Hi there. Good open post. Thank you. I am intrigued and offer empathy for your struggle and ordeal. This internet forum is not the best medium to do justice to your important statements, or to your immediate questions. Face to face is always more human and dynamic. Be that as it may, I can see some part way to sharing with you what I did, and how I started my recovery from substance abuse. Don't feel weird if ya have to read it several times to get something from it: I had to go over it a few times myself just to be able to author it!
In summer 1981 I finally gave up on me ever outsmarting my addiction. I gave up and gave into my addiction. I agreed with myself that my addiction was an intricate, intimate, and intergral part of my whole person. I gave up on my attempts to get myself away from myself. I and my addiction became one and the same that summer. I finally took it personally instead of as some abstract thing that was happening "to me."
This acceptance La Luna, opened the many startling doors and windows into myself. The first structured awareness I struggled to gestalt was that my addiction was not in itself an affliction that was killing me, but that my addiction was (is) simply a mechanism of responses to my attempting to live an existance which I could not bear to live. In short then, I wanted to die without actually dying. I wanted to suffer without actually suffering. I wanted to overcome without actually overcoming. I wanted to live without actually living. I wanted all the benefits of substance addiction without the consquences. I wanted all the good times and none of the bad.
Or I would switch the equation and want all the bad with none of the good times. Suicide. Whatever. It's all the same game, just a mirror-image of it. Same score. Nothing for nothing and all the drugs for free. I felt truly empty and overwhelmed, just like you do La Luna. Interesting. So, what can we do about this? What did I do? It is so easy that I missed it for the entire time of my "using drugs":
feelings are just feelings AND thoughts are just thoughts and any manifestation of both is just an experience in action.
That's it. No big deal really. Just plain and ordinary.
I came to realize that what I craved was not really just a physical/mental craving but a WHOLE craving -- my whole person craved thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings are manifested through actions and reactions. The substances that I used provided and forced the reactions I craved, and they did so without my force of will in direct action to the reactions.
Want to "feel/think" something without effort: use drugs. Want to feel/think "nothing" without effort: use drugs. Want to do both in the same experience without "effort": just be a drug addict and stop using drugs.
Now came the hard part. I found that whenever I would quit I too was overwhelmed by such an intense fullness of emptiness. Complete and everlasting emptiness. I would try to ride it out, but in the end I would ALWAYS go back to using. I know now what was actually going on in my first weeks and months (years on some functions) of kicking the habit was NOT that I was empty, but that I was full but aware of it only as an emptiness cuzz we become so use to drugs providing the force of will (the action/reaction) that without drugs we become super-sensitized to even the smallest effort of will. I was in fact overwhelmed by simple use of my own efforts to do for me what I depended on drugs to do for me. Think and feel and react.
What a surprise! I had started doing drugs to "get high" and I became so low that I had learned to call even the lowest low my high. Anyways La Luna, what I am saying is this: in the beginning I really believe that I used drugs to do what I could not do for myself. So, I will say now that it was an honest choice. In the end I realized that drugs were now stoping me from doing what I could easily do without them. All drugs ever gave me was the effortless experience of thoughts and feelings out of control AND still have the illusion of having my life in control. However, after I became ADDICTED using drugs became different. No longer was doing drugs effortless or easy, and they no longer gave me a sense of being free with my "thoughts/feelings". Now the illusion was GONE and I KNEW that my addicted life was out of control and so then my thoughts and feelings became completely predictable and boring and enslaved to search for that illusion once again. A useless and self defeating experience for sure. Down the rabbit hole and into wonderland is always fun if you are laughing, but as Alice found out, we can easily drown in our own tears if we begin to cry on the trip down. And once I had started to cry La Luna, I never really laughed again without also crying no matter how hard I pretended to laugh. A good belly laugh can't be faked. And the tears that come with such a laugh are always tears of joy. My tears were tears of sadness and desperation. I was down the hole nine years. I laughed only for the first three years. The last six I learned to tread water doing the dead-man float all the time.
Now for sure I did not want to go back to the way I was BEFORE I started using since I would just be at the same sad place that started the whole damn thing in the first place, and I didn't want to be the way I was addicted either since I was dying a crazy slow death dance with life and I wasn't laughing. I was totally locked inside a paradox with an abundance of death making long distance calls on my life and I could not pay the toll. What to do? (Hang on twisted sister, the good news is coming up!:-)
So in that summer of 1981 I decided that the only way out was to get completely in: I wanted both experiences. A new whole out of broken and opposing parts/forces. A new life from an old death. Like the Phoenix thing La Luna. Out of the ashes and all that trip. Some people call it Reborn. Some call it a Spiritual Awakening. Some call it bullshit. :-)!
I call it something for nothing. I call it Order in Chaos. I call it Life over Death. I call it a drug addict who wants to use but dosen't JUST BECAUSE they want to have THAT experience and call it their own. I own it. It is mine and mine alone. The addiction now gives me what drugs use to give me: a forced manifestation of my thoughts/feelings. My recovery program also in turn now gives me what drugs use to give me: A force of will in reaction to actions. In truth I could say that the only difference between my drug recovery program life NOW and my old addiction life THEN is that it is the ABSENSE of drugs which drives the phenomena now, and not the use of drugs. One of the benefits enjoyed by the truly addicted is that ya don't need the damn shit any more to get a decent trip! I am aware now that the trip remains the same... it's only the scenery that changes. Once your ticket is punched, all the buses are as good as the next one. I enjoy the ride EVEN MORE than I did using drugs. Besides, anything beats walking La Luna when you know how to fly!
