Regarding recovery… We all start somewhere

Hey! I don’t have much time to write these days, but this came up in my Facebook memories yesterday and I figured it’s worth sharing here too.

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That was a weird time. My ex had convinced me to use “one last time”, which then lasted for a week. I managed to stay clean for a month, and was prepared to continue, but then someone contacted Child Welfare and my son was put into foster care, and… I took that as an excuse to reasoning like, “if they’re gonna treat me like I’m using even though I’m clean, I might as well use…” Self destructive, I know.

And I continued to use for another whole three years. But I did stop. I did get my son back. And now I’m into my tenth year clean.

My point is… sometimes it might seem hopeless, but it isn’t. We all fail. Failure isn’t the end. We try again, and we keep trying until we succeed. I’m not special. If I can do this, so can you.

Being a parent is tiring sometimes

Last week Thursday my son called me at work to tell me about a grade 7 school project he has, for EMS (which Google informs me stands for Economic and Management Sciences). He had to prepare a survey, and speech, like a sales pitch, for a product or service, and include a poster with fake ads, comparison to a competing product/service, show his costs, and so on. He had no idea what to do but since we have no printer at home it would require me to download some pictures and info on his pretend product, at work…

So “we” decided on the phone that he would be selling a radio controlled toy car, with USB charger for greater convenience. And sure enough, such products actually exist. It’s amusing in a way… it’s only two or three years since he grew out of such toys, and USB charging cars were never a thing a few years ago. So toy technology has already moved on since he played with toys, and will likely do so again by the time he’s a parent.

I gave him what he’d need and assumed he’d get on with it, until yesterday when he told me he’d lied to the teacher, telling her his project was done but forgotten at home. Eventually he did it last night, but I had to spoon-feed him just about everything… the title being something like “Josh’s omnidirectional, all terrain, USM chargeable vehicle”, the selling points being something like…

  • Do your kid’s toy cars get stuck on the grass or carpets?
  • Do they need to be manually retrieved from under sofas and other obstacles because of the poor controls?
  • Did you get home only to find “batteries not included”?
  • Is it a major inconvenience to replace spent batteries?
  • Can they be damaged by water?

Well, fear no more because Josh’s omnidirectional yada yada yada can travel on all surfaces, the replaceable battery pack is USB chargeable, and the powerful motor allows control forward, backward, left, right, and can turn clockwise or anticlockwise… and so on. (Not exactly what he did – this is just more or less what I gave him off the top of my head.)

Kiddo eventually finished it in the dark (because we have rolling blackouts euphemised as “load shedding” here in South Africa) after midnight. His poster looks pretty cool actually. Good job, Josh. Eventually.

But here’s the weird thing… The little bugger is almost a clone of me, his problems getting started are so similar to my own that he is virtually identical to a younger me. His inability to take his friend’s example questions (her service was a bakery) and apply them to his product, his procrastination, his endless farting around doing everything except his project, his lack of ideas, even given he had such toys and knew exactly what could be improved compared to his own ones… It was like watching a little me with all the same problems I used to have.

The only difference is, I have had years of experience to get past those starting issues, years to learn these skills, which I call bullshitting skills but whatever… It’s fucking exhausting though. I’ve taken decades to overcome my limitations, taken so long to learn these skills, and for what? I can’t just pass them on to him. He has to go through the same trials and tribulations to learn the same lessons, and then we die. It would be so much better if we could somehow inherit these things, but no – we all spend years learning the same shit as our parents, repeating the same mistakes and struggling the same struggles. All for nothing. I wish I could make it easier for him, but there’s only so much I can do.

Being driven by hatred works for a while, but it isn’t sustainable

My last post was a little dark, by design. It came out like that because of my perspective while writing it – I was motivated by a colleague who remarked that I had “lived my life”. I wanted to make it crystal clear that this was not the case, and paint a bleak picture of what life on meth is really like. It wasn’t pleasant. It isn’t something I remember fondly. In fact, I associate my years of addiction with pain, hatred, bitterness, and regret. I was driven to get out of it mostly by hatred. A weak, pale reflection of myself – who ate only once every 3 or 4 days at the end, I didn’t have much to motivate me. No energy, no will to live, but plenty of rage, plenty of self hatred… There was only one person who I hated more than myself, and with nothing else left, it was initially hatred that drove me.

I even shared a similar thought on Facebook – saying that life isn’t all lollipops and rainbows. Sometimes life is negative, and sometimes responding negatively is healthy. Sometimes it’s OK to be driven by rage and hatred. (I think it’s important to state this. There are only so many sweet sick saccharine stories of recovery I can take – and by so many I mean zero. I loathe toxic positivity. I loathe it in the workplace; I loathe it in NA meetings. I hate fucking church. Save your happy clappiness for kindergarten and grow the fuck up.)

