I used to have things, and lots of them. Furniture, clothes, heirlooms, books, CDs, appliances – and OH! the shoes! Shoes, I was mad for.
Over 100 pairs, that in total cost me a cool quarter of a bar. Some survive, not through any last-chance reasoning on my part, but because I had so many, some are still in storage in Cape Town, in Gaborone and in London. A podiatric legacy, if you will.
My furniture was nothing fancy, but it was mine. A lot of it was hand-me-down, since I moved back home from London. The CDs were an impressive collection, as were the DVDs. I had an Olympic-grade fencing kit worth over R30-k.
There were two quarter Kruger rand left to me, by my dad, when he died in 1987.
I had over 150 t-shirts. I had huge fantasy maps, featuring Terry Pratchett’s Disc World. Four of them, each measuring a metre by a metre in ornate frames.
I drove a Mazda MX-5 and at the same time, a Peugoet 306 Cabriolet. Well, for a while – I sold the Mazda, because insuring two red cabriolets when you’re only just 25 kills the pocket. I turfed the Pug, and drove a BMW, and then a Smart Cabriolet.
I flew overseas. I ate in expensive restaurants at over R1,000 a head. Often.
I was Rome; then – I was Nero, and fiddled, while my life burned. Because more than all these things, these terrible, terribly boastful things, I had drugs. I had drugs up the ying-yang, coming out my ears. I was reasonable about my chemical excesses: I only ever took drugs on a day that ended with the letter ‘Y’. Religiously… spiritually… and, yes, even ritually. I’ll even be glib about it and say I even took them agnostically – I wasn’t particularly phased by which was the God of All Chemicals, I took them all.
And then, when I was done, I took some more. I invented acronyms, and rhymes and other dreadfully witty and cool slogans for my habits: “The 4 Ps of Pleasure – Pills, Papers, Powders and… er… Penises” (I’d blush, but I’m beyond that, and it’s far too late to feel shame for my crimes). There was also “The 3 Cs and a K of Cool: Coke, Cat, Crystal Meth and Ketamine”. My cheesiness knew no gutter too low to wallow in.
Then in 2011, the best thing ever happened. I lost my job. It was followed soon by the last of my possessions, my home and my mind. And THEN I realised that I still wasn’t at rock bottom, and I tried to kill myself. I failed, and found I had no spine, testicular fortitude or nerve, to try again. I had to live, and live with it.
I went to live on a ranch, far away, to start healing, to start coming back to life. I decided to tell my story. This blog got me back to life, it got me a job, and I moved to Paarl, and now, I am moving to Stellenbosch, to my own place, and to start putting the infrastructure of a normal, healthy life, into place. For the first time in 38 years. A bit of a late bloomer, wot!
Last night, I packed my sis-in-law’s truck, with my meagre left-overs I can nominally say I own, and was gutted to realise that despite having had two months’ of proper retail therapy, everything I owned barely filled the back of her truck.
I took a picture. I sighed, and willed away the tears that had formed by telling myself it was the cold that made my eyes water, and not the sentimental regret that kept punching my chest, in time to my aching heart-beat. I told Lize-Marie that I could be morose, and regret that my addiction had decimated my life, but I could also say “THANK GOD there is so little to move!”
I posted that picture on Facebook, ostensibly to cheer myself up – it’s the Britisher in me, that self-deprecating ‘chin-up’ attitude.
And then the most amazing thing happened – people started sharing the pic, and commenting, and liking. Not millions, like a video of a toddler falling asleep in his ice-cream would generate on Youtube, but tens, and because I’ve set my privacy to ‘really, really public’, on Facebook, so I could share my story with whoever would listen, a host of strangers have commented, far and wide.
Geographically, if not numerically. But you see it’s not the numbers that matter – what matters is that my story inspired a few others, when I’d be lucky to get through to just one. Last night, I touched the soul of a stranger, and he shared my pic with his friends, and they commented, and were moved. And then another stranger, a friend of a contact – someone I’d never met before, sent a friend request. Someone I didn’t know wanted to follow my story and support me. Someone was going to hear what I had to say, someone I’d never normally have reached.
Suddenly, today, my selfishness through all those years becomes justified. I went through that hell, lost all my possessions, dignity and respect, so that today, I could stand here, share my story, and hopefully, spare someone else that same hell.
Arrogant? Think that I think I’m Captain Recovery? Nope. No one is more surprised by the attention than me, even though I confess to being the world’s – nay – the UNIVERSE’s greatest attention whore. I’m rather humbled by it, in fact. Amazed, that the sad little tale I tell, is such a motive force in a few others.
I see a path opening up, before me, and I am humble enough to accept the challenge.
My name is Dave. I am a crystal meth addict. This is the story of my continuing healing.
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