Unwanted in Life


Let me share a story I know about this guy and you can be the one to judge whether his story is sad or not.

I met him in Cape Cod. He’s around my size, enjoys the same music, loves the same sport teams, works construction. Part of why we connected. He also loves heroin. I mean he loves it. Fortunately though, he hasn’t stuck a needle in his arm or ingested any opiates in 5 1/2 yrs; an amazing feat by any account.

Those are some good things about him and his life. He tries his hardest to help another addict or human being who’s having it rough in life or struggling with any form of addiction and mental health problems. But that’s what he shows, acts upon, and uses as a cover up- a disguise masking who he really is.

Like myself, his mother passed away and he hasn’t spoken to his family since, not because he chooses not too talk but because they’ve refused his many attempts of reaching out and building something that was never really there in the first place: a relationship.

He understands the strength and importance of both of the words, love and hate, and those two words only circumvent the same two people in his life. He hates himself because he was never available during his mother’s last days on earth and he hates himself because he lost an ex girlfriend and isn’t good enough to ever get her back. Sometimes he can’t look at himself in the mirror or pursue interested flames because he is drowning in worthlessness and self doubt. My heart hurts when writing about this pain and regret because I know it’s real.

What he can’t shake is that those two people were also the only people who’ve ever loved him unconditionally, and when it was too late, he realized that he- too- can now love them unconditionally as well. But, it’s too late for that. His mother is never coming back and his ex may as well never come back also.

He sabotages every single thing that’s good for him in his life. He doesn’t believe he deserves better. He claims, if there’s a heaven or an afterlife, that he’s not welcome. He doesn’t try nor think about ways to end his misery but you can almost see- upon his straight grin and melancholy eyes- that he prays that he doesn’t wake up the next morning and instead put an infinite end to his existence.

His heart is bigger then I’ve ever seen. His decision making is who he is, always suffering from the backfire from helping another human, a suffering that’s wound him in hospitals, jails, and even the shelter in which he now calls home, located here in Hyannis. He’s not wanted by old or new friends. His family stopped acknowledging his presence years ago and wouldn’t give him a chance regardless of what he’s done to improve himself or others. He feels and sees hatred daily within himself which in return reflects his place on this planet.

And, too, I understand.


image

No One’s Son


image

I still haven’t figured out why I was such an angry, miserable boy; hurting everyone and everything that presented itself in my life. I’m told quite often to simply leave the past where it belongs- in the past- but trying effortlessly to learn why i was the person I was while growing up and how this boy who came from such a loving, supportive family, evolved into the raging drug addict throughout the majority of his adult life.  And who am I fooling? I’m still miserable most of the time. I’ve just about mastered disguising my feelings of lonliness and the on going depression I battle with, mostly igniting from resentments I hold against myself. I feel so horrible because I was a horrible child, teenager, young adult, and whatever you’d call me at the age of 32. I was evil- inflicting pain upon others because I didn’t want to suffer alone with the pain I felt inside.

This I know: my addiction is only a symptom of the way I think. I need to change my way of thinking- which will encourage healthier actions- and in return will lead to a happier life. But how? Therapy? The Twelve Steps? Smart Recovery? Meditation? Religion?

All of these?

I’m no one’s son today. When I was a child, I had my mother and father. I rarely got in trouble and though I felt comfortable to lie to my mom, I never once lied to my dad until one summer day at the age of 27. I rebelled as a preteen and by the time I was in high school, my parents stopped caring what I did as long as I continued playing baseball. At this time I was already years into experimenting with drugs but I didn’t have a full blown addiction. But at home I was a terror; depressed and angry and blaming my mother for everything. She became numb to my existence. There would be days prior to one of my explosions where I’d return home from school and the hole I punched in the wall was  fixed- the mud still drying- by my mother. She’d act as if nothing happened and would talk to me like I was an alter boy, innocent and sweet.

Then one day I stopped my outbursts. They never happened again. But the depression weighed me down and anxiety took over my senses and brain waves. I started seeing a therapist but I would look at it as a game; one which I could master my munipulating ways and it worked. Not the therapy but the munipulating. By not using the opportunity that was set in front of me, I can only say those sessions did nothing for me and they failed because I wouldn’t allow myself to cooperate. Again, I was hopeless and helpless and my thoughts of dying only seemed to make the most sense, though I never went through with any forms of suicide. (It would be years later, towards the end of my heroin use, that I tried killing myself by overdosing almost on a daily basis).

image

I always loved people; my friends, my girlfriends, complete strangers, my family, and more then anyone and anything, I loved my mother. But I hated myself. I hated how I looked. I hated how I talked. I hated how my sense of humor imitated my fathers. I hated everything about me and i prayed and i wished at 11:11 that I would just die. I don’t know if I couldn’t kill myself because I was too much of a pussy to do it or if I was too smart, but for whatever reason I just couldn’t do it. I remember telling my mother one day that I wanted to die. She sat on the floor against the cabinet under the sink and she cried. That moment, I felt worse then I ever had before, only adding another reason I shouldn’t live, to the equation.

