I needed to find someplace far away but yet, I couldn’t go too far away, because of course I would have to go back and get more. I was driving on a parkway towards the place I called home at the time. I was young, wiry, and strung out from a series of wrong choices that began long before the actual actions of my mistakes.
In my rearview, I could see the city lights flashing against the underbelly of the late night sky. The previous hours of course, were long and gruesome; only, I was too lost in my own psychosis to notice how long I had been on the dangle. I was like a shark with blood in the water. I was blind, voracious, and hungry, coming into the terrible downside of my cocaine high. Eventually, it was morning. It was just about sunrise and the sun was on its way toward the center stage. The sky was clear but the air was cold because spring has only begun and winter had yet to release its grip.
Somewhere far and north of me was a farm that helped me get away from all of this. This place was upstate in a little unknown town at the end of dirt road —it was the kind of road that crunches beneath a vehicle’s tire as they come in from the main routes. I lived there, yes. And I changed there as well. But there I was, back in the seat of a suicide mission and back to a life, which I swore to never live again.
This was a change at best, but this was a change at the worst of times. I was out of trouble and supposedly rehabilitated. I was a changed young man, or so others thought. But somewhere along the line I forgot the rules that kept me clean. I had forgotten the program which had changed my ways, and as quickly as my decision was made, I found myself back at my old routine. Truthfully and in full disclosure, it was as though I never left. Nothing had changed at all —nothing whatsoever. The names and faces were not the same but the cop-spots and the corners and the places to pick up and score were simply interchangeable. The same rules applied. Have money, get high. Don’t have money? Then get it. Otherwise, you can’t get high. It was that simple
I couldn’t believe I was back where I left off. I went back and nothing was different. There was nothing that I could see that made my mistake understandable —or allowable. How did I let myself come back here? I couldn’t believe this.
I forgot all about this part:
Locked up in the rush and thinking about the untouchable highs, I forgot about the horrible downfall. I forgot about the terrible angst, the grinding teeth, twitching, the constant winding feeling and the paranoid whispers, and the fiend-like crawl I did across the floor to scour through crevices in the carpet, which I did when all was gone and smoked up in a glass pipe, and all I could do is hope and pray I found a little piece on the floor so I could smoke it —this was not to get high so much, but more, I just wanted to stop all of the above feelings from ripping me to shreds.
I wanted the bugs that crawled through my sanity to stop and go away, —but they just wouldn’t. Even a bullet to the head didn’t seem like a bad idea at the time. And why would it? The shame wore on me like a wet iron coat, unbearable, and heavy.
The voices in my head and the “I told you so,” demons spoke on and on. And no matter how I tried to cover my ears or drown the noise; I was faced with the fact that I had fallen back to where I was before.
I was previously high but down further than the opposite, my stomach spun, growling, empty like a hollow chamber and the sound of my heartbeat pounded throughout my body as if it could burst or explode at any given moment.
Lord, I was desperate and anxious, sad, sick, and pale. I saw myself in a mirror, and yes, I say it again: It all came back to me. All the previous rules of engagement, all the terrible needs that come from the aftermath 24hr cocaine binge, the back and forth needs and trying to “Get it right” in my head, which never happened, but somehow, there was always that lying sense of false hope that maybe the next high would somehow cruise me into atmosphere. And all could be well.
How did this happen?
How could I have gone from trustworthy to untrusted?
The call back towards my previous spell was an almost automatic response. I went back because I failed to keep my routines. I went back because I failed to process my feelings. I went back because I was angry; I felt different (again) and lonesome in crowds. I answered my previous riddle with a previous solution, which apparently had failed me again.
When I saw myself in the mirror for the first time in the morning; I had to face me. I had to face the fact that yes, I threw away my time. And yes, if I chose to come back and fix what was broken; I would have to raise my hand in a 12-step room and say, “Hello, my name is Ben, addict and alcoholic, and I only have one day back.”
I thought about the shame and the way shame keeps us sick. I thought about the depression and how my brand of depression further spirals me out of control. If caught in the undertow of this, I go down, and when I go down I have this thing in me that won’t stop until everything around me explodes to an unfixable proportion.
I sabotage it all. I ruin everything. This way I can use my tragedies as an excuse and in the worst of it —nothing can fix or stop me.
I lost my clean time but like a double-edged sword, I did not lose my knowledge or understanding. I knew how to get clean and I knew how to stay clean as well. The biggest problem was me. My biggest obstacles were the pitfall feelings, the failure, the guilt and shame, the truth that yes, I have a clinical problem with a solution, but the symptomatic laziness that comes with my failure and depression was tough overcome, which makes the wok and follow-up an almost unthinkable thing.
I do not value anyone in the beginning. Instead, I mention that in the early stages of counting days of clarity; there was a time when we couldn’t last 10 minutes —so to say, “I have ten days,” is actually an amazing miracle.
It’s hard thing to do —to get away from the frenzy, to get away from that feeling that just won’t go away, the call to go back, the reasons to quit and say, “Why bother?”
In truth, at the beginning it seemed I had more reasons to get high than stay straight. Of course, this is only how it seemed to me. Again, the misconceptions of my perception and the deception of my thoughts were tough obstacles for me to negotiate. But I did it
And so can you . . .