East bound – gone south.
It’s funny what we remember.
Like it was yesterday, I remember playing outside with my daughter (big love Pooh) as we watched the movers wrap, box, tag and tote all our earthly possessions to the large moving truck parked out front. It was pointed east – the direction we were bound the very next morning.
Although it was late December, the temperature had fixed itself pleasantly in the mid 80’s with clear skies and light dry air – not entirely unusual for this time of year in the south-central region of the United States. The reason I remember the weather so well that day is because of the drastic change that loomed. As the movers completed their task and the day drifted to evening, the temperature, sky and air did a complete 180 – by morning we would awake to a bona fide winter ice storm.
The weather changed so drastically, it was like living in an episode of Bewitched where Samantha twitched her nose and instantly you were mystically transported to the arctic. We quickly exchanged the shorts and t-shirts of the previous day for coats, gloves and boots. In hindsight, I probably should have waited for the weather to clear before starting out on the trek back east, but my youth and vigor said differently…
No, we were out of there!
So with the car packed to the gills – including cat and dog – we were off…east bound… into the storm. Two storms, actually…
the other invisible.
One was obviously tangible and treacherous to drive in, and the other was one developing deep within my soul. Unbeknownst to me, I had a stowaway traveling with me – the initial stages of dependency and addiction to prescription pain pills. In the not too distant future, it would slowly begin to unpack itself.
My Air Force recruiting assignment was in a nice quaint town conveniently tucked amidst the cotton and tobacco fields of the South. As a child I had passed through my new home numerous times with my parents on our annual pilgrimage to Myrtle Beach for fun and sun. The folks were friendly and hospitable, and the weather had a moderate balance of the four seasons. The town had a Wal-Mart – which, back in those days, was a symbol to the surrounding communities that this little town had arrived.
My office was in the mall – a good location because, like the rest of small town America at that time, the mall was the place to hang.
My new home also held a treasure.
Hidden obscurely within its community, this gift from God, that would play a huge role in assisting me to sort out life and relationships, would actually not be made known to me for several years to come.
I was a natural at recruiting and soon established myself as one of the best for that region. Although my professional life was excelling, it was no mirror for my personal life. On the outside everything looked well put together – I had a family, a career that was on track and the hallmark of “things” that the world uses to gauge success.
IT WAS A FARCE.
Internally, I was a wreck. My closest personal relationships were unraveling, and I felt completely helpless.
It was then, for the first time that I began to realize that I wasn’t merely taking Percocets for the pain in my jaw – I was also taking them to shroud the pain in my heart and fill the void in my soul. I knew my pill-popping was getting out of control, but I didn’t care – they worked. I was numb to the pain and emptiness. The soothing, warm and fuzzy sense of well being the Percocets delivered was magically powerful. With the pop of a pill, I could instantly escape and change any feelings of insecurity, rejection or frustration. Interestingly as well, pain pills gave me energy, endurance and confidence. I liked who I was on Percocets, and I liked how I performed on them too.
The love affair was growing deeper and deeper.
But the truth was, this was nothing but a new shield – a mask that gave me an unbelievable positive sense of self worth – counterfeit as it was. It was becoming my “way of life.” Slowly and methodically my addiction was unpacking itself. My move back east had quickly gone south.
…from the inside…ray-ray