to Dr. Jacqueline Meisel and Dr. Samantha Matern for helping me see this life through a different lens, and to everybody who has been by my side since the beginning, you’re all angels, and I love you more than you could know, this is for you..

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Part One:  The Ordinary World

Inside the mind of our character thoughts have begun to race about the status of his life and where he has ended up at this point in time.  He often reminisces about days when there was no pain, days when there was no suffering and previous years where he still had the glimmer of a future in the back of his eyes.  He wakes up in unfamiliar places, on cold sidewalks, with absolutely no recollection from the night or even days prior.  Remorse, self-loathing and utter hopelessness are common for his insides upon opening his eyes each morning, he is often unsure how he will go on living this way, but he pushes on.  Our character is dreamless, he has reached a point of miserable existence that is beyond the healing of anything human, he has no idea what joy feels like unless it is the euphoria produced by the needle.  This has become our character’s only focus, to reach oblivion, and completely disconnect from his present reality as quickly as he can.  The days of family and friends left him long ago, he walks the streets lifeless and empty, he rarely eats and no longer bothers to hide the track marks on his arms.  He is a thief, he wants to be a good person but he no longer knows how to live, he cares for no one but himself.  Our character’s perception is warped, sick and delusional, he curses those who love and loved him, and he huddles with those who are killing him.  He is deteriorating physically and emotionally, he has nothing, and he is nothing, but a walking ghost, shaken to the core by the futility of his existence.  He has given up, he hates himself, despises everything and everyone, he welcomes death.  This is our hero.

Part Two:  The Call to Adventure

Although dark and desolate, and in the winter cold and frigid, the ordinary world is the only realm where our character believes he can function.  Within the ordinary world he is lost internally, but he is guided by an external compass from park benches to asylum cells and corner stores.  Through his misery, he still finds some kind of effect produced inside himself by a summer night, these nights are easy for him, he sleeps outside without a need for blankets or the detriment of a California cold that leaves him trembling until sunrise.  He finds his younger self while gazing into the sky on a summer night.  We find him here, an eve in late July, our character sits on a public phone counting the rings and waiting to manually end the call before he loses the fifty cents he worked so hard to obtain to make the call.  As he waits and prays that his euphoria provider will answer, he peers over the top of the call box, through his clouded vision he manages to make sight of something that will shake up his ordinary world.  There walks our character’s mother, who has not spoken to him in quite some time, and who our character had been too ashamed to even begin to think about.  She carries a small boy, and our character realizes this child is none other than the one he had brought into this world over a year prior.  He hangs up the phone, rattled with foreign feelings bubbling up at the sight of his mother and son, he wants to run, but he doesn’t.  He is frozen, and before he has a chance to react, she stands in front of him and there they are, and there he is, he does not have words but they do. Out come pleas and calls to look into the eyes and face of his child, and into the holes in his own arms, forced to ask himself why he cannot leave this life.   They are deeply saddened by the sight of our deteriorated and lifeless character, they cry and he cries, but they do not think he will change, they have little hope, but they prompt him to leave the ordinary world because they will always love him.

Part Three:  Refusal of the Call

For the first time in years, our character has been confronted with an odd twist of his own thinking.  Maybe it is the built up tragedy and sorrow he sees in his mother’s eyes, or maybe it is the innocence and warmth he sees in the sky blue eyes of his own child.  Whatever is happening inside of our character he cannot manage it, he cannot leave the ordinary world, he is full of self-hatred and insecurity, surely this moment is not a time for him to be brave and courageous.  He thinks about what he will lose if he leaves, away with the needle, away with the smoke and the bottle, never, too much anxiety as a result of leaving.  He cannot fathom another way of life, it is too much for him, stuck and frozen in the fear of the unknown, obligated to remain apart of those cold and dirty streets.  Mother and son tug at his heart, he feels torn, but he cannot leave, not yet.

