Today I take the first step towards recovery. The road will be long and fraught with peril but armed with the knowledge that I do in fact have a problem, and am not alone, will light my way. It started young; so long ago I barely even remember my first time. I think I was on a family ski vacation and I saw some older teens doing it and I was curious. Just garden variety adolescent curiosity. I wish the story was sexier but I’m not going to tell lies while I come clean with the world. After that vacation it was merely a chippy. I would use mostly on the weekends and occasionally on a week night. Again, my tale being fairly typical, an occasional Thursday night thing became an every Thursday night thing that bled into Wednesday and eventually every other night of the week. Before I knew what was happening I was using during the week days, in the bathroom at school, ducking behind doors for a quick fix. I was spending my allowance on scores and telling my parents I was going to play basketball when really I was headed out to find more. The rest is history. Today I take back control and rewrite the narrative that is my life. It starts right here:
I am a chap-stick addict. I guess technically I’m a lip balm addict because ChapStick is a brand that while I may have become an addict under its tutelage, I’ve moved on since to more serious fixes. I’ve bought all sorts of hits from so many different dealers that they’ve bled together into a kaleidoscope of drugstore scenes in my memory. I’ve done every flavor of ChapStick known to man, squeeze tubes, small tins that you apply with your own dirty finger, and finally I settled the past 5 years on Burt’s Bees. I’m not saying I have done things that I am not proud of in the men’s room of Union Station for some Burt’s Bees, but I’m also not saying that I haven’t. Even when I was unemployed I found ways to make sure that I never ran out of that sweet, medicinal peppermint paste that keeps me going. It was a higher priority than food. I’ve been 6 blocks from home on my way to a scheduled appointment only to turn around and walk home because I realized my pocket was a little light. Better late than be caught out on the street without my Bees. I’ve been known to apply Burt’s Bees twice in the same five-minute conversation with my boss. I started leaving the Bees in my pocket when I went through the TSA scanner at the airport. I couldn’t chance losing it to tipped-over plate or a TSA agent with their own habit. This all led to my Come to Jesus moment. One day as I was dressing for work, putting the Burt’s Bees in my pocket in order of importance: Burt’s Bees, Wallet, Keys, Phone; my two-year old daughter looked up at me, pointing directly at the Burt’s Bees, and said “Daddy, I need some for my lips.” My sweet, innocent daughter with perfectly moist lips wanted to use. She learned it by watching me. I knew then it was time to take a long, hard, cold look in the mirror and decide which man I wanted to see. I choose life.
Why am I starting in the midst of the worst winter of my life instead of humid July? I dunno, masochist I guess. The road is going to be long and the way dark. I’m sure at some point I’ll relapse and use again, but relapse is part of recovery. What matters is that I’ve gotten through today and when it’s over I will be ready to face tomorrow. I’ve decided to go public with my addiction in the hopes that through your love and support I’ll be able to stand here a year from today and see how far I’ve come. Hello, my name is Zach. I’m a chap-stickaholic. For today that is good enough.