Halfway There Starting Right Here

Susan Creamer Joy

Susan Creamer Joy
Paris, Iowa,
September 30
Retired Domestic Space Cadet/Current Arbiter Of Midlife Dysfunction
Not often
Artist, Poet, Writer, Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Lover, Seeker, Follower, Listener, Communicator, Found, Forgotten, Sainted, Sinner, Struggling, Sentient, Surviving...So far, so-so....... Unless otherwise noted, all of the artwork accompanying these posts was created by and is the property of the artist.


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JANUARY 27, 2011 8:11AM

Uploading My Offline Self - The Hard Truth

Rate: 103 Flag

In a few days I hope to receive the first of the journals that my son is writing while incarcerated.  We have conceived of and taken on a project that we hope will reach and benefit a much larger audience than just the two of us as we each write candidly about our drug abuse and specifically about our addictive natures and how they have irreparably altered our respective sane destinies.  This is my first public admission. It has perhaps been the most difficult step I have ever taken. 


It wasn't the first time I had tried it or the last time I would regret it,  but early in the winter of 1969 it became clear that regret would be taking a backseat to risk if I were to ever make it out of my teens alive.


So, when my boyfriend slipped that frail needle into the thin blue arc of my fourteen-year-old veins, I smiled with compliant trust and a virginal anticipation endemic only to children and the clinically lost.


At that fledgling age redundancy is unknowable and ignorance, unimaginable and in retropspect, the fact that any of us survived the repeated missteps of our youth at all is ample evidence of divine intervention.


Initially, you might assume that my addiction began right there, as a rebellious, self-loathing newcomer to autonomy caught in the volley between conscience and need.  I was an impetuous, distractible, second-rate firstborn whose choices swayed decidedly to the far left of consequence and with a desire for external validation so insidious it was an addiction in and of itself.


But that would be a false assumption.


Addiction is not seeded in desire nor in its object but in their respective abuse, and I cannot remember a point in my life when the abuse of both has not been my reality.


However, the object of my desire has always been more accurately, an objective: escape; but until the winter that followed our family's relocation from New York to Kansas City, all means to that end had been ostensibly innocent, organic and internal.


Previously, escape had been facilitated by the vagrant chords of music and song that drowsed endlessly through my head from infancy.  Music that would later speak directly to me throughout my childhood compelling me to rock back and forth on the floor or on the edge of my bed for hours as I ruminated over which of the four Beatles I would marry or how to best get the attention of the boy down the street.


The further away in thought I could get from the clumsy, unexceptional, pudding-faced, non-entity whose spirit felt trapped by circumstance and cursed by a conscious awareness of soul and self, the more graced I became with a forbearance to take her sad visage into the following day.


But the radical shifting that occurs in both personal and family dynamics after a long-distance move provides unusual opportunities for reinvention, and I took advantage of all that were available to me.


The non-entity was vanquished and in her place I planted the maddening rebel whose lack of respect for her host purged the odds of all restraints. There was little I would not do for attention or liberation from the cloddy and cumbersome introvert shackled to my past even if that entailed censoring my conscience as I navigated my present.


And so at fourteen years old I began an intimate and dependent relationship with hallucinogens, amphetamines, barbiturates and heroin that lasted well into my twenties.


Unfortunately,  it is not over.


That deadly barge of desire and myopic obsession for quick passage to Anywhere But Here still yearns to sail every single waking moment of my life and although I have not yielded to its darkest cravings since the birth of my first child twenty-nine years ago;  I have only to think of that child - now a man - to understand that the worst part of any addiction is that we never self-destruct before taking hostages.


Every single person who has ever loved us is an innocent victim of our deliberate indifference.  I know this because as my son now suffers the retributive justice of succumbing to these same ruinous impulses from his small cell in a state prison, neither can I see any further than the mortar and brick that close him in. 


If anyone doubts the genetic probability that constitutional discontent can be transferred from parent to child, think again.


