Goodness, I am such a slacker. I say I am going to write once a week, and then I don’t. Schedules aren’t really my thing. Life has been busy, which isn’t a bad thing. I went to my medicine man for my anxiety earlier in January; it had been a bit of time since I had been there and he asked me about my plans for 2014. I didn’t even think about my answer. My mouth just responded that in 2014 I was going to learn how to just be. Just be. Such a simple, but life changing factor. I am always anxious, my brain moves about 80 miles a minute, and I don’t know how to just be. I am learning. This post is not about that though.
The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman really hit me. What also hit me was the divided response one reads after the death of someone famous from an overdose. Half are compassionate, half are in the they made their choices and therefore reaped what they sowed. Here is what I think:
We all make bad choices, therefore we should not judge. It isn’t for a religious reason for me to feel this way, but rather a human reason.
In my youth, I think I had a beacon for addicts. I dated a plethora of them and I could never figure out how it happened. I remember one particular boyfriend I had was a heroin addict. He would disappear for a while, and I wouldn’t see him, but this one night, I had gotten a late night phone call. It was someone I didn’t know, telling me that my boyfriend at the time was having a really bad reaction and he wanted me to come get him. Funny this was, I didn’t know how to drive. So, while my roommate (who was the only one with a car) was sleeping, K, myself, and a 15 year old who knew how to drive, took her car and we headed out really late to go pick him up. I remember sitting in the backseat with him, making sure he kept talking to me (and also really hoping my roommate didn’t wake up and notice her car gone) and being so worried. I had no idea what to do. I got him back to my place and called my father, who was a nurse. I was scared to bring him to a hospital; he had already been in jail so many times (I know, I know), and he walked me through what I needed to do. I bathed him, I sat with him as he vomited over and over again, and I stayed awake the entire night to watch him breathe. Before he fell asleep, he thanked me for getting him; he said if he was going to die, he wanted to die with someone who loved him.
He didn’t die, and our relationship didn’t last, but I did see him a couple of years later. I was pregnant with the Boy, and he thanked me again, telling me I saved his life. I have never seen him again, and I hope he is still doing well.
I think I also understand now why I was an addict magnet. It was because I understood because I was also an addict. Mine wasn’t drugs, or booze, but rather eating disorders. I understand the loneliness, the pain, the humiliation. It’s possible that I thought that maybe if I could help them I could help myself. I couldn’t though. I couldn’t heal myself through other people. I had to heal me, it just took me a long time to learn.
Addiction is a living thing. It sits inside you, waiting for the perfect moment to come out. It could be that moment when you feel scared, or lost, or your self-esteem takes a hit. It could be looking in the mirror and not seeing what everyone else sees. It could come from someone who tells you that you are too fat, or when you totally think you can diet like a normal person and then become obsessed with seeing the numbers drop. I can’t speak what it is like for a drug addict, or an alcoholic, but I think it would be similar. Addiction is addiction, and it just waits.
PSH was clean for 23 years, and I don’t know what caused him to go back. It doesn’t matter at this point, because he made his bad choice and paid the ultimate price for it. I feel it in my heart though, as a person who struggles with their own demons. I thought about myself and how I could have paid the same price for my demons. We lost a wonderful actor, someone lost their partner, and children lost their father. We need more compassion in the world. We need more understanding that everyone has a story, and I also bet everyone has a demon. It may not be the same demons, but we all have stories, and some end too soon.
While my addiction is currently inactive, I know it lives. I know it will speak to me again, and I will tell myself not to listen; to be stronger than the need. This week, I did something I don’t normally do. I bought clothes that fit me. I embraced my imperfect body and told myself it was actually perfect, because it is mine. I haven’t going to work once this week, hiding underneath my hoodie, or a blanket, or my sense of humor about said items. I will show my children it is okay to not be a size 0, and to do that, I have to love myself.
It’s been a long road, that hasn’t come to an end, because as PSH taught us, it just doesn’t. It’s a battle, a long battle, and one that has to be fought with compassion and kindness. Do less judging and more loving. Just be.