Lauren Johnson, Conspire alum, continues her series on addiction, incarceration and life in general.
I think it is interesting to see parallels popping up in my life. I have recently noticed that I am building myself back into the person I was meant to be, one action at a time. I think that is also how I destroyed myself. I realize that at some point the lines that were drawn in the sand slowly faded with no trace of where they once were. Boundaries moved further and further back until they were all but gone. I know this happens to others as well. It can apply specifically to the drug use, but it tends to spill into all areas of life.
Trying to control usage is actually like a step into the addiction. It is somewhat clear that the potential for a problem exists and so heading it off seems like a good idea. This is the part where the person makes rules for usage. “ I will only drink/use on the weekend”, “ I will only do it x number of times a month”, “ I will stop at x time and go home”. At some point though, we come up on the line in the sand and move it back just a smidge. Talk ourselves into just a little more, just a little longer. Make an addendum to the rule that makes it acceptable for now. I think you can see where that leads right?
During my last incarceration, my husband and I had gotten into a fight over the phone. I don’t think I called him back for two weeks because I was so furious. I don’t know if I am the only one that does this, but later on while I lay there in bed, I replayed the conversation in my mind, and said all the stuff I had been too flustered to say before. Specifically I was (in my mind) telling my husband, “ When YOU do X then it shows me that you don’t trust me.” God took this opportunity to interrupt my mentally televised programming and tell me something about myself. It was almost as if He had tapped me on the shoulder and whispered in my ear, “ By the way, when you are out there stealing, you are showing me that you don’t trust me to provide for you”.
I wanted to argue; we weren’t talking about ME! But I understood that this was a lesson that I needed to get.
Stealing isn’t something that I always did and honestly, most of the times I did it, I was a nervous wreck. It wasn’t big stuff but it had become habitual. Somewhere along the way that line had been erased and I had no qualms about doing it, just a small fear of getting caught. I had a small presence of conscience that would occasionally ask me what it would take for me to change that behavior but itwas soft and infrequent. I wouldn’t walk into someone’s house and steal something, so I suppose there were some boundaries or rules for this behavior as well. Typically I would steal as I was shopping. Buy a hundred dollars worth of stuff at HEB or Walmart, and steal ten to twenty dollars worth of smaller stuff that fit easily into my purse. Perhaps I saw it as a bonus, but in prison,I was removed from that temptation. Out of seemingly nowhere I was being dealt with.
So I chose to listen and to make the vow to stop stealing. I chose to trust God to provide for my needs. I have to tell you that in the same way that the line slowly eroded, it is slowly being replaced. I came home and stopped blatantly stealing things, only to realize on a regular basis that there are so many other areas in my life where a small act of dishonesty is essentially the same thing. Amazing how far reaching those lines had gotten. I am proud to report that the more I find myself doing the right thing, the easier it is becoming.
This is not the only area that I have been tested in. Being labeled as an addict, I had to really consider whether or not to continue to use pain killers when I came home. I have been taking them for a few years due to back and foot pain, from a wreck that happened that broke my foot and left it in fairly frequent pain. I have never abused the painkillers and take them less than they are prescribed. In prison, I didn’t take them at all. There they offer ibuprofen, but to get that you have to wait in a long line at crazy hours of the day and night in extreme weather. It just didn’t seem worth it to me since most of my pain comes when I am in motion. If I am sitting or laying around I barely notice it. While I was there I noticed it occasionally which is why I began to struggle with the idea. I know too many stories that started out with someone taking pain killers for actual pain, that ended in prison or with a bad addiction. I don’t want to have that story to share later on down the line.
I should also mention that when I was doing methamphetamine I felt no pain, so I would often sell my pills. I also had people that I would buy prescriptions from to turn around and sell for a profit. So when I was evaluating this in jail, I prayed about it. The answer that I got, was that if I can do it HONESTLY, then I can do it. If I am not being honest, then it needs to stop. I do still take them. My doctor is aware of my history. I don’t take them as often as they are prescribed; I take them as needed, which is less. I don’t buy them from or sell them to anyone else.
The parallel with this situation is that when I got home I made it clear to everyone that this is how I was being led in my walk. At first it was almost like people hadn’t heard me say it. So when asked to go against it I would gently remind the person (and myself) that this isn’t how I do things anymore. I notice that each time I stand up for what I believe in, the stronger I feel in doing it. I also notice that each time the situation presents itself in a sneakier manner in an attempt to get past me in disguise. I am not falling for it. I like this side of the line in the sand better.