I'll never be able to lose the stigma

By kailey_elise · May 14, 2012 · ·
  1. kailey_elise
    I've been thinking a lot about dating and being in recovery. So far, post-divorce, it hasn't really been an issue; 1 person I dated was a ridiculous alcoholic I had no intentions of being serious with, another...well, the other was someone I had a ridiculous shared history with & I know wouldn't judge me no matter what.

    But in talking with a friend recently, I've come to realize that this whole thing has the potential to be a huge problem in the future.

    Opiate/Heroin addicts have the highest rate of relapse of all addicts (so I'm told, and it appears that way to me from what I've seen!). I'm...still on methadone. I'm coming off of the methadone, slowly but surely, but...I'm still on it for now. Things are stable. I'm not craving, though I can be an irritable bitch if I drink too much coffee before I dose. I want to desperately believe that those feelings are just because it's, like, acute withdrawal. That when I go for it & step off, I'll have some minor withdrawal crap, but because I've done it slowly it'll be manageable.

    But what about after? Can I date non-users? I mean, I don't want to date junkies, but I don't think I'd want to date EX-junkies either! Which leaves me with...non-users. However, I'm really really concerned about that high rate of relapse. Like I almost don't think it's fair to saddle a potential mate with such a thing. I guess I'm scared I can't trust myself.

    The stigma of being a former junkie is something I keep running across. I'm going to visit a friend in another state. My anxious self does better the less time I have to contemplate things (I'll either talk myself out of doing it, or I'll work myself into a tizzy of indecision); I would have LIKED to have said "Oh, I'll be there tomorrow!" but I couldn't because of the stupid clinic. Thankfully, because I'm a good girl & do what I'm supposed to, they really like me & pulled some strings so I got EXTRA takehomes for my trip, and an extra on TOP of what I should've gotten AND all this happened in less than a week, when it normally takes more than two to get shit like this approved.

    Then there's shit like, if one of my friends really needs me for some reason, I can't just jump up & go. And I usually have to mention it's because I'm on the clinic.

    So there's the whole clinic dealie. But then there's the whole junkie stigma as well. I have the smallest, least noticeable tracks than any IV user I've ever known. But people I'm honest with about this (& I'm ALWAYS honest - I'm too fucking lazy to lie) I'm sure worry about, well, communicable diseases, I guess. I don't have HCV or HIV, and I'm 1 of 2 people I know in my area who was/is an IDU without HCV. Any time a health official is aware of my former IDU status, they always seem to be about to just check off "yes" when they're going through the list of ailments you have & are taken aback when I say I don't have it. Damn, I mean, if I were to date someone I knew used to inject drugs, especially if they had a serious down & out period (like I did), *I'D* worry about HIV, and likely be suspicious they might not be telling the truth or worried that maybe they are but it hasn't shown up yet, blah blah blah. I mean, I never shared a goddamn thing, so I *KNOW* I don't have anything, but still.

    I guess maybe I'm just feeling down about my past. Maybe shame about having been a Heroin/cocaine addict - esp an IV one? I dunno. I have no intentions of EVER stepping back into that life, *EVER*. But those statistics scare the fucking shit out of me. And I've spent MANY years on opioids - all those years on the pain clinic, the few years of insanity, now MMT.

    Back to visiting my friend, which sorta triggered all this; my friend is my friend, and I don't censor myself when we converse. And...maybe I'm feeling bad, because he lives with people that I *DEFINITELY* feel I need to remind myself to watch what I say & not blurt out anything that comes to mind, like I would if it were just me & a close friend talking. Maybe that's what it is. Maybe it *IS* shame? Like, I know I don't have to worry about anyone noticing anything - my scars are very insignificant & you wouldn't notice them if you weren't looking directly for them. But it's nearly summer - I can't wear long sleeves. There's a chance someone could see. And then it's very likely their opinion of me would change, despite the fact that I left that life behind a long time ago. I've had this happen to me regarding other "loaded" phrases - and not just with one person, either.

    "Junkie", "Heroin addict", "IV drug user" are all terms that give people an immediate image in their mind that's hard to shake, regardless of the word "former" being in front of it. I don't know how to get past this deep sense of shame. Like, I'm all weepy as I write this - it's something I try not to think about too often.

