The dark side of the moon Part 1

This is the most difficult start to all the posts that I had written, for it will deal with that part of my life that I often look back at with a lot of pain, regret and shame – a major source and contributor for that “What might have been” thinking that would always lead to my being melancholic.

But it’s something that I must write about, for it will help explain some things – not just to the readers here but also to myself. There is this part of us that sometimes suppress, deny or discount certain incidents instead of seeing them “as is” – probably as a “defence mechanism” to prevent us from emotional pain. I’m no exception, of course; and probably even more so than the average person. When we write, hopefully we will be able to see with more clarity.

This is the continuation of the The powder of Joy post of almost a month ago. As with many of my posts here, I’ll simply write what comes to mind, based on a mental impression of that period. I’m trying to do what Mat Salo of Borneo Blues had advised me to; of “being true to yourself”.

By the way, the title isn’t too gimmicky actually. Yes, many will instantly recognise it as the title of that illustrious album by Pink Floyd (1973), and the phrase is quite apt for drug addiction too. But there is also a direct connection to me and this post here, as you will see later in the story (if not in this post, then in another). I’m continuing from the relevant post:

That “pulling a gag and conning Hisham” in 1976 when I was 16 was my first introduction to heroin – a substance that was to be the source of a lot of trouble, heartache and destruction for me and for those closest over the ensuing years. And even right until now. Despite no longer using it, I’m still paying the hefty price plus interest in one form or another for the encounters and trysts with it.

The pernicious thing about heroin (or morphine, and maybe opium too) is that you don’t realise you’re getting hooked. I didn’t even feel “anything strange” from that first encounter despite the body never having felt it before!

There were none of those “Warning! Something’s wrong!” feelings you’d get with most other substances – or at least those that I’ve tried. With ganja (cannabis/marijuana), you’d feel “something is happening” after a few minutes. With alcohol, the sensation or buzz is immediate and noticeable.

But I remember that I did feel good – a joyful and ecstatic “everything is A-okay and great!”. But I had thought it was because of “the successful gag on Hisham”! The next day, that feeling was gone. Innocent and naive that I was, I crushed a bit of chalk and spiked it into a cigarette; hoping for that same feeling again. Of course, all I got was a sharp pain in the throat.

I missed that feeling and sensation, and was quite unhappy that I was no longer feeling it. A few days later, I discovered from Zaki what it was – and I could recapture it again! To be fair to Zaki, he did apologise for the gag. But he said “You won’t ever get gian just because of smoking it once”; warning me that I will get hooked should I take it continuously. He said it was “three straight days”.

Zaki was right and wrong about these. Yes, one does not get physically addicted after just one smoke. But the mental addiction was started… And this one is of no less importance than “physical addiction” or dependance. From my own experience, it is more important.

In retrospect, with the knowledge and experience gained over the years, this is what that keeps one hooked to something – the desire to repeat a certain feeling and sensation … the same as that felt by those with obsession and compulsion for alcohol, gambling, sex, eating, impulsive buying and whatever else.

But with heroin, there was an added “motivation” of physical addiction – fail to feed it and you will hurt physically; with aches and severe discomfort in all parts of the body. Add the mental addiction – of ALWAYS thinking about it – and you’ve got a formidable monkey on your back to carry.

When it comes to physical addiction, you can get over it after detox of a few days – 14 should be the very most. Oh, let’s make it one month to be on the safe side. Within this period, and no matter how heavy one had used and no matter for how long, there WILL come that day eventually when the body is fully freed from any physical dependency.

The withdrawal that a heroin/morphine/opium addict goes through is terrifying, especially the first 3-4 days. It has been compared to “flu with severe fever, plus severe stomach ache” – something to help the normal person understand.

But there are two other factors to add – It’s “24/7” pains and aches, with absolutely no respite. At least a normal person with fever would be able to have some sleep. But not with opiate withdrawal – you can feel each second of it, and I’m not exaggerating. And the other thing is the mental torment – of knowing that all these pain and aches will immediately disappear within 10 seconds of you taking the substance again…

But the mental/psychological addiction – It will always be there. Yes, it does get better over time, but it doesn’t disappear completely. Because it won’t. Like a camera or harddisk, the mind has captured an image of it; that “Heroin gives a great sensation!” and remains saved in our bank of knowledge and experience. And this is something a recovering addict has to accept – and deal with it the best that he can for the rest of his life.

