I think, without being extremely simplistic about the subject, the big difference was that I actually wanted to stop using opiates, and had no desire to continue having anything to do with them at all. It's amazing how much easier it is to quit something you actually want to quit. I really do believe that whether one actually, genuinely wants to stop is paramount to the chances of success. If you don't want to take drugs, it's much easier not to do so.
Also, completely cutting off contact with every single person who still uses drugs. That was a big part of it. Making a conscious decision to have no real life interaction with active users, at all, ever. This is very particular to me, perhaps, but for this reason things like NA and 'groups' would just not have worked for me, at all. I couldn't think of anything worse than sitting in a room full of people talking about why they want to use drugs, whilst attempting to detox off methadone. This in part has been the reason for my absence from DF also, I just haven't had any interest at all in anything drug related, and I feared that my patience, sympathy and understanding for current users had taken a bit of a knock. Sparkles, you referred to my strength of will to help others. It’s still there, but I think I’m perhaps a little less likely to suffer fools gladly now.
With regards to my mother's illness and death, I am so glad that I had the sense at the time to move back home, and stay there, being an active part of her care for the last year or so of her life. That was something which I really would have regretted not doing, and you're right, if I had spent those months just sat in some scummy flat somewhere getting wasted, it would be triggering a huge amount of guilt now. As it stands, other than the general regrets one has towards things like this, not spending enough time together before she got ill, being an impossible brat when I was a teenager etc, I can say that I am pretty okay with the situation. I've done a lot of thinking about my mum in the past year or so, I do agree that the clarity with which feelings suddenly hit you is quite a bit stronger than when not on any opiates, but…I guess I’ve always been relatively honest with myself about how I feel about things. I’ve always attempted to have some degree of emotional integrity, at least towards myself. I think this is also a very important aspect of recovery, being able to confront and deal with one’s emotions, without wanting to hide away at the first sign of an emotional response.
You mention about getting off methadone and then just continuing with life as if nothing happened, and everything just changing so easily. This really isn’t the case. I’ve worked bloody hard at turning my life into the life that I want. I realised I was not in a position I wanted to be in, there were things going on in my life that I was very unhappy with, and I did what needed to be done until that was rectified. People can get so stuck, living a life that they don’t want, thinking that it is out of their control, when in fact it is pretty much the only thing that we do have true, ultimate control over – our own life. Things may go wrong around us, bad things do happen, but ultimately we do have the control to decide how we react to all that, and what impact it has on our future. Do we use it as a reason to become a victim, and mask everything with opiates and wallow in self-pity? Do we just go into a world of avoidance, pretending everything is fine, when in reality it's all turning to shit around us? Or do we get out there and make changes? I decided it was time to do the latter. And as for unjustness, well…life isn’t exactly just, is it? You can however make it what you want it to be. A lot of the difficulties I had in my life were of my own making, and therefore it was down to me to unmake them. I cut people out of my life, ruthlessly. I moved away, I worked hard and earned money and got myself into college again...and I changed the way I thought about things, changed my own internal responses to certain situations, stopped justifying actions that I knew deep down were unjustifiable. None of my prior problems "evaporated", I just made changes.
I am, however, fortunate that I managed to escape relatively unscathed – this is a luxury that many others do not have. Not having ended up with a criminal record, no lasting physical damage, blood borne diseases etc….it certainly makes it easier to just move on with life. But that is not to say that others, who haven’t been as lucky as I, would be unable to do the same.
Nothing in your reply has seemed in any way out of order, Sparkles, nor has it upset me at all. I do think however that you may have underestimated just how stubborn I am; as BBW said, I’m one seriously stubborn lady. I was extremely single-minded about what I wanted and what I didn’t want, and I made it happen. I worked hard at it, that’s done, it’s mine, I own those changes. Of course I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know that I’m not going to allow anything to take this away from me.