Friday, February 28, 2014

An update

Meanwhile, in the Middle of Nowhere......

The last time we checked in with Steve, he was going through some major life changes.  Let's see how he's faring.

Speak into the microphone please, yes that's it, thank you.  How are you doing Mr. Clark?


Tell us how you are feeling today.

"Like I'm going to punch the next person who asks how I'm feeling."

Oh.....right.  Well, how are those choices you recently made working out?

"Fuck you."  *walks away*

There you have it folks, an update from Mr. Clark.  Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.


Ok, so lame attempt at humor.  I've been in a foul mood all day and am trying to get myself out of it.  It's when I'm in cranky foul moods like this that I have to try and remember why I'm doing what I'm doing.  It's so easy to say fuck it and just impulsively give in.  But, that's what I've always done.  And I'm not doing that anymore, right? 

Actually what I want to do is kick and scream and punch things like a kid having a temper tantrum melt down in the middle of Walmart.  The kind where the kid is red faced and screaming 1,000 decibels and deadweighting on his mother who is dragging his limp body along the floor, her own face red with mortification.  Yeah I know, real mature Steve.  Just being honest.

And across the webz just now comes the news that the drug combination that killed Phillip Seymour Hoffman a few weeks ago was heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamines.

That should be enough to scare some sense into me right?  Knowing that I was playing with fire with a few of those combinations myself, I could have miscalculated the dose at any time like he apparently did.  Not even veteran drug users are immune to overdose.  By sheer dumb luck I'm still alive to have another chance at life.  I should feel relieved, grateful even.  Instead I'm whining like a child that can't have a cookie.  God I am so sick of myself.  I want these feelings to pass, I want the cravings and the sickness and the restlessness and the hopelessness to pass.  I know they will if I stick it out long enough, this ain't my first time at the dance.  It's sticking it out that has always been the hard part for me.  But I will do this, this time.  I have no other option.

It has helped that I've cut ties with my connections in town, it lessens the temptation to give in.  Actually they're all very pissed at me right now and a couple of nights I wondered if I was going to get the shit beat out of me coming home but that hasn't happened yet.  I have had C ("Dear _____" from my last post) banging on my door late at night a couple of times this week, that's always fun.  I'm tired of dealing with it and just want it all to go away.

I might have a lead on a new place to live, on the other side of town.  It'd still be a trailer court, but not as sleazy as the one I'm in now.  The problem with finding new places is finding one that is willing to let me bring my cats with me.  Thank God for my cats, they keep me somewhat sane.  I take better care of them than I do myself, pampered little fuckers. 

I'm amazed that I haven't missed any work in the last few weeks, considering what I've been going through.  They're used to me always looking like shit though, ha. 

I've been spending my free time walking when the weather allows it, reading when my mind is quiet enough to concentrate, watching DVDs, playing on facebook and the internet, and journaling when I have to get stuff out that isn't appropriate to put here.  And going to meetings.  I'm still not sold on the whole 12 step stuff but it's helping just to be around other sober people.  Gone out to lunch with some of them a couple times.  Mostly I'm just desperate to distract myself from my thoughts.  I'm not at a place where I can think too far ahead into the future as far as making any plans for myself, I'm still in just trying to make it through each day mode.  To those of you who have messaged me suggestions, thank you, it is appreciated and I hope I'll be able to seriously consider them in the future.

And that about sums it up at Casa Clarkster's.  I know I sound like a broken record saying this but thank you for all of your support.  You have seriously helped me stick this out for 19 days now.  To infinity and beyond....or something like that.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Some Things To Get Off My Chest

Dear ________,

I thought you loved me.  I thought you cared about me.  Once again I have been played, allowed myself to fall for the old lie.  All this time you have just been using me.  I admit, and regret, that sometimes it felt like I was using you too, to feed my own addictions....but I did really care for you.  I still do.  I wish we could still spend time together, I miss our jokes and our hugs and the things only the two of us understand. 

