insanity

How?

…as I walked away I wondered how it had become so easy? The smoke didn’t really bother me. It was just a step away from who I used to be…I’ll miss Aj but, she was just another witch…

*****

I wondered how I got to this place? I always thought I was a nice guy.  I don’t suppose that matters anymore…I always knew Aj was my friend. We were from the very start. Some people just become friends. They are destined to be. We started off a bit rough but, after a bit, things smoothed out. It’s like we’ve been friends all our lives. I mean, she told me she was a witch but that didn’t really matter.

It wasn’t really her fault that she was one. Besides, who really cared? I mean, sure, some people treated her like s**t but, she really didn’t complain. She just took it and went on because that was what happens to witches, right? Just keep your mouth shut and accept it, right? Anyway, she KNEW she wasn’t quite good enough but, I didn’t hold that against her.

That’s what we were told and, after awhile, we believed it. They ARE different…other…

After that, it was easy. We got along as long while she stayed in her place. I had to remind her of that a few times but she learned. As time went on, she got used to the idea that those things “just happened” and that I would never do anything worse. I didn’t expect to and besides, how much worse can it get for someone who’s future is Hell?

The first steps were the hardest for me. We had eaten together. I had cooked dinner and let her into my house and told her that she was my best friend.

That’s ok. I was wrong. How could a Christian be best friends with a heathen? Once I figured out that answer, I couldn’t, lying to her was easy. All I had to do was keep going on like things were still the same. Act like the subtle insults and slights were accidents. Just play the fool and keep her trust? It isn’t really lying or wrong if it’s to a witch because she’s not Christian, is it?

I’ll miss her…of course, I miss me, too…

*****

*wipes eyes*

When you read that section, do not believe that I believe those words about her.

I had to go back and try to figure out how an “ordinary person”, like me.could do what Burning Aj did. I really don’t want to ever revisit that post.

I have often thought I could not be a criminal profiler, these posts are why. To do that job you have to understand the madness. You have to visit a dark place and look back.

Leaders teach hate to gain power. They say, “see them” to distract from their own evils. Ordinary people follow along because it’s always easier to be an “us” than “one of them”. We find safety in the herd. We just gradually wander into evil, never realizing we’re doing it. We smell the smoke and are glad it’s someone else…

*****

This is the last of 3. In order, the other two are Burning Aj and Why?. This one does not make sense without the other two. If you read this one, please read or have read, the first. It doesn’t make sense without it. The second two explain the first.

Also, please, please understand. I HATE the first one. In my mind’s eye, it happened in my own yard and it hurts. I set it there and made myself see it that way so this would not be some casual exercise with words. I hope that my grief over what didn’t really happen comes through. I hope you never have to put your mind in the place I went. I did it that way because if I am going to put Aj into these three, it is only fair that there is some real cost to me for doing it…

Aj, I love you. Period.

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Why?

Yesterday I wrote “Burning Aj”. I posted it without a word to explain it. I won’t link it here but, you can look it up. It was, from this side, the writing side, the most painful thing I have ever typed…including writing about my own monsters from being an addict.  By the end of that “story” I could, and still can see my very best friend burning …by my own hand. To be clear, that hurt. It was supposed to hurt. I knew when I was writing it that it would…I didn’t know how much.  It was intended as allegory. It was supposed to try to explain the Burning Times and how that could happen again. It was an attempt to try to understand how someone could do something that horrific to their best friend. What it did was to scar MY soul. I’ll probably be paying for it for a long time…

There are 2, two, people in the world that I am sure that I would trade places with if that story were true, my wife and Aj. Period. I am NOT brave or noble. I am not “sure” that I would even make the trade for my family. I am a coward. Two lives that I know are more valuable to me than my own…and I burned one of them to make a point…and I can still smell the gasoline…and see the match…and hate myself for doing it.

Why did I do it?

Because we follow The Crowd. I did it to try to understand how we could see a neighbor or a best friend and allow that to happen. How it is possible to depersonalize someone?How can we participate? How can we subject someone else to that? How is it possible to ignore what someone is?
“She’s a witch, That means she’s NOT a person. It doesn’t matter what I do to a witch because they don’t matter. It’s not like they’re “real people”. Besides, everyone else treats them like shit. What does it matter what I do to one? They’re. Not. Real. People. .. Even if they were, it doesn’t mean anything, she’s just a witch. She’s gonna bun eventually, this is just a head start. Practice, in a manner of speaking…”
That IS how it happens. The Crowd says that and we come to believe it. We teach ourselves and convince ourselves that “they” are not real people…We willingly blind ourselves to what we know to be true.

Another of the most coldly horrible things I’ve ever seen quoted was the Camp Commandant at Auschwitz saying that he punished guards for tormenting the people they were going to send to the gas chambers because their job was to execute them, not to torture them. He explained that it was like killing rats…” our job was to exterminate”.

