Friday, 7 July 2017

Independence Day

This week I’ve had a few similar conversations with friends who are, like me, a matter of days removed from extreme intoxication. We’ve fondly looked back at the time we put together earlier this year when we were working a program, we were clean, and we all chuckle in agreement with each other about how, funnily enough, those were damn good times.

“That was actually a really nice time, wasn’t it?” my friend said to me this afternoon.

“Fuck yeah it was. Even when I was exhausted and not sleeping well it was nice waking up to have a fresh cup of coffee with my bros, watchin’ the sunrise, shootin’ the shit.” My biggest problem for a while was a scheduling conflict that interrupted my afternoon nap. Those really were the days.

So when I was driving home earlier I found it so strange that I began to think about getting high, when all I’ve been talking about these past few days is how nice it is being clean. In a few moments, my thoughts turned to how I could get together some money to score. But it’s the fucking 4th of July, where can I get rigs if the pharmacies are closed? Maybe I could cook up some crack instead, it’s been a while since I’ve had a nice smoke.

My mind salivates as if in anticipation of a perfectly grilled steak. I doubt my girlfriend will find out. I can wait a few extra days before I move into sober living where I will be tested and so they’ll be none the wiser.

The next thought that crossed my mind was unexpected.

Less than a week ago, I found my friend dead in his apartment. He had overdosed during the night. I called 911 etc., the cops said they would contact his parents. The next morning, I get a call from his mother, who evidently had not been contacted and told of her sons fate, so I proceeded to.

It was still early in the morning, and as I slurped my cup of coffee I simply did not anticipate that in a few moments I would be telling a mother that her 23 year old son was gone. I had not considered this conversation for even a second in my mind, autopilot kicked in and got me through it. I guess I recalled some etiquette from a movie I’d seen at some point, so I said, “I think you might want to sit down”.

Is that really something people say before delivering the worst imaginable news? I don’t know where I picked it up from, but I said it, as if it would somehow soften the blow.

As a struggling mother of an addict, this is the call I assume they fear, the call that keeps them up at night. A shiver down the spine when an unknown caller dials. As she happened to be calling me, I believe on some level she had been preparing herself, as much as one possibly can prepare themselves for this kind of thing, for this unfortunate inevitability.

And so this episode pops into my head when I’m about ready to push the button, and I recall what his Mom said to me at the end of that conversation. “I just don’t want his life to have meant nothing. Even if all it means is that you stay sober Alex, that will be good enough for me.”

And I remember right after I got off the phone with her, I sat there and let that sink in. I thought that moment was my enlightenment. I thought that from that moment on, I would be on a crusade to fulfill this wish and stay sober, thereby giving my friends life a meaning.

But as I thought about getting high, recounting this episode, I found myself thinking, “meh, whatever”.

Isn’t that sad?

Friday, 12 May 2017


I called it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Here I am, picking up another newcomer chip and I didn’t even have an opportunity to get one for my first ever 90 days.

Oh well. As my Dad would say, two steps forward, one step back. Although this feels more like two steps forward, trip on a rock, break both legs, one step back, fall into a sinkhole.

I give up. I do not want this anymore. Using was miserable. Being clean is miserable.

Existence, not worth it… yet here I am. It’s loaded, pointing right at me.

Push the plunger, dim the lights. Pull the trigger, silent nights. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Ninety Days

It has been 90 days since I last took a drink or a drug (a new record). I thought I would feel different than I do today. I am closer to using now than I have been in the past three months. The thought of using terrifies me, it excites me, it gives me butterflies in my stomach. Things have been going well. I’ve taken my foot off the gas, cruise control. Eyes off the road, so I can say I didn’t see it coming. But I do.

The seed was planted one week ago. I began experiencing some uncomfortable feelings. Perhaps, that’s an understatement, as I have dealt with many uncomfortable feelings since January 20th, comes with the territory I suppose. This was stronger than uncomfortable. These feelings, I would describe, as an overwhelming, all-consuming hatred. My senses began to shut down, one by one, until all that was left was a burning fire inside my core. Rage. A volcano, ready to erupt.

My face turns red, hot. Small earthquakes course through my veins and my body tremors. Undying cigarettes pass between my lips and smoke begins to bellow out of my ears.

Just, breathe.

I express some of these feelings and get them out, but the majority I swallow, suppressing them deep inside of me for fear of an overreaction. I feel better, momentarily, but these feelings are simmering under the surface, they bubble away overnight and in the morning, begin to boil again, rising within me.

