Tag Archives: rehab girls


"14." 1/2/13. Calligraphy ink and sewing needle (tattoo). 1x2".
“14.” 1/2/13. Calligraphy ink and sewing needle (tattoo). 1×2″.

In early November, Alexis and I were “just friends” but it was obvious that something was going on. We walked into the room laughing, toward some empty chairs near Delia. “So when are you two going to get married?” she asked. “Pffft… What are you talking about? We’re just friends,” I said as we sat down. Alexis turned and whispered in my ear: “So… when are we going to get married?” I smiled. At this point, that kind of flirting was still a bit of a lapse in our usual insistence (even to one another) that this was a strictly platonic friendship. “Hmm…That’s a pretty serious commitment. I might need some time to think about it.

A few minutes into the meeting, I motioned her in a little closer. “Okay, so here’s the deal,” I whispered in her ear, “We’re not allowed to be in relationships until we’ve had a year clean, right? So we can’t date until next August… Recovery: twelve steps, the last of which is “helping other addicts,” which is why – you know – the joke about fucking someone you meet in recovery is “the thirteenth step.” So – from that – you could say that the fourteenth step is getting married. So… 12, 13, 14: December 13th, 2014. By then, we’ll have known each other for two and a half years, in which we got our year clean, started dating, and then spent a year and a half together as a couple. 12-13-14.” I pulled back from her ear with a smile to see her reaction. She loved it. She looked giddy.


In writing my statement / story for “Another Opportunity For Growth!!!,” I did some digging… I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did find this conversation from a week after that story (and two months after the one at the start of this entry).

Texts: January 13th

Alexis: I love you. I wish we could communicate like before but I guess this is how It’s supposed to be. I’m sorry for being a shit but I’ve been working out my own demons. It isn’t easy on my own but I’m managing. Will I get to see you again?

Sam: You can see me pretty much anytime you want to.

A: That’s not true. I can’t leave the county. Have you talked to Tracy since you left [Tranquil Shores]?
[Tracy was my counselor, as well as hers]

S: I didn’t leave. I was just desperate to get you to open up. And I was hurt and angry – feeling like you had locked me out. Feeling unloved, neglected, and rejected. So I was probably trying to fuck with you a little bit. To get a reaction out of you and get you to call me back for once. I’m sorry for doing that.

A: So you didn’t leave? You LIED TO ME? Played mind games?

S: Yes. And not that there’s any excuse for it, but that’s what I felt like you were doing to me when you’d disappear for four days. Or lie to me and promise that you’d call me at a certain time and then ignore my calls and just text me a day later. But like I said, two wrongs don’t make a right. You’re going through your own shit, I’ve got my shit. So – yeah – I’m sorry. I was hurt and desperate to get you to talk to me.

A: This is what our relationship has become?

S: Lexi, I didn’t do this alone. You can’t put it all on me. You practically ended our relationship on New Year’s Eve when you disappeared all week and then refused to tell me anything about what’s going on.

A: What have you been going through?

S: There was this girl that I was totally crazy for. We met up one night and I told her how much I loved her. She told me how much she loved me and how she knew it was for real. And I was so happy. I couldn’t wait to see her again. We made plans for NYE but she never called me back. And then, when she did – days later – she wouldn’t tell me anything about what was going on. But I knew something serious was happening because she also stopped going to groups and seeing her counselor (who she had always seemed to love). I didn’t know what was up, but I was terrified for her. Because I loved her and cared about her so much. Even a week later, she was still being spotty and still wouldn’t tell me what was going on. I would have told her anything but she wouldn’t tell me even one thing. It got to be more than I could handle. It hurt too much, worrying about what this girl was going through and at the same time dealing with the pain of being locked out by someone that I had bared my soul to and opened up in a way I never had before.

S: That’s what I was going through.

A: I’m not dead, Sam.

S: I know you’re not dead. But there were a few days where I was afraid you might be. And I’m still scared that you might be mixed up in something dangerous. But I’m not letting it get to me.

A: I’m here for you. Always.

S: Kid, I love you to death, but you can’t say that. You’re NOT always there for me. You won’t ever answer my calls or call me and you only respond to my texts half the time. But that’s okay. I accept that.

A: So because you’re assuming everything, that’s how you want us to be?

