Quicksand

Four years ago, I stopped doing one of the dumbest things I ever did in my life: crystal meth. Four weeks ago, I did one of the dumbest things I ever did in my life: crystal meth. Why did I do it? Why did I stop? Why did I do it again? The answer is probably the same for all the questions. Whether it's a rationalisation, a reason, an excuse, or an explanation, the fact is that I did it and I can no longer say I've been sober for four years or that I'm a former addict.

She's an evil bitch who doesn't care about me, and no matter what my desires, dreams or motivations are, she will always be in my blood, in my brain chemistry, in my psyche, in my life. Surprisingly, the result of this recent unwelcome and unexpected binge was more painful than extracting her from my life the first time; the rejection from one of my best friends, Al. 

Tina was my best new friend when I moved to Chicago. She let me feel things I had never felt before. She made me feel invincible, powerful, sexy, uninhibited, libidinous and, most of all, careless. I was careless with my life, careless with my health, careless with my friends and family, careless with my job, careless with my finances, careless with my appearance. So the formula goes like this: if you are careless, you do not have cares, you do not feel, when you do not feel, you do not care to feel, nor do you feel to care.

Four years ago, after walking out of a sex club at sunrise in a strange city, for some reason I suddenly felt something that I had not felt for some time. I felt feelings. I felt loneliness, shame, emptiness, guilt, desperation, and an overwhelming feeling of What the fuck am I doing to myself? sweep over me. I don't know what it was specifically, but that particular bottom felt hard at that exact moment. I had a feeling. I had not had a cogent feeling for quite some time. But it suddenly seemed crystal clear (pun intended) right at that exact moment.

It was 7:14 a.m. I dropped my pipe on the ground, crushed it with my boot, emptied my stash into the gutter and threw that familiar little plastic packet in the air and watched it float away in the wind, much like my life had the previous year and a half. I had had enough. She had robbed me of enough synapses and serotonin, had packed my emotional baggage until it wasn't a carry-on any longer, and stifled and clouded any and all reason.

I went to the hotel, got my stuff and started the drive home. On the way home, work called. One of my projects was messed up and they needed my documentation. I fumbled for an answer, because I knew I was doing the bare minimum to get by, and I knew I did not have what they needed or what I should have been doing. Somehow I skated through that.

Work distracted me from her. When I first met her, she was with me on Saturday. Then it was Friday and Saturday. Then it was Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Then it was Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Then I don't know exactly when, but the week simply became periods of light and dark with those two days in there that I didn't have to deal with work.

Right after that phone call (blasted cell phones) my sister called. She asked if I knew what day yesterday was. I think it was Tuesday, I answered. She reminded me that I forgot our mother's birthday. I had never forgotten her birthday before, I was crushed, and that made me hate the evil bitch even more.

When I got home, there was an eviction notice on my door. I had not paid my rent for 3 months. The locks were changed in my fancy high-rise apartment. I could hear my cats meowing behind the door. As I sat down in front of the door, I decided to listen to the several voicemails on my cell that I had ignored all week. The second from the last message was from the cat sitter; she was unable to get into my apartment, and I realised that my cats had not been fed or watered in 3 days. Their meowing was mournful and only increased the emotional edge; it was sharp and cutting. 

The crash had started to sting, as these were not feelings I had wanted to feel. Any feelings for that matter, but I felt, and it felt harsh. I walked to the elevator and stifled the urge to cry because that would have been too much feeling. I went to the doorman and said I could not get into my apartment. He asked which unit, and after I told him he gave me a look and again, I felt. I felt like trash, a mess, embarrassed because I could not believe that I had an eviction notice on my door. I was expecting Springer to show up at any moment with the camera.

It was exceptionally shameful because I had thousands of dollars in my checking account, but I just could not be bothered to sit down and write a check. That would have distracted away from her time. Somehow, after showing the management representative from the building that I did have the money in my checking account by getting online (I did pay my phone bill because being cut off from the online sex sites was worse than not having a home - priorities, right?), they let me write them a check and let me in my apartment.

After I fed the cats, I sat down and listened to the answering machine. A few businesses were calling and asking when they could expect payment for this and that. The last message was from a friend calling to let me know that her mother had died. She was in a hospital right outside of Chicago. I knew she was there after a car accident, but I could not visit her; that would have distracted me from my current goals of sexual conquests and I would have had to feel.

