On Friday evening, Bill and I went to see Beautiful Boy. Beautiful Boy is about the relationship between a father (David) and a son (Nic); the son begins experimenting with drugs in his early teens, and he becomes addicted to meth. Beautiful Boy is a mash up of the father’s exploration of addiction and writing of his experience as Nic’s father, and the son’s writing of his story while being David’s son.
My personal experience of the movie was emotional from both points; I am a recovering addict and I am a father. As I experienced the telling of the story I found myself identifying mostly with Nic; the truth of his love for his father was evident, and yet the love of the drugs continued to be bigger than a father’s love.
There were a couple of statements in the dialogue that were glaring to me; glaring to the addict in me who is still alive and well; he may not be an addict that is fed currently, but he is an addict that continues to attempt to become strengthened through any type of additive behavior; he waits all of the time. The two statements in the movie brought to me an awareness of the language of awakening that my internal addict listens for, and my addicts reaction to the language of normalcy.
During one of the moments when David and Nic are discussing treatment, David tells Nic, “You can get control of this, and be the person you were before”. My immediate reaction was, “oh my God, that’s the thing, I never want to be the person I was before drugs”, and then the father that I am asked “why, what was wrong with you before drugs?”
The thing is my family and friends remember me as a happy child with a sparkle in my eye. What I remember is always thinking I was separate from everyone and everything; I remember trying to figure out if everyone felt separate and different all of the fucking time, and I remember that I didn’t even know how to ask. How do you describe the feeling of separate and different?
For addicts, for this addict at least, there is no concept of normal. To this day I see what society, television, and relationships present as acceptable; I see the degrees of these presentations, and I either have to settle for or strive for any of those concepts. As a child I never felt that I was enough and I was constantly accused of always wanting more than I deserved. How could I tell the people who were around me that I was always on a razor’s edge of existence? Although I continue to learn to accept what is while striving for what can be, the razor has not dulled; I have simply become acquainted with recognizing it for what it is; life. I will honestly tell you, for this addict, this is the truth, and so is the fact that I think the answer sucks.
The second statement in Beautiful Boy that glared at me was in a scene where Nic was visiting his family; Nic had, at this time, put together a bit over 400 days clean and sober; he was playing on the beach with his little brother; they had not seen each other for a little over 1 year, and Nic asked his brother “is it weird seeing me again after so long?” His little brother said “I thought it would be, but it turns out you are just the same old Nic?” I knew that Nic would be triggered to relapse as soon as his brother said it. How did I know? I knew because the black hole that addiction fills does not like to be compared to who I have always been. You see, who I have always been is the guy on the razor’s edge of existence; please try to understand, I may not have wanted to physically die; however, I set out to kill the feeling of separate and different. It is imposable for those of you comfortable with normalcy to understand my aversion to anything normal.
I cannot state the level of my gratitude for the many years of sobriety that I have; however, the longer I am sober the more I recognize my truth; I never want to be the person that I was before drugs, and I never what to be the same old Ken. I may understand David, but I really understand Nic; love is stronger than addiction; however, for those who are suffering from addiction, disease, or depression, I beg of you to allow us to let go of who we always were; I promise you that no one who is suffering wants to go back to the days before while fighting to get to the days after.