I’m writing this because it occurred to me that you might like to who I am and why I’m so into this Intervention show that I made a friggin website about it. Here’s my story.
My mother was a heroin addict until she was 8 months pregnant with me. I was born a baby addicted to heroin. I’ve been told that if I ever do the drug I will be immediately addicted. This has adequately scared me away from ever doing heroin and I consider myself lucky.
After I was born my mom switched to alcohol and cocaine until she found meth in the late 1980’s, which she continues to use today at age 72.
A few years ago I watched my father die of liver cancer from alcoholism. I moved to his town to take care of him for 6 of the last months of his life. I watched him continue to drink about a case of beer everyday, even when he was yellow with jaundice and acted more like someone with advanced dementia than cancer, and I watched him snort line after line of morphine to deal with the pain. I was with him when he died.
Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. Addiction is literally in my blood. I was raised deep in it, I understand it more than I understand most things, and I experience it myself every day of my life. There is no one thing that has affected my relationships and the choices I have made more than addiction has.
I come from a small town in Washington State that has experienced a very sad and dramatic de-population due to meth. I could call my hometown dead, and a quick drive through downtown would make that point, but it’s not really. It may be populated seemingly exclusively by meth (and now heroin) addicts, but those people are alive and they’re my people. They’re addicts who need help. They are my family and old friends and the family and friends of all the people I know there.
I left there 30 years ago, when the meth epidemic was just starting to take hold. Since then, I’ve faced my own addiction battles. In my mid-20’s as a nomadic hard partying Gen-Xer I developed a solid case of functional alcoholism. I drank more than any person should ever drink while still making it to work most days. I thought that drunk me was the real me, that my identity was contingent upon being drunk. One especially hungover Saturday morning I had the epiphany that all the pain I was experiencing was simply the cost of drinking. I deserved it. This was the price I had to pay for drinking the way I did. And I wondered if what I got from drinking was worth the cost.
I voluntarily went into treatment on Christmas Eve in 2000 because my plan was to drink myself into complete oblivion for my 2-week Christmas vacation. Just sit in front of the TV chain smoking and drinking cheap vodka out of the bottle. I realized this was my plan and decided in a rare moment of clarity that rehab would probably be a better idea than drinking myself to death. It was a good decision.
I was sober for almost 7 years. I was fully in the program, had a great sponsor, started meetings for women new to recovery, followed the steps to a tee. I went back to school and finally got my degree, with honors. I wrote essays that won awards and got published. I made art. I had solid, meaningful friendships. I knew that I didn’t need alcohol to be the best me. I became that productive, creative me that I always wanted to be but didn’t know how. I was so far removed from who I thought I was when I was drinking and my identity was no longer contingent on being a drinker. I had found a way, and I was happy.
But then my mother told me she wanted to get clean from meth. I went up there to help her through withdrawals. It was a rough time, to put to put it mildly, but we got through it. As soon as we got through to the other side, she immediately started using again.
For whatever reason, as soon I got home from that trip I had the thought that drinking a cider would be no big deal, I could probably drink like a regular person now right? The thought wouldn’t leave me alone this time. I couldn’t seem to ignore it, so I entertained it. Eventually I convinced myself that since I hadn’t drank in almost 7 years, I could have one drink and it wouldn’t change anything. I would still be in recovery, it would just be a short relapse. I would totally stop after one or two and get right back on track. And if not, well I wouldn’t drink the next day. And even if I did drink all 6 and drank more the next day too, I knew it would never ever drink like I did before. I would NEVER be that person again. I had conquered my old alcoholism. This would not affect me. I get to be a regular person now. I deserved to be a regular person. I deserved to drink like everyone else. I worked so hard for it.
So I walked into the grocery store and stood in front of the cooler, waiting for a sign. I stood there for a really long time, nervous and weird, just staring at the cooler and expecting something, someone to stop me. But nothing happened. No sign ever came. Finally I bought a 6-pack of cider, took it home and drank the whole thing alone. That was more than 10 years ago. I haven’t stopped drinking since.
Now in my late 40’s, I’m much better at being an alcoholic than I was before, most of time, but I certainly can’t deny the grip alcohol has on me still.
I’ve been on most sides of addiction. There’s a reason why I watch Intervention, there’s a reason why I feel the need to document it. It’s not because I want to see people at their worst, exploited, semi-consciously performing for the reality cameras. It’s because the addicts and the families on Intervention are people I strongly relate to in ways that I can’t even explain. It’s because Intervention is a show that actually saves those peoples’ lives.
I know that I’m not the only one with a complicated relationship to addiction that obsessively watches Intervention. That’s why this site exists.
UPDATE: It’s February 2021 and I’m sober now, again, since last Spring when Covid shutdowns and quarantines started. I decided then that I really didn’t want to spend however many months being alone and absolutely miserable in that vicious drunk/hungover/drunk cycle and that I should probably take the opportunity to get my shit together. Start some new hobbies, complete some home projects, figure some things out – whatever I needed to do so that I didn’t turn this strange and scary time into a long blur of drunken Facebook posts and pathetic texts to ex-boyfriends and just general self-loathing all around. So I did, and now I’m doing pretty great. I read a lot of books, baked a lot of bread, landscaped my backyard to turn it into a little oasis for me and my dog/life partner, redesigned this website, and got really into podcasts about cults. I mean I can’t say I’m LOVING that 1 year in I’m still stuck in my house having full-on conversations with my pets, honestly might be going a little batty at this point, but it could be much, much worse. I’m alive, my home survived the Almeda Fire that ravaged my town, I didn’t get sick, I didn’t lose anyone close to me, and I was sober for all of it. Feeling very grateful about that. Thanks for the support and advice everyone, I really do appreciate it.