I have tried to use this page as a way to help show the humanity of people that are seen by some others as less than human. I want to convince people to see ALL of someone, Aj. I wish you could see what I see. I wish you could share the memory of a hug that I got from her. I wish you could hear her voice. I hope you never have to know what writing something like that does to you. I wish you may see that she’s not “just a witch”. She never was. She never will be. She IS my best friend and happens to be a witch. I love her dearly.

The Monsters in My Head

This a mug shot from '99 or '98. I looked worse by the end.

This a mug shot from ’99 or ’98. I looked worse by the end.

This is the happiest day of my life...except that it keeps getting better.

This is the happiest day of my life…except that it keeps getting better.

This is me 3 years sober

This is me 3 years sober

I’m going to try to write this post. I’ve started it in my head more times than I can count. It doesn’t have Aj or Z or Sweety in it. They didn’t know me ’till several years after any of these things were over. Having said that, in some ways, I’m still trying to get these things “over”. Part of me wants, very much, not to write this. Another part needs to. I’m not sure I’ll be able to convey, with words, what I’m seeing and feeling behind my eyes. These are my nightmares.

I was not sane. I had times where I came close to sort of normal but, on the whole, I was not. Sometimes were worse than others. It has been about 9 years since I last used meth. I was 42, almost 43, at the time. I started when I was  20. There were brief periods when I could leave it alone and a 3 year period where I was totally clean in my mid 20’s. Those things are facts. It is not an attempt to brag. It is just to lay ground work. The first time I used it, it was I.V. I chased that high for the next 20 years. I never got there.

My mind is full of little flashbacks. Kind of like a movie. I can almost see myself in them…

I have been having a conversation with voices I’m fairly sure are not there. I put a can of Dr Pepper and a box of pizza in a hall. I tell the voices that, if they are real, they should have the pizza and Dr P. I tell them I’ll check in an hour. They were not real. I kept talking to them anyway.

I lived in a place that was Paranoid. I always got paranoid. I knew it was coming and still did dope. I see myself huddled in a hall in someone else’s apt. They had to go out. I couldn’t face leaving. I couldn’t stand to be there alone. I couldn’t bring myself to sit on the couch. I ended up on the floor with my arms wrapped around my knees hiding from everything and nothing. I don’t know how long I was like that. Probably forever, that day. I still used after that.

No one knows it because I didn’t ever tell anyone at the time but, I’m a coward. Wanted to kill myself. Loaded the gun. Never had the courage.

I can see myself, sitting in the dark. My roommate asks if I’m ok. I say no. I do more dope. I’m less ok.

I wish I could share the terror with y’all. I wish I could so that no one would ever use. I wish I could so that I didn’t remember what it feels like.

I would get high and love the start. By the end, I hated myself. I would keep doing it to put off the crash I knew was coming. It came anyway. I would swear that this was the last time. It wasn’t. I hated myself for wanting it and found it anyway.

I wondered how anyone could love me. I knew I was just a pinhead speed freak. Since I didn’t love me, why should anyone  else? I thought my family was just saying what they were supposed to say.

I remember crawling around with a deer rifle peering out the windows. I knew they were out there. The sun came up. They weren’t. I spent nights peeping out the windows, hours and lifetimes doing that. I would tell myself that they weren’t there. That they weren’t coming. I could never quite convince myself. I always fell back into paranoid. Every time.

*****

I was right. I don’t want to write this. There are not enough words or space to get it all out. The greatest insanity is not the first time I used. It is the going back. Being paranoid pales compared to that. I kept using knowing where it would end.

When I finally hit the bottom, I weighed 130 lbs. I’m 6’4″. I stunk. hadn’t bathed in I don’t know how long. I keep telling myself I’m not that person. I believe that. I also believe that person is still in there. I carry his baggage. I try to unpack it. Sometimes I get close. This time of year is the hardest for me. It’s the month leading up to sober. It is when I was at my worst.

****

Part of me wants to run and hide from this post. Part of me still wakes up sweating and terrified. Sometimes I yell in my sleep. It has gotten easier over the years to learn to live with that past…for some values of “easy”.  I would not wish it on anyone. *sigh*

I had/have issues with that past. How do you reconcile the desire to love yourself with “I was a needle using addict”? At what point do the memories fade? I know that, even then, I was worth being loved, even if I didn’t understand it then.

There are not words to say how irrational it was to keep going back to something that could only end in ruin. I knew it would end that way. It did over and over. I’m a smart guy yet, I have proven I have the capacity for totally stupid. I got smarter when it ended decades after it started.

Nothing is adequate to convey the intensity of those moments. Nothing will let you feel how scared I was. Nothing can begin to let you understand paranoid…unless you have been there. I can not express how it is to do something that you want to do and know how it will end. I was NOT sane. This is the part where I should say “drugs are

This is the part where I should say “drugs are bad”. I’m not talking, in this context, about anything except meth or cocaine. I’m not making a value judgement on anything else, meaning alcohol or marijuana. Those are either legal or becoming that. I’m not going down that political road.