Until my mother’s last breathe I had parents and I was there son. Once she pasted away, my father made a collage in his head of all the suffering I have put my family through over these years of my addiction and my belief I was worthless, and shunned me from his life all together. So did everyone else on my mother’s side of the family. I’ve been accused of causing my mother to die, from cancer, through the mouths of my Uncle and one of my brothers. I’m no one’s son. Holidays and birthdays spent alone without a greeting or a well wish. There’s maybe 7 billion people on this planet and still, I’m alone. But what gets me the most- what hits home the hardest- is the second my mom passes away I become no one’s son. That easily. It’s one of the most difficult things in my life in which I can’t seem to get over.

Though accepting this moral ideology is sometimes painful and hard, caused by the past I’ve created, I have learned to stop feeling or thinking about my regrets and resentments using my mind, instead igniting that fire within and practice using my heart; by allowing it to lead the way with my feelings and thoughts. By doing this more and more, I have also come to understand what the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous teaches through the 12 Steps and the individual work that must fully be done in order to change for the better. 

That hole I had- where emptiness could be found and the pity of being no one’s son- I’ve been able to fill with the presence of my Higher Power and in return gives me the ability to be Somebody’s Son. 

It is my nonreligious- purely spiritual- relationship with my HP where I find the answers to my questions, confidence to challenge my fears, and ability to improve myself daily, all awhile proving too and happily impressing a power greater than myself- which is exactly the pedastool I held some of my family high upon for all these years…

As alone as I can feel at times and when emptiness tries invading my space, I consciously depend on my Higher Power and my life feels better each time I do. 

Your Not Alone


image

Have you ever wanted to die because you were stuck in the depths of addiction? You wake up in the morning, getting high is the first and only thing on your mind, and you just wished you never woke up- that you died in your sleep. Your a prisoner of this disease and your living a life of hell. All you want to do is die. More then anything. You pray everytime you use that it’ll kill you; so you no longer have to suffer and your family can finally be at ease.

Speaking of family, has your family ever had enough of your lying, stealing, and manipulating? They no longer want you around. They shun you. Tell you to get better- as if it was that easy.

Now your cheating everybody you come in contact with. You tell them your fine but really your looking to see if there’s anything you can steal? Your mind is still controlled by your addiction.

Have you ever wrote checks in your own name and cashed them but it wasn’t your check to begin with? You are fully aware of the consequences but you’re not in control so you do it anyways. Have you ever tried selling your jewelry, your tv, your game box, your cd’s? Your bank account is empty because you used that money years ago. Have you ever sold your car so you could get high? Have you ever sold your body so you could just get off Empty?

Have you ever walked 5 miles- in a blizzard, with somebody else’s money- only for a fix? You don’t answer your phone and days later you make up a story that you were robbed by the dealer.

Have you ever robbed a drug dealer yourself? Even if it was a close friend. You pull out a knife you stole from a restaurant and put it to his balls. Fill a small dunkin donuts cup with gasoline and throw it on the floor of his car. You pull your Zippo out and threaten to burn his car til it’s unrecognizable. Or you fill a needle with blood and threaten to stick him with your AIDS infected blood.

Have you ever held your family hostage with your disease? Harassing your mother at home, at her work, at your Aunts house, at the oncologists office while she was receiving chemotherapy.  You tell her you won’t leave until you have money. That your sick. That you’ll rob a bank or a store. That the little old lady who left her pocketbook unattended in the shopping cart is going to be taken. You beg and cry for the money and manipulate until you get your way.

Have you ever felt so lonely that you want to die? You realize you have no friends left or family. They refuse contact. You look in the mirror and hate what you see; yourself. You scroll through your phone and find that none of those people will answer. You become overwhelmed and depressed as you log onto Facebook and see everyone’s pictures of success; owning houses, having careers, getting married, raising children,  and you know that you haven’t done a single thing in the last fourteen years except avoid society and be irresponsible. Nothing would please you more then dying but first you need to get high.

Have you ever surrendered,  hitting your bottom and not knowing what to do? Your desperate, sad, depressed, angry, confused, and lost.

There are hundreds of thousands- if not millions- of people that can help you, if you only ask. There is a way out of the hell that’s been your life and we can help. Reach out to any one of us. We’re your teachers, your firefighters, your doctor’s and your nurses. We’re you construction workers, and your cooks. We’re even your priests. We’re everywhere, living a life second to none and you can too. You can be saved. You can love yourself; it’s possible. You just have to WANT it and put in the hard work.

Do you WANT it?

