Day 10 (Owning a Demon)- 30 Day Writing Challenge

Strummed beat, matched march, dirges as a throwaway tune,
deviancy is salt to bear rubbed tight inside a weeping open wound.
If you haven’t heard the music yet then swallow down your pride.
The life we lead is the life we get and you’ll know it deep inside.
So stagger or crawl and jog or sprint or fly,
the Devil is inside your soul today, just like it is for I.


I thought it would be a fun way to go today with a little poetry of sorts to begin with. This damn challenge thing has me trying to think on my feet about what to write and I seem to be coming up dry, or at least feeling like I’m grasping for straws about what to say. The goal was to just put fingers to keyboard everyday, and I’m happy to say that I’ve pretty much managed to do just that.

So, with that said, on my mind today is the nature of our own personal evils, our devils, our drive to do the untoward and vicious. For me, that takes the form of drinking or drugs, pumping my body full of as much poison as I can stand in whatever way I can get it. It’s always surprisingly shocking when after a bout in the ring with that particular demon suddenly the quality of life I’m experiencing diminishes rapidly and dramatically. I don’t know why it’s surprising is the thing, we truly do generate our own decisions, and those choices play out in the overall feeling of our life and how well we are able to experience the highs and the lows.

That seems like really common sense knowledge, and despite that I have sat remaining in, then feigning ignorance of it. Life truly is what you make it, trite and cliche as the saying may be, there is a huge degree of veracity to it that I somehow missed. It’s like I wasn’t there at school that day and somehow managed to keep missing that lesson for the next 20 years.

With that in mind, addiction is a doubly baffling fucking ailment to explore and endure. You find yourself superseding every survival instinct and rational or logical awareness you have in lieu of chasing further inclement weather, misery, and chagrin–all done for a momentary rush that has faded into boring monotonous repetition long, long ago.

I get that there is a re-wiring that happens internally with addicts. If you show an image of a crack pipe to a crack addict, before the frontal cortex is triggered the pleasure center rings in and says “great times to be had”. That means that addiction literally steps around the “smarts” part of the brain that makes decisions and can bring a logical or determined drive to bear on any dangerous ideas. Which in many ways makes it seem scientifically hopeless to recover.

But people do, in a myriad of ways. Some manage to just go the harm reduction route and drastically reduce their intake, or they transition it to new forms of addictive tendencies that are less damaging, or they actually well and truly get sober. The fact that there is a narrow band of success and the penalty for failure is horror without refrain followed by an early death doesn’t always make a sufficiently motivational case it seems.

Today, I continue the struggle, moving forward one foot at a time, continuing to believe and search for answers or solutions to something that has stymied me for the vast majority of my life. It is my heaviest wish to somehow overcome and share that success as a lesson to my children about what is truly possible as one of the strangest species on the planet.

People are weird, and when we carry monsters in our back pockets, we only get weirder. Part of me wants to just plain rejoice in that insanity and the multitude of characters that are created by the imps at our door, but most of me is just plain done reveling in a well trod and predictable path leading nowhere but an early grave.

Time will tell, as it always does. Plus hey, I still have getting poisoned by frog secretions to look forward to in a short number of weeks!

Day 5 (Frog Poison) – 30 Day Writing Challenge

Self care is always one of those mysteriously challenging yet o’ so crucial aspects of day to day life it seems. More often then not the prospect of going for a walk, reading a book, meditating, exercising at home, journaling, or any of the rest of the litany of options available to each of us, seems like such a long stretch after the necessaries of the day are taken care of.

Sometimes, it takes a totally different form.

In roughly 3-weeks, I’ll be joining in with a ceremony circle and spending 9-days engaged in holistic medical practices from (mainly) South America. There may be opportunities presented to partake in Ayahuasca, Peyote, and a host of other intriguing substances like Kambo–essentially frog poison–to attempt a system reset.

