“Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience. A hurt is at the centre of all addictive behaviours. It is present in the gambler, the Internet addict, the compulsive shopper and the workaholic. The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden—but it’s there. As we’ll see, the effects of early stress or adverse experiences directly shape both the psychology and the
neurobiology of addiction in the brain.” … Gabor Mate
i spent time with bill and his partner today at hunter’s celebration of life. my relationship with bill and patrick has been strained since just after i came back from san francisco. bill gave me some help when i got back and i stepped all over it while i struggled with that crazy bitch tina.
i met bill when he first moved to denver from wisconsin. he joined the lgbt mixed chorus harmony of which i was also a member. he is a baritone, i a tenor, so we didn’t hang together very much during rehearsals. but about 5 of us co-hosted the parties at the seasonal retreats. those parties were epic- at least for colorado. we were traveling on different tracks in different circles but still in the same orbit. i had already begun my big spin.
in retrospect, i realize that the 1990’s were like a candle burning at both ends. i was running a travel company for an uncle and his college buddy. at the same time my immune system was disintegrating quickly from the stress of my working style and daily alcohol overuse. in 1996, i got my 2nd colorado dui, had a nervous breakdown, started on the new “hiv cocktail” and gotten frustrated with my work partners and decided to quit and move on.
after i started the protease inhibitor, i felt healthier and more energetic that i had in years. i had also spent most of 1997 completely sober due to my court treatment. i remember being very angry and very confused. i had been pushing so hard for years to not let the onset of AIDS get me. now i found myself no longer in need of that motivation. i was lost and i felt empty. at a time in my life when i should have been rejoicing because i was no longer going to die, i felt lost and without direction. anger and denial had been my compass for so long.
in classic bi-polar mode, 1997 began the rhythmic and calculated deconstruction of a stable life, and the insidiously stealth overthrow of normalcy by my internal tendency to disconnect. in my zeal to run, san francisco became the aim for the desperate trauma-driven slingshot. and it was only a matter of time till the complete unravelling.
this is the benefit of hindsight. had i known any of this, my fate may have been different. but i did not. i played from my heart and ran for my life. and i spun myself into a darkly familiar hole. one just like the ones i had made for myself on several occasions before in my life. although it really felt so authentic and unique, i now realize that for all my intelligence and self seeking, i am, just like almost everyone else, a creature of habit. i play the same tunes over and over. my emotional memory may very well be just like a shakespeare plot- it gets re staged, reworked and replayed with almost every new company. and i have been preoccupied as a player mesmerized by the lighting and the audience and didn’t realize that the story lines have been parallel.
when i found myself in yet another hole i had crawled in while i was in california, i decided to return to colorado. my romance with homeless performance art grinded to a halt. i had also burned almost every west coast bridge i ever had. denver bound it was. upon my return, i hooked up with bill in my undulating journey to find solid ground. i stayed with him at his home in park hill while i rotated through jobs and relapses. my last hurrah was while he was on a cruise in canada and the northeast. i helped my self to some of his belongings and betrayed one of the few friends willing to help me. it severed our immediate relationship. i had to move immediately and find a way to make amends. even after so much deceit, he refused to throw me shade. he stood by me- from a distance- and gave me permission to heal.
i don’t remember my life changing direction so quickly as this encounter created. turned on a dime really. i found myself looking at my life and my behaviors in the light of day because of his kindness. i couldn’t become a victim. i couldn’t blame anyone. the only move i could make was change. spending time with bill brought all this back into view. he changed my life. with just one effort, he changed my world view.
and change i have. i hope. the dance i have been doing with substances to cope with my life has come to an end. i often use shopping and chocolate to buffer the sharp teeth of reality. i have realized that i am not in charge. and i understand as often as i can that i have to pay attention if i am not to make the same mistakes over and over. sometimes i get this and some times i don’t. know which it really is in order to get beyond it. or maybe just to make another choice.