On my last day of IOP(Intensive Outpatient Program) the counselor had us do a powerful exercise. She had us read a letter from our addiction. I wish I knew who wrote it so I could give them credit here(and if anyone knows the source please comment so that I can do so.) She then had us write a “Dear John” letter to our addiction to say goodbye. The letter I originally wrote was shorter and less meaningful so I decided to re-write it and share in this Blog.
Before I do so, I should explain the title of this post. I find visualization to be a powerful tool so early in my recovery I named and gave a backstory to my addiction. I named her “Brenda”. Brenda is a six foot Sharon Needles on a REALLY bad day drag queen who is constantly smoking and looking like she’s been walking through a Tsunami. She’s rude, inconsiderate, selfish, hurtful and worst of all…Ever-present. Now, before all the lovely drag queens out there start screaming at me, you should remember, I’m not saying that all drag queens are like this so keep yourself tucked and let’s move on.
The letter from Brenda:
I’ve come to visit once again. I love to see you suffer mentally physically spiritually and socially. I want to have you restless so you can never relax. I want you jumpy and nervous and anxious. I want to make you agitated and irritable so everything and everybody makes you uncomfortable. I want you to be depressed and confused so that you can’t think clearly or positively. I want to make you hate everything and everybody-especially yourself. I want you to feel guilty and remorseful for the the things you have done in the past that you’ll never be able to let go. I want to make you angry and hateful toward the world for the way it is and the way you are. I want you to feel sorry for yourself and blame everything but your addiction for the way things are. I want you to be deceitful and untrustworthy, and to manipulate and con as many people as possible. I want to make you fearful and paranoid for no reason at all and I want you to wake up during all hours of the night screaming for me. You know you can’t sleep without me; I’m even in your dreams.
I want to be the first thing you wake up to every morning and the last thing you touch before you black out. I would rather kill you, but I’ll be happy enough if I can put you back in the hospital, another institution or jail. But you know that I’ll still be waiting for you when you come out. I love to watch you slowly going insane. I love to see all the physical damage that I’m causing you. I can’t help but sneer and chuckly when you shiver and shake, when you freeze and sweat at the same time, when you wake up with your sheets and blankets soaking wet.
It’s amazing how much destruction I can do to your internal organs while at the same time, work on your brain, destroying it bit by bit. I deeply appreciate how much you sacrifice for me.
The countless good jobs you have sacrificed for me. All the fine friends that you deeply cared for-you gave them up for me. And what’s more, for the ones you turned against yourself because of your inexcusable actions-I am more than grateful.And especially your loved ones, your family, and the most important people in the world to you. You even threw them away for me. I cannot express in words the gratitiude I have for the loayalty you have for me. You sacrificed all these beautiful things in your life just to devote yourself completely to me. But do not despair my friend, for on me you can always depend. For after you have lost all these things, you can still depend on me to take even more. You can depend on me to keep you in living hell, to keep your mind, body and soul. FOR I WILL NOT BE SATISFIED UNTIL YOU ARE DEAD, MY FRIEND.
Brenda, Your loving addiction and drug of choice
A letter to Brenda:
It’s not you, it’s me. It’s been 35 days now since we parted. I want you to know that I appreciate your desperate need to be friends but I simply cannot any longer be part of your destructive lifestyle. We used to have a lot of fun, you and I, but somewhere along the line we spiraled out of control and I can’t let you drag me down any further than you already have.
It’s never been easy for me to let go of people, places and things in my life. Sudden drastic and jarring changes to my life frighten me more than anything in this world. You know this, and while I appreciate your loyalty, I feel like you’ve used this to take advantage of me for your own selfish reasons. I want you to understand that I understand now that your entire existence is based upon the fact that I couldn’t cope with difficult things my life. I know now why you’ve stood by my side. It wasn’t for me, it was for YOU.
You’ve been by my side since we were kids. Sharing such wisdom like “You’re so pathetic, no one gives a shit about you so just keep eating until you want to throw up. That’ll make you feel content. Who needs love when you have cookies and crackers?” You’ve bore the burden of my emotional and physical trauma for a long time. I am thankful that the destructive distraction methods you’ve employed through most of my life have mostly only impacted me, but this year your insatiable thrist has caused me to potentially mortally wound myself and others and I can no longer sit by and allow your insatiable desires put anyone in harms way.
It’s time for me to grow up. It’s time for you to move on. I don’t need you anymore, you’re irrelevant. You’ve become a bitter, angry bitch who only cares about herself. You stopped caring about me and only cared about the “good time”. You’ve stolen from my mother and caused her stress. You’ve affected my reputation, my livelihood, my marriage, my family’s trust and instead of filling that place in my soul with happiness like you promised you’ve managed to make that place colder and darker.
Our relationship is toxic. You are toxic. I know that you are not able to part ways with me amicably so I am cutting you off completely. I will not check on you and will not allow you to check in on me. I won’t check in with you to see if you’ve changed…I know you are incapable of change. I, however, am not. I am making friends and strengthening existing relationships in healthy ways. I want to help people and do something I can be proud of that will fill that hole in my soul with light and not the darkness you tried to convince me was a safe place to be.
I hate you, but I also forgive you. More importantly, I forgive myself for not cutting you out of my life sooner and not asking God for help. Goodbye , Brenda. Please respect my wishes and stay away. If we should ever meet again I will act like I don’t know you. If you try to speak to me I will not answer, because if I spend even one minute of my time with you it means to lose everything I worked so hard to have. My soul is worth more than you. I’m taking it back. Goodbye.