Carry the Message
My name is Tavius. I am a writer, photographer, designer and music producer. I am also a recovering bipolar, co-dependent, addict, and alcoholic. I find these things are very much enmeshed. I have had to learn over decades of my lifetime how to find mental and emotional balance. We all struggle with these things to some degree at some point in our lives. We wouldn’t be human without some struggle. I have found creative expression has been a key to my life purpose, process, treatment and recovery. I have been writing creatively, mixing music, and taking photographs almost my entire adult life. I have done these things out of a fascination with the lives we live in this world, and my inherent need to get out of me things I could not otherwise understand. For me, creativity is experimentation in self-discovery. The hope is that in the sharing, others may reflect upon themselves in special and unique ways. I tell my story of struggle and change. I have found many tools to help myself and others find a better way of life. Anyone can use these tools to change their own lives. Whatever darkness there may be in your life, there is light to illuminate. My message is to bring hope to the hopeless : )
Mug shot picture from April 15th 2004 torn from my ID wrist band and mailed knowing it would be the cover of my first book (cover at bottom of page), written over 12 months incarcerated fighting two strikes for bar room related violence.
A memoir of experience, strength and hope.
It is Monday December 15th, 2014. I can tell you I know my purpose, without a doubt. It is to carry the message of my experience strength and hope so that others who suffer as I have may feel they are not alone, and that they too can have hope, help, and happiness again and to live a full life of positive purpose for the greater good.
I am 37 years old. I am a bipolar, codependent, alcoholic, addict among many other things. Some good. Some not so. I can tell you that I am selfish, self-centered and full of fear. I can become delusional. I am currently medicated for bipolar on Wellbutrin, Prozac, and Seroquel. I go to AA meetings. I go to the gym. I try to do these things daily, as well as journal, meditate and pray. The meditation and prayer are lacking, especially the mediation, but I am learning. After 3197 days clean and sober I decided I could drink a beer and smoke a joint. It’s been almost two years since then. I have 13 days clean and sober today.
After 3197 Days Clean and Sober
I took a hit
And a sip
Remembered the taste of fine ale I once so enjoyed
And the smell of kind buds
And felt my spirit wane
All because I did not take care of myself enough
After another lost love and family,
Sponsee’s tragic relapse and death,
And my financial insanity.
I let false-pride and ego
Take the stage
As I showed off sober
At every bar and club
Dancing with the devil.
Growing pot seemed like I good idea
Since the place I moved to
Had been set up for it
And my company
She was Ire.
I immediately knew I was in for it,
But somehow, trusted the process
Of dying on the inside
So I could try
I tried to practice principles
But my mind fractured
Into puzzle pieces
I could not
Put back together.
Within a week I dislocated my shoulder
Jumping off a bridge;
Almost overdosed on Fentanyl,
Ran back to Alcoholics Anonymous
Over-joyous just to be alive!
Then I found my pot packed pipe while cleaning
Before She was to come over
And I knew she’d bring the bomb
So I decided to give “Mary Jane”
One last dance
Because I knew I was a real alcoholic
And had respect for some
Who find spirituality
Hoping I could at least have her to myself.
The psych ward followed,
Two nights in jail
Naked on the cold concrete
With a Velcro vest
And hole in the floor
For my waste;
Broke my hand pounding on the back of a friend’s skull,
Attempted suicide by overdose
Came to like Donnie Darko
With his hoodie up and a sick grin on his face…
Death and destruction
Found me alone in a field
Unable to rise to one knee
Wrapped in barbed wire
With only God’s Grace
To save me
In this most beautiful world!
Tavius Dyer 5/3/13
It all started once she decided to stop and tell me I needed to stop too. Her stopping caught my attention. I could no longer justify her enabling as reason for me to continue to use. I also had been blacked out in front of my 15 year old son on heroin. I told myself I would never be loaded in front of my son. My cell phone wall paper has been a picture of him and I for two years, just to remind me of this. Needless to say, I haven’t seen him all that regularly for a while. Things were getting better though. My girlfriend thought I was clean and sober and I thought I could keep using as long as she didn’t appear to me to notice.
Alcoholism is a peculiar mental disorder coupled with a physical anomaly which makes the brain of alcoholics quite different from that of other people. Doctors in the 1930’s called it a physical allergy. Doctors in the 50’s classified it as a medical disorder. A doctor in the 70’s discovered THIQ in the brains of skid row alcoholics quit serendipitously. The brains of these street cadavers showed a build-up of a compound called THIQ. THIQ is normally found in the brain during the process of breaking down heroin. It is addictive as morphine. Rats injected with THIQ will choose alcohol over water until they die. For many alcoholics their brains turn alcohol into a highly addictive narcotic. The problem is still more complicated. It is believed the THIQ builds up in the brain and does not deteriorate. Only complete abstinence for these cases is the beginning of any kind of life. Then there is the mental obsession and compulsion to drink and use. An alcoholic craves alcohol much like a heroin addict fiends for their next fix. Alcoholism is a peculiar addiction. There are many addictions. I believe we are all addicted to things on some level. Some of these things are better than others. We are what we do and our routines define our lifestyles. Change, must begin with action, for nothing occurs through thinking alone (especially in the mind of an addict or alcoholic!).
