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Twisting all the bad things into good

Oct 6, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, Part 3: SWIM in the Mirror

We might die from medication
But we sure killed all the pain
Bright Eyes, Lua


        I splashed some water on my face in an attempt to snap out of the stupor I had been in since I left Boca earlier that evening. Jimmy needed sleepy. After  6 months of not sleeping except the occasional nap that rarely lasted more than 2 hours, I must have finally got some sleep. No man since Rip Van Winkle ever slept as well  as I must have during this road trip that defied the laws of physics. I'm not sure what kind of SUV the twins had, but nothing on 4 wheels that didn't have a flux capacitor was ever so oblivious to the space- time continuum. At the time, I must have just thought that Betsy was just a really fast driver. Maybe I didn't think about it at all. I was just happy to have a furlough from the prison I had converted my room into. I wasn't concerning myself on the details of my arrival in Vegas after a flight from Kansas City that I didn't remember boarding...or taking off on....or arriving on...or being on. But hey, I was in VEGAS, BABY! With 30 dollars.

        I stood over the sink in the Las Vegas Airport wiping the water from my face. I looked in the mirror. It was the first time in months that I did not have the urge to shatter the image I saw staring me down. The total waste of talent and potential who sabotaged my life. My own worst enemy. 
        I  had become so disgusted over the last few months that I started  insulting myself in the mirror in the form of an inner monologue, and recently,  I had started verbalizing these insults. Things like, " You're a fucking loser ". If I could have figured out a way to kick myself in the balls, I would have. It would have been less damaging to my applebag than these verbal assaults were to my psyche. Unlike the deceased King of Pop, when I was looking at the man in the mirror, I wasn't asking him to change his ways. I was asking how he had lost his will to live?  How he could let things spiral so far out of control. How did the kid who was going to pull the sword out of the stone become nothing but an addict? What was so bad in his life that made him start to hide from what he once thought was pain, but paled in comparison to his current situation. Sometimes I would just avoid brushing my teeth so I wouldn't have to look at myself, like some ostrich burying his head in the dirt, hiding from no one but himself. If brushing my teeth seemed like too much of a chore, I would just gargle some mouthwash. I was always tempted to spit the mouthwash in the face of the fuck up in the mirror. The only thing that stopped me was that I didn't want to have to clean it up after. I probably wouldn't have anyway. 

        I sometimes felt like there were 2 different people inside me. One who always knew the right thing to do, and the one I saw in the mirror who always insisted on doing the opposite. To put it in the most histrionic way possible, 2 sworn enemies fighting in the battlefield of my mind with victory being possession of my soul. The man in the mirror was clearly winning this battle. Like a super power annihilating some 3rd world army made up of farmers and their children.

        The Pearl Harbor of this personal war was March 13th, 2010. I had been arrested for possession of two painkillers and 3/4 of a xanax bar. I got fired from my job a few days after my arrest. I didn't even ask why. Whether it had something to do with the arrest or the fact that I would all but nod off at my desk or that my only daily goal was to get through the day so I could go home and lay in bed and eat pills like I had already been doing all day. I didn't have to gather any personal items from my desk because I had already taken them home since I knew it was just a matter of time. I figured this was the time to get clean, since there was no way I could do it while having a job at the same time. Since I was being charged with 3 felonies, I figured this had to stop (the charges would later be dismissed when I showed the judge that I had a prescription). It was a wake up call. I chose to sleep through several other wake up calls. I should have woke up when my girlfriend moved out almost 2 years earlier. After a while, I was able to admit that I would have left me too. I still didn't wake up when the closest thing to a big brother I ever had died in his sleep after a night of mixing painkillers, xanax, and cocaine, something that I would continue to do on a regular basis even after he died. Instead of learning from these losses, I just got worse to deal with the pain. I was taking pills for pain and anxiety, and that was all they ended up causing me, but 100 times worse than whatever started all of this. After getting arrested and losing my job and not having any money for pills, I spent 3 weeks in my room puking, sweating, and ruminating on every mistake I had made since I totaled a brand new Firebird junior year of high school up to the Mustang I recently wrecked when I took 2 xanax and fell asleep at the wheel after a  Motley Crue concert. I even drove myself to the emergency room in fear of having a seizure from xanax withdrawal. I was actually just about clean. I lost 30lbs in 1 month since I was not even able to keep water down. I even skipped my monthly appointment at the pain management clinic, where for $150 cash, no insurance accepted, I would exaggerate my pain to the crooked doctor in some kind of game we both knew we were playing. After this charade, he would prescribe me 180 30mg Roxicodone, 60 xanax bars, 90 10mg percocets, a vial of liquid percocet, and 60 muscle relaxers. Somehow, this was never enough to get me through the month.  

        SWIM (Someone Who Isn't Me) went back to the clinic after someone offered SWIM $900 for the bottle of Roxys if SWIM rescheduled his appointment. SWIM would keep the rest. This continued for a few months until the guy who fronted the money for the visit was broke too. Like the proverbial dog to it's own vomit, I had returned to my old ways.

        In that bathroom in Vegas, I felt some  hope for the first time in months. Maybe it was just that feeling of hope that everyone feels when they arrive in Vegas. Maybe it was this delusion of hope that made me not think it strange that I had walked into a bathroom in an airport, but walked out of a bathroom in a casino.  At least I didn't have to drop half of my net worth on the 15 dollar cab ride. I guess I just wasn't in a question asking mood. I wasn't going to concern myself with things like," Where are the twins?" What room am I staying in?" "Why am I convinced that I am in Vegas when I'm actually doing... I don't even want to know... back in my room in Florida?"
        I can only hope that my physical self was confined to my bedroom while I walked this imaginary Las Vegas casino. I know I wasn't sleeping. Dreams fade over time. The events of this week are still with me a year later. Some may be too absurd to try to make sense of within the limits of my writing ability. There are some events that never happened where I can remember exactly what I was thinking and what was said verbatim, like the lines of some movie I had seen a dozen times.  It had certainly been a rough couple months. And those couple months had been preceded by a rough couple years. I guess my mind decided it was time for a vacation and decided to close shop without leaving one of those little clocks on the door indicating what time it could be expected to return.


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