Answer the Question – An Old Rant

The following entry is an old journal entry. This is a rant of mine from back when I was working with an opiate overdose recovery team. I was angry at the time and a bit all-over-the-place. But this is an answer to some of the questions I got.
Why did I choose to get involved with the fight?
Read on –

A rant written at 3:00am

At one point, everybody says the same thing. They say this because at some point, everyone thinks they’re above it. They’ll tell you, “Not me,” and then they say it again to make it abundantly clear, “That will never happen!”
I would never get like that.
I would never do that to myself.

And by the way . . .

Parents say this too. They’ll argue or complain and deny that anything like this would ever happen under their roof. In fact, they’ll tell you how, “That’d never happen in my house,”
They’ll say how they know better.
Or they’ll tell you how they know about their kids and how “Their” kids would never do anything like “That!”

You have to laugh sometimes. Not because it’s a funny thing. Instead, you laugh because it’s a repetitive thing. I’ve heard this more times than I can count.
I’ve heard this in offices. I’ve heard this in administration offices at schools. I’ve heard this in correctional facilities and, worse, I’ve heard this from parents while standing over their child’s unconscious body in emergency rooms.
But still, you hear it all the time.
Not my kid.
Not in my home.
Not in my backyard.
Oh, yeah? Really?

In comes the moment of awakening.
People look back in total disbelief that this was them once.
This could be anybody like someone as common as you or anyone else.
Or it could be the unexpected kid; the one who was that good kid in school, attending class, good grades, dressed up neatly in the clothes that Mom picked out, and then one day the line heading upwards on the graph of their life’s chart took a turn and fell south. This was them, full of potential, and the entire world was ahead of them just waiting to unfold. 

So what can you do aside from shake your head?
What can you do when you hear the same nonsense of, “That would never happen to me,” because it’s not funny.
More so it’s sad because the truth is sad.
What if it’s you? What if it’s you in the mix?
You know you’re in too deep. You thought you left a good trail of breadcrumbs to find your way home – but you’re lost now – and the pigeons in the parks pecked away at your trail back to safety.
So what do you do?
As for help? Yeah, sure. Because it’s that easy, right?

You look at the world around you. You look and see the life you have as opposed to the life that could have been yours. You see yourself as you are.
You see your reflection in the mirror; you see the marks on your skin and the innocence of either your Girl Scout or your Cub Scout youth which is gone now, flushed away and vanished; or as it seems, disintegrated from the push of a plunger while expelled from the tiny porthole of a needle.
In fact, the only remnant of the real you is a tiny glimpse that disappears deep in the center of your eyes. It’s in there somewhere – you, your charm, your youthfulness which used to be abundant but now it fades in slow nods to further separate you from yourself.

You see these new kids coming on the street. “Man,” you say to yourself. “They have no idea what they’re in for, standing on a corner somewhere in some dope-den war zone; hustling for change, or worse, selling their bodies to keep from being empty.
No one says this will be them.
No parent expects this.
No parent stands in the delivery room when their child is born and expects this will be in their future.

No, not me.
Not in my house.
Not my kid.

Truth is nobody signs up for this. Everyone points fingers and everyone thinks it’s a choice or that this only happens to the weak. But the truth is no one expects it to happen to them.
Everyone says the same thing to defend themselves. Everyone will tell you how, “It’s not gonna happen to me,” or they’ll point a finger at someone else and say, “I’m never gonna be like that guy.”
Then they’ll tell you how they’re going to catch a program somewhere or how they plan to detox.
Or maybe they’ll tell you about the wonders of Ibogaine therapy, a wild psychedelic drug that somehow helps in the exit strategy of heroin.

Yeah, I think that’s the trip, right?
“I think I’ll head down to Mexico and see what Ibogaine is all about.”
But Mexico is kind of far from these parts.

Then again, even if it was next door; help is always too far away and the phone always weighs 10,000 lbs.

In my position; you shake your head because you’ve heard this all before. It’s the same lie. If it’s not that, it’s something else. It’s another excuse. It’s another reason. Just one more and I’ll quit.
Just let me get one more in me and then we can go.
“I’ll even let you drive me.”
I’ve heard this more times than I can count.

In my position, you shake your head.
But maybe this was me too.
I remember a few of the old faces from the neighborhood who bullied some of the old junkie bums on the street – who picked on the physically and mentally challenged – and look at them now, nodding with pinholes in their arms.
I think of the people who were at the top of their classes. I think of the people who everyone adored and how the world would have allowed them any advantage yet there they are, looking at me with eyes that tell the story of an anxious withdrawal. Their walls are closing in and the stir inside them is something awful.

