July 25, 2017

What does this have to do with autoimmunity? I’m not exactly sure how to articulate it, however it will all come together somehow. After work today I went to East Austin to begin painting the third and fourth butterfly for our foundation gifted to us by the Butterfly Effect Foundation to raise money for our researchers working on saving our lives.

These butterfly murals are massive. And they come in 4 pieces. It is not a task by any means for one person to put up on their own. The night before I spent hours putting all the tape on one piece with the intention to at least begin to put it up. So after work I go the the wall where it’s going and the wind it blowing and the stencil is flying all over the place and the tape is sticking together and will not stick to the wall. So I decided to go get a different kind of tape. Re-taped the entire thing. Didn’t work. Went to get the strongest tape ever made and re-taped again. Insanity. I suddenly asked myself, about to fall apart, “What am I doing?” This entire situation is so metaphorical of my life. And I’m sick of it. Who am I? God? Hah. Who am I? The Hero? No. None of it. What I realized is that I am continuing to neglect myself. I’m done.

So where are my friends? I don’t know. This is not passive aggressive. I just do not know. So I go to 35 and 6th where all the homeless people are. Wave one of them over and ask for their help. Without hesitation he said yes. “Of course, you may be thinking. He wants something.” Wait, I shouldn’t project that onto the reader, that would be my old thoughts. My judgement. I told him what I was doing and that I needed help. Something I never do. ASK FOR HELP. I NEED HELP. He was taken aback by the cause and wanted to help with nothing in return. He stated that having the ability to have conversation and hang out with someone was enough to make his day. He got two other friends who are also living on the streets to help and of course, I bought them water. Why not? They were grateful. They didn’t ask for anything else.

So the four of us sat in the parking lot at Encore Records and re-taped the entire thing. And as we were doing this I asked why they are helping me. And why do they live on the streets. The answer: “because your doing this for the good of the world, and I want to be a part of that. Why do I live on the streets? Well, Im a heroin addict……..Ive done AA, Ive done NA, I have no resources, I have a low sense of self worth and I don’t know how to get better.” The other, a 27 year old who looks like a teenager with track marks up and down his arms and legs. The answer……….”This is my life right now. This is how I escape pain. This is what takes away what I have been through in life.” A sibling who has never felt he added up to his older brother, the over-achiever. A beautiful person who never FELT GOOD ENOUGH. WHO NEVER COULD AMOUNT UP TO HIS BROTHER. “Do I know this can kill me? Yes. I don’t know what else to do.” The third, “I am a recovering crack addict but still do other drugs. I am a child of CPS who went from foster home to foster home who was abused, sexually molested and beaten. I have seen people get shot, I have been in toxic situations all before the age of 18. I watched my mother shoot up heroin in front of me and nod off until I was taken by the system…..given no emotional support or help.” The other heroin addict……..”I have Aspergers, my family doesn’t know how to cope or deal with it………. Where do I begin. What do I do?” Escape. Numb. Run away. Take the pain away.

Honesty. Total and pure honesty. I saw the pinpoint pupils in the eyes of the one who stated he was a heroin addict. The pain that has overcome him. The redness of his eyes and the paleness of his skin. Yet he was honest. ” I am a heroin addict and I do not know what do to or how to get help.” Some people in AA may have their opinions about this and personally I’d rather not hear them.

Here are three guys, completely open, completely honest, completely insightful into the why they use drugs in addition to its physical take over, divulging their pain, their hurt, their demons and yet……………didn’t want anything but to help. They wanted purpose. They told me about the street life. I learned how one has to adjust and adapt and basically live in survival mode. With the stigma of the homeless, what chance do these people have? And despite their demons, ailments and pain, only 15% of the conversation was about the problem. The additional 75% was how they do try to cope without drugs, how they seek God’s help, how they do try meetings, how they do try to find people who will actually help them, and being turned away most of the time they have had to go inward and learn to forgive, learn to love, learn to want to live……….while continuing to seek help knowing that their numbing agent in the meantime could kill them.

I have never had a more insightful conversation with three people struggling in my life. I almost felt like I should pay them $150.00 for a therapy session as they were the ones gives solid solution to me, and being respectful and asking if I was even open to them giving me solution. They spent two hours with me, talking about real life. The why. They weren’t playing the victim. They have identified what in life when they were innocent hurt them and understand as adults they are responsible to change, to heal, to get better. Though the two who were on heroin, as an addict, I don’t believe I was being naive, I believed them. They spoke with conviction and from their soul.

As I left, I thought to myself. “I would much rather sit underneath 35 and have a real and authentic conversation than some superficial, surface level, pretentious, meaningless conversation.” As I sit here writing, not intending to eavesdrop, I hear people next to me talking about other people. And what they don’t like about other people. That seems to be the topic of conversation I come across in passing a lot. Why is that? Can we not look in our own mirror? Are our own insecurities that bad to where we need to focus on whats “wrong” with others? Because truth is, we all have demons. We all struggle. And so long as there is judgment outward, you will be eaten alive inward, not facing your demons. I am forever grateful for these three men. Forever grateful. Being human is about connection. Not disconnection. When I judge, when I criticize, when I deflect, when I am defensive, I am disconnected. Connection is my mission. I am human and connection is almost surreal. Thank you, who ever you three are and I will be praying for you.

So when you turn your head the other way when you see someone on the side of the street. No matter what the sign says, if you’re thinking they want money for drugs, and that may be the truth, look beyond the addiction. You’re looking at someone who is a human being most likely in severe pain. What can we do to help?

My whole life Ive been told I’m too sensitive. You know, I’ve come to realize I just have a heart of gold. There’s no ego in that. Just a refusal to believe that I should have to be the way any one wants me to be. I’ll continue to love, to give, to take care of myself wether its “too much” or not. Thats me. And today, I know I am a good person. 

People hurt other people because they themselves are hurt. They may not know it. But somewhere, if one really looked in the mirror, they know. Don’t be a source of someones pain. If you are…… Seek help…….Seek to be the source of good in the world for your fellow human beings.