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East Coast Smile

Did he make it? I think he did, I rejoice in him when I see him. There is a look of caring about him. His eyes are brighter, clearer. The color of his skin is healthy. His teeth are new and white and even. They accent the big smile of triumph and happiness on his lips! There is a twinkle in his eye and a lilt of excitement in his voice. There is complete joy and gratefulness in his heart. There is a sense of freedom that surrounds him. It is fresh and catching, that feeling of freedom and newness that oozes from him.

It was the hardest thing he ever had to do, this gaining freedom. He had been captured. Yes, captured and wrapped up tight. So very tight. He and his loved ones had thought the knots would never be able to be loosed. They had given up. He had even given up all hope of a cure as he knew there was none. Or a reprieve from it and the road to hell it had led him and his down.

He began as a child. He folks’ were of a notorious biker group. They were the rough and ready type, not just recreational bikers. The bikers of the 60’s. He was raised around the partying and drugs and became addicted to heroin as a pre-teen. They allowed it. They allowed him access to it and did not care. They were in their own little world then and did not look to the future. Someone shot him up, I don’t know who as he never said. He learned to do it himself. He smoked it. It was the number 1 most important thing in his life. He fought at different times to come “clean” and stay that way. It never seemed to work, for long anyway.

When I first met him, my impression was that of a rough guy with an East Coast accent. Nice looking guy, except his teeth. I was introduced to him at one of my husband’s rehab meetings. They became friends. They connected. They were both clean and sober.

Over the next few years, my husband relapsed. But his friend did not. The East Coast guy went to every meeting and even started going to church and praising God in every way for his freedom and new life. His wife and family life were happier, he was happy too. His work was coming along well. He had more money. He got a beautiful new set of teeth. His smile was even prettier!

He had made it. It gave me hope that somehow my husband would again, “make it.” I was happy that he called him a few weeks back, thinking good, he is a good influence. My husband looked up to him. I was happier still when he phoned again, thinking maybe he is getting through to my husband. I was doubtful when the next time he called, my husband left the house. A week later, when he called our home 3 times in a row, I was skeptical.

An hour later the phone rang. As he spoke with my husband, I looked out the window. Rain was coming down hard and I saw East Coast leaning up against our front fence talking on his cell phone. Then my husband went outside in the pouring rain, wearing my pink rubber shoes on his feet to meet his friend underneath a tree that shaded them like an umbrella.

It really struck me! When my husband came back inside, the anger poured out from my heart and mouth. “What are you doing?” and “Don’t you be a part of his relapse!” and “Oh, my God!” The grief that followed surprised me.

East Coast with his beautiful new smile and freedom had relapsed. I thought he wouldn’t. Somehow his sobriety had become a symbol of hope to me. Now that was crushed. Did he make it? I thought that he had, but not this time. I sincerely hope and pray that he does again. I hope he makes it for good next time. I hope there is a next time.

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Is My Contract Still Good?

I did not sign up for this, this craziness surrounding me. This addiction of his, which has somehow become mine too in a way.

I could not tell you when it actually began, Maybe before I knew him. I think it began right around the same time or shortly after. That was years ago, so talk about a way of living your life. Time just slips by and the next thing you know it is 35 years later and you are past your prime.

You have hoped for so long that he will change. That it will change. That there is a cure out there for that which you know there really is none. You have prayed, cried, cussed, screamed, thrown things and put your arm through a window in frustration. You have tried reasoning. Others have tried.

You have done an intervention and supported him through recovery. You have learned that there is no cure for addiction. You have learned that when an addict’s mouth is moving, he is lying. You have learned and accepted that it is out of your hands. You have learned to let him fall. You have had to harden your heart.

There is admission. There is recovery. There is relapse. There are lies. There is theft. There is hurt. There is extreme grief and more and more and more. There is something close to madness at times. There is deep regret for the years you wasted, the time it took you away from your son, the damage done.

You give up, but not really. You stop caring, but of course you still do. You wish you did not care. You wish he were a totally rotten person, it would be easier to turn your back, to begin a new life, to just walk away.

