Abide with me

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
The fictional memoir of a junkie.

Submitted: March 09, 2007

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Submitted: March 09, 2007

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We all lit our cigarettes, breathing the light into our amber stars, a constellation in the car's dark interior. Street lights illuminated our desires before plunging us back into the darkness. There's a cool caress of the wind through the open window. Astral fingertips glide across my cheekbones, through my hair, through my head and my thoughts. All my resentments drip away in this place, down my spine. It drips onto the carpet like rain. I lay back, melting into the upholstery, feeling calm in their presence, the nicotine, vodka and my friends. Rumbling down this highway, we are on the journey of our lives and we don't care where it ends.

Like all journeys it started with humble beginnings. It started with sunshine, picnics, warm beer and someone playing a guitar. There were long nights of raucous laughing, scrounging drinks from the unsuspecting and singing out of tune to terrible tracks we found on the jukebox. The end was darkness, the shakes, pain, nicotine stained fingers and the funeral of my soul. I can look back on it now, remembering rows of clinical white pills cluttering my bathroom cabinet and the faint tremor in my hands. I can see how innocent it seemed and what a cluster-fuck it really was.

I don't want to talk about the wheres and the hows of the first time I got drunk because it's a situation heard a thousand times over. It's just not as important as that feeling. The feelings of melting back into yourself, letting all of the electricity that makes your nerves jangle and you skin itch just relax. I felt like a swimmer coming up for a big breath of air; it was a relief from all that pressure I seemed to have carried around for so long. When I was drunk, I was light, airy, the life and soul with a crackling sense of humour and the feeling that everything could be, or was, poetry just waiting to be written down.

However, like any high it started to wear itself away. You have to drink even more to climb back to that same serene spot on your mountain. I found myself jittery, withdrawn, not being able to talk to those new soul mates I had met at the bar. Unlike most alcoholics I didn't go out and get my three litres' of White Lightening to find my way back to the shady orchard I missed. I discovered the mountain behind my mole hill; I discovered drugs.

I was a regular in bars where I felt most comfortable, most at home. You could watch me letting blue cigarette smoke entwine around my face and waft blithely into the air without a care in the world. Hanging out in bars means you get to know a lot of people. You know people who know people, who know things, who can get things and it's so easy to fall into things you swore you wouldn't touch. It's so easy to get swept into the swirling river of narcotics. It's so easy to lose yourself but it takes years to find yourself again.

I make this lifestyle sound like a very dark place but the thing was it didn't start off that way and for a long time it was the most fun I ever had. I can look back on it now and laugh at those crazy stunts we got up to. Once we got into the car and drove two towns over just to try out a different kind of pub. On the way home we snorted lines of cocaine off a holiday brochure and laughed until we cried. Everything on the way back was bright, moonlit and stupidly funny. I can look back on trips and remember them as clear as crystal. Though I can see where hilarity bordered on hitting zero. I remember being so high all the time that simple jobs were way past my level of comprehension. So the happiness of amusement was mingled with the desperation of complete inability. Let me show you;

The need and idea of milk drove me out of the house. The last thought was perpetually being swallowed by the tide of the next so remembering was like a faulty light bulb flicking on and off in my head. I hit the pavement hard and waited for the nausea to die down. My insides are awash with cheap liqueur, pills, tabs and some stale crackers I found in the cupboard while scavenging. This is what drug addicts do when they live by themselves.

Thinking about crackers makes my body feel like a cracker. I can't shake the thought loose. How am I going to get off the floor if I'm a cracker? I can't bend! Will I crumble into little bits? Do you remember that Tom and Jerry cartoon where Tom breaks like a vase? The thought brings a ludicrous laugh up from my toes.

What was I doing? Ah yes I was getting up off of the pavement. Swaying and grinning inanely at the passers by I make a staggering protest down the street. All of the colours swell and undulate, pressing down the sky and the floor until I feel like I'm two feet tall. The patterns in the paving slabs breed faces which whisper and leer up, until I try and converse with them.

London Bridge. Look at the swirls in the river, like chocolate ice-cream. I wonder what it would be like to swim in ice-cream? Would it be sticky? Would it make you fat? I was so preoccupied with the consistency of the Thames that I failed to see a businessman in a bowler hat that I literally bowled into. He and his friend look like they've smelt something disgusting by even touching me. How long has it been since I showered? Why is it in a shower that the water looks white when it's meant to be clear?

