It’s been a long time since I wrote. Even longer since I wrote honestly and meaningfully. In the early days of this online journal I wrote because I was isolated. I wrote because I was lonely. I wrote because when I first started exploring the idea that permanent recovery might be possible there were no examples around me that demonstrated in a way that I was able to understand. Frankly, part of that was because I live in a fairly small city, but part of that was my own “terminal uniqueness” — that isolating idea rooted in fear and driven by the power of profound addiction that my case was somehow so different that I’d never recover.
I had scoured the internet looking for voices that told the truth about recovery from serious crystal meth addiction (not that that is any different from any other substance use disorder) to glean a little hope from their shared experience. I didn’t find exactly the voice I was hoping to find, but I did find a lively community of recovery bloggers and I started writing; bleeding, really, all over these electronic pages.
This was all a very long time ago. Facebook was just getting started. You still needed a .edu email address to become a member. It was like MySpace (which I loathed) for elitists, so naturally I loved it, but it wasn’t really a thing yet. What was a thing was informal communities of long form bloggers. In those communities at that time there was a staggering lack of gay men recovering from methamphetamine use disorder (addiction), and I, being somewhat naive and hungry for attention, happily and providentially occupied that space for a rather long time.
I found writing to be cathartic. I found the practice benefited every area of my life. Slowing down and translating the raw emotion and disjointed thoughts in my head turned out to be an astonishingly useful tool in learning to make sense of my experience. What I couldn’t sort out in my head, I could sort out on a page. What I couldn’t share in a meeting, I could share with strangers. (Like many experiences in the life of a gay man, it was better with strangers.) The fact that I could share in a way that allowed me to mine my experience for what was useful, craft it into something beautiful, share it with an audience far enough from me to make me feel safe but still be able to get instant and honest feedback and support, was, I believe, the lynch pin in my recovery.
The space lost its safety when a family member began trolling me and offering insults. And then Facebook took off. Long form blogging in informal communities migrated to short form Facebook groups. The practice of writing became a chore. Writing honestly became dangerous. I fell away from my practice.
I also fell away from the practice of meeting attendance. Thanks to that charming family member, meetings became unsafe, too. Not too long after that, I relapsed. I managed to ride that relapse longer than one might imagine, given the level of my dysfunction, but eventually I was arrested and while I was in jail my domain expired and 8 years of my experience vanished from the human record.
Maybe all that had to be erased so that I could have a new experience of recovery. Maybe I needed a time out to get a new footing and heal from the trauma of having people I trusted cause me so much harm. Both those things seem to be true.
What hasn’t changed for me is the need to pause and make sense of my experience in a medium that allows me to slow down and be with it until I find that lesson in it that I can take with me into the future. This record will, no doubt, eventually disappear. The act of creating it, however, moves me incrementally toward a deeper understanding of a universal truth; that the solution to all my problems is recovery. Nothing in my life matters as much as insuring that I remain on a path of seeking a closer connection with Divine Will. Nothing I will ever do will matter so much as maintaining my recovery.
I remain convinced that there is some kind of Higher Power – God, if you like, or whatever, and that I’m here, in spite of everything, to have this experience and to grow from it. I also remain convinced that it is necessary for me to write about my experience, to mine my days experience for the parts that are useful, not for you to read it, though I hope some people do and I hope they enjoy it, but because it is the best tool I have for making sense out of it. Let’s hope I can reengage with it in a meaningful way.