The path led off of the sidewalk into the woods, garbage strewn everywhere, human waste could be the substance you step in instead of mud. Under a piece of plastic drug up from the piles a shivering teen girl, soaking wet from the constant downpour that has lasted for days; Sticks a tiny needle in herself and says goodbye to this world forever...
That may sound like Hollywood, or a start of some kind of book, but it is very real and happening here in my neighborhood everyday. The heroin and other drugs that go along with this crisis we are having is as bad as a shooter in the window of a casino, we don't know who's next. We don't even know who's affected in this duplicitous world. It could be everyone from the kid down the block to the Grandma next door?.. We don't know who it is going to hurt or who it is going to take next, but it will. I lost my childhood friend to the opioid epidemic eight years ago, my sister to alcoholism nine years ago. These are real people that are gone now, real as you and I and either one of them could be here typing this to you telling you about my death, my bouts with alcoholism and how tragic that was. But they aren't here, it's me, and goddammit they mean something! Don't they? Yeah, yeah they do, I very much loved and love them.
Well when my time came, I got a reprieve, me of all the bastards in the world. The most worthless POS in the world get's a reprieve? WTF! Surely their lives were worth more than mine? They should be here happy, somewhat healthy and free of the hopelessness. It was me though, and it has been work for these last 2,067 days. The way you keep yourself sober though is to get out of your head and help others, service work is suggested as part of this. So my sponsor, the guy guiding me through this took me to the treatment center I had completed some nine months earlier. We were going to talk to a small group of newer patients about how all of this works and how great it was etc... A guy name Robert pulled us aside afterwards with a silly grin on his face and said something clicked with what we said, and it all made so much sense to him what he needed to do.
As days turn into months and years, the fellowship flows back and forth with everyone being at some point in their own journey. We run into each other in real life as well and sometimes say hello and sometimes just nod in a knowing way. We have social lives with real people and sometimes the best friendships are found when you aren't trying to be someone you really are not. For the last few years I have been writing irregularly about this guy and his work, this guy who pulled me aside and said Thank You, that gave me a ride home on many occasions, and would do something for someone else without a single missed beat of the heart. He is a recovering addict, and we alcoholics and addicts know each other because rarely is there alcohol involved that doesn't also have some other sort of drug along with it anymore. I am just talking for us, not saying anything about anyone else's useage. We know the same people, and have lost the same friends, we live in the same neighborhood and walk and drive the worst and best streets of town.
It's hard to imagine on any given morning, on any given night, that man and his outreach group go into those waste riddled woods. They look for the homeless, the addicted, the hungry. Sometimes it's just a cigarette and a shake of the hand to tell that person that you are human, someone cares for you. Sometimes it's a personal care kit put together by my sponsors wife and her group. Sometimes it is all the way out, out into the light and a hope for a new way of life. That is some hard work, emotional and spiritually it will drain you, forget money, it is not as if our percentage has ever seen anything but hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck means starve for two more weeks. We do it though, by the grace of something that is beyond our comprehension we get it done, we help each other out, it is one of those economies that would drive the best financial planner batshit crazy. It gets done, it takes one to know one and the paths into the woods are a lot closer than one can imagine.
When we see the damage that we had caused in our life, in all of our environments like personal, home, work and even community, we give back. It is a way we can do esteemable acts and simply be an example to others. It sounds so simple and it is, but simple doesn't equal easy, and the work put in pays folks with a money that you just can't spend enough of and a grand gratitude for the very being of life. Some tell their story to others online and let others know they aren't alone, they are not terminally unique. Some hold meetings and help as many people through this as they can. There is a sexist side to this I guess, but women help women through the program and men help men, but we all help each other; I think the reasons would be obvious...
There are some though, like my friends that start non-profits that really do give everything back, and I mean everything down to their last drop of gas. They help a state full of sober drunks go camping every year all over. They raise awareness for suicide and human rights, they are advocates for single mothers and domestic violence survivors, cancer awareness and mental health issues. These are just MY friends, people I know and love and they do mean something... Just like my sister, just like my friends that didn't get this far.
Things are tough all over and some go beyond the pale... some go beyond their means, because people mean! Something. These goddamn numbers on the news every night mean something too. Trying to stop those numbers in the pouring rain and wet to their bones is that little girl, who didn't put that tiny needle into herself that day, who didn't die... She heard a voice before she did that, and he said "Hi! My name is Robert."
People mean something, because we are the cure.