5 Years Ago: My Own Rehab, My Own Mountain.

We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.”

Ursula K Le Guin – US Author

When I started using heroin I was tormented by pain and desperate to escape the abyss that was growing inside. I’d become disconnected from all the things that had previously given my life meaning. The work that I’d enjoyed, the friends who’d sustained me over the years and had allowed me to feel in some way’s whole and loved, and most importantly from myself. When my mum died all the parts of myself I’d kept separate and fragmented started to surface, the trauma’s I’d denied, the difficulties with attachment, trust and intimacy, and most significantly the shame and guilt I felt for various events in my life.

When my school teacher was found guilty at crown court for historic sexual abuse something shifted and I was suddenly aware that what had happened to me mattered, this acknowledgement and recognition provided the momentum for my recovery, it was my teachable moment and one filled with hope and potential.

At one point heroin was my solution and it was necessary for a while but once I started to understand my pain differently and to welcome it as a guide and teacher heroin became the problem. I needed to feel again to really face my recovery, I needed to allow myself to feel what I’d previously been scared of. So I moved to Cornwall in July 2015 and stopped using heroin, I was taking methadone as an opiate substitute and decided to orchestrate my own rehab at home where I could detox at a comfortable pace and create a routine to support the return of my feelings.

The most important aspect for me was to be alone, leaving behind my co-dependant relationship was hard but necessary as the heroin use and relationship were inextricably linked, both made me feel trapped. The relationship would make me want to use and I also felt unable to think just for myself. I felt a responsibility towards my partner as he could be reckless, he was alcoholic and heroin dependant and would often be close to overdose. I used to get so angry with him for having his hit and nearly going over as it would ruin my hit. I’d have to stay aware of him, his breathing, his posture, there were many times where I’d slap him round the face and tell him he was selfish, he of course was high and didn’t care at all. We started off enjoying the high together and in the end we just pursued it for ourselves.

I would spend my day’s worrying about him and being on hand for whatever disaster may strike, there were many! My natural inclination was to be of service to others and I was unable to switch this off if I lived with people, particularly those I’m intimately involved with, although in a heroin relationship intimacy doesn’t feature highly, it numbs all the bad feelings but also any good ones too. We just existed together in the end, our early day’s were full of good feelings and escape and the final day’s were an attempt to make an escape from the life created. What was once a solution became the problem.

Moving to Cornwall was like a sigh of relief, I knew that I could work it out on my own, that free of responsibility and worry for others that I would make progress. I was no longer afraid of my feelings, I knew I had to face discomfort, I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I was determined to sort it out myself. I wrote endlessly in my journals of this time, so much random stuff, notes from tv shows and things I read, descriptions of my walks and things observed in nature. I wrote to feel connected to the life I was living, to find my way back to real experience and the real me.

Thursday 29th October 2015 – Day 17 of New Moon

Last day of the full moon phase, I couldn’t see the moon last night as the clouds were thick, dense and heavy. There was so much rainfall overnight, it started last night with powerful winds and the rain was relentless. I had to pop into Penzance in the evening, the drive via Madron was so fun, I felt like I was on a night-time adventure, leaving in the dark with storms raging. It’s only the second time I’ve returned here in the dark, it’s not creepy at all. I feel very safe here, driving about at night on the isolated lanes is so atmospheric, it made me smile lots. Getting back home was a lovely feeling, the heating had made the place all toasty and welcoming, coming home is such bliss, I love feeling this way, home is my retreat, it’s my sanctuary and I love how relaxed I feel, it’s extraordinary, I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt so relaxed.

Watching a Stacey Dooley documentary on BBC3 Most Dangerous Place to be a Women – Honduras. Femicide is a huge problem, 209 murders in one district in one year.

Miss Honduras and her sister killed by boyfriend, shot twelve times and the chaps mates helped him to bury the bodies, the bodies were found a week later but his connections means he will likely get off with it. Miss Honduras is one of five models killed in recent months.

Most murdered women are under twenty four and from the poorest areas, many girls are recruited into gangs, many are orphans so the gangs become their new family, they’re lured with the promise of easy cash and are made whores and some become honey traps.

It’s not just gangs but the culture, they think women have done something to deserve it, like cheating or not staying home to cook and clean. The men state they love passionately and this makes them aggressive, they said if the women would just behave then there wouldn’t be a problem!

Only 3% of domestic violence cases are ever solved in Honduras with just three refuges for women in the country. Rape of girls under fourteen is common, abortion is now illegal and no birth control allowed. Certainly puts things in perspective. My abuser got six years and will serve three in prison, I thought that was a light sentence but compared to Honduras it’s pretty dam good! So many women don’t get justice for their suffering, it’s not right.

Lime oil – good for anxiety and depression, addiction and dependency, headaches, fevers and sore throats.

On my short morning stroll I had the pleasure of seeing my Buzzard friend on the posts by the long straight road. There are so many garden birds too, I’m going to do the RSPB big garden bird watch.

