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.

Books, Booze and Blues

Boozehound image from dadadreams showing a dog drinking scotch.
Image borrowed from Dadadreams

John Lee Hooker says whiskey and women,
the blues man before asks for another pint.
Pour me a tall glass of that liquid summer
down the hatch and off into the night.
Pounding embers of wisdom shed into fluid form
its time to get wasted to the tune of a misfire
and the sobbing caterwauls of mans plight.
Joy measured into shared company is compounded
misery dissipates in that carefree state. .
Spider Robinson says that Callahan’s is the cure
that telepathic understanding would make us pure.
Three shots of jack and the curtains reveal
magic bullets in glass containers of sin.
Esoteric breakdown of barricades sitting strong
imagining the beauty in words as music hits the song.
Dusty lungs coughing out something foul
to the satisfaction of another cigarette horked down
sitting numb eyed in a daze that seems to follow.
Chest sits warm in dispassionate easy grace
somber living never gets you to these places
never breathing deep enough to indulge in phantom chases.
Down memory lane and into the brambles
a stumbling mess of skull fucked cobwebs
and woven disasters of recollection branches.
Drop those spiders on my spirit and proud face
its not for nothing that they call it a sad display.
But here I’ll sit until the noonday sun
calls out my moon tanned skin for daytime fun.
Polish the bottle child and don’t leave a drop
there’s a ride to be ridden this evening,
no conductor to guide us
and no idea where it stops.





A Divorce for the Past, Present, Future

So as something of a preface to the following let me just say that it has been an extraordinary (in both positive and negative ways) period of weeks since I last punched together something to share with the webs’ people. I had a few challenges about a month and a half back which resulted in my being asked to write a divorce letter to my “disease:….but not the quintessential “goodbye forever drugs” – but rather, towards however I envisioned that sickness which had driven me to be were it to wear a physical form. The suave smooth talking salesman, a blundering and demanding gargoyle, a bad ass mans man with a beard, a sexy woman teasing and seducing….whatever form i chose.
Hey baby you sexy thing,
Hey brother you filthy rock star.
Thank you for the stories,
Those staggering rides up with the comets,
Them epic nights rolling without pause into endless days.
Damn but we fucked well and,
Damn we sped past those pathetic sheep on the streets,
Damn we were a fireball of excitement,
A hurricane of insanity.
My sweet goddess of sin,
My destroying titan of hatred.
You blessed me,
You cursed me,
It’s time to walk away,
Sky, John, off with you and your false matrimony,
Off with this slavers collar on my finger,
Just like you spit in my face when the fun was done,
Feel the scornful gaze that your wisdom brought so many I once loved to cast upon me.
Sky, my lovely succubi, take your sinfully beautiful body,
Those promises of impossibly intense bliss that would never end,
Taste the disgust you draped me in before all I encountered.
My gruesome and powerful spirit,
My depiction of remorse,
Of emotion to be understood and chased,
My devil-may-caresofuckitallandwatchtheworldburn charmer,
John, even when you convinced me that I was doing something positive,
Always those that I wanted to hurt the least caught the brunt.
You made loving tantamount to self-inflicted emotional trauma,
Never again.
You both served your purpose, goodbye.
I divorce myself from my past including you.
From the present wherein my personality is lost in yours and all I can see and be seen as is as you made me,
From the future of which I know little,
With this freedom,
I embrace myself again to stand tall and walk with purpose and confidence to something brighter.
Where the voices are new,
The suggestions more pure,
Life lived more passionately instead of intensely.
-S

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

Addiction Recovery & Borderline Personality Disorder (from PsychCentral)

This is a fascinating and detailed read highlighting some of the specific challenges facing addicts seeking to recovery and dealing simultaneously with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Great material for anyone interested in the overlapping issues and frustrations in treatment for these two damaging illnesses.

hand-on-glass-for-addiction-and-borderline

PsychCentral Article

A Day in the Life

drug-addict

This is my life. There is no rationality, no planning, scant expectation of success. An ego the size of this planet argues with a weakly protesting child, and the outcome is so basic that it bears minimal mention. Joy in one, anger and loathing in the other.

Note: written in 2014 following essentially a normal day with a relapse before my marriage collapsed. Not surprising I suppose considering the state that I was in.

You can be aware of it with a sense of resignation knowing that the inevitable outcome will be yet another failure of your will and the joy of just another day wiled away in discontent. There is an internal battle, naturally – who really wants to fight themselves mentally trying to prove that it’s wrong to do the thing the other part of you demands, regardless of the consequences. 1:30pm is about when it kicked in, and the fight was short, I had already been snorting buproprion despite all the fears brought on from yesterday’s clear overdose and seeming serotonin syndrome. Hallucinations, confusion, twitching, staggering, blind terror….certainly seems like something that you would want to do over and over again. I had been safely knocking off items from my to-do list, planned to tackle so much more for the day, when the fluttery thought of a cold beer dusted across my determination to continue the 48hr. streak of happiness and health I had been maintaining. So what if it was an hour walk to the liquor store and I had a pocket half filled with change.

Cut forward 8-hrs to my wheedling, intimidating, and self-righteous anger with my wife because she won’t give me the grocery money so I can get a pack of cigarettes.

