Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Change is Gonna Come

Living in my house, right now, is like living in a constant state of spiritual warfare. And, today, I almost lost a big battle.

I am a recovering addict. I spent several years using crystal meth fairly heavily, and I hid it quite successfully from the people that love me. I was a binge user, and I used on a clockwork schedule: every two weeks for two to three days at a time, almost always over the weekend.

After having a near complete breakdown and spending a week as a guest of the mental health ward of Fairview Riverside hospital and then spending another almost six months in various structured recovery programs at the Pride Institute in Eden Praire, MN, I was able to get to a place where I had the skills to fight back against my own biology. Addiction is a physical and mental illness and it takes physical and mental therapy to keep it in check.

I have had, what is called in 12-Step lingo, slips. But I haven't slipped for a long time now, and I am aiming to keep it that way. But, to do so, I have constantly to find ways not to internalize difficult emotions and emotional situations, I have to eat well and exercise, and I need to be engaged with a life and a world that is spiritually uplifting.

In general, my life is centered around all of those things. I have a great partner that is extremely supportive, I am a Christian that believes in the universal and healing power of love embodied through Christ (one of many Sons of God and prophets sent to teach us), I have recently begun chanting in the Nichiren Buddhist tradition (nam-myoho-renge-kyo), I use this blog as a vehicle to draw out lessons from my daily experiences that I need to learn or look at more closely, I write and perform poetry as a way to externalize my feelings, and I try to find small ways, each day, to experience God, the Divine, and love.

Unfortunately, with the love of my partner and a desire to build a home with him, has come his ex partner (of whom I have written plenty before) who lives in our living room on our couch. I am not overstating or exaggerating when I say his presence is an actively hostile and malevolent force that is actually palpable. His energy is destructive and hurtful, his words and actions are negative and damaging, and I, as the new boyfriend of his ex, am the direct and active target of his hate. When something goes wrong or amiss in the house, I am to blame. When David and I had our first threesome, which was a beautiful and spiritually uplfiting experience with an amazing human being, he didn't speak to me for almost a week yet did not treat David the same way, he stares at me with such undisguised loathing that it feels like a punch to the stomach. To be the object of revile for anyone, particularly someone with whom you live, is a constant burden and pressure.

I quite literally choose whether going to the bathroom is sometimes worth the walk to the living room, and I tell you that on more than one occassion a bottle has looked more appealing than a porcelain bowl on the other end of the house through the spectral landmine field I have to cross to get there.

The economy sucks, and David, as a freelancer, has had a great reduction in the amount of work he has been able to do. Yesterday, he left for a two day gig in the Hamptons. We can use the money, but, more importantly, David needed to work, for himself, on a fundamental level. For several days leading up to his leaving, I felt the weight of his absence. David is a buffer of sorts between the ex and me. His ex feels required to constrain himself when David is around. When David leaves, he feels no such constraint. I wrote before about the ex and the ex's current boyfriend and their ambush and attack of me. This time, there was no screaming...just a heightening of his already hateful presence. And, frankly, I reached the end of my spiritual reservoir.

Thank God that God had my back.

Quite literally, yesterday, I was on the fast track to relapse. I began looking for a connection. In this interconnected Internet ready world, finding drugs is as easy as logging into Craig's List or any number of cruising sites. I know all the code words and key phrases. Luckily, just as I was on the edge of the relapse cliff, my phone rang. I had just come home from a work event, and my best friend called. We have been trying to see each other, unsuccessfully, for weeks. The one sure way to get me out of and away from myself is for someone else in need to ask for my help. He sent a text saying that he could use some friend time. I packed a bag, jumped in a cab, and I headed to Harlem and spent the night. This morning, we got up and chanted together, which fed my spiritual well just enough to keep sober, though I didn't know I was going to need to use it so soon.

Today, the ex did one of his favorite hate tactics. He played on my fears and vulnerabilities around David. He enjoys telling me stories about the few times, over their ten year relationship, when David did not adhere to their relationship rules. And though I know in the moment that exactly what that hateful man wants is for me to start questioning David and myself, there are times when fears slip through cracks. They did, and I was again speeding down the path to relapse.

Except this time, as I started to leave the house to look for drugs, I stopped myself. I looked up at the rapidly darkening sky. The clouds were rolling in thick and black and ugly from Jersey...and I began to ask myself what the hell I was doing. I had gotten up from the computer where I was doing work for my amazing job. I was walking away from the committments I made to my partner. I was walking towards hurting myself deeply and fundamentally. So I turned around and walked home. I ordered some terrible MSG filled food from the Chinese spot downstairs, and I ate myself into a near catatonic state, all the while composing donor renewal letters for work (I may be crazy, but I am definitely productive).

