For years I looked in the mirror, contemplating change. Hearing the cries deep inside me, pleading with me to stop, I quickly turned away, unable to meet my gaze. Then I would grab the phone, calling for more. Fill me up, feed the hunger, stuff the void at my core with a call to my dealer who always delivered.
Now I look in the mirror and lock my eyes with my own. You’re an addict, I scream to myself. There it is; I’ve said it out loud and I’ll say it again, I’m an addict and I’m hungry. There’s a gaping hole inside me that can’t be filled, a black pit that devours all. Fill me and feed me and give me more, it proclaims.Give me drugs, buy me clothes, offer me lust, provide me praise. I want it all- and all of you- and I will never be satisfied. I hear the voice of the beast and I want to silence it, starve it, survive it. I am prepared to change and desire to break free from the hold it it has on me.
At last I drag myself into an AA meeting and say the words in public: Hello, my name is !@$#&? and I’m an addict, intentionally choosing not to say alcoholic, as alcohol is rarely the substance I crave. But afterwards I wander out, deciding a life of abstinence is not for me. I’m better off using and so are all those around me, I rationalize. I head home, alone, where my companion awaits.
When I run out, I make the call, once again, to my dealer who always delivers, promising myself that this time it will be different, this time I will use instead of abuse, this time I will tame the beast, only feeding it at intervals, controlling it, rather than allowing it to control me.
Three weeks pass quickly; time burns and so do I, always enamored by the glow of the light then, soon after, bleakly left behind in the grey ashes. Almost on empty, I resign to make the call again. Why run out, after all, when it just hurts? Why subject others to my pain when I can placate the beast with a pull and a puff? My dealer delivers and I feed the beast what it desires, allowing it to grow and exert control over my soul.
Then, one day, I’m forced to leave contemplation of change and preparation to purify behind. A court mandate moves me to take action- or should I say forces inaction? No more doses of my dirty drug, as I’m ordered to be clean. I delete my dealer’s number and enjoy one last afternoon with my longtime companion. After the last bud burns, I desperately scrape resin and feed the beast a final meal, offering what it craves one last time. I close my eyes and feel whole; the void is filled and peace prevails, if only for a fleeting moment. But then the feeling is gone and the hunger returns.
The next day, and the following weeks, I pack my schedule, attempting to avoid the void. Sunday morning church, Monday evening dates, Tuesday support groups; bicycle rides, shopping sprees, endless walks; late days at work and early mornings exercising. The neglected beast inside me craves sustenance so I feed it what I can provide, trying to tame it, hoping to satiate it.
Days pass, filled with sleepless nights, shivers and sweats, outbursts of anger, and feelings of despair. With each day the cravings lessen but they don’t go away. Perhaps the beast is forced from my core, pushed to the periphery, as the void it inhabits is relocated to the dark recesses of my mind. I lure the beast into the closet, offering it scraps from the table of my barren life, and lock it away.
Weeks pass and its calls become softer. Slowly I attempt to ignore it, starve it by never offering what it desires. Its violent howls are slowly replaced by quiet whimpers. But I still hear its undeniable cries, I still feel its incessant calls. But I am on empty and have nothing to offer.
Months pass and my mood rapidly cycles. Some days I desire to give up the fight, to just silence the beast and feel the peace that comes from offering what it desires- all of me. Take me, hold me, have me. Just give me peace. Other days the crisp clarity of mind, and a newly found ability to hold my gaze in the mirror and walk with my head up high, reminds me that I have to keep fighting, stay strong, starve the beast one day at a time- until it dies and I live instead.
Will this ever get any easier?, I question myself. Will this gnawing hunger ever be satiated? Will I ever open the closet and find the beast has died, suddenly replaced by mere skeletons in the closet like normal motherfucking people? Or will I let the monster out once again, giving it free reign on the terrain of my life, allowing it to roam unrestrained and consume all in its path? Only time will reveal if I tame the beast or if the beast conquers me. For now, it resides in a gaping hole inside of me, preventing me from being whole. Cautiously, I withhold the substances it craves, feeding it only my faith, hoping the hunger will disappear.