It was 1982. I had just finished serving three years in state prison. Drugs and alcohol took me to some very dark places. Caused my behavior to change overnight. No longer was I the good student, volunteering for projects like local history and the yearbook. Participating in Speech and Debate. Now I was a thug. A hellion. A criminal, with no respect for my parents, for authority, for my neighbor, or for my God. I was now the god of my own universe. My rules, my way. I continued to behave badly for three-and-a-half decades. Using people. Drinking. Using drugs. Lying, cheating, stealing.
It took another encounter with the police in 2008 to get my attention. I was arrested on a warrant for failure to maintain a payment schedule on my fines. I wanted to end my life that night in county jail. I spoke up, and the guards put me on suicide watch. I had a few more missteps after getting out of the county jail: three relapses involving an addiction to opioid painkillers, and a 21-day stay at a rehab following a family intervention. I had unfortunately been stealing pain medication from my mother, and abusing my benzodiazepines. My mother continued to show me unconditional love. I was determined to break free from the bondage of addiction. I turned to the only thing I hadn’t tried in years. I went back to the church of my youth where I was led to Christ and baptized.
I got on my knees and sought God’s direction and purpose for my life. I knew all this suffering had to be leading me somewhere. God made it clear: I am called to become an addictions counselor, working with teenagers and young adults. I returned to college online at Colorado Christian University in the Spring of 2016 in order to complete my undergraduate degree in psychology. I was able to stay away from narcotics for ten months. As is often the occasion, I stole pain medication from my mother twice again. (She is presently very angry, and we haven’t spoken for several months.) I have stepped up my approach to this terrible habit. I spend time with my pastor at least once a month, and I meet with a spiritual mentor from my church every Tuesday morning over breakfast. In addition to attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings, I am a member of a men’s recovery group that meets once a week. I have also started individual counseling with a Christian psychotherapist who is helping me work through my addiction and bipolar disorder. I refuse to give the devil victory over my life.
Another of my passions is writing, something I’ve been doing for a long time. I have never considered myself to be a poet. Sure, I wrote some cute rhymes as a child. When I finally discovered poetry, a whole universe of emotions and nuances opened up to me. Funny, but it took self-examination of my behavior, an honest look at my addiction, and the loss of a serious relationship with a creative director at a company I was working for, to pick up a pen and a journal and write. Much of my work has been lost on old word processor hard drives, thrown away by accident, or destroyed by Tide laundry soap when I forgot to check the front pocket of my jeans for my thumb drive. Yes, I also tossed some of my writings in the trash on purpose, convinced they were garbage. I have struggled most of my life with self-esteem and self-worth, especially regarding my writing. I nearly drowned in the deep dark sea of addiction. Getting sober had to happen before I could begin to form coherent sentences, well-planned paragraphs, and believable prose.
Poetry and metaphor go together like cookies and milk. They help us deal with much more than just contradiction or ambiguity. Metaphor is about association and resonance and connectivity. The snow is a blanket upon the earth. The blanket keeps me toasty warm. Metaphor creates connections and resonances among the things of the world. It catches us up in a network of relationships. It makes the world vibrate: touch one string, and another hums along. Where there is no metaphor, though, nothing is like anything else, and nothing reverberates. Without poetry and metaphor, the world is just a jumble of discrete objects resting on a lonely plane.
Other than getting clean and sober and renewing my relationship with Jesus Christ, starting this blog is one of the best things I’ve done in the last ten years. My vision for this site was clear from the beginning. I wanted to post articles and original work regarding spirituality, recovery and creativity. It is very freeing to be able to share my thoughts and ideas with others. I have come to realize that I have to write. I started blogging because I needed tangible proof that I could put original thoughts together and put them out there for others to experience. This blog site has afforded me the chance to be disciplined about writing. Now that I no longer feel less-than, or inadequate, or fake, I am willing to take chances and let others read what I have to say.