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Escaping the Darkness of Addiction


Editor's Note

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction, the following post could be triggering. You can contact SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

For as long as I remember, you have been sitting there on the nightstand in my mind. You’re right under the light that I can turn on and off to see you. When the light is on, I never need you. As soon as it turns off, you magically appear, just within arms reach.

Sometimes, light was a man. Light was love. Light was a home, a place and a feeling. It was a comfort and a touch. Light was light. There was no darkness the light could not squash out.

And before that,

Light was a childhood home. Light was family, mother and father, light was sister and brother, and friends and playtime. Light was school, learning, knowing the answers, guessing and making mistakes, but getting back up again. Light was learning from those mistakes and light was excelling. Light was passion and joy, and freedom to love. Light was my heart. You weren’t there, I don’t remember you.

As soon as darkness came, you were there, sitting on the nightstand. You were just within my grasp. You were there so many times that you became me and I became you. You entered me. Ever since then, I’ve kept you so close.

I’ve kept you on the nightstand in my mind. I’ve kept you there because loving with all of my heart was too much. It hurt too badly. The pain in my body was too much. I’ve kept you there because you have been my narcotic, my opoid, my heroin, my crack, my cocaine, my drink, my upper, my downer, my best friend. You were foolproof; you never failed me. You only made me feel good, terrible or nothing at all. But you never hurt me.

You were there through every disappointment, every feeling of not being good enough and every rejection. You helped me through every perceived abandonment. You became my voice. You have kept me inflated like a balloon, full of hot air, when my true self-esteem was nothing. And it was nothing, because I used you to bury myself in sand.

You were there through every loneliness. Every displacement, every jealousy, every sense of failure– you have been there to calm all the barking, hungry, shouting voices in my mind. The many-headed monster inside. I’d break off a little piece of you and feed the little monsters so that I would no longer be haunted by, distracted, bothered, overcome or decimated by them. You have been my antidote and my silencer, my peanut butter to spread thickly over the charred toast that my soul has become. You formed my mask, my extra skin, the fat to keep me safe, the helmet of dark, angry, vicious thinking to protect my brain from the light.

I’ve kept you close because I don’t have to expose my soul to get you. I can buy you anonymously. I buy you as an addict, needing more and more and more. I buy you unconsciously. I buy you because I get nervous and don’t know how not to. I buy you and I know someone is watching me, disappointed or concerned, but I do it anyway. You have been there on the nightstand through every relationship, every attempt at anything, to help me cope with the darkness. You are refillable, replaceable, bottomless and never-ending. You are infinite and available any time of night or day.

But that was when you were on my nightstand. You are no longer there. You are not kept close for safety to get me through dark times. You have made it into my bedroom, into my body and into my veins. You have made it into my heart and into my head. You have slowly traveled from my feet to the top of my head and embalmed me in your anger and despair. You have mummified me. I am fossilized and I cannot see that the part of me that knew the light before you.

I write with so much knowledge because your agony and angst is what I know. Your scolding, domineering, bossy, negative thinking is what I know so well. You exist to antagonize me now instead of sustain me. You are no longer protecting me from something; you are holding me as a prisoner. You have made me strange to myself.

I write to reach my hand inside, through my mouth, to loosen up my jaw, down my throat to find you, lodged somewhere in the basin of me. I write to feel around and find a thread of you and pull, pull and pull until I can loosen your leeching grip from my insides. Maybe I pull a fraction of you out and I throw it, with all my might, back into the darkness through which you came.

I’ve kept you close for so long, but now that you are in me, it is time to for you to go.

GettyImages via AOosthuizen