BY KAY PROSPER
I sat on a park bench by the water of Victoria Park. I looked out at the Charlottetown harbour at the grey water lapping gently against the great rocks. The sky was a leaden gray and a fine mist brushed my face. I was alone, nowhere to go, no one to see and nobody wanted me except the demons.
The demons were hard to live with; they gave me nothing and demanded that I give them my all, and I did and I had a lot to give. The first thing I lost was my power; my power to control and live my life the way I wanted and should have.
Oh, they made promises of a new euphoria, the likes of which I never thought possible, unknown pleasure and freedom with friends who had also been eager to adopt this high plain of pleasure.
And do you know what? It only took one potent, mind-boggling, life-altering drug and the demons owned me. I was a slave to their persistent demands on my mind and my body betrayed me and desperately craved those pills that made me king of the world until they didn’t.
The second thing the demons took was my self-respect. I was a well-respected bank manager with a beautiful wife and twin sons, Jake and Jeremy, now aged 10. My wife Sarah worked as a nurse at the QEH. Sarah asked me to leave our home a year ago so the children would not have to watch the death spiral of their beloved dad.
Sarah had worked so hard to help me beat this addiction but the demons were stronger than family. When I even contemplated that idea, I found it impossible to believe. I loved Sarah and adored our sons. For God’s sake, what kind of animal was I?
I thought back to the Bible and the stories of Jesus casting out demons. The Bible never specifically mentions which demons so I wondered if they were like my demons. Were they addictions? I prayed that Jesus would come and cast out my demons, but I knew better. Nobody would help me until I helped myself.
I was emaciated and in poor health. That was another gift of the demons. I headed to a place some would call a flop house but that was where the drugs were and my demons were screaming to be fed. I could buy drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or food.
Several rooms were filled with dirty, stinking cots where one could flop and travel to the stars after a few pills. The house was packed this evening as I entered and a bunch of people were circled around one of the lumpy cots. A man lay there, eyes staring at the ceiling, seeing nothing. His name was James and he was dead. Someone had called an ambulance and along with it came the police.
One of the officers came up to me, looked me over and said “looks like you’ve seen better days Mac.” I looked at him for a long time, shame washing over me and memories of better days. I said “my name is John and I wish to go to the rehab center.”
In that moment, I realized that was all I had left, my name. I had known James, and sometimes we had hung out together. He also had deserted a loving family to join the demons. We knew what it was like to get “the look” of condemnation from those who thought of us as those guys who deserve everything they get, after all, “nobody forced the drugs down their throat so if they overdose –good -- society is rid of another druggie.”
I walked into the rehab center in Mt. Herbert and was greeted by a wonderful caring nurse. “Come in sir and we will get you settled.” I looked at her gratefully and answered, “my name is John, what is yours?”
Jake and Jeremy are 15 years old and doing well in high school. Sarah continues to help heal the sick, and me, well I am now an addiction counselor at the center, living with my wonderful family in Charlottetown and enjoying my sobriety.
you for listening, have a Merry Christmas, and may Jesus bless you as he has blessed me. My name is John.
- Kay Prosper is a resident of Charlottetown, a retiree and writing is her hobby.