Saturday, June 26, 2010
Today was another glorious day of rest (my bones are still so tired from finishing up the school year that I am at home, no demands, no conversation, no responsibilities). Anyway, the sky was cloudy so I decided I didn't really want to sit outside on my beautiful little deck. What to do? Since I missed my morning spin class I drug out my elliptical machine and positioned it right in front of our giant TV. What to watch? Nothing was on the DVR so I surfed around the ON Demand line-up and found, Intervention, a one-hour series about drug addicts and alcoholics confronted and sometimes helped out of the abyss by concerned family and friends. An A&E reality show, criticised by some as exploitative, it's definitely pretty raw. And, for whatever reason, maybe because there was nothing else to watch on TV (which is the case most of the time) I decided to watch this docudrama while cranking out an aerobics session.
The program is basically tragic TV 101. Viewers watch, voyeuristically, as people fight for their lives. More disturbing, and not a little surprising to me, however, was how I started reminiscing about my own unhappy time with drugs some 40 yeas ago. As I was listening to this sad, herion-addicted woman, Crissy, who has pretty much lost everything and wasn't really helped by the Intervention, I thought about what I know to be true, that not everybody makes it out of the drug world or out of mental illness (my mom) or out of the ghetto, despite all the kind and valiant efforts of professionals, family and friends. As a kid, this skinny, unhealthy 36 year-old sad soul, recalled feeling enormous relief when she took drugs for the first time. Her dad was abusive in nightmarish ways and when she was high, she just floated away. She described heroin as that itch you scratch on a dog's behind right where it's tail meets it's hind end. It's like soaring around in heaven. For her and for me, when you take drugs (when I took them, I should qualify), you don't hurt. Some people take drugs for the experience of it, the mind-expanding state of consciousness they enter. Peace, love, and all that. I didn't. I took drugs to escape feeling ugly, fat, stupid, unloved and friendless...and it worked.
What surprised me today as I was sweating away on my trusty elliptical machine was the reappearance of a lot of those painful and familiar feelings. I thought I had long ago dealt with all those yapping voices in my head that made me want to explode at 16. Obviously I will never really "deal" with them, or silence them completely. They are a part of who I have become and, honestly, I am happy for that as I do like who I am these days. But, I guess I'd rather not revisit that particular time warp, thank you very much. And, yet, there I was, swimming around in those feelings again. I guess my perspective on my desperate adolescent years, is that I am totally amazed, absolutely astonished and extremely grateful at how far I have traveled from then to now. I live in an amazing waterfront condo, hold a Ph.D. in psychology (every Ph.D. in psychology is driven by a need to know themselves), am happily married, have my health, love my work (of course with troubled kids), my puppy, my family and friends. I feel loved, happy and fulfilled...life is finally good :)
Forty years ago I was one of those kids, stoned and prowling the streets at night, parents unaware, hanging out with my druggie friends, high on who remembers what. I clearly remember, however, heaing some girl screaming her brains out one night while I and my drugged up pals were all dancing down at the pool (local hangout, next to my elementary school). What a shock when I "woke up" and it was me screaming, rolling around on the floor. My "friends" quickly scooped me up (the cops can't see you!) and put me in a car where I sat, hallucinating and in near panic as little aliens tried to get me. Whew...glad those times are long gone. I was a miserable teenager, no doubt and unfortunately. Through no fault of my mom's, her behavior towards me was really soul-deep damaging. All is forgiven now (and rest her hopefully peaceful soul) but, wow, what a path I have traveled.
Intervention, Episode 24, the story of a 55 year old woman who still hasn't kicked the habit, lost, alone, miserable. Happily, that isn't me.
I am not who I was 40 years ago. Then again, who is?