“In the Sixties people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird, people take Prozac to make it normal.” – Damon Albarn.
“What the fuck are you doing?”, I recall demanding of him. (Name) was facing away from me; bent over the bathroom sink and snorting a ton of cocaine. I was absolutely gutted. Watching someone relapse in front of you when you are thirteen years old is not an easy thing; particularly when you care about the person. I’d seen it before. This, I knew, was a suicide in the making. I had been trained in what to do. He had jumped almost out of his skin at my sudden arrival and demand for an explanation. As he turned and looked into my eyes, I felt a pain of deep sorrow and what I can only describe as a sickness in my stomach at the knowledge of what this meant for him.
His eyes. I will never forget the look he gave me. It was a look of shame on a level that pulled me to a very dark and empty place deep within his soul. Fear, for he had been caught out and he knew what that meant. Apology; for he knew that he had let me down and I could see the pained acknowledgement of that. All of these things; evident in that one look that seemed to last for minutes when, in fact, only a second or two had passed. (Name) let out a sound, the like of which I have never heard before or since. It was guttural and it came from that deep, dark, pained place within. It moved me and terrified me, for (name) was so very strong. For a moment, I felt he could have attacked me. I bolted; turned and ran across the upstairs landing and ran downstairs, to find my dad.
“Dad.” I called out. “Dad, quickly….in the bathroom. (Name)’s relapsing. I just caught him snorting it down. Way too much of it. He’s in trouble.” Before I had even finished my plea, my dad had leapt up from his chair and he was already halfway up the staircase. He yelled. He called out to (name) who had, by now, locked himself in the bathroom. Well, my dad was a powerful man; a stunt man by profession, and he simply kicked the door in. It must have hit (name) for I heard him scream as the door caved in on him. My dad was on him. My mum had rushed upstairs, almost as fast as my dad and she joined my dad in wrestling (name) to the ground and together they held him down. I followed them upstairs.
“Dean. You know what to do.”, instructed my dad. I did, of course. I ran to the bedroom phone and I dialled the number.
“(codeword)”, I said and hung up the phone. “It’s done.” I yelled out to my parents who were offering a mix of violent threat and then reassuring comfort to (name). They had stopped him reaching any more of the cocaine and they were now trying to calm this powerful man down from his incandescent rage, his fearful upset and his sobbing apology.
“Here. This is all I can find.” I said to my mum as I brought in some more of his clothing that I had found scattered around. He was only wearing underpants and a t-shirt. Somehow, my parents managed to get him dressed. He was being more compliant, by this point. He was ‘hearing’ my parents and I knew he trusted them. I knew that some part of him was responding to them and trying to regain himself.
There was a knock at the door. I heard a key entered into the door and the door opening. I heard the voices of two men, calling for my dad and my mum. My parents responded and the two men, in the smartest suits, appeared at the top of the stairs. I knew them. Their job was to keep (name) safe from the media. Within what seemed like just seconds, they had (name) stood up and they steered him downstairs and out into a black car with darkened windows. It drove off at high speed.
My parents immediately threw their arms around me and praised me and asked whether I was okay. This type of thing wasn’t knew to me or to them. It was part of our ‘normal’ life. My dad had very, very famous friends. We would often have them stay with us when they were in crisis. This one, who we cared about so very much, had been rebuilding his career and was doing so amazingly well. He was almost there and then, somehow, he had found a rare gap somewhere to get drugs in. My dad, in particular, was mortified. In fact, in some way, (name) had become part of our family and he meant so much to us. This hurt.
Jump forward a year and I am pleased to say that not only did (name) recover, but he went on to have some amazing career highlights once again.
I think back to this event. There were many like it but this person mattered, particularly, to us on a personal level.
It is always sad to see someone fall from grace but, with fortitude, kindness, a strong structure and a plan, a person can come back from the dark depths within. That is my message and that is the purpose of this article. No matter what you face, no matter how troubled you are, ask for help and know that anything can be overcome. If you face living with addiction, there is help out there for you. Please ask for help. You can recover and go on to have a happy life. Experiences like this, in my childhood, with my very unique parents, taught me so much and I was able to go on to help many people overcome addictions, as a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor, in my adult life.
(C) Deano Parsons. 2019.