Remember Us

by Nando

1

Just one glass of beer, a piece of rusk, and there you are – in the space of a second the mind becomes stronger, thoughts clearer, intentions firmer!

 FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY, Crime and Punishment (1866)

This story is very simple, yet powerful enough to keep me entangled in. As much as I have wanted to remember how everything started, I can’t. In numerous sessions with the shrink(s) or in counseling with NA (Narcotic Anonymous) the subject has been discussed: who is an addict, how did I become one? And more progressively, searching for clues and references in my childhood as if some fortune-teller was reading my hand and trying to find both reason and motivation –and accordingly to my current shrink– in order to shape my present.

I don’t remember when, where or why I had my first drink, but I do remember vividly the first time I did drugs. It was with a guy I knew from a dating website and I had seen him a couple times before. The sex was really good with him and what I liked the most is that it was casual sex. On the third occasion, he offered me coke and weed. I wish I could say I got off of his house or that I hesitated, or that I refused, but no. I immediately –and thrilled– said yes. Why? Because I had heard in several occasions that sex with drugs was mind-blowing, another level of experience, almost like reaching nirvana. And it was. I became more sensitive and I was experiencing every feeling in a deeper, stronger and more pleasant way; it was almost musical. I felt liberated and connected as I never felt before with the person in front of me.

People say that there is only one time for the first dose, after that you just try to recreate that first experience. So, after that, I didn’t decline anything that was presented in front of me. The following drug was Ecstasy and for a couple of years it served its master: me. But to be honest–and after 20 years of thinking about it– I was never in control of any of the drugs I did and as time passed by and drug-resistance from my body increased, I became unpredictable; uncontrollable; unstoppable.

2

[…] Remember us—if at all—not as lost

Violent souls, but only

As the hollow men

The stuffed men.

T.S. ELIOT, The Hollow Men (1925)

When I think about all those years I used to do drugs, I never recognized myself as an addict because back then I thought I was just having fun. Now, when I remember my “glory” days with Ecstasy on the dance floor, dancing restless until dawn, I think of the countless times I got so wasted I lost my wallet, kissed anybody or even did cruising. I even had to beg to have a free pass to the after-hours and took almost 20 pills in one single weekend.

My first overdose was with GHB on a club and I remember all the looks of my so-called friends scared to death, ashamed. And it got to a point where I was left alone in the middle of nowhere. I remember that a guy had some sort of mercy and took me to his apartment. We both took a shower, ate something and then, just as high as I was, we started to fuck. And it was great!

A couple more years passed, and I thought I was using lots of drugs, so I stayed sober for a while and when I started to do drugs again, I firmly stayed out of the dancefloor, but that’s how other stages appeared, and here’s where everything deteriorated really fast.

Since the beginning I associated drugs with sex, and the reason is because I was always ashamed of my sexuality and because without drugs I was never able to really connect to another person, but mainly, unable to fully accept me and my sexual preferences. I felt ashamed to release my desires and passions, and using drugs to have sex was an overwhelming need to hide from myself and the demands of my conscience.

That’s how I started to hook up in Grindr looking for chemsex. And that’s how I got to know crystal meth. Back in 2014 I was online, and a couple offered me to have chemsex with meth. I had never tried it and just as the first time I immediately said yes. They were smoking it and we were fucking bareback. I said I’d only do so with a condom, and so I did. But two hours passed, and another couple texted me inviting me to their house. They seemed more promising than the couple I was with. So, I changed locations. I was pretty dumped by then and when I arrived I started to smoke more meth, got undressed and when I noticed, I was already barebacking and to be honest I was so high that I didn’t mind. It actually made it kinkier, more rewarding and I remember I thought it felt liberating (again).

That time, one of the guys had an overdose at some point during the “party”. I was left alone with him before the overdose because his boyfriend had to go to work, so it was just me and him and I had to take care of him. I remember we invited one more guy and we reignited the party. So yes, we had sex, and got high. Mission accomplished! The not so pleasant part was when the overdose came and this guy got so wasted that he was practically unconscious and I got scared, but since I was still high I didn’t mind much and continued having sex with the other guy. My friends were looking for me desperately, but I didn’t mind either… and after two days, I got back home. The hardest part has always been tgoing back to reality, where sadness and sometimes shame and guilt await your return. It has always been hard having to face those that care for you.

