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.


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 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.

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.

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.

Nobody defines your recovery or your life, nobody other than yourself.

You don’t have to live up to anybody’s expectation of your life. Your life is yours and yours alone. And if, like me, you struggled with addiction and are now clean, you don’t have to listen to anybody who gaslights you if you don’t live life according to their expectation, whatever it may be.

Recently I’ve encountered two people with two very different impressions of me and my recovery, and it amused me…

In a Facebook group, some jerk wrote about how great 12 step programs are, and how they are the “only” way to recover – so I correctly pointed out how they are simply magical thinking and nothing more. The silly fucker called me a “dry drunk”, something I’ve heard before. A dry drunk according to 12 steppers, and I’m not going to look this up because it doesn’t really matter, is something to the effect of: Someone not following the program, who thus according to them is not “working the steps” and is thus still an addict but just one not using drugs. This is because, according to their dogmatic approach, if you don’t do exactly what they do and don’t believe in the magic they believe in, you’re not “truly” in recovery. Today I lack the energy to think of the words to explain just how fallacious that actually is. Yeah, cunts, I’m not a true Scotsman either.

Truth be told, these dogmatic cunts have gone and indoctrinated themselves into a cult. That’s what 12 step culture is. They’re not working on their recoveries as much as they think – in fact we could use their own terms against them and point out that they have just got addicted to something else, a program of magical thinking, one that doesn’t actually deserve credit for their sobriety, but does in fact cause harm when they impose this as the “only way” to be clean on others, and when they gaslight people like me.

But I don’t really care about the gaslighting. The thing is, I don’t treat addiction as a lifelong problem that needs constant work. I haven’t craved meth for years, and I never will use it again, or any other drug. I recognize that phase of my life is over and done with, and I’m living my life. No need to pay attention to their bullshit. I only care about it because of the harm it does to others.

The other new person is a new dev at work. He seems to be amazed and really impressed, and genuinely asks “How did you do it?” in relation to me quitting drugs, as if that was such a difficult, or near impossible task. But it wasn’t. If you’re anything like the way I was, and you use meth every day, you run out of it constantly too. So you have to choose, at least 3 times a day, to get more meth, or to have another hit. More like 10 times a day but let’s pretend it’s only 3. 3 times a day every day is 1 095 times a year. 1 095 times a year that you choose to use meth rather than not use meth. Do the math, not the meth. All you have to do is choose not to get more meth. Just pick a day and choose to stop. And then don’t make the choice to use. Next thing you know, eight years have passed and you don’t even remember the last time you wanted to use.

I’m reliable now and that feels strange when I think about it.

We’ve had a couple of emergencies at work lately. I can’t get into too much detail but what I can mention is that the main software I work on is responsible for large volumes of financial transactions.

So… things can go wrong, just like any system, and there is a lot of pressure, but depending on the service, not much time to fix things. For example, transactions have cut-off times, and if you miss them, the only way to fix things is to resubmit, but using a shorter lead-time service type not even implemented by the system. That’s all I can say without giving away anything that’s too confidential.

The point is, when things go wrong in a financial system, its a big deal. For example, you might end up in a situation where millions worth of revenue passing through the system might… not pass through the system. (Or imagine the other extreme – millions of revenue passed through but doubled, or a fault with some kind of floating point conversion means 100 times the amount. Fortunately that didn’t happen here. But just imagine.)

And on more than one occasion, the person to fix the problems, was me. Me! The same me who couldn’t be trusted to implement even simple code fixes to a far smaller system back in 2009. The same me who couldn’t be relied upon for anything for several years.

These kinds of problems can end with people losing their jobs. There’s not always much recognition when someone fixes these kinds of things (thank goodness because I don’t want too much of that, thank you), and these events will hopefully mostly be forgotten, certainly not how things would be if the disasters were not averted, but that’s not my focus here. My focus is me sitting here and reflecting on how weird it feels that people rely on me, and even if the details are forgotten, the positive effect on my reputation will remain.

I remember sitting in code reviews back in 2009, trying to act like I wasn’t confused. I was working for a company that produced software used by attorneys at the time – it generated documents and did some accounting, but nowhere near as complicated as what I’ve worked on the last few years. I couldn’t get anything right, and I could barely understand what I was doing wrong – because I was so messed up and confused… and so high on meth all the time.

And here I am, doing my part to save the day. There’s no way the old me could have done this. It feels good to be reliable. I mean, these people have no idea just how far I’ve come, but I am glad to be of use.

