I’ve been such a reckless fuck-up that the state might put me in jail.
That’s pretty fucking crazy when I pause to really think about it.
My heart’s stopped a few times. I’ve been arrested, committed, and hospitalized more times than I can even remember now.
Why am I still alive?
I’ve taken everything for granted. I’ve wasted everything. And yet here I am.
I don’t know how my story ends but I have a really hard time envisioning any kind of future. I’m staying clean but I’m not sure what for.
I’m still working on my “Suicide Stitches” series. Tonight I’ve been sewing up “Shitty Children.” If you look close at my blurry iPhone photo, you can see that the biggest tear goes across the entire painting. It’s definitely coming together though. And this one was especially bad. In addition to the rips, the frame that the canvas is stretched over was snapped in three places. Earlier today this painting was nothing more than a crumpled pile. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made on it so far.
Did you see I’ve got a webstore up on my agency’s website now? I don’t even know if it’s live and processing payments yet but check it out.
If it’s been a while since you’ve checked in with me, I have some bad news. You know how I used to be that heroin addict who got (and stayed) clean by making art? Well, sometime last year that all fell apart. (And this year, I’ve really gone downhill).
Twice this year, I’ve made serious plans to detox from heroin, get my life back on track, and start painting and writing again. Both times, ended disastrously but – in this entry – I’ll be focusing on the first. (Details of the more recent incident are in two blog entries: the first was written more manically upon my release from jail; the second with greater reflection the following evening).
It’s not generally a great idea for two people in the depths of addiction to be in a relationship together. If one is feeling weak and wants to use, it’s easy for the other to be dragged down right along with them. Regarding, my girlfriend and I, our relationship worked for quite some time because I already had a couple years of clean time racked up when we met. I was able to help her get and stay clean for about a year. When we relapsed together though, things went downhill. Nevertheless, having been together and having been able to successfully stay clean for so long, we didn’t think that we needed to separate. We had used together but there was no reason we couldn’t once again be clean together. Detox is painful, however. Especially in those first few days. I might be able to handle my own symptoms but seeing Wallis in that much pain really hurts me. During previous attempts to detox, as soon as I’d get the slightest inkling that it might be more than she could stand, I couldn’t help myself from going out and getting more heroin to make her feel better. After all, it’s not as if one dose in the middle of a detox is a nail in the coffin. That’s what titration is all about. You can always reason with yourself that one last hit, halfway into a detox period, will cure the worst of your symptoms and help you coast the rest of the way to the finish line.
But that “one last hit” all too often does not, in fact, retain its status as the last hit. You convince yourself that “just one more” will be okay. And then another. And another. And then you’re back to where you started.
We decided that we should detox separately to make it easier on each other. Wallis made plans to detox in Gainesville. I was to stay home in Jacksonville.
As anyone who’s ever detoxed from opiates will tell you, the best medicines to help ease you through the process are benzodiazepines. Xanax. Klonopin. Ativan. Those ones. While these drugs have an immense potential for recreational abuse, they’re not something that we’d ever otherwise take. We did, however, procure some for our detox.
Unfortunately, I have a track record of strange behavior while under the influence of these drugs. Well, I do now. Up until this point, there had only been one previous incident. When I took too many and became erratic and suicidal. And that’s exactly what happened this time around.
We began our detox the night of August 16th together. Wallis was to leave sometime the following afternoon but when I woke up, she was gone and I was confused. Already under the influence of the drug from the night before, I couldn’t understand what was happening. She had invited one of our friends to come over to be there for me when I woke up, but it didn’t make any difference.
I’m not the sort of person that breaks things when I lose my temper. I’ve never thrown a phone at a wall or anything like that. But under the influence of too many benzodiazepines, this did not hold true. I broke virtually every one of my possessions. Both of my televisions. My MacBook Air. My iPhone. And then I went around the house, from painting to painting, slashing at my canvases and smashing or shattering all of my frames.
Then I left the house, procured a large amount of heroin, went somewhere that I presumed I wouldn’t be found for at least several hours, and – after swallowing the rest of my benzos – injected what I presumed would be enough heroin to kill me.
When I woke up in a haze in the hospital three or four days later, I discovered that I had not been discovered hours after my intendedly-lethal injection. I was discovered almost immediately and thus my life was able to be saved.
Upon release from the hospital approximately one week after the overdose, I was no longer under the agitating effects of any drugs but I was in no better shape mentally. I began racing around town, trying to procure the money I’d need to buy enough heroin to once again attempt to kill myself. It wasn’t long before a suspicious and concerned Wallis (who I had spoken to on the phone at some point) alerted the police. They found me and took me into custody before I could try anything. I’ve been hospitalized often enough for suicidal behavior that I know what to say to doctors to procure my own early release though. I was back out on the street again the very next day but, fortunately, had calmed my mind and was no longer suicidal. I recommitted to getting clean, picking back up with my art and writing, and getting my life back on track.