S: No. I want us to be partners. But I can’t always get what I want, so I’m settling for being your friend. To whatever extent you’ll allow me to be.

S: If I could, I’d see you every day. But if all you want from me is the occasional text, I’ll take what I can get.

A: We did see each other every day. We had that. I want to hear from you daily and see  you.

S: Can I call you so we can talk for a minute?

A: Talk of what?

S: About whatever. I can just tell you about my weekend. I just like to hear your voice ’cause I miss you.

[no response]

S: If you don’t want to talk on the phone, that’s fine. You don’t have to stop texting me just to avoid it.

[no response]

S: Hey – by the way – did you see that picture of my Lexi tattoo?

A: What tattoo?

S: The ghost from the painting I made way back in October when I first started trying to figure out if I was in love with you or if I even knew what love was or if I was capable of loving someone. And – next to it – “14.” Because I did it on 1/2/13 (the same numbers in the same order as 12/13). So – you know – to complete the number: 12/13/14.

A: Where’d you tattoo it on your body? That’s seriously about me? Wow, Sammy.

S: It’s right above my right knee, in the only spot that I don’t ever patch on my jeans so that it’ll always show.

A: Where’s mine gonna be?

S: Wherever you want it to be. But you’d actually have to meet up with me to get it. Will I get to see you sometime this week?

A: Up until an hour ago, I thought you’ve been in Sarasota. I definitely crave and truly miss your energy. Why the ghost though?

S: In the painting?

A: Yeah.

S: This sound lame but (when I made it) it was because I felt possessed or haunted by doubt and uncertainty. And then (when I did the tattoo) – even though I didn’t doubt my feelings anymore and knew that I loved you – it made sense to reuse it. Not just because that was the first thing I painted about my feelings for you but also because I felt like you had disappeared. You were there one minute and gone the next. Like a ghost. Which was scary (like a ghost) because I thought you might be dead… like a ghost. And I was upset again – about something going on with us – just like i had been when I first painted it.

S: I miss you a ton, kid. I still think about you all the time. One of these days, you’ll have to let me come see you, or at least hear your voice. But it’s nice even just to text.

A: I’m laying in bed so I don’t sound cute right now. Sleepy and in pain.

S: You always sound cute but it’s okay if you don’t feel like talking. Sorry to hear you’re in pain. What hurts?

A: I pulled a muscle.

A: Think I may just be getting old.

S: Aw. I’m really sorry to hear that. I pulled a muscle in my arm that’s been hurting for a week now. Not bad though (sometimes not at all). I hope it feels better soon.

S: Yours, I mean. I hope YOURS feels better. Mine, I can manage.

A: Lol. You’re cute. We’re just linked and connected in some strange cosmic way I suppose. It feels good to talk to you. You make me feel at peace. It’s weird to explain.

S: You don’t have to explain a thing. Even if it’s just texting, you make me feel the same way. When I’m not losing my mind worried about you, you’re pretty much my favorite person on the planet.

S: And hopefully those days are done with. I’m gonna do my best to just hold it down and deal even if I can’t get in touch with you for days.

A: That’s where trust and faith come into play.

S: Yeah, you’re absolutely right.

A: Don’t lose your mind. And I couldn’t possibly be your favorite person. There are a lot more interesting people out there.

S: Well, you’ll have to introduce me to some of them then, I guess. I sure haven’t found them on my own.

A: Stop making me smile. It hurts.

S: So when I get my “vehicle” this week, you gonna let me come over and tattoo you?

A: What vehicle?

S: If I tell you, you promise not to make fun of me?

A: Yes.

S: I’m getting a scooter. I should have it by Sunday. Not exactly a car, but it’s a start. Plus, I can paint it and cover it in stickers and stuff, so it’ll be REALLY, REALLY PUNK.

A: I love it. Fucking adorable and so totally punk.

S: So does this mean I can scoot on over and draw something under your skin?

A: Yup!

A: I’m laying down now. It’s time I try to get back to a schedule of early bedtime, up early.

S: Okay, I should do the same.

A: I love you, Sammy. Sweet dreams.

S: Love you too, kid. Sleep tight.


