It All Became Clear

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

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| This is the 246th story of Our Life Logs |

On March 16th, 1993, I was born and became another inconvenience to add to my parents’ list. My father left my hometown of Harrison, Arkansas when I was still a baby and never came back to us, and my mother’s on-again-off-again relationship with drugs eventually had me living with my maternal grandparents by age three.

As I grew up, it became clear that most of my mom’s family harbored unwarranted resentment toward me because of their distaste of her. Hard to blame. My grandma, however, always made me feel welcome. She was the only one I felt close to. I loved watching her gentle figure move around as she cleaned the house while I played with my cousins.

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My life took a turn the summer before ninth grade. I was helping my grandpa build a church, and I fell from the roof, breaking both ankles. The doctor gave me pain pills to last a week. Unfortunately, the pain didn’t let up after seven days, so I started taking pills from my grandpa’s medicine cabinet. Before I knew it, I was taking pills every day, long after I needed them. I liked the way they dulled out the deafening roar of the world. For the first time in my young life, I felt peace—happiness, even.

Me in ninth grade.
Me in ninth grade.

At first, my friend Liam (pseudonym) and I would sell the ones we didn’t take. We started the drug market at school, and soon there were a few more people to buy from. After my grandpa figured out how his pills were disappearing, we started buying them from these other “dealers.” It wasn’t long before I spent every day pilled out. Eventually, pills weren’t doing enough, and we looked for ways to elevate our highs. Sometimes before school, I’d meet up with Liam and we’d chug peach schnapps he had stolen and then huff gasoline. Just 14, and we were rarely going to school sober. In the wonderful numbness of the drugs, I forgot all my pain. Nothing mattered.

I never realized back then that the bad hand I’d been dealt as a kid was catching up with me and morphing how I grew up. By 10th grade, I added weed to my routine, affording it by working in my grandpa’s garage through the summer. I started to steal from other junkies, and fight them if they didn’t let me have what I wanted. My chaotic life caught up with me and put me in juvenile detention a few times, but I always got out. Until I really messed up at 15.

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One night, I was getting ready to see a movie with friends. My uncle and his daughter were visiting and blocked me from leaving because my cousin was mad about something. I’ll be dammed if I can remember what. They always found something to be mad at me about. She raised her hand to slap me, but I grabbed her wrist before she got the chance. Next thing I know, my uncle was coming at me, furious that I laid a hand on his daughter, I guess. I made my escape out the door before things escalated. My friends and I wound up ditching the movie idea and stole cigars from the country market instead.

It turned out that my uncle had called the cops, so they were already looking for me when someone called about the cigars. When they found me, I was rolling a joint, unsuspecting of their ambush. That night, I went to the “big boy” jail, and spent three days there.

When I came back home, my grandparents decided to send me to Pocahontas, a mental hospital for wayward teens. It didn’t really help. I was off pills for a bit, but I still got into fights and smoked weed. My dear grandma was the only one to show any sympathy during this time. She tried enrolling me in boxing to help me get ahold of my anger, but sadly, I didn’t stick with it. I was this stubborn, rebellious kid that I wish I was not.

I got released from the hospital at 17 and tried to go home, but was rejected by my family. They asked me to clean up my act first. Dejected and falling, I dropped out of school and spent the next six months on the streets, sleeping under a bridge most nights. Sometimes old friends from high school would pick me up and buy me a meal, but I always ended up back at the bridge.

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My life changed again after a girl named Diamond took me in for a night and we hit it off. I was so drunk and high that night, it’s all a blur. I ran off the next day, not wanting to overstay my welcome. I thought that would be the last I’d hear of her, but a few weeks later, she came to tell me that I’d gotten her pregnant while I was blitzed. The shock made me clean up my act a bit, get a job, and move in with her.

When our daughter Hayden was born, I was in love. Every free moment I had, I spent doting on her, so happy to have her in my life. I didn’t really want to get married, but my grandpa insisted it was the right thing to do, so I married Diamond that fall.

With my baby girl, Hayden.
With my baby girl, Hayden.

I still couldn’t visit home often because my family didn’t want me around, but I knew that my grandma had gotten sick because she didn’t attend my wedding. I tried to see her, for what would be her last Mother’s Day, but the moment I stepped on the doorstep, I had a gun pointed at me. My grandpa told me if I ever came back, I would be shot. I couldn’t believe how cruel he was being. Feeling helpless and angry, I relapsed into drugs.

My grandma was not getting better and was hospitalized in 2013. On March 13th, I went to see her one last time, just to say goodbye. I pleaded with my grandpa to give me five minutes with her, and he finally agreed. My grandma smiled weakly when I entered the room. She took my hand and told me she was sorry for everything and that she loved me. I held back my tears as I said goodbye.

My birthday was four days later. My present? Being a pallbearer for my grandma’s funeral. After the funeral, I was shattered. I didn’t want to go home. Instead, I went out with Liam and took enough pills to forget everything. Two days later, I left my daughter and wife behind and went with Liam for Tulsa, Oklahoma. I shouldn’t have, but after that funeral, I felt like I had died. Years of holding back anger and heartbreak sent me on the run, away from all the memories.

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I traveled around to a few other places before settling in California where I was introduced to meth. Alcohol and pills couldn’t mess me up as good as meth, and I wanted to get wrecked. My wife and I divorced, of course. For eight months, all I did was work and gamble while “geetered” out of my mind.

It was only a matter of time until the drugs poisoned my head, made me think crazy things. In 2015, after convincing myself that Liam was sleeping with my Californian girlfriend, I left. Two years of running was more than enough. It was time to go home.