Dancing With the Beast by Baron Von Kunst
What light. So breaks. Such east. Very sun. Wow, Juliet. What Romeo. Such why. Very rose. Still rose.
ooHMYGOODNESS HIS TINY LEGS I JUST CAN’T
The Portrait Series
The death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman has affected me deeply. A great actor, a brilliant artist, and, when it came to the end, he died alone, victim to his addiction. A needle in his arm. The kind of death every junkie fears. I’ve never said this on Tumblr before, but I have overdosed several times, two of which I would not have come out of if I hadn’t been with people who had brought me back. No breathing, blue, eyes open, but not seeing anything. I would have been found hours or days later, dead and cold if I had been using by myself. Hearing people say that his death was a waste, or that it was selfish or senseless in any way have no idea what it feels like to be an addict, heroin or otherwise.
As a recovering heroin addict. It pains me to the point where I have to stop reading articles, turn off the radio, when I hear that he was seen, sweaty and ill, getting money from the ATM and meeting with men to buy his junk. My God, Phil, how many times I was right there with you. I know that pain and the desperation. The shame and disgust that you feel, knowing all of the opportunity you have had and that it led to this. A junkie, shivering and sweating, alone in your apartment, tying off and waiting for that rush that will fix you right up, but hopefully won’t kill you. I feel your ghost hovering over me, beside me. You were one of the most brilliant actors of the past 20 years and, in the end, you died like so many people I’ve known.
Drug use may predominate amongst people who have lost hope or are looking for a desperate escape, but it is not a disease that limits itself to the lower socioeconomic classes. An addict may be an Oscar winner, or they may be a honors student in Columbus, Ohio, surrounded by friends and shows and art and culture, but what we all are is alone, at least in our heads.
I hear people throwing around the words “selfish” and “waste”. As if a struggling addict wouldn’t give anything in the world to forget what their drug of choice felt like, to just struggle like everyone else does: mortgages and annoying bosses and frustrating relationships. But every moment is a struggle for an addict. The self-loathing and guilt we feel from disappointing our friends and families. The oncoming symptoms of withdrawal sickness. The cool, clammy waves of chills that start on your forehead and only signal that the worst is about to hit. The desperation to get a fix before you succumb to the sickness. The moment the needle is in your arm and you’re shaking so bad you can barely find anything through the gnarled, thickened vines in your arm where the veins used to be. And then the moment of release. It is brief, fleeting. If you’re lucky, you get a few seconds of sheer bliss before the darkness comes back. You’ve failed again. You lost today, you sick junkie. You’re pathetic and this is why your friends don’t call and why your mom checks in on you every few days to make sure “everything is all right”. (Of course it is, mom. I just got a new job and I think I’ll be a better fit at this one. I lost the last one because I quit one day when I was too dopesick to go in and I couldn’t blame it on food poisoning again.)
But the death of a drug addict does not negate their life. It may cut it short, depriving the world of what they had yet to offer it, but their contributions, the love they’ve given, the good they’ve done, that is not gone.
We are not lost forever. We are people, as faceted and conflicted and burdened as the average person. This is not an escape. This is a prison cell, but, with incredible strength, determination, and the assistance of those who choose to see the person beyond the disease, we can shorten the sentence.
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