Today a friend caught me using. In a general attempt to avoid presumptuous conclusions, I strive to keep an open mind to how people react to anything in life, but there are a few reactions that I can generally expect to bank on. My everyday life is dichotomized into two distinct worlds…one with drugs, and one without. I have logged a lot of hours trying to keep them separate and tie up loose ends, but lately, I feel them converging. It scares me. So far, my using has been accompanied by a degree of predictability in both realms. In the world with drugs, standards of behavior are low enough that nothing is shocking anymore. People are violent, aggressive, indifferent, and caustic. In the sober world, such destructiveness is not tolerated, and would certainly elicit strong condemnation. Loyalty is paramount.
My friend broke that streak of predictability today when he discovered my skeleton in the closet. I quickly conjured up a host of responses that I’ve mentally rehearsed for just such a moment, but he beat me to it. After stating his surprise, he told me drugs are stupid and people who use them are stupid. I defensively retorted, “Yeah, well, I’m trying to get a handle on it,” and he fucking laughed at me. His laugh was insulting, prolonged, and in my face. He expressed no concern or curiosity. He was bold and unabashed and doubled up in laughter. It left me stunned. My friendship with this person meant the world.
His response troubles me. More and more “sober” friends are finding out about my substance abuse, but for every one that knows the full extent, there are probably two who don’t. I’ve woven an intricate web of concealment, and when that fails, I remove myself from the group. I’ve come up with more excuses than I thought humanly possible to explain my absence from everything. Addiction is a lonely way of life, and it doesn’t take people long to forget. In that sense, the drug world has routinely offered a relaxed and tolerant respite, because excuses and justifications are never demanded (except in the form of currency, of course). Now that I’m trying to rebuild healthy contact with people, I’m questioning my next move. If my friend’s response speaks for others, I might be making a mistake. Maybe I should let sleeping dogs lie and start over completely…? It’s frustrating that I managed a half-assed balancing act for a long time, and now that I’m trying to do the right thing, it’s all unraveling. Adversaries seem to be increasing on both fronts. Members of my “deviant” circle are lashing out at my attempts to clean up to the point of being aggressive and threatening. It seems every effort to mobilize toward sobriety is a boomerang right back in my face. If it’s this hard now, how much harder is it going to get?