Vancouver. A Love Story. A Tragedy. A Sonnet. Part Seven: Addiction Affliction.

Addiction has been a huge part of my life experience. In earnest, addiction was for me a form of coping with trauma, boredom and often subjugating unexpressed emotion. When I was at Otago University, in Dunedin, alcoholism (which has history on my father’s side of the family) became my coping mechanism as I began to see that a lot of people I considered friends were anything but. I drank to excess in that last year of my time at the University, and the year after I left, it continued briefly before my frustrations broke the surface of my everyday life, and I had an incident that showed me that I was the embodiment of my father. A raging, violent, alcoholic. I quit drinking in 1993 and learned to meditate, finding the space in my life to become conscious of my pain, trauma and the programming installed in my personality from various people and the environments I lived in up until that moment in my life. I would walk away from meditation in 1993 after a clairaudient experience living next to a haunted house on Manor Place, Dunedin (welcome to my life, forever welcoming these kind of events) and it would be years before I began and maintained a practice again.

In Vancouver I began to drink again, this time only red wine, but there was a caveat with this return to alcohol, it would always be accompanied by what would become the greatest affliction of my life, cocaine. I had first done cocaine in Perth, Western Australia, and though I enjoyed the drug, it didn’t really sink its fangs into me until I had the ability to snort it in a moments notice. Cocaine in Vancouver was only a phone call away, and it was cheap. Strangely enough looking back on my time in Vancouver, and the first time I did cocaine, I had the best product in four years on Halloween 1999. Perhaps that was the hook that I needed to get me addicted to the feeling of alleviating all the pain that had been accumulating in my life for decades. I also felt despondent about the final ending of my relationship with my then ex-girlfriend, Sam in the weeks before that night. We had ended our relationship several times while travelling together through South-East Asia in 1999, and when she broke it off with me in Vancouver, weeks after my arrival, we were done. This stung me, for I knew it was for the best for both of us, but, I felt alone, I was out of my flow state that I had been in while travelling through IndoChina countries, and my heart really was set on travelling west to India from Bangkok, rather than to Vancouver. Some of that sting was gone that Halloween night as I met who would become my closest ally for three years, Eryn, and experienced what a sensational night Halloween was in North America.

Coke began to infuse my nights when I visited Eryn and Jen at West 10th and Macdonald in their flat. Our banter was often deeply conscious, spiritual and always hilarious. What was missing from me was any degree of conversation. When I did coke, my ability to hold conversation (after a few lines) would be non-existent. I would listen intently, giving the floor to other people in the room, and they ran with it. My monkey mind would shut down, and the ever-present silence that accompanied my consumption would be a welcome friend. I became insanely present, the rushing in my body drawing my attention to the feeling of energy coursing through me, my heart hammering in my chest, my awareness on the conversation happening around me. The wine would flow, Bill Hicks CD’s filling the room with laughter from all present, and then we would dissect what Hicks had said on the albums we listened to, espousing deeper into the treatises of philosophy, conscious awakening and what it meant to be embodied in an avatar. The end of 1999, the beginning of 2000, I spent more and more time with Eryn and Jen, each night much the same, meeting their friends, and often bringing over fellow travellers along for the ride. My acclimation to cocaine didn’t go unnoticed to my drug dealer, who often would kindly give me a gram on ‘tick’. I would receive the gram and then pay another day if I didn’t have the cash when I picked it up. A very very dangerous practice and a sure way to fan the flames of my new addiction.

In 2000 I dated several women who had habits that matched mine, some even more in deep than me. In 2001/2002 I would date women who truly surpassed me in their savage habits. As it is with resonance, you magnetise that which you put out into the world. The offer to head to the United Kingdom to be with Courtney and Toby in 2000, which I rejected, was partly due to being in love with Karen, but also being in love with coke. Though it would’ve been just as easy to find in London, I chose Karen over my two Canadian friends in London and the scene they were owning there for I was finding my feet in Vancouver after treading water for almost a year. When the invitation had come to me, Eryn and I planned to go to the United Kingdom together. He kept his end of the bargain, leaving in mid-2000. My addiction took a hit soon after he left. Karen and I parted ways, my coke buddies weren’t legion like they once were, and my addiction took a back seat temporarily as I bounced from apartment to house, house to van, van to house. Wangling my way into 2785 West 10th and Macdonald that year, I found my place in Vancouver, felt settled and rekindled my love affair. With my coke addiction came a great amount of promiscuity. Many of the women I partied with, I slept with, and often, too riddled with cocaine so that I couldn’t get an erection, my reputation as a generous and attentive lover (foreplay, oral sex) spread across the party airwaves in Kitsilano and the West End. My sex life became a revolving door of women, adjoined to my coke addiction.

