Addiction, Beating Fear with a Stick, Guest Posts

What Happens When You Live Next To Your Worst Nightmare?

September 22, 2014

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By Renata Youngblood.

I had a good conversation with my meth-addict neighbor the other day.

You see, something switched in me when there was yet-another raid next door last Thursday. I’ve seen the tweakers come and go for a while and at times it bothered me, but for the most part I felt only a compassionate sadness for the lives wasted in addiction. I’m even guilty of finding humor in some of the characters we’ve witness showing up in broad daylight barely able to walk to the door of this partially painted, infinitely haunted, next door monstrosity.

But something definitely switched inside me at 5 am last Thursday when I was up with my hungry baby and heard the visiting tweakers rifling through their car right in front of my house.

Plastic baggies and jingling keys. A very unlikely couple; an overweight Hispanic male with trousers hanging off his ass and the skinniest Asian girl I’d ever seen in a pseudo hipster outfit with a faded striped shirt and leggings all dirtied at the knees. They may as well have been in my driveway or on my front porch for it felt like a violation of the tweakers rights. The line that I had drawn between their vampiric activities and my 4 month old baby had been crossed so I did the thing my neighbors have told me to do since we first bought our home here in this quiet, secluded and partially posh neighborhood: I called the cops.

I’ll be honest, it pained me to do it. I am of a more cynical mind sometimes in regards to those who are here to ‘serve and protect’ mostly because I hate guns and I would prefer that they stay as far away from my windows as possible. But as I saw the tweaker parade continue through out this Thursday I was grateful I called. And when I saw the multiple cop cars pull around and surround my neighbors house that day I thought “maybe this will be the end of this.” I know it won’t be though.

I know that all that commotion with guns drawn and sad, damaged humans hand-cuffed sitting on the curb in front of my house would only lead to a few quiet days and then the visitors would begin again.

It occurred to me that I have two options here: 1) I could become one of my other neighbors who spend their days peeking out their windows and calling the PVE police department 4 times a day and whispering in the shadows about the miscreants and speculations or 2) I could go have a conversation with my neighbor.

The more I thought about it the more this made sense. I know his name. We have a good rapport. He’s a really sweet guy, in fact.

So on Friday in the late afternoon I walked to the porch next door with my sweet baby in my arms and knocked on the door.

I said I wanted to talk about the switch that had taken place in me since the mayhem of the day before took place. As he started to explain, I stopped him, asking him to please hear me out first.

I told him that I was an orphan at age 16 and I slipped through the cracks of my narrow minded community and I had no family to fall back on and I lost most of my friends and I was judged and rumored about and taken for a bad kid even though the only wrong I had done was being born to the wrong parents who didn’t stick around to raise me.

I told him that I want him to know this so that he can understand why I’m coming to talk to him instead of hiding away like all the other neighbors just hoping he’ll disappear one day. I am not afraid of him or his friends because I know them.

I’ve seen them since my own innocence was lost, and I learned that they are not bad people just unfortunately scarred and damaged and not as lucky as I was to have the music that saved me from what could have been a very different life.

Music saved my life.

 

Having survived an unimaginable adolescence by working really hard to get to where I am today, with an incredible husband and a beautiful baby boy, I said to my neighbor “as your neighbor and friend, I am telling you that living next door to THIS is my worst nightmare.”

I said that every time I see his shady tweaker friends come and go I am reminded of a life I hope my child will never have to witness. And though I don’t want my child to grow up in a bubble sheltered from the world, I don’t want him to be subjected to this right outside our front door.

“And worst of all,” I said, “you’re bringing the cops with their guns drawn right outside my windows. How would that make you feel? If this was your baby and your neighbors activities brought guns to your house, how would that make you feel?”

And you know what happened? My kind and damaged neighbor told me he is so sorry. He said he’s been trying to get clean for 15 years and he’s still trying and all of his friends that come and go are trying to get clean too but it’s hard.

And I told him I understand.

He promised me he would set a curfew and not allow people over past 11 pm any more. He invited me in to his house to witness that there are no drugs or labs or farms in there — I took his word on that one.

I told him that if he needs any help finding programs or support to get clean I’d be happy to look in to things for him. We connected in the only way two people with completely different lives could connect; completely open-heartedly without judgment or expectations. I wasn’t hoping he would be someone else and he didn’t see me as anyone other than a friend. I don’t know if this will remedy the situation entirely, but I feel much better after our talk. I felt an alliance form and a line erased.

The mother bear in me went back to sleep for a while and I’m no longer peeking out of my shades at night.

 

Click to order Renata's music.

Click to order Renata’s music.

 

Renata Youngblood has been writing songs all over the place for a very long time. Though she was originally trained classically on piano she picked up the acoustic guitar in her lonely teen years and never put it back down. She writes songs that are inspired by people she observes, the earth, injustices, family, love, and of course, pain. Renata really loves sad songs. She says they make her feel very good. Renata often shows up at Jen Pastiloff’s retreats to sing.

