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Friday, May 27, 2016

Accepting No Substitutes

For years, I've avoided painkillers. Some may remember the great cold turkey of the Winter of 2011. Opiates are a prison, like love/sex magick. It seems so good, but like all insanities, comes to an ugly end of slavery.

There is now a huge Heroin issue in my area. Surprising to me, because opiates were out of vogue for so many years. As a kid in the 60s, junkies nodded out on stoops or in doorways in Brooklyn. We poked fun at them, made up songs and stood there singing them while they dozed and nodded in front of us. Some were only a couple years older than us, too young to go to Vietnam, and some were just home from Vietnam. Heroin was the drug of the day. Coke followed in the late 70s and early 80s. The age of coke is over now; these things go in cycles as the government allows. We're away from making war in South America where the coke is cheap, and in the East, where opium is cheap.
Yes, I've had Heroin. When you first do it, it's like falling in love or great sex that first time with someone. It's beyond intoxicating, it's bliss. It's beyond all care,  total peace. That's why I was so cautious with it and never did it much. But then came prescription opiates when my body broke down in my 40s. I was in pain and told I could keep working while I took them. It became a need, then a norm, then a nightmare. There was no bliss, just demanding need, and not even much pain relief, but you're too fucked up to know.

It was 8th grade, I think, when I saw that Heroin poster about "loving it more than any mere human", in my Guidance Counselor's office. I spent a good part of 7th and 8th grade in that office. And in all my years that's the sharpest description of heroin I know. But calling that need "love" is part of the problem. It's something that can fit comfortably into the life of someone who doesn't know what love is. It can make life ok when all you feel is pain of some kind. It can make everything go away. or not matter, and be just fine again. It's not love. I think that's why it's made a comeback. We live in a time of almost no love anywhere, or exacting love where you must meet requirements or are deemed not worthy. Which is poison... and the whole point is lost. We've forgotten how to love without agenda.

Maybe I should refine that. People don't know how to love because they haven't gotten any. Or haven't fallen in love with anyone who's not abusive. There are so many ways we're taught to not love. We're taught to be conditional in giving love. We're taught to reserve love for our own "self worth" or "self image" or "self" whatever. If you put "self" in there, you've lost love. If you live in conditional love, you won't know love.

And that's where we are. A world of scariness and despair, or trying to not be scared and despaired. And that's why there's so much drug addiction, acting out, violence, cowardice, cutting of ties, depression, anger. We've lost love.

Oh life is one stupidity or conundrum after another.
Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. Don't forget what it's about.


Geo. said...

Beautiful post, Austan, "...conundrum after another". I call them enigmas. After receiving a somewhat distressing verdict from a medical appointment this morning, I went to the grocery store to buy my favorite ice-cream. Passing thru the produce section I ran into my best friend from high school, who I hadn't seen in many many years. We studied each others' appearance and history emerged as we approached with our arms out and embraced. Love, although romantic poets might disagree, doesn't have words --it has old men in their mid 60s holding each other most of a minute in a supermarket. He and I, and you, know there's no drug substitute for moments like that.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you and Geo.
I needed to read your wisdom today.

Austan said...

Geo- I'm concerned about the distressing medical verdict. I hope you're ok, or soon to be ok...
And I'm totally thrilled you hugged your HS bestie for a minute after getting such news.
We do, and we're richer for it.

Austan said...

EC- And love to you out there halfway around the world! :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I expected to have tears in my eyes at the Memorial Day event we attended earlier today, but I didn't expect my eyes to fill here on your blog. First, at what you've written, and then again, at Geo's words. Heroin addiction has always befuddled me, but now, thanks to you, I have a little more empathy.

(As much as I loved Whitney Houston's voice, her song "The Greatest Love of All" never resonated with me. Loving ONESELF is the "greatest love?" NOOOOOO!)

Austan said...

Susan- I have the same feeling about that song. The entire premise of loving yourself more than anyone else is a road to mental illness. We're a society of self-centeredness, and that needs to stop before it's irreparable.
As I once heard a little kid yell, "Love is bigger than you!!" Yes, it's bigger than us all.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Dear Laura, this is your best post ever! Geo, EC and Susan had excellent comments. I was blessed with parents who taught me how to love, the greatest gift of all.