Whether or not you would qualify sitting in shack with a shaman and ingesting quantities of herbal and animal toxins mixed to unknown strength and potentially lethal consequences as self-care or not I guess depends on who you’re talking to.

For me, it presents a unique opportunity to stretch my acceptance and belief system to try and encompass something that many would consider “woowoo” kind of pseudoscience magic and embrace it as something more. It also provides a chance, depending on the validity or hell, even the placebo effect, to help me disarm some of the more disagreeable parts of my psyche and behavior patterns (like addiction or smoking cigarettes which I still struggle with) that have remained reticent and resistant to all other forms of treatment at this point. I don’t believe in magic bullets, but I do believe in the prospect of rewiring connections internally, both mentally and physiologically if resetting parts of the DNA or bodily interactions which may have become messed up over multiple decades of drug abuse.

So there we have it. In the meantime, I’m getting out to ride my bike more regularly, and had a dog not chewed off the top of my thumb recently, doing some more general exercise while attempting to practice better health practices overall. It’s a multi-stage process I suppose, every little bit helps the whole to develop and grow.

While it may see strange, this is not intended as just another story to put in the bank, taking 9-days to really focus on healing, nutritional changes, not bringing any smokes or being in a location where they will be accessible (nor will drugs and alcohol) cannot help but be beneficial in the long term. In the short-term, it buys me a period of time away from my normal day to day where I occasionally flounder and struggle for direction or conviction to stay the tried and true pathway to life, love and happiness.

So bring on the frog poison, bring on the dream tea, and bring on open-mindedness to something which is beyond my normal ken. Time to expand that awareness a bit.

Day 1 of 30 – Writing Challenge

I’m going to try and actually stay consistent about something for the first time in, well, probably ever. I’m making it a personal challenge to write 30 pieces, one a day, for the next month to practice, and to see if I can actually do it. Sure much of it is going to be slop….but here we go. -S

Another mental crunch as the pieces fall into place. Patience is watching without virtue the calamities of yourself as they leave ricochet pockmarks into the surrounding population. What a shame that it all came circling back around this direction, to the twitchy fingers and uneasy guts. The lackluster moans and the desire for release in some way from the grip and tight tenor of the fingers laced around your brain stem.

Just another day in paradise it seems. Drooling into a cacophony of disinterested moments where the past is relieved in modern terms and the future slips by as identical discord. Yeah, here it goes again with the “will I nevers” and “if only I had the”–this time will be different, sure of it. Always remember that slip comes before the fall and that landing on your hands is a great way to break something. Take the bumps and bruises, roll yourself up and get a grip.

Next hour is a doozy, but the one after that brings us closer to setting off on a worldwide trip. Settle down now young buck, rest your weary head, we’re in this for the long hall, and some might question why it is you aren’t just dead.

Addiction is a Beast

To highlight the feeling of insanity that comes from active addiction.
Feels about right.

A sense of calm resignation is starting to settle in. So often shunted aside still for madcap panic and desperate flailing as this faltering shell of a body which carries an acidic sonofabitch that wants out while refusing to take pleas, no’s, or prayers as a hint to get lost. It’s there on the outskirts as the magnitude, the absolute fucking magnitude of how colossally I’ve screwed the lives of those around me up, while trying to ruin my own existence..

It always sat there just on the outskirts, even when it should have been blatant. The self concocted cocoon of ignorant bliss I had woven around myself to keep the realities of life and the need for growing up at bay made sure that even if I was looking at it head on, I wouldn’t see. I’d spin it internally, sometimes to deflect the judgement and actions needed, sometimes to punish myself further and feel so amply deserving of it while begging confusion to those closest to me.

God help me. I sat there blind to love, affection, nurturing, opportunity, friendships, my children, the actuality of LIFE itself. 

All in favor of an endless repetition of the same monotonous actions. Awake, chase, get high, drink, crash, rinse and repeat ad infinitum, The same rhythm that most humans are going through their awake, cabinet, coffee, drink, functional, productive, competent portions of their day to day.