* Update 5 Nov 1:50 AM – Thanks to Malaysian Tigress for providing a link to this interesting explanation of the “mental image” above.

* Update 5 Nov 4:18 PM – There’s a new post by ArahMan7 at My Journey to Recovery titled Family Day 2008. He has started it with quotations from Narcotics Anonymous – the organization/fellowship that makes the most sense to me when it comes to “Recovery”. There is something about “Living with unresolved problems” ; the things that burden us unless and until we bring them out and have a look at them as what they are/were. And then leave them. Only then could we move on with life. This is one of the main reasons for this post, and for the existence of this site.

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37 thoughts on “The dark side of the moon Part 1

  1. Dear God! This pours straight from your heart, isn’t it?

    Will write more tomorrow. Must continue to fix the boy’s aquarium now.

  2. Studies have shown that mind altering drugs can actually permanently rewire the brain. Could explain the mental addiction….

  3. Good morning Mat.You took heroine at such an early age.At what age then did you become so academically smart?You must also have studied well judging from the way you write and express your thoughts.

  4. Excuse me Mat,

    Dear Mamasita,

    I think, somewhere in Puteri Kamaliah’s blog, she wrote: “Science is for those who learn; poetry, for those who know.” J. Roux.

    So, writing – to me at least – is part poetry, part heart. One does not need to learn. :-)

    And Mat,

    I could only imagine the physical pleasure and pain you wrote so well. But once you equate addiction to impulsive shopping, then it dawned on me, the gravity of the situation. Believe me, I suffer from one since time in memorial.

    If the body could be free from physical addiction within weeks, why must addicts stay for years on end at the center, then? Perhaps to cure the mental addiction?

    Excellent write-up. I look forward for more.

    p/s: sure you are not coming on Nov 29? Mad Salo is going to be there :-) and same old me!

  5. I feel for you, Mat.

    And thank you Elviza for clearing that up. I guess that’s what the interviewer been wondering when I came in for an interview begging for a job. She would looked at me up and down when I showed her my piece of paper and other paraphernalia which I’m sure on other occasion (on the bright side of the moon) I would get the job, guaranteed!

    But as it is, I answered truthfully when asked, “Pernahkah anda didakwa dimana2 mahkamah…? I guess that piece of paper belonged to others who are really smart!

    Anyway, here’s a thought in just for today: Those problems I can’t resolve can be made bearable by talking to a friend. Today, I shall call someone who cares.

    Greetings and lots of love from Kuale Kangsor.

  6. To respond a bit to mamasita’s query if I may,

    Psychedelic drugs have shown to improve creative ability/thinking, and current research is focussing on certain drugs including LSD and even ketamine to deal with depression, post traumatic stress, anxiety, OCD et al.

    In fact initial research has shown dramatic improvement in mood and thinking. Full blown human trials are still down the road.

    But used properly under supervision, these drugs can benefit.

    (but don’t take it as ticket to abuse…hehehe…wrongly used can lead to damage lor…)

  7. But not to say Mat Cendana wasn’t such a smart guy to begin with…aiyo…can I delete the previous comment? Something sounded wrong there, Mat!

  8. Mat,
    I know you are still paying for it. When I couldn’t locate your house on the last bike trip, your neighbour was reluctant to tell me its location. I had to assure her that you were on the path to recovery and only after telling her that I was there to lend you support did she pointed to the location of your house.
    Opening up to us will make us understand fully how much courage you have to fight a relapse. Count on me to support you in whatever way I can.

  9. Mat,

    Reading Pak Zawi’s comment above, I must say something (kaypochee kan?).

    I don’t know about your neighbour, or anyone else for that matter, but you will always have my support. Unconditional one while I am at it. Deal?

  10. During my two years at SAHC, I used to wonder what the boys were doing behind the bicycle shed.
    Anyway, I only saw the white stuff during court cases when they were shown as evidence..such was my ignorance. and recently when I went back to university, I could smell the whiff of marijuana – again, at first I didnt know what it was, but the peddlars outside the gate made me suspect that they were targetting the students . This made me very worried as I thought of my children being exposed to this temptation . They in turn were nonchalant about it all as it seems almost everyone at uni or in school is into that…and was that supposed to make me feel better?
    Thank you for a very informative write up.

  11. Btw Mat, reading the first part of this post, I must tell you…would you be the better person you are today had you NOT gone through what you did?

    Don’t feel melancholic or think of the “might have beens”.

    From your posts, I can see that you are a deep, insightful, person today (tak tau pasal before la) and that you take nothing and no one, and also not your life, for granted.

    If we don’t go through trials and mistakes, we will just sail through life unthinking and have no sense of the bigger picture or care for those around us or be in touch with our feelings or even turn to HIM coz we are so happy and carefree all the time.

    (btw can I admit here I tried marijuana given to me by my officemate in the US in the 80’s, a flower power kinda mat salleh guy who grew his own grass in the garage? hehehe…jahil la masa dulu and young…tapi I didn’t dare to REALLY inhale and experience it fully…takut addicted…hahaha…just that once la)

  12. Phew! There are so many things that you kind folks have mentioned and brought up here – including one from Jed Yoong at the older “pre-Rocky’s Bru” post of “Lady M”. Now I’ve gotten all confused on who/what to address!:-)

    I’m thinking about starting a new Post to mention about a few things from these comments. Perhaps it would be more helpful, efficient and effective – not just for the readers but also for ME.

    The one from Zawi – and Elviza’s third comment – it’s high on my list. I’m trying to be as calm and collected as I can, “like that Cendana287 person I had found at Gambang and liked, and want to continue being so despite the surroundings and circumstances”.

    Should I let this demonish side of me loose, it’ll be “Mat Cendana times 10”, with a venomous tirade against “elements of society”. And I’m not joking here (people like Mekyam who have known me from years ago have an idea of this). But I don’t want to be that.

    Note that I’ve now taken care not to lump all into “society” due to one very important factor – you folks. I have to mention here that you all are my link to society; and I have known SO MANY of you great folks. And especially after Rocky Bru irreversibly pushed me from out of the shadows to take a step back into society

    And there are DIFFERENT TYPES when it comes to “Society”. I’m aghast at some of the people, but at the same time, there are YOU FOLKS … the people like Bang Zawi, Elviza, Sherry, Nazmi… I’m doing this for you all too.

  13. @thegossiplounge
    I’m working with a schedule and timetable, and under strict supervision by a couple of very good friends in Kuantan who are trying to help me improve my discipline (or atrocious lack of it) and make me more efficient and effective. At this moment, I’m supposed to give full concentration to a certain project. However, I have to make an exception and take a break for a few minutes when I saw who had sent in the last comment.

    To the people here, “Ted Baker” (definitely NOT a common name for someone from Kelantan) of The Gossip Lounge is one of the first visitors here – He, Arep, Mekyam, Lady M and Patria – they have a special spot in my blog here because of their support and encouragement when I had first started this blog. I’d feel like a “kacang lupa kulit” should I just let Ted’s comment pass like that. So I’ve gotten permission by SMS from my slave driver for a 30 min break…

    Ted, now you’ve made me curious – Err, what “mixed feelings”?? I’m even more curious knowing how eloquent you can be at your blog – but here, you’ve left a one-liner:-) Okay, out with it…

  14. abang mat dear.. arep pun lama x jejak kaki sini.. sowie sb bz bangat sih.. kejar ke sana ke mari nak siapkan my project within 6 weeks time…

    hope u’ll be fine with it. ada masa arep singgah sokmo k..

    take care n be good..

    xoxo

  15. @arep
    Nice of you to drop in, Arep! I certainly know that you are extremely busy right now, what with new surroundings and everything else. Then, there’s your blog – like that of The Gossip Lounge, you too have your “fans” at both sites:-)

    Don’t worry about not coming here frequently – the posts here aren’t “current news and issues” that will go “basi” after a few days. Seriously, the way I write things, you can come to a post in June 2010 and STILL be able to comment on something:-)

    BTW, to the readers here; I view young Arep and Gossip Lounge as the “anak saudara” kind … see them progress through their blogs and life, add in opinions here and there in the form of my own life experiences, and stay out of their way. Arep is a federal government servant who was from Kelantan and had worked in Tawau, Sabah prior to going over to Ulster, United Kingdom late last month.

  16. @kak teh
    Your time at SAHC was 1974/75, right? (since in `76 you were already at ITM). I’ve just remembered something – were you in the same batch with any of these siblings from Hutan Kampung whose father was an ACA officer (Anti Corruption Agency – BPR/BSN-then): Baharudin Ambak, Nurul Aini and Azmi? I’m 99% sure you must have known at least one of them.

    The bicyle shed – Yes, that was one of the “ports” of my seniors (your juniors). But I had never “done anything” at that particular place. Most of the time, it was only cigarettes; but there were also talks that there were drugs too on occasionally.

    BTW there was a clear “pecking order” and “status” at that school then – when I was in Form 3 (`74), the fifth formers would never allow us “budak-budak” to get anywhere near them, much less smoke together. And you and the Form Six students …

    At that time, our classrooms were in the same area as yours (near the library and laboratories, with the Industrial Arts workshop behind the other end). I remember during lining up after the first bell and after recess, of looking at you all – FORM SIX students – in awe … people who had gone through the LCE and, most important of all, the MCE. You, the girls, were super-glamorous, of course – That’s the great thing (for you) about being in a school where there were no girls in Form 1 to Form 5:-)

    Anyway, heroin does tend to be white (or gray) but I’ve seen them in all colours – pink, brown, “kuning karat” (the Johor stuff)… GREEN even. For what it’s worth, during your time then, the most notorious pusher was a woman called “Leng Kang”. She was operating from her house near the Cathay Cinema – between the canal and Hotel Mahawangsa. Behind those old-fashioned longhouses were … the police barracks!

    Hers – in small plastic wrappers – were a bit more expensive at RM5 (elsewhere was RM4) BUT `more’ – in content-per-ringgit and the `kau’ (potency) factor. Yes, RM5 was a lot in those days. But remember that you can “tong” (share) with another at RM2.50 each (Leng Kang would give change of 20 sen for two Lucky Strike cigarettes to spike the heroin with). And early on in addiction, it was enough for four people, despite the `wasteful’ practice of spiking it in a cigarette (that’s how people move on to the more efficient “chasing the dragon”, and then “jab” – intravenous).

    Hmm, I’ve gotten way off-topic with this one.

  17. Your post reminds me of one of my favourite quotations: “Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the tree.

    There was once when I used to think, “if only…” for quite a number of incidents that were challenging and depressing. And sometimes now, even as I look back I still think, if only…

    Friends are wonderful gifts to our lives, I reckon. Because I had a friend who just said to me, when I lamented about my situation: “Everything happens for a reason.”. I didn’t understand it when I was still hurting, but now, it seems that she was right. Everything DOES happen for a reason. If nothing at all, I’ve learnt a lot from the challenges and difficult times.

    I’m sure the same applies to you.

    It must have took a considerable amount of courage and strength to write what you did in this post. I might not have been able to if I were in your position. Sometimes the real challenge is to face your past mistakes, and tell yourself that you are a better person today because you can face it, and make a turn for the better. No?

    Cheers

  18. Brother Mat… Whoa.. power ‘curhat’ bro. BTW, Indos here love to ‘acronize’ words, so curhat = curah hati. Sorry I’m a bit late to the party.

    Everything that needs to be said has been said so eloquently here, bro but I’ll have the last word as usual, heh.

    So when can we have Dark Side of the Moon Pt. II?

    Hey, did you know that R. Waters passed on about a month ago? He was 65.. don’t mean to sound insensitive or callous bro’. I know it took a lot for you to come out with this powerful ‘bare all’ post. You done your time mate, be proud of yourself. I know we all are.

  19. @mat salo
    (Sir) Richard Wright the keyboard player, you mean?
    Or did singer, composer and the one-and-only Roger Waters pass away too??

    BTW I consider The Final Cut – which still had Waters in he band – as “the last album by Pink Floyd”. Yes, the others went on to record a few other albums, but I don’t consider them as “the real Pink Floyd”.

    Guitarist David Gilmour could sing a few songs (like Comfortably Numb in that killer double-album The Wall), but I wouldn’t consider him as “Pink Floyd singer” – ONLY Roger Waters is. Some fans might insist Syd Barrett (who was later admitted to an asylum) was legitimate too. Maybe. But he’s still second-string, in my opinion.

    Roger Waters – HIS VOICE … there’s something to it; haunting, desperate, excruciating… always stirring. Especially in Time, Wish You Were Here, Hey You and so many others.

    Anyway, as I had mentioned here, the title AND Pink Floyd isn’t a gimmick – you’ll see the direct connection with me. “Huh? YOU are connected to Pink Floyd??” No, Pink Floyd is connected to me. Better not think too much about these “ala-Brain Damage” sentences:-)

    Part 2 – I had intended to write it last night. Should have, while I still “had the courage”. Don’t have it right now. Anyway, this one wasn’t too bad for me – it was quite far away in time. But I don’t know about those chronologically nearer – these are “the emotional blockbusters” … issues still unresolved.

    I had a taste of it during the fasting month while writing a post here and got sucked into some intense inner turmoil. But people like ArahMan7 (essentially the same experiences and feelings as I have) and Malaysian Tigress (who knows a lot of stuff when it comes to psychological matters) – they know these are things that must be brought out and be seen for what they are. And then left behind.

  20. mat,

    that’s because I am a bit psycho myself? hahaha….isn’t everyone? (ok, maybe just me!)

    fine line between psycho and sanity, man…but then how do we define the sane who break hearts and promises without qualms or empathy or “shock and awe” poor civilians, women and kids and elderly and destroy every tree and home in the name of “democracy”? how do we define seemingly sane men who rape and torture kids for pleasure and then go back to work as your good doctor or lawyer or politician? do they need anti-psychotics? can it help them?

    How many psychos are there really around us?

    How do you define those who go mad from sheer heartbreak (ie hilang arah/pertimbangan) because the invisible cut somehow bleeds and hurts unbearably worse than even a physical amputation and your brain short circuits to cut out the pain or those who lose it through thoughtlessly using or (maybe willingly turning to drugs to shut out other pains) or those whose brain becomes suddenly rewired and thoughts become confusing one fine, sunny day when you wake up from sleep and you are no longer who you used to be?

    Nothing should be taken for granted. Not even your sanity. Your ability to open your eyes when you wake up in the morning, feel human and alive and be uplifted by the simple promise of the each lovely morning and think straight, with your conscience, heart and faith guiding you. That in itself is a Rahmah from Him in itself. (of course I am speaking for myself here).

    Ok..now I am really feeling psycho…the psychiatrist is gonna have some lunch now… and go to that dentist again (see you are not alone in the turmoil…hahaha)

  21. Nothing should be taken for granted. Not even your sanity. Your ability to open your eyes when you wake up in the morning, feel human and alive and be uplifted by the simple promise of the each lovely morning and think straight, with your conscience, heart and faith guiding you. That in itself is a Rahmah from Him in itself. (of course I am speaking for myself here).

    (sorry, I meant “telling myself”…)

  22. Hey Jed/Mat,

    I read that piece on MP Fong blocking Pengasih’s plan.or rather helping the traders to. I am aware of the Opposition KL MP’s stand against foreigners’ in Petaling Street. You can be sure I am going to ask MP Wee and Dr Lo’ Lo’ to look into this injustice, since they were so vocal about it. Our fellow Malaysians must be given a fair chance to start anew.

  23. Hi Mat/Jed:

    This is MP Wee’s reply to me regarding the DAP MP and the Pengasih being blocked from having stalls:

    “I m in full agreement wit u. I m sad abt d objection based they r all Malays. This is wrong. The hawkers association led by gangsters. They wanted the project for themselves. I wil do my best 2 expose the association on the matter.

    Regards
    Wee

    Sent via BlackBerry from Maxis”

    Hahaha…I knew I could count on WEE. He is not only hensem giler but a people’s MP…let’s see what he can do to counter those gangsters….

  24. @Malaysian Tigress
    I have to thank people like you and Jed Yoong for your concern for the welfare of recovering drug addicts and similar “voiceless” or “powerless” class of people. With you; Yes, your sense of activism as seen at your blog and on Facebook would indeed be appreciated by these “small, ignored people who are easily shunted aside”.

    And I thank Jed Yoong too for making that post at her blog – I am heartened by her interest and pursuit of it, and especially in making those valid points at the blog. I had also sent in a comment to that post of PENGASIH + Petaling Street, Can’t The Traders/DAP Do Some Charity

    To be fair, let’s also see what the parties involved say to the points raised by Jed Yoong. I’ll also be following the MP’s blog and further developments.

  25. yes, let’s hear what both parties have to say… (MP Wee is a bit like me..panas baran…hahah. but he was MP for Bukit Bintang before, so he should have an idea how things work behind the scenes)

    But like you said, let them raise their points too to be fair.

    I lke Jed’s blog. She is really quite balanced and her posts are interesting.

  26. yo mat,

    sori lambat sampai. tapi you’re always in my thoughts and prayers. you know that.

    i read at mamasita that you’ve been under the weather. hope you’re feeling better.

    i think my bud mat salo already said it best. so i will echo him: You done your time mate, be proud of yourself. I know we all are.”

  27. Alammak.. maybe I’m the one’s that that’s seen damage upstairs by substances deemed legal but not necessarily ‘kosher’… yes, how could I … it’s Rick Wright of course.

    You’re right, Waters was the creative genius, I remember when he left and Gilmour regrouped a new Pink Floyd, Waters was so incensed and tried to stop the new band from touring or recording with the name. Rightly so, maybe, because Waters vehemently insisted that without him, there can be no Pink Floyd. I think so too.

    Err.. just got SMS. Kamunting Inmate #1 is released. Sorry for being off-topic bro’.

  28. Sallam Mat,
    I was directed here by Bang Zawi sometimes back. I’d always wanted to comment but given the nature of your posts I felt that it will not do justice just to drop a line or two. Trying to find time to write something worthy of your posts have resulted in nothing being written at all. However, after reading your latest post I decided that I must leave my comment even if it is only for a few lines.

    FYI, as far as I can remember, yours is the only blog that I’ve read all the posts and each of them touched me in some way. I’m actually in awe with you being able to relive your past (in whatever form they maybe). I have always wondered how “intelligent” people can take the paths that you have taken. Your site is beginning to give me some glimpse of what I’m looking for and I’m looking forward to learn more.

    If you are near, I would love to meet you in person, not to show pity but to provide whatever support I can give. You have shown great courage and I feel everyone of us should be behind you or better still by your side. I’m glad you have many dear friends here. Your efforts can be of tremendous help to many others as not many are as eloquent as you are in sharing their feelings.

    I’m many miles away but I will try to always keep you in my doa, InsyaAllah.

    Semoga saudara sentiasa berada dalam lindunganNya.

    Sallam

  29. So much been said. I just want to wish you best of luck in your recovery. I am sure you mean and written it out from your heart, and share with the world about your painful experience. That will be a reminder to all others especially the younger generation not to ever ever touch on drugs. I am really sorry to say I am wordless on this topics, and all I can say again and again.. I sincerely hope God will help us all. Take care.

  30. “And the other thing is the mental torment – of knowing that all these pain and aches will immediately disappear within 10 seconds of you taking the substance again…”

    Mat..this part is a bit like heartbreak…the pain will disappear the instant you fall in love again and you barely remember the idiot who broke your heart and you were suffering over like hell! It’s the waiting that is torturous.

    (Not to denigrate your experience,of course…I’m also facing withdrawal symptoms of another kind!)

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