The Elite Homeless of Boston


image

The sign read, ‘Sober and Homeless’, and grabbed my attention quicker then a bikini clad woman would in the month of January. As I approached the young couple I had my doubts. Not because the two of them were homeless; they grew more and more filthy the closer I walked, stained pants and worn shoes, neither looking like they’ve seen a bath in quite some time. It went more like this in my head: if they were really sober like their cardboard sign told me, if, then how come they are homeless. I’m not being nieve. I mean, to automatically put them in a category, or stereotype them as being addicts- which in turn explained their manipulative lying sign- is unfair, not to mention I’d be taking someone else’s inventory although I know better then to do such. But I was homeless for months once; sleeping at Logan airport by night and conning strangers with signs like theirs by day, but I was shooting heroin, boosting clothes, and robbing Flacco.

Sitting on a fire proof blanket, courtesy of one of the few homeless shelters in Boston, beside Macy’s in downtown crossing and holding a sign which read, ‘ Sober and Homeless ‘, I had to approach them in wide wonder.

Jay is 22 years old. Lisa is 19. Jay sacrifices his old grey wool beret as his change cup, placing it on the brick sidewalk just beyond the blanket. Lisa rests her head on Jays shoulder, her eyes open, and greats me by saying ‘Thank You!’ As I place a dollar and my change into the hat.

She just opened the door for me to come in. I asked bluntly, ” How are you sober and homeless? ” Jay smiled and quietly repeated my question under his breath. ” My parents are addicts and we had our house forclosed when I was 15. I bounced around and lived with different family members and when the school found out they had me put in a program for kids. I was 18 when they told me i had to leave and I didn’t have anywhere to go. ” I asked what drugs he did and he told me of an adventure, that he wound up in Atlanta after following a group of transients. He started peddling crack and dope for some guy and due to pure curiosity, Jay began his drug story. Page by page, I could relate and as he talked I knew he knew what he was talking about. He said he’s embarrassed to go to an AA meeting because of how he looks and his smell from not showering. One time, here in Boston, him and Lisa walked into a meeting and they were asked to leave because the people attending believed the two of them only wanted to warm up and get free coffee. This made me aggrivated.

Lisa lived down the street and she grew up with the biggest crush on Jay. She looked up to him in awe and being raised with great morals from two successful interracial foster parents, she always dreamed of leaving home and exploring what else life offered. She bumped into Jay in passing one early morning near the Park St. subway and almost like they had never stopped, began hanging out daily again. She was enrolled as a freshman at Emerson College and no sooner then Xmas break, she was kicked out because she refused to let her drug addict homeless boyfriend freeze to death underneath the howling winds of a late New England fall night.

I offered them both Wendy’s,  as it was getting late and the dull ache in my stomach reminded me i haven’t had anything to eat all day except for the coffee I had drank earlier. Lisa shook her head at my offer as Jay said, Yes, aloud. They looked at each other and I told them I’d be right back. I walked a few steps away and realizing my idea, I turned around and tossed them a pack of the rest of my cigarettes. I returned 15 minutes later with 4 Jr cheeseburgers, 2 small Cokes, 2 fries, and 2 frosty’s. I’ve never seen gratitude run rampage across anyone’s face like I had that moment.

We talked recovery and music for the next hour. Jay carried an AA Big Book in one of their bags but admitted he doesn’t read it as often as he should. “I carry it around more as a good luck charm then anything it should be used for.”, he told me between bites of his burger. I told him as long as he’s sober then that’s all that matters. He grinned at me with a mouth full of food as Lisa chimed in. “I tell him everyday how proud I am of him. I mean, everybody who’s homeless down here is doing something and Jay stays away from it all. Even alcohol. Ever since we found out I was pregnant he’s been cleaning up and going to job fairs and on interviews.” I didn’t know Lisa was pregnant. I asked them both what they were gonna do now that Lisa is expecting. “Pray”, she said as she wiped her mouth with the overwhelming amount of napkins I shoved in the bag. “Its in God’s hands now.”

A Calm Before the Storm


As I walk to a meeting tonight, I can’t help but think that this is what my life has become. Not one single thing defines me, but more like a cluster of things, and to which most I’m not proud of.

I wake up and go to work (if there is a job scheduled), and in the evening I work my other job (if I’m scheduled), or I sit in a chair that invisibly has my name written on it and listen to either how great or not so great a fellow addict is doing. The rest of the time I usually do nothing because I can’t afford to do anything. I’ve stopped going to the gym because I can’t afford it or I lack what most people have: a bank account, in which the gym can access and pull my money. I refrain from traveling the city of Boston looking for work because most weeks I can’t afford a transportation pass needed to ride the trains or buses. Because of these minor issues, which mend together as somewhat of a cluster, people’s conception of me turns sour and like a shotguns recoil, I agree.

