The reasoning behind my motives are quite simple, what you are looking at is something I have the pleasure of seeing on a daily basis. This photo was taken behind the Salvation Army Harbour LIght Addictions Treatment facility in Vancouver. On any given day this can be seen first thing in the morning and then there are crews of former drug addicts and some still currently using addicts that roam these back alleys and clean this nonsense up. This particular picture is rather tame in contrast, typically it will be twenty to thirty plus used syringes- just outside the frame of this photo there were enough of them, most containing blood inside them to prompt me to call a service that comes and cleans this up in a safer manner than those which I have mentioned. Cherry pickers and surgical gloves, approved bio-hazard containers- the whole nine yards. The syringe in this photo is unused, the garbage strewn around here went on for twenty feet in all directions, there was quite a shindig on this particular evening. Many people got very high and apparently made a hell of a lot of noise in the alley. How do I know this? Well directly above this mess are the rooms of the clients in this treatment program. What a lovely thing for a recovering addict to see eh? So of course when feeding them breakfast the morning this picture was taken, the gossip was about the noise and the police and the arrests and the ambulances- all that had taken place in this alley the previous evening. Lovely eh?
This does beg the question- "How in the name of Christ is anyone going to recover in these conditions?" Seems next to impossible odds doesn't it...the thing is the odds of recovery are very slim to begin with, especially on the first attempt- that's just the way it is. Most addicts that enter treatment are not there because they want to be. More so with this facility, a good number of the men here are court-ordered to be here. The odds that they will stay clean when they leave are slim to none, they'll use and they will end up getting thrown back in the 'hoosegow' and the process starts all over again- until they get it- or they die. It truly is a frightening thing to watch over and over again. I have seen many people perish from this form of internal struggle. I have lost friends to this- some much closer than others, so many now I have lost count, as much as I hate to admit it- I have honestly lost count.
So why do I stay? A fair question...
I've been lucky, one of the things that has kept me sober for this long has been the sheer number of what I will refer to as, 'the atrocities of addiction' (just because I like the phrase), that I have seen during my stay in the Downtown East side. Originally I had a very hard time for a long time even going out the front door of the facility by myself. I did not want to be alone, it scared me, seriously frightened me to walk these streets any time of the day. What I was seeing I did not want to be a part of and it instilled in me a need to stay clean for fear of ending up on these streets. I truly was that close. Still scares me.
Three and half years later, I now worry these streets are having the exact opposite effect. Now I fear that I will give in and once more start to participate in those 'atrocities' all over again. This scares me even more. Just over two months ago there was an 'incident' wherein I was compelled from something I witnessed on my way to work, to ring the bell, get off the bus I was riding, and proceed to the nearest liquor store and just get completely knackered. I just wanted to forget, everything, even if only for a short time. It just didn't matter any more- I could not take the internal mental pain I have been witnessing for what seems like an eternity, it had to stop!!
Quite obviously I did not. My counselor Ashley was going to have field day with this. I saw her two days later, told her the entire scenario, and then explained what I was thinking of doing because of this whole sordid affair poking me in the ribs.
Yesterday I quit my job.
Yup the job I had worked so hard to get, returning to a company I once worked for, that I truly loved, something I thought could never ever happen, yet it did through persistence and hard work, yeah that job. I quit. Not because I disliked the job- far from it, the people are wonderful, I could do without the commute yet it does get me out of this godforsaken place I am temporarily calling a home.
It would seem this wonderful place is simply not enough any longer and the time has now come to return to to what I feel is truly my home, or what I want to become the last place I ever reside. Victoria is beckoning, and I am finally about to heed the call. Enough of the horror already. The things I have learned here are many, the people I have met are numerous also. Some I shall never forget, in both good and in bad fashion (not talking about their clothes). Some of these people I will forget quite quickly while others will be an everlasting memory. I believe very few of these individuals I shall ever see again, yet there will be a few. Honestly the time I have spent here has been invaluable yet it is the time for change and this I shall embrace wholeheartedly. New home, new job, new surroundings, the time has come for a brand new chapter to begin.....
I am excited!