Yesterday was a day of mourning for so many of my friends in the recovery community in Los Angeles. Another beautiful light snuffed out by a disease that can lie dormant for days, months, even years before rearing its ugly head and…more virulent than ever…killing its victim without the slightest compunction.
Late last night, after the gathering of the Tuesday evening group of men and women who have become my second family – where the loss of this bright light hung quite tangibly over the proceedings – I came home full of feelings: There was sadness for this man and his family and friends. There was also fear, that this might someday be my own fate, and there was anger that so many beautiful men and women suffer from the disease of alcoholism.
Sitting down at my computer, I found my friend Mykee B. online, and reached out. Within moments I was LOL’ing over our private chat conversation. In the program of recovery I’ve chosen, there is a saying about traveling a road to a place of future happiness, and Mykee B. has been my walking partner on this road since almost the very beginning of this journey.
I met Mykee on a camping trip I took with a group of men (and one woman) from the aforementioned Tuesday night second family. At the time, I was barely six weeks off the pipe, and the idea of traveling to the Sequoia National Park with twenty-nine almost-strangers was terrifying to me. However, I followed direction given by the person who guides me through this program of recovery, and agreed to go along for the three day event. I’m glad I did…though I barely spoke the entire time (except for the nightly gatherings around the campfire, where I inarticulately…and through tears….tried to convey my sense of not belonging, of feeling too damaged to ever feel human again. It wasn’t pretty.)
My now-dear friend Stephen B. noticed my discomfort, and on a group hike to a waterfall…during which I was walking with my head down, feeling ugly and old and damaged in comparison to all the beautiful younger boys in our group….began to engage me in conversation, putting his arm around me, and did his best to make me feel a part of. I will always owe this man a debt of gratitude for that simple action. It’s taken almost a year, but that simple gesture was the beginning of my evolution from reticent recovery bystander to active participant in my own salvation.
On the morning we were to return to Los Angeles…I had caught a ride with my friend Jonathan (my also aforementioned recovery program ‘guide’)…we were packing up his Scion when someone asked if we had room for Mykee B. in our car. I’d noticed him around the campfire, and had been moved by one of his tearful shares, however we’d only spoken cursorily over the previous few days. Despite the sleeping bags, tents and luggage, we did have some extra room in Jonathan’s car, and so the three of us set out to make the drive home together.
But first, there was a surprise in store for me.
The previous evening, the majority of our group of campers had made a sunset field trip to the majestic Moro Rock, a giant granite dome formation from which spectacular views of the California’s Central Valley can be seen. I had stayed behind, however, having volunteered to help with dinner preparation. So, on the drive home, Jonathan and Mykee had colluded to make sure I got to see Moro Rock before we left. I was touched deeply, and the three of us climbed to the top of this rock mountain together. It was a profoundly spiritual experience, and I will always treasure that memory as one of the more profound ones of my early sobriety.
When we returned to the base, it was decided we’d stay in the park a little longer, and we hiked around a gorgeous meadow, just the three of us: my guru, my new friend and myself…all at different stages of recovery but so very similar in many other ways.
It was on the ride home that I really fell in love with Mykee. He was brilliant but not obnoxious about it, he was one of the funniest men I’d ever met (and I’ve met some funny people, trust me), and he was politically astute and passionate about social justice issues. His small frame (if you know Mykee, then you know he has the highest personality to body mass index of anyone on this planet) gave him an impish quality that could make me convulse with laughter, even back then when the slightest chuckle felt hard-won.
Since that weekend last August, I’ve counted this man among my closest friends. Though recently he’s been extremely busy (the man is a true entrepreneur, and I have no doubt fabulous wealth and success are imminent for my little friend/dynamo) with a number of startup businesses (see www.hprlcl.com), I know he will alway be there for me when I need him. And vice/versa.
Like he was last night, when I needed to laugh more than I’ve needed to in a long time.
If you read this blog, you know that I’ve gone from rabid atheist to praying man in a very short period of time. And every night, when I say those prayers, I thank God for bringing Mykee B…friend, little brother, partner in (healthy) crime…. into my life. As the Russ Meyer fantasy band The Carrie Nations sang in “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”…. “In the long run, you’ll need someone to trust and count on…come a rainy day.”
Yesterday, it was drizzling, and Mykee was there for me.
This was written almost a year ago, while on meth, two weeks before I began my recovery. It’s probably the most brutally honest thing I’ve ever written about my addiction, and I’m sharing this very personal journal entry because it shows so clearly the desperate state of my mind and soul at the time. In this, I ask myself a lot of questions that, at the time, I had no answer for. I feel so sad for this guy and his clueless self-pity, but because I know that two weeks after he wrote this he’s going to start finding the answers he’s so desperately looking for, I also feel great happiness reading this again for the first time since it was written. Today, I have the answers for most of the questions I asked myself when I wrote this..or at least, some insight into my addict behaviors. I’ll soon be marking the one-year anniversary of the beginning of what has been the most amazing year of my life, and I’m incredibly grateful for everyone and everything that has been a part of my recovery.
If you’re still struggling, just STOP. Breathe. You don’t have to drink or use or punish yourself in other ways ever again. Surrender to recovery. I wish I’d done it years ago. The view from here is breathtaking. Trust me. I have a long way to go still, but it’s been an amazing journey thus far.
