Another White Knuckle Day Let Go
Maybe it goes unnoticed if you haven’t lived that life…but riding home, I pass a guy that, well, looks like a drug dealer, I pull down my alley to see a car sitting there, idling. Sure enough, he moves as the dealer rounds the corner. I stare hard into the car, a look into this guy’s eyes is all I need to see what he is copping. Don’t ask me how, why, I know this is a crack deal, I just do. I can’t put the blinders on, it has long since become an ingrained skill as it were. And every single time I see something like this, no matter how much time has passed, I find myself instantly smacked in the brain with the thought of saying “What’s up?” to the man.
It’s like my mind has this file loaded up, ready for the moment to hit the play button, and in the blink of an eye every dormant neuron fires off, and all the highs flash by, while that part of my mind that remembers all the lows is shut down.
Recovery, what the hell is that? I am asking myself how far have I really come? Yeah, getting lit up would hit the spot. That keeps on looping inside me. It slaps me hard, chiseling its way into my reality. Its desperation is tragic, and I look into the mirror and wonder why my flaws are inescapable. A buddy of mine posted a picture the other day of a group of us Duquesne pharmacy students, at Seven Springs, circa 1996. Damn, that was a long time ago. At this point, I was getting ripped on morphine and whatever pharmaceuticals I could, umm, procure. In that picture is someone who died not long after that picture was taken. The story I heard was a lot of alcohol mixed with Darvocets, which to a pharmacist is a bad combo when it comes to lung functioning. Accident? Suicide? Who knows? The tragedy is there is no coming back.
I think about people from my past all the time, people I have lost touch with while I plowed ahead in my selfish self-destruction. I make half-hearted attempts to find them, and sadly, if they don’t have a FB account, I pretty much give up. It’s not that I don’t want to find them, a lot of them I would love to catch up with, but inside, I know they are living the life I could have had, a life where paycheck to paycheck living is non-existent. I should be able to go where I want, when I want, and get whatever I want. Yet, here I am, not wallowing in the piss, just acknowledging the facts, the truth of the matter. I give up looking for those friends because I still have this cloud of shame that is low enough to envelop me. It announces my entrance 10 minutes before I crack the threshold. By then, who wouldn’t run to shelter.
Maybe life is about finding those who don’t mind dancing in the rain. I have no idea. And then there is another person that found me, back in April. A kid, I am double his age, and for some reason, Friday night I just asked him how he was doing. What a difference a few months make. He is strung out and a mess. I offer advice, and tell him I don’t really expect him to listen to it, I never did, yet I really hope something I say hits home. I am tired of losing people. Tired of ignoring pain, mine, others, because if I am not at least trying to help this group of people who have reached out to me in the past, I am throwing away the very reason I was spared death countless times.
Not to mention, there is no better silencer to that voice that I talked about earlier, that one that wants me to go back to the high life, than other’s misery. Kicking cold turkey the last time around was something that can’t be explained in words. Sure, I can throw some around, agony, torture, pure hell, but really, there is never a substitute for experience. Imagine 3-4 days of not only being physically anguished, in every capacity, but not being able to get a second’s peace from any of it, and on top of it, the mind is screaming at you to fix the situation. After all, it’s so easy to do. Make it through that, and at least for me, the pay off is a long time of never sleeping. Not a wink. Last time around, my 8 years of being on some form of opiate, be it heroin, pharmaceutical pain-killer or wonder-drug, Suboxone, and well, that 8 years was a bit rough on my physiology. Kudos to those who told me it was no big deal, that I was weak, and just had no will power. I am way better off without all of you.
Will power. That’s a good one. Weak? That one is even better. Give me someone who has spent time in hell and climbed out, and I will take them over someone who is strong. Because in the end, no one knows what it is like to go through the grind, to look in the mirror and simply be filled to the brim with hatred for the person seen staring hollow at me. What keeps me on the straight and narrow? A pact I made to me. That I would appreciate life, that I would demand more of myself, and that I would not live in a void anymore, always placing happiness in another person and never myself.
Once I truly understood that, I got what I always had dreamed about. Except this obliterates my perceived ideals on what perfection is. I have heard it a million times, not being able to love anyone unless I loved myself. It also is true when I am not looking for it, it finds me. I came to Florida for Act II in January of 2007, penniless basically. The product of, big surprise, an active heroin addiction. I rebounded swiftly. I had 3 different girls that “cared” about me, a job and quickly got my own place. All of it done on autopilot, all done because it was defined, or it was expected of “normal productive humans.”
I had to learn one last lesson, the hardest of ways. Not too long ago I was penniless, except drugs had nothing to do with it. With a lot of help from friends, and a life saving reconnect with the woman I simply love and adore with heaven’s pureness, well, here I am, happy. For the first time in my life, I am happy. It might sound sad that it took me so long to get it, but I wouldn’t change a second of my life. I had pretended I knew joy, but I was an expert at going through the motions, masking pain all the time with a joke and a smile.
What’s important? Me. And because I am, I see the value of life, the beauty of helping someone in someway. I know life, every second of it is precious, that when I get the opportunity to be next to my angel, I savor each moment, so that if it all ends tomorrow, there would never be a single regret. It’s why I can feel her lips, taste her skin, smell her flesh, and see every moment shared as if it were present tense. I have learned to appreciate the small things in life, the beauty of just an open, honest conversation.
I guess the point is, we all fall down, some harder than others. There are times when nobody is around to help us back to our feet. For me, the last time around, May 2011, I had to struggle to even crawl. Eventually I got on my feet and found someone who dusted me off, that knew who I was, I was something worthwhile, special and gifted. For her, my love is eternal and infinite. By myself I can shine, but together we blind. The purest light, one that guides me through the darkest thoughts, and helps keep me together. So, my mind can flip the switch, play the moments where artificial bliss is recalled vividly, but the touch of her lips, that is a purity that no drug can replace. My heroine is flesh, she is truth, love and kindness; compassion and happiness, together we can overcome anything, and that is the greatest high in life.
So, to the present day friends that struggle, remember you cannot be anything to anyone if you are not everything to yourself first. Live your life the right way, do good, not for praise, but because that’s what life is about. When you become proud of yourself but don’t scream it from the rooftops, the world opens up its heart. The greatest gift isn’t material, it is love, spiritual and from the heart. It is pure and unbreakable, cherish what is present in front of you, and be grateful you went through the journey to get to this place.