Part Four:  Meeting with the Mentor

Our character arrives at the hospital later that night, still ambivalent about the experience he had in the previous hours, burning with the images of mom’s tears and his little boy’s eyes.  Usually he can check out from these kind of feelings, but tonight he feels different, there is another side to this but he doesn’t know what it is or what it means.  The same doctor who has cut open his arms and drained the infections before sits with him and treats his wounds again, he asks our character if this will ever stop, he tells our hero that he will die on the streets if he continues to live this way.  Our character dismisses these ominous warnings, as he always did, but still bothered with this small seed of an unfamiliar feeling to leave the ordinary world.  He quiets this seedling with the obsession to anesthetize every fiber of his being to just make it all go away, surely this would bring him back to his norm, it always did.  He steps outside of the hospital and spots a fellow empty soul, one he had frequent contact with and who actually owed him a favor.  He shared with his fellow miser the peculiar thought of leaving the ordinary world while at the same time needing to obtain a powerful sedative.  And then something happened that our character least expected, the old broken soul told him he would provide him with the substance he sought, on one condition, if our character promised to leave the ordinary world and never look back.  This caught our hero by surprise, he had heard this before from many voices, but not from one just as hopeless as him.  He obtained the substance, and that would be the last time our hero stuck a needle in his arm, for something the old broken soul said had opened a door to the idea of a journey.

Part Five: Meeting with the Mentor II

Our character awoke on the hard battered plastic of a jungle gym in a park nearby the hospital, he had slept here many nights in the ordinary world, but this morning when his eyes opened he had a choice to make.  This is the point in the story where a non human Power must be mentioned, because a thought had entered our hero’s mind that maybe he should take the journey, this thought had not originated him, it couldn’t have, he was too sick to conjure a thought like this.  He would need guidance and help in setting out on this adventure, if this was his choice to make.  He could feel the onset of the grueling torturous sickness of withdrawal that was rapidly approaching, but he hopped off the playground and was headed to the nearest pay phone.  This was it, he did not want to wake up in the ordinary world anymore, he wanted something different and he called his mother in hopes that she would be his guide.  She arrived to pick up our hero within the hour, she would guide him, but he is the one who must complete the journey.

Part Six:  Crossing the Threshold to the Special World

The cruelty of the withdrawal sickness has begun to surface in the body and mind of our character as he rides alongside his guide, up the coast toward the start of his journey.  His stomach feels like it is ripping apart inside, his legs will not stop moving, he throws up out of the moving vehicle’s window, his back, legs and every part of his body ache, and the pain runs down into his bones, he shivers and shakes, he sweats and kicks uncontrollably.  His mother provides him with tobacco and cannabis to try and help ease his discomfort, it helps, but he continues to vomit stomach acid down the side of the car and leave his head hanging out the window.  He contemplates his decision to leave the ordinary world, he is angry and remorseful, but his mother is his protector, his guide, she holds his hand and he cries, he is scared.  He knows that this new unknown world contains ideas and rules he is not familiar with, but he is lead still by the love of his mother and a tiny seedling of willingness to hang on.  His mother will take him to another guide, and this is where she will leave him, at the foot of the threshold to the special world.  Upon arrival, our hero exits the vehicle and vomits whatever is left of his insides all over the pavement, he stumbles into a green electrical box and feels like death, the withdrawal sickness has now overtaken every molecular structure of his makeup and he is defeated.  His mother tells him she loves him, but that he will never see her or his child again if he does not get well, this is where she must leave him to cross the threshold on his own.  He falls into the care of another mentor, an aunt who will protect him and care for him as he approaches the guardian who is guarding the gate to the special world.  There is a place where those who are sick like our hero go to get better, here lies the threshold our hero must cross into the special world, but in his way stands the gatekeeper.  Weeks have passed and our character is no longer physically ill, but there is warfare happening inside of his mind and soul, he needs to cross the threshold before it’s too late.  The guardian informs our hero that in order to cross the threshold into the special world, he must show that he is worthy and prove that he can exist in this place that will treat his illness. He makes calls to the guardian each day to inform him that he is still willing to move forward, he promises the guardian he will not ingest anymore poison and that he will be abstinent for the approaching day when the guardian will decide if he is worthy to enter the special world. Over the next couple of days our character fights a war inside his head, gripping his own hands tightly and brimming over with anxiety. He lies awake the night before he will see the guardian at the threshold and he contemplates returning to the ordinary world, life is easier there he thinks, and he calls out to a God he is unsure exists. He asks for an answer because he knows not what to do. The next day our hero arrives at the threshold to the special world torn in ambivalence as he awaits the guardian, our character has fulfilled the guardian’s requests, although it has been painstaking, he has done his part. The guardian grants our hero permission to cross the threshold into the special world, and the story moves forward.

