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I've fallen in love with run commuting. I don't do it all the time, but over the past 2 years, I've logged some 1500-2000 Human-Powered miles between home and work. It has been mostly running, but I've also accumulated some cycling and walking miles too. I love it.

During this time, I've thought frequently of the thin white lines that lead me to and from, and I enjoy the seemingly endless path they trace all over this country. These days, thin white lines present positivity. They boost my endurance, decrease my carbon footprint, and save me time. But not so long ago, thin white lines were a completely different animal...

I am grateful for the photo above. It's a glimpse into my creative brain, and a snippet of how far I've come since living in the throes of substance abuse and drug addiction.

I started doing drugs in high school. I quickly became a fan of snorting most anything that was "safe" to put up my nose. It began with pain pills and muscle relaxers, but I used cocaine a handful of times in high school too. A few weeks after graduating, I went to a music festival and had my first (of many) "coke bender." I loved it. It made me social and happy, and I sleeplessly danced the entire weekend. After that, I started using ecstasy. I also started selling ecstasy. I found that crushing and snorting the pills greatly expedited, and enhanced, the buzz so that was nearly always my choice in consumption. I did ecstasy almost every day for 4 months and it wasn't uncommon for me to consume several pills in a single day.

Ecstasy led me to methamphetamine, aka "crystal meth." It's fortunate (and somewhat surprising) that meth didn't kill me. Obviously, my preference was to snort this drug too, so I was constantly crushing up these little crystal shards and shoving them up my nose. For 3 months, I used meth every single day. I lost about 30 pounds in that timeframe and rarely ate anything. It was rare to get more than a few hours of sleep in a weeks' time, which led to large gaps of lost memory during this time in my life.

But then, Denny went to jail, and the meth-flow stopped. So did the ecstasy. My girlfriend broke up with me and I found myself sleeping in my Mercury Cougar, in the Giant Eagle grocery store parking lot in the middle of December. It was time to go home, and that's exactly what I did.

Weaning from meth wasn't difficult for me. Fortunately, I had plenty of pot and access to booze and pharmaceuticals whenever I wanted them. This was a good thing because I needed some type of substance to tame the meth come down, as well as the violence and corruption and lost love and ultimately, the hatred brewing inside of me.

Shortly after moving home, I was partying hard again with new and old friends alike. I was binge drinking most nights, and supplementing with enough pharmaceuticals to calm a raging bull. The house I was doing most of my partying at soon became a dealer drop off for cocaine, and as you might guess, I was first in line. Since my meth addiction ended several months prior, this was the first upper to find me and I was excited to have something to keep me going, even if it couldn't compare to meth.

Cocaine wasn't perfect, but not only did it give me a stimulating high, it presented a new business opportunity. I began dealing and quickly became good at it. It wasn't uncommon to sell several hundred dollars' worth of it in a days' time. Along with it came lots of partying and heavy usage like I'd not done previously with this drug. If I had to guess, I abused cocaine for 6-9 months and I was constantly attending house and hotel parties, hanging with other dealers, users, strippers, friends, and unfortunately, attending funerals too. I was a coke head and everyone in town knew it. And I didn't care. I liked that I was one of the guys to call when people needed their "thin white line" fix.

That was my life for several years, from my junior year in high school until I was 21. Fortunately, I got a job soon after which left far less time for hard drug use. After a few months there, I got a different, better job. My vices slowed down, though my drinking increased, but that was far more manageable than what I had been doing prior. Soon after my 21st birthday, I managed to enroll in college, thanks to my angelic mother and her never giving up on me. Even though I was in college, I was going to school as a Theatre Major so drinking and drugs were part of that territory too. I didn't sell much, but my recreational use was still present, and my drinking led to an all-time high while I was at school for the first two years. There were still plenty of thin white lines at college, from pills to coke to ecstasy. And I was a veteran there. Unfortunately, my continued recreational use and curiosity led to one more addiction, crack. Smoking crack was different. It was dirty. And that dirt was good for my wounds. It hurt me and made me whole at the same time. It was disgusting. It was beautiful. But fortunately, it was brief.

Marion. DUI. Marietta. Deception. Hate. Chicago. Travel. Love. Deception. Drinking. Marriage. Alcoholism. Secrets. Business ownership. Success. American dream. Money. Divorce. Therapy. Honesty. Running. Self-love. Running. Therapy. Love. Bankruptcy. Love. Running. Purity. Honesty. Integrity. Therapy. Love. Running. Now...

Now we get back to the picture of thin white lines. That picture was taken on Lexington Road in Louisville, Kentucky. It is one of the roads I often traverse in run commuting to/from work.

I love thin white lines. It reminds me of how far I've come. It reminds me that I've still got a long way to go. It reminds me that I'm still an addict and that I will always be an addict. I cannot change that, nor do I want to. Some may argue that my running is excessive, intrusive, unnecessary, and borderline addictive... or that it is, in and of itself, an addiction. And you may be right. That may be true. But if you give me the option to choose between running on thin white lines or shoving thin white lines up my nose, I will choose running. Every. Single. Time.

And for that, I am grateful.

Patrick Messenger


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