Noor Azman Othman

Noor Azman Othman

A routine status update at Facebook earlier this morning had led me to a new idea that could help myself and my two sons financially. It was from the person above whom I had written a post about when I first started this blog in August 2008… a “fellow traveller on this journey towards recovery”.

Noor Azman or ArahMan7 is believed to be Malaysia’s first recovery blogger, with his site at My Journey to Recovery. It was a very important blog to me… because it gave me the confidence to start this one. It’s quite remarkable that I had discovered it on my very first day as a blogger. I had known quite a bit about ArahMan7 over the past year – and vice versa. And I must say that I’m grateful for having known him.

This is a very important part in the recovery process that people like us go through – knowing of someone else who had faced the same destructive power that was drug addiction and someone who is adapting to and living life on life’s terms. There is this empathy that can only exist between people with shared experiences – people who know what it was like to see your life spiraling down, with material possessions slipping away, personal relationships becoming brittle and often broken.

They also know about that obsession and compulsion to still continue with drugs despite seeing our lives declining to a deplorable level. They also know the guilt and torment, and the shame of bringing about hardship, stress and tension to those closest to us. And they also know of how some members of society view and treat those with a drug record.chimp-office

CAPTION: Respectable member of society who feels he’s a few levels better than drug addicts, active or recovering. This kind emits signals of expecting you to hold him in awe; always nodding your head and agree with everything that he says.

With ArahMan, I’m fortunate to have someone who is genuinely interested to help. And I do know that he is genuinely happy when he hears of good things happening to me. Previously, I had had this thing nagging me: Would he somehow `feel threatened’ by the existence of “a newcomer”  who might usurp his position and standing in Blogosphere?howler

baboonCAPTIONS: (Left) Kampung loud-mouthed, expert-in-everything including religion. (Right) Expert when it comes to… Everything. Including on drugs, treatment and rehabilitation. Also possess ability to know whether someone is on drugs or not. Craves being at the centre of attention. Both were last spotted at the Pasir Mas Mahkamah Syariah on March 25

No ArahMan didn’t -  In fact he told me about his admiration of my seeming nonchalance and ease in moving in and out of the local SoPo Blogosphere; and that I dared to leave comments on various issues at the top sites that include Rocky’s Bru and Raja Petra Kamarudin’s Malaysia Today.

I had wanted to be involved in the same projects that he has experience in. And ArahMan is the type of guy who isn’t “kedekut ilmu” (secretive and selfish with what he knows). Over a few emails and SMS messages, he had given me an idea about the online business entities at his blog like BuyBlogReviews etc. The first thing to do was to get a PayPal account.

I’m still stuck in the rut I was in since ArahMan had told me to get that account. Immediately after that, I was, by the Grace of God, deluged with work – I had given all of my time to “Writing for the papers & Sub-editing job”. Have to ensure regular income first, and ArahMan understands…

Then I saw this new website by him that I was not aware of: Blog Beginners. Excellent name! I had Bookmarked and also put it at the sidebar of my two blogs… besides sending a tweet at Twitter.

I’m happy to see all those business-related links on the right. I think ArahMan has gotten it right – SPOT ON – with this one. I can see and feel things clicking from the inter-connectedness and synergies of the posts and online business paraphernalia…

When (note it’s not `If’) he strikes the first or half million ringgit, many of us will be spurred to better our own situations and try to get a bit of the online wealth.

BTW I have vested interest in the smooth running and success of this. Now that things are more stabilised, I’m going to continue with my original plans – plus additions. I’ve just been struck with this idea – getting my two sons involved in this too.

The eldest (24) has been jobless since two months ago. And he’s one who doesn’t want to continue with higher education Sigh… He’s thin like me, and it breaks my heart to think about the tough and tiring jobs that he had done. But what qualifications and skills does he have?

Iman and Mat Yin July 5

Iman and Mat Yin July 5

And Iman: getting a diploma in Multimedia is the priority. He’s quite savvy with online entertainment stuff, and knows about Paypal. Well, I’d love to introduce him to ArahMan’s site here. That’s what I’m dreaming of now – Me and my two boys working together developing ours… following the path you as the trailblazer had opened for Malaysians and “people like me”

[BTW it came to my attention that the two simians above had gone around telling those who cared to listen that "Mat's children... none of them gives him any thought or care... they just ignore Mat"]

Whatever ArahMan’s success, I can honestly and sincerely say that I’m happy. And I know that it’s the same with him should I land the jackpot. Yes, folks: Knowing Noor Azman Othman 11 months ago has been a big positive in my life.

