Today’s guest author is Jay who is the Community Outreach Director for One Mind Dharma (http://www.oneminddharma.com), a site dedicated to drug addiction recovery and Buddhist practices. He has over a year clean and sober, and enjoys playing music, writing, and helping others. This is his story:
The Rain and Me
Today it is raining in Los Angeles County. It hardly ever rains, and although it’s refreshing, it serves as a metaphor for my journey of recovery.
Last year I was in a program for Buddhist drug addicts and alcoholics. After years of fighting the twelve steps and those programs, I decided that Buddhism was going to save me alone. I had gone through their inventories, now I was sitting regularly throughout the day, and I was walking the streets of Hollywood trying to find a job. Internally, however, I was miserable.
The misery was a familiar friend; a wind like whisper that reminded me every day “you’re going to fail. It’s a matter of time before you ruin this, too.” My mantra was failure. It haunted me most of the day and I began sinking into my bed and hiding beneath the covers so that I could muffle my crying fits and not be discovered. I hid my pain from everybody, unless I acted out of anger. Anger is an appropriate response to life, so I thought.
The days dragged on and the nights revealed hell; and eventually I broke down and used. I started shooting heroin in the basement of my sober living– my room had a door which led to the street where a companion and I would exchange money for drugs and we’d use together. The last night, I had overdosed, I dreamt a surreal existence that seemed much like an “out of body experience.” There were visual lights I had never imagined before– there were beings and the backdrop of all of it was of the entire world; all of its lights.
I tried to piece these meanings together before I awoke in my bed with my companion telling me, “Stay with me. Stay with me, Jay.” Luckily, I did.
The next day I was kicked out of sober living, as I had told on myself and was scared for my safety. I found myself sitting on the sidewalk outside of a liquor store somewhere in Hollywood. We bartered drugs for money and began drinking, before being offered the floor of a motel room in Echo Park. We accepted.
The floor was a monster and seemed to only feed into our addictions. Drugs I had never thought to do I was mixing with heroin, hoping that somehow I could find my way back to the dream world I experienced in an overdose. I stayed up for nights fixated on the lights of the city, not realizing hours were passing and an eventual a “new day” began.
The wall of one music store was appealing, as a musician I liked, had posed for his album cover there. So, when the rent for our room was up, we stayed at the sidewalk next to this mural. I made 12 dollars in 8 hours busking outside of the shop. A homeless woman had given me 10 dollars of this to play her a Beatles song. The girl I was with was flying a sign making much more than I was.
The girl left that night, and took all of our money and drugs. I slept on the sidewalk on Sunset Blvd and had some of my belongings, namely every piece of identification I had, taken away, along with some valuables. I threw the rest of my clothes away so I could travel on foot lighter. I was stomped on while I slept by a few men who passed. My shoes broke that night– the backs of my boots both snapped. I did what anybody in my position would do, and I tried to break into my sober living at around 3 am.
Somebody had left a pair of shoes on the porch that were two sizes too small, so I stuck my toes in and let my heels drag against the concrete. I found a couch in Silverlake and slept underneath it. I knew that the cops would be called if I were seen, but I didn’t want to be stomped again. I was broken. I still had my guitar, but it might as well have been lost too.
A couple of days later, it was, I was sitting outside of the music shop and the owner came out and said, “You’re the kid saying depressing things to my customers? I’m going to do you a favor. I’ll give you 20 dollars for your guitar– more than you’ll make today, and a dollar in quarters for the payphone. Call your people, and get help, man.” I tried to talk to him about Elliott Smith, and he threatened to call the police. “This isn’t an offer,” he said. “Take it and go.” So I did.
I went to the liquor store on Vermont and Virgil– a 7-11, and bought booze and cigarettes with my money. I managed to take a nap in the bushes, and was woken up by a fire truck sounding its alarm a few paces down the street. I was out of booze. I was out of money. I had nowhere to go. Nobody wanted me around. And the blisters on my feet were bleeding through my socks. This seems like the time to end the story — and it was. Sort of.
In a blackout I had punched a concrete wall and broken my hand. I dialed a friend over 100 times for help– so that the payphone wouldn’t eat my quarters. They had me call the ambulance on myself, which I did, and wait outside of the hospital. Then, a cab came, knowing what shape a person would be in to look for, and took me to a behavioral hospital in Pasadena. The hospital admissions department would not let me in with my hand broken, and I was then taken to an emergency room to have my hand treated. My last high was on March 19th, 2015, in an emergency room on a morphine drip.
March 20th, I was taken back to the behavioral center, and my detox bed was given away. They then committed me under the 51-50 hold to their psych unit. I kicked it cold turkey in their locked ward, with some of the craziest folks I had ever witnessed. I slept on the floor most nights. I cried. I tried calling anyone that I knew, and nobody wanted to talk to me. I was alone and I was beaten. I promised myself– my god, my goddesses, my aliens, whatever would listen that I would do anything that anybody suggested to stay clean. I begged and pleaded and swore that if I ever made it out I would stay clean.
March 20th, 2016 I was given a cake by my friend who had helped me, in front of a small group of people in the treatment center I had gone to after the hospital. It’s raining today in paradise, and I’m thankful to be indoors. I have two pairs of shoes today, just in case one breaks.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with alcohol addiction, please click the Find Support link for an extensive list of support groups. Also please check out the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.