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Hell to Heaven and Back Again

Hey, I saw the sun today…
God, it’s only been a couple weeks but it feels like years. Years upon years stretched and twisted into agonizing knots. I just did it. I just walked out into the blistering blinding sun of a stranger, didn’t feel like the same one as when I left, that sun. Nope, felt like a brand new sun, a brand new start on life. Alone but not lonely. It happened though, I walked out, after smoking the umpteenth cigarette. Just staring at myself through slitted eyes. Studying every wrinkle and crevice that seemed to spring up over night into deep gashes. They were painful to look at. Like looking at a wound and remember how brutal it was when it happened. How brutal the aftermath.
And it’s strange, as soon as that sun hit my face, and I smiled for the first time in what felt so long, those wrinkles seemed to chip off of me like dried crust. And that’s what all that is, don’t you see?! Just crust, old skin that needed to be shedded. That smile though… I thought to myself back when I was so down in the dumps I thought, “If I ever smile again, it’ll be the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do.” But that smile felt the most natural and uncomplicated thing I had done for those past two weeks. Because when your stony heart sinks its way down into your stomach, and every moment of everyday you wonder “why me?” with tears in your eyes, the easier things tend to get complicated. Lifting your arm to light a cigarette, then moving it back and forth robotically to your mouth and back down to the ash tray to flick. Clicking the stove on and heating soup in the dark to eat before they shut your gas off. Things like that seem so simple when you’re up and about yet become a task when you’re hindered by emotional or physical impairment. But when I stretched my lips and cheeks and teeth into that grin, illuminated by the sun, well it was like riding a bike, your muscles will never forget how to twist and contort into something great you feel inside.

When I think of him…..I think of the past. I think of the things I did that make me cringe now but then I would just laugh. “You’re young, live it up!” That’s what my “friends” told me. Hah, some friends they were. When I was at the top getting high and wasted they were there, telling me I was loved, telling me I was great. But with my head shoved in the toilet? With my back against the wall? With my eyes rolling to the back of my skull? I’d look around and not see a single soul. Hah, yeah, friends.
But he….he wasn’t my friend. And not the way they weren’t. He… he was so cunning you couldn’t tell if he was the devil or Jesus. A blessing or a curse. It’s like I want to hate him for ruining my life; turning me on to the dangers of casual sex and drugs, but when I think back to the things he used to say. His sweet nothings. His empty lullabies. His hollow promises were so unrealistic and alluring that they were almost real. I could almost touch them. I still to this day think, with the talent that man has for words, he could talk anybody into anything. He could have given me the world. But instead he had given me turmoil.
He dropped me like a hot potato. Said I couldn’t handle the high life. Translation: You don’t know how to get high and drunk without everyone with eyes knowing it. And what was I supposed to say? Sorry, I’ll try harder next time? Sorry, I’ll try to shoot and snort up in moderation? Sorry, I’ll try to hide my blood shot eyes, my gushing nose, the pallor of my skin, the dry heaves.
And in so many words… I did apologize for that stuff. But all that came out as he half dragged me out of his loft was, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! Please!” And you know what, he didn’t have the audacity to look at me
, just looked sort of through or past me like some ordinary item that you see every day and pay no mind to. Almost like this was the plan all along, to ring me dry until I was no longer useful and fun. Which, now that I think about it, probably was the deal. I had sold my soul to the devil, and now it was time to pay the price. Hell. The hell of having to live alone with no one there to give you drugs and tell you you’re great, yeah never heard from those people ever again. Good riddance anyway.
Yet I apologized to him! And back then I probably thought I did have something to be sorry for, but the only person I had to apologize to was myself and God. I’ve brought nothing but shame to anyone who’s ever really helped me make it through life.
But I guess in a way I should thank him. If he had taken me back I’d have ended up dead eventually. Or selling myself to tricks on the street. Not exactly the glamorous prostitution I had done for him. “Doing a favor for a friend” is what we called it. And afterward I’d smile my plastic smile for him and he’d smile back, and in those moments it wasn’t the drugs or the parties or the fake friends I wanted, it was his approval. Which of all of the slimy grimy disgusting things I did for him, fighting for his love was the absolute worst. I wanted to be with him, in any possible or probable way I could. Sex, drug trips, parties. I think if I would have had the opportunity I would have actually been him.
And it all seems so trivial now, and to think only two weeks later! Yet I feel like an elderly woman looking back on her past and shaking her head. But thank God I am not and I can start my life over, discover what I really want out of life, instead of blocking out the bigger questions with false feelings of love and happiness.
But again, ya know, I feel like I should thank him for this. If he’d have never dropped me out on my butt in that elevator and press that down button to hell, I’d have never gotten better. Could you believe that I went through withdrawal because I was too depressed to even have the energy to score and use drugs?! Can you believe that’s how low I was? Or maybe I wasn’t low at all. Maybe my brain decided back when I was feeling so poorly that enough was enough. And if I hadn’t I would have never gotten to see this lovely sun! On this beautiful spring afternoon! I couldn’t imagine a better outcome to such hell.





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