Step Inside The World Of The "Acrobaddict": An Exclusive Excerpt

Now that you've met our August/September cover guy Joe Putignano, get a glimpse of his fascinating new book, Acrobaddict, before it's released on Sept. 10. Instinct has an exclusive excerpt for you below!

 

Chapter Eleven

Teeth

 

One of the most common dreams is losing one’s teeth, which represents embarrassment, fear, shame, abandonment, and feelings of powerlessness. A parallel waking experience can be found in the phrase losing face.

 

I hated everything about alcohol—the smell, the way it changed people, and how insidiously it crept into my life. I had watched as it slowly destroyed the relationships in my family, like a cancer carving its way through our bodies.

My brother drank a lot, and would come into our room reeking of beer. I never understood how people smelled like alcohol; if I drank a gallon of milk, did I smell like a cow? He came into the room with bright, demonic eyes, excited, dizzy, energetic, and drunk. His drinking worried me, and I feared something terrible would happen. One night that fear turned into reality when he got into an awful accident. He wrapped his car around a tree so badly that its metal frame twisted around his body, locking him into a steel grave. He was rescued by the Jaws of Life and brought to the intensive care unit. When I heard the news, I was filled with fear. Was he going to be all right? Was he going to die? After a long time in the hospital and a few surgeries, he recovered, but the accident didn’t change his behavior. Like many of us, he continued to believe he was immortal.

My mom also drank a lot, but it affected her differently than my brother. She didn’t get the same energy as him, and seemed to be sliding down a hole, taking all light down with her into Hades’ lair of endless repetition. Her life cycled around finishing the drink and filling it back up for that defined “fulfillment.”

I hated alcohol.

I was determined never to drink, because I had seen and lived through the destruction it caused and, bottom line, it would ruin my gymnastics. I had seen older kids start drinking and watched how alcohol slowly destroyed the athlete they could have become. I was not going to let that happen to me. I was afraid of losing my physical control that I had worked so hard to achieve.

In my sophomore year, everyone in school started experimenting with alcohol and pot, including my closest friend Tara. She came over to my house on weekends with her friends to drink. I had the house to myself until two in the morning since my mom was always at work, so it became the “drinking house.” I had learned from my sisters to clean the house so it looked better than it did before Mom left, and she would never suspect a thing. Our family adage, “If no one saw it, then it didn’t occur,” was in full effect. I watched my friends get drunk, laugh, and dance, and then cleaned up after them.  

After months of being the perfect human specimen, always on the outside of my friends’ world and always eating properly, working out, caring for everyone, and cleaning up after them, I decided to have a beer with them. I drank it as fast as I could because it tasted so awful. Everyone told me the first one always tasted bad, but the second one would taste better. I didn’t feel anything after the first beer, but as I drank the second one a small wave of calm and pleasure washed over me. I felt a little taller, and the rest of the second beer did indeed taste better. I felt myself gaining confidence that allowed me to drink even more. Small waves of pleasure intensified, and I felt the huge, hollow well of my soul slowly fill up with warmth and happiness.

Tara was thrilled that I finally drank with her, crossing into the enchanted place teenagers go, the place I had sworn against—the place I had denied myself through control and fear. I continued drinking and thought, What took me so long? If I had known it felt that good, I would have started years ago. Each bitter gulp helped dissolve the tremendous burden of trying to be a perfect champion, draining my mind of its circling problems and presenting the answers in simple laughter. This was better than medicine, and provided exactly the effect I needed: a burst of light to penetrate my dark world. All this time spent alone in my head, cursing myself, hating myself, beating myself up, being ridiculed, and fighting for my breath to reach Olympia built up into this moment of relief—and in that moment, it was all sort of . . . funny. Finally, I didn’t care.

After my fourth beer, we went swimming in our kidney-shaped pool. The pool water glistened in the darkness, perfectly cool and numbing against our skin. We could not contain our laughter, and we didn’t dare; laughter would seek its revenge if we denied its release. The giant pine trees watched behind us, and I knew with every fiber of my being that this was the cure for what ailed me. The night belonged to us, as did almost every weekend that followed.

