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              It was a blustery weekend in Muskrat Flats. The wind was conducting a symphony as the poplars bordering the vineyard...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Our Primary Purpose.

I've been thinking about time lately. I'm pretty sure I've written about time before. Time keeps popping up as a subject these days.

"No time to lose," is what they say.

Others sing about time being "On my side."

Some of the old timers at the Odd Fellows Hall at the corner of Petersen and McKernan Streets, in Muskrat Flats proper, speak of "time being money," especially Sid Bartleby; he is kind of corny like that.

Then there is the big question. Often the question is asked confidently as if the inquisitor knows they are going to draw a favorable response. The tenor of the question can be intuitively modified to be phrased in a sympathetic and encouraging light, based upon the vibe of the situation. In other situations the question can be launched in the muddied quagmire of small talk, only to illicit a strained and sheepish response further sullying an already awkward situation.

This question being ... "How much time do you have?"

Is not such an unusual question. It is uttered in many different situations on a daily basis drawing responses such as:

"I've got five minutes before I have to pick up my kid."

"My schedule is clear. What can I do for you?"

"I'm running late. Perhaps we can do this tomorrow?"

In the "Iron Triangle," (the section of Muskrat Flats where you are perpetually on the other side of the tracks as it is bordered by train tacks on three sides) you may get a different response to this question, especially if you are standing outside of a 12-step meeting clutching a coffee in one hand and a Newport short in the other. Within the bounds of these circumstances, within the triangle, someone may reply:

"The Good Lord willing, I've got twenty years on the 3oth."

or "I've been clean for three days."

or my favorite:

"I was clean for Nine months, but I fucked up last week.

The last one is the response I gave last time someone asked me that question, almost nine months ago. I could have given a new response, one I picked up from on of my sponsee brothers,

"I've got the same amount of time you have, brother, I've got today."

This may sound like a smart ass answer to the outside observer, but when it really comes down to it I really can't ask for much more than that. In my world even one day clean is a freaking miracle and I'm not kidding.

As I watch a friend currently struggling with the disease -- how caught up they are; how the drugs just absolutely warp their sense of reasoning; how the drugs bastardize any semblance of normalcy they may have once experienced -- I remember where I was when I was in the same position.

I remember when I was so strung out that every day was a comedy of errors; a bizarre panorama, a faded and unfocused surrealistic landscape of shame and remorse filled self-loathing. I was a walking zombie on a mission to get high no matter what (If not high, at least to keep from getting sick). It didn't matter to what extent I jeopardized my life, my job, my child and everyone else who loved me and couldn't understand why I would choose to lead such an existence.

The funny part is, in my twisted up self-centered thinking, I couldn't understand why they couldn't understand. I mean, could they not see that I was sick? I had to use! I could not stop, otherwise I would get sicker. I wanted to get clean, but I wasn't about to get sick to do so. I was in the same position my friend is right now: I wanted to get clean, but I didn't want to suffer any consequences to do so.

Time - A dear friend of mine used to say, "You don't want what I got, cause I've got NO TIME."

I've been texting this friend of mine. Right now, my friend, who is struggling, has nothing but time on their hands. And that time is frittering away slowly, day by day. They don't want what I got, cause I've got no time for their shit. There is a simple solution to their problem.

Just Stop Using. That is the one common denominator shared by every recovering addict in the world. Just for one day, they stopped using. And they got up the next day, did it again, and again a third day. It is going to suck. You will feel like you have the worst flu you have ever had, but each subsequent day that you just focus on 24 hours of not using you will feel better. Although stopping is a big part, you also have to do something to to arrest the obsession to want to use and compulsion to go out and do so. That is where 12-step meetings helped me.

I did four medically supervised detoxes. One was an outpatient program prescribed by some quack I found in the yellow pages. I got higher on the shit he prescribed for me than I did with the junk I found on the street.

Since I had no guidance or suggestions from clean addicts as to how I could succeed I damn near killed myself when I did cave in after three days and picked up. A using buddy found me in the kitchen of my apartment, barely conscious, with a spike dangling from my bloodied arm. I am thankful they got me up and walking around instead of stealing my shit and leaving me there.

The next three detoxes I did -- the first shortly after the aforementioned debacle -- were in a locked ward. Sure, I could leave whenever I wanted but I didn't. Each time I got a little further along to discovering a permanent solution to my problem, which was me, not the drugs. I was -- and for the time being remain -- the problem.

In the end, when I finally walked away from the fence bordering that crimson poppy field, I did it cold turkey. I had no intention of stopping. I simply prayed to God and asked for help. Little did I know others were praying for me as well. That morning, instead of going out and copping, I just went back to bed and rode it out. The sweats, chills, the squirts, dry heaves, involuntary muscle spasms ... it sucked, but I did it.

I am praying that my friend makes it, because they know there is a better way to live.
I am praying for them; That is all I can do. No money, no rides, no hand holding. I have a hard enough time working my own program of recovery than to watch a loved one go through the hell of detox, putting myself at risk by being in the company of a sick, suffering, conniving manipulative, self centered addict who will do or say anything to get a fix. That would just be stupid on my part. I am not being judgmental when I say this; it is just the way it is. That is how we are when we are active.

I don't want to sound unsympathetic, but there are professionals out there who can do this ... because I KNOW that I can't. In my fellowship, our primary purpose is to carry the message to the addict who still suffers -- that message being that recovery is possible. However, this doesn't mean that I should put myself in harm's way.

My friend is not responsible for their disease, but they are responsible for their recovery, not me. I am praying for you, my friend. Consequences be damned, because right now they are not that bad. But I assure you, if you keep running, they will get worse. Can't you see that they already are?

The time to get clean is now, because Time is running out.

Yep, the time is running out about as quickly as I am ...

Running Hard Out of Muskrat Flats.

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