Addicts are People

Addicts are people. They are not trash to be thrown away. Please don’t talk about them like they are human refuse. There are plenty of people who use substances who are good, kind and decent people. There are many people who use due to the trauma they have experienced or because of their circumstances. Some are born into a life where drugs or alcohol is a part of their culture, where using is normalized. Maybe a person uses drugs to treat their mental health condition, or maybe just to escape from the reality of their life. Drug addiction happens to all ages, genders, colors, socioeconomic statuses, it can happen to literally anyone. There are many ways in which people start down the path of addiction, no two are the same, so don’t assume that because you know “one worthless drug addict” that everyone struggling with addiction is the same. That’s called overgeneralization and it’s not fair to do to any group of people.

Some addicts commit crimes. So do normal people. When you are someone with an addiction, some of your time is spent feeding that addiction. Many of your behaviors are focused on satisfying your need for the substance of your addiction. The normal cycle is use, come down, buy more. Sometimes in trying to get drugs, a person becomes desperate and uses whatever means they are able to in order to get what they want. Sometimes this results in crimes like robbery, check fraud, panhandling, prostitution, and, in extreme cases, murder. While I am not justifying any of these crimes, I’m telling you that there’s a reason these crimes are being committed and why someone fighting an addiction might see it as a means to an end. Once again, these can be desperate people. This is also why some people choose to make or sell drugs. It means that their own use costs less and they are able to even have an income on which to base their lifestyle if they sell enough. I once had someone tell me “I can make $3,000 cash in two days selling meth. Why should I ever work 40 hours a week to make $400 at the end of it and then wait another week or two to be paid?!”

Some addicts struggle with completing drug treatment, and some normal folks struggle with finishing EVERYTHING. Where there are drugs, there’s demand. Where there’s demand, there’s drugs. It’s an unending cycle. You can’t incarcerate people fast enough to stop it, and you can’t treat addicts quick enough to stop it. There’s no good cure for the drug addiction plaguing our country. Incarceration of addicts doesn’t cure them of their addiction, but then again, sometimes neither does treatment. There are some really good treatment centers out there, but they don’t have a 100% success rate. There are people who go to all the meetings they possibly can, have a sponsor, have a good social support system and who still relapse. Recovery isn’t perfect. There are really two ways out from addiction: death or successful treatment. One of those options doesn’t have a 100% success rate, the other does.

Some addicts have priorities which are not the same as yours (so you refer to them as “the wrong priorities”). Picture yourself living the life of an addict. You need to choose whether to buy food or drugs. To me this is probably one of the most difficult choices a person could possibly make, but many people think it’s easy. Most people don’t understand why addicts would choose drugs over food, rent, medical care or their children. Drug addiction is a sick and twisted thing and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s hard for someone struggling with addiction to hold down a job, especially if using leaves them unable to function properly. “Desperate times call for desperate measures”… as the saying goes, once an addict loses their job, the result is desperation to meet EVERY need, not just addiction.

Let’s not pretend for a minute that all addicts are breaking the law. Alcohol is legal. A person can drink themselves stupid as long as they don’t drive, be drunk in public, etc. There are very few laws related to drinking at home. Alcoholics are probably the most common addicts, and yet they are somehow viewed as “better” than people who use meth or heroin, probably mostly because they are not breaking the law. But alcoholics break the law all the time. There’s many people with violations due to drinking and driving. There’s many assaults, including domestic violence and sexual assault, which were escalated due to alcohol. So how is this type of addict somehow “less bad” as compared to a hard drug user?

Addicts are people.

They love, they live, they contribute to society. They play music. They create art. They work. They play. They have families. They have spouses and significant others. They own property. They rent. They care for others. They teach. They learn. They have skills. They are kind. They can sometimes see the best in others. They are smart, sometimes bordering on brilliant! They are resourceful, much more resourceful than I will ever be. But most of all they are someone’s family member or friend. They have people who care about them and love them.

So before you say something unkind about someone struggling with addiction, think about how you’d treat someone you love who was facing this struggle. Each of us contributes to this world, and there’s enough negativity in it already. Be kind.

 

Temporary

via Daily Prompt: Temporary

Today is temporary. I need to remember this.