All I could think about during school was the weekend. I knew everything would be okay as soon as I could drink that second beer. It gave my mind and body a short vacation. My mother never suspected anything, and I never admitted to drinking. All the people I resented, the drunken slobs at the bar, and my father, well, I realized they were on to something. I still believed drinking was a weakness, so how weak did that make me? How could I be angry at my mother for something I was doing myself? I had discovered its wonder, realizing I needed it as much as she did. I never drank in front of my brother; that was a boundary I was unwilling to cross. He knew me as his little brother, and I didn’t want him to see me enjoying the family cure and curse.

Every weekend that I could drink, I drank, mostly with Tara. I drank a couple of times with some guys on the gymnastics team. I found out quickly that I was able to drink a large amount without experiencing any side effects in the morning. I was always the first one to crack open a beer and the last one to put it down, and never understood why my friends would stop, brush their teeth, and then get ready for bed. Why weren’t they drinking like me, until the sun rose? 

That year I bought my first car, a gray Toyota Celica, from Trish. I loved it, and would follow my brother to parties with kids his age outside of our town. I had gymnastics practice on Saturday mornings, and when I drank on Friday nights my practices suffered because I finally started to experience side effects. I woke with my mouth dry as the desert, stomach wrenching, head spinning, and sweating from the alcohol. Sometimes I was still slightly drunk as I hopped into my little gray car and drove to practice, showing up late. My coach immediately knew what was going on, seeing how dramatically I had changed from the year before. I wore my carelessness as a new layer of flesh, proud of the trouble growing underneath. 

My coach took me into his office, which was rare for him to do with any athlete. He told me how talented I was, and that if he had half the talent I did, he wouldn’t piss it away like I was doing. I stood there with my arrogance, confusion, fear, and anger, wanting to break down in tears and scream to him, “Save me. I’m in pain. I’m dying. I can’t breathe. I want to die. Please help me.” But I didn’t. I quietly swallowed his words and felt a deep shame. What would Dan think of me right now? It didn’t matter; Dan had left me here, and this was the result. I knew that I needed to slow down my drinking on the night before a practice, and I had to work harder to control the situation. 

I was trying to balance a difficult schedule: going to school, gymnastics practice, working, and drinking with my friends. When I worked at my parents’ restaurant, I ran heavy racks of bar glasses through crowds of drunken people to make sure the turnover of drinks was fast enough for the bartenders to serve. I had to collect them and wash them quickly to maintain the cycle. It was hard work, and the money was good. Working there made me feel important and gave me a sense of satisfaction and belonging, all while allowing me to pay for my car.

When I wasn’t working, I partied every opportunity I had. My brother and I decided to have a huge keg party one summer. I had just finished reading The Great Gatsby and wanted it to have the same opulent feel as the parties in the book. We bought giant tiki torches and dug small trenches around the pool, decorating the yard in a Hawaiian luau style. Our house was perfect for a party—a large, open backyard guarded by giant pine trees; a romantic, crystal-clear pool that reflected the moon; and a large basement room where I slept. We charged five dollars a cup to cover the costs of the decorations and beer.  

On the night of the party everyone from school was there. I felt a deep sense of camaraderie that I had never felt before. I had been the loner, the hermit, and always compared myself to everyone else. I was convinced they all had better lives and felt sorry for me, but that night we were all friends, drinking over the moments that normally divided us. We celebrated youth together, under the same moon I had cursed and hated for never saving me in the past, and now I could declare to it, “I don’t need you anymore . . . you weren’t enough for me anyway.”

We made so much money from the party that we decided to have another one at the end of August. But when the time came, the weather was different, and the air was heavy as Death spread over the summer and the sun burned its rays across our dying grass. A large harvest moon rose over the horizon, turning peach, then purple, and finally black, surrounded by tiny twinkling stars. The crowds of kids came fast. Word had spread about our first party, and people came in from other towns. Parked cars lined our road, and people started jumping the fence instead of going through the gate where we were collecting money. So many people were coming so fast, rowdy and ready to party. I knew I couldn’t drink because the party was already out of control and I couldn’t stop it. The calm sea of people in our backyard had turned into a tsunami. 

I stood there, puzzled, and watched my own party blast into chaos. My brother grabbed cue sticks from the pool table and stepped on them, snapping them in half to use as weapons, because it was obvious a fight was going to break out somewhere. It looked like he was going to stake a vampire. I knew the cops were coming because our phone was ringing off the hook. We couldn’t control it as the smell of pot and cigarettes rose up in a cloud from our backyard. I went into my mother’s room and locked the door behind me to remove myself from the situation, and at that moment the cops arrived. Our whole town’s law enforcement was at our front door. Kids went running everywhere. I was glad the cops came, afraid the party would destroy everything we owned. The cops arrested several people who had pot on them. A few hours after everyone left, Michael and I took the remaining kegs and drank them as fast as we could.

