Not A Local

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Image: Larisa-K Pixabay

It was late on a Thursday in May 2005…  I was headed out to see a band in Chicago. I needed to drive over seven hundred miles to clear my head – that’s what I told myself.  It was a 1,400-mile round trip so I brought about two hundred dollars worth of cocaine with me. So in retrospect, the whole “I gotta clear my head” thing was bullshit.

I was remarkably good at telling lies that even I started to believe my own untruths. Go figure.

So let me back up for a moment. There was this thing called MySpace back in the day and it was like Facebook but more personalized. So, I got to talking to this guy on there about music and he told me about this band and I had to see them because they were so good.

Like, amazing.

Where do you live? I typed as I popped some pills and washed them down with coffee.

I’m in Indiana; not too far, he typed back.

It’s not exactly local. That’s over 700 miles from here! 

Come on, you’ll never get to see these guys. This is the closest they’ll ever be to you.

I thought they were from Chicago?? I questioned. Was this guy a serial killer trying to trick me?

Yeah, but they’re playing Detroit. 

After considerable investigation, I justified that Detroit was closer than Chicago or Indiana (where my new friend lived) and well, hey, I could sure use a vacation from my self-inflicted drama. Right? Plus, if the guy was a serial killer, I factored in my height and the fact that I can go “crazy bitch” face in two seconds. He won’t want to mess with me after that.

So, off I went on a dreamy car ride at the end of May, missing my eldest daughter’s fifteenth birthday while I drove west on the highway – stopping at every single rest stop on the way, which would cost me two hours total.

In hindsight, what I should have done was woman the fuck up and stay local for my kids. But no, I was too busy feeling sorry for myself because I relapsed in February, lost my home two weeks later and then to ice the bitter cupcake of self-pity, my boyfriend committed suicide in late March which devastated me.

Instead of staying and dealing, I guess I figured bailing on everyone that mattered to me was the thoughtful thing to do. Right? Self-righteousness and insolence were the train cars of the year back then.

2005 was the year before I got sober and after going through the index cards and flashbacks in my mind, I can say it was certainly one of the worst years of my life. Instead of sticking around the homestead, I bailed and traveled halfway across the country to hang with people I never met and find out how their local lives went from day to day.

Ironically, the guy who I befriended was in recovery (which I guess was some sort of sign from above – but I didn’t give two shits) and while I couldn’t grasp his whole clean living phase, I was still mindful to keep my drugs in the car and away from him.

Gosh, I was so thoughtful.

Everywhere I went people pointed out to me that I was not a local… and I wasn’t sure how they knew but it started making me uncomfortable. Like, so what I wasn’t a local? How do you know this? I found out later it was because A) I talked different than the Midwesterners did and oh yeah, B) I had a Pennsylvania license plate on a green ’98 Dodge Intrepid with heavy metal band stickers all over the ass end.

Ugh.

I try to stay pretty local these days… the furthest I have been from home since I got sober is Pittsburgh for a tattoo convention my husband worked. I’m sure at some point I will venture further out, but staying local has its perks.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/local/

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The Game

 

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Image: Pixabay

 

I commit to myself

I commit to you

I commit to whatever

You tell me to do

I’m rough around the edges

And chilled to the bone

No more spark in my eye

Cruel seeds have been sown

There is something inside

Palpable and fearsome

I can’t let you touch it

The Joker of my kingdom

We commit to the game

Joker and Pauper

Get a load of me

And get a load of the horror.

© 2017 DAMSteelman

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/commit/

The Journey or the Finish

 

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Image: Pixabay

Short Story – I had to commit to the journey or the finish… I wasn’t even sure what that meant when they told me to check one box. 

“Only check one box. If you check both boxes they’ll send you to the back of the line and you’ll have to start over,” a shaggy man in a red flannel whispered.

I glanced around the open space at people sitting and standing – everyone around me looked like the shaggy man – as some filled out forms and others sat in rickety chairs held together by wire and clothespins.