If anyone had asked who I loved most in this world, I would have said it was Iman, my youngest; born in November 1991. That was a time when I was still clean. However, that moment of stupidity was looming – the re-introduction to opiate which resulted in the horrendous relapse that later took away almost everything that I had; besides bringing distress and suffering to those near.

pinkfloyd_scream_150x115And they included Iman – the sweet, kind-hearted little boy; always trusting and uncomplaining… a Gift and a Trust from God whom I was blessed to have. The thought and knowledge that I had failed him with that irresponsible addiction, which fouled up my sense of priorities and had caused the frequent neglect of him and his siblings by not fulfilling my responsibilities a lot of the time – the feelings of guilt, worthlessness and self-hatred that accompanied these were the biggest torment of all.

SCREAM – This one from Pink Floyd “The Wall” is among the more accurate graphics to represent `tormented’  

There was the confusion, the sense of hopelessness and the despair of the situation… “Hope” is what that keeps us moving on no matter what the circumstances. But in my situation then, it was almost all gone and nearing zero when it comes to hope. “Almost”, however, was the all-important adverb in that instance; because no matter how minuscule or minute it had remained, that was what had kept me from doing the irreversible in “the ultimate attempt to escape”. That thought of failing your children, the pure and innocent – the crushing weight it heaped upon you was the worst suffering I had ever felt.

I sometimes hear this kind of talk by others: “Drug addicts just don’t care about their families. If they do, they would have stopped their addiction immediately.”

I’m not really going to contradict and refute that. At the same time, and based on my own experiences, I certainly don’t agree with the above either. It’s not that simple: that part about “don’t care” – the Malay term is “tak ambil peduli”: I know that I did… despite the addiction.

Often, during my time of active addiction – and also when I was in prison and at Pusat Serenti Gambang especially, I’d wonder about what it was that had kept me addicted. Why did I continue despite knowing that things would only get worse if I “don’t do something about it”? I did discover one answer, which was shared by practically all of the inmates whom I had posed the question to: it was self-delusion; of comforting one’s self that “All will be fine, somehow”.

How attractive was the alternative; in giving up drugs? With the opiates of heroin and morphine, that means undergoing severe physical withdrawal; and the psychological/mental withdrawal that goes on for weeks. But I believe practically all addicts would gladly undergo these… if things were to magically revert to the time just before it all started. But that’s not how it works, of course.

And so I went on. In the years after 2000, there were times when I had actually “stopped”, in that I was no longer physically addicted. None of these were voluntary. They were either through the lack of money – which was often; or there was that dreaded  “putus” or disruption with the supply. And at the first opportunity, I would get back at it.

[*Detoxifying:Treat for alcohol or drug dependence; Remove poison from; These are the dictionary definitions. It’s `easy’ to get yourself or someone off the physical addiction, regardless of how long you had used, how much and the average purity of the substance – get him to detoxify. How? Deny him the substances for a certain period of time. Here’s when the `fun’ starts – the misery of physical pain AND mental torment. I’ve gone through a few that were of “hellish” class, and many of “severe”. And lots of “mild”. I can truthfully state this: The `mild’ of opiate withdrawal is worse than almost all of my  `normal’ fevers (non drugs-related, like what you all here suffer occasionally), and it’s for each and every second of the day. I hope this gives a better idea of what this withdrawal thing is.]

despair I later learned the main reason why – I was alone… alienated. There was not much point in continuing to be clean – that is one’s thinking when he is alone and seemingly without hope for the future. During the past couple of years, I’d sometimes do this “time-tunnel exercise” of trying to remember and feel what it was like during a period – early 2000 for example. The memories of those negative feelings and incidents would stream back. Various aspects of my life were so knotted up, so blurred and dark that I could not see how they could be better in the future (that’s now). With nothing to really strive for, and with the heavy stone carried by every person bearing the guilt of having failed those who depended on you, the natural response was to find relief.

