Ryan Donnelly's Blog

The Face Of My Focus

As with most times in my life, I made the best with my situation and decided it was time to start opening up, letting go one by one of the demons that had come to take over my body.  I spoke very frequently in my meetings,and realized instantly that I had so much to learn and so many questions to ask. 

What was my driving force behind my addiction?  There was one nurse in particular during my stay at  the mental facility, that stood out to me.  He, yes a male nurse,  was a normal guy with a shaved bald head and goatee.  His eyes however had the ability to see  right through you, right into what ate away at your soul.  He wasn’t at all intimidating physically, but those eyes, those eyes could read my mind and mentally gut me with just one single glance.

    It’s almost as though he knew the potential in my mind,  knew what I was capable of.  He dogged on me, non-stop till he cracked me open like an old attic door.  He got into my head and took on the cob webs that had taken residence in my mind. He was there with me, fighting the demons in my head.  Finally someone, an outsider that didn’t have to love me, knew what I had done, and still saw good. It gave me strength, the kind of strength I had forgotten I possessed.

It was day 3 and my body was starting to feel different.  I was rapidly losing weight, I felt mentally lighter with each meeting, and it became clear that I wanted to live, while one thought rapidly crossed over my mind over and over again…. I had a very long road ahead of me. This was my, “Chapter One,” my fresh start.

I met another buddy in this facility also and his name was Matt.  He was a trip to say the very least.  He had piercing blue eyes, which reminded me of Flea’s eyes from The Red Hot Chili Peppers.  He had black hair, over grown facial hair,and rocked these punk cut-off plaid shorts with an all black high- top pair of converses.  He was a punk rocker for sure and a heroin addict. 

 Him and I related on so many different levels and hit it off from the beginning.  Being the same age, both having a past in the military, we had a lot to talk about.  He was an artist, first and for most and he was full of life, the type of person that drew people to him. Matt had a way of speaking that I’ve never heard before, a different lingo so-to-speak.  I just enjoyed his company and before I knew it we started talking a lot.  He had been in this facility for 5 days but wasn’t exactly co-operative with the staff.  He had a short fuse for the doctors but always flirted with the nurses.  He wasn’t fooling anyone,and they knew him well.  This was his 4th stay at this place. I couldn’t even imagine staying here overnight never mind repeated stays. He told me how the system worked, but more importantly, it showed me how much the system is flawed.

Matt would explain his crazy escapades of shooting heroin and smoking crack, and how he lived in the woods while stealing from houses. He even  had his girl turning tricks for drugs that they would share.  I was quickly starting to realize that he had come to terms with the fact  that this was his life, this was how he was supposed to live. 

  He told me when he ran out of money, he’d go to the ER, say he wanted to kill himself, they’d detox him and he’d end up in this facility. He’d stay his time and be discharged with a hotel room compliments of our government and enough food stamps for a week.  He would then go hustle on the street and do what he had to do, live in the woods and do his thing till he had no choice but to go the ER and do it all over again. A never ending downward spiral, with no good ending in sight, it was no way to live.

I sat there listening to his life story and my mind was boggled.  At this point, my head is pretty much clear and I understood that if I didn’t get my shit together, I would die.  I had hit MY rock bottom.  Out of nowhere, as I’m listening on a quote from Albert Einstein popped into my head, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Sitting there with Matt, I would plead with him, try to make him understand what was happening in his life.  I mean, I had completely surrendered, but Matt, he was ready for another go.  In fact he was up for discharge that day, and for some reason, it is that very day, that is still burned into my memory.

Matt got called out of one of our meetings and went in to see the doctor.  I came out of the meeting and went directly to his room to find out what was going on with him.  “I’m getting discharged at 3pm bro,” he said.  I replied, “Dude, why don’t you stick around a little longer and try to get into a rehab.”  “Nah man, I want to go home”, he said.   “Home?  You live in a tent in the fuckin’ woods Bro.  Your going to die if you don’t get clean.”  “I’m not ready yet Bro”, and the words that will haunt me forever followed, “I haven’t hit rock bottom yet.”

Those words for some reason, made my chest feel like it was going to collapse.  His eyes, his face, he knew it, he was dieing.  If he went back out there for another run it might be his last.  He hadn’t hit rock bottom?  He lived in a tent, in the woods and he hadn’t hit rock bottom?  His girl is pulling tricks to feed their habits and he hasn’t hit rock bottom?  Right then and there I decided this was it.

  I realized that everyone was different, but the  addicts mind, that’s what amazed me.  The hunger for substances defines the person you become and you can’t leave it, can’t eat, can’t sleep, without it.  The drug has a different hold on different people and I had to respect it.  You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Matt was my prime example, no matter how much it broke my heart.

  I slapped hands with him and hugged him, told him I would come get his ass out of the woods after I got out of rehab. 

It has been my dream, my drive, my focus to one day open my own rehab.  Save peoples lives that are lost in substance abuse.  Matt is the face I will see on each addict I meet.  He is the one that I couldn’t convince to get help.  Where is Matt now?  I’d like to think that he has found himself, whatever that might mean for him, but most importantly, that he is at peace. 

Still…to this very day, there’s not a time when I’m out driving around, that I don’t find myself looking for him. I doubt I’ll ever stop. Who’s the face to your focus?

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