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Archive for February, 2014

|| February 17, 2014 || 11:52 pm || Comments (5) ||

Just got off the phone with my father. That call didn’t just elicit a couple of emotional swings, it built a whole damn swingset.

Let’s focus on this one thing, though: I just got off the phone with my father. You know, the guy who two years ago was given a death sentence containing the words “small cell” and “inoperable.”

He’s still here.

Now let’s tease out one more detail from that call: He’s going to Guatemala on a mission trip. This leaves me stunned in about fourteen different ways.

ByGod, it occurs to me that I am still proud of this man. Not thoroughly; not even mostly. But in certain key, important ways that damn near make up for the lack. I call that a win.

“I hope you’re proud / to be my dad.”

Even a decade and a half of estrangement can’t kill certain things.

|| February 3, 2014 || 3:47 pm || Comments (12) ||

There is a pit deep in the chest of every addict.

While we are born with it –we honestly can’t help it, despite some jaded thoughts to the contrary– and don’t own the blame for that bit, we expand its depth and breadth with every pull off a bottle, with every push, pop or snort of something that checks us out of ourselves and into the quiet shade of oblivion, no matter how brief. That part we own. That part we grieve, because yes, we know we did that to ourselves. With our grief comes punishment.

Addicts are notorious self-punishers. We don’t need your help with that at all.

If you think for even one second that there is not immense guilt and shame for the alcoholic, for the junkie, for the spun-out and diseased and tired human being that seeks solace from an over-arching sense of awareness about the world, then you have bought into a very hurtful lie. Don’t look now, but carting around that lie (and worse, braying about it loudly) damages your credibility as a human.

It’s the same credibility that you brandish like a weapon when condemning the unrecovered, the seemingly unrepentant, the lost and disheveled mess of humanity that exists at times only to prop up a disease.

Yes, it absolutely is that dramatic. We tumble ass-over-teakettle, we get back up. We try not to tumble again. Some of us are better at balance than others. For some of us it’s not a matter of balance, but of leaning so far into recovery so as to create a hedge against stumbling in the first place. There are those of us whose arms are forever pinwheeling, whose habit it is to end up face-down and skinned up over and over again. If you are close enough to someone to be able to do so, watching the element of try in any of these situations is inspiring and terrifying and heartbreaking in turns.

It’s hard to convey with words, and even harder to experience. No, you don’t have to understand. What you do have to do is not make it worse.

If not making it worse means not remarking on things you don’t understand, then you need to fall silent until you do understand, are trying to understand, or your voice is called for. If you don’t understand and don’t want to understand, then at least be graceful enough to shut the fuck up.

Consider shutting the fuck up for this, if no other reason: You are taking a chunk out of someone in recovery every time you level snide remarks at and condemnation on someone who couldn’t get it half-assed together and keep it that way for any length of time. You can’t imagine the type of hypervigilance it takes to walk the line if you weren’t born with that pit in your chest. You simply can’t, no bones about it, and you don’t have a right to steal the dignity of someone’s sobriety.

The pit in my chest is big enough, thanks. As evidenced by my track record, I can furrow it deeper and wider (with great aplomb! verve! determination!) all on my own. I don’t need your kind of ‘help,’ judgmental jackasses of the world.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Philip Seymour Hoffman

This man was one of the greatest talents of Generation X.
I sure am sorry he’s gone.

All aspects of being so sick that your eye teeth hurt aren’t necessarily bad. When the kind of sick I’ve got right now sledgehammers me, then I know I’ve got the dreams to look forward to. Those dreams, the ones I didn’t have to shell out dough on some overpriced hallucinogens to obtain.

I just have to lie here, mouthbreathing, and twitch and be too exhausted to even die, basically. Dying takes good energy, and this sort of flu is hoggy with all of the system’s resources.

Today I dreamed that I was inside a huge ancient coliseum, one with crumbling stone walls arcing into an inky night. Lynyrd Skynyrd was there, of course, and Ronnie Van Zandt called me out by name, heralding me as a sister of the South and lauding me for co-founding The Esteemed Society of Sister Neckbone. Ronnie wanted me to join him on stage and I shooed him with one weak hand, gesturing at the people and the stairs I would have to conquer to get there. I can’t, Vee Zee, I just can’t; go on without me.

It was then that I found myself buoyed up on a sea of hands, being shuffled easily but carefully to the lip of the stage, where I was gently poured into a pile of lank hair and flannel shirt and woolen socks, my flu-sweaty clothes having accompanied me from the scrambled-blankets landscape of my bed into my dreams. So much for the magical release of reality’s grip. So much for holding the world’s longest record of Good Hair In My Dreams. Forty-two years and some change was a good run, I reckon.

I lie there, an aching puddle of I Want To Die, horrified as the crowd began to chant “Free-BIRD, Free-BIRD,” striking their lighters and expecting in the way that concertgoing crowds tend to do. I started to cry.

“No. Noooooo,” I mumbled weakly, just inches away from the tips of Ronnie’s boots, “Don’t do that….”

I sneezed. I coughed. I sneezed again, twice. Then I parted my parched and cracking lips.

“Tuesday’s Gone,” I croaked. I didn’t have anything else in me. Nobody heard me.

I woke myself up singsniffling “…and I don’t know where I’m going, I just want to be left alone….” in a dry whisper.