  • If you’re reading that and thinking, “Nobody writes messages like that,” you’re half right. Mine are unedited but she writes messages like a normal human being (without “proper” capitalization/punctuation, with typos, etc.); so I changed that when I typed this up for… um… uniformity? Otherwise, it’s pretty much a straight transcript.
  • When asked about this tattoo, I don’t usually mention the girl – only that the ghost is my emblem for borderline personality disorder (as it came from an expressive art piece created in the midst of an episode / incident of particularly strong “symptoms” – and used in later pieces when I was either experiencing or commenting on the same). Both explanations are equally true (and very much related).
  • The first thing about this conversation that jumps out at me is the way I was trying so hard to be okay with what was going on, when I should have just turned my back and ran. She wasn’t in a good place and I had “fallen down” with girls in situations just like this so many times.
  • Second: She says “That’s where trust and faith come into play” and I respond, “You’re absolutely right.” She was absolutely wrong insofar as she was suggesting that I should trust (and have faith in) her. And I knew that even then. But I chose to knowingly misunderstand her, which enabled me to agree with her. Because I did have trust and faith (or I was trying to have them anyway). Not in her – (she was obviously fucking up hard) – but in … everything, I guess. I was trying to believe that everything was happening exactly as it needed to (or – at the very least – the only way that it could happen). Whatever had happened so far, I was just hoping that she’d spin herself back into Tranquil Shores before shit got really bad.
  • But that didn’t happen. The night of December 30 remains the last time that I ever saw her.

Another Opportunity For Growth!!!

"Another Opportunity For Growth!!!" 1/6/13. Crayon on a "sorry we lost your mail" envelope from the US Postal Service. 4¾x9½".
“Another Opportunity For Growth!!!” 1/6/13. Crayon. 4¾x9½”.

In the last months of 2012, I was inpatient at Tranquil Shores and taking my recovery really seriously. My general mood and outlook were more positive and upbeat than at any point prior in my life; things were going well – most of the time. When they weren’t, it was bad. I had learned to deal with some emotional triggers but others could still set me off in an instant. I was breaking down in a mess of tears constantly [and, historically, crying wasn’t something I had done very often]. The treatment team was really happy with my progress but were discussing the option of adding an antipsychotic to my daily prescription. Personally, I was 100% on board with the idea at the time. The way I felt most of the time was great. I just wanted to stop falling apart for two hours every other day.

There was something else going on though that was tearing me up and that I wasn’t talking about. There was this girl. And though (for the first time) I cared enough about “playing by the rules” (for the sake of my recovery) to not turn it into a sexual relationship, we were very much emotionally invested in one another. And the kinds of little things that chip away at my soul whenever I’m involved with any girl (coupled with the shame of having to lie to my counselor to keep it a secret) were killing me.

Eventually, I came clean about the whole thing. Alexis denied it but she was leaving Tranquil Shores in a week or so anyway. That confession was the catalyst that finally kicked my recovery into gear (for real). There was no need to talk about anti-psychotics after that. When she left, still denying everything though, I figured it was all over between us. It hurt but what could I do?

In the last week of December, she got in touch with me and we started talking again. She still saw her [also my] counselor on an outpatient basis and she had gotten honest and confessed that everything I had said was true. We had both been advised that we shouldn’t be speaking with one another until we had a better grip on exactly what was going on between us, but I was so excited to find that she was no longer furious with me (and wanted to see me) that I didn’t care. On December 30th, I snuck out of Tranquil Shores and she picked me up down the street. At the end of the night when she dropped me off to sneak back in, I could have skipped back to Tranquil Shores; I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I didn’t get caught and we made plans to meet up again the next night: New Year’s Eve.

I played it cool and waited all day for her to hit me up. Nothing. I tried her phone. Nothing. And then four more days of the same.

She had relapsed… right? The night that we were together, she had told me that that it had been on her mind a lot but that she had held strong. That was the way I usually talked to people on the occasions that I had already relapsed, but I took her word for it. I had to because I so badly wanted it to be true. It was obvious now though. Our night together had been incredible. She apologized for denying everything initially (in fear) and said that she had been dying to talk to / see me, but needed to sort through her feelings first. She had done that though now, she said, and she told me she was more in love with me than she had ever been in love with anyone and that there was no doubt in her mind that her love was real, authentic, and deep. You don’t disappear on someone for five days after saying some shit like that. It wasn’t the behavior of someone “living a program.” I didn’t know what to do. She might be dead. [People that start shooting up again after a period of clean time have an incredibly high rate of overdose]. Two friends of mine had already overdosed in the last two months. I feared the worst and it ate away at me.

