Monday, July 22, 2013

Blogophilia 22.6 The Unseen

"We are only as blind as we want to be."
                                          ~~Maya Angelou

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
                                          ~~Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Unseen

He awoke with a start; the dull glare of the lamp hit him in the face as he slowly got his bearings.  He still lay on the couch where he'd been reading what seemed like only moments ago.  His cigarette smoldered in the ashtray, one long row of ash ready to disintegrate.

Looking around, everything in the room seemed normal and as it should be....except for the nagging feeling that something was different.  Not only different, but wrong.  The feeling was strong enough to have woken him up; he didn't think it had been a dream.  He sat up and poured another drink, the fumes of the whiskey hitting the back of his throat like a comforting friend.  Glass in hand, he stood and quietly began moving from room to room, trying to find the source of his discomfort.

As he walked down the hallway he heard a faint noise that sounded like music.  It grew louder with each step; a sweetly sinister, tinkling sound.  He was repulsed by the sound while at the same time drawn to it.  He clutched the glass as if it were a life preserver, inching ever forward past the dark walls.  A door was at the end of the hallway, a door he couldn't remember ever seeing in his home before.  Puzzled and more than a little afraid, he downed the last of the whiskey and opened the door, heart pounding in his chest.

The room was empty except for a small table.  A single lightbulb hanging from a cord in the ceiling gently swayed as if something had just passed by, its dim light revealing dingy peeling plaster on the shadowy walls.  On the table sat a toy - a child's plastic windup toy, plinking out the high-pitched chimes of "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head."  He walked into the room, and as he crossed the threshold the song slowly wound down, its creepy notes hanging in the air even after it had stopped.

He was alone in the room, yet not alone.  Something unseen was close by, so close that he could feel its presence pressing in on him from all directions.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, to try and dispel the feeling that he was being watched.  Sweat trickled down the side of his face as adrenaline pumped through his veins.  Upon opening his eyes, the toy sprang into life again as if daring him to come closer, the innocence of the music mingling with the sordidness of the room.  He took a step forward.

There was something familiar about the toy, something that plucked at the recesses of his memory....something he didn't want to remember.  Remembering was dangerous, being in this room was dangerous, and whatever entity was playing with him was dangerous.  He had to get out, now.   He turned to walk, no run, out, but he found he was no longer alone.  A small boy stood in the doorway.

They looked at each other, and the man realized he was looking at himself as a child.  The child's eyes were haunted, and warily looked around the room as if searching for something, or someone.  The menacing presence seemed to have left when the boy appeared.  "It's ok," the child whispered to the man, beckoning him to follow.  "It's safe now."  They walked out of the room together, the man wondering if he was going crazy.  "No, you're not going crazy," the boy whispered, in answer to the man's unspoken thought.  "We're going to be ok."

The boy lead the man back down the hallway, back to the couch and the smoldering cigarette and the bottle of whiskey.  He sat down and the boy stood in front of the man, now at eye level.  The boy said, "I have to go back now, but you'll be safe."  He looked at the whiskey and looked back at the man with sorrow in his eyes.  "Don't let me down, ok?"  The man nodded silently, not understanding.

He awoke with a start; the dull glare of the lamp hit him in the face as he slowly got his bearings.  He still lay on the couch where the boy had been with him in what seemed only moments ago.  He sat up and looked around, noticing that the menacing feeling was gone.  Everything in the room seemed normal and as it should be.  Still, he reached for the whiskey bottle for some clarity....and remembered what the boy said.  He slowly put the bottle down, finally understanding.

Submitted for:
Blogophilia Week 22.6 - Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
Bonus Points:
(Hard, 2 pts):   Quote Maya Angelou
(Easy, 1 pt):   Mention a past U.S. president

Thursday, July 18, 2013

To Thrive

To thrive....not just survive....that is what many consider to be a sign of a successful life.  But what does it mean to thrive?

Is it having a well paying job with extra income, either to spend or to save?

Is it being surrounded by loved ones, either your own offspring or other family or friends?

Is it having a career that brings fulfillment and purpose do your life?

Is it having a hobby or interest that brings fulfillment and purpose to your life when other things don't?

