There’s something inside me
That pulls beneath the surface
This lack of self control I fear
Is never ending, controlling
– Crawling by Linkin Park
the late Amy Winehouse
w/ Back to Black
LONG LIVE LINKIN PARK
In the year 2000, a young singer named Chester Bennington – as front man of Linkin Park – would redefine the rebel yell. Hybrid Theory was, in a word, spectacular. If The Beastie Boys are credited with rap crossing over to a young white audience, then Linkin Park would bridge the gap between hip hop, rock and grudge; a trifecta that sent their debut album into orbit with over 11 million copies sold in the United States alone. And while it was the rapper that made them hip and the beat that made them original, it was the primal scream of Chester Bennington that pierced the soul.
But like so many of the best – Whitney Houston, Kurt Cobain, Phyllis Hyman, Amy Winehouse… – his story would end the same: suicide fueled by depression and addiction to drugs.
by Kendall F. Person
She made international headlines for a very different reason. The lines were drawn in the sand and a fight for her life became the cause celeb. On June 26, 2013, at 52 years of age, at 6:37 p.m. Kimberly LaGayle McCarthy was pronounced dead. She became the state of Texas’ 500th member of death row to be executed, done so by lethal injection. And with her final words – This is not a loss. This is a win. You know where I’m going. I’m going home to be with Jesus. Keep the faith. I love you all – it was lights out. The 13th woman to be executed by the government in American history is worth noting, but regardless of which side of the line on capital punishment we stand, the more important issue was lost: how she got there in the first place.
Hers was drugs, but addiction comes in many forms. It is a clever beast, that sneaks into our lives, and brings hell with it. Ms. McCarthy, a beautiful and by most accounts (although information about her young life has been challenging to locate), lived a normal life. She was married and gave birth to what would be her only child. She was employed as an occupational therapist, and had no long criminal history. Sometimes referred to as an inner tiger, addictions start slow, but rather they take months or years, the tiger always grows. And on July 27, 1997, there was little of Kimberly left.
On that day, Kimberly McCarthy had only one thing on her mind, to feed her addiction. She telephoned her neighbor, college psychology professor Dorothy Booth, under the guise of borrowing sugar. When Ms. Booth answered her door, the tigress stabbed her five times with a butcher knife, and savagely beat her to death. She cut off her victims finger, to access her ring, stole her money, her credits cards, brazenly jumped into her now stolen car, and gave no further thought of the life she took inside. I imagine, that even as she smashed the solid steel candle holder, repeatedly against 71-year-old Dorothy Booth’s head, somewhere inside was the real Kimberly LaGayle McCarthy, the mother, the daughter, the member of society. But the addiction had overpowered her and she was unwilling or unable to fight. So she gave into the tiger, jumped into the car, threw it in drive, and with no further consideration….sped directly to the drug spot.
When at the end of the road we find
that we can no longer function as a human being
…we all face the same dilemma. What is there left to do?
– We Do Recover
THE FIGHTER STILL REMAINS
Addiction is a game of inches.
My father was addicted to the bottle. That’s why he walked out on us when I was two years old and the reason we had no contact for twenty years. I know today it’s the reason he called me drunk at two am shortly after my first son was born to tell me that I wasn’t a man. A few more inches of trying and maybe we could’ve had a relationship.
I’ve hit more bottoms more times in my life, than I like to admit, but those misses made me who I am today. One moment too soon or too late, and I may have missed out on grace.
The funny thing is you couldn’t have told me that I had a problem with any of my addictions. I wasn’t a junkie. Junkies come from junkie families and have meth mouth and take out a second mortgage. I was from a good family, my parents loved me and I could quit whenever I wanted. Even though I crossed every boundary I ever set, I wasn’t a junkie.
That’s the biggest lie of addiction.
As your reach lower and lower into the abyss of addiction you continue to seek out people worse off than you, so you can look at them and say, “See, I’m not THAT bad.” Always a few inches ahead of the game. But the truth is, water seeks its own level.
You cannot accurately describe hitting bottom to someone who has not experienced it. It’s not like the movies. There is nothing beautiful about it because there’s no soundman or director or musical score to make it seem poetic. It’s nasty and ugly. When you wake up to the fact that your drug no longer works, you are suddenly the last man on Earth. There is no real connection to others. It is truly inches from death.
Addiction – be it alcohol, crack or blackjack – is not at all about the drug. It’s about reaching emptiness. Selling your morals for that next fix, leaves you spiritually hollow; and feeling like a gale force wind is blowing through the hole in your soul.
If there is an addict in your life, do not give up on them. There is always hope. I was strung out by seventeen years old. I was spared years of torture and suffering because people didn’t give up on me. There was always someone there to give me a hug or tell me they loved me. Often this was what kept me going.
You never know when that addict in your life may need your hope, because they have none of their own, always leaving them inches away from giving up.
And if you are an addict and you happen to be in The Neighborhood, don’t give up on yourself, and whatever you do, do not ignore your moment of clarity, because that moment may be your miracle happening.
from Toronto Canada – Choir! Choir! Choir!
with I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
When I was pulled from the American River, I awoke the next day in a hospital bed surrounded by my family and close friends. When my eyes opened, all I could see was the pain and relief in their beautiful faces, that only hours before, I thought I would never see. I had not stolen from anyone. It was my gold I plundered, but that offered no consolation, for upon seeing their faces I realized, addiction is not a victim-less crime. It is selfish and destructive. It is wasteful and disrespectful. It is meaningless and it is ruinous. But for many, it becomes a part of life. I cannot erase those empty years, nor can I have them back. But I became a different person, even far removed from the me-first youngster.
I cannot offer a hard luck story, for I grew up with a loving mother, and both sides of my bloodline, stand wise, spiritual, and strong. My schools, my friends and my sands were rock solid. My jobs were fulfilling, my vacations were joyous occasions. And my early career as a writer, had been supported and given a grand send-off. Why would I give up such a beautiful life in exchange for the pain that addiction would bring, I may never know. But what I do understand, is I have no one to blame but myself.
Addiction does not give a damn about me or Whitney or Amy or Heath or the nameless addict, who panhandles on the street. It will never be your friend and it will never be satisfied. And if by the grace of God you survive, the precious gift of noticing the blue sky, becomes intensified, and the meaning of your life becomes glorified and the fire to lend a hand, becomes magnified, and the knowledge you acquired, you cannot hold inside, and you recognize your gift of words, do not belong to you, so you share outside, and the mission to spread peace shifts into overdrive, and the value of life becomes rarefied, and the desire to meet the world is mesmerizing, and the energy received from those you meet, is electrifying, and the idea I may inspire, is gratifying, and the meaning of my life, materializes and comprehending those years were not lost, if my addiction can save a life.
LONG LIVE THE FIGHT FOR SOBRIETY.
– Kendall F. Person
The Neighborhood. society online’s creative conscious
Al-Anon, Family Groups