When we first met and you started paying attention to me, I was so lonely and starved for affection that I took your attentions as genuine feelings.  I held your secrets and you held mine and even though we didn't always make the most healthy of choices, I felt safe with you.  You said some things to me last night that  shattered that illusion.  At least I know now that I made the right choice in breaking ties with you, even though it killed me to do it.  Was it all a lie from the very beginning?  Did you ever care, at all?

I could tell you that taking advantage of my vulnerability like that has left me bitter and so fucking depressed that I want to give up and get wasted right now, but that's exactly what you want isn't it?   Because that's what I always do, run right back to you and what you have to offer, and fall for the lies of love and affection.  It's so classic-me it's fucking pathetic.  I said that day that I was ending the cycle, and I didn't just mean the drugs.  If there was any nugget of hope in my mind that I could still see you, it's gone now.  I need to stay far, far away from you or the pattern of abuse is just going to continue.  Because that's what it is - me, broken, seeking love in the wrong places from the wrong people and letting people control me and use me.  And thanking them for it, and asking for more.  You know exactly which carrots to dangle in front of me to suck me in, just the right words to say to set me off.  No more.  Fuck you all.  I'm not gonna be your floor mat or your fucking rent boy any longer. 

A Survivor

Monday, February 24, 2014

Blogging Lounge #4 "Dear Younger Self......"

When I saw the prompt this week, I said, "Duh, that's obvious:  Dear 21 year old self:  don't take that first hit of heroin!"

But is that the only thing I have to say to myself, in all of my 41 years?

It's easy to play the woulda, shoulda, coulda game.  But if we really could go back in time and change things, or prevent ourselves from making mistakes, where would that leave us today?  Wiser?  Better off?  Maybe possibly worse off?  There's no answer to that, and no end to the mistakes made over a lifetime that ended up being strong lessons learned.  Would we have learned those lessons some other way?  It's a circular question that has no end and no answer.

It can range from the comical.......

Dear 10 year old self:  it's really not a good idea to try and jump your bike off Kevin's shed roof.  (One of my front teeth is still crooked from the faceplant I took that day.)

Dear 14 year old self:  you may want to rethink the leopard print underpants.  (don't ask)

Dear 17 year old self:  weed and hair dye don't mix.  (I may have to repost that blog write some day.)

Dear 4 hour ago self:  that spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy's you had for lunch is going to give you some wicked heartburn.  (self explanatory) the tragic......

Dear 21 year old self:  please, please don't drive home tonight. (Lissa would probably still be alive today.)

Dear 23 year old self:  please, please take this first stint in rehab seriously.  (you will save yourself years of pain and wasted opportunities)

Dear 27 year old self:  take this suicide attempt and psychiatric hospital stay as the wake up call you need to get help.  (Instead of going right back to the same lifestyle that prompted it in the first place.)

Dear 33 year old self:  you're doing a great job of staying clean and sober, but if you just believed you deserved to be happy, you'd be.......happy.  (Instead of miserable and white knuckling your way through sobriety, ever on the edge of relapse.)

I could go on and on in the tragic vein for a long time.  I've lived a lifetime in regret mode, wishing "If only I had done this.....if only I hadn't done that."  But somehow it was never enough to really make me change my ways.  Maybe that's what I needed to go through, repeatedly, to get where I'm at today.....finally willing to end my love affair with drugs and destructive behaviors.  If I had the opportunity to actually talk to my younger self about these things, it would have fallen on deaf ears.  I wasn't ready to learn the lesson.  Even at my darkest, most desperate moments, I wasn't ready to learn that goddamn lesson. 

Do I like that I've wasted the last 20 years of my life buried in a pit of my own making?  No.  I'm fighting against the waves of panic that tell me it's too late, there's no point, why start now, etc.  But I also realize that there must be a reason why I'm still here, against the odds.  And to keep moving forward, I can't play the "woulda, shoulda, coulda" game.  I've been through and seen a lot of things in my life that have shaped who I am today.  Some for the worse, but some for the better, too. 

There is one "shoulda," that stands out though, that I do honestly regret not making and wish I could go back and remedy.......

Dear 8 year old self:  it's OK to tell someone about the abuse going on at home.  (Maybe the trajectory of your life would have taken an entirely different turn if you had lived elsewhere.)

