I didn't follow the trajectory that was outlined for me. It was as if a new life was created for me as a 27 year old. When I stopped using, I had to relearn how to live life. It is amazing how the life of a homeless addict parallels the life of an animal. At first, you roam in packs for the mutual benefit of the entire system. In the end, you spend your time alone, not social interaction, in complete hypervigilance and survival mode.
The first thing you need to do to survive as a using addict is surrender to your affliction. Forgo your dreams. Forget your connections. Destroy your relationships if you want to keep those people safe. Having one foot in society and one foot in the crack house breaks everyone in two. Your loved ones stop suffering when you cut all ties- or so I thought for many years. There was at least two or three years where I rarely called home. In fact, I believe I had almost no contact with my family for nearly a full year. My mother used to lament that she was happy when I was in jail. At least then she knew where to find me.
Surrendering to your affliction makes it possible to suspend all your moral. I was fully committed to getting high. I was willing to do whatever was necessary- things that hurt myself. I remember many cold nights crying in a bathroom or doorway poking myself with a needle for an hour because I couldn't find a vein. I couldn't surrender, I couldn't stop. I could only exist from one hit to another. There was nothing else. If someone would have told me that addiction is .1% satisfaction and a world full of pain maybe I would have understood but I doubt it. I saw something in those pinpoint pupils and the absence of the constant soundtrack in my mind that pulled me under. Addiction is like a rip current. If only I could swim sideways but where I am heading is pulling me straight down.
My affliction was all encompassing. All my time, my relationships, my energy. Recovery would have to be the same way. One of my first memories of treatment was that someone had to remind me and show me how to wash my hands with soap. A pack of alcohol pads no longer constituted hygiene and speed doesn't cure the common cold. I had to relearn how to live.