Monday, 2 July 2007

Chapter 36 - Redemption

“If you want to know who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence.”

Charles Bukowski

For me the simple answer to this question was that I had no friends, or at least none that would visit me in gaol. They were happy to chat on the phone but a visit did not eventuate. It’s a bit hard calling people you haven’t seen for ages for a chat when they ask you where you are…………….

The day I was released there was no one there to meet me, sob, sob. Mum had finally relented and helped to pay out the remainder of my fines, thereby allowing me to be released. She was my only visitor during my time in gaol.

I was only in custody for about 7 weeks but it seemed much longer. No other friends or other family members had come to see me. I had phoned Jeff, Sebastian, Darren and Sharron and my brother but only mum came to visit.

I was a source of shame, others wanted to distance themselves from me lest I soil their good name, or so I thought. So I had to respect Mum for the fact that she was the only person in my world who cared enough to visit and to bring me stuff and finally to bail me out. Although I knew that she was reluctant to bail me out. She thought that jail would cure me of my addiction, and in some ways she was right, it scared me and brought things to a halt. But it was the events that would follow meeting Pamela, getting and getting a meaningful job that really made the difference .

From the very brief time I spent in gaol I could see that prison contains people in a dehumanising manner. There is no rehabilitation it is simply abuse. I came out realising that I can’t rely on anyone.

It was also a wake up call to realise that the people who I thought were my friends were nothing of the sought. Good time Charlies the bloody lot of them, but then what had I ever done for them, it’s a two way street if you want support you have to give it and maybe I had been so selfish I just didn’t give any. Junkies don’t make great friends.

But the fact that no-one else contacted or visited me was also a powerful wake up call. I realised that the life I had been leading was not conducive to creating positive relationships.

As I strolled out the prison gates I was fired up and determined to show what I was really capable of and to silence those who had written me off, my brother and other family members. I was going to show them and this anger inside was like a nuclear reactor an awesome source of energy which could be used to transform my life or build weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s), which might not be such a great idea as it could lead to UN weapon’s inspectors crawling up my anus and cruise missiles slamming into my house and marines laying some “Shock and awe on my ass”.

But first things first, it was time for a trip to the pub to celebrate my release. Glen and I were both released on the same day. I was nervous right up to the last minute, I knew that I had more fines coming, but they had not been processed yet. A couple of times a week two coppers would come down to the work release site to present inmates with fines/charges that had just been processed. I just wanted to get out of there and it wasn’t until I was in the car driving down the road that I felt free.

Glen had his car parked near the gaol and so once we were released we took a ride in his car to a pub at Beenleigh.

Everyday I would visualise what I wanted in my life. The relationship, the job, the stability and happiness that I craved. It made me feel better.

My brother had told mum that, “Dave will be in and out of gaol for the rest of his life he is a no good looser cant you see that?” Thanks for the vote of confidence bro.

Mum seemed to think that it was my gaol experience only that had cured me of my addiction.

“It worked didn’t it” was her reponse, yeah a great way to cure mental illness is to scare the shit out of people, so that they learn to hide any sign of mental illness in the future. Because lets face it drug addiction is a form of mental illness, somethings not right when all you want to do is get high.

Little did she know that I had used on several occasions after coming out of gaol. To me it was a combination of things. Hitting rock bottom, getting a rewarding job, and having a loving relationship, these were the key factors. I was being drawn toward a compelling future that was the key rather than avoiding a painful past. I was learning to love and accept myself to acknowledge my bi-sexuality and feel OK about.

But I believe that it is wrong to punish people who are sick. I know that I was sick, I was suicidal, suffering from extreme depression and behaving in a high irresponsible manner.

Recently a Mental Health group had an article in the Australian requesting that Rene Rivkin be released because gaol was having such a negative impact on his mental health. Well most of the people I saw while in prison had some mental health problems. The environment in gaol is not conducive to developing a positive mental health. Rene killed himself he was very unhappy.

Mum didn’t want me to tell people in the family that I had been to gaol. She was often trying to hide something. I have memories of being prepared by her to lie to a friend or relative about some personal situation. It was usually done to avoid conflict or on the pretence of protecting this person. I often felt caught in a “double bind”. Or as mum used to say “The definition of insanity is having two contradictory ideas” and on that note I agreed with mum. For example it might be like knowing that something has happened to you but also knowing that you cant talk about it.

“I told Sophie” , my cousin

“Oh Dave you didn’t did you, she will tell everyone” Mum’s expression was one of utter despair, it was as though the shame would kill her.

Mum would often call herself “A seeker of truth”, but she was often lying to people and requiring that I become involved with her webs of deceit. She was usually well intentioned with her lies, it was done to protect people usually or avoid conflict. She didn’t mean any harm by it.

I believe that punishment and prison are poor ways to stimulate behaviour change. Change is then based on fear, and avoidance rather than being directed toward a distinct goal. Sure it may work but it also tends to have a dehumanising effect on people.

Within 3 weeks of leaving gaol I had a job doing landscaping. I did this for about a month. One day I went for an interview at the Salvation Army job agency and they offered me a job as an employment consultant on the spot. I had a psychology degree, a clean cut image and well spoken manner these qualities would be useful to them. I jumped at the opportunity this would change my life.

A few weeks later I met Pamela at a party who would become the mother to my child. It was billed as a sexual fantasy party I came dressed in drag and she was dressed as a nurse what a couple. The chemistry was there and we had a great time.

She had also been sexually abused as a child. She came from a family of six and her brother forced himself upon her repeatedly when she was young.

I saw Gary the speed dealer from Arthur Gorrie who I shared a cell with. I score some pot from him and have cones with a group of homeless people.

Pamela also told that she had worked as a prostitute when she was younger to support herself. Like my mum she had run away from home at 14. In her youth she had lesbian affairs and for a while rejected men completely. It seemed like all the women I were with had experienced sexual abuse and lesbian experiences or fantasies. Were all women like this or just the ones I was attracted to?

“Your just a butch dyke”, Pam said as she rubbed her pussy on my ass, and I thought yeah I am, finally someone who understood me.

I had to travel to the head office which was the Valley to go through my induction; unbelievably I found a fifty packet of heroin in my wallet. I must have left it there the last time I shot up, which was about 1 month ago. On that day I had purchased some gear and mixed up half and put the rest in my wallet. However, because it was so strong I totally forgot that I had stashed this smack.

It was in the corner of a plastic bag chopped off to make a tiny bag which held the hammer. I was stunned to have found it, I quickly decided that I would use it, feeling guilty but excited about my find. I went to a chemist and purchased a fit packet. From there I made a beeline straight to the toilets near Brunswick street station and locked myself in a cubicle ready for action. This was a familiar haunt from my past, I had shot up here many times before. On the floor I noticed an empty fit packet, the words Theremo emblazoned on its distinctive plastic packaging, as I proceeded to mix up my shot, I could smell urine.

This all seemed so familiar to me, I felt like I had done this before.

I slept a deep slumber and I dreamt of flying, freedom and peace. The oneness embraced me………………………………

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