I think of them and wonder:
At one point, you said this would never be you. You said how “this would never happen,” or how you would never try anything like that. You never believed this could be you and you never believed it could be “That bad”.
Until it was you and then it was too late.
Once you’re in, you’re in, and the things you said you would never do “to get by” are more like ideas of genius.

You’re in the middle of the blood and guts of a habit. The limitations are lifted and no matter how you describe yourself, no matter where you go, or which avenue you go down and, of course, no matter how you try to dodge the obvious or explain your behavior, it always ends up the same way.

Now, here’s the predicament
You woke up too late. You’re buried too deeply beneath a burden of lies and you’re stuck in your own world looking for a way out, but never coming to the right conclusion. The only way to make it through is held together in a tiny envelope. I know – mine used to say King on them or High-Power. Know what this is called? It’s called marketing.

You see them out there; the sick and suffering.
You hear about the stigmas which are real on all sides of the world.

Everyone knows better anyway, right?

And bless them. Bless them all, the sick and the misunderstood. Bless them, the misconceptions, the misjudged and underestimated.

God bless their unseen beauty. God bless their ability to endure and their resilience to survive through hellish times in hellish places.
Even if they are fine to not survive or even if they are fit to die, or fit to perish because death is not a deterrent nor is the institution, bless them.

Bless them, the burdensome figure of life, lamenting and painfully sad, the mundane, or subjecting to the horrific standards.
Bless them because to them it’s good enough to be left alone somewhere.
It’s well enough to find solace in a soft cocoon they call a nod.
That’s all they want. That’s all they can see or understand now.

They want to be left alone or left to their own devices without any difficulty or confrontation. They want to be left alone or to be out of the elements. They want to fix their inner-obsession like an unreachable itch just needing to be scratched.

No one ever thinks this will be them.
It all starts out like a good idea too. It’s like a light came on in their mind.

You feel cool, like a badass because you dared The Big H.
You’re untouchable now. Numb.
You get swept into the crowd too, like the undertow that used to drown swimmers at the beach on Fire Island.

At first, you think you’re on top. You’re high and above the world.
Your painless and weightless fantasies are warm like the buzz of summer’s heat. Ah, and you can relax now; as if you found a remedy; as if you found a solution for all the ailments of our daily life.

You think you’ve figured a way to beat the boredom. It’s a way to cheat the monotony of other people. It’s a way to tolerate the unlikable crowds, the social anxieties, and a way to beat the awkwardness and the common grind..

At first the idea is subtle. No really, it is.
It’s a simple suggestion. It makes sense at the time. There is an unexplainable genius to it.
But later when you’re asked, “Why’d you do it,” you can’t explain it (at least not exactly) and you just know that it made sense at first.
But now that you’re in – you find yourself looking back.
You ask yourself, “What the hell was I thinking?”

You thought you’d found a way to dance between the raindrops without getting wet. You thought you could dare the edge of existence which borders between life and otherwise.
It’s like you found a little secret . . .

At first, you think you have it. You think you can take it, but then you don’t care because it feels so goddamn good.
You think you have it made and you beat the odds. Suddenly the endless warnings you hear on the news become meaningless. Your investment is too deep.
Hey, did you hear what happened to Tommy?
Yeah, sad.
Where’d he get his bags from?
The same guy?

Must be good then . . .
. . .  might as well go check him out.

Next thing you know, insanity becomes sane.
Somewhere in that mind of yours, the tiny contents of small packages contain the key to a temporary answer.
Then you’re on the dangle. Then you’re on the hook which is why the first one is always free.

All you want to do is check out and relax. You want to take a break from the thought machine and distance yourself enough to expand your mind in an overwhelming sense of weightlessness.

God Bless them, I say.

I see them come in through the hospitals. I see them in shelters, in rehabs, and in the jails. I see them on the streets and on line at the store.

I see them on line at the bus stop or on line at the clinic near 36th Street, New York City. I see them in hospital beds, unresponsive and sad.
I see them in boxes with families weeping beside them, all of them wondering, “Why did you do this to yourself?”

I see this problem.
I see this all over.
I see the addicts in professional settings, in suits and ties, in high paying jobs and with the acceptable dependencies otherwise known as prescription medication.
I see them at P.T.A. meetings pointing fingers defending their own drinking habits and acceptable sickness while shaming others for their unacceptable lifestyle.

I see rich, poor, male, female, and all colors, all walks of life and people from different countries. I don’t mind seeing it this way because it builds my fire to fight back. I don’t mind because it helps me to understand the stigma is a lie, that there is no common face; there is only a common problem.

I guess it just hurts me when I see this happen to an old friend of mine.
See you in a few, my man.
I’m coming to say goodbye.

End rant

So this was true to me five years ago. The game has not changed since then,
Instead, it’s only intensified. But that’s okay.
So have I.

3 thoughts on “Answer the Question – An Old Rant

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