The truth is we cannot blame the government. We can’t blame the police. We can’t blame the virus either. As I write this and remain as heartfelt as possible, I write this with partial understanding, yet, I am also partially lost. Please forgive me as I go on. And quite honestly, I understand if you choose to exit here.
There is a painful fact that we need to pay attention to. Like it or not and agree or not, mental health is in need of our attention.
I heard someone say this is the President’s fault. I heard the Governor of New York blamed the police for the uptick in crime and violence, but I have no room for politics in my voice today.
I also heard this will all be squashed after the election happens. Then I think to myself about three little girls who lost their mother to an overdose the other day. And she wasn’t political. No, she was a person living with BPD (Bi-Polar Disorder). I thought about this news for a good part of the afternoon yesterday. I thought about the family and then I thought about those three girls. I thought about the aftermath. And what happens now?
Fortunately, there is a plan in place. I am thankful for this.
I get it though. I honestly do.
I get that sometimes there is a pain that cannot and will not go away. Sometimes there is a source that drains us.
There is a voice that will not stop. The ideas take over and nothing makes sense anymore. Sanity gives way to insanity and rational thinking gives way to irrational ideas.
It’s hard to keep positive. It’s hard to believe in anything. And all you can do is wait. All you can do is wait for the next tragedy.
All you can do is wait for the next disappointment. You wait for the next thing to go wrong. And you wish you could make this stop. You wish you could have this pause for a second, at least to catch your breath, but no. Nothing stops. Never. The world becomes this insurmountable thing that grows and grows until finally, you give into the undertow and you’re crushed beneath the weight of life.
Oddly enough, for whatever reason, an old post of mine came up from my memories on my social media page. The topic was about heroin.
I thought about the responses from this. Some found that my ideas were haunting. Some understood.
See, not everything needs to be pleasing or understood. The truth is my honesty is only honesty and dressing this up would actually spoil the truth. And for me, at the time, the truth is I just wanted to feel better. The truth is the drugs were a connection to a moment of ease.
This was my pause button.
I used to call the high my little cocoon. I used to slide into this without a worry in the world. And for me, as bad as I might have looked on the outside, at least I felt good on the inside.
See, that’s the thing. This is the trip. This is the reason. The drugs and the drama are like the price of gas. And you need them. You need them to reach the destination. You need them to wipe away the sorriness of everything. You need the high to soften the pressure and turn the heaviness into something a bit more lofty and weightless.
I get it.
We all get this to some degree. Imagine the way a headache feels. Imagine a headache so painful that even darkness is too bright. When it comes to pain like this, at the moment, people would do anything to find comfort. Even the quiet is too loud. Know what I mean?
Think about a pain or discomfort and no matter what you try, there is only one way to make this all stop. If the pain was bad enough, would you do it?
The truth is most would . . .
Now switch this pain to personal anguish. Switch this to a system-wide discomfort. Switch this to an idea that nothing can or will help you feel better.
I have always seen drugs as a mute button. I’ve always seen this as a way to quiet the noise of life. I wanted to mute the volume until the noise became something more unobjectionable.
And let’s not go thinking this starts like this from the gate. No one wakes up and thinks, “I’ll give heroin a shot.”
No, I started my trip because I wanted to have fun and feel better. I started this because nothing natural seemed to fit. There was no way for me to relax or enjoy myself. It all started to have a few laughs. It was just to have a good time. I mean, everyone wants to be cool, right?
And that’s just it. There was something cool about this to me. There was a sense of rebellion. There was a passage of freedom.
I could tell the world to go to hell (or not) and none of this would matter. I could do anything or nothing and not feel an ounce of regret or shame or care either way.
No one talks about this. No one talks about the motivation. They talk about the culture, which I get. I loved the culture too. I loved the routine. I loved the basic little rituals. I loved the whole seance and the astounding effects of crazy places and doing crazy things without an ounce of remorse.
I loved the line between me and life and the way I found a method to create this boundary between myself and pain.
I could endure this way. I could withstand, or at minimum, I could placate the troubles in my head for at least a little while.
I could cure the boredom of feeling as though, “this is it,” and look around at my life and think, “This is just who I am,” and let this be good enough to rationalize the reason why I would never try to improve.
When I was high, I was weightless and my inner voice was quiet. This had nothing to do with democrats or republicans. There was no pressure or concerns. I wasn’t thinking about my enemies or my failures or the painful awkwardness, which never seemed to go away.
This had nothing to do with the Governor. My neck lost the tension and my shoulders could relax. There was no pain and the worries about the impending doom collapsed to something more manageable. And to you or to anyone else, I was slumped down in a nod. I was a lost kid. I was a junkie. I was mentally ill. And to me, I would have agreed. I would have said, “Yeah, that’s me.” But no, this is not true. I was never this. I was always Ben. The problem for me is I believed this was all I could ever be.
The truth is this has been going on for decades now. To believe this is new is simply inaccurate. We know about this now. The overdoses. The deaths.
The truth is there are still more alcohol related deaths than opiate related deaths. Smoking kills more in a year than the two combined. And yet, we still go forward. More people are dying. More people feel the need to satiate and honor a desire. And what do we do? We point fingers and we blame instead of putting in work to make a change.
People are out of work. We are all locked up. We are separated. Overdoses are on the rise. Alcohol is killing more people. Suicide is on the rise and so are domestic disputes.
And do you know what? I don’t care about being right. I don’t care about the election right now. All I care about are three little girls who just lost their Mother. I don’t care about opinions. I don’t care about the insensitivity around me. I care about the life that went away without ever understanding how beautiful and worthy she was.
I am writing this as a rant. I do not care about anyone’s opinion. I just care about the problem, which is why I stay in this fight.
There was a conversation I had with someone about counting days of clean time. They didn’t necessarily understand the reason behind this. This person explained, “My sister told me she hadn’t been high in 60 days. And I told her the fact that she had to count days means there is a real problem.”
He told me, “I can’t even tell you the last time I smoked a joint.”
I explained, “Passion is not a good or bad thing. It just is.”
I asked, “When was the last day you rolled in Jiu-Jitsu class?”
He not only told me the month, but he narrowed it down to the time and day. He was able to tell me who he rolled with and the submissions he went for.
If I asked a reformed vegetarian about the last time they ate meat, they would tell me what they had and when it was.
Last time I did heroin?
Saturday, August 26, 1989.
As I mentioned, passion isn’t a good or bad thing; it just is.
Fortunately for me, I learned to be passionate about other things.
Replace the problem with passion and the symptoms go away.
They took one from us this week. And now it’s our turn to take one back.
Save a life today. Say hello. Be kind to someone.
Believe me when I tell you that kindness like this is worth more than you know.