Bridging the Gap

 

Intervention: (Noun)-

(1) Action taken to improve a situation, especially a medical disorder.

(2) An occasion on which a person with an addiction or other behavioral problem is confronted by a group of friends or family members in an attempt to persuade them to address the issue.

“We will be a Light to all who live in the shadows.”

I remember my days in active addiction. Very well. Who in recovery doesn’t? They will forever be a part of me. One of the things that really still haunts me, that I know so many are facing even as I write this, was the absolute and horrible loneliness that came along with my active addiction. All I wanted to do was just experience some human connection, some love and friendship. But in the counter culture of Heroin addiction those things simply do not exist. It’s really quite fascinating actually, how the whole drug addiction rabbit hole unfolds. When I was in my teens, I felt like i didn’t fit in anywhere, like I didn’t belong. I felt unwanted, inferior, insecure, and unlovable. So I turned to a chemical to change that. To change the way that I felt. Increase pleasure, or decrease pain. Those are the only two reasons that someone would put a mind altering or mood changing chemical into their bodies. Plus I went through a lot of shit as a child that I guess I compartmentalized for a long time and put into this “deal with later” folder. We call that shit Trauma, which I truly believe is one of the actual “Gateways”. And at first, it worked. The drugs did what I wanted them to do. They numbed my pain, my worry, and my fears. But the thing about us human beings, is we do not possess the ability to select which feelings or pains or “parts” of us that the chemicals numb. Numb is numb. Take this Vicodin to ease the pain of that broken leg, and your joy is also suppressed. Take this xanax to ease your anxiety, and your spirit is also numbed. We cannot select the broken pieces of us supernaturally with chemicals and continue to go on as if everything is just rainbows and fucking unicorns. Eventually we become wasted away shells of who we once were. But at first, yeah, it was fun. I’ll be the first to admit that. I fucking loved drugs, for a while. They promised me everything, but never delivered. Now, I dont know if its just me, or “us” across the board, but hurt feelings, rejection, self doubt, etc.. all of those negative things that go on inside this fucked up head of mine- “The Committee” as we call it, can really drive me into some crazy places, like picking up a chemical that I know causes lung cancer for 25 seconds of relief, just to be left feeling emptier than before i picked it up. Sorry, I ramble, probably the biggest critique of my writings thus far, but I write Like I talk, and I write like I think. Besides, never once have I ever Claimed to be Stephen King. After all, I’m a former heroin addict, High school drop out with a GED and a 9th grade education. I do this just as much for me as I do anyone else, Its cathartic for me. See, told you I ramble. But anyways, the loneliness, its scary. Its dark in this world for people with Mental Health issues and Substance Abuse. Feeling so Trapped inside your own skull constantly. I would invent problems, or feelings, or Ideas, seemingly out of thin air, and then I would believe them. Crazy huh? “I love you stevie”, someone would say, and I would immediately think, “why?”- What are you trying to get from me? I was so broken and had such a distorted self image. Drugs made that go away. For a while. Whats so interesting about all of it as i think about this, is that all i wanted to was to FEEL connected to something, to someone, I wanted to feel some kind of a bond, but i guess i was just wired differently than most. So i turned to something alright, I BONDED with chemical use. (I’m trying to go somewhere I promise, so stick with me here) But what I didn’t know at the time was that that was probably the absolute worst thing I could have bonded with, but I was just a fucking kid. I had very little direction from the parentals, very little accountability. I was free to roam. But bonding to a chemical, like tobacco, alcohol, cocaine, etc.. i Might has well have fallen in love with a serial killer.I trained my brain and pathways to always rely on the very thing that was destroying me. And I didn’t even realize it until it was too late.

When We love something or someone, we make time for them. We make time to enjoy it, to nurture that relationship. We will always find away to work it into our life, because it is a priority to us.  Think about it, ever find yourself in that brand new “butterfly” stage of a new relationship? And your friends are all like “Damn! how come we never see you anymore?” Well its because you have now found yourself a new priority, a new friend, a new bond. Its actually quite the same with drug addiction, except for the fact that fucking NO ONE ever sees you, except using buddies and drug dealers. The former typically fade away into an early grave or the prison system before too long and then its just you. Still hitting that next one, hoping that this blast, or this syringe full will do the trick you’ve been chasing for years. And this is what we call complete alienation and isolation. Chasing after something that cannot be caught. The Race to utter oblivion. And because we have Failed ourselves for so long, we have isolated for so long, we have chased, and ran, and hid, trying to shut this voice off in my head that tells me I’m a no good rotten dope fiend, because we have only managed to bond to the very thing that is killing us- causing us to rob you blind, and live on lies, and steal, and manipulate and con to support this habit- we actually “become” the lies in our head. I really hope this is all making sense to you because its actually pretty painful to recall. Staring at the mirror in the nastiest bathrooms known to man, in Gary Indiana. floors covered in needle caps, shit, used condoms, blood, and God only knows what. Shit talking myself and holding back tears spitting at my own reflection because I was absolutely fucking disgusted with the waste of human life I had become all because all i wanted to do was feel some fucking relief as a kid and i found relief in the wrong place, and now here I am 10 years later just wishing it would all end SOMEHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DAMNIT MAN. I sure don’t miss that and I thank the Lord EVERY SINGLE DAY that I’m finally clean.

And so many times I would hear, “well, you just need to hit bottom and you’ll get clean.”

Please, tell me what bottom is when I lived in the absolute most deplorable state that this human could ever imagine. Most of the time, from what I see, the only actual bottom is when someone dies. its so heartbreaking to me. People, the non addict families, friends, and society just feel so powerless against this thing called addition, and at the same time, they’re the ones who actually feel a bottom long before I will, because no matter what, I have this magical “remedy” that keeps me numb.

I used to change the way that I feel.