This is my life. There is no rationality, no planning, scant expectation of success. An ego the size of this planet argues with a weakly protesting child, and the outcome is so basic that it bears minimal mention. Joy in one, anger and loathing in the other.

I’ve always questioned whether or not the majority of most other individuals at AA or NA meetings have experienced that same flat out smothering weakness. Non-committal and breaking at the slightest touch. I’m not sure. The “Big Book” speaks on “incomprehensible demoralization,” but there is always a touch of glamorization around each escapade that denotes in the back of my head some control. To be truly out of it, with only the smallest hint of coherency or willingness to fight against the thing destroying you – probably just my arrogant inner self bleating for sympathy because I must be just that damn bad. If the world had more people like me, I’m sure they would have popped up on my radar some time. Then again, AA preaches terminal uniqueness and loss of control as some of the basic precepts to their program. Depending on the time of day I’ll feel one way or the other about it.

To put it in perspective on a physical level, imagine yourself preparing to make dinner, say a tasty salad or some such other vegetablish item. Now picture that about halfway through, a casual thought about how tasty some meat would be in addition to the salad, but sadly you lack the funds. Before you finish, you’ve discussed the variables, the outcome, the possibilities, the pain – and you’ve come to a conclusion – your finger would make the perfect accoutrement. Down with the knife, up to the lips, and in a heartbeat, you’ve maimed yourself over a passing thought. Now that the moment is over, you can embrace the pain and relish the understanding of how sick you must be, provide yourself that information for an ongoing reference to continue justifying your actions.

But this disease sustains, it offers glimmers of hope, of optimism among the shroud of misery that you wear over your daily interactions with the world. This last time, that was absolutely the last time. Tomorrow you’ll feel better, and you’ll be stronger for having survived another ordeal. Until the day comes that you bitterly and pathetically weep that there won’t be a tomorrow with longing and hope for your expiration. Choking on tears and gasping prayers to any god or devil that will listen to remove the pain once and for all. Prayers so rarely answered it seems.

I told my wife at counseling that I had given up, but was balancing the need to see her, my son and my unborn child set-up someplace where I would know them to be safe and housed comfortably with a cushion in front of them. Seconds earlier, our counselor, Paula, who had initially been working one on one with me, had announced that she would no longer be working with me as she felt that there was nothing she could do to help and had become discouraged.

“Well, then why haven’t you gone out full tilt?”

At my core, I’m still a coward. I know where that will take me. Not where I hope it will, but likely to an institution or a jail where that one prized aspect to my existence that I have ever embraced as the key to masking the inner turmoil; independence. I don’t want to lose my family, and I would to delude myself for a few moments longer that all is not lost. I want to feel like I did one good thing as I crashed to Earth. Even if that single action was a mere minor amelioration of the damage so unjustly caused by me on way down.

And I’m human.

I’m scared.

 

Hello Grim

Insanely possible impossibilities,

Shattered and replaced with ingenuity.

Hot roach on a highway hitting nothing,

I hold all the aces and still I’m bluffing.

Smeared sneer pasted in a smile,

Choking on air – so I’ll smoke for awhile.

Ups are getting tossed ‘round the downs,

When I fall and trip I don’t hit the ground.

Show me the trail and I’ll run on through,

I may laugh at death –

-but death laughs at you

NOTE: Written at 16 years old after starting crystal meth. grim-reaper

Checkmate

chess-drugs-rev-2-2

I saw the sun set in a shallow grave,

And I watched the moon twitch in its cage.

I’ve seen infinity twice,

And I’ve explored both ends of life.

I gazed on the rage in a sea of smiles,

And I studied the eyes of a man who was not beguiled.

I’ve battered my way out of the inferno,

And I’ve walked in the halls where the saintly dream to go.

I’ve left my enemies in the past,

And I’ve brought my friends with my out of the ash.

This universe has done its best to beat me,

It’s learning now that you can’t defeat me.

I play this game called life on a different board,

I hold all the aces,

And all my pawns are lords.

I’ll throw my seven,

Lay my straight,

And you can king me.

Another checkmate in a game you don’t play for free.

Note: Originally written at age 16 when I entered deeper into the world of #drugs and #crystal #meth to be specific.

Hope

Hope is the sun rising again.

The landscape of hope breathes life to we Travelers.

She takes in those who walk upon her,

Brings us to the peaks of our mountains.

She shows us clipped horizons opened to infinity,

Has us inhale crisped air cleaned with freedom.

Where lights cluster above,

Their thousands of points glimmering success,

You’ve made it to join the others,

A star in your own sky,

An inspiration to the next Traveler.

Hope will lead you to become something more,

And the darkness will always give way to your light.

Memory Spiders

Vividly vicious,

Pointedly pernicious,

Real life though through time they are sent.

Soaring sacred,

Helping hot hatred,

Occupying thoughts and blinding sight with recall bent.

Worldly window,

Boldly brittle,

Truncated life in fell cobwebs do they build.

Spindly spiders,

Truthfully totter,

Legs dancing across silk fields.

Memories mine,

Flurries recall and define.

The man that I once was,

Chaos attached to the leg of a dove.

Today I acknowledge the taste,

Confront the facts,

Carve away all the emotional waste.