I found myself wishing I could turn back the clock. We were barely out of our teens and he told me, “I have to tell you something. I like to smoke a little marijuana now and then”. Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have walked away. I did not.

I was shocked, had only heard bad things about pot. I was scared, but eventually learned to inhale it. I learned to like it sometimes, in the evening when you did not have to go anywhere, when kids were put to bed. It was never as important in my life as his.

Later on it was crank, meth whatever you want to call it. I did that with him also, recreationally for about 7 years off and on. I grew to hate it, to hate the way you felt coming off of it. I hated the paranoia, the way it made you jerk when you tried to relax and sleep, the way your internal organs ached. I told him, don’t even offer it to me anymore, I don’t want it. He would offer, and I would usually accept.

I begged God, over and over to take this demon drug from me. Eventually, I stopped and have been happy that I did ever since. I never craved it, it was easy for me. But if you have the addictive gene, it is not the same. I know that now.

There is much rejoicing by loved ones of the addict when he decides to finally, finally, get help and go to treatement or rehab. I hate the word rehab. I hate to hear people say, “when I was in rehab……..” I don’t know why. Maybe if it was the last time, or the one and only time that person had been there, maybe it would not bother me? Maybe it is the people who seem to toss that phrase out there so lightly, like it is nothing….. To me it sounds as bad as “come on honey, we need to hurry, Daddy needs to get to his P.O.”. This shit is not light stuff, like “how’s the weather” kind of stuff.

This shit should be taken seriously, as it is a life or death matter and not just for the addict. It is also the difference from feeling alive or dead to emotions, for those connected to that addict. It makes all the difference in the world to the addict’s children. You can never get or give back what you have missed with your children.

It seems like the addict is almost “rewarded” for trying to get clean. I mean they go to rehab and everyone is so relieved and full of newfound hope, that they bring him gifts, cards, candy, cigarettes, new clothes, books, anything to keep his mind off of the drug. Usually the people that are doing the giving and supporting of the addict, are the ones that he has hurt over and over. Is there something wrong with this picture? The addict steals your gold hoop earrings that your father gave you when you were 12 years old, pawns them to buy dope and you go and buy him gifts. Who the hell is the smart one and who is the dumb one, I ask you?

The smart one really is not the addict, at least not in the long run. Unless he makes the choice to stop and do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. Then he will be the smart one. The smart one is is not really the addict’s spouse either, as far as the spouse chooses to stay for more pain. Unless, the spouse stops enabling the addict, to let the addict fall, so that he might get help. If that is the case, then the spouse also becomes the smart one.

CHOICES, comes into play big time. No matter, what. No matter that the addict didn’t have a choice in inheriting the disease. No matter that the spouse didn’t have a choice if they unknowingly married an addict. Even after all of that, after all of the hurt and pain and the progression of the disease, there still is CHOICE. Not choice to become an ex-addict. There is no cure. But choice to recover, everyday that choice is there, just depends on how bad you want it.

No I am not an addict, but I as a spouse, still have CHOICE. My choice is to not support that spouse in his addiction anymore. Recovery is totally his option and I will fully support him in his recovery efforts, but that is where I draw my line. No more. I hope and pray that he makes the right choice for himself. I know that I have…………

Hello My Name Is… Part 1

©2008 ~Bunnis

©2008 ~Bunnis

Written and contributed by Anonymous Author

So I was asked to just jot down my story and my recovery by a friend. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to revisit my past.

I am an alcoholic, and proud to admit that. I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous in South Africa. This is the first time I have told my story from beginning to end for a very long time. I hope you don’t mind and you give me a little license here to write what needs to be written. It is going to work out to be quite a long read, but to tell you the truth I am doing this more for myself than I am for you. I NEED to tell this right now, at this juncture in my life.

Where to start, I suppose the beginning is always a good place to start. So the beginning then:

I am a young man, having turned 25 earlier this year, from a loving, albeit broken, family. My mother and father separated in 1997 and to tell you the truth, I was happy when it happened. It has not been easy, but I know that I have the love and support from my family. The family life was always good, even if my father did drink excessively at certain points in my past. But I would never hold this against him. I will skip though the formative years, as there is not much that happened in my life that impacts much on my story.