Well, here I am again. Five months of continued use, and I’m already beginning to feel that strange disconnect from reality. Strange things that probably aren’t even that strange…that sub-current of paranoia that indicates the effect this drug is having on my brain. The voices are just starting to whisper again in the damned shower and sinks. Cars following me. Not to mention the damage that I’m doing to myself and to my relationship. And to my new “career.” I’m finally at the very beginning of the path to regaining financial stability..the very beginning, I should emphasize…and i’m jeopardizing it as carelessly as if my past experiences have taught me nothing. Lying to everyone, acting like the sage, wise recovered person when, in fact, I’m living the life of a failure and a fucking liar.
It’s not just the drugs, it’s the sexual compulsions I’ve been battling all my life. I don’t know why sexual gratification, even in its ugliest forms, acts as some weird kind of sedative of sorts for me. Maybe there isn’t anything complex about it at all, perhaps I’m just completely id-driven, a person who enjoys the control of my lower self.
I do know that being thin is part of it, and again, I don’t completely understand what that’s all about. I’ve got a partner (that he’s still here is a miracle of sort) who truly couldn’t care less if I’m thin or fat. So why do I care so much? Sometimes I think it’s because that lonely teenager I used to be is still fighting for attention or popularity or just to NOT be the chubby kid with the braces and those awful Buddy Holly glasses (back when Buddy Holly glasses weren’t cool at ALL.) Other times I have to admit it’s probably just rampant narcissism , as all the naked photos and videos of myself on my hard drive would seem to indicate. How narcissism and horrible self-esteem manage to co-exist in this fucked up head eludes me completely.
The thing about meth…okay, one thing among many things, is that it erodes my estimation of what is simply pleasure…the kind of pleasure everyone seeks and needs…and what is profoundly dark, compulsive and damaging to the psyche. There’s been too much of that in my life, and I know that it all stays in my brain whether i remember it or not. The way a song lyric I haven’t heard for years suddenly reappears. That dark callback of memory is part of my ritual of relapse: The memory is most strongly associated with feelings of pleasure and sensuality, NOT with the ramifications of disease or hurt or insanity I’ve had. If I could have those meth memories appear and have them trigger the self-loathing I feel today, then I suspect my relapsing would be much more infrequent. I suspect, anyway. But no, when I think of meth I think of wild, intense pleasure.
I still have a bag of meth I bought yesterday, and smoked far too much of last evening, to the point where Patrick even inquired as to whether or not I was using. I so badly want to tell him that I’ve relapsed, but I don’t feel ready. Not because I want to keep using (I do, believe me I DO), but because he will freak out and it will cause chaos in his life again because he’ll be dealing not only with his shows and the financial distress (another guilt item), but also with being preoccupied about my losing control again.
I’m going to try to get off the stuff again. I’m so sick of being a lying, filthy, fucking drug addict.
I’m going to start walking again, this afternoon, and hopefully I won’t pass out from exertion since I haven’t really exercised rigorously in six months. I think back to when I was happiest, last year, during those long stretches of time between my short infrequent relapses. I was getting my body healthy, I looked okay without purging, and Patrick and I were just beginning to reestablish trust. I’ve fucked that up yet again, and he deserves so much better. I say that all the time, yet I never seem to live as if I believe it. That has to change. I either have to clean up for good, or I have to leave him. This is completely unfair and, to be honest, absolutely evil behavior on my part.
I have to find a way to get beyond hating myself and punishing myself through sexual situations, which of course, is impossible with a drug that seems as if it were designed specifically to cause those types of behaviors. I used to use sex to make myself feel good about myself, and now it feels like i’m using it to punish myself. I think I need to focus on things that I am good at, and exercise those muscles. I need to think of myself as a good person, because somewhere under all this self-caused scar tissue, I know I’m a decent human being. I do care about others, even as I lie to them and cause them misery. Yet I have such a problem with accepting that it’s okay to just be me, average and mediocre Andy from the boring fucking Central Valley. I don’t know where this need to be perceived as interesting…or sexually desirable…or hip or cool or whatever….comes from. Truly, I’m not fooling anyone who really knows me, and i’ll never fucking believe it myself, so what’s the big imperative???
I’m lost right now, but I’m going to write in this journal every day. I think I need to write for ME, not as a showing off mechanism, a “look at me, I’m a battle-scarred survivor and these are my lurid, graphic stories that hopefully make me seem a little more Charles Bukowski and a little less average dork.” I need to work towards being in the middle of the road…where I actually DO reside…and feeling okay with it. I need to find ME again, if that’s even possible after all of this chaos and lying and alternate realities I’ve been manufacturing and then wallowing in for so fucking long. Even before I met Patrick. Even before I moved to Los Angeles, quite frankly. Who AM I? WHY do I do these terrible things to myself and to those around me? I want the answer to be, “because I was molested and because I was raised in a chaotic, unstable environment with occasional violence, and this is how I deal with it.” But I fear that may be a complete cop-out. In fact, I suspect it is. The more probable answer is the one that terrifies me the most, and that would be “because you are a conscienceless narcissist who is beyond redemption.”
I want to say, “Time will tell,” but I also fear that time has already spoken, and it didn’t fucking say what I wanted it to say.