In your post you state that you endure chronic pain. That of course is a high motivation to abuse script meds. I can really feel for you cuzz I too have chronic pain. And so did my mentor Dr. Pellegrin. He was hooked on scripts too. He did kick them but it was hell on earth for him most times to stay kicked. I never really chased scripts cuzz they just controlled my pain and I wanted much more of a trip than that. I am more the street gutter type. Straight booze and some drugs of any kind really just to control the alcohol is my cocktail dessert. Straight alcohol is my preferred drug of choice. La Luna, let us not kid ourselves here. Chronic pain is not just a bad trip that we can one day turn away from. We live with it on good days and bad days. Pain is a reality, and so is relief from that pain.
The chances of a chronic pain sufferer NEVER doing pain pills to subside or control the pain is not really likely. I have found that my awareness of pain has to change if I am to lower the risks of relapse. And so it has. Pain is just another feeling. Relief from pain is also just another absense of that feeling. A masking of it. A distortion of it. I have found that I can deal better with my pain if I welcome it in my wholeness of experiences instead of singular experience of it. When I single it out, I cannot endure it. When I spread it around so to speak, I can get by.
In gestalt we do not really make a difference in the mind/body thing. We are just an organism in existence as a whole manifestation of life. I tell ya La Luna, ya can spread a lot of stuff around in Gestalt cuzz nothing is singular in itself. I have learned that I do not really have "pain feelings" but that what I have is awareness of whole and dynamic gestalts of expereinces which form within the field of my existence. In other words everything is the same to me in as a mechanism of my awareness: it is all experience. In gestalt I am always attempting to facilitate the continuance of my "wholeness" by re-experiencing phenomena which does not seem to nourish and encourage my efforts into sustaining and growing to completeness my "whole self"
In gestalt terms I will my self into an I-Thou experience with my "chronic pain phenomena" rather than choose an I-IT experience cuzz in I-It mode I am not a "whole organism" and would therefore fail to appreciate the paradox of the phenomena which would of course cause unresolved actions/reactions and in turn cause other paradoxes to become manifest which then continues and so on.
Since I don't know what you might or may not know about gestalt therapy La Luna, but in laymans terms I am aware that I have feelings of pain cuzz I have either an unresolved paradox which is in conflict with my over all well being OR I am having feelings of pain BECAUSE they resolve a paradox for the continuance of my over all well being. In my personal experience with "pain" I prefer to search my awareness to the appreciation that my pain resolves a paradox and not hinder resolvement.
I am polio survivor La Luna. My pain is well known to me. I contacted polio in my infancy back in the late fifties. I grew up with the consquences of that contact. It is all I have known. I was 14 months old at contact. I have danced with my self over my pain for over forty years now. I use to dance while drunk as a skunk and high as an eagle but that stuff never really did any thing longlasting for my pain. Gestsalt therapy and substance recovery has proved to be more than adequate. And although one persons pain cannot be appreciated truly by another person, I can only tell you that I am able to hobble into my local pharmacy with script that will get me Demerol 50mg tablets at a twenty-five count dispense and repeats as needed. I don't use them and haven't for years now (really) the last time I did use them to take some of the bite out of my pain was the the few months after I underwent back surgery to correct a spinal stenosis problem I was having. I took the pills when all else failed, and enjoyed and sucked up every thing I could get out of the trip(hey, if ya take them, take them for real I say). As each instance of my pain came more under my resolvement with out Demerol I rejoiced and after a few scripts (seventy-five pills over three or four months) I haven't had to go back for a refill.
Damn this medium! Sometimes words on a page sound so grandiose and extreme. My point is that in your post you say you also can get clean and live with your pain. That is great La Luna. The next time you beat it, DON"T look any further than yourself for help. If you can beat it for a day you can for two days and then three and so on. As a matter of fact my best advice is once you get on a roll of beating it join some group and help your self not by searching for help but by giving it to others. Make contact. Share your inner self. Your feelings and your thoughts with your peers. Perhaps give the professionals a little rest. They will always be there later if you need them. Peer group work is very effective and rewarding. Solid work and longlasting rewards. It is only the fear of being real and human which attempts to hinder us when we offer a hand to someone else. Helping others is the best medicine you will ever take for your self. Trust me. It is the One Way that works all the time. I have been sober and clean without relapse since July 1981. It really can work for most persons. I can thank past extensive peer group work for my continued present successes. (My past or future surgeries I do not appreciate as a relapse. Cutting bone hurts any way ya want to gestalt it)
Funny thing is La Luna, but in Gestalt therapy "helping" is often a dirty word. Another paradox for the theory guys to resolve in any case.
I hope I have been "helpful" La Luna. Let me know what you are thinking, and good luck and blessings for both you and your husband La Luna.