Addiction, the discord of life. Recovery, the harmony of hope.
We lose a lot in active addiction. We suffer woes to our finances, our careers, our relationships. We lose time. This week, J.D contemplates how we can use recovery to compose a new story for ourselves.
Armelle’s silken-spun blonde hair flicked with the motion of her musical bow, as the strings she played upon her cello sang bittersweet. It drowned out the night life’s vibrancy below her window.
A former lover, now fallen lost soul, was dying in a sweat-stained bed, somewhere in the bowels of the City – he’d pushed his ravaged body to the chemical edge of the precipice and this time, it crumbled into the abyss.
She still loved him, she just couldn’t watch him commit a slow suicide through a stew of narcotic poison. It had been months since she walked away, and he’d just swam in syringes that much more.
It was all too raw, so she unleashed her heart-piercing emotions through the cello.
A scratching sound, suddenly, made her pause. The bow dropped to her side.
“Missy?” More scratching. Armelle stood from the wooden chair, approached her cello case – scritch scratch. “Missy?”
She couldn’t have fitted in there.
Armelle felt a whirling wave of disorientation in her head.
Instead, she heard a meow from under her bed’s rumpled, unmade duvet – her sleek Siamese cat had climbed into a warm nest of her own making, escaping mid-Autumn’s sudden drop of the thermostat.
She – with sweat now sticking strands of blonde hair to her forehead – hunched down onto her knees, with her hand working the latch on the cello case.
Her finger tips trembled as she reached into the groove, and flipped the lid open.
A large monarch butterfly fluttered out…
…followed by wing dust. Armelle’s lungs strained at the sudden intake of air. In her dizziness, she made out a faint shape… a grotesque face, no mouth, milky-white eyes vacant of a soul.
Then she felt Something… inhuman… reaching out. From beyond.
A sudden streak of blood ran out her nose, and she nearly toppled over. She steadied herself, just as the shockwave hit. Her back fell against the bed as the apartment shuddered from the quake.
“He’s here at last. The Screaming God,” Armelle murmured, as she absent-mindedly wiped the blood away with her embroidered lavender sleeve.
What? What am I saying?
Outside, cars crashed violently, voices shouted, emergency sirens shrieked.
Missy bolted out from the duvet, disappearing through the door of the half-closed closet.
Armelle had a sudden burst of tears.
In the distance, thunder. On what felt like a flimsy floor, she stood up.
Peering down through the fourth storey window, she saw her building was spared the worst of it. There was chaos below. Several structures in the commercial district had caved in. There were bellows of smoke further off.
The blue lights flashing in the streets tickled her brain.
I’m going to have a seizure. Look away, Armelle.
Glancing up, at the clouds gathering in the skies, illuminated by flashes of white, she briefly saw that face again. No mouth, but screaming.
Pulling herself away from the window, she suddenly, desperately, wanted back in her hands her cello.
Nah, not a dream. Or a bad acid trip. Something I’m working on. You guys get a preview. Heck, I don’t even know if it’s any good. I dunno, but I like it, I guess that’s what counts right now. It’s the basis of… I don’t know what yet… a new beginning..?
There’s a whole thing that happens, but I don’t want to reveal anymore, in case I’m onto a good wicket. I believe in this, in a way I haven’t believed in myself, during active addiction, for years.
I’m trying to play catch up with my life. I’m a writer. I’ve been in the advertising industry awhile, people I’ve known at the same level as me years ago have gone far flung into the future, now in creative management, or (gasp) wearing suits as execs. Meanwhile, I’m in exile.
And my ex, my one true who slipped through because of my addiction-related selfishness, is now having her second kid with her happily-wedded husband. Everyone is moving on. Except me.
Cue the violins.
That’s one thing I need, my own sound track. I kind of have one in my head, and it has a musical score for every situation, every mood. It’s an orchestra, with specific instruments taking lead depending on what’s going on.
Heavy percussions when I’m feeling like an adventurer – and I’m on a mission to achieve some great goal for the day: like groceries!
Piano when I’m reminiscing on the past stories of my life.
The stringed instruments when I’m sad, but it’s a really beautiful sadness.
The horns when I’m happy – I especially like trumpets and bugles.
I’m the conductor of my life. And in addictive addiction, especially when I was hanging from alcohol withdrawal, my baton was all shaky from jittering hands.
In addictive addiction, I fell behind the marching band as everyone else’s lives moved forward.
I now find Facebook causes cacophony, just from the pure envy and the sense of mourning for a life I could have had. Especially when I see young, just recently sprouting families.
Addiction, drugs and alcohol, cost me financially, it cost me growth in my career, it cost me friends, it cost me health, it cost me time.
I burned my down my bridges, then napalmed the ashes.
But it’s really okay. Houghton House was there to help. Not just in getting clean from drugs and alcohol, but in ways to cope with the new life awaiting me – and surpassing the obstacles that my active addiction consequences put in my path.
See, there’s a little song that everyone listens to. They move their feet to it, they fall into a rhythm with it, they sing in harmony with it. They follow it, and it brings joy to their lives.
I’m out of tune, and it depressed me. I couldn’t get it. Addiction made it worse.
But I now hear something else. For most of my life, I’ve heard it, in the background, and barely noticed it. It’s mellow, then it starts to rise, I hear it pulsating, a beat grows louder, a voice lifts and lilts, and then a viola harmonises with a violin, and it sets… me free?
Sometimes, you have to give up on what everyone else is listening to.
Hence, I’m accepting I probably won’t get far in my industry, not anymore. There’s a lot I may never have that other people take for granted. I don’t see a family in my future.
Now instead I’m composing a new future, one that starts with a young woman, and her musical instrument, and how she faces a world gone mad, struggles with madness herself, but all she knows for sure is that as long as she carries her inner song, she’s going to be okay.
And so, Armelle sits back on the wooden chair. And with her bow against the strings of her cello, she begins to play.