“Honestly those thoughts, if you don’t find a place for them, they will come back to haunt you… so you got to deliver them somewhere.” – Che Best
Fiction. Based on a True Coming to Terms With Someone Else’s Addiction.
by Vincent Bea
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255
I believed I had gone mad. Perhaps so much so it sent me into a frenzy of sorts, mind and body operating separately, or maybe so aligned that my body was merely acting as a well-oiled puppet to my twisted psyche. I looked in the mirror to see a foreign figure gazing back at me. I tested this unfamiliar face. I coquettishly smiled, and it, too, returned the expression. I childishly stuck my tongue out, and it, too, did the same. I slicked my hair back with both hands, and it proceeded to follow along. In my final attempt to outdo this imposter, I waved my hands –as if gesticulating to clutch the attention of God in heaven– and let out a scream that startled even me.
I quickly gathered myself and any books I had deemed of importance, threw them in my backpack, dressed as if for a funeral, and walked out the door. There was no destination in particular, but my mechanical legs proceeded to walk in haste as if I was late for some critical event.
Little did I know that I was walking towards death, an end of sorts, or if you prefer, a new beginning.
Halfway down the road, I reached into my bag for a baby blue American Spirit and smoked with intention. I started to think of who to blame for my current state when I stopped at the nearest bus stop. The screeching of brakes halted that train of thoughts, and I got on the bus and sat in one of the only two solitary seats.
The clear plastic in front of me vaguely reflected my head and its features, but in it, I also saw the woman in front of me. For a short time, the position of her head and shoulders fit into the mold of mine and it appeared that I could have been the ghost of her, whoever she was. I sat and tried to move with her nuances so that I could keep myself in her mold. I wanted to be invisible, not isolated.
Pierce… Please stand clear of the doors… Please stand clear of the doors… Divisadero… Fillmore.
I got off the bus and proceeded to walk with the same haste. I questioned my morality. Am I a bad person? Am I so absolutely terrible that this is the life that I deserve? I shrugged, exhaled, and walked into the bar.
“I’ll take a Stella and a shot of Jameo with a coke back.”
I flashed it. The bartender set down the triple threat, and I took my first sip. The anger within trickled down my throat before settling into the pit of my stomach.
I hadn’t written in months. I felt physically disabled. But I took out my notebook anyway, got out my pen, and found a blank slate. The tip of the pen touched the paper; within seconds, it collapsed as if it lost life. There were many things that I needed to profess, but I deemed those pages an insufficient recipient.
I glanced through past entries.
“Habits leave you hunch backed & drunk
Give you lung cancer & STD’s
Make your teeth fall out
Make you crazy
Break your heart
Take your sanity
Make you write about them”
I had lost everything of importance to me because of my obsession with fixing and maintaining a love I believed was rightfully mine. I had become the epitome of what I had always swore I never would– weak. I had lost my sense of self, I had lost my friends and family, I had lost my relationship to a pen and paper, I had lost my mind. I had spent so much time trying to save a drowned soul, that I, too, drowned alongside.
I was living with a ghost. I was reaching for a dream I could never quite make into reality, and it taunted me with its unattainability. Such an alive entity it was, and yet so dead inside.
He had died many deaths during our time together, and with each death, bits and pieces of me subsided. Addiction is a strange disease.
And so, I sat and drank. I paid my dues and walked again.
Night had settled in with ease, and the crescent moon had placed itself gallantly above for all of San Francisco, including me, to see. The blackness of the vast sky paled in comparison to the moon, despite its shy sliver for an appearance. How poetic, I mumbled.
In the distance, I caught sight of a sign that read, “Improvisation class, TONIGHT!”
Why the fuck not?
I entered through a discreet door.
“Welcome! Have you been here before?
“Did you sign up online already?”
“Okay, that’ll be twenty dollars please.”
I handed him the crumpled money.
“You’re all set. Find a seat.”
I grabbed a seat in the back.
“There is this term that I want to share with you all. Every moment in between two actions is life. Anthropologists use the term ‘liminality’ to define these moments. It’s the transitional period where one is sort of in between stages of life. Not quite where one wants to be, but not so far off. I want to use it in a different way tonight and I want it to be the theme of each improvisation. So, I will give you an attitude to work off of. I want you to take on the scenario and the attitude, then I want you one of you to transition out of it.”
“I really want you guys to let loose. Give it all you got. Direct your emotion. So, with that being said, who wants to go first?”
My hand raised itself.
“Come on up.”
My body made its way to the stage.
“So your problem,” she said, “is that you have a split personality. I want you to argue with two versions of yourself, and they are some sort of conflict, but I want you to try to come out of it by reaching a sort of resolution. I’ll give you thirty seconds to think of a conflict, and the stage is yours.”
I stood dumbfounded, then commenced with, “I don’t think I know what I want.”
“Of course you don’t. You never do,” I said in a bitter tone. “Why can’t you just be happy?”
“I think I want you to finally leave. Get out and go do what you want. You do anyway,” I replied.
I proceeded to walk slowly towards the end of the stage.
“No! Please don’t go!” I begged, wrapping both of my arms around my back.
“I have never hated anyone as much as I love you,” I said.
I got down and began tightening my grip on my knees. My knees still had impressions from taking this familiar stance.
“I don’t want to be with you anymore,” I replied.
“All you do is drink, day and night, night and day,” I said, looking up. “I’m fucking sick of it! You want to drink? Here, let me put the bottle to your mouth for you.” I lifted, my hands shaking, my cupped hands to my pursed lips.
“Is this what you want?” I uttered. “How about I drink some too?” I pretended to chug down something strong.
“You always have to be controlling me all of the time. I don’t love you,” I said, and pretended to snort a key bump. “I don’t fucking care about you! Get it through your stupid skull!” I yelled, with my fingers hand jabbing my head repeatedly. “You think you’re so perfect, you have the perfect family that cares about you, you have all these stupid fucking friends. You think you’re so smart, like you’re above me, and for what reason? This stupid life you lead.”
I stood blankly.
“You’re right. You know, for a second I almost forgot I had a choice in what I do in this stupid life of mine.” The lump in my throat gathered.
“I know exactly what I think I’m doing.” I said, walking off the stage.
The audience sat, some staring blankly, some horrified. A single clap came from someone in the back.
I realized I could make myself as small as one grain of sand, or, if I desired, as prolific and grand as a mountain. But the burden of love will always be on my back.
As if for the first time, I also realized the only one holding me back from escaping this was me: not him, not his addiction, not my addiction into trying to place his hell into my own struggle. I loved him, but I think that I love me too.
I walked out and home.