This morning when I woke up, my head was achy, and my body hurt. I was tired (still am). I was cranky.

But this was all temporary.

When I went to leave the house, I realized that I had to move my partner’s car to be able to leave, and I shut my hand in the door.

But today, the annoyance, and the pain I felt is temporary.

Sometimes when the things in life get me down, it’s really hard to remember that everything on this planet is temporary. Jobs, houses, lives, things… it’s all here for a moment and then it’s gone. I’m not telling you this to sound depressing or morbid, but to remind you that your troubles are also temporary.

Prime example in my life right now, Trump.

He’s temporary. In a few years (if the world will still exist and isn’t blown to smithereens due to nuclear war) he’ll be out of office. He can’t stay there forever. Even if he would change term limits, he’d die eventually. Long before I will, hopefully.

This feeling is even more poignant when I get paid. My paycheck is also temporary. I work, and get paid, and then it’s all gone. Then I start the whole process all over again. It’s frustrating, and I really wish I had less bills, but I’m working on that. (My debt is also temporary.)

Best of all, my mental health struggles are temporary. My depression, mania, anxiety and mixed episodes are all temporary. It’s frustrating to experience these things, but I know deep in my heart that they are temporary. I can seek help to support me, and I can will myself to make it through with all the spoons I can muster. Until I feel better, I remind myself it’s temporary.

My pain is temporary. If I get hurt, regardless of what kind of hurt it is, it will heal because that injury and that pain are both temporary. My bruises and cuts will heal up, and my emotional pain will lessen with time. That’s not to say that wound will never be reopened, but even that residual pain is temporary.

So to those of you who are struggling, hang in there. This feeling you’re feeling is only temporary. Tomorrow can be different and even better.

Moving on… literally

It’s day 14 after my big breakup and things are slowly getting back to ok. My ex and I are now able to talk without me bursting into tears. I’m able to eat and function normally for the most part. We’re able to see one another without awkwardness too much. Tomorrow I’m moving into a new apartment.

Now I’ve lived in this apartment for 2 years, 8 months and 26 days. That’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere since before I left home. This apartment was the first apartment which was MINE and mine alone. I learned how to be single in this apartment. It was my rock for the past few years.

I’ve loved here. I’ve cried here. I’ve heard good news, great news and bad news. I’ve been angry here and I’ve yelled here. I’ve cried tears of joy. I’ve made new friends and lost old ones here. I’ve made love here. I’ve fought here. I’ve studied my ass off the night before an exam here. I’ve graduated here. I’ve created beautiful works of art here. I’ve lost dreams here. I’ve made dreams here. I’ve made dreams come true here. I’ve aged here from my youthful twenties to my wisdom-filled thirties. I’ve made mistakes here and I’ve accomplished goals.

A lot has happened in the past 2 years, 8 months and 26 days and there’s no good way to sum up everything other than I’ve made memories here. This apartment has been the one stable thing in my life despite all the ups and downs I’ve had in the past 2 years, 8 months and 26 days; and now I’m moving out tomorrow.

I’m terrified.

I’m moving to a new town where new neighbors live. I’m moving farther away from my friends, my family and my support system. I’m moving to a town where the only person I really give two shakes about is now my ex, and we’re no longer together. This move is suddenly terrifying.

Up to this point I’ve been excited. As I boxed things up I anticipated leaving this place with joy, excitement, happiness. I lovingly packed my things in paper and in boxes and I thought about my new apartment and all the memories I’d make there, but now I don’t want to leave the memories I already have.

I’m terrified to be alone…really alone. I’m scared to move away because I’m worried that my bipolar will make me sick… again, like the last time I lived away from my support system. I’m scared that I won’t like the landlord there. I’m scared that I’ll lose my job in that town and be stuck commuting to a job in a different town again; wasting my time, energy and money on the drive every damn day.

This feeling came over me as I was driving home from work today. I realized that it was the last time I’d drive “home” to this town, at least for a while. Next time I drove “home” it would be to my new apartment in my new town. I’m realizing that the reason I took the job I have now was to be closer to him, to be with him, to rationalize moving closer to him and eventually moving in with him; and now I want to be farther away from him, but I can’t run away. Even “home” will only be a few blocks away from him starting tomorrow and it breaks my heart that I’ll be so close and yet unable to have him.