As time has shown, it turns out that I wasn’t quite ready. I was not able to stay clean successfully for much more than a week or so. Even still, I was able to get my head clear for long enough to do something. I began sewing and repairing my damaged paintings. These would become what I’m now referring to as my “Suicide Stitches” series.
When I make art, I don’t plan very much ahead. I kind of just let the images take shape on their own. If I make a mistake – some mark that’s somehow other than I intended it to appear – I don’t correct it. I embrace it. “That’s how it’s supposed to be,” I tell myself. I find a way to rearrange my ideas about how the painting should look. The same is the case with my Suicide Stitches paintings. These pieces are not “damaged”; they don’t have rips or holes in them. This is how these paintings were always meant to be. Each one of my paintings and drawings tells a story and those stories are usually all about my emotional and mental state at the time I’m working on each one. My Suicide Stitches paintings tell those stories, plus one more: the story of August 17, 2016. The story of the day I lost my mind and almost ended my life.
The first of these paintings that I stitched up has already sold. In fact, it was stitched up because it was sold. It was the first good news I had gotten in quite a while. Through Instagram, I got a message from reality TV star, Scott Disick. He wanted one of my pieces and, more than that, he wanted to help promote my art. That opportunity was the first spark I’d had in a great while to actually do something productive. And the publicity and consequent sales I’m expecting are what’s motivating me to get back to work right now. (Although I do have other similarly exciting opportunities also in the works at this point). That first painting has been shipped to Scott but the other Suicide Stitches paintings are still available for purchase. For pricing (on both the originals as well as limited edition hand-numbered/signed prints), contact my new agent, Jennifer Levin of newly formed agency, Blow the Dust. (Jen’s last enterprise is currently on Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies, so I’m pretty amped on this new partnership). Blow the Dust’s website is still very much a work in progress but it’s already been launched with a webstore featuring some of my prints and one of my original paintings. It should actually be operational by sometime this week. Check it out.
While the pieces have not yet been rephotographed since their Suicide Stitches updates, you can get the general idea from a couple photos I snapped quickly with my iPhone in my blog entry from October 8th. Six of the seven paintings in the series are as follows:
The final (seventh) painting in the series (and only one not pictured here) also happens to be the largest, newest, (most expensive) and my favorite of the whole lot. It’s called “The World Revolves Around Me.” For more information on (and images of) that piece, like the others, just get in touch.
For what it’s worth, I’d like to note that (at the time of this posting) I currently have 13 days clean (a record for me so far in 2016) and I plan on that number continuing to climb through the year’s end. I’d also like to note that money from the sales of my work no longer goes directly to me – a safety measure taken in case of a potential relapse.
Response on social media seems to indicate that some people feel like I might not be responding to my current situation as… well… – as some people would like me to. And while I have zero interest in conforming to anyone else’s ideas of “how Sam should be feeling,” I’d like to make something clear. Last night’s blog entry was the consequence of the pure rush of adrenaline that comes with a surprise release from jail. To some, a week in jail may not seem like much. For me, it was a baptism by fire. What people might not understand is that I’ve (obviously) been arrested before and have had court cases draw out for as long as eighteen months. Without bail, a defendant sits in jail until their case is concluded. When it looked like no bail was forthcoming, I was settling in for the long haul. I was virtually certain that no clemency was coming my way anytime soon and that I was going to be stuck in jail for a very, very long time. And – as anyone who knows me is well aware – I am not the sort of person that could do well in jail for very long. I absolutely don’t know how to keep to myself and – let’s be honest – I’m “soft.” I’m gonna be overly familiar and friendly with the wrong people, I’m gonna get taken advantage, and when I do inevitably attempt to stick up for myself, it’s gonna go really south for me really fast. And exactly that almost happened just in my short time there. I had some twice-my-size wannabe gangster in my face at one point screaming at me, “tighten up, cracker!” (Slang for “fists up, we’re fighting now”). I was extremely lucky to get out of that situation unharmed and am still not entirely sure how I managed to do so. Finding out that I wasn’t going to be stuck in that world anymore and then being released so suddenly after what was likely the most challenging week of my life (remember: I was also detoxing / withdrawing from heroin the whole time) – that made for an incredibly celebratory mood last night. It was the greatest natural high of my life.
