A Reminder

Over ten years ago, I dropped my son and daughter off to school, in tears, as I was saying good bye for a month of treatment. It was probably the hardest day of my life. My son was twelve, my daughter almost 16, and I was nearly 50 years old, and wondering if in that moment was I the child or were my teenagers? The phenomena of addiction is something that a person cannot predict when in the throes of its powerful grip. What can  be predicted though is the outcome if the right choices are made.

I was triggered tonight watching a cop show where a father was taken away while his eight year old cried in confusion, not understanding what was happening. It made me think of my son, and the quivering he had one morning in family group when he admitted his fear of his dad not coming home. That was one of the first moments I realized the brevity of my actions. The second was celebrating my daughter’s 16th birthday in a sterile guest room of the treatment center.

There are two directions I might go to help define the impact my actions had on that fateful day. My arrogance might have driven me away from my children, but I realized how important they were to me. I realized their unconditional love, teenagers having no idea what was happening with their father but still loving him, and wanting him in their lives meant the world to me, and yet, I still didn’t get it.

I went through weeks of intensive therapy to understand just why it was that addiction had taken over my life. I recognized the people closest to me were the ones I was pushing away. I understood eventually there was nothing more I wanted in my life than a second chance with my kids. I realized addiction had consumed me.

Not everyone gets the same opportunity to right their lives. I’m not perfect by any stretch, but I do understand the difference between good and bad choices. I made some bad choices and fortunately found the resources to find a way toward recovery. It is not easy, but seeing a crying child tonight helped to again see how lucky I am, and how important it is for all of us to understand the critical scope of addiction and our need to say strong while making good choices.

Just some thoughts watching television create yet another example of the power that illusion has upon the fragile nature of our reality.

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Please Scream Rather Than Leave A Note – Suicide In Our Lives

spade

Kate Spade / Anthony Bourdain


The other day, I read a NYT article that indicated suicide rates are rising at an alarming rate since 1999. The same day CNN listed a similar statistic at 25% since 1999. This was the day after Kate Spade had taken her life. I thought it a natural followup of a tragic event. This morning I woke to the news of Anthony Bourdain. His series ‘Parts Unknown’ has been receiving high ratings on CNN for years. These are two prominent members of our society based upon their achievements over decades. Yesterday at a conference, a colleague of mine made the poignant statement, ‘suicide isn’t selective’ in its victim.
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I’m really having a hard time wrapping my head around this. The first time I experienced suicide was when a friend of mine’s lover took his own life because he was terminal with cancer. I remember he lived a block away from me, and I probably could have heard the shotgun had I been on my deck, but I didn’t know about it until the next day. I remember his partner’s grief, and all the confusion that followed.
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Years later, a man named Spaulding Gray wrote a wonderful piece called ‘Swimming To Cambodia’ and I immediately fell in love with his writing, his persona, though I remember being tempered when once interviewed, he stated that when he knows he is too sick to enjoy a quality of life, he will jump in the East river. His body was fished out of that same river two years later. I was devastated. and again not fascinated, more sickened by the reality of such a gesture.
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In my own family, we have experienced such a tragedy, and there are never answers beyond the telling statement that depression is often a leading component in a person’s choice to take their own life. I’ve seen it too many times to count, and I still cannot wrap my head around it.
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I know in my life I’ve struggled with depression more than I would like to admit. I’ve felt the dark moments that I suggest to all of my students as they go on to college or just live their present lives that when those moments arise, they have to call someone, they cannot allow themselves any other choice. I recognize the hypocrisy of my emotional reaction to this terrible outcome in the lives of so many people in our society and world.
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Yet, all I can do today is speak to it from my heart. I didn’t personally know Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, countless names in the public eye. I don’t know the names of all the people that the reader’s of this commentary have lost over the years. I only know the pain and confusion is real. I only know when my dark moments come, I cannot help but reflect upon the realities that exist around me on any given day.
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I can only suggest that people use the hotline – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, rather than accepting someone’s final option as the only answer. There have got to be solutions, and more importantly there has to be a greater awareness and acceptance around the stigma that is attached to mental illness and depression.

AP File Photo

Addiction and Finding Beauty

Oh to discover a resolve,

to know just how easy it might have been,

now with years of solitude,

time enough to let one’s heart bend.

 

The sallow nature of my contempt

for a life beyond any circumstance,

that bellows the societal ill

I might wish to dissuade perchance.

 

When once sheer beauty is measured

in the safety of love without cost

only known to be a natural inkling,

with little agenda, ascertain no loss.

 

While walking in a solo atmosphere

there seems always a chaperone

of ugliness, wishing to know beauty,

and yet all along that love is known.