I realize that there is no black and white answer to this question and it's going to be unique for each person. And what of us survivors who have, for one reason or another, beat incredible odds and are still upright and breathing?  Isn't that enough?

I think back over everything I've experienced in my life up to this point, and think, "Holy shit.  How am I even still alive?"  That in itself is pretty fucking incredible.  On good days, I feel a sense of accomplishment for the fact that I can get out of bed.  Grateful that I've been able to keep my shit together long enough to stay employed at the same place for over a year now.  Proud that I haven't been evicted, and that I can pay (most) of my bills.  I think, "Hey look at me.  I'm doing it."  Life, that is.

On bad days, none of that matters.  The weight of a million mistakes falls upon me like hurricane waves battering against a wall.  I think of the endless "second chances" I've been given, and wonder what my life would be like now if only I had stuck with it then and had no third and fourth-to-a-thousand-ones.  I think about all of the things I should have done, and didn't.  All of the things I should have accomplished by now, but haven't.  Things that society says I should have, like a wife and offspring.  And if I can't "man up and deal with it" then I'm a failure, and "doing it wrong."  And then I think of chucking it all in and giving up, because what's the point?

Anyway.....thriving.  What constitutes thriving, and who makes that decision?  I feel I'm thriving if I wake up clean every day.  Isn't that enough?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Celebrity Drug Deaths

I've been reading all the articles online about the death of Glee actor Cory Monteith over the weekend and while it's sad, I'm morbidly amused that others were surprised this happened.

Fellow celebrities took to Twitter to express surprise and shock that this could have happened.  Now, I've never watched Glee and had no idea who this bloke was until this weekend, but anyone who has ever had any experience interacting with an addict should have known that death by overdose is a very real possibility, even with someone who is allegedly clean.  His death hasn't been ruled an overdose yet, but that is the assumption being made at this time due to his previous struggles with substance abuse.

Addiction isn't something that one can "beat".  It's a lifelong condition that has to be managed constantly, like any other illness.  Call it a mental illness or disease if you will (or not, whatever), but an addict is not going to suddenly wake up one morning "cured".  An addict who wants to quit using drugs and get well can do so, through a shit ton of hard work and support, but they will never not be an addict.  Stop managing the condition, and relapse is a certainty.

I like to use the analogy of a cancer patient who goes through treatment and the cancer goes into remission. The cancer cells are still in your body, but no longer active.  You have to continue making healthy choices, to try and keep those cancer cells non-active.  With addiction, after treatment, you have to continue making healthy choices (counseling, meetings, etc) so that the demons in your head don't get the upper hand again.

Cory Monteith was open about his past struggles with drugs from an early age.  Who knows what the details of his recovery were, but from my point of view, as a recovering addict myself, to put an addict in the spotlight with lots of money, is a sure recipe for disaster.  I can't imagine the pressures of dealing with fame and living your life in a fishbowl.  I also can't imagine having that kind of disposable income.  What I can imagine, is that it would take an extraordinarily strong, stable person to deal with it.  Go into a situation like that not strong and stable, and being an addict to boot, and you're playing with fire.

Lots of comments following articles about Cory's death ask why didn't he have people looking out for him....someone with that kind of prestige and money should have been surrounded by people.  Well folks, addicts who want to use will find a way to do so, and will alienate everyone around them in order to be alone so they can do it.  Short of having a bodyguard chained to him 24/7 to keep him from harming himself, there isn't anything anyone could have done to prevent this.  Assuming, pending the toxicology reports, that it was an overdose, he made that choice himself.

Others who spoke to him that same day reported being shocked because he "seemed totally fine", and "he said he was feeling fantastic".  Well, addicts, especially functioning addicts, learn to become very good actors.  And this one was an actor by profession.....I'd say he had everyone around him fooled.  Even himself, perhaps.

It's sad that another young talent has joined the club of celebrities dying alone in a hotel room.  It should be a cautionary tale of how harmful drugs can be, and that addiction cannot be taken lightly.

Oh and, hello, by the way.  I know it's been ages since I've posted anything, I just haven't had any real desire to.  Sorry.  I'm doing alright though.  Still clean, employed, and have a roof over my head.  Dealing with the ups and downs of the mundane, and continuing the journey that is recovery, with all of its ups and downs.  Life goes on.