So fast-forward 6 years, I am still a young boy, 6 in fact, and a little something came into our family, a little girl. 6 years younger than me and 10 years in the junior of my brother. Now as much as I love my sister now, I never had a particularly good relationship with her. She’ll probably read this excerpt of my life story, so sis, I apologise for anything upfront. I was extremely jealous of her. She was the new kid on the block and I felt that all my parents’ attention had been turned away from me to her. This is entirely understandable though. She almost never pulled through when she was born, she was very premature and was a sickly baby for many months after her birth.

I must outline here that I am an incredibly selfish person. An ex-girlfriend of mine has recently told me so, but I appreciate her honesty, as much as it hurts. Being a selfish person means I demand peoples attention and when it is not given I get upset… This is a downfall of mine that I am working on. As I grew up from here, I gradually become more and more obsessed with myself, going through periods of extreme highs (bordering on disgusting arrogance) to points where my self-confidence was shot and I often felt as though I was not worthy of others.

My drinking began at 12. My father had a great collection of booze lying around the house. A bottle of Jamesons later, and I was lying on the bathroom floor vomiting my stomach dry, eventually passing out on the bathroom floor. The next day started the 8 years of hell lived in. You see my hangovers were legendary. I suffered for the poisons I shoved into my body. Anyway, the next 8 years are much of a blur for me. I can highlight some of the more extreme times.

In the beginning I started out a twice a month binge drinker. This increased to the stage that I was drinking 7 days a week, and blacking out on 5 of those occasions a week. So my modus operandi was the following. Get home from school during the week. Fuck around until about 20h30, go to my room, have a couple of smokes do some homework, sneak downstairs and steal a bottle of wine from my old mans cellar (an impressive cellar, so a couple of bottles a week never went noticed). Sneak back up to my room, open the bottle (with my trusty waiters friend that lived in my drawer) and pour a good glass of red wine… Then I would really get into the flow of writing! Generally I would pass out around midnight and wake for school at 06h00. Great lifestyle I thought, I was coping, doing all my work and getting good grades.

Weekends would roll around and we would roll into the local, and literally roll out 6 hours later. My mates, I thought at the time, were guppies compared to me.. I could drink any of them under the table. There was a time at school that I thought I had a problem and I spoke to my mentor at school, he was concerned but let me know that ultimately I had to make the decision. This decision took another 3 years to make.

School went by in a haze of cigarette smoke and red wine, my poison of choice. There was a period in my school career where I stopped drinking and smoking. This was short lived but I felt at the time I had to do it as I was playing national sport, and I knew that if I carried on I would throw it away. So I stopped cold turkey and things seemed fine… Thing is a non alcoholic would not have started drinking after a 6 month break with a bottle of whiskey, a full bottle. I was drinking on school property, getting found out by the staff, even drinking with the staff on occasions. My charm always got me through and I never got into shit for it. But school was small fry for me. The days of varsity were hitting, HARD!

The December before I started my university career, it was my brothers 21st. We had a big party, and I was surrounded with red wine basically on tap and gin to boot. Can’t remember getting home that evening, but I do remember the drama that occurred on the evening. This was the beginning of the blackouts. The drama, you ask? Well my dad and my brother got into a fight that near ruined the evening, but all was good in the morning. I somehow got involved in the middle of the fight and ended up being the most hurt, emotionally. Anyway, this was time for my second break from drinking. Stopped for about 4 months this time, and then one day, at a rugby festival in Johannesburg, I decided to get tucked into the booze again… This time guess how I started? Yes you guessed correctly, another bottle of whiskey, a FULL bottle. And so began the beginning of the end. The next two and a half years I deteriorated into a full time drunk.

Let me outline the next two years in bullet form, as we would be here for days should I write it in paragraphs:

• Broke up with my girlfriend of 2 ½ years

• Got involved with a group of friends that drank as hard as I drank

• Went through relationship every two months

• Started ignoring uni

• Started my early daytime drinking, before 09h00 basically

• Starting blacking out on a regular occurrence

• Dabbled with soft drugs

• Became rather addicted to painkillers (I managed to get my hands on post operative drugs all the time somehow)

• Started getting a clouded head, my decisions were screwed up

• Then the last few months arrived!

