Wasted Time

What is “wasted” time? There’s a school of thought which says that if we’re wasting any time, we’re not productive. And usually what’s productive to us is anything aside from that break, or mistakes we’ve made. But is it really mistaken time when it’s our decision to get away?

I regret the time I’ve spent away from my responsibilities. The years of my life I’ve essentially thrown away. The addictive, depressive, manic, and psychotic episodes. These became less episodic, and more the soundtrack to a lifeless shadow of a man.

My time’s spent paralyzed. It’s spent going from program, to place, to nowhere at all, renewed to nothing new each time. Coming back around gives me direction to another fresh start, yet again.

I’ll be okay for a time. I’ll escalate in instilling my volition – to come crashing back down once again. To then start again – but always with an additional circumstance to add to the sheer terror of it. And I’ve always crashed.

Sometimes it’s a couple days, or a couple years. Sometimes I’ve been entirely unable, unwilling to even start climbing. Time flies far above my stature. I’m always a little older, more experienced, and further progressed into my decline. I’ve spent my whole life looking through some myopic lens. It shows me immediacy. How screwed up I am, and what I’ve lost. I feel disturbed by the constant problems which stack more issues than before. Each year is harder than the last.

I’m often alone. When I’m at my worst, I’ll spend a lot of time alone. This would be fine if I wasn’t pining for company. For those who aren’t in my life anymore, I’ve pined for apparitions, envisioning those I love, to – ‘Be there for me!’ 

They don’t exist here though. I’ve let them down. They’ve moved on without me.

The fact is – I am subservient to my impulse to use the most stigmatized substances. I’ve coped, I’ve worked my way up to the worst of the worst…and using the way I do? For the reasons I do? Rhymeless? Rewardless? Maybe, whatever!

I know what my problems are, and I know how to resolve them. I can be responsible. I know not to allow my inner self-worth to be dictated as an “addict”. I have value. I understand being good to myself. I know others’ values as well, in many directions. What I bring to the table. I’ve come to know myself pretty well in 30 years.

I listen to others closely. The discussions shared are often invaluable for the both of us. I’ve been learning about myself, and you. The human condition has long been the same. I’ve always drawn parallels from yours to mine. I’ve become more emphatic and available to others. Still, I’m alone.

In due time, I’m back to the bottom of my endless pit. The light above is dimmer than before. As long as I’m still living, I have time for another round of Russian Roulette. I don’t truly want to die. Not anymore. I’m determined to live again.

Suicidality remains pervasive regardless. The mind left in me can malfunction at a hair trigger. I wait until night, so I can look up at the stars. They aren’t there. Just a dim light barely illuminating my surroundings. Each of my pupils instilled some myopic lenses, obscuring my possibilities. I am still a pupil, and I’ve got the determination to climb back out. I will climb again.

Every pipe, every needle, every straw I’ve used make up the handles and footing for my ascension back to my new world. I’ll arise to leave those things and the old life behind. I pull myself out, so I’m atop the bottom of life. I’ve done this again and again.

The opportunities are endless, but I haven’t forgotten what my life was before. I can forgive myself, and if there’s a place I wasn’t at fault – forgive others as well.

Just because I may forgive doesn’t mean I will forget. Each time I’ve climbed, I am a little more worn in the knees. For all the time I’ve been down in the dirt, the view is never the same once I’m up again. The older I get, so are the colours of a renewed life.

Every person who’s ever lived has their own trials and tribulations. Demons to conquer. Some may be brighter than I, I’m glad for them. My experience may be right for me, but what’s suited to me isn’t suited to another. Our journeys are our own. What I see in others’ lives as bright, might not be to them. We’re all limited. The hardest thing for us, is the hardest thing we’ve got. No amount of empathy can put someone in another one’s shoes.

I think someday, the lenses will be removedThe fields of possibility and vast networks of people will be there. Many of them are people I already know who already look at me in a positive light, but needed me to be well so I could see them too. Friends, family, and love in my life, never felt so close before. The love I’d felt myself so intensely before but always failed to keep. I know full well that when you meet those people, and that someone, what’s going forward from then on is what counts.

I will not forget to value these times, as transient as they are. Empty spaces – now past. Those who meant the most to me still will, and I’ll value the time spent for what and when it was. To not forget the good in our lives will keep us here longer. At least, life is longer spent with a brighter outlook then, looking at different shades of dim. It is so important to be good to others, so they can be good to us. I think most of our greatest memories aren’t ones where we’re alone. The spice of life is what’s shared with others.

If this is my one shot at living my best possible life, wasted time and all, let’s waste time together. I’ve wasted so much time alone, and that’s the only time wasted. I’m wasted without you. I’m sorry I was wasted with you too, but without you? Or whomever I may meet?

I’m wasted alone, even if I’m not.

Alex McVean

Alex McVean is a harm reduction and drug policy activist with living experience from Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. He is Social Media and Communications Manager for Bluelight.org and a member of The Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs (CAPUD). TikTok: @bluelight.org