“Every experience in your life is being orchestrated to teach you something you need to know to move forward.”
– Brian Tracy, Author and Motivational Speaker
“I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous – everyone hasn’t met me yet.”
I became a young child that day.
A vulnerable boy and a hopeless friend.
It’s as if your imaginary best friend, who came into this world for you only, has forever left you.
I hope Heaven is true, for there she would be waiting.
Waiting to hold me in her arms again, telling me everything is okay.
I would be with her one last time. But this time, there would be
My tragic life would be over, at last.
I’m an alcoholic, a drug addict, and a chronic relapser.
I’ve unintentionally allowed my body to be infiltrated.
Possessed by a demon.
So, in my pathetic world, full of constant pain and pain, heroin runs the streets.
With her gritty hooks, heroin has controlled me, like a malevolent master pulling the strings wired to his powerless puppet, allowing terrible things to happen.
People often blame weed as being the culprit, gateway drug that opens up into a new world of harder drugs.
For me, weed could be the gate, but alcohol is what opened it. Heroin is what locked it behind me.
Longingly locked in an abhorrent world of addiction.
Forever frozen in a state of absolute agony.
would bring the freedom I forever seek.
This is how I feel as my mother drops me off at my new therapist and grief counselor, Ms. Gail Hilsner, LCDC (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) a.k.a. my shrink—
“I just turned 25 and I feel as though my miserable life should already end. It’s pathetic,” I say to Gail.
I’m sitting on a purple couch placed across from her, sitting at her desk with an old school iMac computer, in her tidy, square office.
I met her the previous week, where I just sat there, barely saying anything, while she and my mother decided on a schedule and payment plan. I did notice she had a copy of some Dan Brown book, and on top of that, The Lost Boy. There was a piece of paper on top, blocking the name of the author. I didn’t care to find out. I always notice what others are reading. I’m a voracious reader myself and love to talk about books. The Lost Boy. I can already relate.
Gail—she told me to call her—has brown, highlighted hair that is cut off an inch before it touches her shoulders. She’s probably in her late 30s.
The bright smell of the tropics surge through the air, permeating my nose. It must be one of those unnecessarily strong air fresheners you can find at Target, that usually take up the entire aisle. I’d spend what would seem like an hour trying to find the perfect scent to cover the smell of cigarettes in my car. Nothing works better than Ozium spray.
An hour-long session with Gail isn’t too expensive for once a week. This works out for us. Plus, she seems like a compassionate lady who knows what she’s talking about. She will have to do, regardless, because we couldn’t find anyone else who dealt with all of my issues.
Today, she is wearing a bright green pant suit, much like last week’s pink one. I wonder if it reacts to black lighting. She must really love the neon colors. It reminds me of an Old Navy commercial. Gross.
“Do you always feel this way,” she asks.
“Not always, I guess. I suppose its when I look back at my life… Especially that morning.” I motion my head to look away from her eyes, feeling sick. Just thinking of it makes my stomach turn.
“The morning you found your friend－”
“Dead,” I interrupt, “in bed… next to me.”
I close my eyes for a brief moment, then open them meeting hers in a dead stare. She nods her head as if she understands and can feel my pain. I don’t want her pity though.
“Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you all of this, looking for a pity-party. That is the last thing I want,” I demand, “I don’t blame anyone except myself for the stupid, stupid decisions I’ve made….. It’s nobody’s fault, but mine.”
“Were you to blame for… What is her name, again?”
I never told her the name. I had always tried to avoid saying it on account of my heart dropping every time, feeling as if it had skipped a beat.
“Brianna.” My chest tightens for a split second. “And no I am not to blame for that, mark that down. Please.”
I take a second to search my brain, but I can’t find him. Bubba’s Face was still M.I.A. in my head. I haven’t been able to picture what he looks like ever since the day after Briana had died. All I can remember is: he was white—but thought he was black—had buzzed, dark hair and the one thing I’ll never forget, a lazy eye. I remember whenever I had looked at him, I stared at his forehead because I didn’t know which eye was looking at me and which one was looking across the room. That’s probably why he never got busted, he literally had both eyes looking out.
I neglect to share this with Gail, though. I did not want to talk about that bastard anymore than this:
“It was Bubba, my roommate. He had to be the one that gave it to her ‘cuz it wasn’t me or Annie, my neighbor.
Gail marks up her yellow notepad. I think, she must write like a doctor. Most likely Brianna’s name. She gives me a short look of confusion before she asks, “How many ‘Ns are in Brianna, dear.”