“What is this place?” I whispered back. I felt like I had been running for my entire life what with my palpable exhaustion oozing out of me like a stench-filled puss and I was surprised, shocked really, that after all that running this is where I ended up.

He furrowed his brow and slunk his shoulders and I got a strange vibe.

I leaned in closer and asked in a barely audible voice, “Is that what happened to you?”

He nodded twice as his shoulders drooped so low I thought he’d fold into himself and then his eyes shifted to the left.

Naturally, I too, looked left and then saw an enormous and elongated creature leaning against a textured wall that looked like rice, but how could there be a wall of rice? It made no sense – none of this made sense. This creature had six limbs yet it stood upright with twelve eyes (I counted) and all it did was hiss and spit at anyone who moved too slow.

Was I dreaming? Was I fucking high? What the hell was going on?

Finally, it was my turn and I bid my strange friend ado as I walked up to the long table and stated my name.

“Which is your commitment? The journey or the destination?” one of the three creatures at the table asked, holding a box to its chin.

“Why do I have to commit? What if I change my mind?” I answered. A stabbing pain shot up my spine and I wiggled as I tried not to fall to the floor.

“Which is your commitment?” a second creature asked after holding a box to its chin.

A million thoughts flashed through my mind in a second but the biggest one was: How could I commit to the finish when I had no idea what I was starting? What would be between there and here? What if I just ended up at the finish and I hated it?

“I commit to the journey,” I stated and puffed out my chest and looked in all twelve eyes.

There was silence followed by a growing buzz of voices.

The creature stared at me and then placed the box on the table and raised four of its limbs to the air.

My heart raced as it climbed out of its prospective spot and lodged in my throat. Damn, I’m a goner. 

“Only rare specimens commit to the journey. Good luck Mr. Walker,” the creature hissed as it held that box to its throat.

The air swirled and popped and then I fell through the floor into the black.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/commit/

Paper and Blood – A Personal Essay

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Image: dreamstime.com

Personal Essay — In my bedroom on a warm, summer day – listening to Pink Floyd – ‘The Final Cut’ – I laid in bed, bawling my eyes out while I wrote on pieces of loose leaf paper about how much my life sucked.  I had gotten the cassette tape from a boy who had no business being friends with someone my age. Looking back, I’m pretty sure he was a creepy lover of tween girls, but we stopped talking by summer’s end, so it didn’t matter.

Anyway, at thirteen, I didn’t really understand the concept of suicide. I just knew I hated my life, I was ugly and no one loved me.

Back to the pieces of loose leaf paper. I don’t remember verbatim what I wrote, but I still have vivid flashbacks of being in my childhood bedroom – painted sunflower yellow – while posters of heavy metal bands, Madonna, and a pennant for the 1980 Phillies crusted those walls like a prerequisite to an underage life crisis.  Sitting beside the stack of Motley Crue, Def Leppard and Pink Floyd cassette tapes were my trusty stuffed animals adorably named Donna and Leo.

The paper was atop whatever magazine I had that day… probably a music magazine as I kept replaying and writing the words down that boy said to me:

you’re ugly. I don’t like you. you’re too weird. I tricked you. 

I found a razor blade in my dad’s top dresser drawer at some point previously. The steel was now hot between my thumb and finger  — I had held it so long just staring at the words on the paper, it felt like a part of me. Those words had to be factual, after all. I mean, I was thirteen years old and didn’t fit in with anyone; hell, even my parents didn’t pay me any mind. Those words made sense; they made everything fit.
I waited until the title track to the cassette tape came on: The Final Cut.

This is absolutely one of the saddest songs I know. I played it over… and over… and over… until I was able to sing the song while I sobbed all over myself and the words on the paper. I took that razor blade and cut my right wrist… then my left.

