Cancer Diaries: What is That Creeping Behind Me?

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Angels represent refined earthly wants and desires, and that allows writers to slap “pure” in front of just about any word to heighten its sense of value and universality.

Truths…those absolutes that play out the same way, over and over in life.  Not everyone is going to pay taxes, so that cuts the cliche down to 50%, and really, Michael Jackson is still alive in so many of our hearts, music turned into data or perilously preserved in vinyl grooves, so is even death a certainty?

Legacies…memories with the brain’s Play button pressed in someone’s head, somewhere, right this minute. Since I just wrote it, I’m thinking about seeing him a few nights ago, on a Motown tribute concert, singing Billie Jean, all those sequins refracting light, the one glove, and of course, those dance moves. Because you just wrote it, you’re thinking about him right now too, but maybe you don’t like his music, maybe you think him having Mr. Bubbles the chimp for a pet was inhumane, but MJ left many marks.

MJ…I hear it, I think Michael Jordan. Just my most popular internal search result. The man was the flat out the best to ever play the game. His competitive spirit the thing that should be envied, from playing baseball and gambling, to out-dunking Dominique back when the NBA mattered.

Add up those first 4 paragraphs, you obviously reach the sum of MFJ, the author of this blog, me, physically being consumed by cancer, an unknown quantity of numbered days remaining, who values the one sole truth of love being the answer, and wanting to leave that mark on someone in this world.

I mean clearly, that’s the inside picture from my exact thought process- as one word suggests the next in sequence, albeit my order. A progression where I am denying a very important certainty, we all die. The difference is- I know my time is just about up. Doctors tell me this and the searing pain in my chest remind me there just might be some veracity in their claims, proving they are indeed fortune tellers. Tomorrow there might be a radical discovery curing all malignancies, because a team of doctors have been in the Amazon (which, in this rare case, is NOT a vast place of consumerism, where you can buy Shoestring Theories), find that the feces from a rare moth larvae pulls the plug on this unchecked cellular aggression. That or God is sick of my fucking ‘Cancer Diaries’ blogs.

Bingo Michael.  Enough is enough. I mean, I have given you the PERFECT opening to reignite the halcyon days of Tinderfish, OurTinderTime.com, – that collection comedic genius- that was pure (<- see what I did there?) sophomoric humor at its most sublime. So, you’re going to wrap this blog up, and go edit your Tinder profile:

Ladies, I respect your honesty: that you are not on an app that brings people together based on solely on attraction to fuck and have one-night stands. That somewhere in those right swipes, love blooms. I really want that too, but I have terminal cancer. Do you think we might be able to wave that rule you have  though, because I’m dying – and I know Vanessa Williams is on the money, because I want to Save the Best for Last too.

Enough God, I will not stoop to that level or shut up about my illness. I mean, you’re the one who writes this story line, so at least let me fill in the some of the blanks. That people in similar situations can share exactly how some of this feels, that type of sharing is vital.

I’ve become obsessed with my phlegm. Is that a fleck of red in there? Is that some of my once healthy lung? What exactly is happening on my insides and more importantly, this- you gave me so many shots at dying before- is a shitty way to take me out. I mean it-why did you waste all the time from even my last overdose in 2014 to now. It could have just ended then. My guardian angels would have gotten some extra time off, or re-assigned to someone who had enough to offer he wasn’t just killed off 2 years later.

I am angry. I am sad. Both because I am scared.

I shouldn’t be mad, I should be celebrating life. But I’m in my own panic.

I’m sick of this.

I can’t fall asleep because I might not wake up.

And well, I have more shit to accomplish.

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I’m invested in Star Wars– I have to make it to 8 & 9. Give me that. A legacy. That humor deflects, it never changes the truth. The greatest truth in life- love, for my fellow human being- that is pure. That is joy, to help another human being, to unknowingly pull someone back from the edge so that one day, their faith outweighs their fears, and something beautiful is created.

Never stop living Michael. It’s okay to be afraid, just don’t become paralyzed. Be grateful. Be kind. There’s work to be done.