So it was February 2003, my 20th birthday. Got to the pub with my girlfriend at the time and all our mates. I didn’t have a cent on me and I still managed to black out that night! I started off on the Jamesons and ended up on the Stroh Rum. I was offered a lift home, but thought it best if I drove. Blacked out and woke up in the morning with screaming. I thought to myself, shit, what did I do last night? Did I kill someone, is there blood on my car, what the fuck happened! It turns out that I had a minor accident involving, to this day I imagine, a curb. Both the tires on the right side of my car were blown. I couldn’t deal with it on the day however as I was hung-over and by this time in my drinking, my hangovers were debilitating. I got over this hangover and this car accident reasonably quickly.

That night in fact, I was out having a couple of drinks again. The wheels really started falling off after this. I was involved in a major car accident less two weeks later. This car accident left me in ICU for 7 days. This, one would think would be a wake up call from something. But to me I was totally oblivious. The weekend after I got out of hospital, I was back at the same bar I was at the night of my accident having a couple drinks, drugged to the gills on codeine. About a month later I was jetting off to Argentina, a week of blackout and hangover’s. I would not be able to tell you what happened on that week away from South Africa. The few things I do know, I cheated on my girlfriend at the time and I forget the rest. It literally was a week of forgetting about life. I got back and screwed over my best friend (with the girl I cheated with in Argentina). I lied to his face and he has never forgiven me for this. Understandable really.

The next 5 months I cannot recall for the life of me (I blame it primarily on the booze and the head injury secondarily). All I know I the last night I drank it was the only time in those 5 months that I do remember. I ended up at one of the bars in Northern Johannesburg after a heavy day of drinking. I spent more than a thousand Rand on drinks that evening, and I think the bar was well entertained by me… I performed my usual trick and ducked out of the club without anyone noticing… Then the evening is clear. I went off the road and punctured a tire. I was without any tools to fix the tire, and definitely in no state to be changing tires. I managed to get to a garage about 5kms away. I arrived there, and promptly blacked out after saying to myself: “Drive to your brother’s house, it 2 mins away.” Next thing I was home in my flat and had no clue how I had arrived there.

I woke in the morning to a family that would not talk to me, let alone look at me. I finally had hit the bottom for the final time. I had finished bouncing and there was no foreseeable future for me… This was one of many times I had contemplated ended my life. I eventually made the decision to enter the fellowship (Alcoholics Anonymous).

And thus ends the story of my drinking, my short and not so illustrious drinking career. I was 20 years old and I had had enough. I did not know where to go. I was a lost sheep and I was not willing to continue with my life the way I was going.

I maintain to this day, had I not stopped drinking then, I would have been dead before my 21st birthday. My angels were with me, as they are today!

Life is difficult.”

M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

This is part one of a three-part blog.

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My Story ~ Anon

Written and contributed by Anonymous Author

Here is my story, its not my opinion and it is not to be taken as advice, it is merely what I was like, what happened and what I’m like now. I am going to share my experience, strength and hope with you.

I was an only child raised in an alcoholic home, I had a crappy childhood and it was the perfect excuse to use for getting wasted.

I always said I had a good 11 years of sobriety and then I turned 12.

The first time I drank I wound up in hospital with alcohol intoxication, and that is what my drinking and using was always like for me – chaotic. I drank and used not for fun, but for oblivion, I could not deal with life or myself or school or anything, if I was happy or sad, if something good happened or if something bad happened whatever happened I needed to get loaded and high. It did not happen slowly for me I charged full force into a life filled with fear, abandonment, regret, guilt and a serious need for attention. I craved attention from people so badly I would do anything to get it, sleep with them, lie to them, whatever it took, just to feel wanted even if it was just for an instant.

I completely rebelled against everything and everyone – it was like I was absent the day they handed out books on life – I had no clue and I had no one to teach me.