The next morning the entire backyard was trashed, with vomit in the bushes and empty beer cups everywhere. My mom was so proud of her beautiful backyard, and we had trashed it. She was very upset with me. I had no smart-ass comeback for what had happened. I felt guilt coupled with a teenage hangover, and knew I needed to clean up my act. My summer of drinking was interfering with my gymnastics, so I decided to cool out for a bit. I was going to drink less and calm down for my junior year.

On my last drinking night before the new school year began, I decided to smoke pot. I had watched my friends smoke, and they always laughed at the most ridiculous things. Since I believe laughter is a great and powerful natural medicine, I thought smoking pot would be a good idea. My friends told me the high from pot was more mellow than drinking, and I wouldn’t have a hangover the next day. That sounded like exactly what I needed.

I took my first puff from a loosely rolled joint. The smoke stung my throat, and I instantly coughed like a rookie. It tasted good on my lips and smelled natural and damp. I took another puff and held it in my lungs the same way I did with my asthma inhaler, holding the air deep down so my body would absorb the medication, and then I exhaled the thick smoke like a proud dragon. For the first time, I understood what the word high meant—I was somewhere in the air with my feet on the ground. Perceptions of my surroundings changed slightly, and I started to feel like a character in one of my own stories. Unlike alcohol, which revved me up, pot brought a quiet sense of peace and restfulness, and made me want more.

We replaced alcohol with pot and sometimes mixed the two. I didn’t think it interfered with my Saturday morning practices, and was able to continue training hard without that horrible hangover. By now my parents knew I drank, but they never suspected I was smoking pot. I still had my clean-cut, all-American look—innocent baby face and puppy-dog eyes that could convince anyone I wasn’t doing drugs like the other “stoners”—but I had firmly sunk my teeth into it.

 

Chapter Twelve

Skin

 

Scarification is the scratching, cutting, or etching of designs, pictures, or words into the skin. Nose piercing was first done 4,000 years ago in the Middle East. The first tongue piercing was seen in Aztec, Mayan, Kwakiutl, and Tlinglit tribes as an ancient blood-drawing ritual to prepare for the arrival of the gods. Roman warriors pierced their nipples to show strength, courage, and bravery, and British and American sailors were known to pierce theirs as a rite of passage for traveling beyond a significant latitude and longitude.

 

The nineties alternative music revolution swept the nation, and I became its greatest fan. Like generations of teenagers before us, we declared our purpose to the world through the notes of the songs we worshipped and the styles and attitudes our music dictated. True to the new grunge, we were unkempt and careless, and looked like we had just rolled out of bed. 

I saw the first sign of body modifications’ rise in a man with his nose and tongue pierced at Lollapalooza, the summer’s largest musical festival. I immediately wanted it, drawn to the juxtaposition of hard steel on soft skin. It looked painful and powerful—a spike though the center of a tongue represented physical and mental anguish, as if the wearer were saying, “I had my tongue nailed to say ‘Fuck you and fuck off!’” The idea of expressing myself without using words that betrayed my horrible voice was hugely appealing to me.

The only body piercing place I knew wouldn’t pierce anyone under eighteen years of age, and I was only seventeen. So I decided to pierce my nose on my own, believing I wouldn’t get in trouble as long as I hid it from my parents.

That night I got drunk and removed a thumbtack from a poster on my wall. I marked the spot on my nose, cleaned the dull spike with rubbing alcohol, and slowly pressed it through the skin of my nose. The thick nasal cartilage made it difficult to penetrate all the layers of anatomy, and it hurt more than I had imagined. Every time I attempted to puncture that sensitive target, my eyes watered in blinding tears, but I wasn’t going to let physical pain stand in the way of my identity. A grueling hour of rigorous pushing passed by, but the skin fought against me. It wasn’t working.

