Crisis management

(I haven’t been here for months, will you all forgive me?  Truthfully, I talk to you all in my head on a near-daily basis, so it was something of a shock to log in and discover that none of those words have made it into print. )

About two months ago, a huge stack of identical letters arrived in my mailbox, all bearing my old address.  I opened one.  It was a fine for $1100 – apparently my car registration had lapsed and I’d been driving unregistered without knowing.  $1100, and it was dated three months earlier.  My hands started to shake.  I opened another, and another, until I had a stack of fines totalling well over $10,000.  I sat on the floor because I didn’t think I could stand for a while.  There was a lot of noise in my head.

When I told Lovely Husband, he was not.  Lovely, I mean.  He was distant and then angry and then hostile and then distant again.  I cried a lot.

In the morning, I dragged Little Girl from government department to government department, trying to sort it out, and by the end of the day I thought it was under control.  I could legally drive again; some fines were paid; others were in abeyance pending review.

And then six weeks later, a police car pulled me over in the school yard, lights flashing, siren on, because there were more fines, ones I hadn’t known about, and I no longer had a licence.  Another day of sorting things out, another assurance that everything was under control.

This time, I didn’t tell Lovely Husband.

And it just kept spiralling.  I’d get a letter telling me that my payment plan was in arrears, when I didn’t have a payment plan.  I’d ring up to address one letter, and be informed that something else was now overdue and another fine levied.  Every time I got back up, another surprise would knock me down.  I no longer felt safe driving my children to school.  I dreaded opening the post.  I burst into tears several times a day, for no reason.  I snapped at my children.  I couldn’t sleep.

overdue-bills-pile-envelopes-late-payment-penalty-fees-word-to-illustrate-creditors-hitting-you-penalties-41634356

So I went to my GP, and I asked if he could give me anything for the anxiety.  Something very temporary, I said, and I added a caveat: I’m in recovery from a drinking problem, so I don’t want to take anything that will be problematic from an addiction point of view.

He wrote down Has a drinking problem.

No, I said.  I do not have a drinking problem.  I don’t drink.  What I have is a history of addiction, so I need help but I don’t want to risk anything potentially addictive.

I can prescribe you Diazepam, he said.  It mimics the effects of alcohol, so you’ll feel more relaxed, maybe a bit sleepy or just silly and euphoric, but like alcohol it can also exacerbate the feelings of depression if you’re struggling with that.

WHAT.

be happy

In the event, he instead wrote me a prescription for a series of therapy appointments, so now I’m in therapy, about which I am deeply fucking conflicted, thank you for asking, but I’m going anyway.  Report back here for my extremely interested musings on What Is Normal Mental Health Anyway.  But in the meantime, here are some things I have learned:

  1. CHECK YOUR CAR REGISTRATION BECAUSE SERIOUSLY
  2. Government departments suck
  3. I mean so do I but mostly them
  4. This whole thing has really, really sucked.  Like, I could write you an entire novel about this.  It has left such serious bruising in the tender flesh of my marriage, and I’m still working through how to deal with that and move on.  Also the original issue, re: the fines, is still at large.
  5. Doctors could maybe do with some training about non-active addiction because really?
  6. But, and this is important, I have ROCKED this shit.  That might sound ridiculous, given that I’ve just talked about bursting into tears constantly and stress-induced insomnia.  But I used all the tools I have at my disposal, doling out doses of sunshine and knitting and uplifting books like medicine.  I accepted that part of working through this was just going through it – the feelings were bad, but they were just feelings, and I sat with the anger and the terror and the sadness for a long time.  And when I could no longer function on a daily basis using my own resources, I went and asked for professional help.
  7. I see no reason at all why I would ever, ever drink again. Alcohol would have been the perfect solution to most of this situation.  But it hasn’t really been an option for me, not because of the dire consequences but because…it’s not one of my tools.  It’s not something I do.  It is astounding to me, this total absence of something that was once so important, but it is completely legitimate nonetheless.

