One of the things I can be completely certain about is how unpredictable the road ahead can be. You can make plans, prepare, and have certain expectations and ambitions, but your destiny ends up proving all your predictions to be way off. My path is one filled with contrasts. It has brought me up through high class society and then down to sleeping on cardboard in the dirtiest of slums.
I was born in Norway 34 years ago to a Norwegian mother (nurse) and a Venezuelan father (doctor). My dad never liked Norway, its weather, and its reserved people, so we soon moved to Caracas, Venezuela. We lived in an upper class neighborhood. I attended the best schools money could buy. We were members of the most exclusive country club and mingled with Venezuelan aristocrats. Then my parents had a pretty nasty divorce, the kind where they never wanted to speak to each other again.
A couple of years after the divorce, my mother got an unwanted pregnancy at a point my father wanted his share of the apartment we lived in. My mom was in a pretty tight spot. She confabulated a way for us to escape the country. All of a sudden she tells me we’re traveling to Norway.
The journey started through a clandestine, shady one-story vessel that transported us from the Venezuelan coast to Trinidad & Tobago. It had to be that way since my dad had set a legal prohibition for his children to leave the country. I was ten years old at the time and I remember all of us got scabies from the boat.
I was initially thrilled with the freedom I had in Norway. It was safe for me to play around freely on the block and walk alone to school, but economically it was a drastic change to have three kids with a single mother on government support.
My dad was devastated and didn’t send a dime. Even though I suddenly became the poorest kid in my class, I wasn’t bothered about our severely tight budget. I’ve always made friends easily and was regarded as one of the popular kids, so I was content.
After a year isolated from dad, my mother permitted from then on two yearly visits to Venezuela. I went from being the poorest kid in class to one of the richest guys in town during these visits. Those rendezvous with dad included vacations in Miami, New York, and Aruba where pops would buy me anything I wanted.
When I got to my teenage years, growing up relatively ignored by my mother, without any discipline in the household, my grades plunged and I started smoking pot. My mom thought I was getting out of hand. She conspired a plan where I’d be leaving Norway for good.
On one of my regular visits to Venezuela, I was told I wasn’t coming back to Norway. I was enraged but powerless and just had to accept it. The positive side was that my father spoiled me and I was back living a permanently high class lifestyle. I had just turned 15 that summer.
I was amazed that I could suddenly go to bars and “legally” acquire alcoholic beverages in contrast to Norway’s extremely strict laws. I integrated fine at school and made friends immediately. I soon switched from smoking pot to drinking. I partied at exclusive clubs and fooled around with exotic girls. Life was good.
After I graduated high school, I took a sabbatical year where I just went surfing on the beach, started smoking again, and got introduced to cocaine by a beautiful brunette I was having a fling with. It was party time. I was—and still am—an avid guitar player and was influenced by bands like Sublime, Nirvana, and The Doors, who promoted drug use in their music.
I started college to become a veterinarian, but it wasn’t long before I began using animal tranquilizers like ketamine and then eventually heroin and crack. I was forced to drop out at my third year after several overdoses. A close family member took me to a doctor’s appointment where I was supposed to get a “vitamin shot” to help put in shape, but it ended up being a powerful tranquilizer.
I woke up in a strange place wearing a uniform. It was a public psychiatric institution specialized for drug users. My family was done putting up with my shit. Three minutes after I woke up, I got beat up by the nurses because I refused to get an injection. They took off all my clothes and threw me in a completely dark small room referred to as “the hole” for two straight days.
I laid naked on the floor of cement in my own urine, freezing. It was the worse two days of my life. This taught me to just obey what the nurses ordered of me for the rest of my time there. I also went through two electroshock sessions where they put electrical current through my head until I passed out. It was essentially a prison with a lot of crazy people in it, a terrible but interesting experience.
After eleven long months, I got out. Crazy thing is, the last couple of months I became used to the place. Then I ended up living in the streets of Caracas. Begging, stealing, and sleeping on cardboard was my routine. Between the slums, gangsters, and other street dwellers, it was a struggle for survival. Having a blonde Scandinavian “gringo” look didn’t help my case. I was regularly abused by police, beat up, and robbed. I was more dead than alive.
Another life-changing happened. Out of the blue, I was offered to drink a natural extract called ayahuasca from a girl I used to go out with who had overcome her own drug problem. It saved my life. I experienced a profound inwards journey that allowed me to know myself. It’s the only thing that has helped me stay clean.
I married her and we now have a beautiful child. I’m happier now than I have ever been, and my old life seem like a distant dream. It left me with huge lessons and made me a stronger person. Alcohol, cigarettes, and any other narcotic for that matter is despicable trash to me now.
There are many things that happen throughout your lifetime that at the moment will seem like a curse, but as time passes by you get wiser and realize that there is something to learn from all the experiences you live—they make you the man you are today. Your mistakes are your best teachers so these apparent curses end up being blessings.
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