An hour passes. Two. I try the “just breathe” trick. Nada. The sensation grows and I begin to feel like I am losing control. Not that I had any control to begin with, but it was beginning to feel like I did. Back to reality Alex, this was just an illusion.

I consult my bag of tricks and decide it’s time to turn to a tried and tested favourite, distraction. I try to eat, not hungry. Couldn’t even get candy down. I think about exercising, this one sounds like a brilliant idea. My body is more than capable, but my mind refuses to give me the strength to get up and go, it wants me here, trapped. I so desperately want to talk to someone about this, ask for help and some sense of comfort, but shame prevents me. I am alone but surrounded by people. My last resort, sleep. Shutting down my mind, even if only a temporary solution I saw at this point as my only escape.

Sleep doesn’t come, clearly that was too good to be true. I toss, I turn, and in a few brief moments I surrender, unable to take a minute more of this existence. Where can I get the drugs I need to turn this off?

In previous attempts to get clean, I have always wanted to continue using. This sounds pretty basic, but during those times I felt I was trying to force myself to do something unnatural, that I did not want to do. This time around, I don’t want to use. Using feels somewhat foreign, strange, and unnatural, however, I sense a supernatural force driving me towards this oh-so-familiar unknown.

I think of the consequences and feel sick to my stomach. I think of rebuilding, again, and shudder. 
The shame I don’t think I could take. I feel lonely today and I still have people around me I call friends. What is it going to feel like when they, like shallow rivers streaming down my volcanic peaks evaporate into steam as lava begins to ooze from the surface?

It’s probably going to feel worse than in this present moment. I will try to keep reminding myself of that.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Contradictions I've Been Sold

A multi-faceted disease of conflict. At first there are the obvious internal dialogues, a never-ending stream of contradictory consciousness. I know something to be true, but I know this same thing to be false. I say one thing but do another.

Quite rightly this gives me a bad rep. I’m branded a liar, cheater, manipulative. It’s hard for me to argue I’ve been mislabelled when faced with such accusations, these things are true, I do them shamelessly and without second thought.

Fact: your addict, or you the addict, will have uttered the words “I want to get better, I want to stop, I am done, I never want to take a drink or a drug ever again”. Something to that effect is said or heard frequently. I mean, most normal people who’ve had one to many the night before wake up and say things like “shit I feel rough, I’m not drinking ever again”.

Swearing off alcohol the morning after can be taken with a pinch of salt, most people would admit they have no intention of going teetotal on such a whim. You might be seriously considering it though when you open your eyes, splitting headache, a trembling mess with no recollection of the previous night. So you come downstairs at midday announcing to your significant other that you’re getting too old for these hangovers. Last night will not happen again.

There is no such thing as too much Morpheus.

You chug some water, get an IV, greasy spoon brekkie, whatever your personal preference, and depending which, you start feeling better in a matter of hours to days. What’s certain is you do recover, you feel fit as a fiddle come Wednesday and despite remembering how awful you felt just a few days prior, you’re on the good side of hump day and decide you will attend your oh-so-important-social-or-work-related function of superficial surface encounters and you decide to drink to take the edge off how fucking terrible this party is. You’re not an alcoholic, you’re sensible, you drink less than the weekend before, still waking up with a hangover, just not quite of biblical standards like last time.

Liar. You broke my trust. You promised you wouldn’t do that again. Fair? Unfair? For me, somewhere in between.

We suffer from a disease from which there is no known cure. Clearly, there has been a paradigm shift in recent decades away from the idea of substance dependence as a moral failing towards its acceptance as a disease. It seems many people today generally accept addiction as a disease and addicts get better treatment and support than in days gone by, but I’m not sure how many people really believe this. Tons of addicts themselves refuse to accept addiction as a disease, so it’s understandable that normies might be skeptical too.

I accept addiction as a disease. Most diseases target specific areas of the body, this one targets the part of the brain that controls decision making. These days, I try to make rational, sensible choices in my daily life. In the past, I would wake up and wish I hadn’t. I wanted to die. At this juncture, merely taking some drugs to numb this pain seems a reasonably sensible choice when compared with the alternative. Today I do not want to die, but there is sometimes so much going on in my head, it might even be good stuff, but when it becomes overwhelming and I feel like I can no longer cope, my instinct is to shut it down.  

'Di.' Jeffrey Schaler - During masturbation one may get carried away, forget to aim, and accidentally take a jizzload in the eye, thereby blinding oneself. Medical hoax? I think not. 

