Thank you for dropping by.
I have developed a condition,
which I swore I'd never contract,
known as an
Attitude of Gratitude...
ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
It's amazing the things I can resent.
I would even begrudge a favour, because I was in the position of needing a favour. But it was the favour-giver who got the brunt of it - I just got the bag of food, the money in the bank, the lift home, the counselling, etc, etc...
But, again the surreal journey ploughs on. A couple of years ago, my flat was a shell, with no rug, no telly, no plants, no piano, in fact not much at all that would count as soft furnishings, or 'nice items'. Now, though, I am sitting here listening to the criciet on the radio, Australia vs Afghanistan, with Australia crashing many a ball to, and over, the boundary. It's a bit like addiction, isn't it children...?
Not so long ago, I was that poor cricket-ball, being dented, scuffed, and generally contorted by the brutal onslaught of the Aussie-batsman of addiction. It was as if I had no say in where I'd be sent next, into the crowd, into the ice-cream kiosk, up onto the pavilion balcony. And then, game over, I'd be discarded by the umpire as just another dented, misshapen, withered bundle of leather. Even my counsellors, friends, and colleagues in twelve-step fellowships, were the poor Afghani bowlers, trying to put my in the right position, so as not to get dispatched to the boundary, but to limited avail. They sometimes helped me get the odd dot ball, i.e. a delivery that's not scored off, or maybe sometimes I'd just be nurdled round the corner to backward square-leg for a single, but can you imagine being smashed around for a whole day by an Aussie wielding a willow club?
New paragraph, and I think I'd better dispense with the cricketing analogy. But somehow, in the past two years, crack, my primary addiction, compulsion, drug of utter defeat, doesn't seem to come into my thoughts very much, or, if it does, it's like a prompt that's more easily ignored, put aside, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, and I guess most importantly, I just don't seem to desire it as much as I did. Of course, with a few blank days in my calendar, a low, pent-up, angry mood, and I could, no, probably would be at risk, but I like to think that now I'd follow that wise line I heard in NA, when one is feeling so sexually caged that it's agony, that line being 'when in doubt, knock one out'. Because, for me, and I know for other men, and I think some women too, crack replaced the sex-life I wasn't having. I was introduced to it in a sexual setting, me and a working-girl in Westbourne Park, and it was as if the inner-orgasm that crack gave me, at least in the early days, trumped the actual act of sex, the climax itself. Although it prompted me to want to get sexual, five minutes in I'd want another pipe, and that would usually put pay to any progress in the field of physical intimacy. What's more, the other person would usually be mad as a hatter, and something crazy would happen to postpone proceedings, like there'd be a mad knock at the door, a voice would be heard through the wall, that would be the cue for a bout of paranoia and curtain-twitching. Either way, crack became my surrogate sexual partner, quick, intense, and intensely disappointing.
But there are other reasons why it doesn't appeal anymore. Maybe it's also that I've simply 'had enough'. Maybe my brain, my heart and mind, are 'rinsed out', can't actually respond like they did to the chemical commandments of crack. A counsellor, an ex-addict himself, suggested this might be the case, and used himself as an example. Also, I've managed to slot a few commitments into my week - the picture above is of a purse, currently for sale in the charity-shop I now volunteer in. I thought the words were appropriate. There is such a broad spectrum of people there, from middleclass ladies with an spare afternoon from motherhood or jam-making, a guy who lives in a hostel, who smokes a lot, and may well have been, or even still be, a user himself - and everything in between. But I do genuinely feel lucky, privileged even, to be among them, and to have a humble function in mainstream society. And it doesn't feel like things have changed much since I was 20 or so, back in the late 80s - people have pretty similar views on things, race, gayness, politics in general, music is still most tripe, but with some good stuff worth unearthing, and the general rhythm of life seems the same, rush-hour in the morning, and then at five, and people congregating in All Bar Ones to get vaguely plastered and shout at each other across long tables. Waterstones still exists, as does M&S, ASDA, and all the family favourites. I guess Liddell and Aldi are new, and Woolworths has gone, but Poundland is the new Woolworths, they say, and I think that's a fair comparison. It's not like I fell out of life before the second world war, to return in the 60s, which I'm sure would have been quite a culture-shock. No, life now seems pretty similar to 20 years ago - mobile phones are smaller, and the internet's better, but otherwise, people seem pretty much how they were. And this makes me relieved, but also said, because I often reflect now on how I've been a marginal figure, merely observing, in a blurred way (due to my sight), the mainstream world fizz by, in cars, on bikes, swerving on the pavement out my way when they spot the white cane, or pacing along looking at their phone, and often bumping into me with copious apologies, on spotting the cane. The world is still treating me well, and seems to like me, on the whole.
I said and did some confusing and hurtful things during my using, and some bridges may never be repaired, and there is sadness, a true sense of mourning for lost friends, opportunities (mostly romantic), and a sense that I now need to hurry up to the point of frenzy to 'catch up' to where I would have been if fifteen years had not gone down the pan because of addiction. My life is still in the early stages of reconstruction, and I'm trying not to rush, because I've noticed it gets me nowhere. I have a nice group-therapy group I go to, which is proving helpful, especially seeing that I'm not bolting for crack between sessions, I even organise a comedy-night in the pub opposite my flat, which is a dream come true, albeit a terrifying one, at times. I even have a few coffee-shop chums who I chat to, and sometimes do the crossword with. I'm writing, going to a poetry group, meeting new people, and, as it was in the past, they seem to like me - but I hope I'm a better version of what I was even before the drugs came along, and know I'm an upgrade of the addicted, addled, virus-ridden me. And, in short, I find myself more than relieved, but actually grateful (a word I barely type, even now). I played my part in this transition, of course, but I do feel that other 'forces' were behind me, either side of me, leading me forward, like a quartet of angels flanking, protecting me, guiding me on - and I hope they continue to do so. And, as ever, wherever, whoever you are, I say again, if it can happen for me, it can happen for you. I think desire, and doggedness, and the ability to get up after a knockback, are important, and a little faith, in whatever you choose to believe in, and however you chose to understand that word. There's no one-size-fits-all exit from addiction, but there is an exit for everyone, I'm sure of it, if they want it.
So there we go, that's my little contribution for today. And, as usual, here is one of my songs on youtube, if you would like to have a listen...just click on the title...Windswept.
Thanks for letting me share.