With that being said, I’d like to address some things that didn’t quite make their way into last night’s entry. Regarding the victims of my traffic accident: Holy fucking shit. Am I ever lucky that no one was hurt (as they SO EASILY could have been). I thank God no one was injured. Because I want to make something clear: sitting in jail all week, I didn’t just feel terrible about my situation and the situations (caused by me) of those I know and love but – how could I not – also about that traffic accident. I don’t know the extent of the damage I did but those people didn’t deserve any of that. You shouldn’t have to worry about some emotionally troubled drug addict fuck-up every time you decide to drive somewhere. That’s not a concern anyone should have. And even when they’re not “horrible” even mild traffic accidents can be pretty traumatic. I sincerely hope that this wasn’t the case for any of the other drivers I effected but I don’t really have any way of knowing. And the thought that I might have had that kind of impact on someone pains me to think about. For all my brashness and my loud personality, on the occasions that I discover that I’ve so much as genuinely annoyed anyone – even that shit bums me the fuck out. I like to be a light. I absolutely have NOT been for the last year but the notion that I’m actually doing more harm than good makes me feel sick to my stomach with self-loathing.
And while most of the people reading this already know that I’m not the world’s biggest supporter of the police forces of the world, I’m also not so resentful at this point in my life to have the kind of animosity that would lend itself to wanting to in any way hurt some random police officer that I know nothing about. I’ve been charged with assault against a police officer and while that could have meant as little as touching his arm, I haven’t seen the report yet and thus don’t know what I did in my blackout state. Do I think there are cops out there who deserve to have terrible things happen to them? (It’s hard for me to say no). But if I rephrase that and consider whether or not I think there are people out there who deserve to have terrible things happen to them, my answer is almost definitely no. Even when it comes to the most bigoted hateful people in the world, I’m not a huge advocate of punishment. I have a hard time believing that someone with those kinds of ideas kicking around in their head (and manifesting themselves in their daily actions no doubt) isn’t already living in the consequently hellish world they’ve created for themselves. And even if some people do deserve “bad things,” I’m not the arbiter of justice and have no interest in being one. Plus, shit – can we drop our punk rock attitudes for just one second long enough to acknowledge that it’s thoroughly possible that some cops aren’t evil? In my mind (even though I don’t know that I actually did anything remotely serious to this guy) when I think about it, I’m just picturing me doing something unpleasant to a person – not a cop – but a person. Some guy who has a job to do and shouldn’t have to deal with my bullshit but did anyway. And – again – I don’t feel so great about that. I don’t wanna be a pain in anyone’s ass. I just wanna feel okay and I want the same for everyone else in the world.
And then there are all of the people I love and who love me. That’s what (admittedly) hurts the most. Friends and regular readers/followers have probably picked up on the fact that I’m an emotional basketcase with an absurd capacity for empathy. I know what I’ve been doing to the people in my life this last year. In fact, that knowledge and the pain of that knowledge probably accounts for a lot of what kept (very selfishly) pushing me further and further into Addiction Round Two. The need to numb those feelings and that pain. The people I’ve hurt are too numerous to name and the emotional turmoil I’ve caused them is too significant to reduce to some petty cluster of words in my blog. It’s really hard not to hate myself for it. The only reason I don’t is that (thanks to that “baptism by fire” / week in jail) I’ve finally regained the strength and clarity to realize and accept that feeling awful doesn’t do anyone any good. It just leads to self-pity, depression, and more self-abuse that winds up spilling over into the lives of my loved ones, anyone at all who cares about me, and innocent bystanders like the drivers and passengers of those cars I crashed into and the cop (and probably any hospital workers and jail officials) who had to deal with my incoherent obnoxious bullshit last Wednesday night.
And it’s that same clarity and strength that caused me to let Wallis go today. I couldn’t love that girl any more than I do. Words are insufficient to express my adoration, love, and respect for her. She means the world to me. And that’s why I told her today that I will not be pursuing her or trying to “win her back.” When Wallis and I met, she was in a bad spot and I was really, really good for her. I got her off of heroin. I got her out of the strip club. I showed her things in life that she had never experienced before and I don’t think it’s unreasonable or boastful to say that I made her happy.
All of that means close to nothing at this point. Because a year later, I let it all go to shit. I let problems in my own life that had nothing to do with her corrupt my sobriety, pull me back into active addiction, and pull her right back in with me. Any good that I did her in the first part of our relationship has been completely nullified. If she’s any better for having known me, her “position” in life at the moment certainly isn’t. And like much of my family and plenty of my friends, I’ve caused her such pain. Untold levels of anxiety and concern for my well-being. The kind of shit that makes you feel physically sick. Whole-truth: I still want a future with Wallis (and I told her as much) but it can’t be because we feel like we need each other. It has to be because we simply want each other for the simple reason that each of us makes the other’s life better. If we’re going to be together, it can’t be now. I’ve been bad for her and I owe it to her to “set her free” (of any feeling of obligation for me or my well-being]. I won’t be calling her. I won’t be messaging or texting or emailing her. I’m sure we’ll still see each other sometimes but it’s not going to be at my request and it’s definitely not going to be because I “need” her to fix my emotional boo-boos. And I don’t want it to be because she needs me to fix hers either. If we do wind up together someday, it needs to be as strong, independent people. And if we don’t end up together – well – that’s just that and I’m sure we’ll both be just fine. I love her to the fucking moon and back [did I use that expression in last night’s blog? I think I did] but I’m committing to focusing on my own recovery and to leaving her the fuck alone. She deserves the best in the world and though I feel confident already that I’ve turned the corner, I’ve abused my right to ask for her faith/trust. If we’re going to be together one day, it’ll have to be the result of something more natural / organic than my “pushing” for it.