Peace & Love,
-MFJ

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I Got Clean For This?

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Active addiction sucks. Take my last ‘run.’ I came to Florida with nothing and in about a year and a half, I had a wife, house, car and most importantly to me, normalcy. When I started using, the highs were not like I remembered, because there was this huge cloud of guilt hanging over me. I had clawed through the sludge and gotten what I always dreamed of, a Norman Rockwell painting of what defined happiness, everyday life, enjoying the simple things.

For a while my use was justified, back pain from auto accidents. A doctor prescribing mass quantities of oxycodone, and I was just snorting it. Then buying more from acquaintances because 210 were not lasting. Then realizing I was doing too many per day, decided the smart thing to do would be to boot (inject) them. I would use less. The pressure of keeping my secret was slowly crushing me. My wife’s suspicions were growing like weeds in a forgotten garden. Everything precious, everything beautiful in my life was getting choked out, so bad wild flowers couldn’t even bloom.

When pill prices went out of control thanks to the pill mill crackdown, that logical voice spoke up one more time, heroin is way better and way cheaper. I had painted myself into a disastrous corner, and the lies were so plentiful there was no way to keep track of them. The inevitable happened, I was divorced and mad at her. That’s how addicts think, and I knew how to play the victim so well. It was her fault I was going to sink deeper into the quicksand.

I most certainly did, because we got divorced around August or September of 2011. My clean date is June 18th, 2014. If there was a single day clean between the days, it was because I had to gut it through for a day until whatever plan for money I had launched would deliver. By the end I was homeless, and had given up on life. If I had bothered to look over my shoulder, I would have seen the smoldering ashes of all the bridges I set ablaze, faces in the smoke of the people I fucked over. And I would fuck you over and over until finally those people had to throw in the towel.

“That can’t be Mike, he’s not that kid of guy.” Yeah, I was, way worse in fact. People existed to help me spiral down. By the time I added cocaine to the spoon, all I wanted was to just die. And when luck didn’t intervene, I grew some balls and did enough to kill myself.

One more failure. I ended up in rehab beaten up physically, completely destroyed mentally, and completely empty spiritually. Slowly but surely I began looking human again. I remember a guy asking a question of why there needs to be a CA. There’s AA for alcoholics, and NA for drug addicts. The difference was the Big Book. A few days later I read Bill’s Story. It rocked me. A few weeks later a guy asked about working the steps, and time.

I don’t remember what the speaker said, but if the promises of the Big Book came true, I wasn’t waiting around to get them. I was masterful when it come to creating and enduring tragedies. A few weeks later I was getting out, I met my sponsor the very last night of inpatient, and 2 months later I had done the steps, I was recovered.

One of those torched bridges cried when he heard my voice for the first time, the first time not all scratchy and deeper thanks to opiates. The words that came out were different too. There was a sincerity when I spoke. I held my head high without even thinking about it.

There was a peace about me, that people that really knew me sensed just over the phone. I wasn’t miserable anymore. I wasn’t manipulating a system or person to get something from him or her. A stranger collecting signatures for something gave me $10 to go get him cigarettes. Not even 5 months before that, I couldn’t get a fucking quarter.

Two major things happened to me- gratitude and a shift in perspective. I’m thankful for waking up, food, a bank account, a cell phone, friends and family, of which there are so many. I’m blessed. Truly blessed. And a new perspective, life isn’t a series of positive and negative experiences, they are all opportunities for me to grow as a man. In short, I found my conscious contact with God.

I didn’t get clean to be miserable. I got clean to finally live life. That’s a beautiful  thing, a peaceful, joyous thing I’m not giving back because I try to give a piece of it away every day.

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Peace & Love,
-MFJ

Good and Evil Vs. Right and Wrong – Cage Match – Free PPV

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Love is a crazy thing, it’s a word I reserve for myself, for God, for family and dear friends. Only lately, after 15+ months clean and 99% serene, have I been thinking about that relationship  type love. It’s not tied to any one person. (Lie) Maybe it’s chained to two. One I know as well as myself. The other was a beautiful stranger a month or so ago, who I’ve gotten to know because of a little randomness in time led to an exchange in numbers. Since then she has been living a situation I went through years ago, where my world caved in around me, where I felt so alone.

