Guilty Bystanders


Well, it’s been an interesting few days. Thanks to the over 400 people who stopped by to read about an occurrence all too common down here. One of my favorite things I heard was it’s none of my business, that if I were working a program, I’d ignore this person’s bullshit. I was labeled passive aggressive, probably accurately, because that is something I tend to do.

So, let me be a little more clear this time around. If I have already eaten a Five Guys burger, and get a second one on my way out, you know, just for later, and I see a cachexic human being digging through the dumpster, I sure as fuck better give that person my other greasy Godsend. It’s beyond right, it tears at that part of me that is instantly taken back, to those moments when I would look over my shoulder, make sure no one is looking, before I picked up a half eaten bagel from behind a Dunkin Donuts, because my options were just that dire. Desperation, acutely primal, yet incomprehenibly vain. Really Mike, you are starving to death, haven’t showered in days, and you have the gall to look around ONE more time to make sure no one sees another secret?

Isn’t that addiction at its core though, fear.? Scared to death to be rejected, to fail, to face the consequences, to admit a multitude of mistakes. The truth terrified me- when I was sick. When I wanted to pretend I had my shit so together even though I was shattered. When I was married, my then wife actually pulled up my sleeve, and I lied straight to her face, that I had given blood once, or another time I had used a syringe to gather ink for a journal entry. Yeah, I was that sick I wrote in my own blood. Tell a bigger lie with a lesser truth, that was my way of convincing myself I had nothing to hide.

Working steps, I faced my self-perceived inadequacies, have made amends wherever possible, and keep my slate clean daily, and make sure I erase my marks daily. The alternative will be the end of me this time around, no doubt about it, I can’t go back to heroin. I can’t smoke a joint, do a line of cocaine, or have a beer. The misery of that life…no way. The gift of grace is only given so often, and who do I think I am to throw that back in God’s face?

As has bore out across the nation, addiction is not some slap on the wrist disease. More people overdose and die than are killed in auto accidents. That doesn’t include the incredible number of near misses thanks to Narcan and quick action of first responders. It could be so much worse.

That blog, it was written because of all this. If it were someone I saw drink some beers during a football game one weekend, then pick up a year the next weekend, that’s none of my business. Maybe that person hasn’t made the concession to self that he/she is an addict. Maybe they are a problem drinker. Not my inventory to take. When actions however directly affect others, putting those looking for help in a situation where they get nothing even resembling assistance, well, do I sit around and say, none of my fucking business? In case anyone missed it, I’m not going to let that person pick through the dumpster.

Just like I am not going to walk by someone being strangled, I’m not going to just say, “Hey, that person probably had it coming.” When a situation is blatantly wrong, and lives are at risk, it’s everyone’s responsibility to speak up. When greed wrecks a system that could have helped so many more people down the line, well, shame on me for not speaking up even more so than allowing places to get away with $3000 urine tests.


I’ve dealt with enough shame in my lifetime.

I’m not going  to sit around pretending there isn’t a mother and father sitting up in New Jersey right now, praying for their son or daughter to get help. That right now, they think that anguished scream to God was finally heard as their child says, “Please help me,”and South Florida is the answer. I don’t want their moment of relief to be one of agony a few months later, because instead of the kid relapsing, then going back through the cycle of detox and IOP, they’re coming down here to collect the body.

No, I am going to speak the fuck up. If that bothers anyone, I am not sorry at all. What would a father say if they knew their daughter reached out for help and instead of that, it was deemed cool to stay there, to shoot dope as long as she gave it up and slept in the same bed. How the fuck is that helpful?

The reality of it is there are a lot of people in recovery that are dangerous to those who really want a new life. Shoot your steroids, fuck as many vulnerable women as you can, rape insurances, pretend this is all okay because that’s what ‘everyone’ does. Not everyone lives in such a selfish way. Sorry, there are great rehabs. halfways, great sponsors. I’m not condemning you if you take any of this and get all up in your feelings over it, because it’s Marathon Man dentistry and that pain comes from inside. Is it safe? 

Not at all, but I am not even close to alone in this fight.

In fact, there are so many people earning an honest living down here, that run rehabs and halfways where the goal is recovery that I consider this place home. There are men and women who take others through the steps, that put Step 12 in front of everything, that endeavor to live a spiritual life, not just 60 minutes at a meeting, but all the other waking hours as well. They walk the talk. Those who have been there for me, that have showed me how to live a selfless life and give back. God-given.



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