The heroin addict and the happy version of me
It’s Friday evening and I am heading back home from work. While I am going down the escalators I realize how late it is and how much I dislike that very same moment. The truth is that I don’t really dislike it. The truth is that I feel bored and I am craving some kind of excitement in my life.
“A person like me, so dependent on passions,
doesn’t know what to do when life is not a match”
I used to be very well versed on the art of ruining my current circumstance to the point where it’s unbearable and I don’t have other option than put myself in a situation where I want to quit my life or do something extreme to move to a happier, more fulfilling place.
I didn’t know other way to proceed in life because that’s the way I learned to get the best out of it. It’s twisted and wrong, but it was what it was.
My smart card is not working, so I have to ask some help to the Metro security guard. While I am waiting for my train, a young good looking african american guy passed me by and said “hey, I love your hair”. I smiled and said thanks. I immediately put my headphones on and start playing some music. I am not in the mood to start a friendly conversation with anyone.
A copule of minutes passed and I turned to look at him. I just felt I had to. There was something special in him. He was looking at me too. I decided to be open. He approached and I felt a strong relief when I realized he was gay and he didn’t want to flirt with me. It’s nice when someone just wants to get close to you for more meaningful reasons, as I later discover. I was in the need of more of those deep moments in my life and he gave it to me. He made me feel his best friend in our short shared ride of six stops.
He sat next to me while we were waiting for the train, he was heading towards Gallery Place – China Town. I thought he was slightly drunk, it’s Friday night and that would not be unusual. He just asked me where I was from an all that introductory talking. The train arrived and he sat in the row opposite to me, but when I turned to look at him with trust, he sat at my side.
And there he was, with all his vulnerability and with his left eye lost in space, telling me he was high. I asked what he was on, and he said “heroin, you know it?” I said “I know it, I had never tried it”. Do you give yourself shoots or you smoke it? I asked. I wanted him to tell me he just did the lighter versions but it was not the case. “I do it every day, I know I am wrong but I just like it, I keeps me functioning” I said I understood, sometimes our soul choose dark paths for self development. He almost cried. I put myself together because I would not give any good example to him by crumbling down and crying at his side. I just had a couple of stops to do something to enlighten his existence and I better decided to tell him a little bit about myself.
“I think I know what it is to be completely unhappy and doing all sorts of things to destroy oneself. Maybe willing to die. I had never being a drug addict, but I certainly had addictions, emotional ones, we don’t have time to talk about that, it’s just a kind of thing that is hard to identify, there are nor needles, substances or bruises to see, but, anyway, what I want to say is, that, sometimes it happens that some persons, we just can’t seem to be able to handle the world and all that it means to be alive”.
It was his turn, he said “My boyfriend, he just passed away a year ago. We used to do drugs together but one day he just went a little bit too much, and died”. “I don’t have anything to compete with that, I thought and almost felt embarrassed. The only thing I could say is that he certainly must be living in a very dark place. He said it certainly was like that. His eyes had a clear sparkle full of life, though.
I asked him if he was getting help and I was glad when he answered he was. He said: “You know, this is a mental illness, I have bipolar disorder, my mother too and the whole thing is a mess”. I was aware I didn’t have time to tell him about my own very similar history, and the truth is that I am unsure if we still have to use medical terms to name the most miserable truths of humanity, and one of those miserable truths is that this world is starving of love and affection and that creates all kind of un-adapted behaviors.
It hurts to be human being. It can hurt a lot, often times. Sometimes I think that in our efforts to be more adapted we had learn to not be too sensitive or too emotional, and it happens that if one is like that, one is the non normal, non functional human, when perhaps the secret to create a better world is to experience the emotional self at it’s fullest, because only through that experience we can understand the whole threshold of the human existence and that can be the key to understand the self and then the others.
“This is not something that you just feel out of nowhere” he continued. “I take anti-depressants, go to therapy and all that. It’s helping me, but everyday, at job, I go to the restroom and and inject heroin in my arm. There, right there at work, and no one can tell”.
I said: “I guess the worse part is when no one can tell that you could kill yourself any given day, because you would not say that to anyone. More often than you would like your existence is hanging from a very thin thread. Because is like that, isn’t it? No one can tell your life is not what it seems and no one can tell how much pain you have to endure. The aftermath of being an heroin addict may hurt like hell, but I guess it’s rescuing you from pain bigger than that”
I realized I ended up talking more about myself, but I did it as a way to give him something positive. Maybe he could see there is a way out of all that troubled situation because I do believe there is, sometimes it relieves to hear it from someone else. Sometimes you just need to hear some good news.
I really felt I had to leave this young man with some sense of hope, love and affection, so I said: “I want to tell you something: there’s a way out of all this. You may not find it right the way, you may need more years of digging into the dirt, you may need to harm yourself more, I am not saying that it is ok and that you have to do it, but as I said, life has mysterious ways to give us what we want to get out of it. The best thing I can tell you, is that if you are patient, and wait for time to make you tired of all this, you will be ready to move on and your heart will be willing to pursuit happiness. Please believe in me, that day will come and you will experience life in a lighter way. Is not that you don’t know how to do it, we all do, is just that is not possible right now. You will be able to accept life as hard as it is, I promise you. You will be able to embrace loneliness, to hold on tight when there’s nothing else to do”.
He smiled. “Maybe you will be lucky and maybe, one day you will find yourself saying things you didn’t really believe before, you will find yourself on the metro talking to a younger you with the hope to change his life for good, in the same way I am trying with all my heart to do with you in this this very same moment”.
We arrived to his stop. It was not easy to imagine he was an heroin addict. I wanted to ask for his number but I didn’t, I preferred to believe that our encounter should be like it was.
He said he was willing to hold on. It didn’t seemed to me he will quit life sometime soon. I saw some sense of strength in his eyes and words, a strength I never had when I was as young as he. A strength he may not be aware of, the kind of strength that only people that are having a terrible experience get to know. I hope I am right. He made me remember that for some of us the journey through the dark side is necessary to understand life and even if it sounds not good at all and if it seems completely wrong, there’s some kind of bravery on it.
I breath with relief every time I confirm the progresses of my own soul. I arrived to my stop and I was not trying anymore to engage myself in old habits of self-deception. Not only because talking to him helped me, but because I am not the same person once I was. Sometimes I still need to check the improvements. I need to verify I had really healed. Maybe is to verify that I still alive.
I took the escalators all the way to the top, felt grateful with life for giving me the strength to stick to the choice of being alive and for finally make me understand that by paying attention and caring about other people tribulations I can find a better way to live.