And so here I sit surrounded by my life packed in boxes. All my memories packed up in neat little cubes waiting to move to a new place. Waiting to be unpacked in their new place in my new apartment.

And I’m terrified.

But sometimes you need to pack up your life, your doodads and your clothes and your knickknacks and move on…literally. Sometimes you need that push in order to do something great. So that’s what I plan to do; do something great in this next chapter of my life.

It’s been 2 years, 8 months and 26 days… it’s time to move on.

Living in the Moment

In the past few weeks there have been so many incidents which have made me thankful that I am able to live in the moment.

I went to a concert. I sat there and experienced the concert through my own eyes. I didn’t filter the concert through a camera or phone. I didn’t post it to Facebook or tweet it, I didn’t need to send a snap chat to my friends about how awesome the concert was. I didn’t need the photographs or video to keep that memory in my head. In fact, because I was trying to keep it by memory alone, it made me even more in tune with everything going on in that moment. The way I felt, the heat of the evening, the warmth of Matt’s arm touching mine gently, the sound of the music, the words, the poetry of all of it. So wonderful. I remember each and every moment of it despite the fact that I have nothing posted on social media, no photos, no videos. I lived in the moment and so I will never forget those moments. Those moments when I thought to myself “I’m getting so old that I’m the person sitting at the concert instead of down in the madness of the crowd losing my hearing (because I’m old enough to treasure my hearing despite how good the band is).” The moment when I looked beside me and saw a smile on Matt’s face. The moment a memory about a song came back and I could remember the very first time I heard the song. Because I wasn’t filtering my life through a cell phone then either.

I always try to live in the moment and enjoy each and every thing that happens to me whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s been raining a lot here. The rivers are flooding, and people are starting to get scared. But not me. I’m thankful for the rain and tonight I spent about 20 minutes just standing in it and getting soaked because frankly, I didn’t think I’d ever make it to today. There were so many times in my past when I thought “This is it, I am not going to be able to make it to 30.” Life is freaking TOUGH, and it takes a warrior to make it through sometimes. There were moments where I definitely looked at the situation at hand and thought “I can’t do this anymore. I give up. I don’t want to wake up tomorrow.” But inevitably I did wake up, and I was grateful for that. No, I haven’t always had wonderful and perfect moments, but they are my moments, and no one can ever take them away from me.

Tonight I learned just how precious each moment of life is. I learned that one of my former students has died after his long battle with lung cancer. I had this kid in my class when he was 1, and now he was nearly 12, just wanting what every other nearly 12 year old kid wants. He wanted to play Xbox and be a kid, but instead he had cancer by some weird fluke. This was one spunky little mischief maker and I loved that little snot so much when I was caring for him and I’d often wondered afterwards what happened to him. And the most inspirational part of it all is that I read a blog from his mom, and instead of being angry, sad or frustrated with losing her child, she had nothing but love, gratitude and peace in her words… because she had also lived in the moment, and she had enjoyed and valued each and every breath her son had taken, especially since his diagnosis. And in the end she was able to end her time with him with a truly beautiful moment. Maybe not exactly as she had imagine it would be to part ways with him, but she ended their time together with love and with gratitude that she had lived every moment she could with her child.

Butterfly

I know that not every day will be perfect, but I also know that it’s a waste to live life being sad about what could or should happen in life. I know that wasting time complaining about life not being fair is spitting in the face of all the glorious gifts I’ve been given. So instead of writing about how unfair it was to lose a nearly 12 year old boy from this world, I want to express how grateful I am for each and every shining moment I was able to be in that boy’s life. His smile could light up a room. Boy was he adorable as a toddler, and he was a handsome young man as well. I know that his mom taught him all the wonderful things in life that she could, and I am so grateful to be a part of something so wonderful. I lived every moment I spent with that little boy, and no one can ever take those moments away from me. They were precious moments.

And for his sake, I will continue to live in each and every moment I have because life should not be lived through a lens, but remembered as a series of moments, each more precious than the last.