Guest post

“It won’t happen to me”

or

Party animal

I live on a steel bunk in a warehouse. Everything I own in this world is in the footlocker beneath me. It ain’t much; a photo album, a stack of letters, a few books. I’ve been in prison 10 years this time. My release date is 2032. A few hazy, drug-soaked months of strip bars, casinos, and fast living cost me most of my adult life.

I run across old friends and associates from that era on the yard sometimes. They look bad — rotten teeth, track marks, gnawed nails on shaky hands. They give me news of other old friends who weren’t as lucky: overdoses, shootings, suicides. Occasionally I’ll recognize the names of women in the arrest report of my hometown newspaper. Those wide-eyed college girls who were just beginning to experiment with coke and ecstasy in 2003 are now haggard streetwalkers, hardened repeat-offender prostitutes.

This is the natural evolution of drug abuse. Cause and effect. I know you’re thinking it won’t happen to you. I thought I was an exception too. Believe me, no one plans on destroying their life and coming to prison. No little kid daydreams about growing up to rob gas stations for dope money, or getting doused with pepper spray and beaten half to death by abusive guards in a confinement cell, or dying alone in a motel room with a needle in his arm… We call getting high “partying” and like any party, there’s always a mess when the party is over. In fact, the bigger the party, the bigger the mess.

The irony is that the kids we label squares and lames and dorks because they refuse to party grow up to be the doctors who resuscitate us when we overdose, the psychologists who attempt to help us put our broken lives back together, the lawyers who represent us in court when we’re arrested, the judges who sentence us to prison, and the men who step into our families and become the fathers and husbands we failed at being.

So if you’re 15 (or 17 or 24) and you’re popping bars, snorting Roxys or dabbling in meth or molly or whatever, this is what middle-aged drug life looks like. Guaranteed. And if you think it won’t happen to you, we can talk more about it when you move into my dorm. The bunk behind mine is open right now. We’ll leave a light on for you. The one from the gun tower.

From a brother of a brother @ malcolmivey.com

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Are you hungry?

I find myself ever increasing, in being aware of an emptiness in my soul. My spirit has been touched by God, of course. I am a Christ-follower.

But, still, there is such a longing for more. More of Him. More of His Spirit. MORE. The Word says that we can have as much of the Holy Spirit as we WANT.

How much do you want?

This world has beauty, and it has joyous celebrations, and peaceful moments. The Bible talks about how we think we are healthy and happy, and have all that we need. In fact, we, without Jesus, are quite the opposite. We are lower than the beggars on the street, that we try not to see.

But…I know that there is more. I have personally experienced it. Then, I was led away, back to the familiar. Sure, it was my choice, but I went.

If you are a seeker of Truth, if this world does not fulfill the deepest desires of your heart…you know, when you’re lying in bed and you wonder “is this all there is?”, then I hope you will listen to this.

Ask Him to speak to your heart, a little louder. And then respond when you hear Him.

I plan to.

“See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal me.” -R. Daltrey

Hello, family! 

I’ve missed you so much!

I began a job several months ago, doing what I do 😉, and haven’t been here (primarily) because I have to be very careful about what I talk about. 

I’ve been able to get to at least 2 meetings a week, and it’s been an unbelievable blessing.  Left to my own devices, I don’t spend time with other people. After my current employment began, I was reminded of the things I had been missing by isolating.

I missed seeing other miracles and being seen as one, myself. I missed the feelings of being “a part of” and acceptance. In isolating, I was not where I was supposed to be.

Now, I get to use every gift God’s given me, each time I clock in. I expose my scars and bandage up client’s, every day.  The Big Book says we “will not regret the past”, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be completely THERE, but there’s no question that it’s the painful experiences of my past which allow me to come alongside those “still suffering”. 

They say that the Human Services field has among the top burn-out rates of any occupation. I can see that. With that in mind, I daily pour myself out in the name of (love) lifting up individuals that, to be honest, most people wouldn’t even want to talk to. I know that God has placed me where I am, and I am full of gratitude for being used by Him. I actually get paid to share my experience, strength and hope with men & women who have none of their own! 

Is it always a cake walk? Oh, heck no. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been beat up, by the end of the day. I reckon that’s why they call it “work”.

I truly don’t have words to adequately describe how it feels to see the flicker of hope in their eyes, when they realise that they’re not alone, and that someone understands and cares. 

So, that’s a synopsis of my last 6 months. How have you been?  

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Here’s a news flash: getting clean/sober is difficult. Right? That’s what many alkie/druggies will tell you. And, not unlike the feeling you get while preparing to jump into frigid water, once it’s done and over with, it’s not as scary as you may have thought.  

In the same way that our minds magnify the anticipated discomfort of the chilled water on exposed flesh, our addicted mind launches a massive campaign to convince us that going without our “medication” will be bad at the least, and more likely, downright unbearable. 

Truth is, there may be moments in early sobriety where it  does feel unbearable. And, there will also be moments that can only be described as exhilarating. 

You will never know how strong you are until you test yourself.

In my personal experience, when I have considered jumping into water that is anything but warm, the biggest motivation is that there is someone already in the water calling me to join them. If they’re encouraging me to come in, there’s one thing I can be sure of: it didn’t kill them.  

The primary reason that I don’t WANT to feel the water is simple: I have some recollection of the last time I was immersed in cold water, and it was absolutely NOT in my comfort zone. Nope. Not even close to it. Similarly, the times when I’d gone without any mood-altering chemicals were also uncomfortable in a BIG way. 
It was only after concluding that it was the only viable option, that I decided to stop using. The way I approached it was like learning to swim after finding myself in the deep end of the pool. Since I wasn’t doing a very good job (at life) on the shore, it seemed like a no-brainer that I should do what I was told by those who had been keeping their heads above water for a while. I learned to keep some distance between myself and other Newbies, because they could easily pull me under and cause me to drown. 

Staying in close contact with others walking the same path has been crucial to my recovery. In my experience, the statistics are true: 1/36 of us will STAY sober. It could be even less than that, I don’t know. But keeping my butt in places where I was continually reminded of what life was like before, saved my life. And being around old-timers gave me such hope and inspiration. 

If you think about it, we have very selective recall. I need to be taken back to how it USED to be, and hearing other people sharing about how it was terrible and horrific for them, just like it was for me, proves to me that even with slight variations on the theme, it’s still gonna SUCK. 

Anyway, it’s not easy to radically change every aspect of your life. It’s scary and uncomfortable. Easy would be staying with the status quo, not rocking the boat. Similarly to victims of domestic violence, the KNOWN insanity is more appealing than the UNKNOWN, cos, really, what if it’s WORSE? I’ve been there. 

If you’re miserable enough where you are, you will eventually break through that fear, and get the hell out. You don’t have to wait until you’ve been traumatized and scarred to allow yourself an opportunity to see if perhaps there is Something Good out there waiting for you. 

Even if you don’t know how to swim, I know of a LOT of people (myself included) who will be happy to lend you a life raft. Just let us know that you’re about to jump, and we will be there to help you hold your head above water. 

Written from my cabin in the mountains.