It is from guilt, shame, separation and grief that I write and for liberation from the malignant assumption it may never be any better than this that I long.


Words have become my current addiction.


Writing, my rig.


Divine intervention may still be my best hope.


In the meantime, I write.

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Brave and beautiful. I have such deep respect and admiration for you~r
WOW. This was incredibly brave, raw and honest.
These are very hard to read. This is very powerful and private and I thank you for sharing this. You are right about the transference.
Susan, a powerful and moving personal account that you have presented us with! When you conclude by saying that OS is your dealer and words are your current addiction it does raise an interesting question about youth and social media. It may be that some teens who might have explored and used drugs instead find their personal needs satisfied by an online network of friends.
My eye is a planet of lost dreams
where boats sail on singing streams
as we follow light of gleaming sun
searching for garden of apple trees.
Write you do Susan. My goodness..
You and Griffin are collaborating then?
May you heal and heal others.. like me
Thank you, all. I'm going into hiding for a while today. I've gotten this far but don't feel quite ready to fully confront the reality that these unpleasant things have now been revealed to all of you; those I admire and respect so much. I'll be circling the runway for a while. but I'll land eventually. Ugh.
Gulp. I feel as if I've snuck a peek into your private diary, Susan, and am almost afraid to acknowledge the transgression. I'm struck with awe, not only at having witnessed a pain so deep and disturbingly familiar but at the intelligence and art with which you address it. I will echo tr ig's wish for you that you may heal and heal others with your brave and potent words.

We're all addicted, just that some of us make do with less harmful (or at least less condemned) habits...
Change the cities, up the age, fiddle with the drug of choice and you are writing my story too. I have a child who skates the thin ice of which genetically driven road of oblivion to take and met consquences from it that gray the hair. Bless you for your bravery and beautiful voice to express it.
This is a riveting story. If one of the direct routes out of addiction is honesty, and plenty of it, then you are surely moving down that road. Along the route of the Boston Marathon, people stand to hand the runners oranges and cups of water. Care for a sweet juicy clementine?
Oh my God, Hope your son is OK really. Kansas didn't do the trick..Hmmm. Yes addiction can be costly to ones and things we love. Hope this story ends with a silver lining.
It is a wonder that any of us got out alive.
Don't be harsh on yourself. We have much in common.
My mouth falls open in awe, not because of your admission, but because of your writing. Since I am also the type who feels guilt at the drop of a hat, I can understand your guilt concerning your son. Guilt is such a burden. Unlike drug addiction, your word addiction not only heals and helps you, it helps and lifts all of us who read your words.
It's a privilege to read this - something so brutally honest and searching.
Writing your story? I think of it as "add diction."

Words open doors, provide bandages for wounds, call out to others who accept them, use them for their own and then send that other cure your way--love in the form of supportive commentary.

Process, write, rest and allow yourself to feel the true highs and lows of this new and different way of adding diction.
there's nothing more guilt-inducing than seeing your own despised flaw in your child. it's fascinating that you and your son have embarked on a joint writing exercise with addiction and his incarceration as a backdrop -- writing as a way of understanding, coping and ultimately overcoming. it took a great deal of courage to write this, susan, and a great deal of talent to have done it this well.
Just ask my Mom. Or my sisters. You never do drugs thinking about addiction. With my addicted personality, the high would also include the hunt and the finding of the drug. Watching it worked up was a high in itself. Then the high, finally leaving the world and the people in it, along with your problems for a few minutes. Nothing like it. Until the next scavenge!
nothing but brilliance