Please send an email letting Jen Pastiloff know why you’d like to attend her annual Tuscany retreat by emailing info@jenniferpastiloff.com.

Jennifer Pastiloff is part of the faculty this year at Other Voices Querétaro in Mexico with Gina Frangello, Emily Rapp, Stacy Berlein, and Rob Roberge. Please email Gina Frangello to be accepted at gfrangello@ameritech.net. Click poster for info or to book. Space is very limited.

Jennifer Pastiloff is part of the faculty this year at Other Voices Querétaro in Mexico with Gina Frangello, Emily Rapp, Stacy Berlein, and Rob Roberge. Please email Gina Frangello to be accepted at gfrangello@ameritech.net. Click poster for info or to book. Space is very limited.

 

Click to order Simplereminders new book.

Click to order Simplereminders new book.

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11 Comments

  • Reply barbarapotter September 22, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    You know I love you Renata. You rock musically and otherwise.

  • Reply Mantha September 22, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    This is poignantly beautiful and it touched me deeply. I would hope that I could act the same in that kind of situation. You could so easily have stayed inside and let your anger grow. I wish that more of us would or could come out into the light and deal with the challenges that life places in front of us. Again, bravo to you.

  • Reply Janice September 23, 2014 at 5:31 am

    I loved reading this. Very inspiring – strength and courage. A true mama bear!

  • Reply Sarah Zadok September 23, 2014 at 10:58 am

    This is beautiful. Thank you.

  • Reply elle scott September 25, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    What an inspiring story. Thank you. Imagine just treating all people with respect and just talking to someone instead of hiding inside and peaking out of the blinds.

    • Reply Seven Costanza December 13, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      The irony of course is that most tweakers are often peaking outside of theirs. To keep on eye on all those cops hiding clearly inside the trees of course 😉

      Oh my God I think I hear one – no wait, thats just Frodo

  • Reply Seven Costanza December 13, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    This made me eyes teary eyed. What are you doing, make me feel like that? lol

    In this over saturation of materialism and kale, too many people are so quick to judge.
    This is very beautifully written, and as someone who has battled the Dark Side of the Force, it is very precious to read that there are golden souls out there, who care immensely about people. Angels, who wear many hats, one of which is to make sure to keep everyone around them safe, so that they may continue to blossom. This is a growing epidemic, and the more we understand the better off we are. I wish everyone had your humility, and compassion, your fearlessness, strength, and sensibility. Your boy will accomplish great things. You are a precious Jedi, in every sense of the word. Thank you for sharing this aspect of your life. I wish you well my dear.

  • Reply Caleb McGrady August 8, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    You did a great thing by trying to approach the situation with care and respect. BUT, I have to disagree with your seemingly naive optimism that your tweaker neighbor is going to honor anything. Chances are he hadnt slept in who knows how long and probably wont remember you at all. Even if you did touch his heart you wont have reversed years of intense addiction with a few kind words. Addicts do not think or act in ways that sober people can underatand or relate to. I personally have many family memebers who are addicts and they have done unspeakable things to themselves, their families and even their own infant children all for the sake of their drug(s). You also bascially just identified yourself as the person who called the cops so be wary of backlash. I would recommend moving you and your baby away from the situation as these people are wildly unpredictable and dangerous. Yes you have a very loving and honestly inspiring worldview but the world spits in the face of naive kindness. Keep your family safe and move. Then think about helping. I think there is a saying about not conducting certain business where you sleep.

  • Reply Michelle Hurwitz March 2, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    We have a very obvious and active meth home in our neighborhood that causes our otherwise peaceful streets much distress. The cops are over the house at least every 2 weeks. There is a constant parade of zombies walking around our streets looking for unlocked cars and open garages to steal anything of even minor value. To make matters worse, most of the users are young females that are clearly trading sex for drugs. On one occasion in the middle of a beautiful, sunny Monday afternoon, a young woman was marching down one of our streets completely naked, with no sense of humiliation at all. She was headed right towards the meth house after probably getting kicked out of a car by someone who decided not to pay her. There are lots of young school kids in our neighborhood, it is appalling that they should be subjected to this.

    I would bet your neighbor has not changed a thing and you are continuing to deal with this ongoing problem. Even if he has the best of intentions, the drug will always win, every time. As long as this is allowed to continue, it will never end, just as it has been going on for years where I live. Is it our mistake that makes us think we deserve to live in a decent neighborhood where people respect each other? When did that become too much ask?

  • Reply Jared J. Estes April 8, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    Tweekers have no respect for their neighbors or neighborhoods. I used to have compassion for them, it’s a natural instinct. But I am a decade in to living next to tweekers and I am running out of patience.

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