In those five days, I exercised self-discipline like never before. I only allowed myself to try and reach her once or twice a day and I kept myself busy and focused around the clock with my art and my treatment plan. I was a ball of anxiety but I was extremely proud of the way that I didn’t completely lose my fucking mind. I felt like I had bullets under my skin, bouncing around my skeleton… but I managed.

Late afternoon, January 5th, I got a text: “hi sammy.”


“Hey! Where have you been? Are you okay? I’m so happy to hear from you! Call me!”

She called later that night. It was … off. She didn’t sound high, but she wasn’t exactly coherent either. Above all though, she stressed that I didn’t have anything to worry about –  and she asked if she could see me tomorrow [Sunday] night. “Of course.”

Those weren’t my only plans for the day: Taylor was coming to visit. I had been looking forward to it for at least a month. I got all my little papers to my counselor, got them stamped, signed, approved, and sent over to property staff. Everything was in order. It was the first time I’d get to see her since Labor Day, 2011 – when we left San Diego on separate flights and, upon arrival in Florida,  I immediately proceeded to overdose (intentionally) in an attempt to kill myself. [But that’s another story].

I’ve written a lot about overlapping things I’ve had with girls (especially in this stretch of time) but I don’t consider this anything like that. Taylor and I had dated and lived together for six years, but I had spent a lot of time looking at the relationship and was almost certain that I was looking forward to seeing my friend, Taylor (and not Taylor, the girl with whom I might still be in love). I wasn’t trying to “win her back” as I had back in 2011; this wasn’t romantic, we were friends. [Though this, too,  is tangential – a subject for another time]. We planned her visit at 10 AM because she was flying back to Baltimore at 4 that afternoon. I was excited.

At 11AM, I called. Running late, she said. Okay – no big deal.

At 1PM, I called. No response.

At 4PM… she’s on her flight right now. She fucking bailed on me and didn’t even care enough to tell me.

And what do you know… I haven’t heard from Her all day either. We’re supposed to meet up tonight… I sent her a text. I tried to call. Nothing. I need to go for a walk.

I signed out for an hour [I had been at Tranquil Shores for five months so I had that privilege on a Sunday afternoon]. I walked down the street not knowing what the fuck I was even doing. I sat down at a bus stop and waited… to hear from her. I wrote her a short but desperately conflicted “please let me back into your life” kind of note. I sent it as a picture so that she’d be more likely to look at it (assuming she actually had her phone and really was just ignoring me).

No response. I walked some more. Sat at another bus stop. Decided to draw. I looked in my bag and took out the only medium and paper I had on me: crayons and a tattered envelope. I was trying so desperately to remain optimistic and see everything in the best possible light. Taylor’s bailing on me that day and this girl (that I was in love with)’s strange behavior and looming death… it all hurt but it had to be for something. If nothing else, I told myself, it’s practice; I’m getting better at feeling pain and not falling apart. When I live in the real world again one day, where I could quickly and easily numb out pain with heroin, these experiences will be what keep me from doing so. I will get through this and I will be okay. It’s another opportunity for growth…


2013-01-06 note

  • Here’s the note that I wrote her just before I drew my little cartoon.
  • If you wanna know how things turned out with her, it’s in my statement for “Spoiler Alert.”
  • Taylor and I are pals and talk all the time (but never about why she didn’t show up that day).
  • The cartoon featured in this entry is for sale in my webstore (and comes in a custom frame/mat set that I painted/made myself).
  • This cartoon was among the twenty-five pieces featured in my first art show. It was sold 11/9/13.

Perfect Love / Exit Bag

"Perfect Love / Exit Bag." 10/31/12. Tempera, colored pencil, oil pastel. 12x18".
“Perfect Love / Exit Bag.” 10/31/12. Tempera, colored pencil, oil pastel. 12×18″.

“Perfect love” (to me) isn’t just unconditional love; it’s bigger than that and it’s greater (or wider) than any kind of romantic love. It’s a total respect for the entirety of another human being. It doesn’t have any room for jealousy or anything like that.