I was young and filled with fear and hatred for myself. I wanted to be anyone but me and using and drinking gave me that ability. I grew up way to fast – I had seen and done more degrading and despicable things by the time I was 16 years old than most people have done in a lifetime, not to say that I am any more special or my story is worse than yours. When I was 16 I was admitted to rehab for 3 months, I weighed 42kg and was so strung out on crack and heroine, that my first week of detox in rehab was one big blur of shivering, shaking and vomiting. I was fed methadone and valium so I didn’t die from cold turkey. I finished up my stint in rehab and as soon as I got out I was up to no good all over again, I always knew I had a problem, but I didn’t care. I never again touched heroine, but the drinking and using everything else that was available was a norm for me.

I had a part time job and I dropped out of school when I was 17, I partied and some of what I do remember was fun, it wasn’t all bad, but it was completely destructive, every time something was going well or my relationships with others were going well – I would mess it up, no matter how or what, I found a way to destroy anything good in my life.

When I was 18 I got involved in a relationship and it seemed to fill the empty void I always felt that I had, but that too could only last so long until I destroyed that too.

I was unable to be honest about anything to anyone, no matter how close they were to me and no matter how much they cared about me, no one could ever know my secrets, and all I wanted to do was forget and so I did.

More lies and destruction until one day after so many rock bottoms I woke up in my care and looked in the mirror and said to myself this is not a way to live, this is a way to die and in that very moment I knew I wanted to care, I wanted to be “normal” I needed help……

I joined a 12 step program and attended meetings regularly and they always kept telling me if you want what we have then you must be willing to go to any length to get it, but I wasn’t. I kept going to meetings, but I couldn’t stay clean, I lied because it was the only thing I knew how to do, I had no idea what honesty was or how to be honest, I couldn’t even admit to myself who I was or the things I had done, it was too despicable to bare, not that I even knew who I was in the first place.

I did however learn a lot in the fellowship, I learned that I was not actually a bad person; I was just a very sick person. I had an illness, I had a disease it was known as alcoholism / addiction which is a mental obsession coupled with a physical allergy, the obsession being that I could control it, that I could handle just one hit/drink and then once I had the first one, my allergy would kick in and I would be powerless to stop myself. This is known as insanity, doing the same thing and expecting a different result, my result was always the same, everyone else would have fun and say they had had enough and I would end up in Hillbrow (a not so nice area in Johannesburg), wake up in strange places with strange people not knowing what I had done and hating myself even more, the words “I’ve had enough” did not exist in my vocabulary.

I could not live with the drugs and booze anymore but I couldn’t live without them, I could do nothing without a fix, I couldn’t brush my teeth, I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t go to work, I couldn’t have a conversation with another person, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I wanted it all to end; I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I managed to start learning how to be honest, but I could never do it completely, only about certain things and I would always have my secrets, sometimes I think I may die with all my secrets never being able to share them.

I have hurt and taken for granted every good person in my life.

I now have a beautiful wife who loves me so much and I her, yet I still manage to deceive her, I still cannot tell her things I have done, but not to deliberately hurt her, but because I thought just one, what could really happen that would be that bad……well one day I woke up after one of those and I had no idea what happened, but I knew that feeling, that horrible feeling in the pit of stomach that I had done something terrible again and I had, I don’t remember and still don’t, but I had too much GHB (sometimes known as the date rape drug) and that is exactly what happened, I probably wasn’t raped because it was more than likely me that provoked the situation and even though I know if I were sober it would never have happened, I violated myself, I allowed myself to get so out of it that something like that could happen to me.

I thought I could pretend that everything was ok, but I couldn’t and I ended up taking more and more and more and by the time my wife came home on the Sunday, I was completely out of it and she knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t tell her and the guilt and the regret was too much.

The next day I went to work, still completely out of it, I was sent home and the next day I was sent for blood tests, thank goodness they came back negative, but it was the start of me losing my job and a few months later I did.