In the depth of my despair, I say things I do truly mean and these things are a product of my current state of mind, environment, what I’m feeling in the here and now. Right now, I don’t feel like heroin would offer me much. I think I’ve now been on this merry-go-round long enough to accept that heroin is not the solution, it is merely a solution. A last resort in the event the plane goes down, it’s my parachute. 

I used to say this thing all the time, it went something like “I want to want it”. I don’t think anyone gets long-term sobriety if they don’t want it. For so long, I witnessed destruction happening in my life and was unfazed. I was so emotionally disconnected, I could see what was happening as if I was a bird watching from above. As I watched events unfold below, I could tell things were nasty, but my little bird brain wasn’t able to compute the feelings associated with the actions, and so I shrugged my shoulders and carried on about my business, accepting these events as simply a part of everyday existence. Destruction was normalized. My rational mind knew that something going on was abnormal, but with an inability to actually feel what was happening I was unable to connect the dots. I knew that I wanted change, but the underlying emotions which would be the catalyst to change were non-existent. Hence the phrase, I want to want it.

Do I want it today? I'm not sure I even know what it is. It’s hard to make good decisions when the irrational becomes rational. 

The podcast about drugs, addiction and dumb shit. The highlight of my week, every week. Check it out if you haven't already, it's hilarious. 

Check out Dopey Podcast's exit music if you haven't heard it, Good So Bad, think it sums all this up. 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Groundhog Day

Baby don’t worry I’m a good disease.

Why, when life becomes half-decent again, do I feel this burning desire to fuck everything up. Not just a little bit, I want to drop a nuke on my face. It’s what I’m used to, chaos, turbulence, the ups the downs, the highs the lows. Today, everything is good. It’s not perfect, but, overall it’s moderately satisfying which is more than I could have hoped for at any point last year. And that’s just fine with me. It’s what I thought I wanted. I tell myself I want to just be normal, I just want to feel slightly-better-than-average all the time rather than bounce from stratospheric highs to desperate depths of depression regularly throughout each day.

In reality, being normal is boring. Maybe I’m not even qualified to say that, because if I’m honest I’m not normal. Do normal people fantasise about swimming out off the coast of North Korea and hoping a dirty bomb plops onto their face? I’m not sure what exactly it is about the chaos that turns me on. Maybe it was the attention at first, it gave me something to talk about when my life was full of nothing interesting whatsoever. Poor me, give me some sympathy.

People say to me, ‘play the tape through to the end’. To which I normally say, ‘thanks for that crazy deep advice buddy’ and roll my eyes. This advice is great in theory. Why would I want to go out again when I can clearly see that within a few short months I’d be back in the same miserable hole I’d just managed to climb out of? Getting out of the hole is exciting for a minute. It’s scary at first when you open your eyes after being in the dark for so long, everything looks brighter, genuine joy is euphoric, but with it flood in negative emotions, anger, grief, hate, despair. And when they do, crawling right back into that hole doesn’t seem like such a bad option. Just one more time and then I’ll be ready to come out into the world.

Today it’s different. Right now I want to get high. I’m playing the tape forward, I see that everything I have going for me right now will vaporise as that nuke detonates. Goodbye to the two months of hard work I’ve put in just staying alive, pushing through anxiety, insomnia, depression, withdrawals, physical rehabilitation. I’ve got a really decent life today, and that doesn’t sit right with me, I don’t know what to do next. My natural instinct is self-destruction.

When I let everything play out, and imagine getting back into recovery again, I see myself throwing in the towel. I honestly cannot do this again. Finally, there are good things in my life I do not want to lose. If I decide I want to walk away from what I have today, I know there will be no return. It’s not that I can’t do this again, I simply won’t. It’s no life.

No life.

Addiction vs. The Matrix

Here's something I wrote a couple months ago when I first landed back in treatment. 

Morpheus. Laurence Fishburne. Furious Styles. Call him what you want, but know that he’s a badass and speaks the truth, be it laying down the law in Boys n the Hood or freeing people’s minds in The Matrix, I wish he was my sponsor.  

Two lines from The Matrix have been going through my head today.

“You are a slave. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind. I’m trying to free your mind. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one who has to walk through it.”
Addiction is a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. You might see me sitting on the street with some bums stuffing junk in my arm, you might smell the stale shit stains on my pants, that part of addiction you see. But your neighbor might be an alcoholic, your partner might be an addict, your father might be in recovery, and you might be completely oblivious to it.  
True, we are not all born into bondage, but some are. Many of us make numerous seemingly irrelevant decisions which lead us to, over time, develop an addiction to some external thing. Without realizing, often, that we have become dependent on this in order to survive. You have your first sip of alcohol at 18 and end up in treatment centers during your 50s dealing with your alcoholism. You get hit by a car, break your hip, get on painkillers and end up on heroin when you can’t afford the pills… and heroin is so groovy that you forget everything and everyone you ever cared about.