I really like the word “cupidity.” Technically, it’s an excessive desire to possess something (like money or materials things). Given the connotations of “cupid” though, I like to think of it as more of an excessive desire to possess someone. It’s sort of the opposite of perfect love. When I meet a girl, I have a tendency to go from one extreme to the other. One minute, I might be totally enamored or infatuated with her and then – the second I fear that she might not reciprocate (if she’s paying more attention to someone else, for example) – I’ll totally shut off absolutely all feeling and cease to care about her in any way at all. And then – the moment my fear is somehow allayed – a switch flips and I’m one-hundred percent invested in her again.

I’ve never been what you’d call a jealous or possessive boyfriend. I’m not bothered by my girlfriend going out without me, having male friends, or anything like that, but I think that’s because – once she’s “officially” my girlfriend – my cupidity is sated. That’s all the “possession” I need to feel okay, but that’s still a problem. It’s still not okay with me that I (feel like I) need that at all.

Last October, I was in treatment and I liked a girl but I knew it was a bad idea for me to get involved. So I was trying to have a genuine friendship with her. I was trying to practice this concept of “perfect love” that I had in my head. I was trying to be real and authentic and honest, and to value and respect her as an independent human being. It was a totally different dynamic (and experience) than my usual approach of (still trying to be honest but primarily) trying to get her to like me (or want to be my girlfriend or want to sleep with me). I wanted my behavior to reflect perfect love, which meant acting without any expectation, desire, or even hope of receiving anything in return.

On Halloween, she was having a problem and – after coming to me for help – she went to someone else. “What – I’m not enough? My help wasn’t good enough? What’s happening!?”–I thought. I didn’t show any of this outwardly, but the switch flipped and I immediately ceased to have any interest in this girl. My feelings were hurt so I was going to stop caring. …Because I wasn’t the only person that she shared her problem with…

And it’s worse than that even. In these situations, I don’t usually stop caring about the girl alone – more often than not, I also stop caring about myself. Suddenly, I’m a worthless unlovable piece of shit and there’s no reason for me to be alive. (My attempt at perfect love was an abysmal failure).

This all happened just before expressive art therapy group. An “exit bag” is a homemade suicide device. To make one, you need a helium tank, an oven bag, a piece of string, some tape, and a tube. I felt like I wanted to die, but I knew that I didn’t really and I wasn’t ready to talk about my feelings because I probably wasn’t ready to feel better. I needed to punish myself by stewing in misery for a little bit longer. Writing “helium, bag, string, tape, and tube” here was my way of saying “I WANT TO DIE” without having to deal with anyone’s response to a statement like that.

Because so much of what I was experiencing as I made this piece so perfectly exemplifies (/is symptomatic of) borderline personality disorder, I came to see the ghost that I drew here as sort of a stand-in for BPD. He’s in at least five of my pieces (including a tattoo). Once I have more of those online, I’ll probably do a special post just to feature him in all his different forms. (That sounds like fun to me). : )

Girls Are Not Pokemon

"Girls Are Not Pokemon." 3/26/13. Colored pencil and pen. 8x10".
“Girls Are Not Pokemon.” 3/26/13. Colored pencil and pen. 6×8″.

I’ve been to three different rehabs and – at each – I got involved with a girl. Though it only (directly) got me kicked out of treatment once, it was never not a serious problem. If I include life outside of rehab, in times when I was trying to stay clean, I’ve relapsed with six different girls (and, each time, while upset about something that happened with me and the girl). That number doesn’t include times I’ve relapsed without [the] girl but while upset about something with her. Heroin is dangerous for me, but girls are probably more dangerous. I first started trying to get clean in November 2010 and – in all the time since – there have been plenty of occasions when I’ve been in dangerous situations where drugs were available through someone I was with (and/or someone was actually using around me). When that person’s been male, I’ve never once caved and gotten high, but when it’s been a girl that I’m even slightly interested in (i.e. most girls), I’ve found myself with a needle in my arm just about every time.

At Tranquil Shores, this was one of the issues that we spent the most time on. In my fifth month as an inpatient, Alexis, the girl with whom I was the most mixed up, moved out. She was signed up to come in three times a week for outpatient treatment but, two weeks later, stopped showing up. We were talking regularly by phone even after she left, but it wasn’t long before I lost touch with her too. She fell off – back into drugs – and lives behind bars now. I could have easily been right there with her when it all went down.

