That I Would Be Good

sunshine-through-treesIt’s Labor Day, and it’s broiling hot outside.

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 nicastro

I'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 , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Once again your blog hits the spot. I wake up every morning with that self-recriminating voice in my head. I thought it had chased it out years ago, when my fondest dreams finally manifested themselves, but my deep-down rage was waiting in the wings to destroy me. Once again I found my life in the chute part of Chutes and Ladders (the one where the little girl steals from the cookie jar.) So just know you’re NOT alone. The subconscious mind can be a real bitch unless you make it work for you. Keep on keeping on toward the TRUTH. Like those pins from the ’70s used to say, “You are loved.”

  2. Keep moving towards the light Andy. We all care and Patrick is there for you. One day at a time.

  3. Andy,

    I’m glad to have found your blog entry! It was as if I was reading something that I might have written based on our similar experiences. Meth was my thing. This time last year I was sitting in prison for a probation violation because I failed too many of my drug tests. I am now in recovery too and would like to remind you that 4 days is amazing! If it wasn’t for the fact that I was thrown in prison, I doubt that I would be clean today! No in fact I know that I would not be. You are not alone! My thoughts are with you and you have another new friend in recovery!


    • Thank you, my new friend. God bless you and I wish you the very best with your continued recovery. Sometimes a slap upside the face is what it takes….I’ll keep you in my prayers, please keep me in yours. xo

  4. Hi Andy,

    I know that you don’t know me at all. I am an old friend of your old neighbors Jeff & Paddi. She introduced me to your blog this past June while visiting them in Glendale.
    I have been reading your bligs since then and suggested it to others as well. In fact, I required my online Sociology students to read several of your posts for the chapter on Alcohol & Other Substances. Their comments were very appreciative. Your bald honesty is so refreshing and impacting at the same time.
    I wanted you to know that you have been making a great impact on many young people, even though you weren’t aware. Your ability to share your struggles is truly a gift. You are an amazing writer and a true survivor. I cannot imagine all the pain you have been through but clearly their are many people who love and respect you.
    As a “broken” person myself I understand not feeling worthy of love. I spent many years in that dreadful place until an angel came into my life. She was named Deb and I served with her on Clinton’s HIV/AIDS Advisory Council. She became a great friend and spiritual mentor of mine.
    When my, then boyfriend, started getting serious with me I told her about it. I was scared to let him too close, afraid I would poison him and drag him down with me. I had a terminal diagnosis, modern day leprosy, and I did not want anyone to get too close to me.
    Her response made me stop and rethink my position. She told me that it wasn’t up to me to decide Bill’s fate. He had his own personal spiritual path to walk and it was HIS choice which way to go. She said, “Let him love you, its his path.”
    Deb has since left this realm. I still miss her love and guidance. But her council still serves me well. I also recently found a $1.99 ebook that reminds me of her way of looking at the world. It is called, E-Squared: 9 Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove You Create Your Reality. It is proving to be very helpful to me. You may wish to give it a read. Not very long.
    Sorry this has been long-winded but your blog speaks to me. I just wanted to let you know that I have been listening.

    • You have no idea how much this message means to me, particularly at this very moment. I’m about to go into a recovery meeting and feeling a bit like a failure. Your words give me hope for myself. Thank you for sharing your story and please give paddi and jeff my love. God bless you and thank you from the bottom of my heart….which feels just a little bit bigger than it did a few minutes ago. All my best to you and yours.

  5. Your blog has reached me in way that no other addict has. Your honesty and your way of telling your stories are so liberating for me to read. I have renewed my own fight for “me” so thank you for sharing your pain. Your sentence about experiencing sexual trauma is also part of demons that I believe is the hardest part of the dark secret truth I have also have lived with for so many years. I told my family on my 50th birthday and that was only after one of my brothers said to ask me specifically about sexual abuse while I was in rehab. I thought that by finally telling my family I would feel free but the shame is still there. I know that we are survivors and I have felt the angels. I thank you and send love and prayers as you regain your footing.

  6. Love you Andy…and am thankful you are still fighting for sobriety. Accept the love that is given as you do deserve it. You are one of God’s children and God don’t make shit! Love love love you….d

  7. Thank you, as always, for your honesty. I’m not a meth addict… Food is my drug… But, with my lapband, I can’t even turn there for comfort or avoidance any more… Just wanted to tell you that I am in the same place right now. In the dark. Lost. Trying to find my way back out. I’ve gone to some OA meetings & talk with my sponsor, but am deep inside right now. Alone & angry & self-hating… I have a date with a smart, kind man tomorrow, and I can’t think of anything I’d rather NOT do. But, I’ll put on a smile & see how it goes… if only for the practice of getting out among people. Keep holding on. Maybe I’ll walk around in the darkness and find you around a corner somewhere. You’ll know it’s me… I’ll give you a hug… No agenda attached. Be gentle with yourself. I’ll try to do the same.

  8. BTW, I found your title choice for this blog interesting. A song that really resonates for me after reading this blog is also from Alanis Morrisette. It’s called “Day One.” She is clearly singing about recovery and starting over again. It’s a great song.

  9. Congratulations on 4 years clean and sober. In recovery we don’t change, one thing, or something, WE CHANGE EVERYTHING!!! Let the new journey begin.

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