Some found temporary relief in alcohol, some in gambling, or womanising; many with a combination of those, and still even more added music and dance and whatever else. With me, it was in moving deeper towards the cause of that predicament in the first place: armed with a Terumo syringe intended for diabetics to administer insulin, the `immediate solution’ which was to perpetuate the cycle was in shooting up even more morphine or heroin. Sometimes these were spiked with methamphetamine – the pil kuda. 

But how different it is now, despite having undergone a divorce process! For this, I am grateful. The people who are here now – despite never having met many yet, the spiritual aspect of all the communicating helps to lift this stone… Sherry Nor Jannah & Nazmi, Shakirah, Elviza, Zara (so often), Distractor, Sheila, Brigitte… my great friend in Seoul (who prefer that I keep silent about his existence, and I will respect that), Mekyam, Fauziah, and everyone who have honestly and sincerely wished me well. I shudder to think about the time prior to Gambang – it’s a wonder that I managed to hold on for that long despite the immense weight that was pulling me down.

And one of the main factors that had helped to counterbalance the thoughts about “ending it all” was the person whom I often remember as the innocent little boy – one of those whom I had wronged by my choices and actions. And he never knew it. Even during those days of heavy addiction, I had the desire to make up for all my wrongs. And ending it all would have meant that I won’t – ever; besides tarnishing him with another stigma… as if what he had then wasn’t enough. Despite all the hopelessness and self-loathing, I had to go on.

Some of the readers might wonder about my mentioning him, and “not protecting his privacy”. Well, one of them is that; from what I see, Iman, despite being the youngest, is the one who has accepted me for what I was and am, and the addiction period for what it was. I don’t know what it is inside him, but there’s something special about it. And he being my son who was the most unsuccessful when it comes to academics; examination results. It was something of which my ex-wife had often scolded him for – and a source of friction with me, for I would always side with him.

It wasn’t for the sake of it, no. Even from very early on, there were characteristics that others somehow didn’t see – or they didn’t say so. This was a boy who would never lie to escape punishment. In whatever situation, when asked whether he did something, it was always a “Yes”. And bullying by taking advantage of his age and size when with younger kids – that wasn’t him. His sense of fairness, fair play – they were there in him from very early on.

He couldn’t believe or accept that there were others who weren’t like him. He was so kind as to allow the younger kids to bully him; not knowing how to retaliate… because he felt it was wrong! One kid younger than him did take advantage of this when he was about five. When he came home crying and telling me about it, I had to set things right. And since this particular kid was too young to listen to reason, there was only one way – I taught Iman how to retaliate. That put an immediate end to the younger kid’s actions, of course.

His character – that was what I saw in him. Unfortunately, this wasn’t shared by my wife, who had placed “academic results” as the priority. That, incidentally, was what my own father had emphasised on too decades ago. Neither her nor my wife “were wrong”. However, based on my own experience, I felt I knew better. I’ve held on to this from early on and right until now: One’s character is the most important… not in getting 12A’s, not in doing a degree in law at Oxford. Of course, having and getting both would have been ideal. But I can say with all honesty now that I’m extremely happy with what he is – examination results be damned. Iman is a good person, and that’s all that mattered to me.

Despite his poor results from Standard One and onwards, I saw that it wasn’t `stupidity’. In his case, it was the lack of motivation or interest. I knew that he had enough intelligence based on how he had handled the PC – a Pentium MMX 166MHz with 32MB RAM and 3GB HDD bought at the end on 1998 when he was in Standard One. I had bought it (or, it was with my father’s money actually) with the aim of doing something then to create a job for myself and a source of income. It wasn’t very successful. But interestingly, when I was in Gambang and with a few months left, kept coming back to this idea again. And remarkably, exactly 10 years later, I was/am doing what I had planned and intended in 1998!

On Wed 10 Aug 2005, Iman – then in Form Two – was at this house in the afternoon. That was his daily routine  after school… I was sure to hear the stepping of dry leaves outside; of him coming over to here. Its “his time” playing games at the computer while I lie down and read a book. It sure broke my feeling of loneliness with him here.

But I didn’t see him the following day. The next time I was to see him was a good 16 months later… 

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