Quietly Screaming

Dear Hope Nation,

There’s a quiz at the end of this letter, but first, there’s a bit of background.

Hollow, that’s how Jonah felt.

Hollow with an interior of sludge.

Hollow with an interior of sludge and a ringing in his ears that combined dread, horror and an intense wail of joyous pain, minus the joy.

My mouth is closed, yet I’m screaming.

This is always how it felt three days into a run. Jonah’s jaw ached from clenching his teeth, his mouth was shit-covered sandpaper from five packs of cigarettes and his back and arms were sore as hell from tension. Jonah knew he needed sleep like a drowning man needs oxygen, but he also knew he was drowning in meth and only booze would help him find sleep.

My mouth is closed, yet I’m screaming.

And so it continued, the hellish monotony of the waking unconscious. The rush two days ago nailed him to the spot, just like always. He felt eight feet tall and bulletproof, just like always. The grin had almost torn his lips, just like always.  Who would imagine the magic, the sense of power, the electricity he felt would have melted into this gray acid drizzle of the soul? He was at the end, yet there was no end, just like always.

My mouth is closed, yet I’m screaming

Thinking back, a man could do a lot of damage in a few days. Melissa would be pissed he hadn’t come home, but that was nothing compared to what she’d say when Jonah told her the money was gone. All of it.  She was a pretty crumby girlfriend anyway.

His dad had told him to drop dead when Jonah had stopped by for a visit at two-thirty in the morning. What a jerk! Jonah had just wanted to spend some time with his old man—and away from the shadows. He was a pretty crumby dad anyway.

He’d probably lose his job, but it was a pretty crumby job anyway.

Jonah’s heart kept pounding, feeling like a three-gallon balloon crammed in a quart-sized box. He might die. It was a pretty crumby life anyway.

My mouth is closed, yet I’m screaming.

+          +          +

Now, Hope Nation, I don’t know your story, but I do know mine. I have been Jonah. I’ve been nearing the end of a run with nothing but fear and nicotine to power me, a cold, damp emptiness inside and no friendly direction around me.

If, today, Jonah comes to you, whether on the street, in a store or from your bedroom, what do you say to him to ease his pain, to pull him back from the edge, to help him open his mouth to ask for help?  Please think about this and drop me an email or text, or call me.

Jonah will come into your life, and I want all of us to know how to help. He matters.

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Keith

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