I am done with letting another human being impact my life and spirit to the point that I am willing to do myself harm and, in doing so, hurt the people that love me. The ex is moving out of our home at the end of July. I am not sure if I can find enough ways to sustain myself until then, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I may have to spend many more blog entries between now and then speaking to you all about this situation.

Also, my insurance kicks in tomorrow and you best believe that me and therapy are about to get real cozy like again.

The minute that man exits the building for the last time, I am going to have a shaman, a priest, a Vooduin, a medecine man, a rabbi, and any other holy person I can find to come over and deep clean his ugliness and hurt and hate and pain and darkness out of this place. I wonder if they got some sage flavored Febreeze at the Target.

Thanks for reading ya'll.


  1. Good for you Brandon. Hate never wins the wars, only the battles. As soon as the ex is gone deep clean that motherfucker and move on!!!

  2. Baby, I'm fixing a root box for his ass right now!*

    Sending you my love and an undeniable ability to fade someone who needs fading.

    *Not really. Answering evil for evil is a sure way to call another man's curse upon your head.

  3. Mark: thanks my friend....I got some cleansing recipes from friends already...
    Eb: You know I got the maddest love for you. And yeah, fighting evil with evil ain't the way to go...but if it were...you know I would call down some terrible shit on a motherfucker that steps too far out of line. I got all kinds of mojo workers in my ancestry...don't wake the beast.

  4. Brandon.
    I have faith. Faith in you.
    A faith no religion or spiritual leader can bring or teach to you.
    Its either given or it isnt.
    I have Faith and A Strength in my Spirit.
    A Spirit that is there for you when you need it most.
    I believe in you when you falter.
    We share a fire, a spark, ignited upon conception and birth. 831.
    You and I also share more than just a birth, something more that that which coarses through our veins.
    When you need light. Call out. I will find you.

  5. Congratulations! My guides tell me you will be getting a new couch! Green/Gray? Lovely. Goes with the new rug. DONT ASK.

  6. Your writing is beautiful. Your journey is amazing. Your life is inspiring. Thank you letting me in a bit of it.

    And congratulations on all the wonderful things in your life. You deserve them.

  7. No longer lay your body out for the crows ... reading your post I thought of this song from which the thought came ...

    Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
    Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
    Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
    Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

    Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
    The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
    Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
    And the sudden smell of burning flesh!

    Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
    For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
    For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
    Here is a strange and bitter crop.
    Billie Holiday (1915-1959) "Strange Fruit"

    ...let no one do that to you, not even yourself.

  8. Thank you my friend. And I love that song.

  9. Hey Ben: Thank you for your kind words, old friend. Its great to have some amazing people that have been on this road with me, even if only from a distance, for a good chunk of my life.

  10. Brandon,

    It is such a blessing that you can find the strength to stop yourself from destructive behavior on account of a human virus that is David's ex. It's horrible that you have to live w/ him, but such a blessing that you have your inner strength, God and David to deal. Just keep remembering the blessings around you (hell, you live in NYC, damnit. lol) and know that that energy is more powerful than his weaksauce.

  11. Pantherking: So true so true on all accounts. He is up to more shennanigans today...saying that he isn't going to move. Homie don't play that.

  12. Dear, I'm sorry my work and life happenings have kept me from seeing your blog + messages. I send you blessings, I send you love and I pray.
    As little as I know you, I care.
    Mis bendiciones, Karlo.

  13. Brandon, come spend the rest of the month in Jordan. We can spend our weekends travelling around to Petra, Aqaba and the Dead Sea and you can work from a laptop...our apartment has wireless internet.

    You are very loved by Mohamad and I and we welcome you anytime. Although Yafa is a distraction, I don't doubt that you would become fast friends.



  14. Querida Jennifer. Te quiero tanto. I need to get my passport, as my old one expired. But, now that I am working, Jordan is an option. Let's keep talking about it.

  15. You are so brave to talk about this! i appreciate your honesty and i feel honored that you've allowed us this glimpse into a difficult subject to talk about.

  16. The Divine GraceJuly 4, 2009 at 11:28 PM

    You amaze me, Brandon.

  17. Hey Ethan and Divine: I have this queer little gene (well, several)...where the things that normally embarrass people to talk about don't embarass me...while things most folks can chat easily about...freak me the hell out. So the drugs and the sex...and the HIV (well that took work) and all the rest...well...those things are easy...it's the feelings...the jealousy love and all that which freak me the hell out. What keeps me going is an awesome community full of loving people. I am still amazed that there are folks out there that read these things and find something in my stories to which they can relate. Thank you both for reading.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and insights. And thank you for reading!