Confessions done, a huge load lifted, and the healing begun, life has certainly been looking up. The messages of support and well wishes far outweigh the condemnation, the anger and the silence.
With a new job on the horizon, the second chance I never thought I’d get was thrust firmly in my hands, and it looked like the demons could be – would be – faced down. Easy enough to say when I’m 40km west of Musina, and far from anywhere I’ve gotten high in the last 18 years, but while I was taking time out from my life, life has moved on, and though I’d imagined a couple of months or more would be spent putting some time and distance between my past sins and my present healing, four weeks was all that I was allowed, before life came calling, demanding a return to action. Four weeks to get over 18 years of addiction is laughable – that’s four weeks of going cold turkey set against 936 weeks of constant addiction and the damage it caused.
Any expectation that a full healing would happen in such a short space of time is only setting one’s self up for disappointment, and so I had to ask myself how many weeks would it take? Ten? Twenty? A hundred and twenty? Fact is, I may never be truly fixed, healed, unbroken, and I’d like to think in some rose-tinted universe somewhere the scars and scratches are lovable, and made by years of hard loving and being loved hard, but they’re not – it’s a case of hard living despite being loved hard, and living hard despite the loving hearts I was hurting.
But even though there’s no guarantee I’ll be healed at the end of this journey, I MUST try, because by NOT trying, by giving up and sinking further into the depth of my self-activated demons and the dark inside me, that IS a guarantee I’ll never heal.
What of paying for my sins? My crimes? Who do I owe this payment to, and what is the cost? I firmly believe that the good fortune I’ve enjoyed and been humbled by these past few weeks, and the good feelings that have come rushing back mean that I won’t be paying for the rest of my life, on the assurance that I remain honest and humble, and take accountability for the impact my selfishness has on my family, my friends, my work – the world around me.
The cost has already been high – friends dead; friends gone; opportunities missed; trust broken and hearts turned cold towards me: the stripping of my mortal soul and the selling of my virtues for a few minutes of personal isolation in a chemical haze-turned-hell; the dissolution of the moral code imparted by my family, learning and society, and finally, my bearing witness to the spiritual void within me, and every other drug taker, dissolving their soul with each line, each pill, each puff. Is this the true cost, though? No, I don’t believe it was – it was merely what I was willing to sacrifice, to get the next hit: everything that as mine, and more, besides.
The cost, the true cost, of my addiction, is still to come, and is held in suspension, unpaid, and unclaimed, and payment will come due if for just one instant I forget the journey, the promise of healing that I have made to myself, and to everyone else: if I don’t take this last chance to heal, if I continue to submit to my demons, the cost will be my future, payable on the first line snorted, the first pill swallowed, the first wisp of crystalline smoke inhaled. The price will be everything yet to be achieved.
A realisation like that – no, an epiphany of such magnitude, makes me scared to leave the isolated compound of Dongola Ranch. But the truth is, this prison of tears and the walls of distance that form the soul cell that imprisons my future cannot protect me from the demons that drive my addiction, they will find a way to cross the time, and space, and they will find a way back in.
Dongola cannot keep me safe forever, and eventually the isolation that hides me so well now, will serve only to focus the demonic anger and retribution, the things I’ve escaped these past 18 years in my chemical non-reality, and they will kill me. My healing is, therefore, not only about bringing an end to the addiction, the drugs and my selfishness, it’s about tracking those monsters back through time, tracing the wreckage and scars back through the soul killing track marks they’ve left on my life, back to where they were born and unravelling and unwrapping them, understanding them and knowing why they have so much power over me, my decisions, amplifying my insecurities, or nullifying them.
What is it about drugs that they seem to obviate, subconsciously, the things I hate about myself? Is that really what they do, and is it a gross oversimplification to think that merely adopting the opposite feelings, sensitivities, reactions and behaviours will reverse the inadequacies, the insecurities and the selfishness? Will doing that drive me back to the cause of the feelings that hurt? Yes, that is an oversimplification, and living as my mirror moral image will be living a lie, and solve nothing.
So what is the root cause of my evil? And this is where I …stop.
Glib answers and pop psychology will only perpetuate the pain and the damage. This is where the journey back to myself truly begins, and each step must be careful, considered and courageous, not because you are reading this, and expecting a dramatic story, but because I am writing this, and living it, too – and if honesty and healing are really at the core of why I am doing this so publicly, then each step must be – will be – the right one, at the right time.
The demons will be named, shamed, and slayed, one by one. For now, it is good enough to have pointed myself in the direction of this crusade. Tomorrow, that is the another day, and perhaps the day the demons will come face to face with my wrath: they have been here too long, and cost too much.
Now it’s MY turn!