What was lost can again be found

I’ve been toying with the idea of bringing back my old blog. It’s just a setting…


I took it down back in 2015, because someone didn’t like something I’d written, and this person managed to threaten the social worker who was handling my son’s case at the time. I had to take it down or else risk not getting my son back.

Of course times change, and what was important then isn’t so important now. Or is it?

Maybe other parts of that blog are worth sharing again? It’s like a time capsule… waiting to be opened. I started writing it back in 2010, and I was clean for nine months before relapsing, and then, until September 2013 when I cleaned up again and stayed clean, I wrote but was not clean. But still, imagine a window into your life as it was a decade ago… Wouldn’t you want to take a peek at who you were?

Oddly, it was quite a successful blog, getting in excess of 100 views a day, which is a lot for me… more than this blog. I did write for one or two years of being clean again at the end, but ultimately I didn’t like keeping that blog up because of all those posts I wrote in my last 3 years on meth. But still, it might be worth making public again, for interests sake.

Should I or shouldn’t I? I can’t seem to make up my mind.

Update: I have discussed this with my attorney… and although the idea of opening up that old blog is one I would ideally like to continue with, the problem is the stuff I mentioned where someone else was unhappy with a post that had grievances against him. It wouldn’t look good to open that up unless I would rather like to pursue legal action – so maybe remove those posts from the old blog.

Still not a grateful recovering addict…

Too bad you can’t see it now, but I had to take my original blog down for reasons I’m not getting into now… In my very first post, sometime in 2010, I positioned myself as a recovering meth addict, around six months clean at the time, who identified as an atheist and stated that I was my own higher power. Immediately the first comment, from some credulous twat who follows a 12 step program, arrogantly denied my perspective and passive aggressively suggested I start anew, writing another post entitled, “Hi, I’m Jerome and I’m a grateful recovering addict”.

My first thought was to respond with a post titled something along the lines of “Hi, I’m Jerome and I’m a psycho-maniac”. It wouldn’t make sense so I never did it, and I don’t know why my mind went there – something to do with the anger but that’s where it went.

Anyway, I moved on a long time ago. I have not felt any need for a ”higher power” for a long time. I attended an NA meeting in 2019 (for the first time since 2015), because my ex was living with me at the time (while I tried to help her but it didn’t work out) and I wanted somebody to talk to because I suspected she was using again, and I wanted a little validation by announcing my six years clean at the time… It didn’t really help much – she still left, still stole my money and my car, and the tag’s print has “clean and serene for multiple years”, not six years as I naively expected, so… But mostly, that old illusion of me relating to my fellow recovering addicts wasn’t there anymore. It was nice to talk to people who understand, but that’s not enough of a reason to go back again.

My share in that meeting, besides being about the problems with my ex which was the first time I spoke, involved me addressing something somebody said about a higher power, belief and so on… And I got enough nods of agreement to my talk about disbelief, atheism and not having a higher power or sponsor, to realize two things: 1) Talking too much risks fucking with others’ recovery. 2) I don’t need to be around them.

The problem is, 12 step programs involve a dogmatic, faith-driven approach to recovery, one that does not work at all to me. However, NA meetings are not the place to raise this, as it involves me questioning the tack of people where that direction may be the only thing that works for them, without suggesting some other direction. Sure, it probably doesn’t work for most new people, but that’s another matter, and I have no way of knowing how many people are in such a meeting for the first time. So it’s best that I leave the bullshit believers to their own devices. After all, if it works for them, that’s good enough. The placebo effect is real.

But getting back to that first blog post, I was insulted. Nobody actually supported me. Instead, I was told to follow a faith based approach, and to be grateful to the people who took my child away simply because I used methamphetamines, even though, apart from using drugs, I had done nothing wrong. In short, the consequences I faced that made my life difficult were mostly not consequences of using drugs, they were consequences imposed on me because people knew I used drugs. There were also harmful effects caused directly by the drugs, but they paled in comparison to the way I was treated by malicious people who simply had an excuse for malice.

Real support, real help for the problem I had, and actual psychological, evidence-based treatment for addiction would have been something I was grateful for. But that did not and still does not exist. I had to relapse and find my own way back into recovery, without rehab, without faith, without bullshit. And I had to get my child back on my own. So, even though in September, just four months from now, I will be eight years clean, I didn’t get here because of anybody’s “help”, I got here despite it.

I am not and never will be a grateful recovering addict, because I got here thanks to my own effort. And were it not for the harsh consequences imposed on me because I was open about my drug usage, I would no doubt have achieved sobriety sooner.