I do believe that the perspective of a drug addict holds infinite value for the non addict. An addict has the ability if he so chooses to look at life almost as if he was rescued from a near death experience, any addict would admit that this is quite literally the truth without exaggeration. This perspective is mine when I am sober and doing good. It only comes from the perspective that I have when I am struggling with my addiction and am experiencing life in a near death state day by day. I have a story to tell that only someone who has thrown their life away metaphorically and literally many time could tell.. Your average person cannot relate with this or with having your life restored to you multiple times. It is almost like a rebirth when I finally have the strength to pull myself out of the depths of yet another near fatal bout with drug addiction. As the beautiful opiate haze clears I look with new eyes at what the good lord has allowed me to rise from the ashes with. I see the needle and the damage done and I thank god for a restored channel of communication with his awesome power and I thank him for sparing my health and what sanity I am able to gather as my mind and body begin the healing process that takes years to reverse the damage I can cause in a matter of months. My active use usually goes something like this, I break my sobriety for whatever reason and begin dabbling in mind altering chemicals. Sometimes prescriptions and other times alcohol. Its all the same, I have been brought to my knees by both. At this point I still have earthly possessions and processes that I care for so for a time I fight very hard to keep them and keep my use at a responsible level without too many negative consequences. Slowly but surely I begin making an embarrassing display and the wreckage begins to pile up. The pile of failures and mistakes caused by drug use is always multiplied in my mind. I have a running inventory of reasons I should be ashamed or guilty and every single incedent is logged with great detail. I carry this burden with me everywhere I go and analyze it and add to it as my day transpires. Even worse I react to life based off of this data.. I am defensive of my small mistakes. I react in a disproportionate way to criticism and I am a mess of insecurity because I am riddled with guilt. Guilt that is based off of my past mistakes as well as off of the mistakes that i fear I am going to make in the future. As you can see that would create a completely unrealistic reaction to somebody simply asking if I thought I should maybe slow down a little. Something as simple as a friendly tidbit of advice sets off a chain reaction in my mind that goes a little something like this. A friend sees that I am rushed and stressed out and cannot understand why. I have a good job, a good life, I have been sober for quite sometime (or so they think) and yet they see me with worry in my eyes and I am rushing through everyday tasks. They simply suggest that I should maybe slow down a little bit. Upon hearing this my mind says to me “they know you are using”. I think to myself “maybe they only suspect that I am using and are fishing for clues to back up their suspicion”. Immediately my addict mind formulates a thousand excuses and denials that I begin sifting through. I spout one out in an attempt to rid my friend of any suspicion. They hear it, consider it and move on without another thought. I ,on the other hand, begin obsessing on what my friend could have meant and the possibility that if they thought I should slow down that chances are that all my family and friends and coworkers felt the same way. Slow down…. I know that drugs make you act like you have a lot of energy. In fact that is one of the main reasons I do them. I just enjoy having enough energy to get some things done. But I always try to hide the fact that I have so much energy but now so and so is telling me to slow down so I must not be doing a good enough job. Not doing a good enough job…. Kinda like how my boss made me redo that project this week because I didn’t do a good enough job. I’m pretty sure he knows too. Just like the time my old boss found that pipe I had hidden in the bathroom on my last go around with drug addiction. Something like that will most likely happen again this time. This self destructive thought process only took about ten seconds and will continue growing and evolving. Just like a snowball rolling down a hill collecting more snow and growing bigger and bigger, this small event will begin attaching to other events and I will have an impressive compilation of reasons to be a pitiful sack of woe is me bones. And it is all completely irrational. But to me it is very real. And so I begin reacting off of this monstrous amount of guilt I am carrying around and the next time somebody asks if I am doing ok my mind takes this innocent question and puts it into my big ball of guilt translator and out the other end pops the phrase “you look like shit and have been acting irrational. The rumor around the office is that you used to be a drug addict and I was just wondering if you are back on drugs??” My big ball of guilt emotion processor is astounded that this lady would have the nerve to ask such a question and sends this emotion to the brain that consults the big ball of guilt committee that now governs the brain and within milliseconds they send out orders to the mouth to attack and the Big Ball of Guilt communications device drops a nuke on the situation and i say something like “why does everybody think somethings wrong with me? maybe everybody should start worrying about themselves and stay out of my business!! Dont you have enough to occupy your minds, isnt your marriage falling apart. Are you doing ok? Just leave me alone. Im fine. Now I begin to hurt people around me by reacting that way and I begin isolating myself from those I care about and who care about me, because I cant handle the guilt I have from hurting them and I am pretty sure at this point that they can all see my drug use has begun to affect my personal appearance. At this point I have absolutely no thoughts of quitting and probably haven’t for quite some time. With my big pile of guilt and self pity strapped to my back I take the leap and dive in head first into active, full blown drug addiction. It is an easy transition at this point and I make the change seamlessly from my life among the living to my existence among the dead. I begin referring to drugs for every bit of sustenance I might need. I begin neglecting every aspect of my life except drugs and tending to that massive mound of guilt and self pity. At this point it is absolutely impossible for anybody to knock some sense into me and if I ever have a chance of another rebirth it lies in the hands of god. And god works in mysterious ways. Comical ways. God knows that there is a time and a place for his intervention and it is never when we are expecting it. We all think that certain events might cause a drug addict to wake up and give life another shot but that, in my experience, has not been the case. I have had many opportunities to wake up and many eye opening experiences that have caused me to close them even tighter. For me god has chosen to speak to me in the quite moments when I can hear him best. He speaks in emotion and his voice can tear down walls that I have spent a lifetime building. I bury myself as deep in the labyrinth as I can go. I curl up in a ball and I wait for death. I go where nobody can find me so that they cannot see my disease and what it has reduced me to. In this place god has found me. Despite my persistence to throw my life away he saw value in it that I could not see and intervened to give me yet another chance. Like a leper i felt ashamed to be seen by non addicts and god healed my leprocy and made me fit again to live amongst the living. In place of that big ball of guilt I have a growing garden of love and gratitude. It is my responsibility to tend this garden. I must remember to make a daily contribution to it. Somedays it is as simple as acknowledging its presence in place of the cancer that used to be there. Because I know that without my activity and reverence the Big Ball of Guilt will consume this garden and once again reign supreme over me. Without the darkness there is no light. But today I choose to live in the light. I make that choice evverytime I think about relapsing. The momentary carress of drug use is not worth the lifetime of experiencing everything through the darkly distorted lens of guilt, shame, regret, sadness and narcissism that is caused by the lifestyle of drug addiction. I remain gratefull for this reprieve from the insanity that I create when I live life with only my needs and wants up for consideration. I stay vigilante and tend to my garden.