I watched a BBC2 documentary about Sea Otters – Million Dollar Baby. An otter was raising her pup around millionaire yachts in the marina. A chap called Jim kept spotting them in the marina and witnessed a male otter called Pink Blue attempting to mate with the mum, she tried to protect her pup and got badly injured and had to flee the marina. The local sanctuary nursed her back to health and six weeks later released her back into the marina near Jim’s boat. There was no sign of the pup and fears continued over Pink Blue returning. After a few weeks the pup was spotted by Jim!! The dear little thing was tapping shells on boats and metal just like the mum had demonstrated.

I’m sobbing my eyes out, it was so beautiful, the bond between mum and pup, Jim’s interest in the pair, it was all very touching. Jim said that watching them had made him slow down and live life more in the way he’d like to. The simple things, nature teaches us so much and we do such awful things to nature, as a human race we have lots to make up for. The way we’ve treated animals and the environment in the past is truly horrendous, often from ignorance and lack of education or choice but we must attend to this now, we must do something to restore the balance.

I’m still trying to reduce my methadone, hence why my emotions keep bubbling up, I keep crying over animal documentaries. I think reducing my methadone will help me to sleep better. I’m determined to reduce to 45ml before I see GP/Recovery Worker next week. I’ve done well to reduce from 120ml and I can certainly feel things coming back to life, laughing one moment and blubbing my eyes out the next, I’m just allowing myself to be amused by it. The extra exercise and fresh air will help too so I must keep walking, keep active in body and mind. Progress..slowly. I never thought it would be possible to stop heroin and that’s happened, now I just need to detox from the methadone, little steps each day and I will get there.

Seals on the beach!!

I returned from my evening walk at around five, I walked to Morvah church and down to the coast path and followed it back to Portheras Cove. To my delight there were seals on the beach sheltering from the storms. I feel it was my reward for making the effort to walk a decent evening walk. Charlie and I had a thoroughly lovely time, just me and the boy on the coast path, a few cows and birds, the joy of seeing the seals, the waves and wind for company, it was so revitalising and I couldn’t help but think ‘Gosh I love it here’, I looked at Charlie and said ‘you love it here too boy’ he gave me a cheeky, knowing look and darted off to play. Feeling very blessed.

2 responses to “5 Years Ago: My Own Rehab, My Own Mountain.

  1. Amazing writing, I was completely engrossed from the 1st paragraph. My life too has been riddled with all types of addiction, trauma, therapy and recovery. I went back to therapy in the past year, i didn’t know why but soon found out due to the incredibly astute therapist I found and have come out of it all finally feeling as though I have wings; a fledgling at 60! πŸ˜‚
    Our paths crossed some years ago Poppy, your words moved me immensely as I was already aware of your experiences and I often wondered where you ended up, I shed a tear when you mentioned Charlie, I remember that lovely soul.
    I am helping out at several 12 step groups, I am sponsor to several people with similar addiction, 33 years sober and clean but still need help with other addictions and codependency of course bites my bum occasionally.
    God bless you Poppy, I am so pleased you are doing so well.
    Darren πŸ™πŸ™πŸŒˆπŸŒˆπŸ˜ŠπŸ˜Š

    • Thank you Darren, I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post and how lovely to hear from you! I remember discussions we shared around some of the challenges in life, it was always good to talk with you and I had an awareness that we were kindred spirits of a kind. In terms of my recovery, I’ve followed an eclectic route.
      I became free of heroin dependency by engaging with drug and alcohol services and was prescribed Methadone as an opiate substitute, when I finally removed my resistance to this and committed to the path of recovery it was a great tool, it allowed me to establish routines and habits that supported recovery, whilst also allowing me to explore my reasons for needing emotional numbing.
      I educated myself about how opiates work on the brain and body and by doing so was able to prepare for withdrawal and detox. I managed my detox from methadone at home over a period of months. I needed this gradual withdrawal so that the emotional shock was not too intense.
      It worked, and I’m grateful it did. I engaged with 12 step recovery for a certain period, the main benefit was accessing a supportive community where my issues could be discussed with others who really understood. I enjoyed the spiritual aspects as this had been ever present in my life, and I enjoyed nurturing this further. My challenges these day’s are resolving the trauma issues that impact my ability to have intimate relationships, I lack differentiation and find it difficult to manage boundaries, I can never relax when living with someone, and I’m aware I need to do further healing to realign my nervous system and find a way to undo the trauma state I’ve been holding since childhood.
      I’m extremely interested in neurobiological models for both addiction and trauma, and I’m keen to explore the role of addiction and trauma further and in particular what model of addiction/recovery is most appropriate for those with complex trauma. It all fascinates me and I love learning, I just can’t get enough…I’m channelling my energies in more positive directions, with my lovely dog Charlie at my side, it’s lovely you remember him.
      Sending a massive smile your way, thank you truly for connecting.
      Warmth and Joy..Poppy xx

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