What has it cost? 

I’m sitting in the mountains which are my peaceful place, body too exhausted to hike or sleep. Dimly aware that I’ve imploded yet another beautiful person’s life, tucked mine into an 18’ trailer, and spiraled into oblivion while desperately fighting a battle that can’t be won on my terms. Beginning to come around the edges of what that actually means–to be so viral, so toxic and caustic in someone’s life that you can literally see it reshape their entire being from what they were prior–knowing that even if it wasn’t intended, that’s what happened. 

To know that the fiber of your being is so saturated in selfish self-hatred that it closes you off to the possibility of trusting and believing that anyone could actually love you for a person you don’t even know any longer, yourself? Knowing that sounds like Narcissistic Personality Disorder and digging around to see if there’s ways to be less of a screaming manchild asshole only to find that if it’s really the case, there ain’t shit to be done?

To realize that I don’t even fucking know what things I actually enjoy in life? To have focused so many countless hours on a single destructive course that it has literally obliterated all remnants of understanding about what joy means. How love is shown. What fun is. How to treat others or myself in any sort of a humane way laced starkly with the deep confusion of always being at odds with myself to begin with. That I have erased inborn gifts, destroyed my mind, poisoned my body wildly–that I will die younger than I had to and may never have the chance to see my children again. That my children have been growing up without their father.

Being aware now of the wreckage and turbulence behind my passing from those unlucky enough to have had me walk into their life “chaos incarnate” as I used to joke. To not even be able to apologize in any sort of a meaningful way yet because time and action is all that really will matter, could matter at this point. To not be able to say thank you sufficiently where I mean it within such limited scopes as I’m tooled to have the capacity for. The endless dreams that have died in lieu of one more hit, one more drink.The beautiful dreams that staggered onward beneath the weight only to have the carpet ripped out from under them again. The smashed hopes that held them aloft for so long.

It is seriously time for a change. So for the first time in YEARS, I’m throwing in the towel, surrendering, and just going with it. I have a bed at a program starting in a few days, a kennel for the dog, a storage spot for the trailer/home, and a hiatus from school while I straighten myself out and make some so critically needed changes. Peter Pan with a crack pipe and a 100u shot–fuck it’s old. 

The next time I write will be on the back end the next 30+ days probably, so until then, thanks for everything and all the kind words, help, camaraderie, and digital awesomeness that is everyone else out there. Addiction’s a beast. Mental illness is a beast. But neither gives any permission to keep perpetuating that cycle endlessly or to inflict them on those around you.

Time to give up the fight and go back to the drawing board, starting fresh all over again.

Something About Trees and Monsters

Simulacrum bonsai spirit shining bright,

tendril bushings famously tiny

sit so perfectly tight.

Clipped to stand proudly small,

deficiency rests on laurels deep inside

where no one fears the height

but is aware of the fall.

Watered down trivia the company kept,

guessing games fuel creativity

while vices rumble and trouble

until tranquility arrives, envelops and sets.

Your ghost is born on silent words,

freedom found out where they fly

unbound from earth by roots,

out in the open air

where birds sing and lost men die.

10 Grams of Meth in a Toilet

I know a man who threw away 10g of meth. Down a toilet. Intentionally, during a moment of lucidity. He woke up from his dream. He didn’t do it for the posturing or the bragging, he did it because he had a fucking moment and things added up.

He saw his future was his past and all that was going to come again. The regrets. The broken relationships. The self-hatred. The loneliness and the pain. The body count and the desperation. The stagnation. The missed joy and thrill of life. The empty smile and the personal failings. The prayer for death unanswered.

It hit that water in the toilet and didn’t even stain the water with some indication of all the soil and grime that its brand had left over the years. All the marks on his morals. His appreciation of life. His awareness and understanding of the world and himself. His inability to connect and always be “other” – not in a way he was proud of, but in a way that left him sullied and greasy where it would always be felt most.

