Part Nineteen: Binge and Purge, But Mostly Binge

Drugs are a hell of a thing, and I don’t necessarily mean that in the negative sense that you might assume. Like most things in life, drugs have their ups and downs…they can be just as useful and beneficial as they can be damaging and traumatizing. It really depends on the person more than the drugs in question, and also the timing. If I cared as much about making a good impression as I do being entirely sincere, I would tell you about how badly drugs have fucked up my life and the lives of many of my friends…but I’m a total fucking idiot and I can’t just focus on the negative aspects of my drug history. There were negatives, I assure you of that, it’s just that the positive experiences I had outweighed the negative ones by more than a narrow margin.

With the family history that I have, from both sides of the aisle, it would be a simple bit of reasoning to conclude that I must be hardwired to have a predisposition towards having an addictive personality. Apparently I dodged that particular bullet, or maybe there is a balance of sorts to be found in nature because I already suffer from more than my fair share of psychological issues.

I have never been compelled to seek out drug or alcohol treatment of any kind, I have avoided requiring any sort of intervention from friends and family, and I have somehow avoided any legal entanglements relating to my drug or alcohol use. What can I say? I guess I lead a charmed life in that one particular area.

I am a living, breathing, walking around bit of proof that the horror stories painted with such vivid clarity in late night public service announcements and school assemblies are far from universal truths. Sure, my life isn’t perfect, and I have had some troubling experiences due to my experimentation with numerous substances…but nothing that would adequately deter a classroom full of impressionable youth, I don’t suspect.

I recall the first time I recognized that I was being exposed to drug use. I was on a family vacation back to Minnesota and we were visiting some of my father’s friends, one of whom happened to be my godfather. The men were collected downstairs in the house we were in and I remember recognizing the smell of marijuana in the air as I was walking downstairs. I don’t know why I knew what the smell was, though I can only assume that earlier exposure had left some sense memory without a coherent recollection that has carried through to today.

I’ve heard anecdotes from my father, about alcohol being added to my bottles when I was a toddler by he and/or friends of his, perhaps to put me to sleep or maybe just to watch me stumble around more than I probably already did at that ungainly point in my life…but that seems perverse and sadistic even from my admittedly desensitized standards, even where my father is concerned, so I personally prefer to think of it as a bit of a sick joke on his part because he does have a peculiar and dark sense of humor as well. I can’t remember anything of the sort happening, so I can’t speak to the veracity of such things, but it seemed like something potentially relevant to the tale at hand.

I wasn’t one of those daytime talk show kids born addicted to heroin or any god awful bullshit like that. I wasn’t sneaking behind the gymnasium at ten years old in order to hit a joint. This isn’t one of those stories, and only a sick asshole would be hoping for something like that.

I don’t remember how old I was when I first tried marijuana for myself, but that isn’t particularly important. I have never been a big fan of that particular drug. I have definitely smoked plenty of it, especially during and immediately following high school, but there has never been a point in my life when it was my drug of choice. I’ve sold plenty of it over the years as well, of varying qualities, and I always preferred selling it to smoking it. Money brought me far more pleasure than the drug itself.

It was during high school that I first experimented with cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, mushrooms, MDMA, and assorted opiates. I preferred all of those to marijuana, though the opiate and MDMA use was not the sort of thing I could picture myself developing a habit out of. There was an instance in the latter half of my sophomore year when I ingested LSD without any warning because a friend of mine handed me a peppermint hard candy in the hallway, while neglecting to inform me that it was playing host to an undisclosed number of hits of acid. I was maybe three quarters of the way through my subsequent class when something started to feel very unusual to me.

LSD isn’t actually like it is portrayed in movies and on television, or it never has been in my experience. Perception is distorted substantially, and the senses do indeed go a bit askew (to the point where minor aural and visual hallucinations aren’t entirely unknown), but you don’t suddenly lose touch with reality and imagine yourself in totally different surroundings. The effects are far more subtle, which can actually make them far more insidious.

The most interesting part about being unexpectedly under the influence of LSD is that you have literally no idea what is wrong with you. It feels like something in between a severe feverish state of mind (but without the sickness and elevated core body temperature) and what I imagine it might be similar to the onset of schizophrenia. You’re aware that something is very wrong, that the way you are processing sensory input is pretty well fucked, and that you are not thinking quite the way you’re accustomed to…and it is disorienting at best. Come to think of it, that’s just how LSD works even when you know that you’ve ingested it…which could lead someone to wonder why anyone would choose to feel that way. No one claimed that it was a sound decision on my part or the part of anyone who intentionally walks towards that lifestyle. If it matters at all, it was another few years before I ever willingly ingested LSD.

My use of drugs beyond marijuana was one of those few and far between situations until my early 20s, mostly due to a pronounced lack of surplus being readily available to a teenage boy here in the middle of nowhere of the upper Midwest. It was after my ex moved out of our apartment with our two children and a good friend of mine moved in that I was in the state of mind that was quite conducive to really enjoying a decline into decadence, and it just so happened that the supply side of the equation was fortuitously shifting in my favor.

