Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted- in one moment; would you capture it, or let it slip? (Eminem 8 Mile Soundtrack)
And what if you do capture it? What if you do take that moment and jump in with complete abandon, and rock it out of the park? What if you finally let go of everything that’s ever held you back, take a massive leap of faith, and it works out better than you ever imagined?
All I can say, is be prepared. Everything that has ever held you back, whether its addiction or other mental health issues, traumas, family shit, etc. is going to be lying patiently in wait- for its perfect opportunity to strike, and trigger a downfall. Success can do a couple things to us. It can motivate us to bigger and better things, or it can lull us into complacency. Sometimes, it can do both concurrently- at least the way I’m thinking about it right now that makes sense. You see, ever since this whole thing started it has all seemed like this magical feel good fairy tale type story. But I am here to tell you today, that that couldn’t be any further from the truth. You just read “Rumination” recently before this one, and that entry has been many days of my life over the last year plus. I’m not exactly sure when it started but things definitely got more than a little bit dark for me, and for my family. Maybe it was right around the time my brother died? No, it was for sure before that, and perhaps Josh’s death was the pulling of the final Kerplunk sticks on the way to a very ugly bottoming out. I don’t know. But what I have come to find out, again and again, is that I don’t know shit. We don’t know shit. Even the people who I consider my mentors will be the first to admit this very basic Idea. But I am once again back on a journey of digging and discovering. Old story versus New Story. And it has been a very interesting process.
You see, all I wanted to do was stop smoking crack, and stop shooting heroin. I had some really powerful stories to tell to shed some light on this whole addiction thing, as I feel it still to this day gets swept under the rug far too much. And I know what some of my gifts are. One of those gifts and passions being helping people. I still to this day absolutely love what I do in the field of intervention and volunteerism here in my community. And I don’t see myself stopping any time soon, but I have had to slow down quite a bit recently, because, per the Status Quo that we can slip back into so easily and effortlessly- I fuck shit up.
Ya know, it’s really interesting, this whole life thing. It can only be lived forward, and only truly understood backwards. Looking back on the last 6 years of my life, and more poignantly, my successes and good fortune – as an outsider and follower of my work, one might think it has just been so beautiful. And there have been many beautiful moments and wonderful times. But one thing I have been learning lately is not to use “absolutes” as much as I once did. Everything is circumstantial. Not everything is good, bad, great, or horrible. Sometimes they just are what they are- and I’m reminded of Pong the Farmer as I write this. But going back to the larger scope of thought here, understanding things backwards. It’s actually a bit funny now that I laugh about this, but I used to always say, “You write one book and people think you know what you’re talking about.” And it’s true, because, as I mentioned earlier I don’t know shit. I have never claimed to be some Holier than thou, Wizard, Mystic, or overnight Know it all in the field of addiction and mental health. I share my experiences, I share my heart for helping others and I do my best to be a good listener to those who share themselves with me. I have never claimed to be perfect, in fact, I believe that my claims of how “un perfect” I really am have provided quite a bit of allure to so many of my readers who too, are in my shoes and like to hear from those of us who can share openly about our imperfections while all those normies and society types are going about their days like their shit don’t stink. We are all fucked up in some way. We are all hurt, and wounded and trying our best to overcome something, right now. And knowing that, and even more so, being able to practice that simple art form of compassion and empathy is such a powerful tool in this world, and yet it has become almost a “Lost Art” while we are all so consumed with self and comparing ourselves to others. But when we really listen, when we really take the time to get to know someone else, and the struggles and secret places that we all face- that’s the juice. That is the one thing that truly binds us together. Our struggles. Internal and external. Some of our internal conflicts manifest themselves and spill out into the world for others to judge from their “ivory towers”, and others stay buried deep inside, and no one really ever knows about them as we suffer in silence; isolating ourselves in a room full of people with a brave face on hiding our shame and fear. I’m not exactly sure which is worse. And sometimes the latter turns into the former; when we can no longer hold it in, when we can longer pretend that we are okay, when we can no longer withstand the mounting pressures behind the damn with no means of releasing the impending explosion….and….Kaboom.
