go on that way for months.  Fully functional, drinking like a normal human being.

Not remembering that alcohol is a depressant, and depressed is not a good place for me to go.

Because eventualy “it” will happen.  Someone will innocently offer up a shot.

Now there’s liquor and at that point Eric leaves the room and the other asshole takes over and I’m so far down the rabbit hole that I can’t back out.  Then there I am, within a couple of days, right back where I was a few weeks ago.

The alcoholism to depression trip can be a long and slow-moving process.  The depression to alcoholism trip happens quick.  It only takes a couple days.

What leads to either of those situations is the same thing.


Forget my depression medication once, that’s ok.  Forget it twice, not good.  forget it three times and it’s officially a habit and then I’m just not taking it anymore.  Then when life takes a giant shit on me, I’m unmedicated and unprepared and as much as I have learned over my years of recovery and all the things I KNOW DAMN WELL I should do ….

…. fourty odd years of shitty coping mechanisms is a tough chain to break.

I’m still learning.  I will not look at my recent transgression as a huge mistake that has ruined my life forever.  I will look at it as a lesson.  An event that HAD to happen in order to teach me something new and I will learn it and grow from it and move forward.

My biggest challenge in this treatment program is that I am tasked with finding someone I am in the program that I can relate to.  It’s a challenge because I am the ONLY person in here at the moment that is here voluntarily.  For most of them it’s something they are doing to appease a judge.  They’re here to get charges dropped or sentences reduced, or they’re here because they’ve been living under a bridge and needed a place to stay.

I’m a little out of my element.  That and I’ve been doing this a while.  I can, with about 90% accuracy, tell you exactly which ones are going to relapse the day they walk out of here, and for this particular group that is a large majority.  Hell, half of those will openly tell you that they will.

They aren’t ready.  They don’t WANT it yet.

I do.  I very much do and I have for a long time.  As hard as it is to do shortly after a relapse, I have to let go of the shame and guilt and self-abuse and start to put things back together.

I have to remind myself that relapse is not the failure of recovery, it is a part of recovery and needs to be viewed as a learning experience and something to build off of.

I’ve spent a long time telling you about my specific illness and really, I feel like I’ve just rambled, but I’ve always told you that this blog is my therapy.  I stopped writing in it a couple weeks before I relapsed.  That alone should have been a red flag.  It will be from now on.

And I’ll be getting back to the funny soon too.  The head is clearing up, things are sinking in and things moving forward don’t look as bleak as they did a couple weeks ago.

I’ve also made a liar out of myself because I told Denise the other day that I would post on here, but they would be short because I have to use my phone and I hate posting from my phone.  I don’t know the word count on this because the iOS WordPress app doesn’t show it to me, but I don’t think it falls into the “short” category. 

So I’ll cut this off here, and to see if I can start turning this blog o’ mine back into something funny again, I’ll write a post on Saturday and describe the living conditions here.  The only way to make this bearable is to make it funny, so that’s what I’ll do.

It’s not just a tag line.  I make you laugh, so I don’t cry.

Your love and support has meant the world to me and it is also a positive part of my recovery.  I thank you all for that.

8 thoughts on “Life on the Inside

  1. Eric…thanks for sharing. I have no problem admitting that I have been through the same struggles to a tee…have done plenty of time in programs and facilities… and still occasionally fall down the rabbit hole. we are humans, and you are damn good one and I love ya brother. Keep your chin up.

  2. I’m betting you will have plenty of interesting stories to share in regards to your living conditions. 🙂 Keep on taking care of you!

    1. Oh yeah, having been here just over a week now, I’ve no doubt I’ll be getting back to the funny. Humor is the best way to survive it, and there’s a hell of a lot of surviving going on.

  3. It’s good to hear how you’re doing. Dual Diagnosis is a shitty lot to live with. Seems to me you’ve got a leg up, in that you understand very well how your diagnoses interact. I’m sure that doesn’t make it any easier, but I do think that with your particular attitude, intelligence and strong will, you are more likely to persevere–and have at least some good stretches of happiness and success–than most.

    Looking forward to your next post.

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