Suddenly, I’m her dear. Though, it doesn’t bug me, so I start to spell out her full name.
“Well, I am so very sorry to hear that. You have experienced a very traumatic event, it sounds like.”
If you only knew.
She pauses and waits for me to respond. I do, with a few nods of my head. She looks at me for a few seconds, smiling without showing any teeth. My head is like a blank piece of paper. A piece of blank paper staring back at you is a Hell, all on its own—I used to write poetry. So, I sat and waited…
“Do you smoke?” She asks.
I’m betting she smells the cigarette I just had before walking into this two-story office building.
“Yes, yes I do.” I say it proudly. I love my cigarettes. They’re what get me out of bed in the morning. Although I can’t stand it when random people come up to me while I’m smoking and either repeat the fake cough over and over, or literally go out of their way to tell me, “You know that smoking kills, right?” I want to slap them right across the face. If they only knew, the reason why I smoke, is a far worse thing that’s killing me.
She then asks me how much I smoke in a day to where I answer with a pack a day, which is a hell-of-a-lot better than my two-packs-a-day in rehab.
I start preparing for the “cancer talk” by slouching into the soft couch. Surprisingly, it doesn’t come. She solely jots down a few notes in her notepad. That’s relieving.
There is a brief silence as she finishes writing. She then stares at me, probably thinking of where she wants to go in our conversation. I would take the lead, but I couldn’t care less. I’ve spoken to enough therapists in my short, but eventful life.
Gail then chimes in, breaking the awkward silence, “Other than that morning, what else has happened in your life to make you feel so—”
“Suicidal,” I interrupt again. This is beginning to be a common thing for us.
“Well, it’s a long story. And I really hate telling it. It depresses me,” I say.
“How so?,” she asks.
“It hurts reliving it.”
This wasn’t false. I hate having to go through all those feelings, again. To put my feet inside those torn-up, black Converse that I wore everywhere, back then. I hate it because I still don’t have a positive or happy ending that would pick me back up after my story has emotionally thrown me down. But the week before, when I met Ms. Gail, I did tell her I would share my life story. From my childhood, through my angsty middle school days, to my alcoholism－now turned drug addiction－and up to where I am now.
Wherever that is…
“I can’t imagine. Tell me, how do you feel about death?” She asks quietly as if my answer could be some secret.
What a random question. “Death. Umm…it happens,” I pause to laugh inside. I think for a second, then continue—
“Sometimes of old age, sometimes accidentally, sometimes intentionally… I believe you have to accept death and be okay with it if you’re gonna live your life to the absolute fullest.”
“That’s interesting. Very Buddhist-like,” she mentions, then asks, “do you practice Buddhism?”
“I’ve read a few things that were pretty cool, but I don’t consider or call myself a Buddhist… or anything, for that matter. Honestly, I’d rather not talk about religion or my beliefs right now, sorry.”
“That’s perfectly fine. What do you want to talk about?” Gail asks.
I shrug my shoulders, while, simultaneously, tilting my head to the side. It’s the same look my mom’s dog, Cosmo, makes when you ask him a question.
“Well…why don’t you just tell me whatever you feel comfortable telling me, for now,” she said—I’m guessing to put me at ease. “You can start with whatever is on your mind.”
I did feel at ease. Something about her voice was so comforting, like a lullaby. All of the sudden, I’m cozy, laying on the couch, completely pacified. I had overheard her telling my mom she does different kinds of hypnotism. That could be interesting… and scary.
“Ok,… well… I am an alcoholic, I’d been in love, then cheated on; was strung out on dope; picked up a new addiction to crack; and had lost people I love to overdoses.” I purse my lips together making a straight line, while lifting up my eyebrows, feeling that sickness come up again.
“The deaths of my loved ones were not because of me though. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.”
There is a short pause before she chimes in, “I’m so sorry… That’s terrible. And how did these deaths make you feel?”
Damn therapists. Always with the feelings questions.
I play along, “Horrible, of course. But above all… guilty.”
After a hard blink, I can feel a tear well-up, but it’s not heavy enough to fall.
Oh my God. Don’t do it. Don’t cry.
Slowly and quietly, I continue, “—guilty that God—or the universe—would take them away. He… or It, would allow them to die, but leave me here. The asshole, drug addict who deserves to die, gets to stay?”
A drop falls down my cheek, landing in my half-open mouth.
The taste of saline is all too familiar.
“There’s actually a song that pretty much sums up my life… Or better… how I feel about it,” I tell her. “It’s by Azure Ray. Ever heard of ’em?”
