The drugs don’t work

At first there is not much to remember. Our phone number, which mom makes me memorize. Our address, which is where we live. Both have a rhythm that helps me retain the pattern and I can hear the numbers in my head. The world is so small it can fit in your pocket but the world is not to be trusted, not for a little boy.

There is not much to remember but all of it needs to be learned starting with the colors: the word purple with a happy smiling grape, orange with a fruit by the same name. They lower the shades and turn off the lights and roll out the wrestling mats when it’s time to nap and that’s kindergarten, colors and naps and numbers, the alphabet, meeting the world through language and sound, our senses.

And I am an only child so there is a lot of time spent waiting around the apartment for a friend, killing time. Time becomes a barrier to what’s next, something to overcome. Maybe that’s youth, too much time. I am climbing a tree looking down from the top removed from the world I am born into, ready for anything and all.

We have a teacher in high school who asks, if we had to pick between a life of great highs and lows or one that’s more predictable which one would we choose? And I want the highs and lows so I can experience it all. I will use the pain later for source material because I know this is the stuff that makes for great art. And life is too short for “predictable,” I need danger.

It is not long before the drugs. Drugs and alcohol and cigarettes and chewing tobacco and jerking off and shoplifting and starting fires which is actually a crime they call arson. This is how we enter the world as if we are the only ones who matter, because that’s true for a time. At the crossroads between adolescence and adulthood, a period that can last 10, 20 years or more, drugs seem to elevate or enhance our relationship with the world and ourselves. Drugs as a rite of passage to shed the kid brain, drugs to break down the barriers and get to what’s real. Drugs to guide the way and cloud the way when the way is too hard to fathom. Drugs to disconnect from ourselves when we are so sick of ourselves we need a break. Drugs for something to do, drugs for social status, drugs as a lifelong habit, a crowded highway with no obvious way to get off.

So I did drugs like most kids who do drugs, the curious, experimental kids, just weed at first but later anything I could. I read books about drugs written by Andrew Weil. Books written while the author was on drugs, the Beats, the LSD intellectuals, and so on. I came to view the high as an amplification of real life and in that way, it was preferred. Drugs for roadtrips and drugs for the weekend, drugs for Saturday mornings and reggae shows and long walks in the woods. I was not a drug addict despite all this, I had a job and presented myself as a respectable young man but I got high as often as I could which was a lot. So in a sense I was an addict, perhaps in the literal sense of the word, were you to define that word literally. But addict is such a strong word, right?

And now, all these years later, we’re putting our 17-year-old through a substance abuse program because she’s got addiction issues and while it’s mainly just weed, it’s really fucked up her life. I quit drinking 18 months ago and cannabis around New Year’s. This is the longest I’ve gone without getting high in a very long time. Maybe since 1985. And I never knew how smart or clear headed I could feel or how good it is to get deep sleep. It is not a life of great highs and lows but it is a more predictable life. It has taken me a long time to see it this way, because it really does change how you look at the world sober, to see life for what it is and know it’s enough.



Categories: Memoir, writing

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37 replies

  1. It seems you certainly don’t need any of that to write a great post. I I hope your daughter gets through all of it stronger and with a clear mind!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robin and thank you so much for reading and reaching out! Be well my friend! Bill

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    • Great piece; I love the way you take us (readers) on a journey into your past and bring us nicely into the present. I really enjoying reading your write ups.
      Sending love and light to your daughter, my wish is that she gets to choose a sober and more predictable life sooner than later.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Jojo, nice to meet you and thanks for that. What a nice sentiment, thanks for reaching out and sharing that wish! And I am glad the write up resonated with you and you liked that technique, thanks for letting me know…be well and enjoy the day! Bill

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  2. Dealing with exactly the same situation with my 18 year old daughter, I feel you. Maybe we could start a parents support group 😅 (yeah, I’m crying inside, it’s so hard to see her having to deal with the point she is at, while we ruminate over all the signs and things we may have done wrong). I wish you all, all the courage, strength it takes to get through.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry to hear you can relate! So many going through the same or similar. Hope you can find good help, that seems to be the key. That and being lucky enough to have the resources, support system etc. drop a line if you ever want to connect on my contact form thingy! Pinklightsabre + gmail.

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      • Thanks. It has been a long 3 year journey just to find the appropriate help. And the hardest part for her is just beginning. Finding support for parents is even harder. Id love to know how you’re tackling this. I can’t find your form thingy. But may drop you a line by mail.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pinklightsabre at gmail dot com! Drop me a note please and let’s connect…three year journey for us too. Sorry the form thing isn’t easy to find. No wonder I never get anything ha! Look forward to connecting though.

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  3. Bravely written. And which of us is not addicted to something these days – even anxiety can become an addiction in the biochemical mayhem that is us human beings living under huge stresses.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been meaning to catch up. A lot going on over there, it seems. Hope daughter and family are managing it all.

    Going to work backwards, now, full Momento mode.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi! Super nice to hear from you and thanks for popping by! Yeah I’ve slowed quite a bit, every other week I think. But it’s great to reconnect! Wishing you well my friend. Lots going on everywhere right?! And not at the same time.

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  5. Oh boy, sorry to hear this but trusting everyone will pull through. There must be a part of all of us that knows we ourselves shouldn’t be doing it or else it wouldn’t hurt as much when we see others do it. Glad you are feeling clearer and smarter though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey thanks mister! Good insights there. Hope your practice is going well and always good to hear from you, thanks for reading and reflectin’! Duder

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  6. You’ve presented a clear portrait of addiction – I grew up with an alcoholic dad – still in high school when it killed him. You nailed it: “Drugs guide the way and cloud the way when the way is too hard to fathom.”

