My religion is pretty basic: Love, God, and Butterflies. Butterflies being the one I rely on when all else fails me, and the night has fallen thick and maddening, and terror is a drum with a beat too fast for the heart to run from; and my eyes are only whites; and my breath is tight; and my thoughts are broken and backwards, and no longer making sense…and I am too stupid to call on God, and my veins are filled with too much bleach…. And love, like always, is just out of reach.
The butterflies are everywhere. Pink and green and the color of the ocean at sunset…. There was a butterfly in my room last night. Just there on my bedside table. Never taking flight. Never leaving. Never forsaking me. But creating a breeze that whispered across my face like the opening and closing of “The gate of the temple which is called beautiful.” And it gave me the tiniest bit of hope—offered me a delicate totem to focus on—and kept me from burning myself alive. You see, I was in a fever of blue pills: And I was sweating and trembling and gnashing my teeth. I was naked and dressed (and naked again) because time was running sideways and backwards and in circles—and the neighbors next door—and the strangers with the red eyes—and the helicopters a mile away could all read my mind; and see through my walls; and…
I was losing it.
That’s not true. I had lost it!
This is not a cry for help. Relax. I’m fine now. It happens. Everyone loses it some time.
But here is a little bit of advice from a crazy person.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT call the police at 3 a.m., wearing a sweaty pair of crotchless panties, with all the lights burned to shadow in your apartment, whispering into the receiver with blistering lips, that:
“The cars in the parkinglot across the street are watching me…”
Do not do this.
But when you do this. Because everyone loses it some time.
Just look for the butterfly. Focus on the beautiful blue patterned glowing things just to the right of your eye-line. It may not be real. And you may not believe in such a thing.
The butterflies are everywhere. There is always a glimmer of something glowing in the darkness.
The madness will pass.
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This is what Neil deGrasse Tyson, Marie Curie, and Kierkegaard call a psychotic break.
I’m just going to speak plain for a minute. HIV and drug use is a thing. HIV and fractured mental health is a thing. HIV and spiraling down the path of self-harm is a thing. And we are all touched by one (or all of the three) at one point (or many points) in our treatment. And because this was/is/and will probably always be part of our/my/your journey, I try my very best to create narratives that take the stigma away from drug users….
Because drug users have been the most beautiful people I have ever met….
We are Marylin Monroe, Elvis Presley, John Belushi, Gia, Richard Pryor, Billie Holiday, Joey Stefano…and on, and on, and on: The most talented, kind, open, generous, and world-changing souls to walk the soil since Jesus and John shared mushrooms in the garden of Gethsemane. And I wanted to show you what we look like…. And what we could be if drugs were allowed in the daylight. But I think if I keep trying to fulfill this mission… I’m going to die in the dark like so many of the beautiful names I mentioned before.
So though last year at this time I would have said:
“Plenty of people do tons of drugs and live normal productive lives.” Or
“It is ignorant and disrespectful to think that everyone with an addiction is struggling.” Or
“If you have never been an ongoing drug user you should have no opinion on the matter; drug users are beautiful and perfect.” All of which are true…
It does not take into account those days when the black tar night is too thick, and God has left the building, and Love is nowhere to be found, and the bleach is eating us alive!
So now I say:
“Get help, my darling.”
“There are butterflies everywhere, my dear.”
“Reach out, my love!”
Make another choice. There are other ways to be beautiful.
And my hands are shaking and my forehead is beaded with fear…and the cars outside are starting to quiet down. And the butterfly is beating against the window—reminding me that there is a wild wide world out there—that the sky and the sun and the people that love me are waiting for me to call. And I’m embarrassed and worried about how they will judge me.
But one must follow the Butterflies—And trust where they will lead.
Lead me, Dear Butterfly.
Let’s see to what heights we can go.
“And open the gates to the temple which is called beautiful.”
Love and Light.
Corey Saucier is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and Non-Fiction and is currently penning his first novel. His musings and wanderings on Love, Life, and Nonsense can be found at www.justwords.tumblr.com.