Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sincerity and Common Sense...

So let's say you just got out of a ten day detox and are back at home with your 6 year old kid. Life isn't so good - you have a cocaine habit and a shitty attitude and you get pissed off easily but you love the kid and want it to work out with the good guy husband even though he is a bit mamby pamby and your favorite response to "how do you like your coffee?' is "black, same as I like my men." but he puts up with your massive amounts of bullshit so you really mean it this time - no more coke, no more self indulgent out bursts - just stay clean and live sober. 

A week later -  who the fuck knows what happened, maybe you took a double dose of your meds and got confused  but you wake up and who knows what time it is but you need some food and there is an all night joint on the corner and hubby and the kid are asleep so you head out and order up some eggs but it turns out that the double dose of meds or whatever confused you and it it is not 1:00 AM it is like 5:00 AM and the kid woke up and the husband who works the night shift is not home so you rush back to your building and there are the sirens and the cops have your kid who had woken up and wandered in the building until a neighbor called the cops and they haul you into jail and now it is serious freak out time because the Judge doesn't care what your court appointed lawyer is saying about why you were not home and Judge probably figures you are a lying junkie anyway so boom, court order of protection - you cannot see or talk to your kid for at least 30 days and Child Protective Services is called. So fuck it, you get released from jail, go home grab a few items, some tools and jewelery and you sell like $2,000 worth of stuff for $200 of crack and you get high and the next day, strung out, you call the rehab and say - can I come back I really fucked up again.

And you go back to rehab and your roommate is nothing like the one you had last time - the accountant wife of a lawyer who was over doing the red wine at dinner but who you got along with like a sister - this new roommate is some sort of psycho who the other patients tell you is crazy. And when you wake up half your clothes are in her closet and the $31 in cash you had in your pocket is gone and you tell that bitch that if she does not give you your money back you are going to kill her. Now you are in rounds and being told that threatening violence is an automatic discharge but since they found $31 in the bitch roommate's pocket you can stay but your grounds privileges are revoked and you say- "What the fuck, she stole from me and I get punished? I was set up  - this is bullshit - if you make me eat lunch on the unit I am outta here."

And so here's the sincerity and common sense part of the story. There is this guy who volunteers on the unit. Bit of a nerd,  likes his coffee light, extra sweet. A nice guy, sort of bland but weirdly sincere and long on common sense no matter how crazy. And the common sense nerd  says "jeepers, in the scheme of things, isn't it like not really that big a deal that you have to eat on the unit instead of going to the cafeteria? I mean even if it is totally unfair and unjust, it somehow seems like not such a hardship, especially compared to some of the hardships you have endured and by the way, if you leave before you complete treatment you can pretty much forget about getting the order of protection revoked anytime soon. This self righteous thing you have going on, that is your disease, it is genius, it knows you did not do anything wrong, it knows the psycho bitch stole from you and it knows all you did was defend yourself.  so it gives you this irrefutable argument, it says you are right, it says fuck them, but that is because it knows you think being right matters, defending yourself matters, not being taken advantage of matters" ... but then the nerdy guy adds,  "wait a minute, does it matter? restricted to the unit vs. getting custody of your kid back, vs getting treatment, getting your $31 back vs. leaving here early and going out and using and getting busted again?" 

And she smiles (great smile, a million bucks right there)  and she says, "You are right, you know what, all I need is a cup of hot coffee and then I will be fine, I will have lunch on the unit". And nerd says, "Great I will get you a cup of coffee, how do you take it?"  and she says, "large and black, like my men."  You bring her coffee, she says thanks. Nerd says, "See you tomorrow".

Nerd goes home. Wonders if she will beat up the roommate tonight and get kicked out and not be there tomorrow when he comes back.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Quote of the week - Franzen on Wallace...

Jonathan Franzen eulogized author David Foster Wallace after his suicide at age 46 in 2008 saying that "Wallace challenged apathy with Molotov cocktails of bottomless empathy born out of the heart's revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are".

Thursday, May 3, 2012

This I Know For A Fact...

I recently met a young woman who is 31 years old, a mother of 8 year old twin boys one of whom died four months ago due to an accident. Since the accident the woman has been taking ever increasing, excessive amounts of anti anxiety meds and drinking alcohol heavily. Got to the point of a psychotic depression, voices telling her about friends that are evil and God assuring her she did nothing wrong.  Amazingly sad and, as is the case with a despairingly high percentage of addicts and mentally ill, not likely to end easily or well. Sometimes there is justice, sometimes there is mercy, sometimes there is neither.  As an aside, I want to add that she has a noticeably dignified countenance, a kind of sparkle and smile that would be described in anyone else as attractive but under her circumstances seems regal.

Here is an observation: There are lots of reasons people use drugs but all those reasons can be put into two categories -  to increase pleasure or to avoid pain. And pain and pleasure can be sub divided into three categories: physical, emotional and spiritual.

Substances can enhance pleasure and diminish pain and the vast majority of humans use chemicals (like alcohol) in moderation and are able to control their use and for them moderate ingestion helps them relax, take the edge off,  make them a little looser socially, feel more creative and connected, lessen pain etc.  - all with no negative consequences. But there are a percentage of humans who, for whatever reason, cannot control their use. (By the way, while pleasure is a common reason to use chemicals it seems to me that most addicts use chemicals primarily to lessen pain (whether because addicts'  pain is greater than most people can bear (as is the case of the woman I mentioned above who lost her son, or because addicts are more sensitive to or have some sort of diminished capacity to tolerate pain, I do not know). Those people become hooked and after a while use not to get high but just not to feel sick.  Their  lives are taken over by a compulsion that will, unless stopped, eventually kill them and before they die will make them and everyone who loves them suffer horribly.  They can be helped. (I know this for a fact). And if they get sober I believe they (and those who love them) often appreciate their sobriety and are grateful for the everyday in ways that are, not for nothing, described as miraculous (I know this for a fact as well).  


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