I used to go along with whoever I happened to be around. I was a different person with one group than I was with another. I went along to fit in, to belong, to be a part of something and not feel so alone and peculiar. I never felt like I could be myself, if people knew who I was they would never let me be a part of their group. I started getting high around 15 – 16 years old, right away I loved it, it took away all the pain, hurt, shame, unworthiness, ugliness, and anger I felt because of my abusive environment. Whether it was sex, or drugs, or alcohol, I did it all to escape feeling the way I always felt, as much and as often as I could. I did all those things but, it didn’t feel right, it wasn’t me so to speak. I never felt like I fit into that world, the drug culture where you couldn’t trust anyone, as I soon found out by trusting the wrong people with my money to get me something they said they could, then I never saw them again. I went to church at different times and I did, and still do believe in God and Jesus Christ, but I always felt guilty back then, too sinful to be a christian, too moral to be a drug addict. It wasn’t so much the drug use, that I felt like I didn’t belong it was the taking advantage of, and using others.
Well here I am today after six years of sobriety and mental health recovery, I’ve been slowly growing to the point where I can be myself and not just go along with those around me when I don’t agree with them. I have a friend that I will call “Barney” (not his real name.) We have known each other for 30 years, and he knew about my struggle with addiction, and how much better my life is now. He has started smoking pot as self prescribed “medicine”. I went along with him saying that if he felt it was beneficial who was I to say anything against it, not everyone is an addict. It wasn’t long till he began to ask me to get high with him, and how cool and fun that would be. I was shocked, he knew that because of my addictions I lost jobs, relationships, homes, family, friends, he knew that I had lost everything multiple times and was homeless, and that I was arrested and jailed many times, so how could he be so insensitive as to ask me to get high? How selfish was he? I had struggled so much with addiction and guilt and shame that I tried to commit suicide twice. I was so desperate because I wasn’t able to stop. Well a few months ago he invited himself over for the weekend and he had mentioned getting high together again, he also made some unwanted comments about my eating habits and my being overweight. I did gain some weight after getting clean, I was skinny all my life till then and didn’t eat healthy, but he never mentioned my eating habits then, just saying. Well I was to nervous or afraid to say anything when he was here. I don’t like confrontation and as I said I had trouble standing up for myself. I wrote him an email stating my opinion and feelings after I talked about it with my therapist. I was very careful to keep the focus on me and how I felt, like when you said this, I felt this way. Well he sent me a very angry email saying basically that it was all my fault or me being overly sensitive and he did nothing wrong. As a thirty year friend I thought I could state my opinion and that he might look at his role and discuss it with me as a loving adult friend, instead I got an adult child striking out in an angry mean spirit.
I wanted to strike back with venomous words, words that I know would cut him down a notch or two. I wanted to put him in his place. I’ve been a pretty angry person most of my life, and I know how to hurt others. I believe this statement is true in some cases, “Hurt people, hurt people.” I believe words do more long-term damage than fists, I have been both the receiver and giver of both. Words are creative, we can build up, or destroy. There is so much destruction in the world already, so much hatred, so much anger; the left vs. the right, east vs. west, muslim vs. christian, gay vs. straight, rich vs. poor. I would like to change the world, but I am just one man who has many faults, but I can change my smaller world, and how I interact with those around me. We can all start with ourselves. I could have reacted to “Barney” out of the anger I felt at first, but what would that accomplish? I have never seen anything resolved by people being angry with each other, each one just wants to win the argument there will be a winner and a loser and they will still walk away angry.
I used to blame everyone else for my problems like my family, society, etc… and although they had an influence in shaping me, at some point I had to grow up and decide who I was, and what I believe, and what I will stand for, and how I will treat others, and how I will treat myself; will I continue to believe lies or will I seek the truth? I have the power to bring life or death, to build up or tear down, to love or to hate. “Barney is 63, and I am 53, and I just think we have to grow up and stop acting like children. Just look at some of the day time talk/freak shows where people are lying, calling names, and punching each other, and then watch a video of protesters doing the same thing to each other, on both sides. It seems as though we all want everything exactly our way and nothing else will do, win or lose, but God forbid never compromise. Spoiled brats, demanding everything and giving nothing. It’s not always easy to do the right thing, in fact it’s usually the hardest thing to do. I don’t know if we ever stop growing and learning. I hope to keep growing and learning throughout my life on earth and beyond. If we come to a point where we know it all then what is there to look forward to
Today I have hope. I like who I am becoming. I hope that whoever reads this finds encouragement and hope that things can and do get better, but we may experience some growing pains along the way, like losing a friend.