Remembering to Forget
Finally securing the place, I took a time out to visit a good friend and promote my accomplishment. His comments on its proximity to Hastings Street hurt (like I didn’t know), especially after failing to secure one nearby in the West End. Still, it was a step in the right direction whether he thought so or not. Truthfully, I felt sad for him seeing me that way, but it was either that or not see him at all. Didn’t truth among friends count for anything anymore? I wasn’t asking for a handout, explanation or anything, just an empathetic ear.
Despite my confessions, the taunting voices continued. Self-confidence began to erode. It was the old game of ‘Mike It Hurts Us To See You Like That, So Do Something About Yourself’. He wanted me to deal with my pain and his. Surely if he was in such a good social position he could deal with his own issues, but apparently he wasn’t. I was doing what was needed of me, for me. It might not have been up to his standards, but some of the things he did and said weren’t up to mine either. Still, I managed to care deeply about him anyway. Afraid of being unable to close the flood gates once opened, ‘all I wanted was to understand my pain and others not add to it.’
The view from the bottom reinforced my belief that everyone knew better than me. I didn’t have to stay there if I didn’t want to – and I didn’t want to, but I had to start somewhere. Now with my best friend’s trust called into doubt, I had to figure out for and by myself whether or not I wanted to end up on Hastings Street, be homeless and a drug addict for the rest of my life. It didn’t take long before the most truthful answer I’d ever come up with in my entire life surfaced: NO! And despite repeated tests against any hidden doubts and agendas, it remained the same. Still not able to fully trust myself, I told him I was going to detox – which was my way of asking for permission. I needed to have a stable foundation to come home to before rebuilding anything.
Within a few days and after a few good sleeps and meals the voices quieted down enough to make self-loathing manageable. In fact, after three days I felt good, proud and strong enough to conclude I’d accomplished my mission of seeking help, listening and resting up. While making normal decisions might’ve been good for a normal person, it wasn’t for me – not yet. Stupidly thinking the worst was over, the bad stuff became a distant figment of my imagination. When I informed the staff of my intentions to leave they told me to rethink what I was doing, but I felt empowered enough to make my own decisions for once. Not wanting to further burden them or society, I confused the thought of wanting to have my shit together, getting a job and getting on with life as the real thing. So, despite their misgivings, I packed up and left.
The door closed behind me. My scene changed. No longer warm, cozy and peaceful, the cold bitter reality of life surrounded me. Then it hit me. Stopping the drugs was just the outside stuff and only the beginning. I’d forgotten to find out what was going on with me internally and the voices, those damn voices. Despite multiple pleas, I wasn’t allowed back in. I understood and respectfully bowed my head in acknowledgment of rules necessary to protect those inside who hadn’t forgotten. I told them I hoped I wouldn’t be back. Not out of spite, but because I wanted to get it right for once. With a stiff upper lip, I turned and made my way back to my hotel room passing all the junkies, dealers, whores and hustlers along the way.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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