rated with hugs
Your sentences are magnificent! Truth filled and sensual. I'm right here with you slogging thru it all too. I put a stack of diaries next to me on my desk. If you can do it, so can I. Deep breath and courage.
Ah, Susan. I've had my battles too, starting at about the same age and for similar reasons, and recognize a kindred spirit. Write it out, chum. We'll be here to read.
Most of us had our addictions in one form or another, and luckily lived through them. I think we are at a time of taking stock in our lives and seeing what we can make out of these experiences and how we can find meaning in them to pass on. Your sharing this intimate part of your life is courageous and generous, Susan. What's more, you are doing so with fellow addicts of the same medium. Write on, dear friend - we are all learning from each other on this part of our journey...
Beautifully written and just know you have a friend here. R
Susan, this is such a reality,
as it is not over for myself either. Addiction!
Thank you, you’re a true inspiration!
Thank you, Susan.
Your art, your writing, your story, the love and solidarity you share with your son and with us...I am holding you in my thoughts and sending light your way.
I can not say it better than Fusun. We have all had our addictions and most of us are now finally coming to terms with them and dealing with them. Writing helps. A brave and poignant post. -R-
Susan--so brave and honest and heartbreaking, but also full of redemption and peace. I know how hard it is to admit publicly our addictions, our flaws. But this, what you have done here, is turn that otherwise difficult and trying endeavor into art. Your words move me, not only because of the story they tell, but because of the intention with which you use them. I admire your honesty and how you turn that honesty into art. love,b
Courageous and powerful. R
A troubling story. Climbing out of the valley of addiction (I imagine) must be a terribly hard task. I hope you and your son make it. And I hope your joint writing project helps in your battle.

Your revelation came as a shocker. Beauty, two talents (that I know of)--never would have imagined you've led a troubled life.
Best of luck, Susan.
We all have the closeted skeletons. I salute your courage for showing yours the light.
Sobering and beautifully written, Joy. It is so hard to see your problems in your children. I don't know what else to say except that I am blown away by your courage. I have a very good friend who has a son in prison for drug abuse so I hear her stories of his life and what she sees when she visits. I often think that it's amazing that any of us get out of bed in the morning.
I am fairly certain that I could never muster the courage to write with the depth of honesty which you have shown us here. This is a well deserved EP which everyone should read.
"don't feel quite ready to fully confront the reality that these unpleasant things have now been revealed to all of you"

Did you not expect full support and compliments on your writing?
Love and love and love to you, Susan...xox
So very raw and real, Susan. And yes, they passed it on. Passed it to our grand parents, our parents, ourselves and we pass it on, without forethought or malice, to our children. It can be identified and isolated if one gives up the facade of one's ego. No easy task. It waits for us. It is patient. We must be fearless warriors for ourselves and our children. As you are.
Praising your courage and praying for your healing, And a great big {{{HUG}}}
Warm wishes to you and your son. May your literary journey together be inspired.
I wonder if you know how much good you have accomplished by posting this? Thank you.
This, I did not anticipate. You have to be one of the bravest women on earth. This revelation makes everything about your journey with your son so much clearer. There's no need to hide anymore, Susan. Come on out and let us hug you. You deserve many hugs.

I had intended to say something because I share so much of this in my life butt, I guess I need to do some thinking before I say much.
I wish you well.
It's almost 28 years for me as well.
I like greenheron's thought of standing out for the runners with sustenance...more juicy clementine mandarins?
As addiction runs through our family as well, I can relate to the horror of seeing my own weaknesses played out on my beautiful sons...many many blessings to you, and may there be peaceful moments ahead for you and yours.
You're not alone here, that is very clear.
Thank you so much for this intimate and beautiful look into your soul. You are such an amazing talent and I feel privileged to have you share your story here.
rated with love
I'm stunned by your powerful,brutal and honest post,and my heart goes out to the two of you.xoxo

wishing you godspeed, the healing power of words well written as you "circle the runway". . . and safe landing. All the best. -v
Thank you for your trust. I hope you see it's warranted. This is a hard story told bravely and beautifully and with almost surgical precision, yet the intense emotion is palpable. This... wow... resonates... "...the worst part of any addiction is that we never self-destruct before taking hostages."

Know this: hostages in these scenarios have choices, you can Not totally blame yourself. I know, I was a hostage and am healed. I pray he will be too. And you.
From simply a story well told perspective, this is truly one of the best things I've ever read. You have perfectly hit the reason all the wars on drugs in the world aren't going to work.

