I woke up near the beach. Nothing seemed familiar. I knew I must have nodded off from an early morning dose of opiates. I recognized the location to be somewhere near Ventura. I wondered where my car was, if I still had one. I remembered getting a text about a party off Seaward, from someone I met at my dealer’s house. Then the fear began to set in: the unsettling fact that I knew nothing of where I’d been, or with whom, or what had happened. Had I been robbed? Or did I carelessly leave my belongings in an unknown place while chasing my fix? My phone was dead, and my purse was unaccounted for. The sweatshirt I wore was new to me, and much too big. I couldn’t recall when I had showered last, and I needed to brush my teeth. I sat on the cold cement for a while. What day was it? Or month? Or season for that matter? Then the guilt started. What a piece of trash I was. A lonely junkie who had abandoned her loving family. I had nothing to show for myself. My mother was probably worried. She probably wondered where I was, but to go to her would be more painful. For I lacked the bravery of honesty, and I was too prideful to admit defeat. So she would have to go another day wondering what had become of her daughter. Another night crying herself to sleep while I selfishly fed my addiction.
The emotions were acknowledged but not felt. For that was the reason I was high in the first place. To continue living in a daze of denial. I started to walk, my clothes damp from the ocean air. I was cold and hungry. I walked for a while, hoping to find a clue to lead me back to where I started the night before. After an hour or two I sat down on a bench, attempting to come up with a plan. The drugs were starting to lose intensity. My eyes filled up with tears. I was ashamed. All I wanted was my mother’s embrace. For her to clean up this mess for me, knowing I’d only betray her again. What was wrong with me? I lost my motivation to try and sat frozen in defeat.
I noticed a man sitting next to me. I started to panic. How long had he been there? Did he see me crying? Perhaps I knew him from the previous night, or maybe I was in debt to him. Whatever the case, it probably wasn’t good.
He smiled at me.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“What are you, a cop?” I said.
“No, not at all.” he said. His voice was comforting and patient.
“It’s Tommy, but what the fuck do you care?” I said turning my back to him.
He got up and walked away. Now I had really screwed up. He was nice and friendly, and I had put him off. I began to cry again. I hated myself so much. I hated this person I had become. Which wasn’t really a person at all, but more of a monster. I began to sob uncontrollably. I felt so trapped and lost at the same time. I had really done it this time. Soon the police would find me. I had always been so lucky to avoid them. Now I felt my time had come, and soon I would pay for the horrible things I had done.
Then an intoxicating smell overwhelmed me. It was a warm meal, and it was close by. Perhaps I could ask for some. Maybe some kind soul would give me just enough to settle my stomach for a while.
“I thought you might be hungry.” It was that same man!
He shared the bench again with me, but now he brought a gift. Three chicken tacos, some chips, and a bottle of water. I didn’t hesitate, and inhaled all of it. I may have weighed 90 pounds soaking wet, and my health was clearly being depleted.
“Just so you know, I care about you. I care a whole lot.” he said with what looked like tears in his eyes. He pulled a paper from his jacket. He placed it in my hand and gripped it for a moment.
“I really hope to see you again soon. It was a pleasure having lunch with you.” Then he got up and went on his way. He looked back a couple of times. I sat there in shock. No one had shown me kindness like that, and I didn’t deserve it. Who was this angel of a human?
I looked down at the paper. It was a recovery group that met at the beach on Wednesday evenings.
I somehow retrieved my car and purse, after the manager at a laundry mat allowed me to charge my phone.
It wasn’t until three months later that I took my last drink and drug. I remembered that man. I was curious about this “group” and what they taught there. When I made it to six months of sobriety, I began attending the Wednesday night group at the beach. I went consecutively for a while. I asked some of the others if they knew the man, and they did. They said he had been sober for 35 years. That he came to the meeting for a while, but they hadn’t seen him in months. To this day I remain sober. I have yet to see my hero again, but I haven’t given up. I hope to one day return the favor. I would like to take him to lunch and share our stories. I hope to tell him of the delicate spot he holds in my heart. I hope to tell him that I do my best to have the same kindness and understanding for others.
So next time you see someone struggling, take a moment to say hello. You never know what could happen. You may be their last bit of hope. You may give them the push they need to move forward. You may be someone’s hero.
This is a blog I wrote early in recovery. My name is Tommy Zee from Newbury Park, California. I’m going on my 6th year sober. My drugs of choice were heroin and alcohol. I am also a rape and domestic violence survivor. My goal in writing any blog, is to show everyone in any aspect of recovery that it IS possible to start a new life. To set goals and conquer them. Most importantly to connect with the ones suffering in the hopes that they can find inspiration and motivation to continue to live life in a positive direction despite what they have endured. Life, even sober, comes with challenges and it is through hope and perseverance that we can become an entirely new person. Using what we have been through to bring awareness and growth. Writing has helped me tremendously in my journey. I hope with this blog and the overwhelming support I receive through NOT ONE MORE to share and help get the stories out of our readers and supporters!
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