 

Oh to find the solace in natural age,

when all the soul has found complete

the offering of a peace, some tranquil

response, beauty without we compete.

Ugliness in Addiction and Recovery

If I could reach inside and rip out the pain that stops me in my tracks

I would do so and I let the ugliness drip off my fingertips,

because then I could choose to hold onto it,

or let it go, and watch it fall,

pull out the garden hose,

spray it into the soil,

until all around me I could see,

life is abundant, growing, and offers a peace,

a serenity.

The problem is sometimes addiction won’t allow a second chance,

we seem buried,

unable to get past the reality of our woes,

and even then, when we understand them,

we still fight for reasoning,

sometimes justifying,

this happened then, when, it was, because I wanted, it didn’t

really matter anymore to anyone.

I’ve been sitting in a chair today,

actually for days,

trying to get out,

but the vacuum hold is remarkable,

my body feels secure,

my mind is screaming,

as I look at the door, and realize,

it cannot stay open forever.

I wonder sometimes about real pain,

is it like this,

or is this just part of a visual game,

seems like I’ll never figure out a way to find the blockbuster,

instead, I’ll probably remain,

wishing purgatory could be

a safer place to be then I seem to realize.

Faces On Demons

Oh the (dark) places we go,

if only Dr. Seuss could remedy all,

perhaps the quiet abyss might no longer,

contain the strength,

the grasp sometimes

inherent in my every step,

the outlook of my day.

 

I sometimes wonder the strength of my addictions,

are the reason I move slowly,

perhaps in reason the justification

of lost principle,

allows me to wallow in my

sad and lonely way.

 

I’ve made mistakes,

they are plain to see,

unless you wouldn’t know me,

then maybe,

I could walk around in circles,

seem,

a bit more mistake free.

 

It is an inherent trait in our society,

to judge the person on your left and right,

in order some would argue,

to set your own demons free,

or am I only speaking of me.

 

I sometimes reflect on a world

of alcohol and drugs,

oh the sweet nectar

of setting myself apart

from every

symbol I felt of hope and faith.

 

The gambling arm,

set in tone the rest of me,

and for the little time I’d known,

I would seek refuge there,

only to come to terms,

with another bottle of scotch,

with an endless pour.

 

There is something remarkably beautiful

about peace,

peace of mind,

a peace to build our hopes upon.

finding peace,

inside the miracle of time.

 

I look to find all the faces,

that disturb my sleep,

in the middle of the night,

left staring at a wall,

rather safe than closing my eyes,

to once again,

know,

in the middle of a dream,

would there be an onslaught …

faces on demons.

 

We might suppose,

they’ll always be there,

quiet reminders,

like skeletons with favorite postures,

we liken them all,

to our own sheltered storm,

inside an expression at the county fair,

won’t allow a soul,

to imagine any other pain,

otherwise.

 

Occasionally when walking alone,

I do,

I choose with earnest,

to put my own,

face on demons,

I suppose it may appear absurd,

but rather than in a crowd,

I can own my own expression,

no longer under a shroud.

Purpose With Addiction

Oh there are these walls,

you can’t see them.

frankly I can’t either,

we can always feel them,

walking through a crowded market,

and the eyes,

the many faces that seem to know you are there,

and we wonder,

are we as obviously noticing them as they are,

realizing our world isn’t alone,

but rather,

we are all together,

fighting this machine,

goes far beyond who we are in the moment,

that’s when it all began.

 

The moment,

that clarifying incident,

the time our hearts hurt,

and yet,

we hadn’t realized the pain was not ours alone,

the world,

that local planet shit,

that place where we suddenly come to know,

the love and reason for living is suddenly,

questioning,

why,

we don’t know really,

not even now,

only real piece to hang onto,

is goodness,

we come to realize it does exist,

our hearts are capable of love,

the real thing,

the imagination once tested with artificial

stimulants,

has suddenly been taught to feel,

we do visualize beauty again,

the sun rose this morning and remarkable as it seems,

I …

I noticed.

Isolated Storm Clouds

See them and imagine the future,

an ominous purple haze of opportunity,

for it is the chaos of our lives,

allows change to overcome the static.

 

Seek a society of forgiveness,

the travels of pain sometime hidden,

yet the exposure to the elements

often a truly ominous test resilient.

 

When washed ashore in crude oil,

stains did seem to be eternal,

with each soaking, the mind,

nearly gave up on finding shelter.

 

It is in the addict’s eye

the storm will always remain,

it depends only upon a realization

that life contains sweet horizons.

 

We would only give attention

to the happiness we dwell upon,

a city scape, an ocean view,

a soft breeze in a given milieu.

 

The deep and threatening wall

of circumstance that will prevail

is only Nature’s manner of suggestion

we all would know to typically fall.