I sat at home wallowing in my self pity, hating myself, feeling useless. I had so many things to pay off and no job, I was about to lose my house, my car, my relationship, my life and then what do I do? Well being the typical addict that I am, I think oh well it can’t get much worse, let me hit the crack pipe again, just a few hits and it will all go away and I can get my mind off things and then start looking for a job after I’ve had my release from reality. Well I managed to ruin my wife’s birthday, I smoked away her birthday present, I smoked away nearly everything I had of value that she wouldn’t notice and then thought right, enough is enough now – pull yourself towards yourself and do what you gotta do to come right.

I admitted what I had done to my wife and she understood and was angry and sad – I had hurt her and betrayed her so badly, but she stood by me. I cleaned myself up, got a great job and started working the program, but I couldn’t be honest, I had manipulated and lied to everyone for so long, what would they think if I came clean now?

So I still live with the shame and the guilt, but slowly I start revealing things to her and she sticks by me, she accepts me with my faults and me defects and my lies and she loves me and I am eternally grateful and blessed to have someone like that in my life.

One day I will be completely honest and I will tell her everything, but for now, baby steps for me, I need to learn how to walk before I can run, I need to learn about myself, who I am, what I want and I do it just for today, I can’t worry about tomorrow or I will use, I can’t regret yesterday or I will use, I am happy with who and what I am today and just for today I am clean and sober.

I hope this helps anyone who thinks that what they have done can never be forgiven, as long as you can forgive yourself and accept what has happened to you and take responsibility for your actions, then there is hope. I have also learned that I cannot do it alone, I may not need another person to help me, but I need a belief in a power greater than myself, I am not talking religion, I am talking about a spiritual belief (a higher self so to say) and it is the connection I have with this higher power of mine and the will and the want to live that I am alive and happy today.

It is not all roses and nothing is simple and sometimes there are days when I don’t think I can go on, but I do, even if it is just for another hour or minute, I put one foot in front of the other and I ask my higher power for help.

I say the serenity prayer over and over and I will leave you with these words:

Grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can

And wisdom to know the difference.

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Sasquatch Man

Written and contributed by Girlswithoutshoes

 ©Sheila Smart

©Sheila Smart

I saw him today walking down the street. I now think of him as Sasquatch Man. It made me catch my breath and clutch my heart to see him like this. It made me cry to see the shadow of who he was. I cried for him and for myself, as I miss my old friend.

He is a very large man a little over 6 ft tall and probably weighs 350 lbs. He lumbers down the street, wearing his stocking hat that looks like it belongs to a lumberjack. He has taken to even wearing it with his shorts in the warmer weather. The Birkenstock sandals are always there, as they always have been, come rain or shine.

He walks everywhere now, as his license was taken away. I believe his motorcycle got sold for his and others’ safety. That alone is probably enough to make him want to die. He practically lived on it. You would see him weaving down the street, like a child does on their bicycle, just loving the feel of it.

Quite a unique individual he was. Strong and powerful in many ways. Extremely intelligent, with a very high I.Q., to the point of being almost a crazy genius. He had a very twisted sense of humor, and loved the shock effect it had on people. Folks would either be horrified at his bizarreness or laugh themselves silly. There were plenty who actually hated him, and more who loved him. He could drive you practically insane if he wanted to, by pestering you to death for attention or for drugs when he was out. That was what he always referred to as “The Malaise”. After a 40 year meth addiction, I would imagine it felt like malaise to him.

He is a product of the 60’s. There are many who spent their teens and early twenties dabbling with all kinds of drugs during the 60’s. Not just pot, but L.S.D. (acid) was popular then. It was the Hippie Years and he was no exception, but almost the rule. He lived the bizarre life then in the city. He later moved to the mountains to escape that which he ended up bringing with him.  He desired a better place to raise his family and found it.

He changed from City Hippie, to Organic Hippie, to Hippie Journalist and  Editor.  Later he became a professional in the field of Law. A brilliant, self-taught professional. He was at first scoffed at, then held in high esteem by some, and disdain by others. He was called a maverick and a lunatic. Many reasons were behind all of this. He was a “horse of a different color”. He had heart. He stood up for what he believed to be right and just.