Part Seven: Tests, Allies and Enemies

It was the beginning of September and our character was on the verge of reaching his 24th year of existence. His first day in the special world was interesting to him, he had never experienced anything like it before. He was shown to a large room where he was given a bed to sleep in, there was food for him, clothing and every other material he may need. He paid nothing for these things. He was in this place with others just like him, others who had been sick like him but had also crossed the threshold into the special world. Some were kind, some were funny, some were loud and obnoxious, some were quiet, some were honest and some lied, and some wanted sincerely to return to the ordinary world, those ones our hero learned quickly to separate from. There was one who became our character’s ally, he was a good man, covered in ink from prison tattoos and he wore spectacles that you would not expect on a man of his nature. One night he sat in the library with our character, he began to tell him of the Spirit and they read the Good Book. Our hero learned about the soul, he connected with his ally, they were two who would not normally mix, but in the special world they became friends, and they sat for many hours and talked late into the night in that library. Our character encountered many allies like this, souls that were once afflicted as he was, they taught him about the human condition and they taught him about life through their own experiences, he started to feel that he may be able to survive in the special world. He learned the beauty of hard work for no money, he cleaned shoes for tobacco and read books about good living. He began to help others in the form of altruism, he began a process in which he looked deep inside himself and uncovered his handicaps. He began to get right with himself and the shame slipped away, he got right with his fellows from past and present, and most importantly he got right with the Universe and the Power which created him. He grew in a Fellowship of companions, and when our hero felt angry about things out of his control or mistakes from his past, those companions were there to lift him back up. When our character learned that his child’s name had been changed and some of those close to him were hesitant to believe he was changing, he was discouraged and confused and fell down, but his companions lifted him up. When he fell down in the ordinary world, he fell hard, his face smashed into the concrete and he bled, nobody helped him up, he just sunk deeper into the barren wasteland beneath the dirt. But in the special world, his allies helped him back up when he fell, he was loved, and most importantly our hero had hope and saw himself becoming a good man.

Part Eight: Approach to the Innermost Cave

After some time in the special world our character had begun to see that he could survive here, he was far removed from his sickness, so long as he worked at treating it. There was a sense of peace about him which he had never had in the ordinary world, he could accept whatever was happening to him without taking a drink or returning to his beloved needle. Living this way was becoming his design for existence, less pain and no suffering, no misery, he liked life better this way. He was even deemed suitable to drive legally again by the state of California. Our hero had many friends, he had friends who he loved, that fell victim to the sickness again and fell back into the ordinary world, this was difficult for him to navigate. Companions who trudged with him on the journey were there one day and gone the next, friends became foes and lied to our hero, he let them into his heart and they took everything they could and left him with nothing. But he learned from this, he observed their mistakes and noted their shortcomings, his true companions stayed by his side and he could trust them, he grieved the loss of others but continued to rise with his close friends. Old mates from the ordinary world tried to pull him back, but he was not living in delusion, he did not need to escape the special world, he was growing here, so he did not return to the ordinary world. He felt pain at the sight and remnants of many things, but this pain he overcame, onward and upward, our hero was alive, and he sought to make his dreams, realities.

Part Nine: The Ordeal (The Dark Night of the Soul)