It (the hatred motivation) doesn’t last though, because it doesn’t need to. Once you reach the other side, there is so much more to life. There is also love. There is joy. There is pleasure in things that have nothing to do with drugs. It isn’t always easy… Life is still not all lollipops and rainbows, but it is better when you are facing it rather than anaesthetising yourself with drugs.

Strangely, I have found that the last few years, I am no longer able to remain angry for more than a few minutes. So last time I used some effort to “channel” the feelings I had back then, and make it as clear as I can how unpleasant life on meth was. But life after meth, is good.

Nine years clean

I never thought I’d get here. But here I am. Actually I’ve jumped the gun, as usual. I measure my clean time from September 1st 2013, so I will be nine years clean, and into my tenth year (At last!) as of next week Thursday. Close enough though, fuck it.

Normally I have nothing to say these days, but for a change there are a couple of things I’d like to share. Firstly, I think maybe I’ve given some people the wrong impression of my life as an addict – or they got it somewhere else, I don’t know where. People say things like, “Well, you lived your life” when they hear about my past… No. No, I didn’t.

People seem to have these strange ideas about what addicts get up to. Sure, there’s some crazy shit, but for the most part, your impression is totally wrong. Most of the time, meth-heads sit around doing nothing but smoking meth. That’s it. Days pass, then weeks, then months, then years. Suddenly you’re vaguely aware that it’s Christmas… again. The Earth has circled the sun a few times since you last paid attention, and in that time, you were sitting around smoking meth. There is no living of life. There is only sitting and smoking meth. The other stuff that happens, happens by accident, because getting off your ass to get more meth when you’ve been awake for a week will by definition involve some madness. But that’s the exception. The norm is just to sit and smoke.

Please don’t get the impression that life on meth is good, or fun, or romantic, or glamourous, or even interesting. Meth addicts might do some things at the beginning, but that’s before full blown addiction sets in. When it does, meth addicts don’t use meth as a part of their lives. They don’t use meth to enhance sex, or whatever the case may be. They use meth because the meth high is the only thing they care about. The meth high becomes everything, while everything else diminishes in importance. It might take a while to get there, but that’s where it goes. As a meth addict you don’t live your life. You merely exist. You’re a zombie, an emaciated, stinking, pale, broken shit-talking reflection of the person you used to be, and if you’re lucky, you might be smart enough to know that life is passing you by. If you’re luckier, you might be inclined to do something about it, and get clean. But you probably won’t.

The other thing I was thinking about… I remember when I found out that my girlfriend was sleeping with someone else. Our son, Josh, was around a year old. And it wasn’t that she was sleeping with Fabrice, the drug dealer, it was that everyone we knew, knew her as his girlfriend. I was working in the day, and all the time I was at work, she was with him. I met someone who didn’t know us as a couple, who casually referred to her as Fabrice’s girlfriend. Fabrice used to endearingly refer to my son as “Small boy!”. I hated that. I took my son away, with the help of some family and Child Welfare, and then I went to rehab. Fabrice is dead now. He died in prison. Too bad he didn’t live long enough for me to tell him that she aborted his child when she ran away from him, but all in all, I’m glad he’s dead. I hope he died slowly. I hope he suffered. I’d like to think that he died from a stab wound and slowly bled out, with no one around who gave a shit.

Edit: Reading this back, it might seem like I’m being a bit hard on Fabrice. I’m not. He robbed me, more than once. He also sold my fridge, which was in storage after losing the house, which I lost because him and my ex stole my rent money while I was at work. He got what was coming.

Even though I relapsed and used meth for another three years after that, all it gave me was pain. Less than 30 seconds of a pleasureful high, and hours of pain. Hours of dwelling on the past. That’s why I generally don’t write about the past any more. The years of pleasure were good, but they were followed by even more years of pain. And that’s all I remember now about using those last three years: dwelling on the pain of the previous years.

I do sometimes wonder about the people I knew back then. People like the girl who told me when my ex was cheating… she was one of a young couple I was friends with – they stayed somewhere in Wherry Road, Muizenberg, but I don’t remember their names. They were only in their twenties and still not in that “final” phase of addiction where all they would do is sit around and use. I wonder if they got there? These were decent people. Others too… Laska, Leon, Graham… I wonder if they are still alive… I wonder if they got out. A part of me doesn’t want to know because they probably didn’t.

Trust me. There’s nothing good about my old days. I didn’t start living life until after I quit the drugs.

On giving to charity

Hey there – sadly I don’t get time to write here much anymore, and sometimes that pisses me off a bit. There was a time years ago when I obsessed over my page views, but now, since I lack the time to write, they’re abysmally low. I have found another way to get my dopamine kick though… Giving to charity.