There’s more still bouncing around in my head but – for now – I just want to thank my dad and my ex-girlfriend Emily for talking with me today and helping to refine my goals and my understanding even further. And – by the way – speaking of Emily: god damn. She was my girlfriend during my first round of addiction and, tragically, stayed fucked up for way longer than I did. In fact, it was her ongoing addiction and my concern for her that’s chiefly responsible for how well I’m able to understand the damage I’ve done to others with my own addiction. But today she’s a new person. She’s six months clean and she’s a million times smarter than I am. My conversation with her today made me cry a lot (particularly the parts about needing to “release” Wallis [from any sense of obligation to me] by “leaving her be”) but it also made me really happy. That she can be that kind of voice of reason for the people in her life now… it’s just incredible and heart-warming and I love her so much and am so grateful that she’s doing well, she’s alive, she’s still in my life, and… (you get the idea). It also makes me wanna be able to be that again – for the people in my life that are struggling with [whatever]. I know I can be. I think I’m gonna be.
I’ve still got a swirl of bad feelings flying around inside me but there’s no self-pity here. There’s determination, there’s sincerity – and there’s remorse but not shame. Okay – admittedly – there’s some shame. It’s pretty tough to not feel ashamed of myself for some of the stuff I’m responsible for. But I’m not letting myself soak in it, I’m trying to use it as fuel to get to a better place, to be a better person. Stay tuned.
I am alive. I am here. I am now. I acknowledge the fact of my life. I am alive, breathing, walking, and smiling. There’s a world, there’s a world, there’s a big DUMB world and some time that I stepped in ’cause I’m getting tired of pretending that I don’t really give a shit. There was guilt and shame, there was fear and hate, but now it’s finally time to appreciate the perfection of all life. All the times and places and time I’d waste. I learned the hard way and ever since – when I look forward or back – I just gotta laugh ’cause it hit like a ton of bricks. I laid down on the ground and I looked around and I saw a miracle. I appreciate the simple beauty of the world. It came to me like a bullet to the heart but it was there in front of me all along so obvious; the only meaning of life is life itself i’m not controlled by anybody else. I must get out of my way, get out of my own way.
Holy fucking shit! This year is fucking over so far as I’m concerned. I started fucking up around the three-quarter mark of 2015 and it all really went to shit in February. Fuck all of that. I couldn’t care less. I’m not going into extreme details of my legal situation just now but know that I’m up against plenty. I spent the last week in jail and it wasn’t that I was in jail as much as that I was in jail with the idea in my head that things could very easily play out in such a way as to keep me in there for the next two years or more. No one wanted to bail me out because everyone thought I might just go and kill myself and – can you fucking blame them? I almost killed myself intentionally in August. And then on Tuesday, I went and blacked out and caused a four car collision on I-10 and then tried to fight a police officer. (And I don’t remember a fucking instant of it!) I only know because I’ve been told that it happened.
I love this stupid fucking planet. I love my little brother and my dad and my family and my friends. I love my beautiful fucking girlfriend (who isn’t currently talking to me and – you know what – may never talk to me again, and – as devastating as that would be – do you know what it wouldn’t be an excuse to do? SHOOT HEROIN. Because nothing is an excuse to shoot heroin. Fuck. Yes). I love you. I love me. I’m gonna pay off this fucking bail bondsman, I’m gonna get my ass into some over-the-top, stupid fucking treatment that I don’t really need (probably), I’m gonna get a fucking Vivitrol shot because I am a fucking junkie and my promises don’t mean shit and I can mean the world and know from experience that I’ll still fuck it up. But ooooooohhhhhhhhhh – not this time. Not this time, motherfuckers. I am alive. I acknowledge the fact that my dumb ass turns 31 tomorrow. I don’t like the person I’ve been this last year. That shit’s done. I feel fucking awesome. Let’s start today.
[unacknowledged/ripped off opening and closing lines courtesy of GB and KLU].
has borderline personality disorder and a heroin problem. In 2012, he got clean, discovered art, and traveled the country, painting and writing. Three years later, he went back to heroin and quit painting. He's currently hard at work trying to get clean or kill himself (depending on the day).