I am in awe of the courage it took to put this out there. Clearly, as my pic is a cat and my name is a number, I do not share this courage.

I feel so much sadness and pain, but an even stronger hope coming out of this piece, for both you and your son. May you both find peace in yourselves.
I wish they hadn't featured the second paragraph on the OS front page, so it could have taken my breath away, as was intended. But the rest of this piece did take my breath away.

Not only are you a beautiful writer, but you are a brave and admirable person for your honesty. The writing project with your son will be a must-read - as is everything you write.
I knew there was a reason why your art speaks to me in such an intimate way. We are indeed kindred spirits...we share a longing. You are so very brave.
this is pretty cool writing, including the illustration. I don't want to be anyone at all.
And through your writing and art you are helping countless people. Your honesty is a gift to yourself, your son and to all of us. We all share this common path called life and yearn for the truths that come our way. Some we learn through our own ups and downs and some we learn through what others share of their own travails. Thank you for being willing to share your life story. Susan, you are a gift to the OS community.
"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose" ya' know.
Knowing you, the desire, not so much to appear as but to actually be - perfect, can really drag you down.
Keep this in mind sweetie, someone else even way more renowned than Kris K. said "My strength is made perfect in weakness"!
You're perfect as far as I'm concerned, and today you proved it to the world!
I began to write precisely what Cartouche did and so refer you to her comment. Wow indeed.
Writer on, sister.

"So when my boyfriend slipped that frail needle into the raised blue arc of my fourteen-year-old veins, I smiled with compliant trust and a virginal anticipation endemic only to children and the clinically lost."
This image is so powerful that I just don't know any words that can truly explain how thunderstruck I am --by the words and your courage. The whole post and the motivation behind it are irrevocably you.
the power in your soul is enlightening. that i walked the tracks lets me see this. peace.
Raw, honest and brave of you to share. R
Powerful and well said. Congratulations.
Brave and honest. And have you read the tough, incredible posts by jimmymac, about his daughter?
If I may echo those before me, "we all have addictions." Your sharing is eloquent and powerful, and I thank you.
This took a lot of guts.
"Every single person who has ever loved us is an innocent victim of our deliberate indifference."

Several of my family members who I love deeply have addictions. Your statement is increidbly true. Addiction causes unbelievable pain to those who love them. An excellent post. You are brave to put your life out there. Thank for doing so.
Such courage and such clarity. Thank you.
You really just never know another person and this showed me a side of you I would not have guessed. This took great courage, strength, to write and I hope it helped you in the process.
I am blown away by you, Suzi-Q. I don't know that I've read anything better on OS. Ever. Do what you need to do, hide, think, pray, but please come back and share what you know.
You have my sincere admiration for putting this to paper and hitting "publish." It's a brave piece.
you are not alone
this is why i never had children
I have not turned on Open Salon all day.
I am glad I did. It was snow scooping day.
Prison, sad to say, become rural employer.
I just head New York Cumo ref`Doj' prisons.
Prison guards jobs replace factories. China?
The DoJ houses human beings in jail-cages.
Jobs are sent to Pakistan, China , India, etc.,
White Collar Crime is peer-condoned approved.
O, once in a blue moon they send a DC crook to cook?
The Baltimore Lobby Looter now cooks Balto Pizza Pie.
Abebranhuff... (sp) Cumo said 18,000 Jail Guards Job?
I agree!
Thanks Cumo. (sp?
He was mentioning`
For 30- years the Department Of Justice has profited from warehousing youth.
Probation fees etc.,
In Washington County, Maryland there are four prison complexes that employ neighbors.
Mack Truck etc., and War Jet contracts via Fairchild Industries went overseas in the eighties.
This is a vent to say`
Thanks. Great works.