I kid you. That’s not the only reason. But I do believe that it’s good to put a little money aside every month to give to others. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but something. And I do this even though I’m struggling myself. That doesn’t matter… I have found it’s an enormous reward to give some amount to people who need it more than I do.

I’ve done this because of two things… Someone asked me for money a couple of months ago, a person on Facebook who was in such dire straits, she really needed to ask others for help. And secondly, I saw a thought provoking meme on social media, one that asked commenters to share one thing that they, in their childhood, thought of as an indicator that other people were doing well. This one:

My answer to that was a swimming pool. In my childhood, that’s what my parents tried to promise every summer. We never did get one, but I considered having one a sign of affluence. To my dismay, one of my friends replied, “a bicycle”. And that got me thinking, because I never lacked that. I used to ride my bicycle to school from the age of seven, and I could not imagine anyone who couldn’t even afford that.

So, all things being relative, why not take some money, money that I would only end up wasting on luxuries like takeout food, and give it to someone who needs it more than me? Why not indeed? And so now that’s what I do. I think we all should, if we can.

To be honest, I was loathe to write this. I don’t want to be accused of virtue signalling or any such bullshit. I’m not going to tell you how much or to whom I give, just that I think it is a good thing to do. Support your fellow humans. That’s all.

All your gods are myths

It occurred to me while I drove to work this morning that I no longer care to say that I am an atheist because there isn’t any evidence for the existence of any gods. Evidence doesn’t even factor into it. Of course there is no evidence for any god, but why would there be? There isn’t evidence for made up things. I have no interest in debating this with anyone or pretending that there is anything to debate.

We all know that…

  • There isn’t enough water to flood the whole planet at once.
  • No one can live for days in the stomach of a fish.
  • Virgins don’t have babies.
  • Stars don’t point out the positions of imminent births.
  • Dead people don’t resurrect.
  • Natural disasters aren’t the results of an angry god.
  • And so on …

We do know that all of those kinds of things happened in myths. Now you can be like my extended family member who provides “scientifical” explanations for the things in the Bible, but who believes in it anyway, or you can be logical, and conclude that the Abrahamic religions are mythology and nothing more. Because that’s what they are. So are all the gods of all religions. We made them all up.

If stories contain elements that look just like myths, it’s because they are myths. It’s that simple. I will never again debate this with any sort of religious apologist. There is no point. Anyone who insists on bringing up their gods to me is simply not worth my time. When they do it at work, I can, of course, politely decline the debate. Online is another matter.

Not everyone knows this obvious sign that their neighbours are junkies, but they should!

Haha… Sorry/NotSorry about the clickbait-style title. I just couldn’t help it.

I was reminded of this one again the other day, and I thought to myself… Hmm… I’ve never really spelled this one out on my blog, have I?

We’ve all heard this, but probably not all made the connection. So… you’re trying to sleep, but your neighbours are talking incessantly, not loud enough for you to make out the words (thank goodness – it’s not likely they’re saying anything you need to understand and you might lose a few brain cells if you did), but rather what you hear is the distant sound of repetitious driveling mumbling monologue. Something along the lines of…

Speaker one: Womble womble murby moo, wobbity were murble flurb. Groomp grurbert hurbur haw, shluyrbur furble schlurkerted schlurmer wombelly wor. Murmurer morming habbery hoo, flerbert rurmer borm. Humbub hurmering hormering hoo. Mimble mimbering meemee mo.

Speaker two: Flurburb nurt?

Speaker one: Grimburb. Splurkert florg. Wombelly wee. Kurburble blorg. Burt twerdle kaflorgit. Nowert yurg! Spash!

These quotes best read with a mouth full of cheese

And so on… the whole fucking night. It could be a couple of people; it could be more. It could be a whole family of idiots or a house/flat where a bunch of strangers just hang around. It may be accompanied by someone clinking a lot of bottles together when taking out the trash, because people high on uppers can drink loads more than everyone else.

The fact is, sober people don’t do that – they don’t mumble loudly the whole night, and even alcohol alone isn’t a likely explanation these days. These people you hear talking shit the whole night are always high as fuck. We, humans, are social animals, and when we get together, we do talk. But people who are high don’t stop taking, long after most people would have. There’s also a particular way that men on meth tend to mumble along, womble-mombling for hours or maybe days on end. Hard for me to put into words, but it’s a way they sound on meth that I recognize instantly.

What you do with this information is up to you.

