Once Upon A Time: The Addict

Life As An Addict

Life As An Addict (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Voted too dark for my younger one. We did a Lego town story on the spot instead.)

Once upon a time there was an addict. It had started when he was a child, and every time he did a certain kind of picture his mother would praise him. But when he did anything abstract, anything strange or dark or disturbing, she would just nod and look away. Soon he learned to do only the sort of pictures that got him her praise.
As he grew up, the same rules applied to everything he did. When he wanted to become an artist, his mother pursed her lips. But when he talked about accounting, she was all smiles. His father even chimed in at times for that one. “Good money,” was all he’d said, but he might as well have blessed the position.
So the addict spent all his time reading books that would make his mother smile and his father nod occasionally. As he grew up more, the addict would bring girls home. Some of them got a slight nod, but it wasn’t until he found the right girl that his mother was all smiles. So the addict married the right girl, and got the right job.
At his job, the addict found himself doing things he knew were wrong. They were cooking the books for major corporations. But when he brought it up with his mother, she refused to believe that his big name accounting firm would do such a thing. When he brought it up again, she pursed her lips and asked if the addict needed to see a doctor about his depression.
So the addict went to see a doctor. When he explained about the anxiety he was experiencing, he was prescribed a medication. That medication did make him feel calmer, but it gave him restless legs and he needed another medication for that. Both the medications let him feel calm and let him sleep, but after a while he developed occasional explosive gas, which also gave him anxiety. So the addict started going to another doctor who talked to him about his mother.
What the second doctor said was that the addict was too dependent on others for approval. The addict agreed, but explained that everything in his life had been built on that approval. Without that approval, he wouldn’t be in the job he was in, he wouldn’t be married to who he was married to, and he honestly didn’t know what his life would look like.
The doctor thought it would be helpful for the addict to spend some time in various therapies. So the addict did a number of strange things, some of which made him feel better for a short time. But the underlying reality was that every part of his life fed on him being exactly the way he was, and didn’t allow him to change.
Then the accounting firm corruption was uncovered. The leaders of the corruption quickly pointed the fingers at the heads of departments, who singled out individuals who were responsible for the unauthorized changes. The public, looking for someone to blame, fastened onto those responsible people and the addict was one of them. He was tried and convicted, and sentenced to two years in a minimum security prison.
While he was in prison, the addict lost everything. All his money went to pay for the civil suits brought against him by angry people. His wife filed for divorce, and his mother stopped talking to him. She was so embarrassed she refused to acknowledge he was even her son.
When he left prison, the addict lived in a half-way house, full of people who were recovering from various addictions. He spent time with lots of people going through twelve step programs and got a part-time job typing numbers into a computer. In his spare time, the addict drew dark shapes and stories, all in ink. One day one of his buddies saw the stories and asked the addict to start doing the art for his local band. The addict did some good covers, and a local tattoo artist asked him for some original work. Customers liked the addict’s dark sinewy figures, and he became part of the tattoo set. Pretty soon he could make more money designing original art for people than he could putting in numbers.
But the idea of giving up the numbers left the addict feeling shaky and strange. He thought back to all the different therapies he’d done, and realized all the emotions tied into numbers for him. So he did a series of drawings encapsulating what each number represented for him. He showed it around and a local art dealer did a little display for him. The display matched what a reporter wanted for a piece by a major paper, so the addict got a nice write up. His numbers got bought out, and the addict did another set. Then a collector wanted a complete set of his own.
The addict never stopped being an addict. He does seek approval from others. But now he’s doing what he wants to do and finding the people who will support what he already likes. Now that he’s a success, the addict’s mother has decided to grant interviews where she takes credit for his amazing talent. But she’s right, she is responsible, just not in the way she’d like to think. After years of not being expressed, the addict’s art is deeper, darker, and richer than it might have been.
Now the addict is a sought after artist, doing installations and major pieces. It is hard for him to remember what it was like to be that other person, the one who never did anything he wanted. If you ask him what has changed, he’d shrug. But something did change, and when the addict draws he smiles with happiness.
Moral: Sometimes you have to lose everything to gain that which is important.

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