A Letter To A Fellow Addict

One of the upsides to admitting I'm a (recovering) addict have been the messages I've received from other recovering addicts.  The need to process and talk about what I've been through is great.  During my first week in rehab at Oaks Recovery, I rarely spoke.  It took a few people there to push me to get that ball rolling.  Fast forward to the now, post-jail and post-rehab, the desire to talk things out during this self-examination period is greater than it was before.  Maybe this is normal.  I don't know.  I've made attempts to get clean before.  But this time is most definitely different.

Since I've spoken out about my addiction, I've received messages from men and women all over the world.  More are pouring in every day.  It reminds me of when "Paranormal State" debuted and people reached out to share their paranormal experiences.  Now, however, people are reaching out to share their experiences with addiction and recovery.  To my surprise, I'm realizing how important these new connections are to me.  I feel a wide variety of emotions when I read them.  And I spend at least a couple hours a day responding to as many as I can.  

Tonight, a new Facebook friend of mine, a gentleman with some experience with recovery, reached out to me to share his thoughts about addiction and it affecting those who can be considered spiritual warriors.  He asked for my thoughts.  My response is below.  I don't know this guy, nor others I've recently connected with, but I'm beginning to feel lighter the more I open up.  Like with my childhood paranormal experience, I am searching for answers to the questions I have about addiction and what I allowed it to do to me and the ones I love.  

For those of you suffering from addiction, or to those of you who are in recovery, I don't know you but I love you for your pain and your struggle.  And I admire you for fighting and hanging on.  I have a feeling I have yet to meet some of my life-long friends, but through this common journey we share, we will cross paths someday soon.  I don't know if that made sense.  I hope it does.  

Hi ______. Actually, I agree with what you wrote. I’ve been trying to search for the answer to, “why did this happen?” Yes, it’s easy for us to blame away our faults on something else. But I don’t see that happening from the recovering addicts I’ve been around. For the past few years, I was associating with souls who were and are sick. People using. This addiction got through the door while I was struggling with my sexuality and faith. Not that I was ashamed with who I am. But I was struggling to define who I am, and how love fit into that. While doing the show and other projects, I became more isolated. Felt very alone. I didn’t know myself. Soon it felt that the advertisements I saw of myself on TV was swallowing my identity whole. In my confusion, doubt and depression, I found myself in a very dark part of the world, and I was introduced to drugs. I wanted to let go, and fall into this new realm and the promises it offered to free me of my inhibitions. I was too weak to consider that there had to be a cost. It chipped away at me over time. I went back and forth into this new world for the first few years. Using for a few months, then putting it down. But it took from me, and I weakened. The shame and guilt overpowered my sense of reason and self-worth. I didn’t feel fit to fulfill my duties as a paranormal investigator, as a family man or friend. The final blow came when I realized my relationship of ten years was coming to an end. In truth, it had started to end a couple years earlier, but I wasn’t ready to let go. And so we stayed together in those final years mainly out of convenience and loyalty. When I finally saw it ending, I couldn’t process it, so I killed the pain by submitting myself fully to the drugs. I feel a lot. I imagine you do too. I do wonder if certain types of people are targeted. As I saw people in rehab sober up, and life return to their eyes, I found them all to be truly amazing people. Many walked out of there and fell back into drugs and alcohol again. And I’ve only been out of rehab for 7 weeks. Now that I’m on the other side, looking at addicts who are fighting their disease, I see many beautiful souls. Capable of so much. I look back at those I care about who are still using, and it’s tearing at my heart. How I could ever allowed myself to enable, or support such destructive behavior is something I am coming to terms with. I feel another wave of guilt hitting me. I recognize everyone has a choice. And they’re grown adults. But if I am capable of influencing so many people for the positive, the same must be said in the opposite. I am capable of destruction. And while I was under the influence of King Meth, King Heroin, I did some terrible things. To be selfish, yet honest, I feel like my mind and body were hacked. Like how the Borg assimilate people in “Star Trek,” or how the demonic possess and oppress people in our world. I am angry. Wounded. I hope to do something with those emotions. I hope some good comes out of all of this. This all has to mean something. Maybe that’s desperation talking. I suppose I want to make it mean something, and that’s all that matters. Before I read your message, I was watching a movie. Or rather, I was staring at the TV. It was a good movie. A film I’ve wanted to see since it came out, but I was using, and when I was on drugs, I abandoned a lot of things I loved doing. I’m sober, but I couldn’t get into the movie tonight. I had a lot on my mind. I was thinking about some of the very things you mentioned in your message to me. And I worry, as my family does, that by returning to the work that I do, I might be brought down again. And if that happens, it would wreck a lot of people I love. It doesn’t matter if I want to use again. If I ever do, it would be catastrophic. And so I’ve reached my endgame. Do I give in or do I fight? Do I live or do I die? Perhaps I’m being over-dramatic. Perhaps I’ve rambled on way too much. I apologize if I have. I don’t know you. But we share one thing in common. We suffer from something we wouldn’t wish on our enemies. Why would we choose to destroy our potential, hurt our families and abandon the chance at real happiness? Why would we want to make a drug our number one priority? I suppose it isn’t that simple. I never saw it that way when I was high. I’d never admit I was choosing it over my family. I’d never say I loved it more than my family. But at the time, that’s exactly what I was doing and how I was acting. I’d argue that that wasn’t me. It was a trap. A stupid, silly trap, like one you see Wile E Coyote fall for in every cartoon. As smart as I am, I fell for one of the oldest and simplest lies of all time. Why? I’m still trying to figure that out. Maybe you have figured it out. I hope you stay in touch. This life is far too difficult to go at it alone. Yours, RYAN
— A Message I Sent Earlier To Another Recovering Addict