    Good that you are now able to help your daughter. You understand her, a huge asset.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s super kind Jazz, thanks for the insight and observation there. You’re right, it’s good to understand first hand. Sorry you can relate in that way, many can unfortunately. Be well, Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve heard that true happiness does not flash, it glows. So the highs and lows are overrated, even though they’re a part of life (we’ll see great successes and failures). Glad that you’ve stayed clean. I myself haven’t touched a drop of alcohol for about a year now. Here’s to staying and enjoying being clear-headed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Stuart! Good to meet you and thanks for visiting, and sharing your thoughts. Congrats on your sobriety too! I like the notion of true happiness glowing vs a flash. That’s a poignant, positive insight. Appreciate you sharing my friend! And hi to Malaysia if this is where I find you today! Be well.

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  8. Sorry about your daughter Bill. I watch my son secretly looking for signs of drug abuse. I always thought he’ll never get anything past me, I’ve seen it all, but now I’m not confident. All these damn edibles and vapes throw me off. I know my daughter smokes on occasion but I believe her when she tells me it’s infrequent. Susan was unimpressed with my drug use when we met, so it’s been decades since smoking or tripping, and now that I’m over the initial shock of quitting alcohol (6 years it took) the boring sober life suits me fine. What you’ve written about your daughter makes her sound like an intelligent and thoughtful girl. Hopefully she’ll turn to a life of moderation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s such a nice note Jeff, thank you. I fell into a lot of “magical thinking” myself re: the drug use. Shocking how it can affect the young mind though, really an eye opener for us. Appreciate you and this note! Be vigilant my friend! 🤨

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  9. My initial reaction was, ‘Snap!’ a foolish thing to say, I know, unless it implies Solidarity. And it seems many of us are there with you, Bill, in Solidarity.

    I was lucky enough to have a friend who, at just the right moment for me, said, ‘Just keep on letting him know that the door will be opened, if he knocks’.

    May you be blessed with wise friends, dear Bill.

    Regards,
    DD

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sometimes, though not always, the quality of a piece of writing is matched by the richness of the responses. It’s good. Our humanities talking to each other.

    On a personal note, I found myself reflecting on my lifelong quest for the predictable, which I call safety. Safety, the absence of danger. We self-medicate however we can, trying to find a place to live with ourselves, our family formed or trauma designed systems. Thinking of you and fam and the journey you’re on. I’d pop over, but not without a bottle of red.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You could pop over with a bottle of red but you’d have to drink it out of a coffee cup because we’ve stowed all the wine glasses in the garage! Twist caps only too 😀. Good point about the comments and the sometimes nature of that. And thanks for sharing your POV about the predictability and safety factor, I can glean what you mean by that. Be well old friend! Hope fall is treating you nicely.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What an amazing and honest read on the drugs or being the lone child which I am by the way. You don’t crave for drinks, kya? I am off smoke going for three months, baring one day when I had three sticks because mom was taken ill on an emergency. Gladly, I didn’t go back and let’s see how I fare! Always such a treat reading you, Bill!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Vishal, I hope your mom is recovering okay and thanks for sharing this. You and I are both “off the sticks” now for most of the year, good job! And no I don’t crave for the drinks anymore, I’m lucky. I drink non-alcoholic beer, and we can get good varieties of that here, that tastes really good. And you’re an only child also? That’s interesting. I thought I was the only one 😄. Be well my friend, thanks for reading and sharing…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mom ok! We took her again to hospital with the help of a friend with heart rate shooting up! I fixed a heart surgeon appointment this Thursday. Ah yes happy to be off though once a while wouldn’t mind be a social smoker! But not after I reach four to six months haha. Ya non alcoholic beer world out well and indeed m the only one, they told was pampered 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  12. You’ve stirred up a bunch of thoughts with this post. A visit to the past to relate to your child’s present and a little sense is made of things. It speaks.

    Thinking of you, Bill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey thinking of you too old friend! Love hearing your voice when you step outside the daily quotes, good we have a past of our own too, thanks for making that real…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I loved your post Bill. I felt this way after kicking my smoking addiction. I fight a sugar addiction every day of my life. Nothing can really explain the satisfaction of giving something up, something that was bad for you and which made your life not so good. I like the way you worded it and I wish you well with your daughter’s recovery. It’s a struggle she’s starting with the right people behind her

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  14. Sorry to hear about your daughter. I have a very long, very complicated history with drugs. They’re hard to put down. I hope she can do it long before I did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know I dipped back into some of your old posts this week and even referenced you to one of my teenaged daughters last night! Imagine that! Shit goes around. The good kind can too, like pollinatin’ sporata. That’s Greek I think. Thank you for the well wishes and we were just out now on a trail working through it, crossing from one recovery zone to the next. Feels good, sending you good vibes too. Thanks for reading.

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  15. Referencing “drugs don’t work” I am reminded about the anti-drug movement “DARE” and thought I need to thank that stranger.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right! I remember that too. Thanks for reading Mark. Seems the best “anti”
      campaign maybe is the one where you’ve suffered the negative impacts yourself, firsthand. But maybe the costliest, riskiest way to go about it too. I admire those who can just abstain without ever trying, that takes more of something than I ever had. Thanks for visiting!

      Liked by 1 person

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