So now there were exactly zero girls in my age range at Tranquil Shores but I had others in the area that I had met at AA or NA meetings that I was constantly texting and meeting up with. (And I was doing that long before I lost touch with Alexis). Nothing serious happened between (any of) us, but I came pretty close to making some bad decisions on more than a few occasions. And that I even came close is insane. How many times did I need to put my life at risk just ‘cause I liked the way some girl smiled at me? But I couldn’t help it. It was the definition of compulsive behavior. I felt like I needed it.

A year prior, at the Wellness Resource Center, after getting caught with a girl (somewhere that we shouldn’t have been, doing something we shouldn’t have been doing), I was sitting in my room, contemplating the trouble I was about to be in. I didn’t want to get kicked out because I knew that I wasn’t “better” yet. I knew I’d get fucked up again and fuck everything up. I remember sitting there and thinking, “I don’t care if they never let me anywhere near her again. I don’t care if they basically lock me in my room. So long as I know that she’s also locked up in her room, sitting there pining for me, still in love with me, that’s all I need. I don’t ever need to see her again.

I think that’s all it’s really about for me. I just want someone to love me or – more specifically – to be in love with me. I needed for someone to think that I was the most important person in their world. The best person. Their favorite. Once I’d get that, it never really changed anything. I never actually felt any better or less insecure. It seemed so at times, in short little moments, but if that had really been the case, then I wouldn’t have been constantly pursuing multiple girls, even when I already had one “on the hook.” [That term sounds shitty but it conveys the idea I’m trying to get across. Also, it is shitty].

Sitting in group in December 2012, I did some math. I had six girls that I was trying to juggle to varying degrees. While I’d like to write it all of as inauthentic codependent bullshit – to be honest – with half of them I wasn’t even sure [and I’m still not]. I thought there might be (at least some spark of) authentic love. Yet I was still leading on the three girls with whom I knew it was just bullshit.

What was I really after? What was the point? A thought occurred to me; it was really silly but it was also totally dead on, which just made it that much funnier…

Girls are not pokemon – I do not “gotta catch ’em all…”


If you know me personally you might be looking at the date on this cartoon and thinking, “What the fuck? You were already dating Heather by then – that’s fucked up.” [I decided to turn the idea into a cartoon back when I thought of it, but it wasn’t ’til two or three months later that I actually drew it].

Originally, I set out to write this entry about a different piece but I kind of had to throw all of this stuff about my codependent traits and behaviors out there as background info first. I’ll get to the other one tomorrow. [Update: That one’s online now too].

Anyway, I really love this cartoon. I love how superficially cute / innocuous it is but how the truth to it is kind of dark, sad, and pathetic. So often, I’ve let myself to sink to the greatest depths of hell because of something a girl said (or didn’t say) to me. I’ve dwelled in shit and misery for days, on account of facial expressions that I’d later discover I had completely misread. I’ve let my emotions, as triggered by girls, run and ruin my life.

But I’m getting better, you guys! For serious this time!


  • The original drawing already sold but hit me up to buy a 6×8″ print.
  • For more on my relationships at this point in my life, check out “Autobiography.”

Chrissy Fit

"Chrissy Fit." 12/11/12. Pen on scrap. 8½x4”.
“Chrissy Fit.” 12/11/12. Pen on scrap. 8½x4”.

I’ve struggled with whether or not I should post this image. I drew this the day after “Clarity” and the day before “No Accident.” If you haven’t read the entries that I wrote to go along with those pieces, you should. This week in December may have been the most significant of my life. I’m very glad that it played out as it did.


“Success rates” for slit wrists and knives to the heart are surprisingly low. I didn’t want to go to a hospital…

Forty-eight hours before “No Accident” and the moment when I started to finally “get better,” I was in my room – researching suicide methods that didn’t require anything that couldn’t be found in my apartment at Tranquil Shores. I was going to kill myself because a girl was mad at me. A girl that I wasn’t even sure that I liked.

Earlier that afternoon, we did an exercise in group. We had to pull a couple items out of a basket and relate to them. I declined to say anything aloud, but when it was time for art therapy group, I started writing.