"Pilgrim Progress" - by Paul Bunyan was the first allegorical book, and a fun easy way to ponder ancient literature - the scriptures. Paul Bunyan was jailed. He had only a few old books. He never realized, I'm sure ...
Paul Bunyan`
That people would later view the unique Allegory ref, Worldly Wise, Screw Worm,
Fool, Greed,`
Dignity, Self Esteem, Vanity, Adventure, Trickery, Commonsense ref... Folly of Human Nature.
Twain writes of near Despair.
on/on Great works come forth.
I am distracted. It's been a wild day.
This brings more respect. Bear fruit.
Gifts benefit the vast-neighborhood.
The artist works reveal and conceal.
from his writings, word pictures,
susan, every single paragraph blew me away with the poetry of your language, powerfully and bravely sharing your vulnerable inner journey of pain. we've all got dirt. i think of mine as the manure that will fertilize the garden of my soul. and you, dear lady, are rich. owning it enables using it. may your honesty empower you forward as i'm sure it is the invitation to do so recognized by the universe. read with respect for you and reverence for your writing.
Susan, Your writing reveals a deep understanding. Chances are if you hadn't walked that path your words would not flow now like they do. Even your comment got me, "I'll be circling the runway for a while." I was picturing you up there and you were flying ... Home.
A poet here wrote, "Once you become a drug addict, you'll never want to be anything else."
When I was younger I thought of this as some kind of truth ; I no longer believe it, and he's dead now : he died in the seventies, "... beaten by the bitter ease."
The pain & the craving may never go away, but addiction can give rise to some wonderful, constructive expression : your pictures, jewelry, "shrines," and words to inspire others are testament to that.
I hope your son finds a way through by writing too.
Much love to you both, Susan. You are one hell of a mom.
Susan, this was so hard for me to read, having recently emerged from the hell of my daughter's addiction to heroin. It's still difficult for me to understand what drove her to it and also to stop blaming myself. You've given me a little bit of a window into that, but I still question it every day - and worry too. Thanks for writing this and I'm praying for you and your son.
Oh Susan this made me weep. I know addiction well. Addiction was my best friend and my worst enemy and yes even though I walked away from all of those things you spoke of and more there will always be the haunting.

My addiction has also become writing. I search through the writing. I purge and I occasionally resolve.

This was unbelievably brave to write. It's so hard. I know.

Thank you so much for this.
I do get it. I wish I didn't. Bravo.
Susan: I am so proud to know you! What a brave and healing thing your are doing with your son, and though painful , I'm sure very cathartic. Get it out of you so that those spaces can be filled with the the light of truth and love. Make sure to pray that-- and I pray that with you. Fill these aching cavities of remorse with your Love oh Lord and let this pattern stop here! Healing to Susan and her family and may blessings surround them a hundredfold! As the saints in prison walls let it become a sanctuary filled with your Glory!
Gut wrenching, yet such an amazing revelation of your reality. This is, I believe, your finest and most directly honest piece ever...Truth stripped to the bone, bleeding, but there for all to see. My prayers for you and your son continue...doubled. Love to you, and admiration. R

Sometimes we must face the hard truth to continue down the path of life!!!

