Monday, June 9, 2008

Friendship--Cost of Using Cocaine

This morning I was struggling to discover a way to make progress in my life. Now that I have managed to stack up a few victories, I want more.

I started out the morning vascillating and frustrated because there were no interesting postings in Craigslist, the online advertizing website where one can seek employment. Afterwards I turned to

I decided to call my friend Jose. I had not spoken with him and someone wanted to know if he was going to be able to speak with Jose about Skid Row topics. Jose handles Safer City Initiative for the City Attorney's office.

Friendship in general has been on my mind ever since I read a quote about it in Stephen Carter's book, The Emperor of Ocean Park. In Particular, as each day goes by, I marvel at the show of frienship and TRUST that was displayed by such an unbelievable gift as my computer that was given to me by Jose and his wife.

Truly amazing. I remember telling Jose for weeks, when I met him, that friendship was most important to me. He thought my drive to get to know him was because of his job and the things that he could do to help me. It wasn't until months later that Jose called me one day and said. "I finally have figured it out."

I sat there waiting to hear what this discoveryh was with baited breath.
"The most important thing to you is our friendhship." My mouth dropped.
"You mean you are finally getting it". I said.
Friendship was the one thing I missed while I was doing drugs. Friendship was the one thing that I consciously was aware that I was destroying when I did drugs. My friendships and my reputation with my school mates from Harvard School.

I always said that this blog was going to be honest. Without it there was no benefit to me or to others. I also recall stating that I would continue to share, with painful honesty, certain realities of my drug experiences, and or consequences as I become more aware of them and their costs as well as more comfortable in bearing myself naked in front of the world. It is indeed a growing process.

While I was talking to Jose, I received an email from Doug. Doug went to high school with me. He graduated a couple of classes ahead of me. In fact, he was in Mark Harmon's class. I had emailed Doug, on Friday, and told him that I wanted to speak to him substantively. He replied to me this morning.

While sitting on my bed, staring at the computer screen, while talking to my friend Jose, about the beauty of friendship, I received an email alert that Doug had just emailed me. I read it while I talked with Jose.

"Walter, while I would love to speak with you substantively, I can not in good conscious until you pay John. I believe the sum is $200. Let me know...."

I trust that Doug would not object that I am sharing this with people.

Here is where the honesthy begins. First of all, I do not owe John. I owe Loyd. Loyd was my doubles partner on the Championship tennnis team. I owe Loyd $2,000, not $200.

I found out from Doug that John does not want me to have his email addresss. John is asking Loyd to see if Loyd will allow John to give me his email address.
I have tried to email Loyd but I do not know if I had the right address.

It hurt that John does not want to hear from me. As I said earlier, John had a tremendous influence on my life.

However, I violated a trust. I did not violate a trust with John, but one of our teammates. One thing I am learning is that it may not matter to someone if I was under the influence of drugs. It may not matter that I love them very much.
They have their own reasons for disassociating themselves with me.

I emailed another friend as a result of today's events. It was
Andy. I owed him 300 dollars from decades ago. Andy was in the same class with John and Loyd. I realized over the years that I violated a trust but I kept getting high to run away from the guilt.

Facing this, all of this is something that I have wanted to do for years. It is similar to throwing away debris. It is just as debilitating as old clothes that remind one of the past. Certain things hinder your forward movement because they are logged in your soul. Indeed, I was wearing this situation of past guilt and now I do not have to look at it as things to be done and have it continue to eat at me, knowing that I have to put it behind me in order to move forward. I hope my friends can move forward in a different way as well, though I realize that I may not have their friendship in the future.

I feel a special loss as well. These friendships were made and explored at a time when social upheavel was all over America. We were the first generation of kids who were able to explore our friendships even thought we were from different backgrounds. They were pioneer relationships, relationships that were not based on people sitting next to each other.

We did not just interface with eachother. We integrated our lives with eachother. We explored our dreams and as others did we questioned many things.
I feel that we had an opportunityh to explore the very uniqueness of those relationships and how special they were because we were indeed pioneers on a mass scale. However, I may have lost the opportunity to dialogue with them about it because of the breach of trust that created from my behavior. Indeed, I breached a trust with myself as well.

Our relationships were complexed. We dealt with complex issues. We dealt with issues with which our parents could not help us, for they were not given the opportunity to explore what we could because of the times in which they grew up. They knew that but they let us have the latitude to do what social pressures would not allow them to do.

Many people fall to the way side when faced with trying to make amends to friends.
The bad news is that some friends do not want to hear from me. The good news is that I am facing it now, not later. However, just because they may not want my friendship, the fact is, our relationship continues. I know that. My relationship with Loyd lives on because we were joined at the hip as doubles partners. Each relationship has its own life ingredients.

Just like we had to go on when Robert Kennedy and others died, I must go on. Perhaps I will not be able to regain what I had. Perhaps they were always limitied because of the complexity of class as it relates to relationships in society. Those questions,unfortunately, we do not have the luxury to explore.

I will tell you why I mentioned class. When I was at Harvard School, white guys would never say anything negative to me about blacks. However, there were times when they would come up to me and say something negative about other whites who were not from their social ilk but were at the school. I thought about it and it told me something. At that point in time, I was view in some cases more as an equal than some of their fellow white students. So at one point, however they perceived my class statused trumped my racial category. I noticed it immediately. I always wanted to discuss that type of thing with my classmates and team mates because one of the people that I mentioned looked down his nose at a white student one because his father earned money in such a way that dirt was under his fingernails every day.

I felt when we got older we could be honest about things because we would have known eachother for so long. No one would react because they probably have had the same questions of me for decades. We were a small family and over years members of families, learn how to be honest with themselves and eachother.

I believe that I not only cost us an opportunity to learn but, as a result, society has lost an opportunity to gain insight from pioneers who were at a special place, at a special time, a time when people were beginning to experience a new frontier of social interaction.

That is the cost of using cocaine. Their is a tremendous opportunity cost that extends far beyond the obvious. For instance, people can stiff arm you from being in their lives. Is it because of the breach of trust or is it also that they realize that they must face things in themselves that can be avoided if they do not have to do with you? So we all lose by a breach of trust. Many things become easily deflected.

Instead of sinking deeper in despair. I must continue to take the high road. I and others had to continue when Kennedy was shot and yet it was his principles and lessons that lived on and helped me save my life.

Some of my classmates may not want my friendship. However, the lessons I learned from them in school and the courage they displayed in many ways are the very leadership by example that helped me save my life. I will continue to live a life of integrity and am grateful that they helped me save my life.

The use of cocaine cost me so much. It cost them so much. It cost us so much. It cost us more than we all will ever know.


Dallas Cowboys said...

Walter, good post!

carolinarnj said...

I can relate and all I can say is "Amen to that" which is what you have said.