Article by Ash Rivers, Foreword by Daryl Jones
I recently found myself in a steamy hot tub in the hills overlooking Los Angeles, California. It wasn’t as sexy as you think. My company consisted of a polite neuropathologist, his cute spectacles constantly fogged by the steam, a tattooed, irritable ex-army Sniper, with biceps bigger than my torso, and an extremely drunk Mexican who’s name, from what I could gather, seemed to be “Dickpic”. Under the starless LA sky, Dickpic sauntered across the hexagonal in-ground spa towards me, his intense, intimate gaze, locking my eyes with his. He reached up with both of his hands, as the bubbles played around us, and tenderly grabbed my face, pulling gently at my cheeks, smoothing my eye wrinkles and stretching my skin inquisitively. Eventually a smile broke across his face.
“Oh there you are Peter!” he said.
Strangers who commit to extremely socially-awkward, obscure, 1991 children’s film references are the best people in the world.
“What a delightfully odd, if extraordinarily drunken, young man”, I thought to myself.
As the night progressed and the beer kept flowing, though I really liked the bloke, I noticed his charm begin to progressively wear thin with the other guests. Girls were offended. Army Guy wanted to fight him. Neuropathologist politely excused himself and toddled off to bed, having learned some new vocabulary featuring four, rather than his usual fourteen-letter-words.
When I left my new friend later that night, soggy, sad, and deeply worried that Army Guy was going to murder him in his sleep, I found myself wondering if this was just a regular night in the life of Dickpic. And how he earned that name. And what his real name was.
Six months later, I got an email. It was from Dickpic, but thankfully didn’t contain one. Instead it contained a story; his story. Chronicling his journey from “Dickpic”, the loose dude I met in the hot tub, to an intervention by his loved ones, through rehab, and finally back to “Ash”, finding his sober self on the other side.
We publish his meandering thoughts and experiences here, in the hope that it helps other people who are struggling with similar demons.
“Hi my name is ‘Ash’ and I’m an alcoholic.”
I tell a story, or talk about my day, or make a dumb joke. Whatever I do, I have an audience of loving, empathetic human beings, and it blows my mind. They all sit and listen patiently ’till it is their turn to talk, or they don’t talk at all, just listen.
I should tell you how I got here.
I drank. I drank a lot. I made people who drink a lot say things like, “Maybe you should slow down…”, or, “Hey man, do you have to drink the last one?” Sometimes I chose to get offended, or sometimes I just said it all right back to them. They were drinking too, hypocrites.
I never thought it was a problem, that I’d drink as much as I did. Heck, I thought I was the coolest guy you could hope to meet; always drinking and being friendly, flirting with whoever I wanted. Not a care in the world. Course, sometimes I’d end up depressed and thinking that everyone hated me for some reason, even though I was obviously the life of the party. “Why wouldn’t girls find me attractive?” I’d think, even though I’d completely stopped trying to improve myself and all I’d do is drink. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I was too involved in myself, and the slow but sure self destruction I was living, to even notice what I was really doing.
You see, as a substance abuser, I had hit something of a bottom.
“I was no longer enjoying the ride. I had already puked my dinner, and it had, figuratively and literally, hit me and everyone around me in the face.”
I’d make sure to generously share my dire situation with those closest to me, because misery loves company, and I’m kind of a dick that way.
You see, life is a roller coaster, and there is no way to get off for those who love you when you’re destroying yourself. They’re strapped in. When someone cares about you, they care about you, despite your best efforts, and my best efforts where really shitty.
Now to the meat ‘n taters of this piece, the thing that a certain Amy refused to go to; rehab. When I went, I didn’t put up a fight. I knew my life was fucking nuts, and yet I wouldn’t have gone had I not been ‘intervened’. The intervention itself was a weird thing to experience. It’s so emotion-filled for me, but the professional ‘interveners’ didn’t even know me, didn’t know how I would react, didn’t know my story; all they knew was what they had read in letters. How much can be conveyed through letters really? Apparently a lot. Yeah, I may have felt like they didn’t know me or care, but they had seen some different versions of me, and they knew how much my people cared about me, so they did care, just in a strangely professional way.
Being the joker I am, I kept making jokes, while the entire time I was actually feeling scared, angry, hurt, and offended.