Thanks to this friend, there was a reliable and steady supply of quality cocaine available through a biker friend of his with connections to the Hell’s Angels. Even better than that, this individual was happy to front us fairly large quantities of that cocaine on a regular basis, for the purpose of selling it ourselves. Initially he and I did a good job of selling what we needed in order to keep the rest for ourselves without actually needing to pay for any of it. After a while though, it did begin to cost me money, but I didn’t particularly mind. I say that it cost me money because my friend had quit his job shortly after moving in with me, thinking that he was going to simply make his living by dealing the cocaine that we were consuming in greater and greater quantities. If I had to pick a drug of choice though, cocaine would be it.

My friend and I used to do a line and then walk the couple of miles to the Perkin’s where we routinely went for coffee. You can feel free to rattle off the list of negative effects cocaine might have, and I will agree with some of them, but I can vouch for the fact that it worked fucking wonders for my social anxiety as well as my overall level of productivity.

There was one night when we were about to leave for coffee when my friend, as a joke, trailed a line of cocaine from damn near corner to corner diagonally across the 3′ by 4′ mirror that we kept on my bedroom floor for the purpose of dividing and partaking of that fantastic powder. I told you already about how I’d converted my bedroom into a rudimentary recording studio and drug den, right? My friend passed me in the hallway to tell me that he left a line for me on the mirror and I thanked him. I laughed when I saw it, recognizing it for the joke that it clearly was, but taking it as a challenge just the same….I did it all anyhow, half up each of my nostrils. My friend was equal parts irritated, amused, and concerned for my health after that. We were about halfway to our destination when I started laughing and told him I thought my heart was going to explode. That would have been a suitable way for the 20 year old me to have expired, but we know that didn’t happen.

During that same time frame, a hippie friend of mine arrived in town with a strangely regular surplus of decent quality LSD…and my friend and I were positively giddy with that additional tweak to our almost daily drug habit. It became a regular thing for he and I to drop acid and spend the late night hours in the hills with other friends of ours, most of whom were not under the influence of the same drugs we were, which is not the safest way to spend time…but it was really quite enjoyable to say the least.

Where the cocaine was fun and lent itself to my being more productive, the LSD was more of a dark, unpleasant experience that I nevertheless found myself thriving on. It is my personal opinion that anyone who truly enjoys horror, and especially those who wish to create it (whether through literature, art, or film) needs to spend some time under the influence of LSD and spend a good deal of time focusing on self discovery. People talk about bad trips, but I don’t know that I could distinguish between that or any other. I may have forced myself into bad trips if they weren’t naturally heading in that direction more than a few times, and I may have realized just how ill advised that was while still going right ahead with it.

I can talk about how much I enjoyed that time of my life, but there was a lot that made it less spectacular than I like to remember it being. I was still pretty heavily damaged from the events only a few short years before and I was recovering (albeit poorly) from a failed relationship and the sudden absence of my oldest children. I was scraping by, financially, but only barely…what with the friend and roommate who would have made a more successful woman than a drug dealer. This is not the recipe for good, enlightening acid trips like those spoken of by men like Timothy Leary. And, when my disaster of a life wasn’t enough, there was the fact that I would watch movies like In Dreams while under the influence…because that sort of thing definitely sets a person off down the path towards happiness and enlightenment. In fact, I saw both The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense in the theater that summer while under the influence of LSD…which dramatically improved the scare factor of Blair Witch almost exponentially. My friend and I were a solid week into almost constant LSD influence before we picked up a ten strip each for that movie. Prior to the movie we took six hits and wrapped the rest up to save for later. It’s a sign that I was clearly in no state of mind to make decisions when, no more than five minutes into the movie, I felt like we had been there forever and I wasn’t feeling the drug like I thought I should have been, so I opted to take what was left of my acid. Going into the hills that night was made all the more interesting by the residual effects of seeing the movie in that entirely fucked up frame of mind.

Beyond intentionally watching movies that were sure to influence my frame of reference in a truly unpleasant way there were multiple times when I stood in front of a mirror in a dimly lit room, staring at shadows playing across my features, imagining something else taking shape beneath the skin. I became fixated on learning the contours and dimensions of the monster beneath my flesh, and it helped to set my trips off on the correct note for me…because inflicting psychological trauma upon myself is apparently the sort of thing I do for fun.