I get sidetracked thinking about it. Heroin really is so fucking sweet if you’re ready to peace out on life. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to walk out of my parents’ house past my mother, in tears, begging me not to go. Think about it enough and it makes me think I’m a really, really bad person. What would make you stab your mother through the heart (metaphorically speaking) over and over again? Would you do it for $1 million if I put the cash in front of you? And you can’t just give her the money. You’re a selfish, drug addict, and that money is for you and you alone. Just like what the Oracle tells you.
You tell yourself she’ll be fine, she’ll get over it, but somewhere inside, you know you’re scarring her for life. Maybe you’d take the money, maybe you don’t even like you Mom, but I love mine. I can walk out the front door, or the door Morpheus has shown me, either way, I’m the one who has to walk through it. I make bad decisions for a living.   

“What you know you can’t explain but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind.”
A fucking splinter in your mind? Really picture it, having a splinter in your mind, not knowing how to get it out. Or maybe you’ve been to some meetings, done a couple rehabs, and you know what you need to do to get it out. You can “free your mind”, wake up and choose not to use every day, just for that day. You can ‘work a program’- I can’t even write those words without rolling my eyes - work? Every day? You have to be fucking kidding me, I’ll chose the easy option every time. Pop down the pharmacy and get a pair of tweezers/needles/dope.

A splinter in my mind, a dagger in my Mom’s heart, everyone is suffering. Sometimes I think it would be better for everyone if I just put an end to this now. 
I’m in detox at the moment and I’m just trying to distract myself from the splinter in my mind and the dagger in my heart.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Part 3 - 'I'

This final letter I wrote earlier this week as I prepared to leave treatment after 30 days of inpatient. Time for the next phase of this journey, wish me luck.

Part 3 – ‘I’

I met you when I knew no better, walk out my life, yes I let her, you helped me then now I’m your debtor, with sadness I write you this letter.

My mind seems forever tainted by you, disease. I know not how to leave you. You are everything negative in my life. Will positive choices put distance between us? This ongoing duel, a chess match in my subconscious, seems a forgone conclusion. You possess control of what I think, intuitively knowing what lies ahead as I plan each attack. I try to make positive choices, but you cloud my judgement and pollute all moves forward with fear. Contradictions, like a cancer, multiply, confusing all reason.

I thought my decision to move away from where we met would help, with fewer reminders of you around the place. But you tell me we came here with other motives – cheap dope, warmer climes if homeless, freedom from isolation if we use.

I thought I wanted to be happy, I thought I despised this life of misery. But you tell me to hope for misfortune, loss and death in my life, as this will excuse my return to you.

I thought I wanted to love those in my life, as I would want to be loved back. But you tell me the only love I need is yours, fuck the lot of them, all they’ve done is interfered in our relationship and tried to control me.

You and them are one and the same, conspiring against me to determine the direction of my life. But they are the white blood cells attacking you, their intentions are good, but allowed to run riot they can be a disease of their own. As your presence subsides, these cells form growing resentments inside of me. These fuel your regeneration.

For the first time now things feel different. I’ve run away from both of you. That freedom I’ve sought since young is beginning to fill the gaping wound inside my chest. This feeling drives me forward seeking new opportunities, friendships with those who support me, those who pick me up when I feel down, those who bring me joy, things that take me out of myself.

I see now that you will haunt me forever, and to move forward we cannot be together. So from myself I must escape, alone with you we isolate. Your voice grows louder and louder until I can take no more. When in times gone by I might concede defeat, follow your instructions to bring relief, I will now choose a different path, I will suffer you whispers only so long before I seek distraction. Music, friendships, writing, laughing, even just talking silences you. All I need do is repeat your whispers out loud to weaken their grasp of me.

Loneliness and boredom, I know you cling to these knowing that I cannot tolerate these feelings, thinking these will always find a way to reunite us. I have some news for you, milady, I laugh at your pathetic attempts steer me off course.

Boredeom, a bore no more. Lonely, not a feeling, but a choice. Check, mate.


Restore my life I’ve tried before, but this times different there are no more,

Things I value, you’ve taken all, I break your shackles and halt my fall.

Only in my dreams do we still meet, you drip-feed drama and deceit.

From scratch I now begin again, with freedom fueling fires within.