Before going forward, I want to say here and now, To Hell With Doubt!
The one thing I know without any mercy or hesitation is that doubt is contagious. This is easy to catch too. It’s easy because doubt is plentiful; it’s everywhere you look and everywhere you turn.
It’s on every corner. It’s in the hallways outside the classrooms at school. Doubt is in the boardrooms at work and woven into the social structures with laces of fear and insecurity.
In its path, doubt is a social virus that is both spreadable and equally deadly.
Doubt is an equivalent to an emotional cancer which can rot the spirit from the inside out.
It destroys dreams and seeps through hope. It devours motivation; but more, this is the type of emotional cancer which reduces passion and mutates our inspiration.
Doubt: it is catchable and spreadable and like a torch passed on from one hand to another, doubt can be inherited or imposed and incorporated with our subconscious programs; to keep us down; to degrade our best interests while dictating and determining our direction going forward; and from this moment onward doubt is the culprit to act like hooks and chains which hold us back from now until the hour of our death.
To hell with doubt.
It is easy to find someone who will tell you about your problems. It is easy to find a judge or a critic who will criticize your every step; of course, it’s easy to become lost to the assumptions or predictions of those who post against you and therefore, it is easy to catch the diseased mindset of doubt, disbelief, insecurity and despair.
It is true that due to this transmittable germ, doubt can kill like the flu, like cancer, and like the broken tales of death by a broken heart. Doubt is the primary source of our internal quicksand.
It’s a sickness, I tell you. This is a virus of such a lethal magnitude that living no longer means being alive – you’re just existing now. That’s all.
There is, however, a special cure. There’s an emotional penicillin which can be used in defense of this social impurity.
There is an anecdote or, better yet, there is a personal antibiotic which can heal the soul and perfectly cleanse our state of being.
There’s a word for this too.
That word is action, followed by the methods of go, be, do.
This is the fire inside of us that becomes the primary machine which will enforce your endurance and allow you to overcome yourself.
In turn, this will redeem the clogged passages in our mental system; to alleviate the symptoms by removing the contaminant – and as a result, you find that you are free and able to surpass, heal and improve yourself beyond your wildest dreams.
Look, see that young man sitting in an armchair?
Over there, see him?
That’s me, right outside of a cafeteria. See?
That’s me, sitting in my last few hours of rehabilitation in a place that was set up in the mountains, far from the city streets and far from the crooked action of crack spots or the dope-den shooting galleries. This was far from the places near the methadone clinics where people drizzle downwards in slowly falling nods – eyes closed like lazy shades across the windows of their previous soul, lost to the opiate gods, unwilling to change, or caught up with the narcotic demons that sing to them in need.
This was a place that was made up of people who fit every walk of life. There were people from the typical wino or street bum, to the weekend warrior or to the chippie (or small-time habit) or to the so-called polished or holier than thou pill-popper who swears that since a doctor prescribed it, it’s not really a problem. There was the rich and the poor here; the diseased and the infected and from the fast pace speed-freak to the cocaine junkies to the slow resourcefulness of conning dope-fiends with track marks in their arms – this was me, a kid out of his element, sitting in a chair, awaiting a meeting in a rehabilitation facility known as a repeat meeting.
The hotel was once an old hotel get-away in the Upstate. New York mountains and the old-style, resort-like property was once a place where families came to have fun – and not to say that families didn’t come here anymore. However, the versions of fun have certainly changed since the villa’s original intention.
Clearly there was no updating of the furniture in the lobby or the decor, nor were there any changes made to update or modernize the place from its original look of say, way back in the years or the 60’s or 70’s.
It was a place though; lifesaving to some and meaningless to others but nevertheless, this was a place of recovery.
I was young and in fact; I was the youngest patient amongst an estimated guess of another 75 to 80 patients besides myself, who were either looking to save their marriage, keep their job, stay out of jail or at minimum, catch a breather from the withdrawal symptoms.
It is not clear though, who “wanted it” as if to say, there’s no way of knowing who would stay sober or who would actually want to stay clean. However, this was not my first time in this facility. I have been here before. I was younger but equally lost or in need of help and to me; I was justifiably rebellious and outraged. I was hateful and angry and perhaps partially deadly – only, this time in treatment was worse than before because this time, I knew better.
I knew how to stay clean and avoid the hassles. I knew how to keep away from the danger zone or the mistakes of junkie living.
This was not my first time in, which means I had no right to plead ignorance. At least, not again, Not this time
I was only 19. The year was 1991. It was summertime and I had submitted myself to the treatment routine in part to A) beat an additional charge to my current probation and B) to get away from the impending legal problems that might come my way.
I had no idea what to expect and yet; I knew the system. I knew how to survive in places like this.
I knew where the commissary was, where to get extra food and how. I knew who to buddy around and how to avoid the counselors or their inquiries and what to do ro say in the bullshit meetings where people lie about themselves to make their story more dramatic.
I knew what to do and yet; what I was about to experience was nearly life ending but mainly – what I went through and survived was life altering.