Bad shit happens, or Negative consequences as we call them.

And because of the pattern that I set FOR MYSELF at such an early age, escapism, avoidance, running… The only means that I possess to deal with the wreckage that the drugs are causing is to turn right back to the chemical itself.

This is why we recite over and over Einstein’s definition of insanity:

Doing the same things over and over expecting different results.

I was Chemically Insane.

All the while, my sweet grama, brother, my family just praying to God that they dont get “that phone call”…. The greatest Lie I ever told was that I was only hurting myself. That drugs are a victimless crime. what a bunch of bullshit. I would disappear for weeks and months at a time chasing this thing and no one would hear a word, but they would stay up in shear panic and fear for me. hoping that I was alive, Hoping that I was in jail again. Drug addiction is easily the most selfish disease in all of man kind.

So then, whats the point? More psychobabble war stories, and endless rants about the past, which we have all heard before? NO. The point can be found in the first part of the first definition that I provided at the top of this entry.

ACTION TAKEN.

You see, God forbid, If I had come down with Cancer when I was 15, instead of drug addiction, my family would have immediately sprung into ACTION. They would have been looking for the best doctors and the best hospitals with the most cutting edge medicine available and fighting the insurance companies for coverage and never leaving my bedside. They would have been at all of my Chemo appointments, and bringing me ice cream, and starting Go Fund Me campaigns. They Would have been in prayer with me. The would have done what they could do to BRIDGE THE GAP for me. So why is it then that so many families “accept” drug addiction and feel so powerless when it is in fact a disease, like so many other diseases? Shame? Fear? Stigma? I don’t know the answers to this. But it does in fact happen. but I’m not here to stir the pot or piss anyone off. I’m just writing what I’m feeling led to write right now.

You see, I have been doing what I’m doing for several years now- Interventions. Which, by the way, I TRULY believe is my purpose. I believe with my whole heart that God allowed me to suffer in addiction for as long as I did so that I could be someone to help someone. He turned my pain into purpose. But anyways, in my works in intervention, its very strange to me, but almost 100% of the families and friends that call me looking to help their struggling loved ones all say the same thing: YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND HERB.- (Trust me, I do.) And: THERE’S NO WAY THAT HE or SHE IS GOING TO GO TO RECOVERY IF WE DO THIS. (So why did you call?) And I know why they say those things. They say those things because their situation is so special, and so unique to them, its so personal, and often times, so untalked about that they haven’t had the chance to have someone say to them, i know, I’m going through it too, or I have been there and this is what I did. We hide it. Were ashamed. Not my child. No way. We feel like failures because Our precious boy went through some shit in his childhood and couldn’t deal with it, so he turned to drugs, and we blame ourselves. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Read that again. But another reason why They say those things is because they’re exhausted. and they have exhausted all of their tools to bring about change. they have punished, threatened, pleaded, prayed, Fought, cussed, and cried, but nothing was able to bring about change in their loved ones using patterns. And simply put- the reason why you haven’t been able to jar them into a place of vulnerability and surrender, is because you’re mom. or dad, or wife, etc… you’re just too close to this person, and over the years, you have all  taught one another how to treat each other. You all know each others buttons to push, you have all been in this “dance” so to speak, this emotionally hijacked, codependent, drug induced, stressed out Mambo. Divide and conquer, Fear, Sympathy, Hope, Anger, enabling, Manipulation. I, the addict use your love to get what I want, and you the parent, in turn try to use love to get what you want. Or fear, or threats, and punishment. And its all because were all scared to death. I’m scared to not get more of the poison that “fixes me” and you’re scared to death that I’m going to die, or hate you if you make me stop. and round and round we go.

Sound familiar? It breaks my heart that I know these things and I think of my own mother as i write. God I wish I could just have 5 more minutes with her and tell her how much i loved her, and that I was sorry. I was just so so sick. ugh.

But to stand in the gap, to take action against the disease when its inside someone you love, you need someone who knows the disease. someone who has been there. Without judgement, with dignity and respect. Someone who can be a spokesperson for the family without some sort of jerry springer epsisode unfolding. A recovering addict or alcoholic, and yes I said OR. ( sorry language police 🙂 But someone who can look them in the eyes FOR you, and just let them know that they are just FAR TO PRECIOUS to watch them kill themselves for another day, and that were not mad, we love you. we want to help you break the chains of addiction, TODAY. That’s the bottom, at least it was for me, when the sheriff went way out of his way, and didn’t have to, to be KIND to me. To show me some love when i felt totally unlovable. It impacted me in a way that I cannot even describe. when you have someone who has been there, and has truly had their heart Pricked by God, to serve others, you can just feel the light and oxygen return to the room, when we look your person in the face and say “ME TOO”. We can speak that wordless language of empathy. Just by seeing the brokenness inside. We recognize each other like some sort of survivor’s bond has been instilled in each of us. We can be that Flimsy reed. The hands and feet of God. And although, most of the time, the person that were intervening on typically is a little bit pissed off because we’re disrupting their using. They’re mad because we have just interrupted the using cycle, and taken away their best friend. A lot of times what I end up seeing is that their very first actual bond forms. What once was a frothy, ugly, angry back-and-forth dance of a relationship between interventionist and struggling addict. Almost immediately becomes a lifelong, thank you for saving my life type of bond. It truly is the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed in this world.

You know how they say that addiction is a family disease, that the addict may use, but the whole family feels it? Well, I whole heartedly believe that recovery is a family journey, and more so responsibility. When the addict recovers, the family can begin recovering right along with them. It takes a village. It takes outside help. But when we all get to experience recovery, it is truly the most “Peaceful, easy feeling” that I can ever describe to you. Cue up the Eagles.

The Ultimate Weapon against the Disease of Addiction is the Recovering Addict.

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