If you poke around my blog a little you’ll probably deduce that it’s: a) fairly new, and b) a little sparse in terms of content. I’ve tried to work on this, but all I’ve ended up with so far is a bunch of posts in draft and not enough time to actually finish them. It’s all a result of me taking on a lot of work, which I won’t get into here since it’ll just end up sounding like I’m bragging or something. I’ve looked in all sorts of places for advice on blogging, and I’ve discovered both good and bad sources, but I found the most comprehensive instructions on The Daily Post (Figures!), which lead to me finding their Daily Prompts.
In an attempt to get some decent, worthwhile content written (and actually published) I’ve decided to take advantage of the Daily Prompts for a while, and I plan to respond at least twice a week. So, here we go.
Today’s Daily Prompt is:
Pride and Joy
What’s your most prized possession?
If I’d faced this question several years ago I would have had a hard time coming up with a single answer. I’ve always been the type of person that sees the advantages in pretty much anything (probably because both my parents were hoarders), so I never could choose a definite favorite among any particular category, let alone in general. Fortunately, one of the best characteristics of life is the adjustments we go through as we live it.
Given enough time, just about anything about our personalities can bend, shift, or even completely reverse, especially when life is experienced to its full extent. Our opinions become more refined, our tastes become widened or honed, our perspectives undergo major revisions. Even someone who’s determined to coast through life goes through such modifications. It’s inevitable, really. These transitions aren’t always positive, but sometimes it’s our faults that lead us to even greater revelations.
Sometimes, our most idiotic decisions and actions bring us to a pivotal moment that contains the most important of lessons. If I hadn’t endured the violent results of my own moronic choices I wouldn’t be able to answer this question clearly today, but before I get to that I should clarify a few things with a short note on my history.
More than Simple Angst
When I was 11 years old my mother moved in with her boyfriend, Duane. Over the next four years he tortured me and treated me like a slave, but he did contribute one good event in my life: he convinced my mother to send me to a counselor. I’d always had a temper that rivaled my father’s own volatile nature, but my mother had always believed it was just hereditary. It didn’t take long for the counselor to realize that I was too advanced for her to treat, and she referred us to a child psychiatrists that, over the years, almost became a second father to me. We found out just before I started to fully freak out that I’m Bi-Polar, and not even a year later the problems really started.
The cruelty I exhibited in my childhood (which involved a few fights that scared the pants off my mom) was nothing compared to the rage that roiled in me later, but instead of getting into more fights I ended up turning that negativity on myself. Eventually it became unbearable, and I got to the point where I attempted suicide frequently. At one point, I tried to take my life every day, as soon as I got home from school. Obviously I was unsuccessful, and my psychiatrist worked with me to dampen the desire to kill myself, but for years after that the urge remained, buried deep within me. I became resigned to the fact that I’d never get rid of my distaste for living, but I worked hard to repress it once I realized the effect my reckless behavior was having on those I loved. I buckled down and tried to ignore that darkness in me as best I could.
You Never Realize What You Have Until It’s Gone
Now that you know about my ingrained contempt for life you’ll be able to understand just how strong a change one mistake wrought in me. As the years went by every aspect of my life degraded until I finally ended up homeless. I’d sustained severe injuries to my back and one of my hips, forcing me into physical therapy. Being prescribed pain medication was necessary since exercising is impossible when faced with constant agony, but the level of addiction one experiences to those pills is unpredictable. I ended up in a vicious cycle, the consequences of not taking those pills a lot more complex for me than the usual worries of an addict (those who start using pain killers or heroine for recreation have plenty to worry about since going through withdrawals for opiates, aka becoming ‘dope sick’, is a horrid, disgusting, and lengthy process, but people like me are also plagued by immense amounts of extra pain on top of that from our injuries).
Everything kept escalating. When my tolerance grew beyond what the pills could offer I had no choice (at least, I thought I had no choice at that time) but to move on to illegal means for alleviating my pain and addiction. It didn’t take long for my life to crumble, putting me on the street and pushing me into acts I would have never performed had I been sober. It got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore, but I had no insurance or resources for paying for an addiction program. So I tried the next best option (once again, my reasoning was a little strange then): replacing one drug for another.
I won’t reveal which drug I decided to use (no, it wasn’t pot), but it was a lot cheaper and did a fair job of covering up the detox symptoms that would have otherwise drove me insane. It was the type of drug that, when smoked, gave you an immediate jolting rush, but wound down quickly. Although that rush departed after a few minutes the amount of active chemicals in your blood stayed the same for hours, making it especially dangerous and deceptive. I’d figured out a way to gauge just how high I was by keeping track of how large my pupils were, which would sometimes grow so large they’d almost cover my irises entirely. I kept close watch on my eyes, was aware that my body couldn’t handle much more, but all it took was one hit too many to throw me over the edge.
Before I’d even released the smoke from my lungs I knew something was wrong. The rush that was normally quite enjoyable became overwhelming, making me feel like my body was the worst place in the world to be at that moment. I flailed about without thinking, almost as if my mind was attempting to escape the hell I’d turned myself into. A few moments later my heart sped up dramatically, feeling like it would burst from my chest, then suddenly slowed to a crawl that almost made me pass out. This process continued to worsen with every minute that passed as I was taken to a hospital by a friend, the extremes so strong that I couldn’t stop hyperventilating. Whenever my heartbeat slowed I had to force myself to breath, feeling like my lungs hard turned to stone, and my heart completely stopped three times during that trip, remaining still for the time it would take for three or four normal beats to pass, then springing back to life and immediately cranking up to the rapid tempo again.
I honestly can’t tell you what the scariest part of that experience was, but every time my heart stopped I could feel myself slipping away, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I was on the verge, the very precipice, of having a full-blown heart attack and dying, and I hadn’t even been alive 30 years yet.
My Most Prize Possession?
In the past most of my attempts at suicide had been thwarted by someone before I could do severe damage. Sometimes I’d down a handful of powerful prescription sleeping pills, but they’d make me unaware of my surroundings by the time I was in danger. I’d gotten myself into trouble before, but nothing compares to the one time I actually wasn’t trying to kill myself. My conclusion? Death is freaking scary!
It’s because of that one moment that my greatest possession is life itself. I now cherish what I used to take for granted every single day, and although that mistake is one I never wish to repeat I’m kind of glad it happened. If it hadn’t I wouldn’t have learned just how precious every breath is, or how meaningful the next minute from now can be. The combination of the panic I felt that night and the PTSD I suffer from (yet another ‘gift’ from Duane) won’t allow me to use any drugs now, so I had no choice but to get my life on track after that.
And that is why stupidity can be valuable.
Other Notable Answers to Today’s Prompt: