“What could I have been, and where might I be now had I not made some of the choices that I had in the past…”
These are questions that would come to mind – and quite often too in the pre-Pusat Serenti Gambang past … the “what if’s”; especially that of “What if I had not taken that first dose that had started the relapse in 1993 that brought about the spiraling of my life and those closest to me”. And each time I’d end up feeling so sorry for myself – and angry and bitter with myself.
Now you should know why I was struck by that internal turmoil upon reaching the final two paragraphs when writing that post of “God, why hath Thou forsaken me?” (Part 5). I had spent hours after that thinking about this matter – of “Why” I was feeling that way.
I think I know the answer: I had not properly dealt with it. And it will continue to come back to haunt and torment me again and again in the future until I do. This is what I had learned from the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and they are spread over a number of specific Steps:
- STEP FOUR – “We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”
- STEP FIVE – “We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”
- STEP SIX – “We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”
- STEP SEVEN – “We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings”
- STEP EIGHT – “We made a list of all the persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all”
- STEP NINE – “We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others”
Caption: The original “Jimmy K” logo of N.A. The fellowship currently use a different logo, but the “NA” font at the centre remains. Who is this “Jimmy K”? I don’t know. However, it’s a tradition of NA not to focus on individuals. Instead, the fellowship emphasises “anonymity”. That’s one reason why I’m using “Cendana287”, “Ahmad Anon”, “Mart Anon” (and “Mat Cendana” at the other site); although quite a number of people here know my name. Wanting to be (and remain) anonymous was another reason why I was nervous and apprehensive on realising that Rocky’s Bru had started a post about this site, which was almost totally unknown except for a very few.
Those six Steps above – That’s a lot of work! Yes, and I get scared each time I read of them; and am frequently tempted with “It’s too tough … Let’s just forget about it … just live life the best that I can.” But I know that I’ll be cheating myself if I abandon these principles of NA. All of these steps (and the others) are mentioned in Islam; although not in exact such words, of course.
I’ll be very happy should someone come up to me and tell me “all that I need to do is to `taubat’ (repent), and everything will be okay again…”. But is `taubat’ merely “the uttering of words”?..and then joining dakwah-related groups and spend a lot of time inside mosques and suraus? By the way, I have nothing against anyone joining dakwah (missionary) groups, nor against those who spend a lot of time at religion-centric buildings (a lot better than those who spend their time under bridges and abandoned houses; on in pubs, nightclubs and restaurants).
But in my case and situation, I don’t think merely to utter taubat to all and sundry is anywhere near adequate. Which is why I feel “the N.A way” is possibly the only specific way to go when it comes to me and myself. By the way, should someone here have some doa (prayer) or `air tawar’ that, on the basis of using it alone will prevent me from a possible relapse, I’ll be more than happy to force myself to believe it:-)
Anyway, before we look back as to how I had suffered a relapse in 1993 – which a NA guy at at the Pusat Khidmat AADK in Kuantan had said was actually a “collapse” (It was Rahim; also the PENDAMAI secretary) – it might be better to start even further than that – when and how I had started using drugs in the first place. It was in 1976, when I was in Form 5, at the age of 16 (was promoted to “express class” during primary school; hence the age `discrepancy’).
There’s one thing that I remember about that period – the authorities and the public were quite clueless about drugs and other matters relating to it (like treatment and rehabilitation). Many are still clueless about it right now, and coupled with the “bodoh sombong” (ignorant but with excessive pride) attitude of some, are making a mess of things. But I’ll leave this one for another time.
Yes, it was generally known that “drugs are dangerous” – there would be all those anti-drug slogans and posters in between television programmes (only two black-and-white channels then) that would remind of “Dadah membawa Padah” (Drugs lead to disaster – Which is very accurate, come to think of it; although the guy who had created it was probably only concerned that it rhymed).
But there were these curiosity and rebellious streaks that are found in many teenagers… “How bad is it?”; “Why do some people take it then?” And it was a time when rock stars were like demi-gods. Since many of them were said (rightly or wrongly) to be taking drugs – and they still became rich and famous – the feeling was that “it isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be” and “it should be okay if you control its usage and not to get addicted” (As if you can choose, as I was to find out the hard way!).
Then there were my peers who took it – they would boast of how “Best! Stim…”; describing how `uplifting’ a session would take them when consuming ganja (cannabis/marijuana) and fit (heroin – `the destroyer of worlds’ as described of Shiva aptly describes this and morphine). The “clean ones” like me would sit quietly listening; and be in awe of them. “If drugs were so bad, then why aren’t these guys all the worse for it?!” (Because, it was still their early days yet. The time to pay the piper will come – sooner rather than later).
Caption: Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Alor Star. The classroom to the right of the office was, in 1976, my Form 5H. No, not as in “Hijau” but “Eighth”; the last class (This was a school for “the selected”, that also included Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad)…people with `some attitude’ (and “potential”, had they been fortunate to have received the guidance of others). The class to the left was where I had bombed out with heroin a number of times at night (some of us had obtained permission to use it at night for studying and discussion groups. It (the studying and not the heroin, of course) had played a big part in my having obtained very good MCE (GCE O-Level) results. Oh, I know what some of you might be thinking: “But I thought you are in Kelantan…” Yes, too. More will be revealed in its own good time.
But I held on; still not taking it because there were some worries inside me that held me back. For one thing, I had heard and read a lot about “drug addicts” – of how drugs had gripped them until they were obviously no longer in control. I had also heard stories of older users doing some desperate thing or another to obtain money to buy drugs.
I remember one such guy, Azmi (about 20 then) who was working at my school’s canteen (the contractor was a Chinese guy named “John”, who had a BMW). One way of obtaining money to support his habit was to siphon some of the day’s collection. And I was one of his collaborators. I’d pay RM1 for a plate of rice – gave him a RM1 note, and he’d “return my change of RM4″. I’d later give him RM3 (minus my cut of RM1). I had also bought a pair of brown “Melbourne” jeans which were quite new from him. I can’t remember how much but it must have been “cheap enough”, for my father gave me the money when I asked. And I remember that he was quite desperate to sell it, telling me he was `gian’ (hard up/severe cravings, with physical withdrawal setting in)
[Footnote: Azmi died the following year. He had taken “Roche” (valium) pills when he couldn’t get heroin, in a desperate attempt to stave off the physical withdrawal pains (BTW valium, which was easily available and for free at government clinics then, doesn’t do much – unlike methadone or buprenorphine, which were not available at that time. But it’s better than nothing…) However, he must have taken a few too many for he became like someone heavily intoxicated with drink. Witnesses said he had walked onto a lorry’s path…]
It was stories like this that had held me back from trying any of these drugs. Until “an accident” happened…
[Will continue `later’ with another Post. In the meantime, have a look at this blog, kata kama. I had accidentally discovered it when I followed up on who had clicked from where to this site. It’s a personal site by a former journalist who is now in PR; which explains the smooth and elegant writing style]
*Thurs 2 Oct 10.46AM : Had just read a post at “My Journey to Recovery” (ArahMan7 in Kuala Kangsar). It is about Raya (and Puasa) – especially about what it was like when one was an active addict.
*Sun 5 Oct 11.22AM: I’m aware of a few people wondering and asking “Why am I not writing more often/more post?” The main reason is that, I don’t want to force myself – I want everything that comes out here “to be from inside… from my heart”. When the time is right, then “something will appear here”…