I think Bob Marley wrote ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ to indoctrinate young people into making bad decisions, regardless of the consequences. When I moved to (what I like to call) ‘Hippy Dippy Bristol’ by myself at seventeen, I was submerged into the world of dodgy dip-dyed harem pants, eye-watering variants of incense sticks, squats with very dubious drainage systems (a bucket), ear-popping sound systems and not least of all – drugs. My friends and I would wander around as if we were simulations in a real-life video game, protected by innumerable ‘life’. If things screwed up, fuck it! We were going to be young forever. Only when the rosy glow of my youth eventually withers into a crumpled mess on the floor then and only then, I would consider growing up.
When I was first introduced to heroin it didn’t frighten me any more than having my bare feet suspended over the bed as a child before rushing to the toilet. A momentary rush of adrenaline and it was over. The whole thing felt inconsequential. I had guessed from a young age that my life would take a dark turn, and therefore when it did, I was not surprised. In reflection, I was preyed upon by a man who wanted an underage girl to take drugs with. A thirty-year-old who needed my youth as a self-esteem boost. Like a bug, I volunteered myself into the claws of his carnivorous ‘snap!’ before I realised what had happened.
It’s my birthday on Monday, making that cataclysmic, cherry-popping moment exactly: seven years ago. Starting university, I am surrounded by people who were the age I was when I took that wrong turn. I can see no similarities between myself and them. I’ve always known there was corruptible darkness within me and my friends never made it seem odd because they were equally audacious. Watching silently in the background at the young people around me now, I understand the world I created for myself is disparate in comparison.
I believe that the people you surround yourself with are the most accurate mirrors of your temperament, ambitions and goals, humour and self-worth. Maybe that’s why I feel most at home when I’m with my recovery group. There is an open-mindedness that is rarely available outside the walls of such a community. I don’t want to become short-sighted and narrow-minded like the people inside the stone-brick buildings of this university. Having heard them talk in class about homelessness, I felt a pit in the bottom of my stomach. If I have to segregate myself from such ignorance to avoid feeling like a betrayer of my community, then I will. The world needs to understand that being an addict does not make you a criminal or a bad person. It doesn’t mean you have no worth, nor does it mean you are lazy or stupid.
Reflecting on the social circles that have imbued my life-decisions, I see a correlation between my behaviour and the decline of my mental health. I know that seems obvious but having imposter syndrome, sometimes I feel that I’m not part of a group and therefore am an independent choice maker. Clearly, that is not the case.
You don’t have to be a recovering addict to relate to the point I am making. You are the people who you choose to dedicate your time too. If you feel like someone has come into your life that is a bad influence, cut them off. Put yourself first.
Lots of love,
Forever and always,
Lily Rose x