That I Would Be Good
Posted by andy nicastro
I only know this because when I opened the door to let the dogs out this morning, a wall of heat almost knocked me over.
I’m staying inside today. Not because of the air conditioning (though I thank God for that), but because I’m still in a fairly dark place. One doesn’t submit to the darkness of crystal meth for several weeks and then suddenly, upon cessation, immediately break back through into the sunlight of the spirit. It’s more like being submerged in a murky pond, swimming for the sun-dappled surface with all one’s might, heavy weights strapped to the ankles.
The spirit stays wounded for a long, long time. The nature of my addiction is that, upon taking that first hit from the pipe, I forfeit my soul in its entirety. Regaining it is a slow and intensely arduous process that can last far longer than the relatively short amount of time I spent using.
I am a deeply shame-based human being. I have been since childhood, when inappropriate touches and unconcealed paper bags filled with hardcore pornography in a relative’s home sexualized me long before I was ready for it. I’ve lived my entire life believing that I am damaged, that I am sick, that I am beyond redemption. The dark fantasies those experiences inspired in me have continued to live in the deepest, innermost part of my brain, whispering to me that I am a depraved human being and that regardless of how much good I try to do in this world, it will never be enough to cleanse the shame from my stained soul. They want out, those fantasies, and the only thing that provides them the liberation they demand is crystal meth. And once released, those fantasies turn even darker, quickly transitioning from sex for validation to sex as self-punishment. This probably makes little sense to anyone who hasn’t experienced sexual trauma, but it’s my own dark, sad truth, the sinister demon I’ve lived with for so many years.
Last year, I found my way back to God, though it wasn’t easy. A friend told me that God loves me no matter what, and there have been times in this last bout with sobriety when I actually believed that. Today, I’m not so sure.
I do know that when I’m not using crystal meth, I have a great capacity to behave like a decent, moral human being. But that’s a far cry from actually feeling like one.
I know all addicts travel to a place of spiritual oblivion when they’re in the depths of their disease. I feel, though, that my dark places are among the darkest of all. Empirically, of course, I know that this isn’t true, as evidenced by occasional dark and disturbing news stories. I’ve never put a baby in a microwave when high on meth, I’ve never molested a child . There are a lot of places far darker than the basement of sexual promiscuity I consign myself to while using. Still, this is my own shame, my own spiritual bankruptcy, and there really is no way to compare it with the shame or spiritual vacuum of another human being.
I’ve been clean of all substances for four days now, and a cloud of darkness is still swirling around me. There are momentary respites…seeing my friend Jonathan last night and holding him and crying and telling him how sorry I am for having lapsed back into my disease, the hugs I received at meetings from people who say they love me, the concern my husband shows me when I feel like I deserve only to be kicked to the curb. These are the angels in my life.
Just a couple of months ago, I was on top of the world: praying every night..and frequently throughout the day…helping other people maintain their sobriety, feeling proud of myself for having achieved something I thought was beyond my grasp: inner peace, moments of tranquility, and occasional unexpected stumbles into wide meadows sprawling between the shadowy forest of self-loathing. Today, is Labor Day. Today, I am thinking about my Great Grandmother, who survived the notorious Triangle Shirtwaist sweatshop fire. My great-grandmother, a very young woman at the time, had always maintained that she was carried to safety from the roof of the burning building by an angel. When I was younger, when I was a militant atheist, I would mock the very idea. Obviously, it had been one of the students from the adjacent NYU building who had rescued her.
Today, as I struggle to regain my footing, as I do battle with the shame and sadness of having betrayed and worried so many people I love dearly, I am also praying for an angel: one to carry me out of this abyss of self-recrimination and lingering sadness, back to a place of sunlight, self-forgiveness, friendly smiles and helping others.
I need to get to a place where I am able to see clearly that my capacity for goodness far outweighs my capacity for self-destruction and causing grief. I need to feel close to God again, if he’ll have me. I need to find a way to love myself again, if only intermittently.
I need to believe that I am a good person fighting a horrible disease.
I am a survivor, a fighter.
But I will need my angels.
“That I would be good even if I did nothing
That I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
That I would be good if I got and stayed sick
That I would be good even if I gained ten pounds
That I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
That I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
That I would be great if I was no longer queen
That I would be grand if I was not all knowing
That I would be loved even when I numb myself
That I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
That I would be loved even when I was fuming
That I would be good even if I was clingy
That I would be good even if I lost sanity
That I would be good whether with or without you”
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About andy nicastroI'm a producer, writer, graphic designer, former overachiever, current procrastinator and occasional catastrophic fuckupper living in Los Angeles.
Posted on September 2, 2013, in addiction, Crystal Meth, drugs, Jesus, recovery, spirituality and tagged alanis morissette, god, jesus, praying, recovery, Relapse, sadness, substance abuse, triangle factory fire. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.