the Spirits

It drink it in as though, it were my original sin.

Tin boots beating at the paneled walls…that hold my mind in place.

A cool breeze canvases karma and comes away…whispered reminders of debts yet…to be paid.

How daring to not imbibe when the spirits surround my blind side.

The hoarse intonations gather at the base of bad decisions…

And, what I hear?

...there is no place to hide.  I will find me!

Drug Take Back

My portrait…is a Popsicle beginning to melt.

Even if left untouched on a dusty shelf.

If  my  delusional image were turned and stared…pitifully.

My only response would be what it has always been,

“Never feel sorry for me.”100_1238

I came here to this crossroad…willingly.

The pain is the same as it had been before pills came along.

And, though I swallowed…stubbornly,

a team of high authority…felt they knew my psyche…better than me.

I have become a medical casualty.

 

 

Love Proudly

stand alone 4

My only stint in rehab…required going to ‘detox’ first.  At Sobriety Maintenance, of which I got a degree that could not compare to any others I had, there were many life experiences…Many that cannot be replaced.  That, in truth,  I had been schooled…to which I always thought,

‘You can’t con a con!’

But it did happen.

I learned how to play Spades, cigarette a point Cribbage, clean bathroom stalls, and, enjoy decaf coffee.

The lesson I keep with me everyday…but occasionally loose during, life on life’s terms?  The Precious Present!  An aged cook from the Marines ran the kitchen at the detox.  His name had been Jamie.  Jamie witnessed my struggles with self.  My need to put on the facade of ‘I am ten foot tall and bullet proof.’

I liked him but balked his every attempt to tame my unruliness.  That is until I found the ‘Precious Present’ at my table setting…

Once there was a boy. . . . Who listened to an old man.  And, thus, he began to learn about The Precious Present.  “It is a present because it is a gift,” the contented man explained.  “And it is precious because anyone who receives such a present is happy forever.”

“Wow!” the little boy exclaimed.  “I hope someone gives me The Precious Present.  Maybe I’ll get it for Christmas.”  The boy ran off to play.  And the old man smiled.  He liked to watch the little boy play.  He saw the smile on the youngster’s face and heard him laughing as he swung from a nearby tree.  The boy was happy.  And it was a joy to see.

The old man also liked to watch the boy work.  He even rose early on Saturday mornings to watch the little laborer mow the lawn across the street.  The boy actually whistled while he worked.  The little child was happy no matter what he was doing.  It was, indeed, a joy to behold.

When he thought about what the old man had said, the boy thought he understood.  He knew about presents.  Like the bicycle he got for his birthday and the gifts he found under the tree on Christmas morning.  But as the boy thought more about it, he knew.  The joy of toys never lasts forever.

The boy began to feel uneasy.  “What then,” he wondered, “is The Precious Present?  What could possibly make me happy forever?”  He found it difficult to even imagine the answer.  And so he returned to ask the old man.

“Is the Present a magical ring?  One that I might put on my finger and make all my wishes come true?”

“No,” the old man said.   “The precious present has nothing to do with wishing.”

As the boy grew older he continued to wonder.  He went to the old man.  “Is the Precious Present a flying carpet?” he inquired.  “One that I could get on and go any place that I like?”

“No,” the man quietly replied.   “When you have the precious present, you will be perfectly content to be where you are.”

The boy was becoming a young man now, and felt a bit foolish for asking. But he was uncomfortable. He began to see that he was not achieving what he wanted. “Is the Precious Present,” he slowly ventured, “a sunken treasure? Perhaps rare gold coins buried by pirates long ago?”

“No, young man,” the old man told him. “It is not.  The richness is rare, indeed, but the wealth of the Present comes only from itself.”

a Sober Groundhog

In rural New Hampshire, as in rural, North Carolina, the days can collect themselves at your weaknesses.  There is no sightly or unsightly difference between one day to next.  I suppose I took other states hostage…during my addictive haze!  Ohio, Maine, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, pretty much the southeast coastline…and a few places in between.

However, for aesthics purposes, I will attend to the states of my mind, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

The days in mid winter are long though short.  Almost as if, what little light you see, you want to capture in a Bell Jar and hang on to for dear life.

To a deeply satisfied with self, addict.  Days, night, hours and seconds, are all relative.  A sort despondence occurs.  Like the final break to a bough that seemed strong enough to hold back the stormy weather.

My days were never different.  Dusky, dirty, impoverished, self seeking and evermore…uncertain.

An existentialist would say that, to truly know oneself you must hit rock bottom.  Without rock bottom there is no growth.  No knowledge of your inner most virtues.