People began to want to party with me in late 2000, early 2001. Inviting me to their homes, bars, parties and restaurants. The levels of sordid behaviour grew ever more illustrious and wild, the amount of blow (coke) going up my nose began to precipitate some actions that would at a later date come back to bite me in the ass, and also make me more fearless in regards to seduction of the opposite sex. When Eryn came back to Vancouver in the spring of 2001, I had a David Bowie (when he lived in Los Angeles) sized coke habit and was living my rock n roll dream. I was also becoming a ‘curtain twitcher’. I was consuming so much coke that I was becoming visibly paranoid. I couldn’t sit in a room for more than a moment of two, going to the window to look out on the street for imaginary immigration police who would capture me and send me back to the country of my birth. Though only caught a couple of times by people who found me peering out onto the street, it was an easy deflect to say that I was waiting for someone to arrive and I thought I heard a car.

Cocaine consumed me for the most part of mid-2001 till the end of 2002. My dream to travel from Mexico to Buenos Aires in late 2001 crumbling on 9/11/2001 due to my savings vanishing (read Part Six of this blog series to hear about that story) made me mad, frustrated and nothing and no one could console me emotionally. This was another barb in heart that I didn’t have the strength or will to overcome. My love of coke had seen the demise of several of my relationships in Vancouver, most prominently with Melanie, and then in early 2002, Kathy told me she had chosen someone else over me. It was all too much, and so burrowed even deeper into addictive behaviour as people around me enabled me to keep shovelling the devils dandruff up my nose, as me and my fellow addicts found comfort in each other. There was no end in sight, no interventions from anyone until the summer of 2002 when my beloved ally Eryn called me into his room in our house when we were on a bender, up for days, partying, working (I held down my job as a functioning addict) leaving behind our guests out in the kitchen, lounge, and in Jen and Zoe and Charlie’s room. He walked over to his ghettoblaster and put on Road Trippin by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and told me to listen intently to the lyrics of the song. The melee outside his room roared on as I listened to the song. When the song was over Eryn told me the story behind the song, and then said to me, “Let’s go back to the country of your birth and get clean. It’s time for us to stop this.” I looked over at him, afraid of what that meant for me. I had left New Zealand with no intention of ever returning, my life there had been too brutal for my heart. I knew I had run away from that life, and reinventing myself, felt like I had finally began to discover who was. For the longest moment I considered his offer, and then accepted it with the premise that we come back in six months to Vancouver, and leave to head to New Zealand after my birthday in November.

It’s no exaggeration when I say that Eryn saved my life with that request which we honoured. I came back to New Zealand with him and got clean, found my feet fairly quickly, and then began the arduous and deeply transformative experience of facing my demons, my past and my initiating the healing process. I never made it back to Vancouver. I was on the receiving end of the some horrendous behaviour from people that I loved with all my heart, and it eroded my desire to return there until 2008 (that didn’t happen, I started a publishing company, writing 13 books, making hundreds of videos, podcasts and blogs). Cocaine and I parted ways for a number of years, and as I did my inner work, the desire for the drug waned. I have done it since I got back, and been offered it many times in New Zealand, but in 2020 I became drug free. I gave away the red wine in 2003 and haven’t drunk any booze since. The inner work continues. I have some fond, and often hilarious memories around my drug use, but every rose has its thorn, and the barbs that come with drug use and abuse took their pound of blood from my body, mind and spirit.

YouTube player
The Red Hot Chilli Peppers… For Eryn.

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