I stood squinting at the mirror through watery vision as blood leaked from the hole. I twisted the thumbtack, and tried to wiggle it through the flesh. Finally, after four hours, it popped through to the other side. I was filled with relief and exhilaration! I was thrilled with the prize of having a green thumbtack sticking out of my nose. Now came the difficult part—I needed to remove the thumbtack and replace it with a steel hoop. I figured this was low-level surgery, and nothing was going to stop me. I poured a mixture of rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide on the bloody area as a fizzy, stinging, painful wash. After I removed the thumbtack I couldn’t find the punctured hole, and a maroon-colored river rushed down my face. Sheer determination guided me in threading a hoop through the hole I had created, and I looked in the mirror, thrilled with the result of my work. This was my first physical tribute to teenage angst. As I admired my new prized possession, I thought, Well, I like it, but . . . this isn’t enough, and immediately thought about other places to pierce.

I went to wash the blood from my face and forgot about the protruding steel and slammed my hands into my raw nose. It felt like getting punched in the face. Sleeping was impossible, as I’d roll over and wake up in stinging pain, but my identity was worth a few sleepless nights.

The only other body part I could pierce without my parents knowing was my navel. Like a surgeon, I sterilized the area and marked the location to dissect the skin. The pain was worse than it was with the nose, and I realized this tool wasn’t sharp enough to penetrate all the epidermal layers. I searched all the sharp objects in my house that could tear through a stomach and decided on a safety pin. It had enough metal surface for my thumb to securely apply pressure. My stomach quivered as the sharp pin stuck into my flesh. The nerves of my skin sent signals to my brain begging me to stop, but I didn’t care; my pain receptors didn’t understand the things cool kids had to do. I took a deep breath and pushed the pin, slowly drilling into the dermis. A dark maroon pool filled the entrance around the safety pin and blood trickled down, reminding me of a watercolor painting I had made as a child. I was happy to have hit blood.

My navel looked gruesome, but I continued to push into the pain like I was popping a balloon. I knew the blood meant the operation was halfway done, and I had to see it through. I held my breath and could feel tissue tearing underneath my skin. Was the laceration so intense because I was severing the mystical umbilical cord? Would that operation finally separate the son from the mother? My fingers shook as I tried to finish the job, and it seemed like the needle would never completely puncture through to the other side. The safety pin wasn’t sharp enough either, but it was all I had.

I tried to convince myself I was a machine. I used steady pressure to complete my composition and, many agonizing hours later, tore through to the other side. The temple of my body now possessed a solid spike through its core, and I adored it. I had threaded a safety pin through my stomach and had arrived at perfection. That was my sacrifice to the gods, my own flesh and blood. Like Michelangelo, who carved away from the limestone the bits that weren’t David, I was removing the pieces of flesh that weren’t Joseph. 

My navel brought the same repercussions as my nose—gymnastics, jeans, and sleep were agonizing—but I was willing to pay the price because pain defined and symbolized me. Piercing became my new obsession. If I had been a year older, I would have covered myself in glorious steel. I was in love with steel hoops, fascinated with the way a perfect circle with no beginning or end could go through one’s body. I loved the shine of surgical steel and the message it carried: strong, heavy, and abrupt. Once my flesh would turn to dust, those endless circles would be the only remains in my casket. Even after the Earth would burn or freeze or crumble, my steel piercings would forever remain.

I looked in the mirror beyond my eyes, deep into the person I wanted to become. I was building armor protection and scars to tell others, “Stay away, I’m dangerous.” I had dyed my hair jet-black. My pale face under my tarlike hair transformed me into a corpse with a silver hoop through its nose. I couldn’t have been happier. For the first time I was satisfied with my outside appearance, because it started to match the pain of my insides. This was what high school had done to me—as others began their journey into a beautiful and hope-filled world, I grew into a “pretty hate machine.”

I started getting attention everywhere I went. People stared at me and looked either horrified and afraid or fascinated and attracted. It didn’t matter, because I believed I was making a point. I was angry; I was in hell; and now you had to see it. My pain was my fashion, the music was my inspiration, and my body became my masterpiece.  

At school I gained confidence from my dark exterior’s “I hate you” attitude, and it was true—I did hate them. I despised them for calling me fag, and hated them for hating me. I resented them because I felt nothing but animosity toward them. For the first time I was communicating, and people heard me. My black demon stalked the halls of education. “Fag” turned into “freak,” and I embraced my new label.

My gymnastics coach was not happy about the change. Gymnastics had a certain look to it—preppy, clean-cut, and muscular—and I looked like I had been dancing all night in a mosh pit. Body piercing was a deduction in competition, but I wasn’t willing to change myself for a score. I felt we should be judged on our movement and skill, not on what we looked like. I wanted this rule changed and felt responsible as a role model for the next army of alternative gymnasts. 