    I remember a few years ago, when I first saw my friend Marc in many many years (like, over 15). He knew in advance about my "troubles" & had had some "troubles" of his own as a coke/crack head, apparently. But there are no tangible scars from that - he can go about his life, never get high again, and people might never know.

    But I was leaning over him for something, and I saw him look at the crook of my arm. Like I said, you have to look for them to see them. I don't think I look anything like a junkie these days. But that glance, that recognition, made me feel 2 inches tall. I looked at him, he looked back at me, shrugged & said "it is what it is."

    Ugh, crying now writing this, so I'm gonna finish up with this:

    I don't know how I'm ever gonna get past this. I feel like no matter what I do in life in the future, I could find a cure for cancer or whatever, but I will be forever judged by that period of my life.

    Most of all, I wish I could stop judging myself.

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  1. TheBigBadWolf
    Exactly the same sort of thoughts is what held me back from dating anyone except for co-patients at my doctor's,
    I tried to get my "ex-opiate-abuser" status communicated and got nothing but rejection. Nothing ever got over this point, I mean I don't want to lie about what I do and did the last twenty years, so wtf?
    Sometimes I feel like we are doomed to sit in that situation forever. (The same with my two best friends, neither he nor she are able to communicate this to anyone without being rejected).

    Self-judgement, ha! aye- I do the same...

    This may not be helpful, just wanted to tell you that I feel the same about it. And that I am as helpless as you are.
  2. kailey_elise
    You know what pisses me off even more??

    Someone who also used to inject drugs, who had been on ORT, quit & relapsed, has been feeding my friend bullshit about me. However, not "me as in Kailey" but "me as just another junkie". This person is (was?) a friend of my best friend. She's been lying to his face about her relapsing, and has the fucking nerve to sit there & tell him lies, tell him that I said things I most certainly didn't, as well as telling him I'm untrustworthy, I'm using him (for what, I have no idea - it's not like he has money or anything! hahaha), I'm just a liar, he doesn't understand because he's never been an opioid addict, etc etc. I'm fairly certain Mutual Friend knows these things are lies, but I know if I were in the same situation, the little voice in the back of my head might say things like "what if she's right? What if this *IS* all an act on Kailey's part?"

    Well, if it were, I deserve some kind of award for keeping up the charade for so long. ;) I mean, he & I are pretty close friends & have written and talked to each other extensively prior to meeting, and I feel it's pretty evident upon spending any significant amount of time with me that I am exactly who I "appear" to be.

    It annoys me that someone who should know better, because she knows how it feels, would tell our friend things like that. I guess misery loves company - she's not happy he's happy to talk to me, hahaha. ;)

    I just don't like that people assume things about me because I used to have a serious drug problem. No one deserves a second chance, I guess. *sigh*
  3. DocBrock
    Is/was|relapsed|being hurtful. Losing trust as your trustworthiness is, you feel, being undermined. Your penultimate para reeks of schadenfraude.

    Sure it isn't just the DOC trying to drive away the voice of reason, and to try to get closer to someone the DOC voice believes may be an enabler for the DOC to resurface?. Internal voice of addiction is getting attention, so speaking more?.
    Maybe she feels she needs an external conflict to resolve her own. I have sought conflict in one way or another during each phase. Sometimes manifest in adrenaline seeking, but confines that very well to off public property, out of harm to public behaviour.
    Sometimes manifest as allowing a minor jealously to manifest as hurtful behaviour out of all proportions.
    Maybe one, part of one, none or more combined.
    Or maybe she just fancies like crazy and isn't trying to hurt at all, it just feels like it whilst she is mainly oblivious or dismissive due to natural drive gone a bit wonky?.
    Maybe she is a manipulative so-and-so, short of attention and you've just seen it.

    I'd guess he's the one to talk to though. I've been in similar. Turns out she thought my mate was a grade one dickhead for doing it too, but didn't want to say anything for fear of upsetting me!
  4. knightsmith
    Im sorry you're having this hard a time. Sometimes it makes me thankful I had the one genuine friend so that I didnt have the friend conflicts to deal with, but just isolates you when you do have a friend with the 1 fight, so I guess i'm going looking for new friends this month. Some people can be manipulated scarily easy, I found out how easy I can be the other day, he might figure it out soon, some people, really, they make me mad, ruining friendships, its like they have to take away someone elses stuff, because they don't have it themselves.
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