The army changed my life forever. For the better in some ways, the opposite in more. I'm writing this so hopefully someone, somewhere, will read this and not paint the ceiling. Things do get better, no matter what. I am living proof, as is most of humanity.
I got out of the army August 8, 2009. I flew back to the states from Germany. I was so excited to see my family and all that that entails. When I landed in Chicago, I was wearing my uniform. I was greeted with people saying thank you for your service and things like that. One man stuck out in particular. He told me to go to the VA right when the first chance arose. He was a Vietnam veteran. I thanked him and went to meet my father. He had no idea who I was. Had I really changed that much since I last saw him a year ago? I guess I had, now that I think about it. I said,"Hey dad, let's get the fuck out of here."
My father turned white, all he could say was,"Okay." Okay?! I told him I missed him, and that it was good to see him. He said nothing. We got into the car, he looked at me and told me I could stay with him at his house. Now, let me take a minute and tell you about this. The living beings that stayed under the same roof were three dogs, three cats, my stepmother, sister, my dad, and now myself. The noise...
Home. It wasn't home, it was cold and unwelcoming. My first night "home" I didn't sleep, nor did I for the next few nights. I contacted a friend. He was a veteran as well. What he said changed my life yet again. He told me to come over and that he had something for me to try. It was heroin.
Needless to say, I fell in love. The slope was a very steep...what am I talking about? It was a sheer fucking drop into hell. I got kicked out shortly after H and I fell in love. I did all the usual junkie things; stealing, lying, cheating, basically alienating everyone who ever loved me. Even myself. I tried suicide, rehab, detox. I couldn't find what I was looking for. I didn't even know what it was. So, what does a self-loathing junkie do? I said fuck it, doesn't matter, let's get high.
I remembered that Vietnam vet that I met in the airport only a few short months ago. I went to the VA hospital here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I spent two weeks in detox, then a year in residential treatment. I learned what was going on in my head, I learned about how to sort of deal with it. Suboxone helped. I saw a lot of doctors. I got squared away as best as possible, but I was still hollow. I was still searching.
After the VA, I met a group of dudes that were amazing people. And that is where things changed. I relearned how to be a normal person by just watching them. Of course, psychedelics didn't hurt either. I found what I had been searching for. I found home. I was happy. I still talk to them regularly. I miss them greatly. We no longer live close to one another. It's been difficult the last five years. Now, I'm not saying I'm cured, or happy, or anything like that. Life has not been easy. It never will be.
I've relapsed more times than I care to count. I contracted hepatitis C. Moved around the country. Do you know what keeps me going? The fact that I always managed to put myself back together every time I fell apart. Sure, people were there to help, but I had to do the work. I never gave up again. The action of doing something isn't the hard part, nor is it the maintenance. It's the decision to change. Looking over the edge to something new.