Anyway.  So, that’s what’s happening in my life.  It’s not over.  It’s not yet a funny story from my past.  I’m not entirely sure that it won’t white-ant my marriage.  But I’m still here, and I’m still sober.

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16 thoughts on “Crisis management

  1. I’m glad you’re still sober, but am also sorry that you’re going through all of this. I’ve missed reading your blog posts. Welcome back and best wishes as you work to resolve this headache of a problem, at least it’s not a drinking problem!

  2. Hi Allie,
    Thanks for sharing – it can be so powerful to reveal such vulnerability – I just posted on having my water nearly cut off by the water utility for an unpaid bill – and then I regretted it thinking I had revealed life in internet-land was not all roses, But I digress. (An unpaid fine held my first mortgage up for a week and I nearly missed buying the house – it had ballooned to $1400 also.)
    This is the kind of shit that can rock you and I’m so proud of you for perhaps wobbling, but not falling over. You are 100% right to feel empowered and courageous and strong. You handling this with aplomb and it’s a credit to you. Last thing – watch the valium – it can have you searching through the drawers looking for that last strip of tabs surprisingly quickly – trust water, walking and mindfulness.
    Thanks,
    Bren

  3. So good to have you back, I’ve missed you! I’m feeling gutted for you in this current predicament, but you are so strong you will work through it I’m sure and achieve closing this dreadful chapter of events. Much admiration to you for seeing alcohol as a non option where many of us may have succumbed under so much pressure. Keep on keeping on, good to have you back on deck. LH will come through for you I’m sure.

  4. Oh Allie this Kafkaeque car registration problem could only happen in the U.S. It is truly horrendous and has led to such unfortunate consequences for you and your family. However you have been incredible through all of this – truly incredible – and as they say (whoever ‘they’ are?) :
    ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and you seem to be one helluva strong lady x

  5. 🙂 Thank you for sharing, I opened my mail this morning with 3 invoices overdue so I’m a tiny bit on the same page. However, where your problems have come from (physically) moving forward, mine come from not moving, not doing stuff, not working. Things need to change :-(. Not sure if I can do it. 😦
    Congrats on the sober! And congrats on the not taking the pills. I know of no person who was not worse of with pills so; congrats!
    You are doing very well, I only run and hide. I find it so immensly fantastic that you even open the letters and then sort it out! Wow!
    Hang in there,
    xx, Feeling

  6. Oh, how awful. I can’t have been the only person reading who got to the bit about owing $10,000 who thought ‘Oh no, this is building up to a confession about relapse’. And I would not have blamed you one bit. Well done for not relapsing, and I hope the realisation that you don’t need alcohol (at least, that’s how I understood it) is a silver lining in a very black cloud. I hope things get easier and you can get through this. Very, very glad to have you back (and I would be interested to hear your musings on therapy when you have time!).

  7. Therapy is awesome in a weird way. Getting pulled over by the police, feeling like a common criminal and having it all affect your marriage is so so so not awesome. I’m so sorry for you. But I am super impressed about your visit to the doc and also that you wrote all of this for all of us to read. Thank you so much for sharing the messy underbelly of life and how it is possible to deal with it without alcohol.

  8. Wow! You are some super-hero for emerging through this crisis with your sobriety intact!!!! Thank you so much for sharing this story. It serves as a reminder to me that bad things happen to good people but how we handle them is what’s important. You’re doing awesome!!!!

  9. shuddering throughout this post esp at the bills, and at that terrifying marital crevasse. sending you enormous hugs re it all. doing whateveritis SOBER is just the absolute best.

    re the therapy – I was THE most reluctant person to enter into therapy. turned out that it was the thing that I needed right then more than anything else in the world. who knew? now I wish I could have intermittent therapy tune-ups – I would do so in a shot if finances permitted. to give you some indication of how much I’d like to, I’m seriously considering making a saving by not replacing my cleaner (who has just left) in order to fund a weekly therapy session. cleaning my own house – I KNOW! 😉 love to you! xx

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