The man in the bowler hat is talking to me. Look at his briefcase. As I stare at his briefcase it begins to distend and bulge, taking on new form. Sniggering I stare idiotically down at his hand. Is it a claw? The briefcase is like a cloud. It's a sheep. It's a SHEEP. Why is this man walking a sheep down the road?

"Sheep, Sheep" I scream at him, hopping from one foot to the other. His friend has one too!

"Hehehehe" I shout patting at the sheep's head with my outstretched palms. The colour has gone out of the bowler man's face, he looks like milk, and suddenly I'm thinking about Animal Farm that I studied at school.

"Two legs BAD" I shriek at him, remembering the line from the book. This sliver of memory is like ecstasy all over again. I run down the road revelling in my new found memory. Once again I had no idea what I had come out for.

Yeah that was fun at the time. Withdrawal? That's not fun. Not having enough money to get a new fix and feeling like your insides are trying to fight their way out. Hallucinations arrive that aren't flowers and bunny rabbits, they're the sights of limbs falling off, blood and leering faces. Withdrawal is like swallowing sulphur and then throwing is back up after it's burned away your stomach lining. Addiction is wanting a line rather than a sandwich and your body eating itself away; it's not knowing when to stop until you touch the tips of oblivion. I thought it used to be a bit like running your fingertips over heaven. In the ensuing years it was like running my fingertips over razorblades.

It's also not fun when your body starts to give up on itself; it wanted that sandwich instead of the line. It wanted litre's of juice, vitamins, sleep, water not bourbon and it wanted out of the burning need that felt like ants scuttling over my brain. My life was gone; I was a bumbling, walking skeleton. What was I doing with my life? I could get hit by a bus tomorrow! What an idiot.

One day my body took industrial action and left me unconscious in the frozen food section of the supermarket. You can't do that kind of thing in civilised society so I ended up strapped down to a hospital bed watching my limbs do the Macarena of withdrawal without me asking them to.

Wow, rehab. I thought poverty induced retraction was hell; this imposed let's-lock-you-up-with-the-crazies type was brutal. However I knew in my heart it was time to be living in the real world not this world of shakes, drug preparation, vomiting and being the weirdest person in the pub. So I went through the twelve step programme, even though it reeked of God bothering. I went through trying to re-discover my personality before I had drowned it in narcotics and I tried to re-live my life without getting off my face to walk down the street.

I did that entire "Hi my name is...I'm a big druggie" thing. Then after six months, I didn't feel sick every single day, I didn't crave great snowy lines of cocaine and a chilled tall glass of.....see? For an addict it's never really over. Though after months of weaning yourself away from the drug of choice, you start being able to move off of your mountain and back to other people.

Two years after going into rehab, I was finally feeling good. My body will never be fighting fit but Id been to the gym, stopped eating crap and hadn't touched a drop of alcohol or any narcotics. Things were finally looking up.

Hindsight's a bitch though isn't it? I spent years of hard slog, years of dragging myself up from the gutter. I left a party atmosphere in search for a better life, in pursuits of dreams, goals, 2.5 kids, a Labrador named Rover and a partner who chastised me mildly for being messy. I thought I was getting there. I thought the drugs or the booze would kill me, and I'd be left to putrefy in my grotty little bed-sit. I was partly right, not that it's any consolation now.

Tell me when you see God having his laugh. It was on the way back from an AA meeting, it was raining, it was dark and I was singing along to something suitably embarrassing in my car. Then there were lightning bolts into my skin, glass, a hideous screeching and total and complete fucking darkness. The truck driver didn't see me. I doubt he could even see his own hand in front of his face. Coming round a corner that drunken bastard rammed into the side of me and stopped my long journey, that journey I put so much effort into. He ended it in thirty seconds of bone-crunching, organ spilling violence.

So drink, in its way did kill me. I was so angry, angry at the poetic justice of it all. I was so angry at him shitting on my struggles from a great height. There's no anger now, I'm objective and calm and not in a floaty white robe kind of way. Death was sudden and something I hadn't really thought about. I didn't think there was a Heaven, a Hell, an afterlife or a big karmic recycling factory, I just didn't see it happening until I was old or decrepit. What's it like? The afterlife? Now what would be the fun in telling you that?


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