He wasn’t going to revisit and replay what had come before. He was learning gratitude for all the experiences, painful or pleasant, and that meant realizing that the pain had only needed to happen once. He didn’t need to put his hand back into the fire like always. it was still fucking hot and he was worth more than scorched flesh. He wanted to, could, and will become more. He’ll evolve, be seen in the mirror as true to himself, a good friend, an honest and genuine man, and as a survivor not an unchanging Peter Pan chemical fiend. Wreckage for decades as his only gift to the world, a Lost Boy playing pirate to his own loot.

He had learned, was learning, would continue to learn. He would grow.

I know a man that threw away 10g of meth. Finally took a dive and emptied a bag, got back on the horse, and welcomed in a change for once.

Stay that road fucker, I miss you.

I Was a Stigma to Myself

All credit to Emotive Brand for the image.
So often I would sit and wail about "why"?
The frustration unending,
the obsession ongoing,
a gut wrenching demand to understand
that in itself
kept me from the knowledge,
the peace I sought.

Sick in the head druggie,
psychopath,
crazy as a shit house rat,
lunatic,
insane,
addict,
"something's wrong with that kid" -

Drug user stigma phrases shown on an image with a haloed syringe from the words.
All credit to Stonetree Harm Reduction for the image.

I tried to own those labels
make them something to be proud of.
I tried doing that,
by doing all the things
I imagined people with those labels would do.
I followed that up,
by demanding that I not be persecuted,
not be judged,
not be looked at differently,
though I had just behaved in a way that demanded all those things happen.

Now I come to terms,
sit with the idea of peace,
find pride not in my actions
but in the understanding
that awareness and acceptance bring.
To know that I am not an actor playing out roles,
that I lost myself,
but I am a survivor,
no longer needing to play the role
of victim or perpetrator anymore.

It's a small thing,
Which means so much to me.
To be able to introduce myself,
engage in a conversation,
with confidence.
Know that I accept who I am as a being,
that I no longer let labels
define who I choose to see myself as,
act as a script for my identity,
or be my scapegoats when I screw up.

That like so many others,
I am the hero
and the villain,
of my own story.
That my abnormal mental states,
my addictions,
all the resulting experiences,
are gifts to allow me opportunities,
to shine my brightest
against the backdrop of adversity,
and decide just how much of it there would be.

To know that there are others out there gleaming,
and if we encounter each other
it could be in the form of respect and love,
admiration for the battles fought,
no matter whether they were felt won or lost,
an opportunity to compare notes and grow.

I'm not ashamed of who I am,
or where I am today,
I am disappointed in many of my choices
but they have been mine to make,
and they were made.
I used to have a vision of the perfect person,
someone that I would measure myself to
and inevitably fall short.

Today I am me,
released on the world
perfectly defective,
beautifully abnormal,
gifted with challenge and capacity for growth.

All of it,
so that I have a chance to become
an oh so slowly evolving,
human being.




F*ck Sunshine

I’ve found playful meaning

in the sharpest strands of daylight

while they bleached my night tan

into a wholesome red and brown.

been stripped clean of the unwholesome.

The rasping, the choking, the decaying

scent of another moon laced night

spent chasing dragons down the streets.

In the silver kissed necklace of shadows

that roll menacingly beneath the stars

as a slipshod grasp on tenuous reality

falls away, fast as a bat, never to be caught.

Crawled out dusty and beaten by self

into the unwelcome openness of daytime

Where people have jobs and families

go do things and have fun of their choosing.

There’s always a sick, nasty bitterness

surrounding the way I’d look at the crowds.

In those moments when shame carries

the day and bitterness over the injustice,

of wounds septic and worsening, a brain

melting beneath the heat of inquisition.

A Cadillac of contempt would sit, shining

In the corneas of each purple smudged eye.

Letting the self-loathing and concern go awry,

masking envy as hate and desire as disgust,

riding panic and fear out as arrogance and disdain.

