How we fool ourselves in addiction

Well, maybe I shouldn’t write how “we” fool ourselves because I can only speak for myself, but whatever…

The year was 2007, the peak of my addiction. I remember getting a new job, at a company called Global Vision, which I don’t think exists anymore. Megan was pregnant with Josh, and I was excited that I’d be a father. I went to the job interview in this frame of mind, and Wayne, the man who interviewed me, had just become a father himself. Hardly able to contain my excitement, I somehow twisted the interview to be a discussion about parenthood. And of course, having shown talent in the programming test, social skills in the interview, and having carried this positivity and enthusiasm as well as making a connection with the interviewer, I got the job. But one other thing: I was high that day.

Actually I was high every day, and I’d timed that interview just right that my mood and temperament was perfect. I wasn’t even myself that day and I don’t think I ever spoke more than five words to Wayne again. (His name might not have been Wayne. Names from those days are a blur, so I just picked one that suits the face that’s still in my memory.)

Somehow I’d fooled myself into thinking that I was doing fine, even though I knew I was an addict. I figured that people are addicted to all kinds of things and addiction is everywhere. I told myself that being high on meth every day was no worse than smoking too many cigarettes or eating too many burgers. You know, just a regular thing. In my mind, it changed nothing and was just a habit, an insignificant part of my life.

And the signs of the impending demise of my ability to pretend to be normal were everywhere. Some days I’d be sitting at work, slipping away and beginning to dream at my desk, struggling to keep my eyes open. Or I’d sit staring at a plain wall, in which I perceived a sensation of falling, as if the wall became a live canvas before my eyes. And in between, I’d write software that somehow worked. One day, the day that I went to buy an engagement ring and wedding band, all I had to do was walk from Long street to Adderly street Cape Town, and back. Cape Town where I grew up. And I lost my way. Literally I got lost on the way back and ended up walking around town for two hours, confused.

When I think about it, walking around town confused sums up my life of those years. I spent around eight years as a meth zombie. At one time I used to refer to those days as “Salad Daze”… and to be honest I don’t know if I came up with that myself or plagiarized Wayne Hussey (I am a fan) but I don’t use those words anymore because they kind of make being inebriated sound alright. Edit: I’m quite certain I stole the phrase from Hussey, specifically from the Mission’s album Salad Daze, and then forgot those words were not my own. Sigh – and I used to think myself so witty on meth. “Got to retox before I can detox” and “I don’t wanna be as high as a kite; I wanna be as high as a satellite” seem so much less clever to me now that I think of it. I even used to mock myself when I realized I was tweaking, remarking to Megan, who didn’t actually catch the irony or self-deprecation, “Stop me if I repeat myself! Stop me if I repeat myself! Stop me if I repeat myself! Stop me if I repeat myself! Stop me if I repeat myself! Stop me if I repeat myself! Stop me if I repeat myself!”

Still I told myself that I was OK. But I wasn’t. I was nowhere near OK.

And I think this does apply to other addicts too. If you’re using hard drugs every day, you are not OK. You tell yourself that you are, that every thing that goes wrong is just a little thing and you’re handling it. Maybe you hear voices, but you cope with them, so you think it’s OK. Well, it isn’t. Consider this a reminder. If you’re using drugs every day and telling yourself that you’re in control, you’re not.

2 thoughts on “How we fool ourselves in addiction

  1. I went through many addictions as well and also thought I was in control. It’s not easy to admit yourself your weakest points, but they can help you grow, right? Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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