Sharing this must have felt like being on the end of a diving board, or edge of a skyscraper window. Making the decision...and, you SOARed, Susan. My heartfelt support to you and your son, and the joint journal sounds wonderful, not only for you both but for so many others.
I'm a little awed Susan. This feels a bit like peeking over your shoulder so I hope it turns out that you're getting something good from it. You've certainly conveyed the alienation that's so easy to fall into at that age.
Excellent post, I hope you write more about it. It is brave for you to come out and talk about your darkest times.
R! Best of fortune to you both! XO, E
Susan, I am in awe of your story, your honesty, your talent, your pain, and your power.
What you and your son are doing is wonderful... it takes guts to do it.. but also pride.. thank you for stand tall and tell us in our faces that even our mistakes take us to great places in our life--------
I´m proud of us OSers....
We have such great hearts and we are lucky to be able to write about´em-----
I wish you and your son the best in life.... may Heaven keep him safe there.... and safe when he gets out... safe for the rest of his life
Love and hugs to you
I really enjoyed reading this. I'm also an addict, and I've been clean for a little less than a year and a half. I love that you make a point to explain that addiction and drug abuse stems from a certain self-loathing, not from an insatiable need to have fun. You worded this so beautifully. The entire piece just flowed with such a beautiful rhythm. I have a friend who has been clean for 23 years and has a son who is incarcerated for crimes he committed because this disease. I think the journal idea is wonderful! It could be so telling! Mother and son, man and woman, older and younger, locked up and free, but I can almost guarantee the feelings in that notebook are the same as your own. I just loved the identification I have found in your writing. From one addict to another, A+
Admiration isn't even the right word for it. You are inspiring!
Uau! Amazing! Congratulations!
"the worst part of any addiction is that we never self-destruct before taking hostages"

there is beauty in raw honesty, you are a brave soul
Susan - I read this yesterday. Twice. I didn't comment before now because I had to sort through all that is in my heart. There is so much I want to say, so much encouragement I want to offer you and I feel woefully inadequate to do it. I have enormous respect for you, for your bravery, for your love for your son.
I guess what has made it so difficult for me to formulate a comment on this piece is because,within your words, I recognize the struggle for peace, the self-loathing, the agonizing self-doubt that I've seen in my son for so long and I want to make it okay for you, the way I've always wanted to make it okay for my son. And, of course, I can't. I know that, but it doesn't stop me from wanting that. It breaks my hurt to see that struggle and not be able to help. I know that the answers for you, for Griffin, for my son lie within yourselves. The answers have never been external, they've always been hidden deep within you and Griffin, within my son.
But I want that to not be so. I want to be able to roll up my sleeves and offer all of you every bit of strength I have. I want to open up your hearts and pour a stream of healing inside them. I want for each of you to not hurt anymore.
I can't give you any of that. What I can offer is my undying support, respect and love. You have that - you and Griffin and Eli.
You have my heart.
Divine intervention is always a possibility..and the power of a strong will coupled with dire necessity can overcome much.
Where this path has led you thus far you can look back and see...but where this path leads to now is murkier and a bit scary...but you overcome so much.

You've hit a vein here, maybe an artery even.
Words have become my current addiction.

Open Salon, my dealer.

Divine intervention may still be my best hope.

In the meantime, I write.

Zumapick for bravery and honesty about a great battle.
Lovely lady, I've read this a few times over the past few days and words have failed me. I have no wonderful words of wisdom nor any that might bring comfort.

But with all my heart I promise I will hold you and Griffin tightly and warmly within my heart and pray for all to be well.

Much love and peace to you both
Please check your PM to read a note from your friend, Conrad the Blind Guy.
Writing so that others might learn as we learn ourselves in concert with one we love so dearly- what is there that might be a greater gift than this.
dang! I come all late to this, and whoa! like getting punched in the gut.
i know you love yourself. check. i also know about the addiction drive. it might be shopping, or eating, or even writing, but hopefully it will always be creative and nurturing. know you are loved, suzi.
You are a brave woman for sharing your experience with the world. I think it's wonderful that both you and your son are working on this project together. Even if you reach only a few, you will have done a beautiful thing for the world. You are doing so now! Sending out good vibes to both of you. ~R
Susan--You have, with stunning explicatory power, uncurtained the often grim realities of adolescent thinking about the self and the nature of addiction. You have lobbed balls of fire here, bolts of lightning. Such undaunted honesty, such unnerving courage, and such radiant prose. In some ways this reminds me of John Edgar Wideman's "Brothers and Keepers," an unflinching but beautifully realized exploration of the personal and social factors that led him to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and his brother Robby to prison for robbery: their connection, the where they've been, the where they're going, and the why and how. I can only hope the project you have embarked on comes to fruition. Its benefit, to you and us, will be enormous.