Tag Archives: Adderall

The Psychedelic Orchestra Bus

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The Common Vision Bus

The Common Vision Bus (Photo credit: Vicki & Chuck Rogers)

In the Spring of 1998 The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” was high on the charts.  My life was a reflection of it’s message.

No change, I can’t change

I can’t change, I can’t change

But I’m here in my mind

I am here in my mind

And I’m a million different people

from one day to the next

I can’t change my mind

No, no, no, no, no, no, no

I can’t change

I can’t change it

I was truly lost in my own mind.  I was truly “a million different people from one day to the next”, and didn’t really feel I needed an identity anymore.  I was who ever I was around.  I was wherever the party was.

I had never felt before as much as I did then that I was literally rolling with the wind.  It seemed wherever my feelings led me was where I would go.  I had no rules, and no boundaries.  My days were a blur, a mysterious haze of the unknown.  All up until this point in my addictive pattern I hadn’t really had many “sobering moments”.  It’s funny how drugs do this to a person’s mind.  The beginning stages of partying came with a few intense consequences…  I got busted and arrested.  I got into dysfunctional relationships, my grades in school were sinking, and my relationship with my parents was more strained every day.

However, the lure of being high always drew me back in.  None of these things seemed like fair enough warnings at the time.  I got busted, so I would find a way to lie and sneak around more…  which could have potentially gotten me into more trouble but I didn’t care.

I got into dysfunctional friendships and relationships with girls, so I found a way to keep them seemingly functional by lying and partying with these people all of the time.  It’s funny when you begin to surround yourself with “drug buddies”.  They feel like real friends, but really you’re just on the same substances all the time, and without the substances the connection could be lost.  In the middle of the party scene it’s so hard to tell who your real friends are, because everyone seems like they either want something from you or are out to get you.

My grades in school were falling apart, but I was convinced that it didn’t matter.  I assured myself that I would probably be a famous rock n’ roll tragedy someday, like Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix.  Who needed good grades when they were headed for a life beyond anything school could offer?  I didn’t have a plan to go to college.  I wanted to get high and make art.  I didn’t care anymore if I made some great impact on the world, and if I did, it would be my own ascent to notoriety and subsequent fall to chaos and oblivion.  Or…  I would work at a Burger joint or something…

My relationship with my parents almost seemed non-existent.  They were workaholics.  At this time in our lives they fought and swore at each other all of the time.  We never talked.  We avoided each other at home.  They never asked me how my day was going.  I would leave the house all night and come home at 10pm, which was my curfew on school nights, and 12pm, which was my curfew on weekends (I realize how lenient this was now!)  Normally, I would show up an hour late.  My Mom would get in my face about it, and I would blow her off and go up into my room.  I was behaving like some adult far before his time, though in so many ways I was a little boy.

Junior year in High School was certainly a time when all my peers were beginning to think about their “future”.  People all around me were studying hard, signing up for college courses they could take in High School to get ahead of the time, and starting to look at where they might apply for colleges.  I, on the other hand, was the guy with a bong and a guitar.  Though to be honest, I hadn’t played the guitar much lately…  Secretly, I resented my peers as they moved forward in life, and left their trail of dust in my stoned face.

And beyond all of this, psychedelic drugs were now a part of my life.  At the time I was convinced that LSD was some sort of window into a new world, a spiritual door.  I resonated with people like Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey who seemed to think that LSD opened up ones mind to the hidden spiritual forces within and without.  During late 1966 and early 1967, Leary toured college campuses presenting a multi-media performance “The Death of the Mind”, which attempted to artistically replicate the LSD experience. Leary said the League for Spiritual Discovery was limited to 360 members and was already at its membership limit, but he encouraged others to form their own psychedelic religions. He published a pamphlet in 1967 called Start Your Own Religion, to encourage people to do so. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Leary)

Much like Timothy Leary, I wanted to show people about my new religious experience.  I was ready to turn others on to this weird drug, and really believed that I was helping them.  It seemed easy to adopt this religious view at the time, because I grew up being told to find or create my own spiritual path.  There was no thought that I could blaze a legitimate trail to any sort of salvation or redemptive love during this period in my life.  If I would have known what was about to transpire in my mind  in the next few months, I may have thought twice about the journey I was undertaking.

The Orchestra, under the leadership of the sweet and gentle Mrs. Bush, was to take a bus trip to Chicago to compete in a regional orchestra competition.  My good friend Mitchell and I were both in the orchestra together, along with a number of our friends.  Of course, I hatched up a crazy plan to turn this entire trip into a psychedelic experience.  We had an 8-hour bus ride, and 2 days in Chicago.  The choir would be travelling from Cleveland to Chicago too, right in a bus behind us.  My girlfriend at the time, Harmony, was in the choir and on that bus.

Since I had embarked upon the LSD experience, Harmony and I began to experience turmoil in what seemed to be a close friendship and dating relationship.  After her bad reaction to the first time I had taken a trip, I had decided to keep all my trips a secret.  Since that time I had done acid about 3 times, and never told her.  In my mind I was hoping that she would eventually decide to try it herself and then she would join me.  I figured until then the secret would hurt no one.

So naturally, I told all the friends who were dropping acid with me not to let the secret out to Harmony.  This is how a ball of lies begins to spin out of control.  It’s like a snowball at the top of a mountain covered with snow, and as it rolls on in turns into an uncontrollable avalanche.  The torrent hadn’t arrived yet, but the momentum was building.

So we set out for Chicago on a high quality bus, which the orchestra had completely for ourselves.  The inside of the bus looked like the interior of an airplane, comfy seats, bathrooms, and wide windows.  I was thinking at the time that this would be an amazing “trip”- with the double meaning intended.

I had sat next to Mitchell, and our friend Adam, and older friend Dirk, who was a senior and deeply into the drug scene.  They had all agreed to try this crazy drug on the bus ride.  It was an 8-hour trip, which was exactly how long the drug would usually last.  Mitchell, Dirk and I took some.  Adam was pensive.  The bus hit the road towards Chicago.

As mine began to kick in I had a conversation with Adam.  He wasn’t sure he wanted to try it.  “I just don’t know, Ben!”  He said.  “I mean, everybody knows me as this good Catholic kid who loves Jesus and gets good grades…  but I have this side of me that just wants to get high and now even try this…  what should I do?”

Adam must have been looking for a reason to go against his conscience.  After all, he was asking me, Benny White, to give him advice on whether he should keep being a “good kid”, or delve more deeply into the abyss.

“Look man.”  I said, “If anything at all bro, this stuff will make your spiritual life better.  It’s the most amazing experience someone could ever have.  Who knows, maybe it will bring you closer to Jesus!”

I can’t believe the things I used to say.  If I would have known that Adam would have become immersed in the drug scene and given up his faith in Jesus, maybe I would have had a different piece of advice.  I was like the serpent at the tree of knowledge, and it wasn’t long before Adam put the little piece of paper on his tongue and joined us on our kaleidoscopic bus ride.

It’s important to say that I had no real deep thoughts about God or the afterlife during this time.  Jesus was just a vague religious figure to me.  He didn’t have any significance as anyone with deity or preeminence- those things were open to the eye of the beholder in my view then.  If I ever had thoughts about God, they were strange, creative, random ideas about who He/She/It might be.  I didn’t know or think of God as a person that could be understood.  The only times that I had thoughts about any moral failing and desperation were moments when I had upset my girlfriend, Harmony, or when I was having a moment of self-loathing.  These moments may have driven me to some form of penitence, but if things went back to smooth sailing for me I would quickly be able to return to a state of wanton hedonism.  I didn’t care about cosmic consequences or some type of divine purpose, because I was ignorant of these things.

I imagine that we came off like a bunch of goofy fools to every other participant in the Hudson High School orchestra on that bus.  But when someone is that high, at times they can be completely unaware of their surroundings.  I don’t remember much, but I’m sure we were blurting out things that made no sense and acting crazy.

There is one thing I remember vaguely.  We stopped at a rest stop to get lunch, and the choir bus behind us stopped too.  Harmony approached me and asked me to have a cigarette with her.  I nervously agreed, feeling out of control.

As we spent time talking I must have been babbling in strange riddles and acting scary and zoned out.  She asked me what the heck was the matter with me.  I told her I had smoked some pot before the bus trip.  She looked at me with suspicion.  The lies continued.

The bus made it to Chicago.  We spent time hanging out at the hotel, of which I don’t remember much at all.  I do remember that night though.  We had more hits of acid with us, and were planning on taking them when we visited the Art Institute of Chicago.  Mitchell and I were always the impulsive and crazy ones though.  As we were coming off of the other trip, we decided to take 2 hits each of this other stuff we had…  at midnight.  We were rooming with Adam and another friend, Brett Smith.  We didn’t tell them what we had done, though they obviously figured it out later.

They were sharing a bed and Mitchell and I were on the floor in sleeping bags.  As they tried to get to sleep the acid kicked in.  We were up all night giggling like little boys, and mocking Adam and how he behaved on the drug while we rode the bus.  He had heard every word we said, and they had gotten no sleep because of us.  Mitchell and I stayed up all night, hallucinating in the dark…  looking at the streetlights casting shadows on the wall.  We got up in the morning as the sun came up, and walked into the parking lot, feeling like we had been through hell.

Adam confronted us about how we had slandered him the next morning, and we felt like jerks… sort of.  We were so high we thought he couldn’t hear us.  Hard drugs really do make one unaware and careless about other people’s feelings.

Mitchell and I hadn’t entered slumber land for an entire night, and we were then carted in a bus to downtown Chicago.  Mrs. Bush unleashed us on Michigan Avenue, the main drag of metro-Chicago, and told us to meet back at a certain time to visit the art museum.  Mitchell and I were completely out of it.  Dirk thought we were idiots for taking LSD the night before, and he was certainly right.  I was about to be introduced to a new drug as the effects of sleep deprivation psychosis kicked in.

Dirk had these little pills that went by the name of “Adderall”.  He crushed one up for me and told me to snort it, and it would keep me awake.  These were prescribed to kids who had ADHD, and had methamphetamine in them.  He told me it was a light version of speed, and would keep me wide-eyed.  I told him, “Dirk, I’ve never snorted anything before!”  I had always sworn that I would never do anything like that.  Dirk assured me, “Don’t worry man, it’s as harmless as a cup of coffee bro.”  For some reason I believed him.  Again, in the mind of an addict the consequences are never clear, but just the immediate gratification of the moment.

I snorted 20 mg. of Adderall and woke up instantly.  We went to the Art Institute and Dirk and Adam took acid.  The museum was certainly filled with incredible art, and they mocked us more for not waiting to do the drug there.  Adam had forgiven us, at least in appearance, for what we had said about him the night before.  We trudged our way through the art museum, a bunch of unhinged teenagers as we were.

Later that night we went to the orchestra competition.  It had been a long day.  I had blown my mind apart with drugs, and was rapidly deteriorating from the Adderall.  It came time to give our orchestra performance.  We waited for our turn to set up, and before long it was time to play.

The melody of the strings lilted in my mind like a cacophony of slithering amphibians and gooey pudding in my mind.  I was so out of it that I couldn’t even make out the refrains and changes in melody.  This was odd for me, because music had always been such a passion of mine.  But I hadn’t even written a song in months…  my life had become engrossed in the LSD experience.  I was lost.  I was floating like a dingy feather into the ethereal wasteland of the stratosphere.

These thoughts rolled through my mind, and all of a sudden everyone was staring at me…  “Your cue is coming up!”  Dirk whispered to me.  Before I could even think where we were in the piece, I took the handles of the Zildjan cymbals in front of me, and clanged them together with great force… completely off beat.  Mrs. Bush stared and me in shock, and rolled her eyes.  Everyone in the orchestra tried to keep from laughing.  We got last place in the competition.

We got a night of sleep that night, and it wasn’t nearly enough.  Then we awoke early to head home the next day.  I hadn’t barely seen Harmony the entire time we were on the trip.  I was avoiding her for fear she would find me out.  We did make a stop on the way home and I found her.  She looked so mad at me I almost couldn’t look her in the eye.  I had been doing more of Dirk’s Adderall to try and stay alert.  Harmony came up to me and looked me straight into my bloodshot, dilated-pupil eyeballs and said, “Ben, you look like crap.  You look like you got run over by a truck.”  Of course I back-peddled.  “Oh Harmony man…  ha ha…  I’m just all tired and stuff.”  I said this as I was in a rushed speedy frenzy.  “Ben…”  She replied, “What are you on?  You don’t even seem like yourself!  I feel like I don’t even know you anymore!”