It took the better part of a year, living like that, but things finally started to really slip out of control for me…which, I think, might have been part of the purpose behind it. Some part of me was in it just to see how far I could push myself before I reached a breaking point. Don’t ask me why I would do that sort of thing, because I haven’t the foggiest notion. It got to the point where time had dilated so badly that my mother called me one evening to find out if I was going to be at my grandparent’s house the next night and I asked her, quite sincerely, if it was already Thanksgiving. She thought that I was joking, but I was not. It was Christmas Eve, and my mother’s side of the family has always gotten together every Christmas Eve out in Piedmont where my grandmother lives to this day. The better part of a month, maybe more, had slipped through my fingers and I had no recollection of where that time had gone. I’d reached nearly the end of my rope, and it might have been a good thing that I’d had that momentary flash of wakefulness or I might have slid further out of control.

It was the end of this particular binge period of my life when I decided that I was going to simply take whatever my friend and I had left and go out for a walk in the chilly night air. Somewhere along that walk I got it in my head that I was going to end up curling up on the side of the road somewhere to die. It isn’t right to consider this a suicide attempt…it was more an acceptance of what would inevitably happen if I were to lie down in the cold night and let nature take its course.

Before letting myself die, I decided to stop and see the mother of my second son, I figured that I would say hello and head back out along my way, since I found myself in the neighborhood where she lived anyhow. You could say that it was my way of trying to say goodbye.

I was almost surprised to actually find her awake when I got there (having no idea what time it actually was), and in a clearly frightened state. A mutual friend of ours was there as well, as support, because the crazy asshole that she left me for had finally snapped. I told you that I would get back to that story, and here you are…so stop being so impatient. I know what I’m fucking doing…sort of. The creep had been obsessively calling her screaming because she’d ended their relationship earlier that day. Our friend asked me if I could stay there so that she could go home, and I agreed. Being in no state of mind to make that sort of judgment call, of course I agreed. I’ve never been very good at declining a request when someone was in need, but especially a pretty woman.

My night had taken an unexpected turn, but I was rolling with it, because that’s just what I do…it wasn’t in me to leave, not with my ex-girlfriend in such a terrified state with a baby boy asleep in his bedroom right there. As surprising as it might be, knowing the toxic nature of my internal chemistry at the time, I actually relaxed and started to doze off in the living room where I’d taken my post just before the banging at the front door began. My ex-girlfriend came running from her room, I don’t know if she’d been able to fall asleep or not, but the noise was such that no one would have slept through it. The banging continued for a long while before stopping just as suddenly as it began.

It wasn’t long before the same sort of frantic, angry beating began at the window to her bedroom, and we quickly when into the room where he was splitting his time between beating at the window and trying to pry it open.

He was gone from there suddenly as well before the banging started up at the back door.

Subtle was definitely not a word that could be used to describe this crazy prick. He returned to the front door, breaking in the door to the enclosed porch before beginning to beat at the door directly leading into the living room where my ex-girlfriend and I were now waiting to see what would happen next. I had enough common sense left in me to attempt calling the police, but she had unplugged her phone because of his repeated calls earlier. I had to locate the phone cord, plug it back in, and call 911. I was just getting through to a dispatcher when the front door came flying open, glass from the window shattering and spreading across the floor. It wasn’t something I immediately registered, but the knife he had in his hand when he crossed the threshold fell from his hand as soon as he saw me sitting there. I was in the middle of trying to explain the insane situation to the operator on the line when he came at me, my ex-girlfriend getting behind me where I was half seated while trying to keep a grip on the phone and maintain a distance from her crazy ex with my foot.

It took some yelling, but he finally got it through his head that the police were on the way and that he would be better off not being there when they returned. He took off running out the door, leaving the knife behind where it had fallen.

I don’t know how the police weren’t able to recognize that there was something clearly quite wrong with me…I was in the worst possible condition to be dealing with the insane, potentially violent situation with her ex and trying to subsequently provide a report for the police. I expected to end up being hauled off myself at any moment, but I apparently maintained my composure better than I imagined I was.

The police left, having taken our statements, and began passively searching for the batshit crazy psycho, and we began cleaning up the mess left behind by his breaking into the house. It was while I had a large shard of glass in my hand when I saw him approaching the house via the sidewalk with a limp. I have never been so proud of my self-control as I was at that moment. I had repeated flashes passing through my mind, second by second, of me leaping from the front step and tearing into him with the shard of glass as a weapon. These images were so visceral and real that I almost feared I was actually doing it, but I kept myself under control…with the glass digging into my palm and the meaty parts of my fingers, I was able to keep myself in check. I told him as calmly as I could manage that the cops were looking for him and that he needed to leave. He claimed that he’d fallen and hurt himself and that he needed our help. He finally did fuck off like we wanted him to and when the police contacted us to let us know he was in custody, they dispelled his bullshit story about injuring himself. The limp and sob story had been an attempt on his part of generating sympathy, which was arguably one of the dumbest fucking things I could imagine anyone thinking.

That was over, and it brought me to my senses enough that my drug use was dramatically diminished over the course of the following month or two…until I had cut the illicit substances out of my life altogether for a few years to come. That will be a story for another time though, since this one has become some enormous fucking monstrosity. Good lord, are you still reading this? Why?

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