Desperate for comfort which escapes me, I’m unable to sleep; too much on my mind. I toss and turn, first on my left-side then after some time, my right. Under the covers my Boston Terrier, Kelvin spoons my calves, his head at my knees. The comforter traps his body heat making the air under the blanket feel like a convection oven. I will never understand how much heat a small dog’s body can radiate. I roll Kelvin over, grab my phone and type this.
Driving stolen cars, Home Depot merchandise return scams, running from the cops – I’ve had quite the life. A few years ago my life took another wrong turn and I found myself working in one of the world’s largest strip clubs. My job was that of a security host and contracting strippers to work in the club. The life I lived for a few years is interesting enough to write a book about.
After leaving the strip club world I began mulling over stories my experience left me with. Taking notes and reading again, I became inspired enough to start word-vomiting a rough manuscript in March 2017.
With several months of writing and over a hundred thousand words of text, I began attending critique groups and getting feedback A writer-friend I made, Alice, told me, “Ron, you really should start a blog and start putting some of your work out there. A blog could make you salable.”
She was right. An active online presence and a large numbers of followers are what agents and publishers want to see from someone trying to get published, especially a first-time author with no street-cred like myself.
Scared, I took her advice, stepped out of my comfort zone and began this blog. Its purpose is to exist as an extension of my manuscript in-progress and to serve as a platform for to build a following online. It’s my intention to share material related to my memoir, as well as other life events I feel may make an excellent prequel.
To test the waters both online and in my personal life, I wrote some short blog posts, but remained conflicted on an internal level. There were stories and feelings I wanted to share and explore but I didn’t know if they should be made public.
The business I run relies on social media and I maintain a public profile, website and various social media accounts out of necessity. What I didn’t want to see happen is losing potential clients or existing who Google’d me and read something I had written. I didn’t want to share my story under the umbrella of fiction but I also felt like speaking my truth may spark reaction and debate from those who know me on a personal level. I found myself at a crossroads, confronted with a dilemma: How much truth do I share online?
Truth is hard, for both those sharing and those listening. I could make things much easier by writing fiction or redacting personal details to protect myself. I have an issue with that, however. For me, what makes a story great is when the reader feels something and they become emotionally invested in what the author has to say. I believe that happens when an author allows a reader to jump into a character’s headspace, roll around in their thoughts and feelings and gain an understanding as to why the things being said and done are being said and done.
My goal is to turn my manuscript into a traditionally published book. I want my story to be impactful, complete and authentic. To achieve that, my story has to be shared in the absolute best way possible – with honesty and transparency – revealing personal details in the process.
I also didn’t come this far to only get this far and tell a shitty story.
During a visit to his home in Hartford, Connecticut, I read a Mark Twain quote:
‘When in doubt, tell the truth.’ That phrase, stamped into a cement wall, made me realize that I need to do what’s right for me and that’s tell you this:
For seventeen years, I’ve struggled with drug addiction.
I became an addict in January 2001, in Placentia, California. Unaware of it’s potency and my addictive nature, I smoked glass that night, and became hooked the moment the drug’s white smoke from the pipe hit my tongue. I also didn’t know that outside, local law enforcement had surveillance setup on the house, a move prompted by drug activity.
Existing with a clarity that I didn’t know was possible, I sat down in the passenger seat of the car I arrived in. Spun out of my mind, the guy I was with pulled the car into 3am traffic on Chapman Ave. Out of nowhere, two police cars blocked us in, and we were removed from the car at gunpoint.
Hands up, I got on my knees, a police officer’s loaded gun pressed against the base of my skull. Loud, he told me, “So help me God, you move and I’m fucking wasting your tweaker-ass.”
I laid on the damp sidewalk as I was detained. The smell of heavy starch from the pant leg of the officer kneeling on my face filled my cold nose. In cuffs I sat on the curb and watched two cops toss the car. Both of them missed the dope, which wasn’t mine, hidden in a folded newspaper the driver put on my side of the center console.
The ride didn’t end there and in the years that followed I experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. There were points in my life where I was a functioning drug-addict that fooled everyone. Along the way I had several relapses and lost everything, including the people in my life, more than once. I’ve had long stretches of addiction and longer periods of sobriety, but I always fucked up at some point, giving me new rock bottoms to explore.
It’s been years since I used, and I’m in the longest period of sobriety I’ve ever had. It’s given me the opportunity to look back and attempt to make sense of my messy, messy life. In hindsight, I believe the biggest reason for my continued failure is that I refused to let people in. I shielded everyone from my truth and pain, not wanting them to feel sorry for me or experience helplessness as behind closed doors, my life spiraled out of control.
This secret put me on a trajectory that doesn’t allow room for people to meet the real me; the byproduct being an unfulfilling life. I say all of this so I can move forward and destroy the burden I’ve cradled between my shoulders for almost two decades. I can no longer exist, hiding the fact that half my life happened.
My intentions in all of this are pure. It’s not attention or pity that I crave, but rather the desire for everyone to know the real me. I feel I’ve finally met him and for the first time, I think that I’m not that bad after all.
Your understanding is all I ask for as I’m not quite ready to talk about everything. This isn’t a step in some program, it’s just me trying to figure out who I am moving forward. Because I didn’t know where my place was in this world, I made some bad decisions further shattering an already broken individual.
Living is easy for many people – I’m not one of them. It’s my hope that my story can be used to help other struggling and I hope I can count on your support.
Maybe now I can get some sleep.