“Look Harmony, I’m cool!  I’m just tired, ok?”

“Yeah whatever Ben!  You’re a LIAR!  That’s what you are!”

“Fine!  Just leave me alone then!”

(Of course there were many variegated epithets used in our dialogue which I’m not displaying here.)

We boarded the bus and continued our ride home.  I was more depressed than ever.  Would Harmony dump me?  Would she find out that I was snorting pills and eating acid every weekend?  There had to be a way to keep her in the dark, I thought.  My whole life was beginning to collapse.  Everything that mattered to me was crumbling.  I looked out into the rainy night and the streetlights that lined the route 80 turnpike.  The “Welcome to Ohio” sign rolled up past us.  We were on our way home, but in so many ways, I was further from home than ever.

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Eating Ecstasy and Falling Falsely in Love With the World

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Assortment of Ecstasy pills.

Assortment of Ecstasy pills. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t piece together any of the events in October, November and December of 1998 in chronological order.  My intake of mind-altering substances was at an all time peak.  I was smoking pot all day, tripping two or three times a week, snorting speed pills, drinking booze, skipping school, failing every class in my senior year of high school, and bouncing around like a lost pinball in Pete Townshend’s Tommy Rock Opera Sub-Conscious Machine. The ways of right-living people were aglow with light; But the road of wrongdoing became darker and darker, where travelers couldn’t see a thing; and fell flat on their faces.  (Prov. 4:18-19 The MSG)  No matter how many times I would fall flat on my face, there was always someone else to blame other than me.  I would reason that it was my parents’ fault, or society’s fault, or my teachers at school.  They were the instigators of my ruin, not me.  I was living in a delusion.

I remember the people that I despised the most and were “aglow with light”.  It wasn’t those who tolerated me or scolded me.  It was those who loved me.  I remember the nicest guy in my grade, Elias Wayans.  Every time that I encountered Elias, he would smile and seem to look deep down into my soul.  He would say things like; “Hey Ben…  How are you doing buddy?”  He was well liked by everyone in our grade.  Amongst many religious people who were hypocritical, and would join me in partying.  Or those who were holy rollers that would judge and marginalize me, he was a rare bird, someone who seemed to be a real follower of Jesus.  He lived a clean and respectable life, but he also exuded an unconditional love toward everyone that I couldn’t grasp.  All my speculation about the Woodstock Generation and Bohemians of the past couldn’t match up to the life of Elias Wayans.

One day, somewhere amidst the blur of the end of 1998, I was sitting alone in Arabica Coffee shop in Hudson, Ohio, coming off of one of my many acid trips.  I had a wool cap on, and my Green Grateful Dead Terrapin Station t-shirt on over a long underwear full-sleeved shirt.  I was smoking a cigarette and watching the smoke trail off into little phantoms in the air- where molecules would splice themselves into life patterns that developed into fiery crows, circus clowns and werewolves.  I looked up and saw a girl arise from the elusive mist and sit down across from me.  Her name was Jaime Wyatt.  There was definitely an immediate attraction that happened between us.

Not only was there an attraction to her, Jaime seemed to understand me.  She was heavy into the drug scene herself; addicted to prescription speed (Adderall), and smoking dope.  She had also done her fair share of LSD.  She talked me down off of my trip, and made me feel better.  I was still depressed about my ex-girlfriend Harmony and I breaking up, and getting so much focused attention from a girl definitely gave me greater confidence.

In some sort of whirlwind, Jaime and I began hanging out all of the time.  This was in late November, leading into December and the Christmas Season.  Santa Claus was an old burned out psychedelic hippie to me as the winter of 1998-1999 crept in.  Jaime and I became good friends.  We were so much alike in so many ways.  We were idealists, we were outgoing types, and we observed a certain poetry in life and loved to discuss deep things.  Jaime and I had a taste for wild, spontaneous adventure at the time.  We were both hedonists to the core.  We didn’t care about responsibility or respect to any authority.  We roamed free like two wild flower children in 1969.

I don’t remember when or how we first kissed or began dating, though I know these things came to be.  We were high all of the time.  The drugs were flowing around us like oxygen.  I got in with her circle of friends, some whom were drug dealers of a higher caliber than I had known before.  All of a sudden, I was getting supplied with almost any substance I wanted.

Something unexpected happened as well.  As my confidence grew, and my crazy habits multiplied, two of my ex-girlfriends came back into my life.  It’s true what they say about some women becoming attracted to notorious characters.  It’s as if my criminal ways actually made me more appealing to them.  I don’t know why living life on the edge is attractive to some people.  Maybe it’s because life in the middle is so mundane.  I know now that one can live a righteous life on the edge, living radically in pursuit of Jesus, but back then I only knew the terror and risk involved in infamy and self-destruction.

Madiera, my ex-girlfriend from two summers before, was in the same wild party scene that I was in, and we began fooling around again and partying together.  Because I was so inebriated all of the time, I didn’t take it seriously.  But Madiera began to speak again of being in a relationship with me.  I led her on to believe that I was romantically interested, and we continued fooling around and partying.  Madiera had continued to be a close friend to me, and because she appeared in a moment of ethical weakness and personal despair, I gave in to my own manipulative intentions.

Then low and behold, the answer to what my dreams were at the time came true.  Harmony came back into my life.  She had begun to party more heavily as well.  However, as in the past, she had high standards for getting back together.  She wanted to know that she could trust me, so she didn’t get in too deep with me right away.  But we did party together and kiss and talk about how we were going to get back together…

I had never been the type before this to date a variety of girls simultaneously.  It could have been because my parents were always faithful to each other.  I never wanted to be in anything but a serious relationship.  I had personal lust problems with myself, but always remained devoted to one girl at a time.  Drugs do deteriorate the pure intentions of the heart. Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. (Titus 1:15)  When a person fills their mind and life with venom, the vision and judgment within the conscience become blurred.  I just wanted to be high and have fun.  I was so high all of the time, I didn’t care that I was about to deeply wound the hearts of two of these girls, or maybe all three.