Posted for The Blogging Lounge, prompt #4:  "Dear Younger Self"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What Is It Like

Woke up this morning with this in my head. 

What is it like
to wake up
and not dread the coming day

to be glad the sun is shining

to not wonder how to get through the day without chemical cocktails

what is it like
to wake up
and not flinch at your lover's touch

to relish in the warmth of another's embrace

to feel that you can love and be loved unconditionally

what is it like
to wake up
and be happy you're alive

to welcome the challenges the day brings

to look forward to the love and laughter of others

What is it like
to wake up
and feel comfortable in your own skin

to want to grow and change and feel and live

to be content just to be

What is it like....

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Blogophilia 52.6 Follow Your Bliss

"Bliss" by Tori Amos

Father, I killed my monkey
I let it out to
Taste the sweet of spring
Wonder if I will wander out
Test my tether to
See if I'm still free
From you

Steady as it comes
Right down
To you
I've said it all
So maybe we're a Bliss
Of another kind

Lately, I’m in to circuitry
What it means to be
Made of you but not enough for you
And I wonder if
You can bilocate is that
What I taste
Your supernova juice
You know it's true I’m part of you

Steady as it comes
Right down
To you
I've said it all
So maybe we're a Bliss
Of another kind

Steady as it comes
Right down to you
I've said it all
So maybe you've a four horse engine
With a power drive
A hot kachina who wants into mine
Take it with your terracide

Steady as it comes
Right down
To you
I've said it all
I said a Bliss

Of another kind

'The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph."  ~ Thomas Paine

Most of you know what is going on in my life at the moment so I'll spare you the details, suffice it to say that it's only by the support of awesome people that I'm hanging on.  I had to get out now from a lifestyle that was killing me......and now I'm learning how to follow a bliss of another kind.

Submitted for:  Blogphilia 52.6
topic:  Follow your bliss
(hard, 2 points): Incorporate a quote from Thomas Paine
(easy, 1 point): use the phrase "get out now"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Breaking Up

My mind has been on a rollercoaster the last couple of days and I must get my thoughts out, or my brain will explode.  Excuse the mind-dump.  It may be long.

Positivity is waning.  No wait, it's increasing.  No wait, there it goes again.  Hold on, it's back!  Nope, no it's not.  Ad nauseum.  It's that back and forth that is maddening, and makes me want to scream and do anything to make it stop, to get on an even keel.  I know to expect this, been through it a thousand times.  I either hold on, or give in at this point.  I am holding on, and riding it out.  I don't have a choice.  Well I do have a choice......but not really.  That choice I want to be over and done with.  But not really.  But really.

See what I mean?  It makes no sense to be so attracted to something that makes my life miserable and is going to end up killing me.

Many addicts refer to their drug as a lover.  It's kinda cheesy, but there it is.  Bear with me here.

If the drug is the lover, the addiction cycle is like a bad abusive relationship that is hard to leave.  You love your lover, and love the relationship.  Your lover makes you feel happy and alive. There are periods of calm when everything runs smoothly, then out of nowhere, they turn on you and smack you around.  You think it's your fault, and hide in shame and guilt.  You love them, but also fear them at that point.....maybe even hate.  You decide to leave, the only way to save yourself is to pack up and leave.  

But where do you go?  You have no place to stay, no money, and no job.  You lose your resolve to leave.  Then the person you love/fear/hate comes crawling back to you, remorseful about what happened, and promises it won't happen again.  They love you again, and you gratefully fall into your lover's arms, back to where it's familiar, and safe for the moment.  You forget about the bad times, and when your lover tells you it will never be bad again, you believe them.  

Things are calm and steady again, but then..... bam.  The punches come.  Blindsided again, you make up your mind to leave.  This time nothing will stop you!  But.....the same difficulties face you.  Where do you go?  What do you do afterwards?  You decide to stay, just to see if things will change.  Again.  You don't want to give up on the person you love so easily, so you give them chance after chance (after chance, after chance) to makes things different.  You go more warily now, tip toe through the rough patches, but stay you do.  It is, after all, the only thing you know.  Familiar.  And don't they say, better the devil you know, than the devil you don't?  You carry on with life, and hide from others this painful secret you have.  You lie that everything is fine, make excuses for this bruise or that.  You can't tell anyone the truth (but fear that they know already....this just makes up your resolve to try and hide it better).  