I believed in my heart that my coach knew I was suffering. I believed he wanted to take me in, but didn’t know how to confront my parents. Again, he pulled me into his office, trying to talk some sense into me. One-on-one without gymnastics to hide behind made it brutally uncomfortable. He told me that I had more talent in my little pinky than most of the other guys on the team, and I was letting it all go. I had no idea how to keep my spirit alive with everything that was happening at school. I was angry and wanted to spill my guts on his office floor, but couldn’t bear telling him the truth about what I was truly feeling and what the kids were calling me. I was a warrior for the art of gymnastics, and that meant I had to be strong. I left his office wishing I could still find a shred of innocence in me, but it was too late. I had made the deal and crossed over. And new flesh was already growing over the good boy I used to be.

Next I wanted a tattoo, but I was still underage. I heard it was possible to create your own tattoo with a needle, India ink, and desire. I thought if I created something on my own skin, I would cherish it for life. I had to choose a place on my body where my parents wouldn’t be able to appreciate my artwork. I decided my foot would be best, since I could cover it with my socks. My artistic symbol was a black widow, which represented my emotions—dark, angry, and lethal. It was also something I could draw without making too many mistakes.

I cleaned my foot with rubbing alcohol and drew the spider with a pen. I sterilized the needle by burning it with my lighter, dunked it into the India ink, and started to slowly carve the design into my foot. The idea was to remove the skin and let the ink absorb into the flesh. After seven days the wound would heal and the ink would become part of my body as newly designed skin. I slowly dragged the needle through my skin, tearing, ripping, and pulling the pieces of flesh out that blocked my design. As with all my new hobbies, it bled a lot and I could no longer see the pattern. I had to take breaks along the way because of the intensity of the pain, but after a few hours, I finally finished. I couldn’t show it to anyone since my artistic creation would no doubt get back to my mother, but I had to show someone my accomplishment. I thought Michael would appreciate the lengths I had gone to in scarring my body, but when he saw my foot he looked nauseated. I was still bleeding, and he just asked, “What the fuck is that?” He seemed angry with me and looked at me as if I had become a stranger.

Two days later my mother called home from work. She was outraged and cursing, saying, “If you have a tattoo on your foot I will murder you. When I get home from work there better not be anything there! I’ve had enough . . . with your clothes, nose ring, and that hair! You’re a disgrace!” I told her it was fake and that I didn’t have anything on my foot.

I hung up the phone and looked down at the sore wound of my prison tattoo, thinking of ways to remove it. It had been only a few days, so I thought maybe it was possible to scrub off the inky scab. I knew my mother would kick me out of the house if she saw the tattoo. I scrubbed intensely for twenty minutes, but after I rinsed the suds away a horribly drawn black widow spider stared back at me; it wasn’t coming out. I ran to the kitchen and got a Brillo pad. The bleeding increased as I scrubbed it raw with the steel wool, scratching the design out of my skin. As the sanguine-colored suds drained away, I saw that the ink was gone, along with my skin. The wound bled more than during the making of the tattoo, but I was thankful I’d somehow managed to kill the spider. I applied some Neosporin and wrapped my foot in bandages. When my mother came home I unraveled the bandages, exposing a raw, bloody wound, and said, “See! There’s no tattoo!” She looked disgusted, didn’t say a word, and stormed off. I was relieved there was no argument, but her silence always cut deeper than her rants.

 

*  *  *  *

 

I could no longer work at the restaurant with my new look; the only job for freaks like me was at a music store. I worked at Sam Goody Music Land in the local mall, which gave me listening access to all the music I dreamed of. This was the perfect job, and my boss even had connections to a great piercing place in Providence, Rhode Island. My friend Randi—a daffodil holding a machine gun, with bleached-blonde hair and a hoop through her nose—and I drove there with no thought of the consequences, and decided to get our tongues pierced.  

My mother had a new rule: If I were to get my tongue pierced, she would kick me out and I would have to live with my father. I didn’t think she was serious, and knew she would never see the piercing unless I deliberately showed her. Randi and I shared the same anger with the world and saw the piercing as a necessary solidification of our identities. Still, we were both nervous to get it done.

