I don’t know why the events of the past few days are happening? it it simply a cue to pay attention and learn, even though the things I am seeing, while not directly involved, are not fun to watch or see? Is the timing of it all, coincidence, or is something bigger happening that we all can’t see? I confess I was stunned when I woke up to read the news of Anthony Bourdain last week. he had a seeming dream gig where you could combine, food, travel and what needs to happen more in globalization – the bridging of cultures on this planet.
We all get a choice. He made his for reasons only he and the creator of the universe will understand. I guess it hits home as I am watching two friend’s kids with addiction issues approaching that place where I won’t be surprised if I get a call that both kids are dead. I would love to get a call that a corner gets turned and somehow the bottom is hit and they say, “not only is this killing me, but it is killing everyone around me.”
I confess that my understanding of addiction is limited. for years I was addicted to smokeless tobacco. as an American football player, society glorified it in some way and I figured when I went out on the road, I would quit. the reality is that for whatever reason, I was shipping the Copenhagen in with my supplier that would send it every two weeks to the show. in foreign countries, I would go up to make friends with the marines that are guarding our embassies, many who imbibed in the same habit and since there was a commissary there, I would trade tickets for tobacco. (it really sounds odd, but that is what I would do, sans Scandinavian countries – which have chewing tobacco)
what I remember about actually quitting, was walking into a bookstore and some book was illuminated, it was a blue cover and said something like, “how to stop smoking” and I picked it up, and in the third chapter, I felt I was done with tobacco after all the wasted money and years. I still remember the 30 days of the initial withdrawal where I felt the synapses between the left and right lobes of my brains seem to de-tar or clean up. it scared me so much that I called my friends at Johns Hopkins, “is this normal? it feels like the synapses have an electrical charge firing through the brain?"
I digress, I think it is because I simply am sad hearing and watching two brilliant young kids on a path that I don’t see any solution to either life or death. If you were to open up their chests today, I wonder what their livers would look like? right now I am chilled in that my old best friend where there was a falling out, was a recovering alcoholic, that is why I got along with him, and most of my really close friends all seem to be sober people. it was easy for me to pretty much stop drinking as being a doorman, I would watch normal people walk into clubs and in a few hours, I simply got tired of watching what walked out of the place and the state of inebriation. it actually made me sick to watch? or it reminded me of the benders in college, where a great deal of fun was had in youthful stupidity.
sorry, more digression, but that old friend had some family issues and one day I drove over the night to be there at his house. it is funny, in that people that want help, usually for some reason have too much pride to ask for it. it is a bit like forgiveness – you can say “I am sorry” and much like the alcoholic, drug addict seeking a new hit of their drug – forgiveness is almost the opposite of taking a hit of a drug. it is a very painful lesson to learn how to really forgive, and like a drug addict deciding to quit – it is a choice only the offended or addicted can make.
that is the real beauty of choice in life and love. real love comes with a choice that you get to make.
when you think of addiction, it amazes me how the well-heeled, well-educated, and seemingly socially higher levels are so shocked with the reality of addiction and how it operates right under their noses. I think it was two weeks ago, I listened to a relative talk out the still painful reality of her daughter losing a boyfriend to opioid addiction. all you can do is listen and say you are sorry for the loss as you look into their eyes and can the brilliant well-educated minds still asking, “what could I have done? what could I have done differently?”
the truth is, probably nothing. providing a secure, loving, financially structured life for a kid probably has no better reality with addiction than someone coming out of life in an impoverished ghetto. all that is different is the quality of the substance ingested.
can you read me trying to rationalize and get my head around almost a rationalizing that two young people might wind up dead soon and I have to sit there helplessly watching it unfold? it is a time where you pray and wonder, “God, are you really listening?”
with suicide, be it intentional, or any way to snuff out your life, you usually get a very quick and finite conclusion to a life. you will never seem to understand the “why?” of what is happening in another’s mind. it is that you don’t really see it coming, whereas with addiction, you watch the person seem to move in a suspended animation of sorts, slowly falling, internal organs slowly failing. it is doubtful the person sees it, as they are too wrapped up in the power of the demon of addiction to notice anything but their next drink, fix, or snort.
you see the cost to the family members around them that love them, and truth is, people will simply try to help, in some ways it is more enabling, and in others perhaps too tough? I don’t know if there is any formula for addiction. my mind flashed back to someone handing be a business plan for addiction centers in the late 80’s and I still actually read them, and all the footnotes. in a seeming obscure line item, I read that the entire business was expecting a 5% recovery rate.
“I don’t mean to sound stupid? but how can you justify a recovery rate that low?”
without missing a beat, and with a smile on his face, the man said, “isn’t it a great business model, it means a lot of repeat business and higher profit margins!”
