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  • Shamus Flavin

I found my Collateral Beauty.

Updated: May 2, 2022

Collateral Beauty – To find Beauty in Darkness.

Have you ever had a nightmare but it’s the way you wish your life was heading and then wake up? My self-conscious thought I was a successful broker in New York City but the one that jumps out of a building because he hates his life. (No offense to any Broker out there reading this.) Every dream I had in Detox, my life was manageable, straight to the point. With the girl of my dreams and great career. A famous Weatherman or even Spiderman at fucking Islands of Adventure. I almost have the Spiderman thing down. Almost. Its weird how your ambitions change with age. Then I would wake up in cold sweat and realize where the fuck I am. Back to square one. Walking into Detox was like déjà vu. June 2020 was the first time I tried to get sober for myself instead of the countless interventions that led me to anger just to find myself drinking a fifth of Vodka in a hotel room contemplating my life. It’s hard to find any sort of beauty in that situation. I’ve been on a roller coaster ride ever since 2019, when I first stepped into a Treatment center. I thought I found God my first round just to find myself drunk in the parking lot of where a AA meeting would be held. I even went to a few meetings drunk and spoke. It was a cry for help in a way but I never utilized the tools when I was in South Florida. I would hit my rock bottom, whatever that was, try to get sober, get sober, start getting healthy, finally get healthy and then realize my life is not worth a shit and relapse. Then repeat. Don’t get me wrong, I know my life is worth it, but it’s the inner demons that demand attention.

I met some amazing people in Detox this time around, some I can see myself doing this recovery shit with. Some people I want in my life. But I did sit in my own shit for a lot of the stay. I pretty much Jason Bourned my whole stay. Who am I? What are my skill sets? What the fuck happened before I woke up that first day in Detox again? I watched the movie Collateral Beauty four times while I was in there. It’s the depressing Will Smith movie with an uplifting message at the end. It related to me in many ways. A lot more then it did in 2016 when it came out. The past eight years of my Alcoholism and drug addiction I have been trying to find the silver lining in this mess we call life. I mean, I have never lost a child, I don’t even have a child. My brain still processes me as a fucking child for God sakes. But I have come home countless times to my mother crying, looking at a photo of the one she lost. Countless times her only living child has disappointed her with the amount of alcohol I had consumed. Countless calls from the hospital because I passed out at a bar or in my car. Where’s the silver lining there? As for me, I have been in the ICU with my father who raised me, begging, and crying for me to get him out of there. Begging for me to take him home, if only it was that simple. The only thing I ever gave him was one of those Blu E Cigs, the first of its kind, only for the nurses to take it away from him. I also walked into the funeral home just to stare at my brother in a box, a person I trusted more than anything in the world….at that time. The Collateral Beauty in that is that they are not suffering anymore. Their souls have just left their bodies. I hope there is something more out there when we leave this earth but who knows. You can only do the right next thing and prey I guess. I called my brother a selfish prick for years for taking his life, but I can’t blame him anymore. I am now what he was then. A lost soul. The only difference is, I picked up the phone while he turned it off. I used to get angry that my mom would call me JJ but maybe it’s because he lives through me now.

Will Smiths character lost his daughter and writes letters to Love, Time, and Death in the movie.

As for love, I have loved countless women at many different times in my life. My father raised me to be a stubborn man but to be honest I think I was a hopeless romantic. I craved the attention at a early age. As Nick Carraway says in the Great Gatsby “you can’t repeat the past.” I wish I could have one hundred times over. Especially the end of my senior year of high school. I fucked up many relationships because who wants to be with a fucking alcoholic. I just loved Alcohol more than myself or any other human. I still loved you, I was just sick. Self love is something I learned out here. I hated myself for so long. That’s why I was slowly killing myself with booze. I found love in trust out here as well. It was very hard to lean on complete strangers but when they have been through the same shit you have, you gain a mutual respect for them.

As for time, well I wasted a lot of it. I feel like I wasted my twenties. A lot of the Time was spent on a barstool, isolated or in a hotel room. Maybe the time was wasted to find myself here in Utah. I mean, maybe my hometown dragged me down. I wasted two years of my life stripping sheets off checked out beds, I could have found out what I was good at instead. Never had the courage to take the leap of faith though. Time to me now is just a number. Since getting into recovery I have tried to get to that glory year, yet relapses will change your perspective on time. I hate that cliche take it one day at a time but I live by it now. Just need patience and it will pay off. I now wake up at five in the morning to go to a 630 am meeting. I’m taking advantage of every opportunity I can get.

Now comes death, I have played dingdong ditch on Heaven’s doorstep for too damn long now. Yet being in recovery comes that risk. Drinking and using is not the same after your brain has processed the fact that your life is unmanageable with it. Every relapse I have that suicidal feeling yet there is collateral beauty within. In my youth I had my stomach pumped in High School, maybe that was a early sign that these genes are in fact in me. After the loss of my father and brother the day drinking started becoming a trend. I was twenty three, twenty four hanging out at a pub on my days off. Six shots of Fireball and three Guinness or Vodka and Cranberry Juices before noon became normal. I ended up in the ER eleven times. I got lucky. Maybe God wanted me on this earth for a reason but it could be maybe not only cats have nine lives, I sure as hell used up all of them.

I found myself grateful to be back in Utah. Sober. Ofcourse I restarted my sobriety date but having my sobriety date in August anyway just seemed ugly. The second I got off that tarmac I knew I was fucked. I wasn’t excited to be home. I was nervous and all the anxiety came back. It was like my mom dropped me off at the airport on December 20th, 2020 and I was just in limbo. Went back to the same Walgreens, same black gay clerk Michael was like Shamus! Where have you been?! It’s fucking sad when the liquor store clerk still remembers you by first name. With every relapse comes change and with change come new responsibility. I’m just happy I found light at the end of the tunnel. I’m just glade I found beauty within the darkness.



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