Thursday, March 31, 2011

Just What I Needed

It's hard to stay in a bad mood when you play with a puppy...especially when you really don't have a good reason to be in a mood to begin with.

"Look...I don't care how cute you are, I'm not going to pet you right now."
(see picture below)
"I'm brooding, okay? You can wag your whole body and have that retarded puppy coordination all you want."
(see picture below)
"I mean it! I'm angry! GRRRRRRRR!"
(see picture below)
"Fine. But I won't enjoy this."

"Dammit! I'm happy and shit."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The First 45 Days

Treatment feels like summer camp crossed with jail.
"Here you will develop the tools you need to change your life. Everyone comes here with lots of baggage."
That's goddamn right.
"You're minimizing, man. I think you need to open up and let those feelings out."
How long have I been repressing my emotions? Shit...
"Take your mask off, brother. Everyone here has been where you're at."
And I thought I was original.
"Can you see your ears? That's by design. When you share, your peers are going to see things that you can't."
Pain. Guilt. Remembering hurts.
"Positive affirmations aren't just empty things we say. Believe them. You are a good person who has done bad things."
Damn my legs hurt. Fucking softball. I've gained 8 pounds already. Time to hit the weight room again.
"Good game, guys. We're playing again tomorrow."
I'm really trying to get recovery this time. I need to help out with everything I can.
"You really listen to me, dude. That was good advice."
I'm here for you, brother.
"Read the letter you wrote to your friend. It's time."
Damn you for making me do this. Escaping grief with dope was a selfish, fucked thing to do. I can't let Hunter go.
"John, we don't forget those we love. We learn to live with the loss, but we can also honor their memory. Cherish the friendship...Use this opportunity to live...for you...and for your friend."
I'm tired of fucking things up.
"You remind me of myself when I got here. Have you ever forgiven yourself? It was the hardest thing I ever did, but you need to do it."
I've never done that. Wow.
"You deserve recovery. Don't forget that."
Is addiction a disease? I think it's more of a neurological disorder...does it matter? Treatment for it is the same, whatever you call it. Dive in.
"These arbitrary rules and the little bickering going's all bullshit. Focus on what matters. I know I look like I don't care...truth is, I care about what truly matters."
I am powerless over other people's actions. I need to quit trying to control everything and just let go. Heh...Fight Club.
"You really like that meditation shit, don't you?"
I don't have to believe my thoughts. Feelings come from them...but I can challenge those thoughts and not immediately act on them.
"Time to go out there, look for work, go to in the real world. Call someone if you feel like using."
There sure are a lot of bars downtown. thanks.
"Get up, asshole! We're going to a meeting!"
Hell of an alarm clock.
"I've seen a change in you, bro. You're not trying so looks like you believe it now."
I connected with something greater than myself. I can't explain it - spirituality, not religion. I feel it.
"They found Cage this morning. He's dead."
No. Of all people...God, why?
"Listen,'re a smart motherfucker, know what I'm sayin'? Get out of your head, can do a lot out there. We need you, make me laugh. You care about people. Those are gifts, homey. Use that shit."
Damn, dude. I won't squander this, I promise.
"Halfway there, John. How do you feel?"
60 days clean. I've never had 60 days clean and sober before. I'm still scared.
"Being afraid is natural and healthy. It's when you're overconfident that you can let that guard down. Work your recovery. And don't ever forget."
Forget what?
"What got you here. The good. The bad. Your family. Your friends. Everything."
Thank you.
"What are you going to do? You going to stay in San Antonio or go somewhere else?"
I'm just walking the path. We'll see where it leads.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. - Lao Tzu

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Friends Cage and Hunter

William "Cage" C. arrived at Lifetime Recovery the day after I did. He was 21 years old, from Alamo Heights, an avid reader, a film and music elitist, one of the smartest kids I've ever met, and a heroin addict. He had been here back in November, but he left early to get into a sober house in Austin. He slipped back into using again and came back here to Lifetime for help. My buddy Rabi and I took an immediate liking to Cage.
He was young, but his face and the look in his eyes showed that he'd gone through some shit. It was the same look I had. He was beat down and needed some help.
After detoxing, Cage started to come out of his shell. He played Rummy and Spades with us, was a killer 1st baseman in softball, and didn't care what other people thought about him or his unmoving opinions on life, love and religion. Oh, and the boy liked hackeysack, Benjamin Franklin and the Wu Tang Clan. Go figure.
For the next 30+ days, I watched him open up in our small group therapy and individually to myself, Rabi and a few others. Rabi and I saw ourselves in him...saw the same pain, same issues with the same drug...we wanted him to succeed.
Cage and I completed the first phase (30 days) of our treatment recently. The second phase (60 days) is that we got to leave the center during the day to look for work, go to meetings, do service, eat fast food...whatever. Then we come back for evening classes and sleep at the rehab.
Cage was in great spirits. He hung out with his dad his first day a haircut and a shave. He looked like I felt - ready to take on the world.

He was found dead yesterday morning at home. He would have turned 22 today.

He and I were a lot alike...we both thought we were too smart for our own good. We both also thought that this treatment was our last shot. Addiction is progressive...we both felt that death would be imminent if we went back.
The thing is, while I wanted to teach him, he ended up educating me. He embodied the phrase "to let what does not matter truly slide". He acted like he didn't give a shit, but the truth was he just didn't care about little meaningless crap. He helped me let go of my attempts to control things or other's actions of which I had no control over. I couldn't thank him enough for that. I will miss him more than this blog entry can express.

Today Hunter would have been 42. He had a big heart and his personality lit up a room. He could even make me less cranky, believe it or not. He loved photography, live music (watching and performing), his wife Jennifer, his blood brother Erik, his dog, his friends, and for some reason, me. Oh, and the fucking Seattle Seahawks, who I still watch to this day.

I had to work through some unresolved issues with grief and guilt about him over the past month, using his sudden passing in 2008 as an excuse to bury myself further into heroin. Our last conversation was him being concerned about my drug use. Sitting here thinking about Hunter and about Cage certainly makes me keenly aware of my mortality and of the pain that is part of life. I try not to dwell on "why them and why not me," even though it's natural.

I made a promise to Hunter and to myself: I will not waste the life that I still have. I will carry the memory of my best friend Hunter with me for the rest of my life. And I will not be forgetting my friend Cage and what he has taught me through his life...and death.

Happy Birthday, Hunter. I have 53 days clean...I'm doing this for both of us. I love you, man.

Rest in peace, Cage. I love you too, brother.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Treatment Center Moment

(Out at the smoking area)
Me: What's the problem, man?
Ryan: The Spurs tip-off is in like 15 minutes, but the dude in there is watching "Smallville."
Me: It should be over soon.
Ryan: Pinche Superman. He can't even fly, güey.