“I couldn’t believe I, me, myself, was being forced into rehab. I didn’t have that big of a problem. I never lived on the streets, the bar fights weren’t that bad, I didn’t need a job cause I was going to make it big I just needed that one chance…”
(Spoilers: I couldn’t have seen an opportunity if it slapped me in the face and sent me to rehab).
But go I did. When I arrived I was met with a bunch of different people, who all simply welcomed me, and told me about how this was a great opportunity. I didn’t see it that way. No way. I was going to make it my way. I was so self-centered and so blinded by myself that I didn’t notice all of the friendships I ruined.
Rehab itself isn’t as hard as day time TV would have you believe. But that opinion is mine alone, since I was able to do rehab without having any withdrawal from the alcohol so, you know, keep that in mind. You sign a few papers saying what you agree to, and agree not to do. There is an expectation of cleanliness, as a lot of addicts come off the streets where showers are difficult to come by. You agree to the bed time (yes you get a bed time). You agree to not drink or use (duh), and to attend groups and/or meetings. Group is group therapy, and meetings are usually A.A. or N.A. Usually groups tend to be about feelings, or to teach you to be organised, or any other such tools you might need in your daily life. In the ones I’ve been in, we get a therapy session with someone once a week. It really is geared towards helping you improve yourself for the future. Granted, being an addict or/and an alcoholic we tend to not listen and think we know the most about our life, which is true to a degree, since no one knows your story better than you. But the emotions are all the same. Usually we are dumb and misguided, because we never learned how to live like a grown-up.
“It’s crazy how open people are in rehab; hell it’s a little scary. I mean, within minutes of meeting someone, he told me about how they’d been homeless just weeks before and had been shooting heroin into his dick.”
And he would say it like it was something completely normal. It was eerie. I wondered for a moment if I would end up talking about the asshole I was, with the same calmness as he could talk about his demons.
As I write this, sixty eight days into my sobriety and and my rehab life, I can tell you that I actually can. I’ve found that same openness and honesty that penis-injector had (Yeah that story really freaked me out, I don’t know if you’ve noticed). I mean hell I’m writing this freaking article.
I am in my second rehab, and I have gained a little something from every single person I’ve encountered. No, I haven’t changed and become a perfect man. I still make mistakes and they do suck, but I deal with them sober so that I can be making decisions to the best of my abilities. I can’t promise that I won’t ever drink again, nor should I have to; my sobriety is my damn business not yours, but I know that if I fall I’ll be able to have a way to spot it, as well as be able to ask for help when I need it.
Honestly, I am quite content with life as I am, sober. I know I’m seeing things with rose tinted glasses (especially since I’m still in rehab and shit only gets harder when I get out) but I find myself doing more good shit since I got sober. I’m writing this magazine article, and I never saw myself as a writer. But I once was told that to be a writer you had to write, so I am at least going in the right direction.
“Rehab is about giving you structure and the tools you need to be able to succeed in the world, because the alcohol wasn’t what was truly defeating me. I needed to change my mindset and my thinking.”
I think of rehab as a sort of ‘high school to life’, where you get to learn how to be a person with good problem-solving skills, and how to be empathetic and kind while you are still assertive. I am trying to improve day by day, hour by hour. It is hard to hold on to, but for this freedom it is definitely worth it.
Going to rehab doesn’t make you a shitty person, or worse than anyone else. It simply makes you someone who needed help, and is getting it, and trying the best you can. The only way to fail is to never really try, and other motivational words like that.
If reading this didn’t change you in any monumental way, that’s fine. I’m sure you’re not a heartless person (but you should probably check for a pulse) but I hope it has given you a bit of knowledge, for you to do with what you will.
If you think you may need help it doesn’t mean you suck and are a terrible person. You should always take any chance you have to improve yourself. Know that you are also probably loved, and that if there is an intervention that you might want to consider the help. I’m glad I did.
If you or someone you love needs some help with addiction like Ash did, head here for your nearest Alcoholics Anonymous, here, they also offer support to the family and friends of those with addictions. If you’re in Australia and need someone to talk to right now through Lifeline, or head along to your local doctor who can hook you up with support you need.
And talk to someone now, someone you trust, shoot them a SOS message; we all need help from time to time!
We love you! Love from Do Shit Magazine.
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