 

I have hit, hopefully, my only needed twice…rock bottoms, in two states.  The days not much unlike each other.  Bright and sunny and full of hope, to someone else.  My more recent rock bottom found me entombed by my will run riot.  Incarcerated by four walls, two big bay windows and a bed.  The whole in my soul had ridden it’s high horse for a full year of anti social behavior.  Indeed, I had known sobriety.  I grasped it in my sweaty hands…five years prior.  I also let it go…as if it no longer wished to be caged.  I let it go driving down the highway with a tall boy between my legs, motorcycle weekend on the horizon, in a Scooby Do mini van…looking to get laid at a bar in Haverhill, Mass.

Had I a death-wish?  Honestly?  Every alcoholic, addict, abuser, I know…has a death-wish.  We believe ourselves to be like a cat.  Fighting it out until our last life, the 9th, is used up.  After relapse, when I begun my descent into madness and mayhem; I averaged a gallon of cheap Vodka and a case of beer per day.  Course, the bouts with blotter had to be put aside.  The pills?  Too obvious to those who watched my behavior like hawks.  Booze had strictly been my downfall.  Though, when offered, I did not turn down the occassional chance to do illegal drugs.

It’s all relative!

This different day set in rural New Hampshire.  Started out with neither a bang, toke or pop.  The night before I had been dragged kickin’ and screamin’ to a local AA meeting.  Course my captors had us leaving for our destination way too early.  Therefore, I had the misfortune of stopping by Home Depot after eating a, this is a bad idea, large greasy fry from Burger King.

Today, I cannot stand overhead lights.  Matter of fact, if it doesn’t fit in a lamp…it doesn’t come into my house.

I walked that 1,000 mile journey to the 24 hour chip.  Claps, not judgement, all around.  I who had been so tough as bitten nails, found myself weak in the knees.  Scared of having to deal with the shit storm I had brought about.

That meeting could have happened last night.  With vivid detail, I can list who was there, what hung on the wall, the speaker and the kind of donuts being handed out.

After all the well wishes from past friends with sobriety…I laid myself down for a long winter’s nap.

I don’t cry.  Given my family history…tears were for those of lesser value.  The kinds of people who get picked on.  And, that was not for me.

I cried that night.  Thoughts rambling around, mixed with Dead tunes and burning incense.

One thought:

“Once you say out loud you are an addict.  That is it!  You are banned for life from enjoying a drug or a drink…ever again.”

I hold no one responsible for my illness.  And, yes, there had been lovers than neccessary.  As well as, a wife and children.

Awake and awakening…that morning, I saw part and parcel, the same shit different day.  I had dragged my partner from North Carolina to New Hampshire…promising…change.

Neither one of us found change.  You cannot always rebuild a love that has been hit with a shit stick.  Lesson learned!

“Once I used to believe
I was such a great romancer
Then I came home to a woman
That I could not recognize
When I pressed her for a reason
She refused to even answer
It was then I felt the stranger
Kick me right between the eyes”

Thing is, the woman I did not recognize had not been my wife.  It had been me!  Some serious decisions needed to be made.  A complete life change and the slightest misgiving that…I would have to take care of myself…for once.

The first week in February is tough, up north.  People are generous with their disdain for continued windchill factors.  The ice on the windowpane never melts.  And, the air seems stiff with indifference.

I believe my sobriety date is in and around Groundhog day!  I cannot be absolutely sure.  I could ask my ex wife.  However, after that fateful day…we did not do much intellectual chatter.

And, though, the room spun, the shakes made my insides feel like roadkill, I opened my eyes to ‘same kind of day, but slightly different’.

I stayed locked up in that room for a week.  The detox that time around had been much more physical and far more, mentally grueling.  My legs bare and barely movable, made it to the bathroom, the kitchen and back to the bed.  The sheets were laden with sweat and tears.

Different?  Just a tiny, fragment of an inch!

Oscar Wilde once said,

‘No good deed goes unpunished!’

Certainly he was right.  Yet, the morning seemed lighter.  Easier to take.  The bedroom mirror was not my enemy.  It had been an example of what good could come…if I work for it.

I suppose, with deep philosophical thought, it simply could have been that…I changed the prescription to my spiritual glasses.  Fortunate was I to know there had been a way out.  I know for a fact that those different days.  Days that do not come very often.  Those times when something is left of center…are a precept.  A saturating desire to believe in something greater than I.

15 years later, I still struggle.  But I struggle with life on life’s terms.  As do…most adults.