It was also quite a juggling act.  I would try and fill my week with plans, seeing all three girls at different times, making sure they didn’t overlap, and making sure to be secretly romantic with each of them so that no one would let the word out and get me caught.

The decision didn’t enter my mind on who to choose until I had delved in deeply.  I was a hopeless romantic.  I didn’t treat relationships casually.  I made all three of these girls think that I loved them and they were the only ones for me.  This was the most I had mastered the art of lying, though nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. (Luke 8:17)  All liars, even the most effective ones, get caught.

One night, by some wild stream of events, I partied my mind out.  It was Christmas break of 1998.  Jamie and I decided that we should try a newer drug called Ecstasy, which was the street name for a drug derived from components of mescaline and methamphetamine called MDMAhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MDMA  I had been told by some of my new Raver friends that Ecstasy would turn my mind on to new waves of compassion and understanding.

People in the late 90’s called being high on X “rolling”, because it would release so much serotonin in your brain at once that your eyes would constantly roll up into your head from the overload of dopamine.  It’s amazing how the enemy of our souls and the nature of humanity encouraged the search for chemical compounds that create an artificial experience of elation and higher consciousness.  It’s straight out of a science fiction novel, because in the wrong hands, manipulation of this level could be used for serious mind control.

I took two little blue pills with butterfly designs on them.  Jaime also took “two blue butterflies”.  I can’t describe the events that followed, because so many other drugs were being consumed with these… speed, marijuana, and the old standards, caffeine and nicotine.  Our minds were blurred and floating.  I only remember being in Jaime’s room at her parents’ large, brick house on a man-made lake in the nicest neighborhood in Hudson, Ohio called “Canterbury Place”.  It was 3 am, and we were listening to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”.  With the effects of the butterfly ecstasy pills pounding our brains, the music was emotionally moving to us.  We were babbling in poetic riddles about it.  The ecstasy also persuaded us that we were truly in love, and had finally found our destiny in each other.  I wrote a poetic song right in the middle of our intense experience called “Two Blue Butterflies” that deified Jamie and I as little demigods of our own Kingdom of escapism.  The words still ring in my mind and memory, as I revisit that night of incense and candlelight, which is a pale illusion and lucid dream to me now.  Ecstasy, Jamie, Dark Side of the Moon, and my non-ethical, elated ego created a moment of false salvation in this experience.  I still remember the song I wrote and it’s lyrics, they rang out;

Floating by a candle

In the pale shade of moonlight

Waiting for my love’s destiny

To rise towards me

In the middle of the sunrise

Kiss the sun, and I find myself as one

Rising like a luminescent cloud in the star filled sky

I’ve been waiting so long

To be taken up above where I belong

Think it’s you that I’ve been dreaming of

My beam of light, will shine bright

Like everlasting time

Like withstanding the endless glow that shines in your mind

And in your heart

In your eyes…

I always knew before that writing a song for a girl would capture their heart.  But something about this wild, drug-induced moment was deeply intense.  To this day, I don’t know if Jaime and I had really fallen in love in that moment.  We were definitely great friends and attracted to each other, no doubt.  But the effects of Ecstasy on the mind are described as:

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MDMA#Subjective_effects)

This completely describes the situation that Jaime and I were in.  I was convinced that these were true emotions I was feeling, and I wanted to give up everything to chase after this idealistic, utopian dream-world we had created.

I soon told Madiera that I was in love with Jamie, and we had to break it off.  By this time it was almost Christmas.  What a wonderful Christmas present!  She cussed me out and told me I was an insensitive jerk (though she used another descriptive noun).  She was crying and angry with me.  In my drug haze I didn’t even care or feel the least bit of remorse at the time.  Drugs make an altered reality outside of the ethical realm of true existence more appealing than actuality.  I probably smiled at Madiera as she broke down, and told her things like; “It’s ok, it’s ok!  Everything is beautiful…”  I thought that I was on a higher plane than everyone, and it made her hate me more.

I also broke it off with Harmony, who had once been my first love, though something deep inside me felt it was wrong.  I was riding a high, and didn’t want it to end.  I knew Harmony wouldn’t approve of my use of harder drugs, and Jaime would.  I broke the news to her, and was so high when I did it that I came off completely calloused and detached.  She cried and cried, angry and hurt that I would betray her like I did.  I didn’t know how to care about her anymore.

I didn’t have chagrin for God, or myself, my parents, or anyone who really knew me.  I wanted to chase the Elysian fields of Ecstasy, and it wouldn’t be long before I would make popping disco biscuits and hanging with Ravers a regular weekend habit.

Adderall: Prescribed to Kids with ADHD, and Abused by Drug Addicts

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English: Adderall

English: Adderall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My girlfriend left town, enrolled in an all-girl boarding school in the middle of nowhere in central Pennsylvania.  It was safe to say that I wouldn’t be able to keep in regular contact with her throughout the end of winter and spring of 1999 in Hudson, Ohio (in between Akron and Cleveland).  The months leading up to her departure in late February were filled with an over-abundance of drugs.  We had been taking ecstasy every weekend, sneaking out and going to all night rave parties in the city in the middle of the night, smoking dope all day, every day, continuing daily to be fueled by Adderall– prescription speed that Jaime’s parents had prescribed her to for her supposed ADHD.  When they were available, we’d take mushrooms, or do LSD, and we did a fair share of weird designer drugs like Nexus (2CBs- a designer hallucinogen) and Special-K (horse tranquilizer).

God and conscience had been the furthest thing from our minds, as the powerful experience of the drug ecstasy rolled us into an inter-twined love affair of blindly idealistic proportions.  This drug, technically named MDMA, brought one to an emotionally open state of mind, and a willingness to love and share deep emotions.  There was no moral compass to guide this love.  It was a blind love, a feeling, a moment.  It has been said that ecstasy is used in psychotherapy to repair broken marriages.  Any drug that would release all of the serotonin in one’s brain at once could potentially lead an individual to fall in love with a chair or a rainbow.  Jaime and I were certainly good friends and attracted to each other.  Ecstasy made us feel like we were Romeo and Juliet with the whole world crumbling around us.  I would literally sneak out in the middle of the night and come to her house.  She had a balcony at outside of her bedroom at her parents’ beautiful, large home.  She would tie together bed-sheets and throw them out of the balcony.  I would climb up, we would take whatever drugs we had, and the night would go wherever we felt like.  It was an intense physical, emotional, drug-fueled relationship.  She was a sophomore and I was a senior in High School.

