The Recovery Scene


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I’ve been thinking about how to say certain things, without being a complete dick. A lot of people are dying in our country, as bags of fentanyl go around. 74 people in 72 hours in Chicago, yet my little hometown of Washington had 18 in 24 hours, not to mention like 8 in 3 minutes or something crazy like that. Thankfully a lot of people were saved thanks to Narcan and fast responses of EMS crews.

I’ve died. More than a few times, and while it certainly should qualify as a “sobering experience,” it never did for me. What should have been a wake up call was not. Far from it. The junkie mentality is anytime there are bags going around causing OD’s is to seek out those. After all in my head, the people who died were just rookies, and I could handle anything.

In the end, it was sheer desperation that brought me to my knees. I lost absolutely everything, including my will to live. Back when I tried recovery for the first time, circa early 2000, I went to a meeting on Mount Washington, St. Mary’s maybe, but it was one of those fashion show meetings, where everyone dressed to impress, it was more social hookup fest than a regular meeting. It’s why I went. What I will never forget, and it’s impressive I remember anything from early 2000, is this guy, I can see his face so clearly, coming into it, and just standing up, going on a rant about the heroin users and the needle. “You will die.”

Because he was high, no one probably took him seriously, but that moment in time is vivid for me. “I’m not talking about those who snort it, I’m talking about those that shoot it right in the vein. It’s impossible to stop.” Yeah, I remember hearing all of it. What he said made sense. What caused me to pick up again was the same old pattern I would repeat over and over in life. I met a sexy nurse and the rest went down in the typical junkie love tragedy. Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, and some rap. I think about Debbie a lot, just wondering if she made it out of the tempest.

Other names include Sarah and the girl from Vermont I met here, whose face I can see but whose name I forget. Liz. That’s it. Amazing what a little clean time can give you. Denise, from South Carolina, who we called the Leprechaun. I’m sure you get the idea, but there were more than a few lives I intersected with that are just gone. With social media, I sometimes stumble upon someone from the past, but when first names are hard to jog, last names are impossible.

Back to my opening sentence, how do I say what I want without being a judgmental jerk? I’m going to talk about me. Anyone who meets me today, outside of work at least, is amazed by my peace. I got that from the 12 Steps. I suffered for almost 20 years, I swore I wouldn’t be miserable in recovery. I’m a jovial kind of guy, thankful for another day of life. Thankful for making it through, hoping I did something good for someone and admitting my mistakes.

I’ve gone through it, I’ve been literally penniless in recovery, unemployed through no fault of my own, been to funerals of friends, and spent of all of it single. Spare me the Tinder whore comments. 😊 Through all of it, I’ve remained firmly grounded, I am entrenched in sobriety, I am recovered and I am not giving any ground.

My worth is inside and I am most thankful for that gift. I am comfortable alone, and a few nights of lust withstanding, I didn’t want to get an apartment and obsess over any of those ladies like I used to prior to recovery. That idea blossomed into co-dependency but today I get it-  I never needed someone to make me whole, what I needed was conscious contact with God. If you’ve read Shoestring Theories you know it starts out with this line:

“Please God, let me die. I just can’t fuckin’ do this anymore. I’m sorry.

God, who never turned his back on me, who never tired of sending guardian angel after guardian angel to save my life, did allow a chunk of me to die. That part that whispers in my ear on how to get grimy, to get the next one, no matter what. You did not want to be my friend back then. Apparently I have a genius IQ, ironic given all incredibly stupid chances and choices I took on a daily basis, but intelligence turned selfish produces tragic results.

I guess the point is this, for me, nothing in the outside world is going to give me pure joy. Any happiness from a material possession is fleeting at best. I think of how this all began- be a pharmacist Mike, so you can make money, drive fast cars, get the girls, who cares why they like you, just shower them with gifts, get money, get stuff, get happiness, buy love.

I have a friend I lived with down in Maryland, that kind of friend that you go years without speaking to, that helped me out and I never repaid her, but once we talk, we’re all caught up and that bond I thought we reestablished, I realize it never broke. I have these incredible people in my life, old friends that always loved me, that kept me in their prayers, but again, I turned my back on God, not the other way around.

My drug addiction began chasing the American Dream, because I had no idea what happiness was. Today I have the answer. I got my self-worth and self-esteem back, something taken from me at such a young age, and that gave me the chance to find pure joy- it’s all in Step 12 – the message of altruism. Give to give, because someone did that for me. Give because it is right, not because you’ll get something in return. Help someone, with no ulterior motives, and life has a way of taking care of itself.

Peace and love
-MFJ

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2 thoughts on “The Recovery Scene

  1. I love you, Mike. Might seem odd to say that since I’m your Aunt and we’ve never actually met. As a parent (with a son who I spend a great deal of time worrying about that other shoe dropping phone call in the middle of the night moment) I have kept you close in my heart as the years have gone by and you struggled so hard. You’re right – the answers aren’t outside of us. They’re not in a big McMansion, a fancy car, designer clothes or any of the trappings of a society that puts materialism above humanity. Being human means we’re fallible. We’re weak as often as we’re strong. We make mistakes and we make magic. All of it. And it’s worth being here, to give what we can when we can, to look beyond our own narrow lens and see the pain and suffering of those around us and do our best to lighten their load for no other reason than we can. My God might be different from yours, but it’s all the same in the end. A giving over. A letting go. An understanding that we are continually enveloped in a love that is unconditional and pure. That you’ve found this peace makes me so happy. That you’re doing what we can when you can makes me so proud. 💜 Evelyn

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