Commentary: A letter for anyone sobering up

(Design by Alex Dascalu/AQ)

To anyone and for everyone.

People who get bullied a lot will fuck up their own lives sometimes just to feel like they can make a difference. This couldn’t be any more true for my buddy Jameson. He introduced himself to me in Grade 2 as a kid with a tracheotomy tube sticking out and some other little bastard in a headlock for making fun of him. We grew up together and he wasn’t my best friend but was always a good friend. He’s now sitting in a house somewhere with strangers enjoying some methamphetamine. He got there after three unsuccessful suicide attempts in the last three months of 2019.

Growing up he was the toughest. I miss boxing with him because that toughness rubbed off. We worked in a warehouse together. And no one was hurt all the time back then. The man was a machine and funny. He must have weighed 130lbs at the time, skinny and crazy.

I don’t know how his story is going to end, but I’ll be there after having tried everything short of drowning with him.

After his first attempt to take his own life, I took him into my residence to stop him from being homeless. He brought some good liquor with him and for three days, I didn’t sleep just making sure he wasn’t going to die. I wanted to throw up when I saw that he’d carved up his legs with a box cutter. Sharp fresh scars around major arteries but not deep enough to end it all. In the end we parted ways and I felt like I got my friend from the valley to a peak. He drove off with another friend to stay at their place. He looked about 110lbs and confused.

And fuck, it was all out of love for a woman he couldn’t let himself stay with because he knew he’d bring her and her kid down with him. Man became trapped and overwhelmed in his own life. People he needed weren’t there.

I wasn’t ready for him to jump off again. A couple bottle of pills and a looming court case got him landed in the hospital with a death wish and very distant look in his eyes. We hung out and played cards and I gave him the jacket I had. He had visitors that day but he was sick and no one mentioned it. He looked like he weighed less than a kid.

The last one was a lot quieter and he just sat there in the hospital bed senselessly telling strange stories about music and life. I spent 70 bucks at Tim Horton’s that week visiting every day. There wasn’t anyone else that week.  He didn’t have anything and the nurses were watching him didn’t know he’s a suicide risk. I never thought I’d have to tell anyone to watch my friend closely like that.

It’s difficult being a university student surrounded by so many people with opportunities in front of them and depression and addiction at their heels. The meanness of this whole world is something we’re taught and really does wear down on people.

This new year I’ve already watched new friends trash-talk about killing themselves, and others have lost their many year-long relationships for one drunken night. Others are good at the addiction and just riding it out. I don’t know if any of these people are going to break down like Jameson.

Jameson never got to go to university although he is brilliant enough to discern Chomskian theories of anarchistic social structures from propagandistic neo-liberal sentiment of world order, and that’s his own damn quote.

I came here with a friend from high school who did make it here and he dropped out because he couldn’t get over being told that he wasn’t the right stuff for university.

In the end, I guess the point of writing this and sharing is that kindness and intelligence or even humanity in its best forms are all one and the same but get snuffed so easily by cycles of bullying.  And sometimes giving up is the only way out of that environment. So I can live with suicidal people, I can live with addicts I just don’t know how I am supposed to live with my friends dying slowly and painfully.

The trick with being tough though is that sometimes you are just desensitizing yourself to the point where it’s going to take a bigger high to make you feel anything again.

I remember Jameson reached out when a young friend of ours died from an epileptic seizure two years ago. He wanted to start a charity for people who lose kids and give them hope. And now he’s given up, even though he has his health. I never thought someone I saw go through so much pain would end up just trying to hurt themselves.

I wished him a Happy New Year and he told me he’d been seeing this girl Tina. “Crystal clear,” he said she was, and I didn’t get it. So, I asked, and he said it was slang for meth.

I’ve ruined a lot of relationships by being an introverted drunk, but I made a choice to take myself a little more seriously right then. And I’ll be there for anyone in my life who wants to do the same.

Well here is to not giving up, and hoping that people will have the dignity to remember you at your worst because you made sure to live your best because you could sober up and realize it’s your life and that can be something good.

And if it gets difficult just think; at least you’re not dead and maybe the only person that really hates you is in your head.

Because you can be tough, you can be brave, but you’re fucked if you can’t take care of yourself. And most of us might end up killing ourselves with whatever covers the pain daily. I can change myself even if I can’t save my friends. But I have to want that life if I am going to live it.


-Jared Durelle 3 months sober    2weeks sober    1 day sober and counting   Coming off a two-day bender and trying