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Entry date: 10-4-2022 - I Worry part 1,243 - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I worry a lot. I believe this has been established. Last week I talked a lot about the Polka Dot Pad and a time in my life where caution was often thrown to the wind. We drank a lot, a fair amount of chemicals were ingested, and mother nature was burned and inhaled in copious amounts. I’m not going to lie, most of it was a lot of fun, but there is a dark side, too.

As I’ve been exploring my life, I have realized how much self-medication I have done. There are demons that need to be quieted from time to time and in the past I often called a chemical crutch. In recent years, this has been in the form of booze or weed, but early on, it could have been just about anything. I was only able to avoid a really serious drug habit because I refused to let myself be completely owned by a substance.

Today I am worrying about the message I am sending now and will send about these things. Ultimately, I hope this writing is of use and help to others as much as it has been useful, vital, and helpful to me. I hope others can read and enjoy the stories and view them from their own lens and perspective in a way that makes life better somehow. As much as I love hearing that people like a song I have recorded or played live or a lesson I have created or whatever praise they may want to give me for something I have done, I get the most satisfaction out of helping people.

I worry that I glorify this lifestyle when truly it is one I fear and have been humbled by to an extent I continue to ponder. Drug and alcohol abuse is not glorious. It is not something to be celebrated. It is a horrible situation and for many, a real illness that takes lives and dips them into a big vat of shit.

I know I am guilty, though, of glorifying situations and behaviors that, when viewed in even a slightly different context, seem horrible and stupid. I didn’t tell you about the time at the Polka Dot Pad where I was high on crack because, well, it was there and went with a guy I didn’t know to a sketchy part of town to score more with money I couldn’t afford to spend on it. I waited in a car while he smoked my money and brought back some weird shit that was not crack. I could have been killed.

That was a wakeup call and I didn’t do it again, but what an unnecessary risk. How would my family have felt if I would have ended up strung out or dead? I didn’t think of that until afterwards, of course. At the time I was thinking about the urge in my body to smoke more crack. I wanted more of the feeling that I got from taking that hit on a small glass pipe. That’s what was driving my brain and when I had a chance to reflect on that, I knew it wasn’t a path I could take.

In much the same way, when it was my daily life, I wanted to drink as much beer as I could every day. I needed to feel what the beer allowed me to feel which was something so foreign to who I wanted to be. It wasn’t until later that I realized the price I was paying to be drunk every day in April, May, and June of 1988. I didn’t think about what diet of cheap beer and ramen was doing to my body until I realized I hadn’t had a solid shit in over a month.

I fee lucky, though, because I was able to realize these things a lot faster than some of my friends. I was able to make different choices and slowly, sometimes, pull myself out of what was becoming a quickening mire. Sometimes I realized quickly that a certain thing was not for me, but I usually had to give it the ol’ college try first.

I’ve listened to so many stories over the years told by drug addicts about how cool or fun shitty situations were that I just don’t want to be another person throwing these things out there carelessly in the wind. Sure, they are always going to be a part of my story, but I believe there can be balance and healing and a way to move forward. Stories are fun to recall but there were times when it felt like dick measuring contests were taking place as I listened to people I loved talk about how many drugs they did or how fucked up their lives got.

To be clear, I am so proud of my friends who have pulled themselves out terrible situations and have been able to work on the process of growing and healing and feeling again. I mourn the loss of those who were unable to do so. Some have left the planet, and some are just lost. I think of all the people I would like to call and say “Hey, what’s up” to and I can’t do it because they chose a substance over everything and everyone else.

This is not me passing judgment. This is just me worrying that I may, at times, be contributing to negative thoughts or ideas in others. It’s such a weird fence to straddle. At times in my life, I would have said something like, “When you’re young, you should experiment responsibly and have fun. Party with your friends and get wild so you don’t freak out and have some sort of drug/alcohol binge as a thirty-five-year-old because you never did it before.”

I would have always added the word “responsibly” but my definition of it has definitely changed over the years. Now I cringe at the idea of my kids throwing caution to the wind and smoking crack with the neighbors because it was there. It makes me ill. I want a better life for them. I want them to hold off before they start enjoying all the fine flavors of beer there are or become experts on different strains of weed. Maybe they won’t go down that path, but it is in their blood thanks to me. I’ll be here, though, to talk with them about it all.

See you tomorrow.


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