Vacation days slip away quickly.
Valuable friends of mine have urged me to take a stand and “Put up or shut up,” so to speak. I took the challenge but I admit this will not be an easy one. The last few days have been filled with steps leading towards a goal that I’ve had for quite some time. I’ve wanted to work on this for a long time but all I did was come up with excuses. Well, the time for excuses is over. And that’s a good thing because it’s good to have goals. It’s good to know what they are and it’s good to want to better myself.
Back when I was a kid on the beach in summertime, I remember standing at the edge of the shore with my feet planted in the sand. The waves rushed in and then returned to sea.
I would stand there and let the water splash above my ankles. And I would stand there and feel my feet sink into the warm wet sand. In front of me was the ocean and behind me was the beach. I feel this way now—figuratively speaking of course. There’s something beautiful to this. However, there is something intense about this as well.
I’m digging myself in and watching both sides of the world. Referring to the beach as a metaphor; some of the world is on solid ground behind me. The rest tends to rush in and wash away, only to leave remnants on the shore. To me, this is life. Sometimes the tide is kind and others—the waves crash heavy and it’s hard to keep my footing in the sands. All a man can do is dig his heels in and be careful of the undertow.
“I got this!”
A few weeks back, I began to involve myself with the local politics and efforts to “Meet them where they are.”
And by “Them” I mean the sick and suffering addicts.
(Bless their souls)
Somewhere between the line of politics and life; somewhere between the misunderstanding of people looking to help and the experience of others that understand this life, and somewhere between those in need and those refusing help, I am part of group that looks to “Meet them where they are.”
My position in life is a fortunate one. One could argue that I was lucky to get out when I did. One could argue that I was spared and one could argue that I never went through the harder side of addiction—they could argue that I have no business speaking the way I do. And truthfully, this is an accurate assessment of my life as it relates to this disease known as addiction. I did get out young. I did get off easy and I did manage to say away from “The Life.” Without apology, I have done for nearly 26 years.
I have not done this without sin. No, quite opposite; I have been guilty of crimes throughout this time. I have been held accountable for my behaviors. I have lost in a different regard because of anything I have learned; I have learned that addiction is less about the ingredient and more about the internal workings of a man like me.
I have this voice in me. Some call it “The disease” and it speaks to me. This is the voice of doubt. This is the voice that teases me. It’s the same voice that tempts me. It’s the voice that tells me, “That ain’t you.” It tells me, “You don’t belong here.”
“You could do what you want now,” it says
This is the voice of false bravado. It is the voice that leaves me to question everything. I question the good and expect the bad.
Regardless to the voice, I also have this thing which means everything to me. And I call it “This thing,” because it’s more than just a sober life. This is something that no one can ever take from me. I have this achievement and it means something. It means that those who said I could never be successful were wrong. This means I overcame something on a daily basis. It means one day at a time, I took the better end of a fight against a voice whose whispers scream louder than anything you could imagine.
Along the way, I have met others who are like me. I’ve met some who struggle and I’ve met some who’ve succeeded. And like me, they’ve maintained a daily regimen. They’ve maintained a life without any mind altering substance; whether the substance come in the form of a liquid, smoke, or powder—whatever the addiction may be; I’ve been fortunate to see others recover from this sickness.
I have been asked on more than one occasion, “Did you ever wonder why it was you that got out?”
I was asked why me?
I can’t answer this. Of course, there is a Godly version to this question, which explains there was a better purpose for me; explaining there was a reason I was who I was. Same as there’s a reason I am who I am now. In my opinion, this explains, “I have a purpose.”
And maybe I do . . .
Maybe I do have a purpose. Or, maybe I saw enough and lost enough. Maybe I saw too many of my friends die a lonely death. Maybe I do what I do because I feel like I owe. Maybe I feel as if someone helped me and it is my responsibility to help as well. Maybe it’s like what other people say and I just “Got lucky. Or maybe I worked for what I have and I should be proud.
I have always wanted to pay back and make a difference.
I’ve always wanted to help.
Well. . .
Some valuable friends of mine pushed me to either put up or shut up
There are some who know me from the earlier years of my life. And they were there to see the bad times—they saw the sick times, nodding off while a line of drool hung from my bottom lip.
I was open-mouthed with burned lips that came from a different high and a glass pipe. I went from the fast high to a slow weightless crawl. My eyes went from wired open to half-closed and disconnected. I went from wide awake to semiconscious; as if the switch controlling my brain was turned off. I was young, small, and painfully thin. I was scared and sick. And worse, I was comfortable enough to resign to an early death.
Fortunately, I found help when I was young.
As a part of a prevention program, I have been networking with others and following through with my challenge.
This morning, I will be heading over to a high school learn a bit more about a community program. Tonight, I will be speaking at IOP program (Intensive Outpatient Program). Monday will complete the third and final mandatory class I need for my O.O.R.P. program.
Somehow (and I shake my head at this) I’m being called a “Recovery Specialist.”
Truth is I’m not a specialist.
Truth is I just want to help
I want to pay for the sins I could never speak about
I want to help someone who felt like me, undeserving, unloved, unimportant, and I want to stop someone looking to resign from life because above all, there is a solution.
If I can do it, I’d like to help someone find their way the same as someone helped me find mine.
I have seen people I know and I knew them well—their eyes glittering with their mind elsewhere in atmosphere. Their posture bent, slowly sinking to the ground in mid-sentence; then straightening up seconds later, as if to come out of the trance and pick up in their sentence exactly where they left off.
I’ve seen people I knew and I knew them well. Like me they took a vow of chemical celibacy; only to return after long periods of sobriety and when they did their life quickly sunk worse than before.
“It’s as if I never left,” someone told me.
The word “Junkie” does not mean what it used to me. The faces aren’t what people imagine. It’s not the street hood, nodding out on the corner of 8th Avenue and 36th Street after a methadone fix.
When I will be deployed to hospitals after a Narcan Reversal, I will see different faces and different skin colors. I will see different ages and people from different backgrounds. I will see rich and poor people alike. I will see good people and bad. Mostly, I will see people brought back to life, but hurting and sick. They’re mind will be elsewhere. More often than not, my words will fall on deaf ears. But there will be that one person. Maybe it will be that one kid. Maybe it will be a mom or a dad. Maybe it will be you; maybe it will be a stranger or someone I know. Maybe—just maybe I can help. At least that’s what I’m trying to do.
I spoke with someone last night and exposed a painful unspoken truth of my past. I had a tear in my eye. I’d like to think I helped them with their struggle. I hope I did.
Maybe it didn’t help but at least I tried and I did like my friend told me to
Either put up or shut up . . .
You have my word on that!