“Sometimes the demons we fight are stronger and fleeter than we, and outrace our hearts.” Rev. Dr. Neil O’Farrell would like to see more support for addicts everywhere.
I had prayed it was a heart attack or an aneurism. Something natural, but unfortunate, because he was so young. Even young men die seemingly spontanetously. I loved him on Glee, I loved how he looked and sounded, I loved his talent with the drums, I loved his goofiness, I loved his girlfriend, I loved the whole package.
I loved most that he talked about his addictions and recovery publicly. I really thought he’d learned to live clean. I didn’t mind his going into rehab several months ago because even the strongest among those of us who are recovering need redirection and recommitment periodically.
And then the coroner’s report came out, saying he’d died of a heroin and alcohol overdose. My prayers were unanswered and I faced the truth I wanted not to face. Now I’m praying for his loved ones. I’m praying for all addicts and those touched with addiction. I’m praying for a society that sends a young man with all life’s blessings into a room by himself, a needle, a lethal drug, and a bottle.
So many of us in recovery are right there beside Cory. Or to be more precisely, we wish that we had been there, whispering words of strength and recovery, and making sure he wasn’t alone.
Sometimes the demons we fight are stronger and fleeter than we, and outrace our hearts. Sometimes things go terribly wrong, and we are left on a stainless steel gurney in a morgue. And then all of those gifts and talents, being at the best parties with the beautiful girlfriend—they aren’t there anymore.
Everyone rooted for Cory, I’m convinced of that. Everyone who knew him supported him in his recovery. The villain is the dealer who sold him enough heroin to make a buck, in a dosage that was fatal.
People in recovery learn both simple and complex things. We learn that if we don’t get ahead of our addictions, they will kill us. They certainly will. We learn that we are powerless over our darker angels. We make our addiction, rather than God, the fake and dangerous god, before whom no other god, no matter how merciful, can dwell.
We learn the fatal danger of being alone. You won’t shoot up with one of your 12-step buddies in the room with you. You learn to contact your sponsor, or just a friend who understands. You institutionalize yourself if necessary. There is nothing—nothing—more important than your sobriety, and you learn life lessons that will assist you in working the program. That one-day-at-a-time philosophy is not bunk; it’s survival. Survival is also companionship.
You also learn that you need to be ever vigilant because the world, for you, can be a dangerous place. When I do recovery counseling, I warn people that they need to understand they may have a drug of choice, but they have an addictive personality. If they tamp one addiction down, something else will pop up. Quit drinking, then you’ll become a sexaholic. Get sex under control, then you’ll charge up all your credit cards. The demon of addiction is crafty and incessant.
Feeling shaky: Find a meeting, Call your sponsor. Fine a friend. Take a walk. Crash on someone’s couch. Don’t be alone. Solitude is dangerous. You would think someone like Cory would never lack for companionship, but celebrity may render someone with a profound feeling of loneliness that none of the rest of us can realize. Celebrity doesn’t make us invincible.
Addiction, even that which plays out in real time, does not make us bad people. Cory was the same wonderful person that so many of us loved. No one is good enough an actor for the real essence of the true personality to be hidden. Those of us who watched him were watching a genuine man. Those of us in recovery, watched him in both enjoyment and wariness because we knew the countless pitfalls strewn in his path. Pitfalls so easy to fall into. Pitfalls he fell into.
Tears don’t come because so many of us know so many young men like Cory, and we know that a life of recovery is dangerous and hard, and there are so few people to trust. Cory certainly couldn’t trust the person who sold him the junk. And I can’t imagine why he was physically alone. In the harsh light of day, he was the agent of his own death, no matter how addled he was by a broken brain and a drug-hungry metabolism. The Red Carpet was certainly no help, and may have contributed to his downfall.
If you have an addict as a friend, it’s hard. The person needs help, but you don’t want to be an untrusting nuisance. You don’t want to drive him or her away. It can be exhausting. Friendship isn’t easy. Support, but don’t nag. Always be available if necessary. Be willing to go to the ends of the earth. Don’t enable. So many rules, but a recovering addict needs help from many different people, not just ones in a 12-step program.
In this case, my specific prayers didn’t help. But all prayer helps because none of them is wasted. I just can’t get out of my mind the image of Cory, a frail human with a tough history, alone in a hotel room, and death pumping through his veins. Everyone in recovery knows the risks, but we hope and work for a better outcome. It didn’t come for Cory. Hopefully, it will come for others. Solidarity, not solitude, is crucial to the healing.