We are all a product of our environment. Genetics does obviously play a certain role in our make up but I think most people discredit the role that ‘nurture’ has on our personality and temperament.
I see this reflected in the people around me and hear it in the stories people share with me.
Yesterday was the funeral of one of my daughter’s friends. He died of a heroin overdose. Did heroin never ‘go away’ or is it like leggings and is just making a come back? If so I wish it had stayed in the past (along with leggings for the most part). Everyone tends to think that currently the drug causing the most havoc as being Chrystal Meth or ‘Tik’ as it is called in South Africa.
Heroin seems to have somehow developed this reputation of being somewhat cosmopolitan and more sophisticated than tik but both are deadly. I was talking to a friend who had previous issues with their child and drugs. They talked about how the child actually changed personality and started to sell their parents belongings, climbing out the window to meet their dealer, disappearing for days on end. I have heard this before and I likened it to a sort of demon possession. The person who once was driving that vehicle (the body) is no longer present or in charge. The driving force is the addiction. The addiction is telling that body that they will be in for a world of hurt very soon and that they need to make a plan for their next fix. They lose the ability to be human. All that matters is that drug.
Today I was talking to someone who said that their brother has been a heroin addict for decades. He has run a successful international company but has now retired. He managed to live a productive life while still maintaining his addiction. But not knowing him one must ask at what price? Did he have a social life? Could he maintain loving relationships? I find it impossible to imagine anyone being able to have a completely normal life under those conditions.
But then again, define normal?
I see the impact of substance abuse every morning and evening when I leave work. Literally. A homeless addict lives in the alley between my office and where I have to park my car. I see him waking up, shaky, trying to get his self together to get out and find his next fix/drink/hit of choice. He reeks of urine. The whole alley is covered in pigeon poop and smells horrendous. There are giant rats running around in the shadows. I have had one nearly run across my foot, so the idea of trying to sleep out in the open while they run around nearby would be too much for most people to bear.
And then when I leave I go a different route and there is another homeless man who lives on the edge of the building site. I see him sleeping there under his sheets of cardboard; he has one sock and no shoes. I have never seen his face but I would recognise those feet pretty much anywhere.
And then today I read an article about a woman who had died and not been discovered for 6 years in her own garage. She lived alone and was estranged from her family. She travelled a lot so had her mail held at the post office for her and had a neighbour who mowed her lawn, so from the outside all appeared in order. I found it so sad that she had no one who cared, no one who even noticed her absence.
I was standing in my kitchen the other day thinking how unattractive and boring it is, about how much I desire a new lush French farmhouse style kitchen. And then I immediately thought how greedy and unappreciative I am for not focussing on gratitude for the things I do have in abundance instead of focussing on superficial wants and imagined needs.
Today when I go home I will be consumed with gratitude for all of my blessings. My warm dry home, my functional kitchen, the running water I have at my disposal, the flushing toilets, a warm dry bed (full of doggies of course) the green grass, the lovely garden, the stunning mountain I have as my view, an old but functional car, a well-paid job and most of all my beautiful loving family and pets.
I hope you all have things to be grateful for, I hope you have a warm place to lay your head and someone who loves you. That is the least that we all deserve.