I think I just wrote the answer to why I get fed up with a lot of the non-for-profits and NGO’s on the planet. it is a mentality to accumulate all the money to sustain their organization and never have to really solve the problem they are mandated for. I might be weird, but when we get into the agrowspace area of the 3rd and developing world or the inner city in the USA, there are a lot of forces that do NOT want people to change and live healthier. sorry to have to write it, but it would destroy the goose laying golden eggs for a few.
what are we on now, digression #4? the issue with the two young minds is primary alcohol. of which when I took a trip to help my old friend, he was explaining the doses of what they were pumping into his wife. I was shocked, as it was like listening to bodybuilders explaining the very unnatural use of drugs to get some inhuman body. the difference was that when I asked, “that seems like a really high dose?”
my friend responded, “with alcoholics, their livers fail and slowly fall apart, so they have to push a lot of drugs into the body and hope a small percentage of it can be absorbed into the body.”
typing that line, I had a thought of “why don’t they simply drink less? wouldn’t that work too?” as a naive and simplistic question is met with the reality that with addiction, it is a slow-motion death wish. for the life of me, I have no logical reason why Ozzy Osbourne, Elton John, or Steven Tyler are still alive today. genetics? luck? a constitution that simply a path that a few live to help others on the other side, if they want to make the choice to change? (itis why i stopped paying to go to concerts as a teen, the bands were so messed up on stage.)
it is the slow-motion death and the behavior of the addict that is hard to take. it doesn’t mean the love for the person is not there. unfortunately, it tears your heart out watching someone so brilliant, kind, with a brilliant mind having a discussion about anything with you one moment, and then the next day, you find they are back on a bender…it turns into a seeming wash cycle of sorts…ingest, get sick, go to the hospital, more drugs, you are healed, repeat the cycle.
I am simply typing this morning, and a tearful prayer, as that is all I can do with the issue of addiction this morning with others. pray. I am also thinking of the finale of the “you” show that we did till 9-11. the finale was the only thing in the show that did not change each night. most of the show was controlled by human moods, emotions and physiology. but for the “you thought that was cool? wait till you experience this system on 11!”
the lead up for the finale was an infinite reality of people all on a giant matrix xyz conveyor belt of sorts. if you think of the 1984 commercials and apply human vices to it…people were just moving along the conveyor, and the pit stop was a series of buildings that all have various vices on it. some people would go in…then a bunch would get shipped to “doc in a box” rehab centers which spit them back out into society…a perpetual cycle that seemed to move on. we sped the sequence up, made it go faster to a place where the human mind would not be bothered by the speed of it all…and then poof…silence…the entire system went black and then the finale started.
what was the finale? I can’t type that here. just like I have no idea if I will get a call that so and so is dead, or a miracle of sorts happened where they stopped drinking or ingesting drugs.
maybe the only wisdom I have is that if you have to take something to deaden pain, the problem is something internal with you. it sounds odd, but when I see people taking empathogens and they have issues…I know they probably are not going to really get better, rather they will medicate the symptoms.
the first time I was ever alone with myself, was ironically when I pedaled a bike 30 minutes outside of the burningman camp and sat alone in the middle of the black rock desert. it was the first time I heard my heart and breathing…that was all the sound there was.
it was better than anything one could snort, drink, shoot up, or ingest. it also was the first day that all the words in books of spirituality and religion – started to make sense.
it is years later and that journey is one that is a daily walk. it also is one where you realize how small and how little you really are in the cosmic sense of creation and love, and yet, there is an entity so big that has the ability to love back in a way that is beyond human.
but it is a choice each of us gets to make, love is not forced or controlling. it is free and a gift.
I will close remembering a heroin addict at a coffee shop telling me his tale. it was beyond belief and I was amazed the guy was still alive. the one thing I took from him, that sort of allowed me to realize or have more compassion on people with addiction issues was when he said, “mark the first time I shot up, it was the most amazing experience in my life, I found a loving friend that took me to places I had never been. I figured I could control and handle it, after all, it was my best friend. little did I know the reality was the heroin wasn’t a very good friend, but was simply taking me, controlling me, and trying to kill me.”
my prayer is that folks with addiction might all overcome the struggle and grow in a healthy way, heal, help others. sadly, I know that Is not the reality. many will not live to a ripe old age.
wow, that was a depressing 10-20 minutes. I don't’ even know how long I have been typing. I am thankful I have not directly been involved with addiction issues with a lover, spouse, child…I can’t imagine the heartache and pain. it hurts so much even when you are far away from it.
a part of me doesn’t want to post this missive, but that is not the way the blog works…so up it goes, in all its unedited, spelling & grammar faux pas glory. if it helps one person – amen.