Shakespir Licence Notes
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I would like to share something I wrote after a bewildering situation I found myself in 6 years clean of morphine and a top university academic scholar. My wish is through sharing this situation I encountered those of you who are unfamiliar with addictions and recovery I aim to reach the widest with this free short book. I wish for the reader to think about the conversation and experience I show in this experience of mine, and think of your own perceptions, biases and beliefs. I hope families will share this with their children, friends with colleagues, and open the door of communication regarding the judgments and negative bias surrounding addiction, and the huge false assumption that recovery is not possible. August 2, 2016 I am celebrating my 18th year of recovery of an IV morphine addiction.
Enjoy and I hope to help share hope and education through this experience, which at the time I was stunned, came home, and wrote this, and it sat in my computer until I found it among the tons of files I have. This is too important of a message to keep to myself. Even though I was deeply hurt by what happened.
The Fated Bus Ride Home[
The ignorance of people is something that still takes me by surprise when it strikes me in the face. However, I understand that ignorance is from a lack of knowledge, and thus, I would like to share some of my knowledge in the hopes to squash a common belief about drug addicts. Last night I was inducted into the Golden Keys International Honour Society at the University of Regina. I am in my third year of studies at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUC), however, the UofR is the degree granting institution for FNUC.
I didn’t even know the Golden Keys International Honour Society existed until I was contacted to join the society. Membership is by invitation only to the students who rank academically within the top 15% of their faculty. I was invited to join two years ago, but I initially didn’t because I didn’t think I deserved that kind of honour. Despite the countless hours that I have invested into every 90% I have earned and the pride that I feel when I receive my grades, I still hold a small piece of disbelief that this is actually who I have become.
The way I see it is that this disbelief originated from the ignorance of other people, which I have allowed to perpetuate this negativity. Sounds like self-fulfilling prophecies –ah yes, I know them all too well. So this begs the question – why should I let the ignorance of someone else disturb me if I know the power of self-fulfilling prophecies?
Self-fulfilling prophecies can also be positive in tone, and this was how I changed my life around, by turning negative thoughts into positive ones, and by changing negative behaviours into positive behaviours.
None of this was even a thought in my mind until I was on the greyhound bus the next morning with my daughter going back to Saskatoon from Regina without our car. Had Lumsden Hill not been the site of the engine blowing a piston in my 1982 ancient oldsmobile on the trip to Regina, I would have definitely not been on that bus.
I needed to be on that bus, I needed to experience this. Every second on the bus that passed I was begging in my mind for it to end. Yet in hindsight it was a wonderful ordeal. Fate? Maybe. Am I glad that happened? It sucks to be without a car, but the lady I met made it all worth it.
About halfway to Saskatoon my daughter decided she wanted to sit in the seat in front of me. When the bus stopped in the next town an older lady got on the bus and eyed the seat beside me that my daughter had just left. I sat next to this stranger saying nothing for what seemed like an eternity. In my mind I was contemplating pulling out my Logic homework and working on Propositions. But it didn’t turn out like that, all the sudden my mouth just opened and I asked her how her day was going.
I inherit the “talk to anyone who will listen” gene from my father. I told her all about being a single parent for the entirety of my daughters nine years of life, and how I was a horticulturist and was back in university studying social work, but I really aspired to earn a doctorate degree one day. I told her how Penguin had published my story of being a teen mom in an anthology collection and I was one of only a few Canadian authors in the book. I told her about the induction ceremony into the International honour society at the university, and I was lapping up her words of praise and her admiration of my many accomplishments. Then she asked what type of work I wanted to do with my degree.
Sometimes I live in my bubble and forget the ignorance of people, and when it happens I feel slapped in the face. I told her that I wanted to work with people who were suffering from drug addictions, and she said very honestly, “Oh my dear, there’s no hope for people like that.”
What was I supposed to do? I thought to myself, should I just sit here politely and allow this 74-year-old woman to believe as she had for the entirety of her life, or should I tell her that for the past hour she had been talking to a former intravenous drug addict and she was wrong, there is hope for people like me.
I have been the idealized vision of a drug addict. I was a pill popping, dope smoking, needle poking junkie. I was ‘one of those’. And yet, that is not what I am today. I have to wonder, where does the mentality that “once you check in you can never check out” come from? Society must learn not to give up on us. There is a reason why we are there.
I wasn’t a prostitute with track marks covering my arms because I was a happy person. On the contrary! The challenge to society is not to address the substances that we are abusing, but the situations that lead us to abuse the substances in the first place. What we often do not know is that our addictions will cause us more pain than the situation we are hiding from until it seems like it is too late, and the grip of addiction has its fists clenched tightly around us. At this moment, we believe, just as that woman I met on the greyhound bus believed that there is no hope; we believe that we are hopeless.
We have been conditioned to believe this, conditioned to buy into that because we are drug addicts the value of our lives somehow diminishes and we are now the bottom scum of society.
HEAR ME ROAR – We are NOT hopeless! We are NOT the bottom of society!
Our lives hold tremendous value and potential – if and only if we believe, and if we have people in our lives that believe that we can conquer our addictions, and refuse to give up hope.
When I first stopped sticking needles in my arms and drugs in my body I came across a quote from Shakespeare that I have used to live my life around, “To thine own self be true”. To sit there silently and allow this sweet lady tocontinue to believe as she always had would not be true to myself.
I looked at her and said, “Well for the past hour you have been talking with a former injection drug abuser. Do you still hold that opinion?” The change of perception of drug addicts and the hope of recovery begins with one person. If we keep passing along the positive message of hope, then more people will believe.
Kelly S. Busch
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