It was a few days after my arrest when the reality set in. I was in my childhood bedroom with the doors closed. I knew something was going to happen. It was obvious that my arrest would come with consequences and it was clear to me that rehabilitation was the only option that would keep me from jail.
Besides, jail would have destroyed me. I was too thin, too weak, and if the need to defend myself came about —I knew there was no way I could compete in this place.
And I was fine with going away. I was fine with leaving my town because of the shame. I was also fine to get away from my family, my life as I knew it, and I was fine with the idea that I could go someplace and maybe start a new life (or whatever that meant). However, I took this deal in no unspoken terms for one reason alone. I took this deal to beat jail. Not to stop getting high
I was proud that I never gave up one valid name. In fact, the only name I gave them during my interrogation was a young man by the name of John Lindquist. Only, Mr. Lindquist didn’t exist. John Lindquist was a neighborhood name. He was a made up name, which several others besides me used in a pinch.
“What’s your name? I’m gonna see that you pay for this!”
“Who did this?”
John Lindquist did it
“Who was selling drugs at the park?”
When I was sat and handcuffed to the side of a detective’s desk and asked a series of questions, the first and only name that came out of my mouth was him. John Lindquist!
What surprised me more than the acceptance of this name was the questioning detective’s response when I first mentioned Lindquist. I recall the detective standing straight with a frustrated grimace on his face as he growled, “I know that guy!” And me, trying to stuff a brief interjection of wise-ass laughter, I responded, “Yeah, well . . . that guy does get around.”
Either way, Lindquist was in the clear because he was nothing more a fake name made up by a group of misguided and troubled kids. Lindquist, he was lucky because he would never be tied down and never had to face the charges (or the fears) against him.
But me, on the other hand, I was looking at one year, plus 90 days, which in fairness, my time would have been probably been shortened but I would have still needed to serve time nonetheless. I was a step short of suicide. I was thin and sickly. I wanted to run but I didn’t know how. Instead, I was made to stay up in my room to tear down the walls, so to speak, and get rid of all the garbage I accumulated over the years.
I think this was more stirring to me than my arrest. I suppose it was the anxiety of what was to come; it was the fear of the unknown, I guess. Slowly, I packed up my room. I tore down the posters. I had to find some other way to cover my hiding spots. Fortunately, I still had some gin hidden in my closet. And while my access to the outside world was limited, I had found a way to keep in contact with some of the older, drug-enabling people in my life. They were sick too. And unbeknownst to my parents who employed them, I was able to get packages sent home to me.
For the last few weeks of me in my room and living in my previous self, I stayed indoors and cleaned out my childhood bedroom. I managed to stay high, sick as I was, but I was unsure why or what made me sick. Perhaps this is because I assumed that since I was going to go away; I figured I would stop taking my prescribed medication. I didn’t know what Xanax was or if it was even called that back then. Whatever it was, I just thought I would stop taking it. And why not? I was going away to someplace, which I had no idea or understanding of what rehab was. In the closest picture of my imagination; I figured I would be in a hospital with crazy people moving down hallways while heavily dosed and walking the walk that was widely known as “The Thorazine Shuffle.”
I knew they would take the drugs away but for the time being, I figured I would use as much as I could for as long as I could to endure the boredom of me being stuck in my room. I was young, of course, and too young for my circumstance. I was sick and always uncomfortable. I was miserable. I wanted to erase my name and erase my memory. I was tired of the shame and I was tired of the constant angst. But the drugs helped. For the time being, I chose to slip in my soft cocoon and feel nothing. And man, I loved the nods. I loved the way this canceled out the world. I didn’t think or feel. There was no controversy nor shame or guilt. There was nothing whatsoever, except for the high.
I recall my mother asking if I had any emotions. This was the first time I ever heard the words “No remorse,” used in a real sentence. And it was true. I didn’t feel bad about what I did; at least, not really. To me, the things I did were the necessary functions of life. In order to maintain, I had to do what needed to be done. It wasn’t personal; as much as it was literally all business.
I stole jewelry. I broke into homes. I stole money from anyone and everyone without hesitation. Although I knew this was wrong, I had no feelings about this one way or the other.
In fact, I recall helping my friend Tommy swipe some money from his parent’s bedroom. I believe the money was in a box like say, hidden in his parent’s bedroom closet —or perhaps it was underneath his parent’s bed. After we swiped the money, Tommy sported a ride into Brooklyn and we all got high. But afterwards when the crack pipe was empty and the crash set in, our nerves were stretched and frayed like an old rope; I felt raw to the touch, uncomfortable, and the only thing that could solve this problem was another big hit from the crack pipe, I listened to Tommy regretfully complain about what he had done and say, “I’m never going to do that again!” I listened to him struggle with his guilt and anguish as he swore he would find a way to place the money back in his parent’s shoe box. “I’m never doing that again,” Tommy said.
“Yes you will,” I told him.
Tommy’s eyes were wide-opened and wired from the cocaine aftermath. His jaw clenched tightly as he glared at me, angry and defiant. But deep down, Tommy knew I was right.
This is how it is and this is how it was. I did what I had to do. I had to steal because everyone stole from me and since I couldn’t physically defend myself, I had to get by on some other way. It was business and unemotional for me. This was my addiction and any conflict I felt about whether I was right or wrong was quickly cured by my drug of choice.
Towards the end though, I was stuck in my childhood bedroom. It was summertime, but it was cold and loveless in my house. The Old Man wanted me out and swore he wanted me dead. My mother had a nervous breakdown as a result and was hospitalized because her youngest son, namely me, was addicted to drugs. And let’s face it; no parent thinks this will happen in their home. Every parent thinks that love should be enough. But what most parents don’t understand is that love does not cure mental illness. No, actually, when it comes to the mental illness of drug addiction, love tends to enable this disease and only make it worse.
I had no idea what was coming. All I knew was in my mind; they were going to try to take away the one thing that made sense to me. To me, “they” were sending me away. The world was against me and the one thing that helped balance the outweighed scales in my imagination or the one thing that satiated this indescribable “Thing” inside my head was about to be taken away. I felt like I was being prepared for an amputation; It was like I was about to lose an appendage. They were about to take me away from me (if that makes any sense. And man, all I wanted to do was run.
I swear, I had no idea what was about to come my way.
But I was sure as hell about to find out.
2 1/2 weeks away from 27 years clean
I don’t even know this kid anymore . . .