He was right much of the time, but pushed things more than to the limit. He would push them way over the edge. His creativity knew absolutely no bounds. All of this was due not only to his nature, but to the cranked up beast raging inside of him. He was husband, father, friend, philospher, professional, and a drug addict. An amazing man in so many ways.  A doomed man in others.

Years went by, with the same behavior continuing. His family felt the ill effects of the drugs raging. His friends felt the effects. His employees felt the effects. His career felt the effect.  His mind felt the effects as did his health.

His family life became more and more strained.  Love gave way to stress and hopelessness and embarrassment.  His relationships at work became more and more strained. Trust and respect gave way to disrespect and embarrassment. His career ended in a hugely scandalous way, devastating his family, his employees and co-workers, his friends and himself.

He was never the same after that, but steadily went downhill. At first his nervousness and devastation were calmed some by tranquilizers. His mind had already been slipping for the past few years. What one would have thought was just early aging and forgetfulness turned out to be dementia. I believe that at least some of the dementia was caused from the holes that the meth had put in his brain over the years.

His drug use and the consequences were not only felt by him, but by his wife, children, grandchildren, friends, and co-workers. The consequences were huge and life changing to all concerned.

Eventually each one dealt with the stress and strain and devastation in his or her own way. We all moved on and left him behind. We left him behind trapped in a body that did not operate in the same way that it had before. The body that now walked similar to “the thorazine shuffle”, as it is known in mental wards. The eyes that did not have the same intelligent light in them as before but looked blankly into the beyond.

Confusion is written on his face. The sadness in those eyes haunts me to this day. The sadness, I believe is a little glimmer of awareness in him that is left. The awareness of all that he has lost. The huge strength and power that he had once exuded is now gone.

Yes, I saw Sasquatch Man today. He used to have another name, but now I cannot make the name fit him anymore as he is a different person. It made me catch my breath again. It made me clutch my heart again, to see him like this.  It made me cry once again to see the shadow of who he was. I cried again for him and again for myself, as I will always miss my dear old friend who is no more.

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Heroin Charly

Written and contributed by Girlswithoutshoes

His name is Heroin Charly and he helped to kill my husband. I don’t mean that my husband is physically dead, at least not yet. It was only a matter of time in my opinion. I mean how many 60 year old junkies do you see walking around? Not many if you think about it.

Charly was not really the blame, at least not by himself. He was killing himself too. You can always blame the “Pusher Man” (remember that old song?), or you can blame the drug itself. You can even blame genetics if it makes you feel better, after all it is a disease. You can blame your wife, your life, your job or your God. It really comes down to choice. Blame the choice, and that is all.

Not being an actual addict, you would think I could not possibly understand. Oh how wrong. I have lived with it in my life for 35 years. I have watched it change from a “softer” drug to the hardest possible. I have helplessly watched those choices change. I have watched the man himself change, slowly morphing into someone else, with only occasional traces of the original guy left.

I watched it, fought it, despised it, and cried over it. I intervened. It worked for a very short time. Then along came relapse, an ugly monster. I was no match for any of this and I knew it. I was tired.

Away, he went. I sent him away from me. Out of my face. I cannot watch it anymore, cannot live with it in my face anymore. For some years I was told , “You hold the key.” When I used the key, I was told, “you can’t bail out now.” “Oh watch me,” I cry, “just watch me.” …… “But it is a disease, he needs your support…..” “Where was my support for 35 years?”, I cry.

I enjoy the quiet, enjoy the air smelling sweeter. I take back my home and hang new curtains, change something, anything. I feel more relaxed. I write and then write some more. I find something inside of me awakening, almost blossoming. No, not mid-life crisis, just………possibilities. That is it. Hope. I feel giddy sometimes with hope and possibilities for my future. I also feel selfish, but know that is the demon side of his addiction. It is not my addiction, though I played a role. Now I have stepped out of my designated role. That is what my best friend told me. She is right.

When I see him, he looks sick. He looks like crap. I feel sad for him, so very sad that he has wasted his life. I feel sad that his possibilities are squashed, like a bug, by The Choice. My heart wrenches some, but my heart does not have too many wrenches left in it. A heart can actually become “wrenched out”, so to speak.

