The Drug First, Family Second
If you had a chance to read my last article “A Painful Goodbye” – you know that I grew up with both parents, grandparents and great grandparents; all married till death did them part. So imagine the feeling becoming the first catholic member of the family to have a divorce. Imagine sitting in an empty house with pictures of what was once a young family living the “American dream.” A short-lived dream replaced with domestic violence, infidelity, and the occasional black outs. Why? Was it because I was too young to take care of a family, was it the fact I went from sitting in History class to fatherhood and marriage? No, that would be the easy way out, the painless way to not take accountability for my drinking. The fact is I found a love like no other, I had arrived to a place of comfort. I used to call it my “Southern Comfort.” A comfort that I alone could feel, as for those around me, well let’s just say comfort was the last feeling on their list.
Years go by, women come into my life long enough for me to push them out. The pure shame of my actions only led to more drinking, more drugs and less me. I completely lost myself. I became a shell of a man, a little boy living in a malnourished body. Living in the basement of what was once my town house my life took a drastic turn. No, wait, my physical health took the turn as I remained in hell. I used to always say “every time you tell God to go to hell, he stays and you go instead,” I must have cursed him a thousand times a day. As I was lying on my mold ridden mattress in this damp dingy basement I took my last line of cocaine, EVER. The woman of the week was with me and quickly rushed me to the hospital, at the time I had no idea the severity of my diminishing health. Not that I cared to be honest. My 3 to 4 meals a week was simply because It was force-fed by my “friends.” I was 6’3” weighing in at a whopping 152 lbs. If you know average weight for my height is 195 to 205. So needless to say my once athletic abilities were nonexistent. My parents walk into the hospital, an hour or so passes and I’m being rushed to O.R. The Doctor without any remorse mentions to my panicked father that this kid is not going to make it. Again God intervened and 7 days later I woke up with several tubes in my throat, my hands strapped to the bed and two pen marks on my neck drawn up for surgery. You’re probably thinking how scared I was upon waking. How the tears in my father’s eyes affected my thought process? You’re probably thinking I felt so lucky to be alive. Well, my initial thought was pain, seeing those tears in my father’s eyes and hearing my mom cry. Second thought, how do I get more and how the hell am I going to use it tied up in this bed? I had zero disregard after that for any family members, their concerns, feelings or wishes for me. I did not care that I was awakening from a coma or that I nearly lost my life. It was drugs first, family later.
A few years go by and I find myself alcohol and cocaine free, I lost all desire to drink or use. The obsession had been lifted! Lifted by the hands of pain killers and heroin. My daughter now turning into a young woman, a girl without a single bad bone in her body is now the daughter of a man dependent on heroin. At this point in my life, I now have 3 beautiful kids, 3 disappointed and angry single mothers and parents on the verge of planning their first born funeral. At this point in my life I hated the idea of living, I had given up all hope of becoming a father and I wanted nothing to do with life. I wanted back in that coma, the kind you don’t wake up from. At this point in my life I hurt everyone I loved, I’ve lost trust from all my friends and family. I’m in and out of detoxes and rehabs, I’m living on stranger’s couches and in my car. I see my kids once a month and mostly through pictures. My life had become nothing but an udder inconvenience. While the business end of a 9mm or the crisp cold taste of a Remington 12 gauge had no effect on me, neither did the terrified faces of my kids. The countless nights of utter disappointment and tears, the dozens of missed calls from loved ones. I had reached a point where nothing mattered anymore and death became the most attractive place to be. My chances of making it to heaven was slim to none, but I’ll tell you right now that Hell had nothing on my daily life on earth. I was ready and willing, to die.
My point in all this is that a lot of people wonder why their loved one steals from them, why they lie and cheat. Again this is coming from my personal experience. I’m no therapist or doctor, I’m a person that didn’t die and found a way to not want to. That’s it. My hopes in describing my mental state during active use is that some may realize how serious this disease is, again the only disease that tells you that you don’t really have a disease.
Let’s set a few things straight, a lot of you may think after reading that, “wow this guy was a dead beat, heartless man”. He was selfish by having kids when he couldn’t manage himself. Truth is I never stopped loving my family. My little Hannah was my world, my everything, the only girl to ever stand by me and never leave. My father was my best friend, my idol and the man I only wished to be half of. My mother and I fought countless times because she cared and was watching her son not only physically dying but mentally and spiritually just dying. Point is, I loved them all, I loved them, I loved them, I loved them. I hated me and I loved the way substances made it easier to live in my skin. I have no idea about the science behind it, you know with the opioid receptors and the brain’s activity while using and withdrawing off drugs. No, all I know is my first thought every day was the same. Who am I going to have to hurt today to get high, who will I have to lie to, steal from or manipulate? Literally my first thought every single morning. The moment that drink or drug was ingested I was on the phone calling everyone, filling their hearts and minds with lies. “Yes mom, I’m fine, I’m living in a nice sober house in the city,” No dad I haven’t used drugs in days and work is going great, I promise!” Meanwhile I’m on the other end freezing cold in a truck I call home, dope bags scattered through the car and blood stains on the seats from the countless needles. I found myself happy, content, and able once the drugs entered my body. There was no task too big and no job I couldn’t do! It’s now 15 to 20 minutes later and I’m planning my next victim to vomit lies on. This happened over and over again, every single day. The amount of energy it takes to get and stay high is incredible. The average person would more than likely need a nap mid-day.
My point is, no matter who is in your way, your mother, father, wife, kids, the obsession is so strong it consumes you. For me, it was as if I saw my family and those closest to me, as strangers. People who will always forgive me no matter what. All along they were my victims. My pawns in the deadliest game of chess known to man. We have the option to self-medicate, over medicate in order to cover our guilt, fears and actions. Just please know, as soon someone sobers up that pain is there. It’s there and its deep. All the hurt we have caused, all the crimes we have committed, they are still there. This is why it’s crucial for someone to seek treatment after detox. There is a point when there is little to no clarity. I would have never taken anything in if I first did not have those 60 days with a therapist. Also know and I’m sure many will agree, treatment is but a tiny grain of sand in one’s foundation. It is not and will never be the end all.