It was a Monday morning in May and our character found himself rising for the day as he would any other. He had spent the night before with close companions and was feeling particularly grateful and free on this spring morning. His phone rang, the call was coming from an origin that only would be calling him at this time, on this day, if something Paramount was happening. He answered the call, and through the other side of the phone came information that stopped our hero’s breathing for a second, his stomach twisted into a knot and he had no words. His mother had been rushed to the hospital and he was told that she may not live, he was given no explanation as to what had gone wrong, just told that her organs were shutting down and that she was being kept alive by synthetic powers. He had just seen her, he had just celebrated Mother’s Day with her and bought her gifts, he had just begun to be the son he had gotten so far away from being. Why now? What had happened? Why could no one tell him what had happened? He sat paralyzed in his room with no idea what to do, he called a friend who had been with him since he crossed into the special world, his friend told him to go and see his mother and don’t think twice. Our hero called his aunt who we mentioned earlier in our story, she stopped everything she was doing and came again to be with our character, they drove together to what what would be our hero’s greatest test yet. The drive felt like forever, his mind riddled with questions and his ears ringing with fear, still no one gave him answers, all he knew was that his beloved mother who rescued him from the ordinary world was on the verge of death. It was surreal. She was in the same hospital that our character had been in earlier in our story, the last place he put a needle in his arm, and he arrived here with no intention or desire to do anything remotely close to that. He walked upstairs and saw the faces of family he had not seen in years, his family was like this, come together only in the wake of tragedy and do not speak until the next one. Our hero tried to get information about the status of his mother, what had happened? This question burned inside of him, no one told him, were they scared of how he would react? Probably. What he understood was that his mother had been ill, her organs had failed due to an excess amount of drinking and ingestion of pills over the years. This was not the woman he knew, he was confused, he made the decision to go and see her because it felt like the right thing to do. The moment he turned the corner and saw her he regretted his decision, she was already gone, surrounded by at least ten doctors and nurses, tubes and blood everywhere, he began to sob uncontrollably. The professionals buzzed around the room chattering and acting as if our hero did not exist, this was their job, he respected them for this, a Power carried him across that room because he wanted to tell her goodbye, he knew this was it. He arrived at her bedside weeping, she was only forty five, her toes and fingernails painted as they always were, her sandy blonde hair as it always was, he grabbed her hand, it was cold and lifeless, he kissed it, and told her he loved her. That was enough, that was all he could take and he left that room, that was the last time our hero would see his mother, she died shortly afterward.

Part Ten: The Dark Night of the Soul II

We find our hero on his knees in the chapel of this hospital, surrounded by the old ordinary world where he used to drown out his feelings with the needle and the bottle. In this moment his heart was shattered, his soul ripped out of his body and hanging in a dark sky as though he would never feel joy again. This was it, the moment that would define our hero’s journey, would he return to euphoria through his old solution or would he take the skills he had learned in the special world and rise from the ashes. His aunt joined him, she suggested they return to his mother’s home and clean up any mess that was left so that the others did not return to see leftovers of the tragedy. What an angel, she saved him, he knew now this is what he must do, and so they made their way to the house. Upon arrival he saw black blood stains that covered the carpet of his mother’s room, black blood stains on the bed sheets and quilt, her clothes, hat and those crooked glasses she always wore, there was blood on all of it. He knew what he must do, and he needed no substance of any kind to complete his task, he gathered the sheets and bedding and threw it all away. He gathered the clothes and placed them in a corner for no one to see, and there was those black stains on the carpet, it looked like motor oil, this felt like a dream. They got a brush to scrub with and rags with cleaning supplies, our character dropped to his knees and began to scrub the blood stains off the white carpet. Halfway through he stopped, he thought to himself, this is it, this is what I’ve been preparing for, and here I am, and I will not run away, I will not be afraid, he leaned into this pain and finished cleaning. A week passed and our hero remained in his hometown, he did not run, he did not drink, he did not hide, he did nothing of the sort, he was the cornerstone for those around him. He helped his stepfather deal with the mortuary and coroner, he weighed in on decisions that were too hard for others to think about, he cleaned, he listened, and he realized that he could survive in the ordinary world so long as he brought the special world with him. He thought this tragedy should’ve killed him, and it did for a moment, but he had won the fight, he could go on a free man, he lived in the light once again.

Part Eleven: The Reward

Our hero had little notion that he had received the gift he had so long been searching for.  At the beginning of our story we found a man, or, the shell of a man, who had no desire to live, crushed, with all things good completely sucked out of him.  Hopeless and accepting of death at any moment, no love for himself or anything at all for that matter.  Just wanting to be free from the bondage of suffering he had created for himself, but not knowing how.  He dreamed of a life where he could wake and sleep without the substances, a life where he could be a member of the world around him, a life where he could cope and manage things without self destructing.  In our hero’s darkest hour, over the pools of his dead mother’s blood, he found what he had been searching for, peace with whatever this life dealt him no matter how painful it was. This was his reward, to be a free man and to have a life with some kind of purpose, this is what he went on his journey to find.