Some crazy dreams

For the last few years, I’ve had constant bizarre and vivid dreams. Usually I forget them, but for whatever reason, I remember bits of three of them from last night. Not the whole dreams, but enough to share in bemusement…

The chicken farmer nightmare

In this one, I found myself wanting to be a chicken farmer. I was loaded into the back of a van, what we call a “bakkie” here in South Africa, and taken to a farm. On the farm, I was not even given a room or a place to unpack my things, but immediately put to work, as some kind of slave laborer. Everyone there was Afrikaans, except for me, and I soon got into trouble by announcing “I’m not a fucking slave laborer” and also telling them I don’t believe in their god. It then turned into my generic “I need to pee but can’t find a toilet” dream, and also involved me getting a lecture from some strange woman about how I was being disrespectful to their culture.

The lucid “astral projection” like dream

In this dream, I found that I was able to both hear and feel myself breathing. I have a nasty post nasal drip and in this dream, I was aware that I was sleeping, and could feel the rough breaths going through my throat, and strangely also hear my breathing, but as if it was not me, as if I was disconnected from my body, floating above it but a separate entity.

This was interesting, because I do believe that astral projection is not real, but simply a form of lucid dreaming where the dreamer believes some nonsense about being a spirit. Perhaps the parts of the brain involved, the combination of subconscious and lucid parts somehow gives an impression of being two entities… the sleeping physical body and the mind feeling as if they are not the same.

Interestingly, I snore, but I didn’t hear myself snoring. I heard this loud and somehow “disconnected” (from me) breathing, and only remembered that I snore after waking up. So I must conclude that the breathing part was actual dream (not real), but a recreation of a breathing sound using my subconscious imagination, whereas the awareness that I was asleep and dreaming was the lucid part of my brain. Having the illusion of those two parts being separate was a fascinating experience.

The lucid time traveler

Having two lucid dreams in the same night is highly unusual for me, because I can’t usually maintain lucidity for more than a few seconds… So I was chuffed with this one.

This dream started with me seeing someone from my school days, in school uniform, with his hair blowing in the wind. But he was de-aged back to around 17 – this guy should be about 50 now, same as me. Then I saw several people from my school days, all in perfect detail, and in fact, I didn’t even know that I remember them all so well. I was myself as I am now, lucid but invisible to them, a time traveler observing them and their conversations, able to go right up to them without them seeing or otherwise detecting I was there. I was totally in control, lucid but not forced to awaken, able to look at them from different angles and move among them. Again, a fascinating experience in lucid dreaming.

The weird thing was, I was able to open my eyes, see my dark bedroom, and close them again to immediately resume the dream. So it was like I was simultaneously awake and asleep… hence my usual problem of waking up (and losing the dream reality) was not an issue.

Maybe I should find out more? Try to deliberately lucid dream. It really is quite amazing.

If you believe the meth voices are real, here’s a simple experiment that proves otherwise…

I’m over my meth addiction. Seriously. I have not been able to relate to my fellow addicts for a long time, but one thing that gets to me is that one of my most popular posts here, about meth voices and how they start, was hijacked by commenters who are absolutely convinced that the voices are real.

They come up with various explanations… Sometimes the voices are “demonic” (even though demons aren’t real), sometimes it’s some kind of government mind control (no such thing exists and moreover, your government have better things to do than watch a bunch of tweakers walking around their houses and hiding behind their beds), sometimes it’s the voice of Jesus (nope – also not real), and sometimes it’s some form of psychic powers (again – nope). But I don’t give a fuck what your explanation is…

This post is for you fuckers who think the voices are real. I have one simple experiment you can try, one that proves they originate from your own brains.

Control the voices

It’s pretty simple really… It occurred to me one day, in the midst of my worst paranoid experience where the voices were mocking and saying terrible things about me – if the voices were generated in my own brain, which they obviously were, I should be able to control them. Just focus on them and make them say different things. For example, if they’re insulting me, have them compliment me instead, or as I did while super high and out of my mind, have the main vocal “antagonist” shout out at the top of his voice, in between all the insults of calling me a loser and junkie and saying I would never clean up but probably die from my addiction, “I’m a bouncy bouncy bouncy ball; watch me bouncy bouncy bouncy FALL!” Just make them say random stupid shit.

And then, when you realize that you can control the voices, you will know for certain that they are not external. They are not real. They are auditory hallucinations, either brought on by your drug use or are part of a mental illness. And then… seek help.

Note that controlling the voices won’t make them go away. It can be a useful coping mechanism though – at the very least it could help you realize that they are internal to your own mind. There are other causes for hearing voices besides drugs like meth, but if you hear voices and are a drug user, I strongly encourage you to stop using drugs. Otherwise, you risk triggering mental illness and the voices becoming permanent. In my case, the voices stopped after I stopped using meth, or even when I took breaks from it years ago. Trust me, it’s better to get this sorted before you cross that line to being psychotic and delusional.