Self Medicating

Self Medicating

self-med· i· cate ?self-?me-di-?k?t
self-medicated; self-medicating; self-medicates
transitive to treat (something) by self-medication
people who attempt to self-medicate depression
intransitive to treat oneself by self-medication

I  ran out of quotes for the time being so  now I’m trying definitions.

It started with reading. I always snarked when I heard someone say their self medicating or addiction started with reading. But now, years and years later, I can see it. To deal with the chaos in my family I read everything. Obsessively. Constantly. I’d put down one and start the same one again or pick up a new one. I spent as much time as possible in the library. Constantly reading. Reading while walking. Reading in the car, reading at lunch when they’d let me. Reading and never stopping.

Because in books was safety. Especially the ones I read over and over again knowing each time Lessa took flight to fight the threads on Pern. Science Fiction. Fantasy, Horror, Shakespeare, Bronte, Flannery O’conner . All of the Star Trek log books. I was never without a book. Never.

They were like a favorite blanket or a warm coat on a very cold day. A fresh breeze on a still, hot July day.

And that lasted to the point of basically getting two degrees in reading.

Somewhere along the way, at about 16, I found something that worked almost as well and had extra benefits.

It made me confident and more attractive, bulletproof and fierce. I didn’t fear verbally slapping a bully or two upside their perfect little blonde heads.


It saved me from depression and made me pretty. It took away the pain of bruises and split lips. It gave me the strength to find my way.

It also made me frequently suicidal (along with the abuse and fear), Gave me some bruises I couldn’t remember and led me to some dark places.

It did more for me at the time than it did against me. Or it felt that way. God it felt good to **feel good** I didn’t any other way, unless it involved a book or a cat.  I was too busy protecting myself at home to find other ways to feel good. Even my writing involved drinking. It allowed me to face the swirling, hideous and terrifying pit of anger and fear I lived with every day.

And it sort of continued to work. And then it didn’t. And then it really didn’t.

There’s more to figure out here. As of now I don’t drink, again for the last two years. I’ve stopped at different times in my life for 1, 2, 4 or 8 years. There is so much disfunction in my family tree around drugs and alcohol that sometimes it is better not to indulge. Especially in times of great change or turmoil  I got back around the bio family and picked it up again–it helped and hurt. I made mistakes I wouldn’t have made without it.

If I’d just kept ahold of what I had learned throughout my nearly 20 years away, I wouldn’t have tried, yet again, to return to the source of abuse for validation. (hat tip to my brother by choice, matchoo).

I wanted our kid to have an extended family. I didn’t  realize that  my bio family could never be an extended family and support for her.  I had hope that there could be change. That wasn’t silly and I don’t fully regret it. I tried.  I tried to get the family together. Except the family didn’t really want me. It took me awhile to realize I didn’t want them either.

What I did find and re-find was a big part of my tribe. The people who loved and saved me as I traversed the insanity of my upbringing.  Who didn’t even know what was going on but who loved me anyway ,because they could see my heart. Even when I couldn’t. And I met new folk who saw the me I’d become while away because I could be that person with them.  And though I’ve moved away, they are all still a part of my heart. I’ll never let them slip away. Thank you my friends, my true family.

I am not going to berate myself for taking a lifetime to come to terms with a serious load of trauma. I’ve made progress.  I haven’t let it completely stop me from succeeding, from having good people in my life and a sweet little family.

Those two people are/were deeply fucked up. But my failures and successes are mine-I have to make my path with what I am and what I can learn. Were they horrible? Oh hell yes, but that doesn’t mean they get to take credit or blame for who I am after a certain point. Did I fuck up? Oh hell yes– with them, with myself, with others. Many times. And that is how life works.

As messed up as I’ve been in my life, I’ve never been cruel. I take pride in that.

I don’t know if I’ll find a way to have an occasional drink again. I’m not really sure it matters as much as *not*  self medicating does. I am finding new ways to feel good. And just being ok with who I was and who I am.  I have such beautiful, kind intelligent , loving people in my life–they can’t all be wrong, I couldn’t have fooled ALL of them.