They weren’t large, gaping wounds (those would come later in life) but more so little slits surely significant enough to bleed.  There I was sobbing and bleeding for what seemed hours (more like forty minutes) waiting for someone to come in my bedroom and tell me I was none of those things on the paper. I needed to hear someone tell me I was worthy and loved… even at thirteen years old.

At some point, the written pain on paper became suffocated in my blood; surely I would feel faint and start to die at any moment. I needed a do-over.

Nope.

I was carted off to my paternal grandmother’s – a seasoned woman who smoked long cigarettes and drank vodka and orange juice – where she gave me vitamin E pills to burst open and rub on my wrists.

I assumed (from watching after school specials I guess) that after a kid tries to die on purpose, that maybe we talk about it or take me somewhere to talk to someone…

Nope.

The truth was, teen suicide wasn’t a thing then. All I got for my first suicide attempt was bandaged wrists and some lousy vitamin E pills… oh, and all my Pink Floyd tapes were taken away, because yeah, it was the music’s fault.

Isn’t it always the music’s fault.

Relieved to Just Be

 

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Image: Pixabay

Relieved to just be

To just be me is enough

I don’t have to pretend

My masks are destroyed

The lies burned away

I can exhale

And smile

This life

This gift

I squandered it once

But I got a second chance

And here I am

Living the dream

What a relief

I got another shot

To live another life

To chase another dream

Blessed is my soul

To swell

To love

To hope

So relieved… to be alive.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/relieved/

©2017 DAMSteelman

Sobriety Around Non-Sober People

As a former trainwreck of society, I dumped my share of toxic damage on many loved ones and even a few strangers while sifting through my twenty year ‘it’s not me, it’s you’ phase. It was something I was ashamed of after a sober realization in the middle of the night when I sat up in bed screaming, “I am a monster bound for a sweltering hell!” But after successful and even a few unsuccessful amends to those tied to my ‘train tracks of redemption’ I see my part in all of it. When I was still actively using, I wore a mask of self-righteous indignation, and I destroyed anyone who didn’t cosign my bullshit.

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Image: WikiImages

Fast-forward eleven years, and through hard work, determination and a lot of ‘for fuck’s sake’ moments, I have seen the error of my behavior and have now crossed the bridge to unwillingly watching non-sober people try to live their non-sober lives.

I am not talking about people who drink casually or have wine with dinner a couple of times a week. Drowning in addiction is a terrifying thought… and it isn’t something that becomes apparent immediately, which is more terrifying. Most times, we have no idea there is a problem until it is too late. Although every knock on the door is a storm of chaos and turmoil saying “What’s the worst that could happen?” we do not possess the ability to recognize we are the eye of that storm until it literally destroys our life.

“But for the Grace of God, there go I.”

I am currently working on a memoir because my story is important; it is important for me to write as much as it is important for people to read. Hell, it is possible as you read this you know someone who just cannot get their shit together – maybe they hide bottles in the house and car – or maybe it is you. I share my story to help those who are still sick and suffering.

When I run into a new version of the old me, I have to stay and deal because honestly, these people are put in my path for a reason. While my initial thought is to get this person in a sober headlock and bombard them with catch phrases, famous quotes, and literature, I am confident this will just scare the shit out of them, so I have to resort to stern subtlety.

Stern subtlety: Not cosigning their bullshit but not making them feel inhuman.

I have someone in my life right now who refuses to understand that while bad things don’t happen every time they drink, every time something bad does happen, they were drinking. And I want to grab this person and shake them and somehow get footage and lowlight reels from when I was their age and in a whirlwind of chaos, but I can’t do that.

I can’t save her.

I have to remind myself I cannot save anyone… salvation lies within, my friends. Instead, I have to sit and listen… really listen… and yeah, maybe throw a few slogans their way if the opportunity arises, but mostly I just sit and listen… and hope like hell they get it sooner than later.

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” J.K. Rowling

If you think you have a problem with drinking, please visit:

http://www.aa.org/

If you love someone with a problem and don’t know how to deal, please visit:

http://al-anon.org/

Blessed Be.