Ecstasy had side effects, also.  I would try to sleep after a night of being high on it, and would have nightmares where my teeth would be grinding together, and I would be weeping and witnessing an illusory world of phantoms and angry minions cackling at me.  I would literally feel at times that I was grinding my teeth to the point where there were cracking and breaking in excruciating pain.  It wasn’t until 2 years later that I would read of the end of time and hear that “the Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 13:41-42)  Much like my many horrific experiences on LSD, continued use of harder drugs plunged me into an experience of hell.  A few times, I woke up in the middle of the night after doing X, and my eyes were open, but I could not move my body.  I would begin to freak out, thinking that I was in a coma and would never awake again.  I would look around at the room and it would be hazy, though behind would lurk dark shadows that formed the faces of demons staring at me.  By some weird force of divinely inspired will, I would shake myself awake, as it would be drenched in sweat and fear.  I remember the sound in my ears resembling the feeling of sand being poured in my brain.  It was what I imagined an aneurism would feel like.  Many people talk of the euphoric and idealistic world that ecstasy creates.  Not many people talk of the after effects of this extreme drug.

Whatever idealism existed was now over for Jaime and I.  She was in Pennsylvania, given a new chance to pull her failing grades up and life together.  I was stuck, strung-out and lovesick, in Hudson, Ohio.  I had one semester of High School left.  I had scored nothing but F’s and one D for the first two quarters of my senior year of High School.  I was in the third quarter, and had nothing but F’s for grades.  In some classes, I had done so little homework and miserably failed so many quizzes and tests, that I had percentages of 20 and 15 and 38.  Mrs. Romito, our Assistant Principal, called me into her office…

“You’re on the ‘hot list’ Ben.”  She said into my beet-red, tired eyes.

“What’s the ‘hot list’?”  I apathetically replied.

“It’s a list with about seven people out of the three-hundred and eighty in the senior class who are in danger of failing twelfth grade.  Ben, if you don’t pull your grades up to at least D’s and C’s, you will not graduate High School this year.  You’ll be held back…”

I sulked in despair and despondency.

“But Ben…”  Mrs. Romito continued.  “I know that you are a bright kid.  Your record shows that you were once even in gifted programs in school.  Now what you’re doing in your personal life is not your business, but I really believe that if you pull it together, you can make it to graduation this year.”

Mrs. Romito offered me what many during this dark period of life would not have offered- hope.  I also remember being at home and talking with my Mom and Dad about this situation.  Obviously, Mrs. Romito contacted them about it.

“Look man.”  My Dad, Gary White, the once hipped-out, tripped-out 70’s musician turned successful businessman said.  “I know that you are so bright and gifted Ben!  I know you have done amazing things before!  I don’t see why you can’t do the impossible now!  Pull your grades up buddy!”

My Mom supported completely this idea.  “Yeah Ben!  I know you can do it!”  She would say.  “You’re such a smart guy!  You don’t want to be left behind and watch all of your classmates graduate without you!”

My parents also believed in me when I felt the least worthy.  So I resolved to do the seemingly impossible, and in 3 months time, I would attempt to pull 15%-40% F’s up to 70%-77% D’s and C’s.

Jaime was gone from my life for the time being.  I was filled with sorrow and withdrawal from our Candy Cane world of ecstasy fueled love the months before.  But without her, there wasn’t any point in continuing the wild party.  We would converse on the phone about our dilemma.

“Jaime, we have to get out of this crap-hole we have created.”  I said

“Yeah Ben, I know.  I’m totally going to get good grades while I’m here.”  She answered back from her rural Pennsylvanian, all-girl dorm.

“I will too Jaime.  We can help each other through this.  We’ve just got to stop getting high.  Will you stop if I stop?”

“Yes Ben.  I love you.”

“I love you too…”

Was it real love that we felt?  No…  It was infatuation that began with a heavy drug experience.  But we were leaning on each other more than ever.  We both had a chance to pull it together.

But I was still a drug addict.  By this point, I was smoking marijuana all day, every day, and doing hard drugs whenever I could.  I decided that I would just change my addiction to drugs that would make me function at a higher rate and not slow my brain down.  I didn’t want to tell Jaime, but I connected with other kids that were prescribed Adderall, a lighter form of meth-amphetamine.  I began to steadily supply myself with Adderall pills.  I resolved to not smoke pot, drink, or take hard drugs like psychedelics or Ecstasy.  I would, however, take stimulants.

This is how a day at school looked for me when this shift in habit began.

6 a.m.- wake up in a groggy haze, have a bowl of cereal or toast and then a cigarette or two.

6:30 a.m.- Brew an entire 12-cup pot of double-strength coffee.  Drink half of it at home- dark and black.

6:45 a.m.- Fill up a 6-cup thermos with the other half of the pot of coffee, say goodbye to parents.  Get in my 1988 Buick LeSabre and head to school.  Down an orange, 20 mg. pill of Adderall with a swig of coffee.  Smoke 3 more cigarettes.

7:00 a.m.- Arrive at school.  Talk to no one.  Study or read for 30 minutes before homeroom.  Let Adderall, nicotine and coffee begin to speed me up into a frenzy.

7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.- Go about my day of school in an over-stimulated, over-talkative fit of madness.  Smoke a cigarette in the bathroom in-between every period.  Participate in class and turn in homework at a more consistent rate than ever.

12:30 p.m.- Skip lunch, snort 20 mg. of a crushed up, orange Adderall pill.  Begin speeding.  Depending on sleep and food intake, potentially begin to hallucinate or get delusional.

1 p.m. to 3 p.m.- Finish day of school, speeding out of my mind and making all sorts of new friends.  Some scared of me, some finding me amusing.

3:30 p.m.- Drive home, finish the last of the pack of cigarettes that I had started that day, and open another.

4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.- Arrive home, Brew more coffee.  Snort or eat 20 more mg. of Adderall.  Smoke more cigarettes.  Begin to do homework.

9:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m.- Snort or eat 20 more mg. of Adderall.  Do more homework, reading and studying.  Talk to Jaime at some point on the phone- telling her that I was staying clean, and hearing the same from her.  Do more homework.  Record music.  Write poetry.  Go outside and smoke.  Play music.  Do homework.  Talk out loud to myself while smoking outside in the dark.  Stare at the carpet on my floor and see demons writhing and gnawing at each other’s flesh.  Try to sleep.  No success.  Force myself to eat a couple of pretzels- they taste dry and disgusting.  Do more homework.  Smoke.  Play music.  Think about Jaime.  Try to sleep.  Cook a can of vegetable soup and force myself to eat it.  Speed wears off.  Crash into a deep oblivion.

6 a.m.- Wake up and do the same thing, with potential variances but consistent stimulant intake, again.

I was drinking 2 pots of coffee, smoking 2 packs of cigarettes, and taking between 60 and 100 milligrams of Adderall a day.  I was a speeding frenzy.  I would barely eat one and a half meals a day.  I was six-feet, zero inches tall, and weighed 160 lbs.  After doing this amount of speed for 3 months, I weighed 133 lbs.  My ribs would show through a t-shirt.  I had long hair pulled behind my ears and deep blue, skeleton-esque circles under my eyes.  Yet through all of this, there would be nights when I would literally do between 3 and 10 days of homework for all 7 of my classes in one night.  I had no study halls in school, because all my periods had to be full for me to even consider passing twelfth grade.  I was running myself ragged and crazy, with speed, caffeine and nicotine fueling me all the way.

During this time, I may have slipped up and smoked weed a couple of times.  I would always tell Jaime when it happened, and she would act disappointed.  I never told her about the speed intake, though.

Granted, Adderall was a legal, prescribed drug given to kids with ADHD.  But this stuff was speed- it had meth-amphetamine as its’ active ingredient!  When taken in higher doses, it kept my brain working functionally.  But there would be times that I was so sleep deprived, that I would begin to dream lucidly while awake.  I would look at the chalkboard in the class I was in and see skeletons made of chalk dust begin to swordfight.  One time I was deeply low on food intake and sleep, and tremendously high on Adderall.  I saw a dark purple figure before my eyes every time that I blinked that looked like a cloaked man.  The ghost of Christmas future.  The grim reaper himself- the bringer of death.  I thought that I was going to die of a heart attack and he was going to take me away.

People saw this drug as a help to society.  Most of the kids prescribed to it abused it as much as me, and were just as delusional and messed-up as I was.  When the drug would take a hold of you, it would give you such intense euphoria that chills would run all throughout your body constantly.

The end of high school neared.  My once failing grades were now all C’s, D’s, and even a B.  I was called in once again to Mrs. Romito’s office.

I scurried in to her room in a frenzied state.  My hair in a pony-tail.  My face all flushed from speed and caffeine.  My pupils dilated and eyes wide open.

“Ben…”  Mrs. Romito said.  “You made it.  You graduated.  I knew you could do it.”

Though I was a crazy, frenzied mess.  I had stayed over-stimulated enough to pull my grades together.  I wouldn’t be held back.  I would graduate High School.  Jaime did well at her school in Pennsylvania.  She got A’s and B’s.  She wanted to transfer back to Hudson High School to be with me and her friends.

But were we strong enough to begin a new chapter?  We were still addicts.  When she first arrived home she saw how skinny and dilapidated I was, and I had to admit to my speed abuse.  I would soon after quit taking speed.  But what was the summer to bring us?  We were to be released into the wild world of graduated freedom, crazy kids, smoke filled air, bright sunshine and ponds where people took drugs, drank beer and had sex.  The dark nights ahead were screaming our name as Jesus lingered, hidden behind the clouds as the prodigal son was knowingly about to squander his property in reckless living. (Luke 15:13)  It seems as if He may have known that one day His arms would be open wide, as the sick child returned in unworthy tears and grief.  Only to embrace and hold close to this tattered mess of a person in reckless, forgiving love.

Flushing Dad’s Dope Down the Toilet and Being Found by Jesus

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Toilet

Toilet (Photo credit: http://www.homespothq.com)

So the deepest era of drug horrors was over, and I was about to venture into a new period of my life, one that was moving upward into sanity and clarity.  It was a rocky path, and not one that appeared picture perfect.  But God was doing something that I wasn’t aware of at the time.  Little did I know that He would use music to capture my attention, and the very thing that had once provided the soundtrack to my existential despair and addiction would play a crucial part in my redemption.

In the summer of 1999 I officially graduated high school, making it out by the skin of my teeth.  And then after my last bad trip, I embarked upon a summer full of beer, pot, adderall and cigarettes.  My girlfriend Jamie and I were back together, for she had left her boarding school in Pennsylvania to come home permanently.  I chose not to work at a job all that summer, and we partied our brains out.  Her parents became more accepting of our juvenile love affair, and actually began letting me stay overnight at their house!  Me, an eighteen year-old, with their sixteen year-old daughter.  It’s hard for me to believe.  I have a baby daughter that is one year old, and couldn’t even imagine this.  But I suppose they thought that I was good for Jamie.  I suppose in a way we were good for each other, because we were beginning to get out of the drug scene and support each other.  But looking back it’s weird to realize that we were permitted to live in monogamous promiscuity.

At the end of that summer, Jamie’s wealthy parents agreed to take me with their family on a trip to the British Virgin Islands.  This was literally one of the most amazing vacations I had ever been on.  We snorkeled in beautiful blue, deep ocean landscapes colored with coral and fish I had never seen.  I stayed in a room on a cot with Jaime and her sisters who were sleeping in beds!  Again, looking back it seems so weird and creepy!  I was eighteen, which was a legal drinking age on these islands.  So I pretty much behaved as an alcoholic the entire time- drinking from the morning until the night and getting sloppy and crazy.  I talked to many locals and got turned on to old school Caribbean dub step music.  Some old alcoholic Islander hooked me up with a cassette tape.