I went first. Trance music played in the background and beautiful, stainless-steel body jewelry was on display in glass cases all around. This was nirvana. I picked a long barbell for my tongue and headed into another room. The piercer looked exactly like the entity I wanted to become—covered in piercings and tattoos that blurred the boundaries of his skin. I couldn’t see where his flesh started or ended, and the line dividing his art and life’s creation became one unified body of work, transforming him into something new through ink and steel—becoming his own God and creator. He looked beautiful and mean. Those weren’t just decorations, they were tribal scars, and I was eager for my next initiation.

The room looked like a doctor’s office, immaculately sterile and clean. Small gargoyle statues hovered on shelves above the piercing chair. Would those little silent demons watching my baptism allow me to pass? The piercer clamped my tongue with something that looked like hotdog tongs and said calmly, “Don’t move it and take a deep breath out.” Then a quick, sharp pain shot through the center of my tongue. He removed the huge needle and inserted the precious metal through the center. I was instantly high and filled with euphoria. I knew I would be back for more.

Randi and I were thrilled on the drive home. Sucking on ice cubes to keep the swelling down, we kept sticking our tongues out in the rearview mirror, making sure they were still there. I knew when I arrived home I wanted more, and I returned a week later for my septum, a bullring through the center of my nose. This was much more painful, but easier to hide since I could wear a curved barbell and just flip it up into my nose. Nobody would know it was there unless they did a nasal inspection—angel by day, demon by night. 

The tension between my mother and me grew to monstrous proportions. It was constant screaming, and during one of our shouting matches my mouth opened wide and she saw the steel ball on my tongue—a precious silver pearl resting on the belly of an oyster. She looked mortified and betrayed. It was either take it out or move out. With perfect teenage conviction, I told her, “Over my dead body!” and started packing. We had driven each other to the point of rancor and she was angry with the results, unable to look at me—her homemade suburban Frankenstein.  

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

Enraged, I threw all of my stuff into the trunk of my car and left my mother’s house, thinking, I’ll never come back here. I hate you. This is all your fault. I sped away in pure hatred. I thought of how I had sat by her side as she cried over my father, and now she kicked me out for a pierced tongue. I had the perfect justification for even deeper self-destruction. 

My father didn’t know what to do with me. He could tell I was a ticking bomb, but had no clue as to what wires to cut so I wouldn’t detonate. Deep within my eyes rested the question he feared most: “Did I do this to my son?” He didn’t like the tongue and septum piercings either, but was afraid to pick a fight with me. He saw where I was headed and feared that maybe his leaving my mother had contributed to my induction into darkness. I could read his thoughts as he looked at me. “My son. What happened to my beautiful son, the amazing gymnast and good kid? Why is he doing this to himself?” I couldn’t explain my transformation to my father. All I knew was that the ugliness made me feel alive, and the reaction on people’s faces gave me joy. I thought my piercings made me look tough and mean. That was my armor, my protection against the world. I would reject everyone before they could reject me, and I would never again have to go through the pain of being denied or unaccepted. I was different, and felt comfortable with my metamorphosis into a thing people feared.

The ocean by my father’s house was magic, and I believed it could heal my pain. I would stare at the sea for hours, watching the waves roll back and forth, crashing to the shore. My anger became nothing in those moments, and I breathed in a sense of peace.

A summertime New England beach is luxurious, but New England winters can be harsh and unforgiving. It was an hour’s drive from my father’s house to my high school, and my little gray car didn’t have heat. I didn’t have enough money to fix it since all of my cash went into body piercing and gas. I passed through each town with a sheet of ice on the windshield and would sometimes stick my head out the window to better see where I was going. The ocean air was freezing, and I didn’t have gloves so I wore socks on my hands. I couldn’t imagine what that must have looked like to the morning commuters: a boy covered in steel driving a block of ice with socks on his hands. 

I was happier living at my dad’s house, and his girlfriend tried to ease my pain with her kindness, but the drives to school and gymnastics were killing me. I was beyond exhausted, and would fall asleep at the wheel. I don’t know how I didn’t crash my car. I think on those long nights something powerful and caring took hold of the wheel. I started smoking cigarettes to keep me awake in case my angels didn’t show up. Before I finished a cigarette, I would take two inhalations of my asthma medication because of how badly the smoke hurt my lungs. I drove those long hours into the night with smoke in my lungs, anger in my heart, and the sea by my side.

 

Chapter excerpts from Acrobaddict by Joe Putignano. © 2013 Joe Putignano. Published by Central Recovery Press.