I was found passed out under a car bleeding to death on April 15th, 2004. I had just been thrown out of another bar. This time I decided to punch out the plate glass windows at the front of the bar. Then it occurred to me as the team of men who threw me out of there returned for me that I didn’t want to go back to jail, so I ran. However, I could not run far for I had severed the main artery in my arm. All I knew is I was getting really tired. I turned a corner and rolled underneath a van to hide from the men chasing me. I heard someone yell “He’s under here”!
I only recall the paramedics asking “is that a bungee cord” as they were trying to cut through my clothes and got to my belt.
I awoke on a hospital gurney and doctor working on my arm. Torn flesh exposed white bubbly tissues and red blood pooling between. The inside of my elbow was a large flap of skin hanging from my bone. I asked what he was doing. The young doctor told me he removed the staples to stitch it up by hand. He felt it would heal better. I asked what happened. He told me I was found passed out under a car bleeding to death. There was an officer sitting in a chair just a few feet away. Later another police officer came to speak to him. Then he approached me and said, “You are lucky! I was on the scene this morning where you were found. I have not seen that much blood but in a car accident where someone died. You are really lucky to be alive!” I read in the police report later that an off duty police officer was in the crowd chasing me and tourniquetted my arm which saved my life.
A few days later recovering in the downtown jail infirmary I was able to dial a collect call to my mother from a payphone in the hall. She asked me what happed. I told her I was found passed out under a car bleeding to death. She paused. Those words lingered longer than spoken. Then she replied, “I can’t believe my son was found passed out under a car bleeding to death”! When she spoke those specific words something happened. It finally became real. That really happened. Her voice repeating those words in my head became an unwanted mantra in my mind for days. I had an awakening. Maybe there really was something wrong with me.
A couple weeks later I transferred to the “farm” where inmates go once they were convicted of less than a year which was considered jail time. Someone told me to ask for a “program” that I would get “love” on my case. “Love” sounded good, so the next time I went to court I asked the judge for a program. I found myself in a fairly large cement room with metal tables and bunks. 64 inmates could be housed in these dorms. There was an upper tier where individual beds were spread out over roughly a third of the floor space. Half of the space below them was divided by a cement wall and housed metal bunk beds tight together. You had to work your way up over time.
There were classes during the day. People came in from the outside through a city adult education program aligned with the jail. Minsters, recovering alcoholics and addicts, ex-cons came in to teach us about the disease of addiction, alcoholism, co-dependency, and a slew of other subjects like, grief, death and dying, as well as a resume course. For the first time I was introduced to the disease concept of addiction. I was told if I was an addict or alcoholic, or in trouble around using and abusing that I probably could not change until I became completely abstinent of drugs and alcohol. Now this made sense to me. I have a disease. Yes. I was able to grab a hold of that and the idea that I needed to start there by stopping drinking and using.
Fairly regularly there would be other people who would come in and conduct meetings. These people seemed strong and resilient. One of them even stood up to people in the dorm complaining and told them to f off and walked out saying “if you don’t want what I got, that’s okay with me.” His self-assurance and confidence were remarkable. I had always suffered from low self-esteem. I grew up in an alcoholic workaholic family dynamic where I was directly blamed for the parents problems. I learned later that this family dynamic leads to co-dependency, or poor relationships (I tend to help others rather than myself and end up trying to control them because I am out of control). They call us “Adult Children of Alcoholics”. This is another thing which affects my life gravely, and perhaps the most. Three of my four suicide attempts were directly a result of unhealthy and broken intimate relationships. The last time I attempted suicide, I clutched the only picture I had of my ex-wife and I getting married to my chest, took all the bottles of pills I hadn’t been taking and with all the love in my heart pleaded to God to take me. I begged and begged with everything I had and was. I suppose the universe had different plans.
After over 8 months in lockdown I awoke from a nap with the intercom calling out a name asking them to “roll it up”, which meant bag your shit and get ready to be relocated or be released. I thought they were calling my name. I grave fear overcame me at the thought of actually leaving jail. I was afraid of freedom. I was afraid of my disease. I was afraid of what I had done. I was afraid of what I could do. Luckily, a dear friend had suggested I write while incarcerated. He told me this experience was very unique and that hopefully it would not have to happen again. I wrote every day with a golf sized pencil on a yellow legal pad of paper. I would write letters to my friend who continued to encourage my writing. Eventually, I started sending poetry. He would type up the hand written pages and send them back to me. I would edit them and send them back to him through the mail. This went on for a year and eventually became the content of my first book “Philosopher Stoned – Incarcerated:. Writing took me away. Writing allowed me to explore my mind, my past, and all the stories I was hearing from other inmates. It allowed me to imagine what it might be like once I got out.
After a random letter from an ex-girlfriend arrived admonishing her new boyfriend claiming how much better he was than me other than my money. I had a sick thought, the sickest thought I had probably ever had as to what I wanted to do to her. I obsessed over this idea. I could not get it out of my head. It was so twisted and dark I had to get it out. I finally broke down and spent a couple weeks skipping classes and writing all day on my bunk. For some reason the teachers were cool with it. They somehow knew I needed to do this, I guess. It was important for me to write this idea out of me, to run into the darkness and see for myself what it could be about and just where it could possibly go. What is the worst, worst, worst, possible story upon release? I wrote 19 chapters before I was able to begin to even write it into the storyline. I feared the pencil moving on the page. I feared the words emerging as if they would become real.
The writings from jail which became my first published book in 2007.