Romanticizing is one of the more devious pitfalls in addiction. It’s an upside-down fantasy land, a combination of selective focus and outright fiction. It is as nonsensical as pining for the bars after one has escaped the cage, but this is where logic gives way to lies.
There are times when I hold competing stories in my head about what it was like to be using. There is the truth: that I was sick, obsessed, unhappy, and eventually so lost and hopeless I wished I were dead. Then there is another version.
In the first story, I am better now. In the second, I am worse.
When irrational thoughts start creeping in, I take a breath and square my shoulders. Identify, refute, substitute; repeat as necessary. I have to listen instead of turning away, even when it hurts. Even when everything starts closing in and I have to fight my way back out into the clear, over and over and over again.
This is the work that holds the first story close, where it’s supposed to be. This is how I defeat the shimmering memory of what never was.