Help come with Faith

A New Hampshire Addict

Weaving Day- Michelle Shocked
Weaving Day-
Michelle Shocked

Sometimes there are little ghost towns with in the little villages. Small nuances, distorted realities of how life could have been. Burbs, set amongst small town chatter of even smaller small talk, discuss the ‘stuff that brings matter to life.’ Often, these shanties are often refered to as, rehabs. Tired stretches of road that hold a promise to the end of self imposed misery.

My posse frequents one such group of forgotten cottages , the Last House on the Road. The Last House is an old old old administration building. It had been part and parcel to an orphanage, that became a monastery and eventual, a catholic school. The drunks it current houses may know nothing of the vast history, other than, its tiny little well manicured cemetery devoted to townies, orphans from centuries past and occasional, nuns that have moved on to meet the maker.rehab recreation

I had attended a ‘low income’ rehab. I had no choice. I had no money. I had no insurance. I had no soul!

The day I entered rehab…after several weeks of detox and dubiously looking at what I had made of myself, in the non-breakable mirror; only one promise needed to by made and paid.

The action had not been to remain sober ’til my dying day. The plan had not been for a speedy recovery and devote myself to the betterment of addicts everywhere.

The promise had been simple:

I promise to pay back…Farnum Center…at least one dollar a day…until my room and board in recovery…has been paid back.

Honestly, the point had been simple, the sober powers that be knew most would not be able to ever pay…in full, what it costs to sober a dunk up and/or ween an addict off. To me, a dollar sign could never replace what rehab gives to those who are willing to let go of their will power. To be handed back a life. Whether you began your descent into the madness of addiction at 20 or 65! When clean and sober…everyone is returned to new born baby status. And, to be able to begin anew is a gift that has no price tag.

Back to the story at hand…the ‘promissory vow’ of one single monthly dollar in repayment, was the addiction counselor’s way of bringing the ‘small child’ back to adulthood. That by agreeing to payment…the addict has begun the teeny tiny steps towards making amends!

The State of New Hampshire has decided to revoke funding to ‘rehabs that tend to attend to the uninsured’! After next month, the 60 thousand dollars that aids to the functioning of non profit recovery centers…will be gone. Generally speaking, only the rich shall survive. After all, I’ve been ’round the recovery block a year or to…most who need the help the most…are not working, stable persons with insurance. Typically they are, unemployable but filled with talent, young people without support (because addiction is a family disease) and with holes in the bottom of their shoes.

How do I know? That had been me.

When I walk…meditate at the Last House…it helps me to not forget. The Last House is now part of a working farm which is part of a piece of N.H. Forest and Nature conservatory. The wonderful owners of the farm have allowed for the recovery center to take over some of the old and need of repair…buildings of history.

The dogs and I have seen crying young twenty somethings…suitcase packed…awaiting a ride…postponing the inevitable. Cabs from several towns over have sat outside the female housing unit…running in idle…again awaiting to whisk a recent ‘quitter’ away.

But…we have also seen small community gardens erected by persons that are participating in twenty eight to as long as you need, programs. We’ve passed groups of smiling faces on the dirt road that leads to the corn fields. They are happy, at ease and have a slight hitch in their ride. Their stride displays a promise to keep on keeping on…but is doing so with uncertainty.

My last day at rehab…we attended an outside meeting. The meeting hall filled with smoke. That should tell you how long ago I got sober. Coffee cups over flowed the card tables. Blue and gold velvet special message signs for special people… hung off the walls of particle board. It had been a lonely but lively room in a Unitarian basement.

As we, a crowd of graduates from the class of fall term 1995 Farnum Center, a plane flew overhead. It had a tailored lettered kite dragging behind…

nh is for quitters

‘We are here for you…Call today!’

Immediately, for I had been traveling in a pink cloud since the booze left my system, I realized that my conscience contact with my Higher Power…was receiving an answer.

The plane had been advertising a special for new car buyers. It need not have mattered. It could have been a sign for male enhancement. It had been a sign nonetheless.

The times have been rough. The times have been noteworthy. The days and nights filled with moments of being human…again.

The thing rehab promised me?

Life would be conducted sober and semi serene…It would not be easier!

Shit if I know what I would have done without detox and a program. I recall, at the time, my choice had been rehab or running a kitchen at a dude ranch in Montana with a bi-sexual couple…that wanted to make nice nice.

...there are some who say, you can look too hard.
…there are some who say, you can look too hard.

Shame on the state of New Hampshire. Shame on the powers that be. We have per ca-pita, the largest under aged addiction to alcoholism than any other state. Perhaps, New Hampshire will see their own sign. Perhaps, it will continue to come in the form of meth overdoses and prostitution and child abuse. Perhaps, the state will continue to have to pay for those addicts in other ways and forms.