They know you by different names, but I feel the most comfortable with Charlie, probably because the name doesn’t sound threatening—more like a friend, the boy next door. Gold Dust sounded too surreal, and out of touch with reality. Angel Dust seemed like the worst metaphor we could bestow upon you.
Tony was too daunting; when I first heard it brought up as a name, I so petulantly asked why. He said, “Scarface!” But Scarface didn’t make me feel any better. You didn’t sound like something people would kill for, you were more like a friend. A feel-good one.
And for the longest time, I did think you were one.
You made gatherings and parties so much livelier, so I kept introducing you to everyone I knew. You got along with everybody so well too, so much so that after a while, I didn’t feel like I had to put so much effort into socializing—you did it for me. And that was one of the biggest reliefs I’ve had for a while. Like a great weight just rolled past my shoulder; so smoothly it dipped past me in one, flowing wave. As long as I brought you with me, I didn’t have to put in as much effort to be funny, to entertain, to be social. You were what everyone came for, and that was pressure I was happy to relieve from myself.
You made staying up so fun! You made it so easy, and possible. I lost track of time and days amalgamated from one sunrise to the next. We hid when we heard the birds sing, because we were terrified at what the new day implied – a day of being hung-over, of trying to wretch ourselves off you, trying to enter into society sober and acceptable. I felt my days go longer, as if we were standing in an infinite standstill of euphoria and reciprocity. Nothing mattered except you—and that made things easier somehow.
I looked at “normal” people and pitied them: I wondered about the problems they carried. I wondered about the worries that age them, marked on their faces like death sentences. How much anxiety can be stored in one mind? How many fears and insecurities can you compact in one being? I had no worries, nor fear, nor anxiety. Charlie, you took them all away from me. The only worry I had in me was when I could have you next, and how I could make this thing you make me feel inside last permanently, without pain or consequence, just an ongoing onslaught of euphoria to keep me alive and existing.
But all things come to an end, and our relationship came to a crashing halt so immediate I barely had time to register what we used to have together. When our binges turned into weeks, I knew I had lost control. When I started losing my friends because of you, I couldn’t deny my self-destruction any longer. Depending on you was probably the worst mistake I ever did materialize. I don’t know why I let it happen but it did. They warned me that you were bad; they didn’t warn me about how deceptive your mind can get once you have convinced yourself that this is what you truly want.
Depending on you didn’t come instantly, as others like us to believe. It happens in increments. It happens slowly; it took us years, didn’t it? It takes months and months of justifications, of senseless reasoning: “Of course, I’m going to partake tonight, it’s the end of the week! I worked hard all week and I deserve to let stress out.” It takes friends to encourage you, to participate, until the habit is normalized into your every day life. Depending on you doesn’t take the will of a single person: it takes a lifestyle. It takes a tormenting past, of years and years of childhood and innocence lost. It takes unhappiness to the deepest core: it takes escapism so badly desired, because your every day is what weighs you.
And if there is one thing I learned throughout this whole experience is that the greatest enemy we have is our ever-lying mind. We lie to others, but we lie mostly to ourselves. We tell ourselves we’re okay at a time when we are in the most desperate need of help. This is how dependency occurs; how addiction is born.
And once you find yourself in that situation, it’s so hard to solidify your problem in a single sentence that would immortalize the truth you’ve been afraid of for so long. It seems like a moment of total surrender, of total loss. It’s admitting to yourself that you were wrong, that you have been wrong the past few years, and that now you need help. Help from the people you turned away to pursue what you thought would make you happy forever, would solve all your problems. Do you understand how hard it was for me, Charlie? To ask for help I fully believed I did not deserve.
Being honest with myself was perhaps the hardest thing I ever did, because lying comes far too easily. Because to be honest meant admitting to myself that I am worth more than I have led myself to believe, that as a human being I have the capacity to induce laughter and kindess to the people around me, that I have a responsibility to the world to be alive and to have purpose, to continue on helping others in any way I can — but to do that, I had to be well, I had to help myself, I had to understand that I was worth helping, and that I had a reason to exist.
I’m sorry Charlie. I’m sorry I took what could have been beautiful and used it for my own benefit, until it turned into something more evil than greed, more destructive than hate. I’m sorry I mistook perfection for ephemeral felicity, for wanting madness and adrenaline to last me 24 hours a day. I forgot that to be human is to struggle, because it’s the struggle that makes us stronger, that makes us more resilient.
One second of perfection takes years of combat, failures and total surrender – but that’s what makes it worth it.
Peace, love and empathy.