Not long after that trip to the Virgin Islands, Jamie convinced me to come and join her at the Lutheran Church her parents attended.  Something in me was actually interested in going.  I was likely coming off of a hangover, but I do remember sitting in the pews, and a deep rush overcame me.  It reminded me of the feeling I had during having a brush with death during my worst bad trip on mushrooms and crying out to God.  The mushrooms hadn’t induced the feeling, but more so my fear of dying had sobered me for one moment and given me a small glimpse of hope.  This feeling of numbness and joy came over me that was greater than any high I had ever had.  I started to uncontrollably weep, right in the middle of this service!  From then on, I wanted to keep going to this Lutheran church, just to experience the liturgy, Gregorian chant-style worship, and overwhelming presence of this mysterious God that was beginning to reveal Himself to me.

I was even baptized at this church, which was contrary to their infant baptism doctrine.  The pastor and congregation really embraced me though, a long-haired, burnt out, beer drinking maniac.  The morning that they baptized me, I had drank about twelve beers the night before.  I was incredibly hung over.  I later realized that most of the congregation at the church was likely in the same state of mind.  Like a newborn baby, they sprinkled me with water, and initiated me into the fold of the Lutherans.

After this, many of my friends chastised me and told me; “Watch out for those people!  They’re just trying to brainwash you and take you away from having freedom to do what you want.”  But I was committed.  I wanted to begin to change my ways.  I told Jamie that I wanted to quit smoking pot and cigarettes.  She agreed to join me in the venture of leaving dope behind, though she wasn’t quite ready to quit smoking cigarettes.

It was September of 1999, and the future was looking brighter than it had for me since I was in sixth grade.  I was enrolled to go to college at Akron University.  I had a new job at Arabica coffee house in Hudson, Ohio.  Jamie and I’s relationship was better than ever.  I had decided to quit pot, and even accomplished quitting cigarettes amidst shots of espresso and frustrated madness.  I had even become a “religious” person.  I was going to church every Sunday.  I definitely drank myself into oblivion on Friday and Saturday night.  But I was starting to feel like a functional American hypocrite.

All of this wouldn’t last long though.  By November of 1999, I was smoking pot daily again, and Jamie was doing it with me.  I dropped out of college because I didn’t feel like doing the work.  I stopped showing up at church on Sundays.  Jamie and I plunged further into sex, dope and beer.  Heck, my Dad would give me pot whenever I wanted it, so I started letting him supply me again for free.

By the winter of 2000, I was back in a gutter.  I even remember when the ball in Times Square dropped on midnight of January 1, 2000.  This was the era of the Y2K craze.  Everyone thought that all the computers in the world were going to shut down when we entered the millennium.  Some thought that we would all burn up in the apocalypse.  As that ball dropped, I was sitting in a basement, stoned and drunk out of my mind, watching MTV with a bunch of other wasted people.  I thought to myself in a moment of fear, “O God, please don’t let the world end right now!  I wouldn’t be ready to die and meet you!  I’m a waste of life!”  The ball dropped, and the relief on the faces of MTV Video Jockeys paralleled my relief, but didn’t quench my inner despair and worthlessness.

One good thing happened for me in the winter of 2000.  I was promoted to being a manager at Arabica coffee house.  Even though I was a college drop out and a total pot-head, they somehow trusted me to manage the store!  I was infamous for taking new employees into the freezer in the basement and “smoking them out” with my glass pipe filled with dope.  I would tell them it was their initiation into working there.  Arabica went out of business by the summer of 2000, and I had certainly played a huge part in its’ demise.

I worked with a person during my time at Arabica who was different than everyone else.  Her name was Liz.  Liz would never have smoked pot with me in the basement freezer!  She was from South Africa, and had a wonderful accent.  She was beautiful and confident.  She was wonderful with people and a diligent, hard worker.  I had tremendous respect for her.  She began to tell me about her personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and how Jesus had changed her life.  I asked her a lot of questions about this.  I often freaked her out, telling her of my wild drug experiences and basically sinful life.  She didn’t ever judge or condemn me, but rather seemed genuinely concerned for me.  All I knew of Jesus was that he was the center of Christian religion.  The Lutheran church I had attended talked about Him, but made Him seem like a great religious teacher, or a really nice hippie who wore white robes, but not necessarily the all powerful Son of God who was ruling the universe and living in the hearts of His people.  Liz talked of Jesus as if He was her personal friend and counselor.  She convinced me to visit her church, which was called Parkside.  It was a humongous mega-plex in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.  I showed up there with a huge hangover.  My long hair was in a ponytail that hung down to the middle of my back.  I came alone in my schwag wagon- the 1988 Buick LeSabre with a duct-taped window, cranking Led Zeppelin as I pulled in to the massive parking lot.

Most of the people at this mega-church viewed me with great suspicion as I walked through the halls, shamelessly smiling at people with a half-drunken smile and trying to be friendly.  I met up with Liz and her husband, Rusty.  They introduced me to their friend, Chip.

Chip immediately befriended me and wanted me to join his band to play bass with him.  Chip had been an ex-extreme skier who used to throw himself off of cliffs for a living.  He actually was likely on the verge of making it to the Olympics.  But his real, hidden life was filled with cocaine, one-night stands, hard liquor, and marijuana.  He got to the point where he was almost put in jail for possession of drugs.  This led him to the verge of suicide.  Then he gave his life over to Jesus and everything changed.

I began playing bass in Chip’s band.  We played original songs he had written about his spiritual journey, and many were overtly about Jesus.  Chip quickly became a friend that I would call often for advice.  At the time, he was about thirty years old.  I looked at him as a mentor.  He took me in as a friend.  There were even times that I would be in the middle of a party, stoned out of my mind, and I’d pick up the phone to tell him that I was high and ashamed.  He would never judge me or talk down to me, but would just assure me that there were better things for me out there than that scene.

During this time in the midst of this redemptive friendship, I became very convinced that the life I was leading basically sucked.  One night, I had taken some of my Dad’s mid-grade weed out of his cigar box stash (with his permission from him of course).  My friends and I had spent the day roaming railroad tracks, eating hot wings, and smoking my Dad’s dope out of a little glass one-hitter all day.