Patronizing seconds as the world creaks,

moans its way out of the decadence of night,

quickens into the tittering joy of form alive.

There’s no surface to touch and manipulate

no interface that allows for a connection across

to that other world imbued with shiny smiles

and unbroken teeth not doing unspeakable acts.

In those moments when the sickness begins,

wafting out of your skin to notify and alert

anyone caring to notice of your diseased being,

your lesser than status, your unworthiness.

Those are the defining moments that show

the defying strength and fortitude you want,

when you have the opportunity tell the world

“get fucked, piss off, I make the next choice.”

or reaffirm the skepticism pandering to your

apathetic acceptance of what life has become.

Those are the moments when the shear grit

required to simply gut out the next series

of bad decisions, knowing how much it will hurt

but owning it, owning that the deeper down

you crawl the higher it will feel at baseline.

When you finally disconnect from the grime

Long enough to breathe untainted air

Purified in the radiance of sunbeams

And the wealth of happiness that soaks

Summer days beneath the blue painted sky,

there is a startling awareness, an epiphany,

a closure to doubt and a recognition,

that sobering up is just getting high in a new way.

Barefoot Lottery Winner Injects Crack Cocaine

An ex-girlfriend stole my shoes once. By breaking in through the floor level hotel room window I was in while I was preoccupied with injecting another fifty units of liquefied crack and vinegar. I even came out when I heard the noise. All I was capable of doing however, was to stare blankly while trembling under the pressures of the locomotive that was my heart careening off the rails inside my head. Didn’t even say anything, just stared.

              It was a bizarre occurrence to be sure. I could only fuzzily sketch out how I had l had hefted her bodily not 30 minutes previously–out into the hallway following what was a reasonable argument taking on unreasonable levels. Now she was snaking out the window to my room dragging behind a pair of black and white Nikes that happened to be my only pair of shoes I had brought.

              Earlier that day I had seen my children for the first time in more than a year. At a supervision center I had ridden the buses and trains for eight hours to get to. Just one hour that I paid for out of pocket. They looked beautiful, he was handsome, she was angelic.

              Far more than I could take

              My ex-wife had structured things so as to ensure I would have to return to my old stomping grounds of New Bedford, MA and this dingy facility if I wanted any access to the kids at all. It was the same city I had desperately sought to get away from during my attempts to get sober. Aside from my children, there was nothing there but the grime and filth and needle strewn streets and shit memories and traumas and fuckups and locations and people I didn’t want or need anything to do with.

                 I had won $10,000 on a scratch it a few weeks before, something that I never thought would happen though I had kept gambling on them periodically for most of my adult life. I had started a new job a few months previously as well. I was living in a halfway house and had been there for nearly 6-months, longer than I had stayed anywhere in several years now. Things were upbeat with many reasons for optimism and putting nose to grindstone while enjoying some happiness for once.

                After seeing the kids I broke down. I knew how much of their absence in my life was my fault, both before and the recent inability to clean up my act.

                I checked into a hotel and managed to track down my ex-girlfriend.

                She was doing amazing, clean, signed up for school to become a certified drug and alcohol counselor—she was really putting the pieces of her life back together again.

                I don’t know if I showed up with the drugs to the hotel and met her, or ordered them after we got there. I do remember using the inside of a hardened blue glasses case as my mixing surface for the rocks. It was good stuff, probably should have just been smoking it, but once you progress to the needle it’s something of an end all be all.

                You mix crack with vinegar or another highly acidic agent to break it back down to water soluble form. I used Braggs Apple Cider with “The Mother” because it was rich in amino acids and somehow in my addled puddle of a brain that meant it was better to use for these particular purposes. That and it reminded me of making salad dressing at the home I had once owned.

                Shot after shot after shot, ringer after ringer after ringer. All she wanted to do was cuddle up and maybe read some of the book she was studying from with me.                