When I got clean, and learned to strive to be selfless, that that was the key to a peaceful life, that helping others provides pure happiness, I began to pay a lot of attention to those who were living situations that tore my sanity into pieces, that pushed me into such a dark place, I couldn’t even see a glimmer of light in my imagination. I’m not letting that happen to a friend, he or she will know I’ve got their back in whatever way possible.

Naturally I do my best to help addicts, to get them through the steps, which for me birthed this change in me, that full-scale shift in perspective that altruism produces. The wholly selfish asshole was murdered when I tried to kill myself, and begged God to not intervene. Shift in perspective- God always listens, he’s always there. He answers with Mick Jagger wisdom- I got what I needed. I was lucky enough to be given incredible amounts of hurt, so that I can appreciate and feel joy to the extent of my pain.

There’s a lot of times things just don’t work out, regardless of mutual feelings. I get that, I am sadly beginning to understand this lesson. When I started this blog, there was no homework assignment, now it’s setting in, the years are not always kind, the roads we are on intersect at finite times, and who we walk along that path with isn’t always the one you dream about. Now I’m feeling a certain kind of sadness.

I am realizing this has little to do with the title, and maybe that’s more than alright. Good people can appear evil when assumptions are made, good people can make a ton of wrong decisions. More than anything, I can see myself in people, the miserable empty shells, that are so fun to be around, laughing and joking while everything inside is so wrong. Funny thing is this one isn’t an addict, but she’s mirroring my past so much it’s kind of scary. I know she feels nothing will go right, that the sky is falling around her and no one cares. Someone most certainly does.

I have no idea where this is going, and maybe that is the point- Spotify just played a Bustelo commercial- and if you follow this, you know Bustelo and I have this tangled affair going on, but that’s another clue where irony is the mystery that won’t be solved. I used to pack a ziploc of Bustelo in my bag, and add it to my Dunkin coffee. I stopped doing that, in fact, I’m out of Bustelo currently, but there are certain things I always have with me, I carry a Big Book, a composition book, and a journal. I carry the journal because it has a variety of words in its pages. Among them are words written in blood, a terrible habit when I was using.

Then there is that paragraph, that ideal girl description. I haven’t read that in a while, life has been so hectic, and well, that journal and I have this connection, Hear me out, I open it and there’s notes from a Buddhist monk, forgotten moments from Thailand that I read at the perfect time. It got me to make a leap of faith, and find something I lost many lives ago, my old soul wasn’t whole, and the lesson- a soulmate isn’t necessarily a forever thing, in the physical sense, it gives you back what was thrown away. I have that, and when my room is quiet, I find my mind thinking about her. Tangent drift…sorry, that ideal girl thing-

“Battle-tested, treasuring the losses for the wisdom gained rather than the spoils of war.”

I’ve met people who like that line, know that line but don’t live it. She understands. The best thing about life is I’m not afraid to see where this road takes me.

Peace and Love,
-MFJ

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PS- This poem, I just found, in that journal – 4/25/15

Shell Game

I’m pretty sure I knew what I was asking for
Fairly certain we were a shared exit
Now journeying to different destinations
Not even heading the same direction
Makes the separation inevitable
Adjust the rearview
I glance, she stares
Cosmic collision and I know my role
Overnight distraction when more was imagined
Hold my hand, maybe no envelopes should be pushed
No matter the stationary inside
Is it the words written, the phrases spoken
Or the flipped coin actions that caused the disconnect?
Who let go first?
Doesn’t matter, I wasn’t holding on either
Think what you must to sleep uneasy
My peace was the attraction
Especially in the context of my wreckage
Of self
Of soul
Wounds scar
Forever remember that moment
Where undesired freedom
Gifted a stranger on the same road as me
Where I grabbed an outstretched hand
And felt her grip tight
Maybe I’m not letting this one go…