Even though this woman and I were there for each other 20 years ago, when simultaneously her marriage was crumbling and I was coming out, I was not there for her then. We were each other's rock at that time, but my rock had been ground into pebbles, then into sand, and my feet were sinking, quickly.

Ironically, within a 12 hour period after deciding to stop being friends with her and expunge her from my life, I was exposed to be a fraud at work shirking my responsibilities, forgot about my mother, almost lost my domicile and had forsaken a friend. Serendipitous, fortuitous, or just plain luck, the timing was sobering. All for something I thought was a friend, a better friend, a sure friend who was consistent in her reaction and response. 

I'm sure you've heard, read, seen, or are possibly living a variation on this theme. I knew what I had to do. I ditched her, her friends, the people who I thought were friends, and sought counseling to rebuild what I had almost totally lost and started asking the difficult question of why? What drove me to her, to be friends with her and systemically destroy my life for this crystalline structure that smelled like Clairol Herbal Essence when she burned in a glass tube?

That was almost four years ago. For some reason, after four years of avoiding profiles with PNP, after four years of having her put up to my face and easily refusing, after four years of thinking how disgusted I was with her, after four years of physically getting nauseous thinking about doing her or being friends with her again, and after four years of feeling, she showed up at my doorstep. Was it consciously or subconsciously that I let her in? Either way, the id superceded the superego, only to drain my ego. It couldn't hurt to just let her visit for a few days again, could it? I had control, I had my wits, I had friends and a good life again, had enough of feeling.

The sordid details of this recidivism are not important right now, because the stinging regret of having her course through my veins is bringing the bile up my throat as I type. I could list a plethora of _________(fill in the blank: reasons, excuses, rationalisations, explanations). But they all pale in comparison to the weakness I suddenly feel by the personal setback of having conquered a whore who stole from me, only to foolishly be enticed again in a moment of weakness. 

I reached out to friends, family and professionals. One friend suggested that I write a list of things for which I am grateful. The list was short the week immediately following her visit, because the crushing depression of her wake had only brought up doubt, unreasonable behaviour and thanklessness about everything in my life. She magnified the trivial nuances into overwhelming and unpleasant circumstances. A month later, the list is much longer and stronger.

A professional asked me my trigger. It took me a few weeks to think it out and answer the question, but it still doesn't help reset the clock. Work stress, bad dating experiences, a disappointing relationship, a relationship that I thought was a relationship but was not, not feeling connected to the gay community or the people around me, living in a semi-closed door closet, my family's anti-gay marriage stance, wanting someone or something that I did not or could not have. Feeling too many feelings that made me feel, think, live?

The real tragedy and biggest regret right now is the loss of a real friend, in flesh and blood, in emotion, in support, in love and friendship: Al. I thought he'd be supportive, I thought he'd understand, I thought he'd be there for me. He is not. I'm not sure if it's because he won't, can't or doesn't want to be there for me. In any circumstance it still hurts, and the rejection from this friend is worse than the onset of the depression once I mustered some courage and flushed her remains down the toilet.

He told me that he already put one friend in the grave because of her; he can't stand to watch another. He painfully reminded me of the reasons I told him I stopped being friends with her because anyone who is friends with her is a loser. He told me that he can't believe someone would throw away everything good they have for her. Why I would piss away a nice home, a nice car, and a great, well paying job was beyond his grasp of reason. He could not put himself in that position.

I once said that she was the scourge of the gay community and he pointed out the hypocrisy of my own words. My words, my strength, my convictions were being aimed at me and being used against me. Ouch. Was he simply reminding me of my own desires? Was this his defense mechanism to not watch another fool destroy his life? Was he calling me out for the fraud I had become? 

A long time ago someone told me, oddly enough before I met her, that drugs don't cost money; they just affect your ability to make money. It's also a fact that money can't buy you love or happiness. Drugs mask feelings, both good and bad ones. I don't want to not feel again. I like feeling. The good feelings, the bad feelings, the feelings that hurt and the feelings that make you grow. I _______(fill in the blank: hope, think, want) this is my last rock bottom.

Jim B, Chicago

 Story from www.lifeormeth.com