*****

Nine years later…Sweety and Aj and Z didn’t know me then. I’ve never really related this to Aj or Z. Sweety knows because I told her before we got married. I have no secrets from my wife.

I survived.

I know the cost of the tiniest slip. If I give those monsters a chance, the least excuse, to come back, they will. I can not use any substance. Yes, I make exceptions for caffeine and nicotine. For me, though, there’s no casual use of anything else. If I’m prescribed medication containing codeine, I use it for only as long as is needed and then flush the remainder. We do not keep alcohol in our house. I don’t even get close to the edge. The price of failure is everything.

I’ve moved forward from that place, most of the time. I am constantly reminded that I am loved. I can look at my wife and see tangible proof of that. Aj and Z have faith and confidence in me. Those three ladies could have anyone they wanted in their worlds, they picked me. Those are realities. I have learned, from them, that if I am worth loving now, I was worth loving then.

I wish I could go back and tell this to past me. I wish I could stop the little boy that lived in a man’s body and hid from shadows. I wish…I can’t. He is my ancestor. Without him, I wouldn’t be me. I still worry even if I don’t run from shadows. I know they weren’t real. I knew that then.

I still worry even if I don’t run from shadows. I know they weren’t real. I knew that then.

*****

Somehow, I wish I could undo this post. I won’t. I wish I could write a post about Religious Freedom or LBGT rights. Not this time. Those posts are easy. All they require is telling people that being prejudiced against someone for their faith or orientation is wrong.

This one requires telling myself that what I think about myself is wrong. It takes looking into my own heart and finding worth where I was convinced none existed. It requires revisiting Hell. *sigh* I know that people have value.

I know that people have value. It’s easy to see it in others. I keep telling myself that I do. I’ve said that I’m learning that. I really am. Sometimes our value is by being an instruction or a lesson because of who we were. Sometimes our value is as a husband or a friend. Sometimes it is as a voice for others. Mostly, it is because we are humans and ALL humans have worth.

*****

If you are reading this and it hits home, I hope you don’t have to go down the path as far as I did. I don’t want you to walk in my shoes. I left a trail of wreckage and destroyed, mine, dreams. I’ll always be able to look at my arm and see the scars of my past. They have faded but, I know they’re there.

Now, life is good. Now, I’m married. Now, I have learned to trust myself. Now, I have the support of some friends.

I do have some baggage from being back there. Some “quirks” that make me feel secure like keeping little stashes of food all over the place, canned or dried I mean. I own a bunch of flashlights. I never run out of cigarettes, lighters, or Dr Pepper.  Just some quirks. I can joke about booze with Z even if I do not bring it into my house.

*****

Editorial, It is my belief that we are responsible for our own actions. I do not buy into the idea that addiction was “not my fault”. I do not believe that it is a disease. I am convinced that it is a choice. It is a conscious set of actions that are entirely within our own control. I do not buy in to the idea that the addiction is in control…with the caveat that there are, in some cases, physical cravings. The substances I abused did not fit that profile. Having said that, if a twelve-step program works for you, don’t let my words put you off of it. They have done good for thousands or millions of people, I really don’t know the number. In my case, I have a support group. When it gets bad, I go to my three Ladies and talk.

I want to make this clear, I AM NOT a victim. I did to me what was done to me. No one forced me. There is no one that has any fault but me. We own our actions. They have consequences either good or bad. I was responsible for who I was. I am responsible for who I am. I am far from perfect. I don’t even pretend to be.

I’ll use this spot to make the point, again, there are things about ourselves that we do not control. We do not control our physical characteristics. We do not control who we love. Yes, I mean being straight or LBGT is NOT a choice.We do control what we think. We do control what we put into our bodies. I was not force-fed drugs. It was my hands on the needle. We have the ability to decide what goes into our mouth and our body. I am not ever going to make an excuse or blame anyone else for that.

Finally, I didn’t write this to glorify my past or myself. It was ugly. I was an unwashed addict. I do not deserve praise for getting sober. That just means I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, not commit felonies, using meth or coke is a felony. In fact, writing this post or this blog really doesn’t deserve praise. This is just doing what’s right. Reaching out to try to help is what members of a society that make a contribution are supposed to do. I took

In fact, writing this post or this blog really doesn’t deserve praise. This is just doing what’s right. Reaching out to try to help is what members of a society that make a contribution are supposed to do. I took away from society for so long, I owe it and you.

*****

Z, Aj, thanks for being there while I wrote this. I needed y’all then. I’m grateful for your support. I know you probably didn’t know, don’t think I told you, about the needles. Please don’t hold that against me. I’m not him anymore.

******

I don’t know if y’all reading this share my faith. For me, I believe this verse

1 Cor 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”