‘Tis the New Year!
Oh come all ye faithful, and gather round for a story.
“If you wanna get down, down on the ground. Cocaine.” – Eric Clapton.
This lyrical quote hits home hard for me.
I used to be heavily addicted to cocaine.
The first time I ever touched it was in Montreal, at an after-hours rave in a dingy warehouse.
I had met two brothers at a bar earlier in the night who seemed pretty cool, so we had some drinks and shot the shit till about 3 am.
When the bartender told us it was closing time, I went to say my goodbyes to my newfound pals.
“The partying here doesn’t just end now.” One of them said.
“What happens now?”
“Come with us, you’ll see.”
So there I found myself, at 430 am inside a warehouse with a DJ and a few hundred other people raving the night away.
Yeah, I’m sure we’ve all been there.
One of the brothers held out a key from a dime-bag with a little mountain of white powder on it.
“Here, try this shit on for size.”
I snorted the unknown substance into my brain and felt an instant gratification of the zippy head-high that guy Tony offers.
I was high as a fucking kite.
That morning I left the club and wandered to the metro station.
Along the way, I remember a prostitute coming out from an alley, eyeing me up, and saying;
“Are you looking for a good time, big guy?”
Spaced out, and without wanting to appear rude, I responded;
“No, thank you miss, I’ve had a good enough time tonight.”
I got back home to my bed and crashed for 12 hours.
Later on in life, I started doing cocaine again with some work friends, and then later on by myself, which is never a good idea.
I had just got myself out of an abusive relationship, and into a drug addiction.
After a while, I needed more than usual to feel anything.
By the height of it, I was banging three grams of blow in a night.
My heart would feel like it was going to jump out of my chest and I would lay there, staring at the ceiling, praying I would survive.
I was working during the day, making cash serving food and just literally blowing it every single night.
Something needed to give.
I was either going to die, or I was going to live.
I had a wild trip one evening and came up with a plan of accountability.
The next week, I changed my upcoming tattoo appointment from more chest-work to an idea I came up with for my hands, which had been untouched by ink until this time.
I had my artist tattoo the words ‘Stay True‘ across my hands in cursive bold black lettering.
I remember riding home on my motorcycle that day with my hands all bandaged up and starting to swell.
As an addict, it wasn’t long before I got a hold of some fish-scale again and began busting it up on my tray.
The words flashed across my eyes and burned a hole in my head.
What the fuck was I doing?
I had made a promise to hold myself to a higher standard.
At that moment, I realized my commitment to my higher self meant more than my addiction to my high self.
Then I took the whole bag and flushed it down the toilet.
Mysteriously enough, honesty does wonders for the soul.
I had to cut people out from my life and delete a slew of phone numbers.
That was just over three years ago now.
That’s the kind of shit you have to do if you want instant change.
For all of my friends out there fighting every day, I’m here for you.
I’ve been there, done that, and reached the ceiling of insanity.
For every person battling with addictions, please know that there is more to life, and the world will only give you what you ask and expect of it.
You can start a new day right now and do something so positively drastic that it forces you to fucking change, which is a constant!
Change is death wrapped in silk and (present)ed to you.
For you to move forwards, old habits have to die off and new ones born.
Drug, alcohol, cigarettes, porn, and gambling addictions are unhealthy anchors holding your ship down while waves of destruction lash at the hull.
Check the winds, change your sails, surround yourself with a good crew of men, navigate your path, and get the fuck to land!
Empathy is a much-needed approach that we often forget; however, I’ve always responded best to the hard-hitting overture.
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that.”
– Rocky Balboa.
As men, we need other formidable and motivating men to guide us, hold us accountable for our actions, and mold our moral ability through fatherhood, brotherhood, and mentorship.
As a kid who grew up without a father around, I know the hardships others face, especially young men who lack that paternal figurehead.
Men often get stuck in their trauma and cannot express themselves healthily in our society; instead, unfortunately, they form patterns that mask painful emotions through addictions and bad habits.
It’s so fucking easy to walk down that path.
You want to appear cool; you want to feel good, want to forget, and sometimes want your ‘friends’ to think highly of you.
Funny enough, it was in the cakehole of my drug-addiction that I realized my ‘friends’ were not at all who I thought they were.
Nobody else is going to hold your fucking hand in life and walk you off into the sunset. Maybe you’ve noticed, but life doesn’t resemble anything the cartoons and romance movies portray.
Instead, it’s a big shit-show with some pleasant moments tossed in.
What you consistently do and who you spend your time with is who (and what) you will eventually become.
Wealthy people understand this principle.
If you have four friends who are talented and make money, you will eventually become the fifth.
If your friends hate life and do shitty drugs all day long, you probably will too.
Birds of a feather flock together.
The average person unconsciously chooses their friends, their boss, their spouse, or their significant other.
They never step outside their comfy box; they surround themselves with others who have lower standards, so nobody ever pushes them to be any better.
Eventually, they go through a crisis and realize everything is fucked.
When Mr. Ugly rears his head, you have to punch him in the fucking face.
Mommy won’t clean your room forever.
You have to be the strong one that makes a stand for yourself.
We somehow survive in a society that turns its back on our mental health and expects us to shut up and be men, but demand that we be in touch with our emotions simultaneously.
The paradoxes that exist in that clownish approach are astounding.
Often modern-day men have to experience a life-altering calamity and wake up in the gutter only to be reborn.
The story of the Phoenix, rising from the ashes of its former self, permeates our history through folklore and religion.
This story exists because it is a clear picture of reality for humanity.
That’s why gangbangers don’t turn their lives around until one day they get shot, and the same reason men in their fifties drastically change their health after discovering a life-threatening diagnosis.
It’s also why I can understand how people find God through Jesus Christ, turn their life around with meditation, hard-work, or identify with and grind their way through the trauma with psychedelics.
It’s a new year, a new you, a new me, a new everything.
Wherever your path takes you, walk with your shoulders back, and your head held high in full belief of yourself.
Put a smile on your ugly mug.
Our time here is short, a sliver of a moment on the precipice of existence, offered to us all as The Present.
Every moment we receive the present.
The present is the gift itself.
Gifts are for giving (forgiving, get it?), so accept them when offered and pay it forwards.
Here’s another gift.
I’m pulling for you.