The First Step is Admitting that I have a Problem

Today I take the first step towards recovery. The road will be long and fraught with peril but armed with the knowledge that I do in fact have a problem, and am not alone, will light my way. It started young; so long ago I barely even remember my first time. I think I was on a family ski vacation and I saw some older teens doing it and I was curious. Just garden variety adolescent curiosity. I wish the story was sexier but I’m not going to tell lies while I come clean with the world. After that vacation it was merely a chippy. I would use mostly on the weekends and occasionally on a week night. Again, my tale being fairly typical, an occasional Thursday night thing became an every Thursday night thing that bled into Wednesday and eventually every other night of the week. Before I knew what was happening I was using during the week days, in the bathroom at school, ducking behind doors for a quick fix. I was spending my allowance on scores and telling my parents I was going to play basketball when really I was headed out to find more. The rest is history. Today I take back control and rewrite the narrative that is my life. It starts right here:

I am a chap-stick addict. I guess technically I’m a lip balm addict because ChapStick is a brand that while I may have become an addict under its tutelage, I’ve moved on since to more serious fixes. I’ve bought all sorts of hits from so many different dealers that they’ve bled together into a kaleidoscope of drugstore scenes in my memory. I’ve done every flavor of ChapStick known to man, squeeze tubes, small tins that you apply with your own dirty finger, and finally I settled the past 5 years on Burt’s Bees. I’m not saying I have done things that I am not proud of in the men’s room of Union Station for some Burt’s Bees, but I’m also not saying that I haven’t. Even when I was unemployed I found ways to make sure that I never ran out of that sweet, medicinal peppermint paste that keeps me going. It was a higher priority than food. I’ve been 6 blocks from home on my way to a scheduled appointment only to turn around and walk home because I realized my pocket was a little light. Better late than be caught out on the street without my Bees. I’ve been known to apply Burt’s Bees twice in the same five-minute conversation with my boss. I started leaving the Bees in my pocket when I went through the TSA scanner at the airport. I couldn’t chance losing it to tipped-over plate or a TSA agent with their own habit. This all led to my Come to Jesus moment. One day as I was dressing for work, putting the Burt’s Bees in my pocket in order of importance: Burt’s Bees, Wallet, Keys, Phone; my two-year old daughter looked up at me, pointing directly at the Burt’s Bees, and said “Daddy, I need some for my lips.” My sweet, innocent daughter with perfectly moist lips wanted to use. She learned it by watching me. I knew then it was time to take a long, hard, cold look in the mirror and decide which man I wanted to see. I choose life.

Why am I starting in the midst of the worst winter of my life instead of humid July? I dunno, masochist I guess. The road is going to be long and the way dark. I’m sure at some point I’ll relapse and use again, but relapse is part of recovery. What matters is that I’ve gotten through today and when it’s over I will be ready to face tomorrow. I’ve decided to go public with my addiction in the hopes that through your love and support I’ll be able to stand here a year from today and see how far I’ve come. Hello, my name is Zach. I’m a chap-stickaholic. For today that is good enough.

About Zach

Male homo sapien. Warrior poet. I live in Chicago with one wife, one offspring, and Scout the dog. I enjoy various stuff. Besides skinny skiing and going to bullfights on acid, I also enjoy running, reading, drinking, eating and procrastinating on many things, such as starting this blog. I have a mom, a dad, and a younger brother who recently produced a sister-in-law. I'm the only person in my family, sister-in-law included, who doesn't have a post-graduate degree. I guess that makes me special. I grew up in a small to medium sized town in the middle of Ohio. In fact the even smaller town next door has a sign which reads "The Geographic Center of Ohio". Given this is what they choose to boast you can only imagine how exciting that town is. My town is infinitely cooler. For example on weekend nights people from my town and the surrounding villages and hamlets converge on the public square to "cruise" in their souped-up mini trucks, some bearing Confederate flags, despite growing up and living rather safely north of the Mason-Dixon line. This is high-minded stuff we're talking about here. I graduated sometime during the Clinton presidency from the local high school where I played football and participated in absolutely nothing else. This strategy paid huge dividends when I applied to numerous colleges on the eastern seaboard which were highly selective. When you show up to the admissions table with "HIgh School Football and Nothing Else" on your application, you get respect. After graduating from Ohio University with a degree in Economics that I've used for absolutely nothing, I moved to Boston. Boston is a lovely city. I was doing things I'm not proud of for beer money and I left after 16 months. My next move was to Chicago and 10+ years later there I still reside. I write this blog for therapeutic reasons. Much like some people paint to relax or smoke crack to unwind after a stressful day, I record my thoughts on Al Gore's World Wide Web for 9 friends, 4 family members, 1 person who accidentally clicked through after an unsuccessful Google search for something else, and a guy named Patriot1 who lives in a silver Air Stream in the Nevada desert and broadcasts his own radio show. Is there a point to all of this? I doubt it. Years ago and in a galaxy far, far away (College Park, Maryland, then Athens, Ohio) I was toying with the idea of being a journalism major. I enjoyed writing so it seemed the obvious fit. Then I attended career day and learned that journalism majors could look forward to a salary of $EA,TSH.IT per year with the promise of a fatal heart attack at 47 years of age. I'm not falling for that trick, I told them (them being no one, and told being saying it in my own mind in the shower). Approximately 15 years later here I sit declared the big winner in that battle: I never made any money doing anything else and now I'm writing entirely for free. So suck balls, journalism career day. The views expressed in this website are mine and mine entirely. I don't wish to be an even bigger black eye to my family than I probably already am. As a result of this I will never be able to run for public office and I accept that reality. But this website is a very dignified, well-dressed skeleton full of witty retorts and honorable deeds compared to the disheveled, stenching, staggering and loud skeletons who would come marching out of the closet to White Zombie's "Thunderkiss '65" if they ever unearthed the college years. So enjoy your train ride, your hangover day at work, your AA meeting or your dump. I'm here to serve.
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