You have this gnawing feeling at the back of your mind that you really would be better off without this person, but fear of the unknown holds you back.  Your lover no longer makes you feel happy and alive.  Maybe you have other reasons for staying, even though you're miserable.  Maybe you stay for years, jumping from one calm period to the next....until the calm periods get fewer and farther between.  One day you realize that the calm periods have stopped altogether....or maybe never existed in the first place.  You feel like you're drowning, but still cannot fathom actually leaving.  Until one day you discover a tiny spark of hope.  The thought of leaving is still scary, after all, you and your lover have a long history.  You've shared a life together for many years and you're so entwined, you feel like your right arm would be cut off if you no longer weren't.  But you know things will never get better if you stay.  You see that now, after years of denial.  The seed has been planted.

You start to make preparations to leave.  You feel out the waters, weigh your options.  You change your mind a million times, tell yourself it's not so bad.  Maybe it takes a few more years and a few more bruises to finally get the resolve to break up with your lover once and for all.  There are painful decisions to be made, leaving scares you to death, but for the first time in your life, you're trying to put your health and sanity first.  It feels weird.  Alien, almost.  Your lover has a strange hold on you and the call to come back breaks your heart.  "Can I really stay away?" you ask yourself.  You know you've made the right decision, but regret it at the same time.

Wow, I really jumped the shark with that analogy, didn't I?  But I can't think of any better way, cheesy as it is, to describe addiction to anyone who has never lived through it.  Maybe I'm also using it as a way to explain why I haven't been able to leave for good.  Some people can break up and get the hell out of dodge without a look back.  Others find it more difficult.

I've made the decision to break up with my lover, for good.  My lover has gone by many different names.....heroin, oxycontin, hydrocodone, dilaudid, cocaine, ecstasy, valium, crystal meth, and others in between.  

The last time I used was Saturday.  

I'm on the fence about alcohol.  I don't have nearly the problems with alcohol as the others....perhaps I'll leave room for the occasional one night stand with that one.  I don't know.  But the more.  I know I know, one day at a time, don't think of it as forever, just don't use today.....I know all that.  But you and I both know that's just a smokescreen for reality.  It's what we have to tell ourselves because the stress of thinking about NEVER USING AGAIN FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES is too crippling. 

I have been here so many times it's embarrassing and disgusting.  My timeline is thus:  I started using heroin and other hard drugs in 1994 following the car accident.  I got clean for the first time in 1996.  Stayed clean for two years, relapsed in 1998.  Got clean again in 2001.  Had some small slips, but for the most part stayed clean 2001-2002.  Stayed clean AND sober from 2003 - 2007.  Relapsed big time the latter part of 2007.  Made another attempt at staying clean in 2008.  

Then from 2008 until now 2014 (!) it's been just one big blur of jumping from binge to binge.  Periods of sobriety lasting anywhere from a couple of days to months at a time.  Binges lasting anywhere from a couple of days to months at a time.  Binging.  Stopping.  Binging.  Stopping.  

I haven't been clean these six years and relapsed hundreds of times, I've been in relapse all these years and just stopped occasionally.  I saw it from that perspective for the first time this morning.  And it is, pardon the pun, a very sobering thought.  It actually took my breath away, once I'd realized that.  And once again I am humbled, mortified, and ashamed that I have allowed this to go on as long as it has.  

I've written some pretty brave words here over the years about stopping, and analyzing parts of myself and why I do this.  I've talked up a storm about it.  Lied that everything was fine and made excuses.  Said that I was clean but really wasn't.  I've lied to myself that I was fine, because I was still "functioning."  Hey look at me, I have a job -two even- and a roof over my head and cats and I write and participate in blogging groups and joke around on facebook and read books and buy groceries and go bowling with friends and ok I might pick up once in a while but I'm fine and I appreciate everyone's advice but really I'm normal.  

