Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Corner of Hell and Nowhere

I left residential treatment August 27 1998 with two garbage bags of clothes and six months clean. My time was paid for by a county diversion program and my time was up. I pulled together enough hustle to get a job and save $900. My options were very limited in terms of places to live. So I rolled back to the corner of hell and nowhere. 

In case you want a description, I moved to 242 Turk street between Jones and Leavenworth. This was the exact block where I used to score dope. I got into a transitional house run by the Salvation Army called Bridgeway. It was a step up from my last residence - alleyway. My rent was $320 a month for the first six months. You could be asked to submit to a urinalysis as it was labeled clean and sober housing. I had a tiny room with no bathroom. It came semi-furnished. They didn't bother to clean out one of the drawers of my dresser. It contained recovery journals from the guy who used to live there. Apparently he didn't take them when he started using again. 

The first night on my own I started bugging out. I wanted to use so badly or at least hang out in the Tenderloin. There were all these things I could do differently now. I could sell drugs but not use them. I could find some dealer to take care of me. I was lonely and afraid of what I would do that night. It says in one of the recovery books "an addict alone is in bad company". I went to a meeting that night. An atheist 12 step meeting full of wing nuts from Haight Street. I felt at home. Meetings are not for everyone but I needed someone who was not using to talk to me. 

I lived in the transitional house for a month short of four years. I made many mistakes in early recovery. The mistake I did not make was thinking I was ready to live on my own. The best part of the transitional house was I forced to live in a somewhat controlled environment while I was still making bad choices. I had to sign all my visitors in and out which meant they had to have ID. That ruled out some. Frankly, very few people that are using want to go to a place to visit someone who is clean and sober. I also had to think about this- if there is only a bed in my room, if I invite a man over to "visit" what are we going to end up doing is having sex. I needed to learn many things but mostly how to live. 

Sometimes, I miss that place. Things were simplier then when my everyday focus was just staying clean.