Later on, it was nightfall and a storm was rolling into the sky.  I wasn’t that high.  I had smoked a very small amount of pot, and drank two beers.  But as the storm rolled in, I began to have what many would psychologically term an LSD flashback.  But I’m aware now that it was a demonic attack that came on as my conscience reeled within me about the desire to quit drugs.  The dark, grey clouds in the sky looked like skeletons slipping in and out of existence, and gnawing at each other with a faint scream in the distance.  All of a sudden, I was cut to the heart.  I had the thought in my head to go and confess to my Mom that I had a large bag of Dad’s weed in my pocket.  The thought was so intense, I told my buddies as we sat on the front porch abruptly; “Hey guys, I gotta split man.  Feel free to hang out more out here, but I’m done for the night.”  Without any hesitation, I stormed inside to confront what was eating at me.

“Mom.”  I announced abruptly.  “Dad has been giving me weed.”  I took out the bag of green from my pocket.  “This is his pot.  I don’t want to get high anymore.  I don’t want him to get high anymore.”

My Mom, with a shockingly calm response, as if she wasn’t surprised, but still big-eyed to some extent, said; “Well flush it down the toilet then!”

I flushed it down the toilet.

My Dad came downstairs and acted like this was the end of a long, drawn out ploy of reverse psychology, a typical stoner move.

“Hey Ben, you did it!  You finally did what I had been hoping all along!  I didn’t know what else to do to get you to quit drugs, so I started smoking pot again and put that pot in my closet on purpose, hoping that the idea of smoking pot with me would finally make you wanna quit!”

“So Dad, you’re going to quit too?”  I responded aghast, believing every word he said.

“Yeah man, I couldn’t wait until this happened!  I knew it would!  I’m so proud of you buddy!”

Of course, my Dad was lying…  later I would bust him 3 more times with a bag of dope, a glass one-hitter (that he had confiscated on the day I flushed his pot down the latrine), and a roach (or mostly smoked joint).  But he finally quit when Jesus grabbed ahold of him in 2005, as this post describes:  http://benjaminbradfordwhite.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/how-my-dad-became-a-jesus-freak/

But in the year 2000, everything in my life was rapidly changing.  I had stopped smoking pot and popping pills.  I drastically cut back on my beer intake.  I started exercising and eating healthy.  I began to be afraid that having pre-marital sex with my girlfriend Jamie was clouding our ability to see if we were really friends.  I asked if we could stop having sex for awhile and see if our friendship was real.  During this “break” time, friends of mine told me that she was cheating on me.  I began to believe it was true, even though Jamie would deny it over and over again.  We broke up.  I was in utter and complete depression over it.  Ten days after our break-up, I showed up at her house to beg her to leave the drug scene.  I found her in bed with another guy, and after having flashes in my mind of committing the criminal act of violent assault on this guy, I stormed out of her house, slamming the door hard enough to practically break the stained glass within it.

It was then the spring of the year 2000.  In all of this sadness, sitting at home alone, I pulled out an album that someone had given me as a gift when I was baptized as a Lutheran.  It was an album called “the Jesus Record” by Rich Mullins and the Ragamuffin Band.  I had avoided listening to it for months, thinking it was just a bunch of ridiculous corny Christian music laden with electric 80’s piano and cheesy cliché lyrics.  I put on the first track, which was called “My Deliverer”, and was immediately drawn in to the beautiful natural piano and orchestra laden, haunting melody.  The lyrics wooed me in with heartful emotion and truth as they told a story.  It didn’t sound like a pretty Sunday school story.  It was a story of suffering and oppression, with deliverance in the midst of it.  The lyrics sang these words;

Joseph took his wife and her child and they went to Africa

To escape the rage of a deadly king…

There along the banks of the Nile,

Jesus listened to the song
That the captive children used to sing
They were singing…

My Deliverer is coming – my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming – my Deliverer is standing by

Through a dry and thirsty land, water from the Kenyon heights
Pours itself out of Lake Sangra’s broken heart
There in the Sahara winds Jesus heard the whole world cry
For the healing that would flow from His own scars
The world was singing,

My Deliverer is coming – my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming – my Deliverer is standing by

He will never break His promise – He has written it upon the sky

I will never doubt His promise though I doubt my heart, I doubt my eyes.

He will never break His promise, though the stars should break faith with the sky…

I was crying like a child throughout the entire song.  I would later find out that the song was not even sung by Rich Mullins, but by his friend and band-mate, Rick Elias.  Rich had died in a car accident at the age of forty in 1997.  Before his accident, he had compiled acoustic recordings of all the songs for “The Jesus Record” in a little church by himself.  His band-mates had made the album with the help of many people in the Christian music scene, as a tribute to Rich and his life.  Rich had been put on a pedestal as a Christian music star, and wouldn’t sell himself out no matter what temptations were thrown at him.  He ended up living a life of celibacy, having the leaders at his church receive all of his money, which likely could have made him wealthy, and at Rich’s request, gave him a yearly salary of about $20,000 a year, while funneling the rest into missions work, orphanages, and relief for the poor.  In the last days of his life he was living in a trailer on a Navajo Indian reservation, and pouring his life into the Navajo community, while still touring with his ragamuffin band and radicalizing the church with his heartfelt songs that described a true life of devotion to Jesus.  A movie about him will be released soon, watch the trailer here: http://ragamuffinthemovie.com/.

I wanted what Rich and his bandmates had.  I wanted what Chip and Liz had.  I wanted to know this Jesus that Rich Mullins wrote about, who “heard the whole world cry”, and “healed people through His scars”.  Chip had once dared me to pray a prayer when I was all alone and wondering about my existence.  He told me to simply look up to God in heaven and ask Him if Jesus was really His Son…

One night, not many days after I had cried myriad tears over the sweet music of Rich Mullins, I uttered this prayer.  I was sitting all alone in my room past midnight, and having what I then understood to be an LSD flashback.  I was looking at the ground, and seeing demonic figures gnawing at each other and convulsing in the carpet below.  I cried out in desperation, “God, is Jesus your Son?  Then show me!  Help me to see who He is!”  I saw white sparkles come down from the ceiling and strike the demons in the carpet, and they were sucked back down into the earth.  I was filled with that peace I felt during my worst mushroom trip ever, after having a near death experience, and then crying out to God or whoever was out there.  I was filled with that peace I had felt in the Lutheran church when I attended there for the first time.  The peace was beginning to become a part of my life.  Little did I know then of the amazing changes that would happen to me as time moved forward.