Let me tell you, from my personal experience, that "functioning" is the biggest lie, and the hardest to come back from.  I have been so down and low at times that I was the stereotypical junkie living on the streets selling myself for drugs.  I've talked about "the dope whore years" elsewhere but yes, that happened.  Is selling myself for a fix worse than white knuckling it between pay periods and driving 150 miles on my day off to the big city because I can't get the drugs I want in my small town?  The addiction is the same, either way.  I think it's easier to delude yourself about it, and thereby harder to admit that it needs to stop, when you're "functioning."  

I've exhausted myself writing this and I know no one reading this has any reason to believe that I'm sincere this time around.  I said on facebook the other day that I felt like I'd just taken a flying leap off a cliff by making this decision......and hitting the publish button on this feels like another leap.  I've disclosed things here that I'm nervous for people to see.  I just know I can't go on the way I've been going.  The cycle needs to end.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A New Direction

I thought it time to spruce up the old blog here, the blackness was wearing on me and if I'm trying to make more positive changes in my life, it should be reflected here, yes?  Ok so the dark blue I chose is still dark, but it's not black-dark.  I'm starting to come out of the fog a little.

I messed up last night.  Big time.  But instead of wallowing in self-loathing over it today (and justifying continuing the mess up), I said "No, I'm not playing that game this time.  It happened, it's over, and I'm moving forward again."  

And damned if I don't feel like there's actually hope for me yet.  

I'm fairly sick of myself, the constant back and forth between sobriety and binges.  I can't do it anymore, physically or mentally.  I'm tired of feeling unworthy and less than human.  Something seemed to wake up in me today that I haven't felt in a very long time....the urge to thrive.  The desire to actually BE happy instead of putting on an empty smile.  

I know that I'll backslide emotionally at times but today, at least, I'm feeling more confident in my ability to not use the backslides as an excuse to use drugs.  I need to start nurturing myself and that little boy inside that desperately needs to heal.  I need to stop letting the motherfuckers win.  (Thanks for that reminder, Ileene).  

This is me at age 5.  This is the only childhood photo I have of me smiling.

Now if you know me, you know that I despise posting photos of myself online.  I'm stepping way outside my comfort zone here and will probably regret this later, but I'm doing this as a pledge to myself to start making some serious changes in my life.  No laughing at chipmunk cheeks, please.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Keeping It Real

I'm filled with rage over the most simple, petty things.  I recognize it, but have trouble controlling it.

Someone slights me, I want to smash things.

Someone ignores me, I want to do something that makes them take notice.  Even if it hurts me in the end.

I seek privacy, while at the same time call out for attention.

I reach out to others, and immediately feel ashamed and regret it when they respond.

I take proof of one good day, and use it to sabotage myself into thinking it's never going to happen again.

Hell, I sabotage myself into thinking anything, as long as it leads me back into using.

I question why I even bother trying.  Everyday.

I question why I bother writing this out, it's just another shameful ploy for attention, right?

I read back on what I write and realize that I have the emotional equivalency of a toddler.  Holy shit.

Posting anyway.  Fuck it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Blogophilia 50.6 - The Colors Fade Away

The Colors Fade Away for Blogophilia 50.6

This bleak frozen landscape;
my life stretched out before me
neverending in its wanting...
the colors fade away, laughing as
they recede into the night.

What am I supposed to do now.....without you?

Beyond the veil I hear you whisper,
"come join me"
but I turn away from that temptation;
despite my heart breaking...
the wall is back in place.

When it hurts, you know it's the right thing.

I'm waiting for the colors
to fade back into my life,
for you, to fade back into my life.
The wall begs to be tumbled down
and breached.

But all that's left is a blind reflection.

copyright Steven Clark 2014

For my virtual reality effect (the ability to share digital files effortlessly via the internet), here is a youtube video of the song that inspired this, "Michigan" by The Milk Carton Kids.

My guilty pleasure.....I think you all know what that is.

Topic:  The Colors Fade Away
bonus (2 pts):  include a virtual reality effect  
bonus (1 pt):  mention a guilty pleasure