Little things added together make something of a larger scale. Like the many baseball teams become the MLB or a handful of songs become an album, or because of my nearly homeless income becomes a false portrait of me today, addicts doing well can relapse due to this same scale.

Many people I know have died this month along with many more people I’ve never met but learned about, and the majority of their demise have something in common; they died from the first use in their relapse. Upon hearing their stories from others at meetings, people I live with, from social media, or from the funerals and wakes I have attended, it seems that by following each individuals problems or issues, events or lack-there-of, a cluster had been formed of mediocre catastrophes shaping into one giant one; resulting in their relapse which in return resulted in their death.

I strongly believe that through communication, networking, and humility, these people may as well be alive today. I only hope that we as addicts and the people who love us can start seeing the slow and sometimes fairly visible downward spiral that usually arises before the end. Like tremors to an earthquake, we become more aware and sometimes prepared for the apex of this disease.

My heart and prayers go out to everyone we have just lost from addiction and their families.

Accomplishing a Miracle


The worst thing about being in recovery is watching your friends suffer with their addiction. It’s a tough place to be. Depending on how strong your recovery is, you can try to help them or sometimes you can’t do anything at all. I don’t recommend people in early recovery to get involved with anybody who is using, thinking they may be able to help or save the person. First of all, nobody can save someone who is battling addiction. You can be there for them, you can work endlessly to help them and direct them to professional help but I believe you, or I, can not ever save another addict. Fortunately though, I feel I’m in a place with my own recovery where I can step up to the plate and make myself available to the sick and suffering.

I have this friend. I’ve known him for years. He is younger then me, but he’s an adult, and he’s such a wonderful person. I dated his aunt for a little while and that’s when we first met but we also spent lots of time in jail together. I can relate with everything he’s going through right now. He is sick and he is detoxing at home- about a week clean from heroin and coke. I made a point to see him on Friday. This is what I saw:

Pulling up to his mothers house, I nearly recognized him while he stood in the gravel driveway, dressed in baggy pants, a Long sleeve shirt, and Jordan’s on his feet. That’s the normal him. Everything else about him was different. Hearing that his arm developed a painful and infected abcess, he wore the long sleeve shirt so he could cover the bandages on the inside of his arms. He was skinny; not that he was ever fat but when he’s clean and doing the right thing he tends to put on weight like I do. But he was so skinny hie kept having to pull his pants up. He had a look in his eyes and it showed me a million emotions all at once. He was hurting. He was sick. He was sweating but was continuously cold. But his eyes cried for help. They showed desperation and sadness. My god did he look sad! He was in the middle of tearing furniture apart for his step father so he could earn an easy $20 but he couldn’t hide how weak his muscles were. I stepped in and helped finish the job for him.

He told me he is depressed. That he was crying just before I showed up. I explained that his endorphins and serotonin levels are at an all-time low without the use of the drugs sky rocketing them infinitely. I told him it will take a while for those levels to rise back to a plateau state were he will feel normal again. I turned the conversation; focusing on what he is planning to do afterwards. He can’t stay at his mothers forever and I felt that too much time with family may push him to a limit of which he will decide using is a good idea. He doesn’t want to enter a program again, like a halfway house or sober house. He believes he just needs to kick the drugs and he will be fine. I decided not to argue this point with him although i disagreed. I did not want him thinking I was pressuring him to do anything. I wanted to keep the presence . of myself standing next to him with open arms and a listening ear. He vented to me me and I explained what I have done with my recovery.

What bothered me the most was this: the way he acted towards his mother. It is not because he was disrespectful or mean like I was towards mine, because he wasn’t at all. But I saw the sudden strength he possessed when arguing with her. I understood both points of view. He could not believe she wouldn’t allow him to leave the house with this girl he knows, who Appearently isn’t someone who’s related to any drug use. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t just go for a ride. His mother, of course, was against the idea, not wanting to take the chance of her sons mind deciding to hop out of the car at a red light and running to so he could get high. He argued his point with me, so I advised him this; he is 5 days clean at the time and he is detoxing at home. The logical thing to do here is invite the girl over to the house. I told him his family will give them privacy. He can spend time with a friend and his mother doesn’t need to drastically worry about him. And so he did take the advice. She came over and that was about the time I had to leave because I had work.

I received texts from different people in his family, all thanking me for coming up and spending time with him. But in fact I didn’t do anything except in courage him to take this slowly, no matter what, and basically not to jump ahead into the first urge or idea his brain has for him. Think things through and most importantly talk to people who want you to stay clean. He has the most incredible family, all of who take time out of their lives for him, whether it be a quick talk or an invitation to see a movie. He has a family who cares and I could tell by the way he talked to me that he is grateful for everything they have done.

Yesterday I saw his status update on Facebook telling the community that he went to a meeting and received a chip for staying sober for a certain amount of time. That put a smile on my face. I only hope it put a smile on his face too.