Memepool pointed me towards Metafilter. I was a casual reader for about a year and a half before I signed up for a membership. At the time, there was no signup fee but Matt was only letting in around five new members a day. Because of my work schedule at the time, it took me several months of trying before I got my foot lodged firmly in the door.
The Man With the Golden Mefi
Around the same time I signed up for Metafilter, I also signed up for something even more destructive: I became a full-fledged heroin addict. For years and years I alternated between battling the drug and just living with it. It was almost never fun. My days were full of depression, brief moments of elation, and hospital visits. I lost nearly everything - my possessions, my friends, my wife.
I moved from city to city, running from one habit right into the arms of a new one. I lived on both coasts before landing in Dallas, broken and defeated. By this point I was going through an extended lost weekend, a three-year-long bottom. I ended up in jail a few times - luckily for nothing more than misdemeanors - and without a car, home, or local friends I'd known for more than a few months.
(I probably should insert some kind of joke here to lighten the mood - it's all kinds of serious in this little grey text box. Unfortunately, the first 'joke of the day yuck yuck yuck' website I visited was even lamer than I was hoping it'd be - not corny stupid and just stupid stupid. I'd search a bit more, but I'm afraid I'm fast headed towards Matt's deadline of high noon and I'd really like to finish this. I might as well use this chance to apologize for any glaring grammatical errors. Again, deadline. Anyway, here's a simple joke from my childhood:
Did you hear about the fire at the shoe factory? A hundred soles were lost! Yuck yuck yuck!)
Late 2008: I was living on a dirty couch in a cold, unfinished warehouse and I was quickly running out of money, out of drugs, out of options. I'm a pretty shitty thief and besides, I was tired, So fucking tired, Tired of abscesses on my arms, tired of dealing with dealers, tired of other junkies, tired of puking, tired of running into old friend and having them just know (true story: at a bar right before or right after Christmas, 2008 I ran into Gibby Haynes, notorious singer for the Butthole Surfers and even more notorious crackhead/junkie/drug slut. He was friendly, nice as hell, and at one point he said "man, you're FUCKED UP, aren't you?")
I began reaching out to my online friends, the good people from Metafilter, and I was shown support and encouragement that I hadn't seen in a long, long time. Some just showed me badly needed friendship and encouragement, while other Mefites helped me find a treatment center, helped me apply and get accepted for a scholarship to go there, and helped me get on a plane to California to begin the long process of starting over. If it would make any sense, I'd repeat this paragraph over and over and over for emphasis. Though one of my friends was also instrumental and definitely deserves credit, Mefites, simply put, helped me get into rehab. They helped save my life.
While in treatment, I was diagnosed with a severe case of PTSD. Opiates actually work extremely well in the treatment of PTSD - it's just unfortunate that the side effects (addiction, withdrawl, tolerance, legal status) are pretty undesirable. I underwent treatment for the PTSD and it made my cravings for opiates all but disappear. I struggled with staying clean for a little while after I finished treatment, but eventually it clicked. I am one of the lucky ones, the less than 5% who are able to make it stick.
I work on myself each and every day and I'm happier than I've ever been. I'm able to carry on relationships with my parents, with my cool-as-shit sister, with an amazing and beautiful and lovely and also cool-as-shit girl. I have a charming little kitten and a cute house in Oak Cliff. I smile. I think about and plan for the future. I'd likely have none of these things if it wasn't for the blue, and each and every time I open a browser window and see that familiar, friendly color I'm reminded of where I was, where I am, and where I want to be.