                Rock, vinegar, mix, pull-up, vein, red flash, push plunger, go lightheaded, gasp, nearly orgasm, fall slowly when short gulping air, wind up sitting on the edge of the bathtub shaking head to clear the spots from vision and WHUMWHUM from my ears, rubbing quickly inflating arms to try and minimize the swelling.

                Lost in and to a ritual, there was no mind being paid to anything else but the same rinse and repeat exercise as had just played.

                I realized things had escalated rather dramatically when the chocolate cake was flew past my head, She came at me with those sharpened nails of hers, tried to grab the drugs and throw them in the toilet. Failing that, my ears and face were a good enough post to thud into.. Holding her up against the wall so she would stop ripping at my face, getting spit in my eye before throwing her out into the hallway. I was callous and cruel and willfully ignoring the pointed reality of what I had been doing and how it must have felt to watch me self-destruct so viciously.

                Then she stole my shoes.

                I had smashed my cellphone earlier that evening in some bizarre fit of rage over something seemingly trivial. Thrown it so hard against the wall the mental housing of the iPhone had crumpled as the screen shattered.

                I used the hotel’s lobby phone to call a taxi who took me to get a pair of flip flops at a pharmacy and take me to the hospital for the cuts on my face. The idea of just grabbing some first aid for myself at the pharmacy never even crossed my mind. For quite some time I had become accustomed to just going to the hospital when things had gotten to be too much and I was dehydrated, or crazy from lack of sleep, or desperate for another rehab. It was second nature.

                They thought I was there for chest pains after taking my pulse rate. The EKG came back okay and they let it slide though.

                Eventually I made it back to the hotel.

                The wall in the bathroom was covered in chocolate cake, towels were laying all over the floor. I knew “it” was going to fall apart again with a twisting certainty in my gut born of seeing the same thing happen over and over. Different implosions, different actions at least—but the same result no matter what. Isolated, lonely, confused, ashamed and embarrassed, it never seemed to change.

                When I kept shooting coke for the next two days and had to resign my position I was barely even surprised.

Geographic Cure for Addiction and Sanity

Beautiful image of Smith Rock

There is always a wild and unpredictable feeling that accompanies a move to a new area. In very rare instances, that area is not an unknown arena but rather a time tested experiential location filled with either positive or negative memories and feelings.

 

With several cases in point over recent weeks which stand out even amongst the 40+ different housing and city changes over the previous 24 months it strikes me that perhaps I am not alone in these occasions.

 

First, New Bedford – a city built originally on the whaling industry and once the single wealthiest in the entire western hemisphere. It was the New York City of its time. Today, it sits as a sprawling and squalid shadow of its former self. A huge portion of the city hovers under the illegal immigrant status, yet both they and their families are able to regularly and quite effectively work over an already overtaxed system in creative and remarkable fashions. Far from an irregular event is it for a young woman to show up at the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA or “welfare office”) and secure nearly free housing, food stamps, and a guaranteed check on a monthly basis – only to walk out and begin making calls on the newest phone the market has to offer.

 

The city itself is predominantly populated either by the indigent, nearly indigent, or fisherman who fluctuate between those states depending on the last trip and how much was blown on their return to the docks where the prostitutes, drug dealers, and other “entertainment” providers sit with cars at the ready to ensure the checks are cashed promptly and whatever is desired is immediately available at their fingertips. It is one of the densest concentrations of opioid addiction in a state that is under a crises the likes of which has never been seen. The yellow brick road is a literal pavement of syringes, nowhere more than a casual eyeshot in any direction.

 

This finely tuned squalor was where much of the insanity that I ran through following my crack cocaine induced destruction took place. It’s where I lost my wife, my home across the river, had my first new love in nearly a decade before losing her to the grips of heroin and finally seeing what it was like from the opposing side of the table – watching an addict you love destruct, and NOTHING you can possibly do will help. It’s where my best friend went from the consummate and brilliantly arrogant healthcare professional I had met originally became an absolute animal. It’s where I learned how to inject speedballs and began my foray into the truly sickening world of dope.

