The 2nd posting, with an introduction.

Damages part 1….my first piece of writing. This is where it all began for me. What matters most, my beliefs, my passions, and yes, of course, all of the pain and tragedy that has been my life came together as my thumbs tapped along on my phone into a few sentences that forever changed my life. No, my pain is not special in any way, but it belongs to me alone. What would I be without it? I’ll never know the answer to that question.


Avoiding pain is natural. In fact, that’s why it’s there. Pain is a signal to the brain letting us know that something is wrong. Through our efforts to avoid the uncomfortable we protect ourselves, our hearts and sometimes our lives. It’s in this way that most people understand and cope with pain. Whether healthy or unhealthy these are our coping skills and everyone has at least one. The list is endless and includes popular and colorful choices like drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, shopping, lying, exercise, overeating, under-eating, music, oversleeping, under sleeping, hurting others and letting go of reality.

Drugs and alcohol are by far the most popular coping skill. Whether legal or illicit both are easily acquired. In fact, let’s be very real about the subject. There is no war on drugs and every time a substance is banned it can be found in every neighborhood and on most street corners. Why is that? The money of course. The money that comes from drugs, criminalization, and incarceration. Out of control drug addiction and a growing population of drug addicts has been the result.

Most know at least one drug addict. Maybe a family member or close friend. Or maybe someone from the past. A person no longer associated with. Taken off the chessboard due to boundary violations. Infractions the addict found necessary and justified so that they may continue numbing their pain. No matter what form(s) the pain comes in the addict just wants the pain to stop. Some become overachieving experts at staying numb. Twenty-four seven around the clock machines with a never-ending drug inventory. And most addicts are not monsters and creepers. Some of the most amazing people that I’ve known are hardcore drug users. I’m talking about artists, angels and fantastic people who have a way of connecting with others. Some are practically superheroes. Exhausted from empathy and self-sacrifice. Always working to save everyone except themselves. At times it seems like such a waste of talent but then I remember that great things tend to be hidden behind pain and tragedy. And our pain makes us who we are. It’s more than important. Pain is vital and necessary. And everything we experience and suffer through prepares us for something. We are all damaged.

Joseph Shanklin
Spring 2019

shankjoejoe. com

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