I’ve been reflecting on my life a lot lately and where I’m at currently in my life’s journey. If you would’ve asked me a decade ago or two decades ago what I envisioned my life to look like right now, I would’ve never thought I’d be single, unemployed, battling a number of chronic health conditions, and struggling with addiction. It amazes me how little control we actually have over where life takes us. Granted, we all have choices we face that influence the direction of our path but there’s so many things we never see coming that completely change, flip, turn upside down everything we are or thought we knew.
I never chose to acquire a life-threatening blood cancer in my early 20’s but I also didn’t choose to become addicted to the pills I was being prescribed by my doctors. I know addiction is now considered a disease in itself but I struggle to believe it even though I personally know the powerlessness I have over drugs. I guess it’s because I did choose to hang out with other addicts for the past decade which took me into a world or subculture of people that was foreign to me. Being the curious person I am, I chose to stay around these people and step outside my comfort zone. Most would assume I’d regret this choice, but it’s quite the contrary. I was taken into places I never would’ve seen, put in situations I never would’ve experienced, and met people I never would’ve become friends with. Because of these things, I wouldn’t change my chosen path for anything.
Thinking back, I remember how naive and how easily taken advantage of I was. Picture a doormat and that would be exactly how I was looked at and treated. It’s like they could smell the innocence on me. Over time, however, I learned how to stand up for myself and gain the strength that I so desperately needed to find. There’s nothing like hanging out with a whole bunch of criminals to figure out real quick how to protect yourself from being “taken down through there.” I’m actually grateful for the knowledge I’ve gained along the way. It forced me to change my thought process into that of a criminal’s mindset. It’s a completely different way of thinking from what I’d ever been accustomed to. It can actually be really fascinating if you listen to the ingenious schemes and scams these people come up with. I honestly believe the most creative and intelligent people I’ve ever met have been convicted criminals, felons, and con artists.
The one thing I appreciate the most about that lifestyle is the relationships I formed along the way. If you remove any judgement from the equation, you can see the good in these people that society won’t allow themselves the opportunity to grasp. I actually take pride in my ability to find the “diamonds in the rough.” I even built the deepest connection I’ve ever had with another human being despite her paperwork saying she “is a threat to society as a whole.” I felt the loss and void in my life every time she got locked up or had to go to another in-patient treatment program. With this closeness came the love but also the pain of loving a master manipulator. At some point I had to weigh the good I always saw in her to the pain that she caused me to hold onto over time. Even now, I can’t help but feel the void of not having her in my life.
I’ve realized that most relationships end up becoming toxic at some point if there are drugs involved. It just goes without saying. When you add a toxic element between any two entities, something is bound to go wrong and become toxic in the process. Even though I’ve had to remove my entire social circle from my life, I don’t regret the choices that took me down the path to where I am today. Granted, they might not be deemed as the best choices but they made me who I am and I’m proud of that. I walked through the shadows staying true to who I am and actually came out a better person because of it.