 

It’s where I went insane for the first time since my years as a teenage meth addict. But as an adult voluntarily living homeless on the streets, refusing to sleep and food in lieu of drugs for days at a time until my body would demand rehydration and yet another trip to the hospital for IVs would begin. New Bedford taught me the real meaning of ignoring tomorrow and living strictly under the immediate need for a fix of any kind. Overdosing and being left for dead under a bush in a bad neighborhood along with the terrible shock of waking up. That there was no light, no memory, no message and just a blackness that was closest to blinking. The initial experience of simply expecting to wake up from death, and the frustration that it seemed that for whatever reason I was not to be permitted such a simple escape from the daily frustration and misery.

 

New Bedford taught me to pawn everything in sight, that material items, even the most sentimental, intrinsically have only a single value – that of cash. If you refused to close out the memory and loss of each component of what you once considered to be your life it would be enough to send you over the edge. I learned to numb even when the drugs were gone and there was only an aching feeling that something was terribly wrong.

 

I learned to expect and understand what would transpire if I called certain dealers who would demand sacrifices of the more physical nature. That there was a way to close it out, embrace the pain as deserved an simply shut down whichever part of my brain should have been screaming no in a vain attempt to preserve a sense of personal value. My first true experience with a jail where no one was there to offer their assistance in easing the situation.

 

New Bedford taught me starvation willingly, arrogance, desperation, abandonment, hysteria, psychotic behavior, willingness to overlook, junkie pride, losing trust, a taste for anger always bordering on violence, loneliness, resignation, degradation, disgust, hatred, shame, isolation, manipulation, lies, betrayal, deceit, hope, disassociation, confusion. It taught me for the first time since I had been in the deepest portions of my meth addiction what it really meant to crave the release of death and how cowardly I was.

 

And I had pride in how my stories always elicited shakes of heads and the inevitable, “you’re fucking nuts man.”

 

So I left.

 

I moved away to program after program, always staying as far as I was able to from a city where it was impossible to walk a street without encountering someone I knew or was known by. Once you’ve been on the news you even become recognizable to those upstanding members of the community who would have had no reason to associate with you other than to comment about how you looked so familiar.

 

Of course wandering through the streets shirtless with blood streaming down your arms from injection sites and asking strangers for needles is not usually considered to be a low profile method to avoid notice either.

 

Aside from the point – I left.

 

Nearly two years later I was offered an excellent job….in that goddamn city. Fresh out of jail, my rationale was that if I maintained several cities as insulation than surely I would be able to avoid the swirling pool of madness that seemed always to draw attempted escapees back in.

 

I was wrong of course.

 

There were a million memories on every corner, a recollection of some obscure event, some half remembered person, a story, an event, a failure, a SOMETHING.

 

Inevitably as always is the case, it became known that I had come back to the area and my phone started to ring again. Even though I was living nearly 10 miles outside of the darkest areas of my past, there was no escaping it. At points of relapse over the previous years there were times when I would willingly spend $75 on a taxi or Uber in order to get to “Brockton by the Sea” (another moniker for Whaling City, or New Beige). Instead of a confident no, it was soon to be a short push into acknowledging myself to be a short bus ride from wherever I needed to be.

 

When the other shoe fell, and the house I was living at asked me to leave, I was forced back into the more affordable region of the Beige – at $500 a month, which was okay despite the fact no running water existed during the walkthrough, sewage had backed up, dishes had not been done in nearly 3-months, a closet was filled with trash bags since the previous week’s pickup had been neglected.

 

But it was okay at the time, because it was affordable and temporary.

 

Even after I saw the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) pamphlet and learned – so I thought – that my new roommate, a remarkably charismatic and intelligent young woman had been in recovery for nearly 8-months. It was thrilling and welcome to be able to share a commonality and bond as we were both working on building up our lives to become more than they had been. There were no qualms about the upfront cash I had given her for my move in, I was back to trusting people, holding onto a naive and woefully childish dream that people were what they said and taking it at face value.