This was about two weeks after I found myself on the floor of the bathroom where I had tried to hang myself.
I had given it a shot to end my life and yet, for some reason, the knot slipped from around my neck, and after rendering me unconscious and sending me to the floor, I woke up from what just happened.
I’m not sure what my first thoughts were and I’m not sure how long I was out on the floor – but in a short amount of time, I learned about the boundary between life and death and how simple it is for one to euthanize themself.
I can say this was life-altering because it was. I can say this hurt me and that I was ashamed.
Of course, I was ashamed because now I had to live with another mark on my soul.
I was tired of being the way I was. I was tired of feeling the way I did.
I was tired of life and yet, at the moment when I tried to welcome death – I woke up on the floor and realized that I did not die.
I can say that there was a part of me who never believed in this whole idea of being happy or living a straight life. I admit to enjoying the criminal atmospheres and admittedly, I saw my image as cool and yet, I knew that this was my fault. I knew the difference between good and evil and while good is all powerful; evil is used as a protective shield; to guard me like a double-edged sword and keep the world at the safety of at least an arm’s distance.
I knew that I had quit on myself; that I had forgotten the secret of my endurance or how to stay emotionally fit. I knew that there was the difference between right and wrong and in the moment of decision; I found myself strangled by the tangling vines of doubt.
Hence my battle cry – to hell with doubt!
I was crushed by the hand that wraps like a fist and closes with the five fingers of rejection – each finger on this hand has its own name like blame, shame, fault, guilt, and regret – and when these fingers close they form into the fist, which we used to beat ourselves with.
I was here. See me?
I was afraid of everything and everyone. I was intimidated. I was coming to grips with previous violations that I had never dared to speak about. And why would I speak about them?
I was in fear that somehow, these imposed violations would emasculate me or to somehow deprive me of my strength, my vigor or take away my manhood and make me less of a person.
Yes, I tried to end it all and yet, I was still alive and still around.
There had to be a reason why I did not dangle until my death.
There had to be a reason why I did not perish from the noose.
And that’s me right there, sitting in the aftermath of my decisions; sitting in a chair outside of the cafeteria in what used to be an old hotel.
I am awaiting a meeting in a room with 35 people to discuss the relapse conditions, which bring us back to old or default settings and old, wreckless behaviors which inevitably bring us back to the dance that put us in rehab in the first place.
This is where a great change took place.
As I was sitting, I overheard a table of men discussing different people in the rehab. And perhaps you might ask, who were these men?
They were no different from anyone else in this facility. They were patients as well. See them? They’re sitting at one of the several round tables where we’d eat our breakfast, lunches, and dinners.
They were talking about who will make it
And who won’t
They complimented some people and well, in other cases, they slandered and judged some of the others.
But then my name came up. They didn’t know I was sitting outside within listening distance – but yes, I heard everything.
They were laughing when my name came up.
They called me “the Kid,” because I was the youngest in the facility.
“What about the kid?”
I heard one of them say, “That kid is going to be dead before he gets down to the end of the road.”
And again, they all laughed.
What kind of thing is this to do, laugh at someone’s death or demise?
That’s me, sitting in the same seat, listening within earshot and hearing what people were thinking of me.
The mandatory meeting was about to begin . . .
So, I made my way into the meeting room to hear what was about to be said.
We were told to look around
We were told there were 35 of us in the room
Then we were told a statistic that only 1 out of 33 people will stay sober
Then I heard the most motivating question ever asked of me:
Who do you want to be in that equation?
And me; I chose to be The One!
I can remember the feeling of contempt in my throat
I can remember the rage and anger and frustration in my veins, coursing through me like bolts of lightning, and had it been so that I was able to physically respond without fear – I would have cut them all, made them bleed, or left them with the degradation of regret for hurting me the wa they did.
But, I didn’t have a knife
All I had was doubt.
I can remember thinking to myself – fuck that.
It’s gonna be me!
Years later, I ran into the man who said I’d be dead before I got to the end of the road; only, I wasn’t dead.
I was around 15 years clean at the time, in a suit, at a noontime meeting, clear-minded and free from many of my old demons.
In full-disclosure, there was a different person in me who once swore to physically punish this man if I were to ever see him on “the outside.”
When I say this, I mean physically punish in the worst of ways
Only, I didn’t have to punish anyone.
The doubt was gone,
Besides, he punished himself.
He didn’t have much left, least of all any clean time or a life that resembles a desirable form. He was aged and weak – hurting and still in tje haze of his drug and alcohol use.
I introduced myself to him.
“Do you remember me?”
He didn’t remember me – at first
Then I reminded him.
I reminded him of the place where we lived, years ago in the summer of 1991.
I told him about my last day at The Villa.
I told him I was there, sitting in that chair.
I told him that I heard what he said about me being dead before the end of the road.
“I’m not dead,” I told him
Not by a long shot.
Doubt is contagious
So is the need for revenge; however, it took me years to learn this and while I might have learned this late in life; still, at least I learned that the best revenge is not to need revenge at all.