The fortune was absurd, the paper it was printed on was dirty and crumpled. Together, they were useless. This pencil is not useless. It has incredible potential. It is an instrument of a higher purpose. In the right hands. It is comforting. I like holding it in my hand. With paper, it can save me from almost anything. And it is forgiving. It has an eraser. If I make a mistake, it allows for correction. Or at least undoing. The mistakes I make with it are rarely entirely forgotten. I don’t know how to apply this to my life. Is it by chance that the trauma I addressed [in group] this morning, that I was supposed to see is not happening anymore (but which I claimed could and would (and sort of was) still taking place) – is it by chance that just hours later it pretty much is [happening again]? Or did I choose that memory because it had already begun? Yes, that’s it. It’s just more clear now. Because I realize I’m no longer willing to be honest which means I can’t get better. I can’t be helped. So there’s no reason for me to be here. Except that to hope that things will change once more. I no longer believe that I’m a drug addict. Sort of. I know I can’t use drugs (or that it’s not worth the risk in any case). But I’m not going to pick up. Fuck that. I’m over it. It’s not appealing anymore. But I’m miserable. Like I realized on my first weekend here, people are unhappy for countless reasons other than drugs. Me? I have no legitimate reason to be unhappy. It’s all in my head and it’s illogical. Is that recognition enough to get help in getting well without disclosing my irrational stressors? Celexa is an SSRI. Cymbalta is an SNRI. Which means that it does the same thing as Celexa, plus more. Adding Celexa to my prescription [regimen] adds little to nothing. And it will be another 3½ to 5½ weeks before we even know if it’s having any effect. I need something different and I need something faster. I am chemically imbalanced. I need chemical balance. Abilify might work. It’s too expensive. It’s less expensive than inpatient treatment. Maybe I’d be better off with Abilify and outpatient treatment. Here or elsewhere. At this point I’m not afraid to leave.

I don’t like art anymore. I don’t like treatment anymore. I don’t think I’m ready to get better anymore.

"Clarity." 12/10/12. Pencil. 12x18".
“Clarity.” 12/10/12. Pencil. 12×18″.

This piece is called “Clarity” because that’s how I actually felt in this moment. I thought I had nailed it. I was deluded enough to think that my primary issue was chemical, thoroughly confused as to whether or not I needed any kind of mental health therapy or substance abuse treatment, yet I was somehow lucid enough to know that those feelings (and my written rant) were totally insane. The title is “Clarity” because I thought it was hilarious. I wasn’t laughing, but I knew it was funny. Even then.

Sometimes, emotions are more powerful than facts.

Later that night, I made a half-hearted attempt to kill myself by asphyxiation. (Success rates are in the seventy to eighty percent range).


When I handed over the Traffic Street inventory to Kiss of Death, Glenn gave me a few new KoD releases. One was The Slow Death’s first LP. I listened to that record a lot while I was at Tranquil Shores. My name is on the thanks list even though I didn’t have any hand in its release. (Though I had been a big fan and supporter of The Slow Death and helped them out in other ways, so it wasn’t totally shocking). Still, I wasn’t expecting it and it was a really nice surprise. I had become so far removed from the world that I had lived and breathed for so long… Little things like that helped me feel connected in those days. It meant a lot to me. It seems appropriate that my first experience back in that world was the little tour with Rational Anthem this month, up to the fest that Jesse (of The Slow Death) organized. Here’s a song from that first LP that came to mind while I was writing this entry. And here’s a second song from their brand new record.

No Accident


"No Accident." 12/12/12. Oil pastel and pencil. 12x18".
“No Accident.” 12/12/12. Oil pastel and pencil. 12×18″.

On October 2, 2012, I was kicked out of Tranquil Shores. It was my third time being kicked out of rehab that year. This time was different though. I knew what I needed to do and, on October 19th, I was welcomed back.

When I had been kicked out of Hazelden and the Wellness Resource Center, a lot of what was going wrong with me had to do with girls. At both facilities, I got “involved” with another patient. That hadn’t been the case this time but, when I was readmitted, I started doing it again. This time, I was determined enough to succeed that I didn’t let it control me the way it had before. We had more than a few conversations about how we were just friends (even once in the presence of the treatment staff when they began to worry about what might be developing). But I held on, I didn’t give in and do anything that would have been automatic grounds for my being kicked out again. Still, it eventually got to a point where we had resolved to be together after we got out of treatment and that’s the kind of emotional attachment that’s not good for anyone early in recovery, let alone a basket case like myself.