 

Until I was asked not to tell anyone I was living there, and informed that her father controlled her money and I should give him the rent from there on out, and that she really wasn’t working full time, and that the rent was actually going to be $700 as the landlord had vowed to increase it if someone else moved in, and a million other signs.

 

Within three days it was simply volunteered that she was actively using, and that the money I had given her had been spent immediately which was why my presence at the house had to remain a secret. Moreover, would I consider lending a few more dollars and shoot her up since snorting the brown wasn’t cutting it anymore – a fact witnessed when nearly two grams did nothing visibly to change her behavior.

 

She had a dealer that would front and she was into him for several hundred. The issue was resolved initially by introducing her father to her connect and having him pay the difference directly. Than taking in a cat to watch for one of his friends. Eventually the turn was taken as it always is, sexist though it may be, commonly for women and sadly for some such as myself, occasionally for men.

 

The used condom belied the prior night’s lie that it had been a blowjob and nothing more.

 

It was amazing to speak with her father, a man of compassion who had not yet been broken of hope and was convinced that a bottom had already been reached. That if he were only willing to selflessly offer support with rides, money, food, hell – a brand new phone that lasted all of 12hrs before hitting the market – everything would be all right.

 

I saw my mother in him. At least in the earlier years of my spiral.

 

He was likeable, smart, well read, and easy to talk with.

 

His daughter reminded me of myself. A face that was easy to trust, a personality open and quirkily cut with intelligence that wiped away suspicion and confirmed.

 

It was an interesting perspective on how terribly effective what I would consider normal behavior is in ousting others character evaluation and ensuring that there is an immediate thread of trust built. Underneath the easy smile is a raging fire of manipulation and capacity for widespread destruction, emotional scarring, and selfishness.

 

As things fell apart, in retrospect, I have to look at her as a manifestation of what the world must view me as – that’s a painful thing.

 

To shorten this up a bit, New Bedford helped terminate my determination and weaken the walls of resistance i thought were built strong.

 

After so many years away – my family (bless them a million times over) and IIIIMiMiIII decided that it was time to bring me home. Oregon. The one place that called me.

 

3,000 miles from the insanity, the black balling at hospitals and rehabs, from all the connections and memories I was constantly assaulted with. An opportunity to rebuild my passion for life, and reconnect with the individual I was supposed to, and wanted, to be.

 

I nearly didn’t make it. I stepped out of detox with a blood pressure of 170/130, but I had to catch a flight and there was no other option….I took the risk of a seizure, because fuck it – I had one shot to do it, and I wasn’t going to miss it for all the tea in China.

 

At the airport, it crashed in on my (as well as the night at the hotel prior with MiMi). I was going to lose more than just the bad aspects of my life, but the immediate access to the biggest love of my life. I was in many ways abandoning the woman I admire most in the world. Despite my deepest desire to stop hurting her and everyone else that cared I was going to do it again because I was selfish enough to “just go”.

 

MiMi encouraged me to do it as the right thing. That kind of strength is astonishing.

 

I am fortunate to have such an option presented to restart my life, I recognize that.

 

Currently I work serving coffee, beer, and climbing gear at a pay that accounts for a 70% drop. But you know what, I’m happier and more relaxed than I’ve been in years. Climbing again, an old obsession that consumed my life in a very positive way.

 

Sometimes what has to happen is to jump ship and swim to a new shore.

 

Though addiction and mental health issues are not immediately tied to the landscape we occupy, there can be an enormous feeling of relief in leaving behind that memory crusted wasteland to one that offers opportunity to plant new roots in welcoming soil.

 

A geographic is what brought me to New England originally…I arrived with one backpack of clothes. Twelve years later I got off a plane with three.

 

Let’s see where this goes.

 

Much love.

 

-S