I just wanted to stop smoking crack. I just wanted to not shoot heroin. I just wanted to help people. I just wanted to have a “regular”/”normal” life and do my best to be a good person. I had absolutely no idea where this whole thing was gonna take me. I had absolutely no idea what God was up to, or what He would have in store for me. I had no idea what I would have to endure in return for all of this; after all, every gift has it’s price. And as the old adage goes, “No good deed goes unpunished.” ( I know my therapist is gonna read all this shit and wanna do a whole session on it, but this is the way I’m thinking about things right now). I didn’t know that writing some fucking book was gonna turn into all this. I didn’t know that I would end up owning a successful business. I didn’t know that I would be a million things or a million places when I got out of jail. I was just-and still am- trying to figure shit out.
Everything was so sudden. It was like a whirl wind for me. I had always thought about “Vigilance” as we hear it in the rooms to typically mean looking out for danger in times of trouble, or when things are obviously getting bleak. I never in a million years thought that I had to be vigilant when things were continuously going so well. But what I’m thinking about here now, is that I wasn’t truly equipped or prepared for things to go so well. Literally, I went from: Traumatized and passed around child who learned to detach at a very young age to not continuously feel the shame and pain, to Homeless and overdosing strung out heroin addict street person, to incarcerated inmate facing 20 plus years, to living in a halfway house, to author, to father & step father, and husband, homeowner and company owner- seemingly in the blink of an eye. Just writing that last few sentences put me back in the space shuttle or transcendence in my mind. It doesn’t seem real. But what’s all the more critical, is though I was very much involved in Church, and Recovery fellowships for quite some time, While all of this was manifesting and I was succeeding at seemingly everything I touched; I was horribly neglecting myself in an area that I still didn’t know existed. It’s really hard to explain and write this out, but I suppose paraphrasing a meme I saw recently would best suit it: “We set out to treat addiction, and we end up treating PTSD, Trauma, Depression, etc.” And that is me, in a nut shell. At the time, early in my walk, I thought that I had a drug problem. But what I know now, is that I thought that I had found a drug solution. And for me, and for me only, it didn’t matter how many times I read the bible, it didn’t matter how many 4th & 5th steps I worked, or how many amends I made; I needed to achieve atonement with myself and with my past. You see, I was the proverbial “turd polish” for a while. And what I mean by that, is, I guess it is similar to the old adage of “casting our pearls to swine”. No I am not the swine, I am not beating up on myself- but I was still so raw and needed to heal so badly, and so deeply. Yet all of these amazing things and amazing people kept coming my way, I thought that I was really doing the damn thing, and I was, but my deep internal wounds were still festering, and the new and present world was still coming at me in full force. I lost sight of what I was supposed to be doing. Healing as hard as I could. I was healing, but I took on so many what seemed to be blessings concurrently that those very things my recovery and new life were blessing me with, ended up eating me alive. I didn’t even know how to open or manage a bank account 6 years ago, and now all of a sudden I’m supposed to give a key note speech in fucking Idaho? I’m supposed to know how to truly raise a child? Four Children? I am supposed to know how to be in a healthy relationship? I am supposed to know about opening a business? Holy crap! Everything was so much. And it has been so much. Relationships. Kids. Dogs. Stress. Depression. Death. Life. Work. Writing. Dogs. Mortgage. Moving. Marriage. Vacations. In laws. Friends. Volunteering. Somewhere along the line somewhere, All of these serendipitous and wonderful things became not so wonderful. In my mind. Somewhere along the line, everything that I had worked so hard at for so long to obtain became such tremendous stress and struggle inside my already hurt and needing to be healed mind. I wasn’t mentally healthy enough to OBtain these things, let alone MAINtain them. And to my family, I am so sorry that I wasn’t able or ready to love you the way you needed me to when we first met. But I am now, and always will be a work in progress. And only through the intense therapy that I’m doing now, can I fully grasp the absolute sickening hells and traumas that my mind endured, and then built a space ship to escape in- first with playing with friends, then baseball, then acceptance, then drugs. Now I am slowly, day by day learning to really sit with myself and my broken mind. As it heals. Practicing these simple but effective little tricks, to snap out of my crazed bullshit upstairs like rumination and thoughts of suicide. What a bunch of irrational chaos. I know, it may be hard to grasp or understand, like how can this dude be for real right now? Like his life is so shitty (and scoff at the wind). It’s not, that’s the thing about healing from trauma, about healing from such wreckage and destruction and addiction and woe. We addicts, we survivors of trauma have endured some of the ugliest and most depraved of situations and the only thing that has kept us going on at times, at least for me, is this inherent/built in thing called resiliency. But that sad part about it all is, while we are still in the process of healing our wounds, we are gonna bleed on those who didn’t cut us.