Part Twelve: The Road Back

Our character found himself a student once again, beginning to study the human condition and mind from an educational standpoint. He had found that he had a gift to listen, a gift to have the sickly souls from the ordinary world open up their wounds to him, and allow him in to help heal. The guardian who protected the threshold into the place mentioned earlier in our story, where our hero began his journey, offered our character a position in that place to help treat the ill coming from the ordinary world.  Day in and day out he talks and listens, he rarely thinks of his mother as he still lives in shock and denial of her death, he feels distant from his significant other and as the summer turns to fall he feels himself begin to fade. The darkness from the ordinary world looms on the horizon of our hero’s sight, he begins to feel afflicted with some kind of lowly pull on his serenity, he still does not think of his mother because he is not ready.  Fall has taken the summer sun and the air smells different, he dreads the return of cold nights and he lacks motivation to treat his old illness, the malady is rallying for a second try at our hero’s place in the special world.

Part Thirteen: The Resurrection

Our character and his significant other reach an agreement that they need not continue their romantic relationship. No love lost, but our hero is slipping and his heart is breaking once more. Still he does not return to the needle, he knows he cannot, but this split from the girl triggers him into a downward spiral.  He knows the decision is right, he begins to realize that this has just opened the door to a deeper sadness inside of him, a part of himself buried way down that has been screaming to be heard. The part of himself that lost his mother, but opening up this wound scares our hero, he knows it will bring about strong feelings but he knows that in order to be free he must let it out. Through the winter he is plagued by the grief, he sleeps too much and his vision is clouded, he is depressed, he wants nothing to do with this life and he stands again on the threshold back into the ordinary world. He is baffled at how he could again feel hopeless, under the influence of no substance our hero stands frozen at the crossroads, he wants to run and hide, but he cannot, he has been gifted with the truth about who he has become. There is an angel in his life with whom he has processed his grief, he meets with her the next day and shares with her a letter addressed to his mother.  In this time his heart is ripped from his chest, his soul pours pain out all over the floor like a spilled bucket of water, he cries, he weeps and he sobs at everything from his mom to his child. He wants it all, he needs the feeling, he cries harder and the space with his special companion is sacred and safe, so he lets it all out.  He is resurrected, he feels life again, his vision is clear and he can see the blue sky when he leaves the sacred space. He smells the air and for the first time he realizes that summer is near, he smiles and he has hope again, he smells the ocean and remembers how much he loves the palm trees.  Again, he is transformed, and our hero accesses a higher and more complete level than ever before.

Part Fourteen: Return with the Elixir (The Final Chapter)

Our character returns to his life with a revolutionary feeling of new insights and ideas.  Summer has arrived again and he has been awarded for his accomplishments in his education as well as his work.  He has been told by others, that in his work of helping to heal the perverse soul sickness of chemical dependency, he is gifted, he feels this as he sits day after day with those trying to escape the ordinary world.  He has accomplished things he never thought imaginable, our hero is no longer dreamless but he sees his dreams as attainable.  In the resurrection he obtained a new sense of understanding and perspective, he takes this treasure into all situations and shares it with those who are supposed to hear about it.  He feels connected to the Power of the Universe and the Power that created him, he feels the Power that makes the oceans move inside of him, for he knows they are one in the same.  He is vulnerable and caring, kindness is his guiding light and he hopes to one day have a family, he strives for humility and good living.  He often thinks of the ordinary world and his old life there, but he feels removed, he has found his purpose and he wants to share his enlightened perspective with his own children some day and teach them about this life, that this life is beautiful, so long as you perceive it to be. When he least expects it he meets the girl of his dreams, literally, a girl he had dreamed of and wrote a story about before.  She opens a door to his heart that has never been opened before and he is not afraid to let her in, she is like the best summer day and sunset that he could ever imagine.  And so we leave you here, this for now is the final chapter, and this, this is the hero’s journey..

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