A good captain goes down with his ship. I am not a captain and he is not my ship, but captain of his own ship. I do not hold the “Key”, at least not for him. Only for myself. He holds his own “Key”. Now it remains to be seen what he chooses to do with that “Key”.

I saw Heroin Charly yesterday. I tried not to look at him, but he approached me. In his hand, he held a long stemmed pink rose that he had picked from someone’s yard. He reached out his hand and offered me the rose. I hesitated, and then took the rose. Charly said, “Be careful, watch out for the thorns.” His eyes were full of meaning. Maybe it was guilt, or sadness, or understanding, after all he did not ask to be an addict either. I looked at him square in the eye and said, “Thank you Charly, I always watch out for Thorns.” I took the rose and turned and walked away. I deserved that rose. I am, after all, a Heroin Widow.

*original post Heroin Charly

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How Battle Stories Started

Jani just turned 43, she has 5 children and is the sole bread winner for her family.  Each day she goes to homes to clean in order to make enough money to feed her children and to put them through school.  Her eldest, Ami, was just 21 when a friend of hers uttered the words “Come on just one hit, feel what I feel, it will take all your worries away”.  She took the hit and her life will never be the same again.

She is now 24 married with a child but her story is far more dark than the surface belays.  Tik is the drug of choice in Cape Town and is gaining popularity country wide.  Made from a mix of over the counter drugs including normal sinus medication it is cheap and therefore more accessible to the general public, especially the poorer communities.

It grabs you and holds you captive much like Heroin, first hit and you are hooked, it brings you heaven and then hell.  It sucks your body dry and at the same time alters your personality so much that you lose hold of love or hope, emotions don’t exist further than your next hit.

It took a weekend filled with Tik, rape, gang rape and more drugs for Ami to eventually crawl home to her more than distraught family and plead with them to help her.  She said she would go clean but knew she couldn’t do it alone, the pull was too strong, so she got her parents to book her into a facility.  Her parents took her in their arms and carried her to the rehab which cost R250. 3 days work for her mother, 3 days of food away from the other kids but they did it because they loved their daughter as if their own lives depended on it.  The family all started pulling together to the point that even the young ones tried to do extra odd jobs to bring in more money to help Ami.

Eventually after a lot of trauma Ami was released, she was stronger, brighter and she was clean.  Soon other families heard of her healing and sought her out to speak to their children, friends of friends spoke with her and heard her story.  Her story is unknown to many but it needs to be told for it holds so much hope, so much truth of the reality in Tik use and what it does not only to the user but the very people they love.

Her story needs to be told along with all other Tik survivors, the story must get out in order for it to help more people. Families who have been touched by Tik both in the present and past need to hear it. Users both present and past need to hear the story so that they can see that it is possible to come through the other side and breathe, that they do have a choice and that they can do it.

I spoke to Jani today and I told her this, I told her that her daughter is an inspiration, that she and her family are inspirations.  I then told her that there are so many out there with similar stories, if we could find them and get them to write down their stories perhaps they could save more lives.  So we agreed again.  She is now going to speak to the other families and the ex users and ask them if they would like to write about their experiences.  The ex users about their experiences, how they got started, what happened during using and how they got clean.  Their families about what it did to them, how they handled it, what they would’ve done differently and how it felt to have their family member back home.

This book will start out just being about Tik but I feel that it can also move into all drugs, stories of surviving and coming clean, experiences and the truth.

Ultimately about the truth, the whole truth and not the gloss.

I now open it up to you. If you have ever used Tik or any other drug, know of someone who might want to contribute, if you are a family member or friend of someone that is currently or has used in the past we would like to hear from you. If you are interested, want more information or would like to contribute your story you can send an email to sanityf@gmail.com and I will respond respectively.

With your help perhaps we can make a dent in this epidemic…

There is no going back

Anti Tik Campaign Short Advert

Unreported World: Lost Generation Pt 1 of 3

Unreported World: Lost Generation P2 of 3

Unreported World: Lost Generation Pt 3 of 3

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