“O God of Earth and Altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die,
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.”
(G. K. Chesterton; English Hymnal)
Just a babe in the black abyss,
No reason for a place like this,
The walls are cold and souls cry out in pain,
An easy way for the blind to go,
A clever path for the fools who know
the Secret of the Hangman – the smile on his lips.
The light of the Blind – you’ll see,
The venom tears my spine,
The Eyes of the Nile are opening – you’ll see.
‘Fuck you; I’m tired of your bullshit. I wish you were dead!’
‘If your man enough, pull the trigger.’
My hands didn’t shake like I thought they would. I was on something…drugs, anger, both. My step dad sat on the stairs of the run down farmhouse in the middle of fucking nowhere Ohio in which we called ‘home’. I had the barrel of a 410 shotgun to his face. I was mad, pissed at him, my life, and the whole fucking show. There was no way out of this town, this life, except to kill him and go to jail.
He slowly lifted his hands and grabbed the barrel. ‘Here I’ll help you.’ He stuck the barrel in his mouth and I could only hear my mother wailing in the background. Everything else sounded like my ear was to a seashell, that drone of a noise we are told is the sea by people with nothing better to do than fool children. Time stood still as my finger sat on the trigger. There was a funny taste in the back of my throat and time stopped. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t blow his head off the way I wanted to see it done like in the movies. I was a lot of things, but I wasn’t a killer.
I pulled the gun back and set it in the corner. He looked at me and said, ‘I knew you was a pussy all along, now get the fuck upstairs’. I went up the steps and walked past the room my 3 sisters slept in and into the room I shared with my half brother. Decorated in 1980’s heavy metal posters I learned the art of fantasy and expectations. So I went and endured the embarrassment of living in a below poverty level home with a mom who had lost her mind, a man who couldn’t read and had no job, and a house full of kids who weren’t my brothers or sisters. I listened to Iron Maiden albums and dreamed of Los Angeles. I would be a rock and roll star someday and shake the dust of this god-forsaken town off my shoes. I would be somebody.
I had been through treatment and somehow survived early recovery. I was back at work and trying not to let my mouth overload my ass. I had found a sponsor which is someone who helps mentor new people in recovery, and was going to 12 Step Meetings on a regular basis. My children slowly began to talk to me again and my wife after her initial vent of rage seemingly allowed recovery to work its ‘magic’. Life seemed like it could be approachable, but I had no idea of how to live.
For some, the idea of abstinence is recovery. For those who aren’t addicted it is merely a matter of stopping the use. I have learned it was much more than stopping the use as it was why I used to begin with. Change doesn’t occur overnight and neither have I. Life seems to show up when we least expect it. There was a series of events that occurred in early recovery that paved the way for my thought process to see that life is so much bigger than me.
I was called into my boss’s office on a Friday and was told my services were no longer required. I sat across from him and thought to myself, ‘After all I have done for this motherfucker and this is what I get?’ Nevermind I had virtually blown off the entire last year I had ‘worked’ for him by showing up to collect a check. I was stunned but not suprised. I thought it was a joke, just like he had thought I was the joke costing him revenue. I soon realized as I was packing my desk that I would have to go home and tell my wife of another failure. I had worked for him for 11 years. I was considered at one time to be prominent in my position. As I left the thought came to me that this was the first job I had lost as a direct result of my use.
Granted I wasn’t fired immediately at the request of treatment during my tenure. It was made known that I was ‘Damaged Goods’. My prominence had quickly turned to ‘Liability’. I soon found myself as some of us have; tying my self-worth onto what I did for a living and it was evident that depression was soon to set in. It would come to me later that a job is simply what I do to make money, it isn’t who I am. I received many pieces of advice from friends. That I should take that summer off, or that I should go to school. I did neither; instead I went to the pool and got a tan. Life was good and soon thoughts of grandeur began to invade my life again.
I thought that I could hang out. I thought maybe I could go back to old places, maybe see some old faces. It has been my experience that association on any level with old people, places, and things will certainly lead to difficulty in recovery if not relapse. I have watched far too many addicts manipulate themselves through thinking that they can cling to these patterns only to find themselves in the same horrible set of circumstances as when they arrive to recovery.
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