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Thursday, March 4, 2010


Don't go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and lakes that
You're used to
I know that you're gonna have it your way
Or nothing at all

But I think you're moving too fasti was talking with a guy today and realized he is pretty damn depressed. he is about 4 years clean from 15 years of heavy meth use. he's around 33 and tested positive for hiv when he was 20. he spent many of the years since then just trying to drown out his own sorrows and secret sadnesses, probably bringing more shame and degradation to himself than the diagnosis did. he wasn't ready to stop using, but the law intervened and convinced him to rethink his position. he did so in an 8x12 iron bar clad room and decided he might try a different approach.

so as i sit and talk with him today, he relays his frustration (bordering on desperation) being heterosexual with hiv. women don't seem very open to considering his predicament right off the bat. and he struggles (to put it mildly) with telling them anything about his situation, let alone declaring it proudly right off the bat. and he feels unlovable, a diseased pariah, and far from seeing any hope for change or closeness in his situation.

his words and his story did more than engage me, i admit.  getting clean has more than a handful of challenges. to feel things like fearful and lonely and broken are part of the emotional landscape of us all, but for an addict, feeling these things can easily be like becoming a werewolf or vampire. without the armor of meth or any other drug, the simple aspects of living take on gladiator proportions. all this drama with sobriety, but add hiv and heterosexual, and i think there is most likely the silhouette of a grimm's fairy tale. tender, epic, and horrific.

so as i sat with the hero of this tale, i found myself digging in my heels and talking with him about the things i talk often of. that yes, it's quite understandable to feel some pity and sadness because shit is hard. that the path seems dark sometimes and that the business of going forward can appear futile. and how it's easy to get lost trippin on how we wish things could be. but that's fantasy. his life is right here, right in front of him. and he has a daily option- to choose frustration and defeat, which he's dangling his feet in right now, or to find the fantastic that his life, as it is, has to offer.

i asked just how much knowledge about survivial he thought he had acquired since this all started. he replied- "quite a lot". i then asked how much of that he was sharing with other people. he looked at me befuddled and said none. and i then asked "why not" . he didn't know.

this, i said, is how you can transform your trash to treasure in your life- to move from livable to luxe. you have managed to make it this far in your journey and if you are struggling, you can save your ass by helping someone else. he said- "you mean like aa or na?" exactly.

i explained that each of us is capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. and we have a daily choice- to choose to find what is good in front of us, or to long for something out of reach. i explained that i never thought in my wildest dreams that i would be sitting here, speaking with him and be able to not only understand exactly how he feels, but also have the skill and the words to help him see another side to his life.
as i did this, i started to tear up, because every word i spoke was true. one true grace in living through horrors and pain comes in the ability to use my perspective in service of another. 

and that is not just another waterfall.

today's sound choice is tlc with "waterfalls".  i think no explanation of the good fit is required here.


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Sheria said...

You offered good support and comfort to the troubled young man and Waterfalls is an excellent song choice.

Sandra Moreano said...

I am thankful and will be thankful for every day of my life since my brother has been in recovery. It is nothing short of a miracle. His growth has been phenomenal and I feel as if I have my best childhood friend back. We share ideas and immutable truths like the one you just shared with your friend. Help others and you will be helped. Nice post.

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