Spare Change

Trying to come up with enough money to get what i needed and wanted every day was a struggle. to say the least. it required a certain level of shamelessness. self pity. self loathing. once a person is so far gone to this thing, all bets are off. Before I ended up on the west side and homeless, before things got to that point- I had a car. well, my ex girlfriend did, I didn’t have shit, I had already willingly given it all away. For more. Everyday we would wake up, on the verge of withdraw, or maybe we had done well enough the day previous to be fortunate to have a shot left when we woke up. And if so, we would do it, which would buy us a few hours, but either way, we hit the ground running. From gas station, to gas station, shopping center to shopping center we would go- from the dead of winter to the blazes of summer, all day everyday. Panhandling. Walking up to complete strangers, “Excuse me sir, this may sound a little crazy, I’m actually really embarrassed (I wasn’t)- is there any chance you could maybe spare like a buck or two? were completely out of gas and have no money.” sometimes, we would get shot down, but most of the time, they would just hand me a few dollars. I would pretend to go inside, and put money in, even going as far as pretending to pump the gas, and check the gauge. My whole life was a charade. I’ve been handed all denominations of US currency from all kinds of people. 50$ bills, 20’s, even 63$ all in change once. people thought they were genuinely helping this poor guy out. And now I have to live with their faces, the looks of compassion, and sympathy, that I didn’t deserve.
Every once in a while, some more suspecting victims would try and pull my card, which was a little more difficult to navigate my way through, like the guy who said, ” i’ll just fill it up for ya”, which was a great gesture, but I didn’t want his gas, I wanted his money damnit. Oh, yeah, and the situation that seemed to constantly happen, towards the end of the trip, after we had been putting little amounts of gas at a time, and the tank was full, someone would go to put gas in for me, and it would click. FULL TANK. that always sucked. Or the lady at target, who not only took me to the gas station, bought me a gas can, filled it up and then went to her ATM with me in the car with her, and gave me $40. That was pretty rotten.
I think inside me there was some kind of stop/go switch that just clicked one day, years ago, that just put me into a default position- GO. after that, once I crossed that line, there were no morals, no still small voice. More like a loud screaming voice that wanted me to shut it off with the only thing that worked, more dope, another hit.
You see, I think I started using, because I wanted to FEEL different, because I always felt different. Someone once told me that addicts only use for 2 reasons: increasing pleasure or decreasing pain. And for me, it started out increasing pleasure. But after a while, it flipped on me, and the bottom fell out. I was using to decrease the pain I felt from living in a world of isolation, which in turn, made me isolate more. Its a terribly vicious cycle. And it continues and continues until all of your morals, beliefs, and values are burned up. It actually changes the way that you think, feel, and look at the world. At least it did for me.

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