I don’t mean it as an excuse because I don’t see it that way but my thoughts, emotional responses, and consequent behaviors are not like most people’s. I “have” borderline personality disorder.

Something happened. It doesn’t matter what. She and I weren’t getting along and it was fucking ruining me. And because I wasn’t supposed to be involved with anyone (let alone a girl I was in treatment with) I couldn’t be honest with my counselor or anyone else about what was eating at me. It occurred to me that – if I wasn’t willing to talk about my issues – there was no longer any reason to be in treatment. Things got worse until one night, alone in my room, I lost it. [Since that’s a whole story of its own though, I won’t go into the details here].

The next morning I woke up feeling thoroughly empty, thoroughly hopeless. In my head, I had convinced myself that I wasn’t really doing anything wrong because I hadn’t actually slept with the girl. But I was fucking destroying any shot I had at ever getting better. I was already contemplating leaving and I knew, if I went down that path, I’d be shooting heroin again in no time. I was keeping my mouth shut for the sake of my relationship with this girl, but if I didn’t start talking and sort this shit out [if I left Tranquil Shores] the relationship was over anyway; I’d lose everything. I talked to a friend and realized that I had no choice. So I told the truth about everything that had gone on between us.

And she denied everything. She told them that it was all in my head – that I was even sicker and more confused than I seemed. I couldn’t believe it. I thought this was going to be the best thing for us. We weren’t supposed to get mixed up with each other in the first place but… it happened (nothing could change that) and now we’d be able to deal with it. And get better. It was going to be awesome. The greatest relief ever. But she wasn’t interested. She stuck to her story: that I was out of my fucking mind. I had an encyclopedia’s worth of Facebook and text messages to prove otherwise, but when my counselor said I could show them to her if I wanted to it felt petty. I realized that the truth didn’t matter. It was a big epistemological lesson for me. Emotions are stronger than facts. If I held that this relationship had happened, my treatment was going to progress as if that were the truth. If she held that it hadn’t, her treatment would address the issue as if that were the truth. [Weeks later, she did come clean and acknowledge that everything I said was true, but that’s not relevant to this piece].

After the dust settled from the shit storm that had been that afternoon, I went back to my room and wrote.

Pretty bummed out right now. Sad about the person I’ve let myself become. Not feeling totally lost though. I’m grateful for the lesson I was able to learn today and for the opportunity to use that knowledge to make my future better than my past. It hurts now, but this will be a good thing so long as I’m willing to utilize it, grow, and change.

I needed to get out of my self for a little while so I started to draw. Three hours later, I was flooded with feelings that I didn’t know what to do with. I stopped drawing. I scrambled around my room looking for something to write on. I found a piece of paper that I had traced my arms onto three weeks prior [for a project I hadn’t finished; I still needed to draw a knife into my right hand, for starters]. A few days prior I had that intention, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. Now, I didn’t care about that. I just needed something to write on. What spilled onto the paper was very stream-of-conscious. Just before I touched my pencil to the page, I decided to put it in my left hand since (it’s said that) writing with your non-dominant hand helps with honesty and hinders pretension.

i didn’t know who i was or what i was doing
i’m not whole yet but I’m closer than ever
remember october?
i realized I could choose to not be an obnoxious, negative problem
november ended, i forgot
today is 12-12-12 and i just remembered
and i learned something new today
i can choose more
i don’t have to be confused
i don’t have to send mixed messages or be inauthentic
i can be whoever i want to be
i am honest sincere loving compassionate kind intelligent fun dedicated loyal creative talented doing my best sorry for the harm and hurt i’ve caused proud of my achievements and sam NICE TO MEET YOU

I’m embarrassed of this piece sometimes. The old, guarded me would call this the dumbest shit ever. But – as I commented when I first made it – it’s the most positive, productive thing I’ve ever produced. In recovery, there’s lot of talk about a “spiritual awakening.” This is the unintentional document of mine. I’m so grateful that I have it to remind me of exactly how I felt in that moment. I only wish that I could feel that way all the time. My resolve to be the kind of person that I described had (and has) never been stronger.