3

Let me be no nearer

In death’s dream kingdom

Let me also wear

Such deliberate disguises

Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves

T.S. ELIOT, The Hollow Men (1925)

Now, it is very clear to me that I did drugs to be the person I couldn’t be sober; to accept myself, to embrace my desires and motivations, and to ultimately numb my conscience to avoid shame and prejudice not from the others, but from myself. With drugs, I was unleashed and willing to do the things I wouldn’t do sober. With drugs, I could be the barebacker, I could be kinky,  a pervert, a leather man who cruises, do threesomes, foursomes and all the things I used to imagine but didn’t dare to do.

But one cannot be too close to this realm to release all fantasies expecting not to have to pay a toll on the way out (if there is ever a way out). While I was active, I never thought I had to pay the bill. I actually never thought there was a bill to pay (as naive as it sounds). To avoid facing reality I lied, disappeared, created façades and basically became anything I had to be to keep pretending everything was normal.

But during the past three years I got sicker and it wasn’t only me anymore. My family and friends had to get involved and it became shameful for me to tell my story. Lots of my friends don’t even know half of the story, only the closest ones remain and know a more accurate nature of my disease.

4

But the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things of which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude—and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating. It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core […]

JOSEPH CONRAD, Heart of Darkness (1899)

 The hardest moment of my life was when I came back from London having tasted meth. After that, there was no other substance that gave me what meth did. And for some months smoking meth was the deal and I had a lot of chemsex. I used to spend my weekends partying (as a verb, and with uppercase T for Tina) with occasional partners, escorts, even porn stars. But the devil presents himself in many ways and at some point, smoking meth was not enough. And there I was, trying different ways to do meth until someone offered me to slam meth.

I actually don’t remember who I slammed with the first time. But what I do remember is the feeling, the reborn first-time experience like a phoenix, and feeling a mind-blowing rush going right to my brains like a tingle so intense that I actually coughed and wanted to have sex, tons of sex, as much as I could. And I did!

The consecutive times that I slammed didn’t lessen the intensity of the experience, but what happened (and I realized way much after that) is that I quickly became more addicted and started to have side effects such as paranoia, psychosis and acquired the inability to sleep.

An interesting fact is that the term ‘addiction’ was first recorded to be used in Roman law. ‘Addiction’, typically referred to the bond of slavery that lenders imposed upon delinquent debtors or victims on their convicted aggressors. Such individuals were mandated to be ‘addicted’ to the service of the person to whom they owed restitution.

Here and there. I became a meth slave, not only in the active use, but after not using it, I became an addict because of what it made of me. A highly dependable person to other pharmacological drugs to control the side effects of meth and I became insecure, timid; a feeble person.

5

[…] Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom.

T.S. ELIOT, The Hollow Men (1925)

It’s strange, but when I think about all these experiences I remember having lots of fun and according to my recollections, good sex. But when I think of the most recent experiences with meth, the reality overpasses the fantasy, and the story I can tell is that it is sad, very sad to be in the same room with a person getting high and expecting to have this porn-movie-ish sex. I relapsed a week ago and even though the experience wasn’t catastrophic, but mild as I would like to think, it led me to another perspective of all these active years doing drugs. The setting is in a hotel room with two guys focused on their own phones having spent the last 10 hours on Grindr expecting to find a third one to have this marvelous sex, texting every user nearby, without realizing that they are making fools of themselves and that no matter what, they are so high they couldn’t even get a boner.

I don’t believe so much in happy endings, I don’t believe in sad endings. Even more so, not all stories have an ending. In novels there’s always a hero who happens to surpass his destiny or task(s), in fairytales princes rescue princesses. But I am a bit unorthodox and what I do believe is stories can be built with your own resources, as they appear. John Fowles, a novelist wh I admire believed in something else rather than faith or destiny, he happened to refuse to write a novel where the ending was set by the narrator–subsequently the writer–. In the French Lieutenant’s Woman, he builds a novel dispossessing the narrator with the power of setting one single ending, instead he, throughout the novel, constructed elements powerful enough to present two endings (nor happy, neither sad) where the hero has an interesting ending and allows the reader decide by himself/herself what ending suits him/her best.

Like I said, this story is simple, yet sad and muddled into a profound solitude. It has no ending yet as I am pretty much alive, and because sobriety is something that is not conquered once, but every day for the rest of my days. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but for now I know I want to give a fight.

[…] This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

T.S. ELIOT, The Hollow Men (1925)

***

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