“Can’t honestly say I have. ”
I wait for her to say something else, but nothing comes out.
Do I really want to do this?
“So do you want to hear it?” I ask her.
She says okay, but she doesn’t know how to download music on her antique 90’s computer. I don’t either except maybe looking for a video on YouTube, but I really don’t want to get up from my comfortable cushy-chair. “I don’t have a cd either,” I told her after she asks. I don’t know who still owns those anymore.
“Well, that’s a bummer,” Gail says, then asks, “could you give me the gist of it and what it means to you?”
“Yea I guess… gimme a sec, k?”
“Take your time.”
I pause and take a deep breath thinking of how the lyrics went. My mind blanks. I’m thinking too hard. I close my eyes until something, anything pops up. This is exactly what happens when I’m trying to say what I’m thinking. I’ll be in a deep thought and when I want to vocalize it, my brain goes into sleep mode. I really want to show her the song, so I focus all my attention to my breathing.
In and out, in and out.
After a few seconds, I’ve got it.
Gotta love meditation. “Ok, so, it’s by Azure Ray. It starts off with a simple but beautiful and quiet guitar lick. Then come the strings from violins, leading to a sweet, angelic voice…
“Someone else’s boy, you’ve had it so hard, will you grow up to be you?
Someone else’s boy, I have hope for you
That you will keep your love for the world.
Even though it beats you down, everyday
For the rest of your stay.
Someone else’s boy, tell me your convoluted stories through half-rotten mouths.
I will decipher them to tell the world of your heart.
How beautiful things can come from the dark.”
“That is beautiful,” Gail says in return, while wiping a tear from her watery eye, “I can already see what it means to you. What do you think?”
My tears have dried up like beach sand underneath the sizzling sun, so it’s easier to concentrate.
“This may seem like out of left field,” I say, “but… I believe it implies the cliché ‘never judge a book by its cover.’ You have no idea what’s inside, until you open up the pages and eventually, find its heart… and soul. With the heart being too much for just one book. You find the soul looks familiar, too, because… it is you.”
“That’s very sweet. You’re very poetic.”
Oh God, why did I just share that?
“Naw, I read that online,” I lie.
She gives me a quizzical look, then asks, “Do you feel like you have a big heart?”
I look to the side, away from her gaze that feels like it’s looking passed my body and into my soul. “Yeah… I mean, I used to have a big heart.”
I then told her that I had gotten my heart from both of my parents, but I believe mostly from my dad, who has a huge heart. I mentioned that middle school had made my heart go out to every kid who was made-fun of or bullied.
I had a hard time in middle school. I couldn’t tell you how many times I was called a “faggot.” And I’m not even gay or homosexual. Not even a bit “bicurious.”
I told her of this one instance in high school where I walked up on a few of my friends giving this kid, Sean, a hard time by cursing at him and taking his portable CD player. Seeing that, a fire had grown inside of me, so I told them to quit it, and that they didn’t know this kid and what he had been through. This was also post-Columbine, so when I had said that, I’m guessing they had immediately thought of him coming to school the next day with an assault rifle taking everyone out. Especially the ones who gave him shit.
My friends then looked at me, eyes wide, and walked away. I had known what they were thinking: Columbine all over again. I had apologized to Sean and helped him grab his things off the ground. I grabbed his CD player and saw that his CD was broken. However, I had recognized what it was. It was by Rob Zombie. The same CD I had in my stereo at home. I felt bad for the kid so I wanted to make it up to him. The next day I gave him my copy.
I had a big heart back then and a lot of people could see it, but it had started to dissipate with the alcohol and drugs. By the time we graduated, my heart felt half it’s normal size. I had been such an asshole to people. Doing horrible things like stealing their weed or money then helping them look for it.
Then in the first rehab I went to, it seemed like it was almost completely gone.
After I tell this short anecdote, there’s about a minute-long pause so I look over at the red clock-radio sitting on a low side-table by the door.
Light ’em up.
Forty minutes to go. And no more poetry!
She finally opens her mouth after an awkward, long staring contest.”So, I believe I remember you saying that it all started with alcohol, and that was your first problem?”
That is wrong.
“Alcohol wasn’t my problem,” I already know, “It was the solution I chose to help myself be comfortable in my own skin. I had a lot insecurities that I couldn’t cope with, back then.”
“What kind of insecurities?” She asks still looking straight into my eyes, she crosses her legs and inches her body forward so she could place her elbow on her knee and her hand to her chin. She’s listening very closely, I can tell, so I continue…
“I wasn’t a very confident guy. I had some issues…”