You would think after fifteen years, my memories of “rolling” and free-falling inside myself would be strung together on a distant, blurry line, for which I am older and wiser living clear on the other side. For the most part, this is true.
I can’t remember my last night taking Molly (we called it ecstasy, or “X”), but it’s been so long, my cravings are nearly non-existent. There are times when I allow myself to enjoy a memory or two – and those flashes in my mind are always wrapped in a glittery bow of reckless abandon, stitched together with youth and frivolity. These warm and fuzzy emotions are always balanced by the harsh realization that thanks to a solid five-year, six-pill-a-day habit, my brain is now permanently damaged. My docs and I have a good thing going now, with regular maintenance of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) therapy. It’s a pain in the ass, but considering my rock star history, I know I got off easy.
We addicts are a colorful brew. Our longing can percolate with just about anything that taps into our sensory enticements. A passer-by leaving a trail of perfume, catching a scene from an old movie on television, inhaling a whiff of a crisp dollar bill (ask any coke head about smelling money, it’s pretty gross) – basically anything our subconscious connected with when we were using, can serve up as VIP passes to The Dark Side. And darkness for addicts is like sunflowers and rainbows to everyone else. There’s an element of comfort and ease when we kick back in our own shadow. Our anguish is a warm blanket we reach for, which is hilarious when you consider the fact that our drug-taking is the very reason it got so cold in the first place.
I knew going to the Depeche Mode concert would stir up feelings. And I’m pretty sure when I got those floor seat tickets, I felt a flutter of love-drug memories. What I was not at all prepared for was the trigger floodgates to blow open when I started playing their music the night before the show.
You know you’re an addict when the idea of NOT getting high (to see one of your favorite bands you used to see when you were high) wrestles with any excitement of seeing them play at all. As I sat on the foot of my bed, laughing alone like a crazy person at how ridiculous my brain was (is), I let the triggers work through me and turned up the volume while I danced in my bedroom.
As I texted my date for the festivities, sharing with him how “I really wish we could get high for tomorrow night’s show” I suddenly realized that this would be the first time I’d see Depeche Mode without being high on Molly. Then I realized what a gift it could be to actually BE IN THE MOMENT with the live music.
What? No drugs at a concert? What are you, high?
Still, I was anxious about seeing one of my favorite bands without the levity of drugs to carry me beyond the places everyone else would go. One of the most annoying things about drug addicts is that when it comes to getting high – we have an inflated sense of entitlement and zero humility. We deserve to be higher, to feel better, to be allowed in the VIP room of doom. I can’t begin to express my gratitude now that I finally get it – that flying high on the magic carpet of denial is just a short trip to the crash and burn that inevitably follows. Then there’s that whole dying thing that could happen.
By the time we found our floor seats and chatted up with fellow Depeche lovers (one flew from Russia just to see the show), I was solid. The triggers were long gone and now I was just thrilled.
It’s worth mentioning that the lead singer of Depeche Mode, David Gahan is a recovering addict and has survived and thrived beyond comprehension. Heroin overdoses, suicide attempts, his heart actually stopping for two whole minutes. This fucker is lucky – and after seeing his performance the other night, there is no doubt he knows it.
There’s nothing quite like witnessing another human being savoring their passion.
There were tears and chills, screams and stomps; fifteen thousand of us – all on the ride of our lives. As grown ups living in this big, bad world of responsibility, suffering and disappointment – to land back in the place of childhood freedom, giddy with excitement, screaming with joy – is an absolute treasure.
There was a moment during the concert when the incomparable Martin Gore sang “But Not Tonight” – and he pulled back after taking a pause and was beaming with joy. He was taking us all in, as we were with him. I still get chills when I see it and am so happy I caught it on video – you can see the exact moment about 53 seconds in:
There was something about his lyrics that seeped inside my soul.
“I haven’t felt so alive – in years.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
I used to think I needed drugs to enjoy this kind of spiritual awakening. I’ve heard Depeche Mode many times in previous concerts, but this experience was by FAR the most beautiful. And it was wrapped inside one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since being clean – you really don’t need drugs to be high.