It was Halloween of 1998. A psychedelic fall array of color had blanketed the landscape of Ohio. The tree canopies of red, yellow and orange would dance around in my hemorrhaged brain like colorful quilts and tapestries arranged on dirty walls.
In October of 1998, Shirley Manson from the band “Garbage” sang these words on the radio; “I fall down just to give you a thrill, Prop me up with another pill, If I should fail, if I should fold, I nailed my faith to the sticking pole.”
Kent, Ohio was a twenty-five minute drive away from my hometown of Hudson, Ohio. Kent State University was famous for their yearly Halloween bash. It was my plan to party all day at school, and head to Kent and party all night.
By this point, even though I was a senior in High School, a good amount of my High School friends didn’t want to be around me any more. My habits were too severe, and my moods were unpredictable. I would snap on people in a moment. I would go from being sentimental to being crazily angry. My only friends were those who participated in my level of madness. This led me to hang around with a lot of people in their twenties. People who were attending college and failing out, drug dealers, and also the legion of young people who consumed what they offered, and funded their designer rave clothes wardrobe.
I dressed up like Magic Alex, from the film “A Clockwork Orange” by Stanley Kubrick for Halloween. I ate 3 hits of blue LSD gel tabs in the morning and put on my outfit- complete with a walking cane and fake, long eyelashes. I wanted to imitate the criminal madness of Alex, who fueled himself with drugs throughout the whole movie, and then committed heinous acts of violence and infamy.
There’s something about the world of drugs that makes dark and sinister things interesting. I had officially gone down a road of embracing darkness. I would take drugs regularly, hallucinate and see awful things, and accept them as if they were normal. I realize that God Himself wasn’t going to force me to do otherwise, for that would make Him a “Master of Puppets”, and not a loving God who revealed His beauty, love and forgiveness to me, at a moment of desperation in a bad trip I had the summer before. I should have known then what I know now, that God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. (Rom. 1:18-20)
God’s most severe judgment is that He lets people experience the sting of their own consequence. At this point, I knew that everything I was doing was totally awful, but my self-hatred and anger towards the world was thorough enough to plunge me into a downward spiral.
I don’t remember barely anything at all about the Halloween of 1998. I do once recall looking at myself in a mirror dressed as Magic Alex, and seeing myself turn into many different vicious creatures, because the drug had so thoroughly taken a hold of my brain. I also remember being in Kent many hours later, walking through the streets dressed as Alex, still tripping and completely drunk. I don’t think we even made it to the Halloween party in downtown Kent. We spent all night racking our brains with substances, and then ate at Denny’s restaurant in the middle of the night with a group of inebriated freaks. I don’t remember who was there. I don’t remember anything we did. I only know that I was so out of my mind, anyone who would have encountered me would have thought I belonged in a mental ward.
I do know that we were partying all night at a house that belonged to a friend of ours, Dirk. He lived at the Eagle’s Point apartments in Kent. His house was a constant, consistent den of crazy. Dirk didn’t do drugs like we did, but he was always drunk. He would get so drunk at his parties that he would dress up in a Viking outfit, complete with a horned helmet, plastic body armor, a plastic ball and chain mace, and Valhalla wrist guards. There were a few nights that he went into a rage and brought in large objects, and began to demolish his apartment. I remember one night where he actually smashed his TV with a large log. We would all sit around him, dumbfounded and laughing, too afraid to stop him, and too wasted to care.
It was at one of these parties where I did a line of cocaine. It was one of those things that I always told myself, even at the worst moments, that I would never do. But my friend Kristian assured me that it was not going to kill me, and it would be one of the most potent highs I had ever experienced. I only remember snorting it, and then being filled with the feeling that I was equal with God. I believed the serpent, who said that God knew that when I put it up my nose my eyes would be opened, and I would be like God…” (Gen. 3:5) I remember walking around afterwards, filled with the sensation that I could destroy and overpower anything.
Forty-five minutes later, I was the most depressed that I had ever been. I smoked a full eighth of an ounce of marijuana, just in an effort to cope with the physical withdrawal. My friend James was deeply angry at me. He told me off that day. It may have been because of him that I didn’t do it again. The urge was definitely strong, but I can now say that this was the only time that I have ever snorted cocaine.
But my party was not even close to over. At this point, I was smoking about $70 worth of marijuana a week. I was taking between 2 and 6 hits of acid a week, which cost between $10 and $30. I was snorting prescription speed when I could get a hold of it. I was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, which cost $17.50 a week back then, and I was drinking about two fifteen packs of beer on the weekends, which was $16 a week (we drank really cheap beer). Over all, I was spending about $123.50 a week on my drug habit. For a senior in High School with no job, this was a lot of money.
I began to deal pot to support my out of control habits. Most of the time, I would find naïve, nice kids and rip them off. I’d ask them for money in advance, buy dope for them, smoke half of it, and tell them I got ripped off and give them half of what they payed for. I regret to say that during this time, I also turned some kids on to LSD. One of which dosed himself and had to be put in a mental ward for the night.
The fights I had with my parents were out of control. I would come home, 2 hours after curfew. My Mom would confront me, angry at my defiance of their rules. I would cuss her out. She would ask me, “Ben, are you high?” I would bark back at her, “Yeah… What are you going to do about it?” At this point I didn’t even bother trying to hide anymore. I was off my rocker, and I just wanted to live my way. My Mom actually went into the worst depression she’s ever been in, and had to take Prozac for a short time to alleviate the worry that I would come home in a coffin.
One time, my Dad and I were arguing. I started physically pushing him until he was up against the wall. I dared him; “Go ahead Dad. Hit me! I know you wanna do it! C’mon!” I was fortunate that my Dad controlled himself in that moment. He never struck me in my life, even in those moments when I would have deserved it. Not that I believe in them, but I could have used a couple of spankings when I was little…
I was about to go further into psychological drug abuse as the world of the Rave scene lured me in like bait on a fish-hook. The pumping jungle bass beats, flashing colored lights in the night, the tweakers dancing around like indigo demons, and the mystique of a drug called “Ecstasy” intrigued me. It wouldn’t be long before my life would become stranger than ever…