Man in the Mirror | Mike Gardipee

Man in the Mirror | By: Mike Gardipee

The question presented to me was, “What does addiction look like? Does it have a face? “

I have come to see addiction as an evil spirit that lurks the world looking for victims. It will stalk you and wait until you are in a weak state of mind or even naive enough to believe that, “It won’t happen to me.” 

Addiction does not have an ounce of prejudice within its dark matter. You won’t even sense the presence of addiction, even when it’s whispering in your ear. 

Close your eyes for a second, recall the first love of your life or something that has brought you great joy, let it consume your whole being. Go deeper, feel the warmth, comfort, and happiness. Now, think about how one would want to please this love.

At first, the feelings were intense and stimulating. Then as time goes on, it seems that it takes more and more to feel that same intense feeling you experienced in the first place. Then it whispers in your ear,

It’s you, not me, try more. There you go, now I have you.

That is how cunning addiction can be, it becomes your best friend, your mentor, and you are prepared to do whatever it asks. In the beginning, it filled my mind and heart with false feelings of love. I was convinced that it cared about me and always had my best interests in mind.

Before I even knew what happened, it had complete control. I did whatever I had to do to please my addiction. With no regard to those around me, nobody was safe, not even my children. This very mindset is the reason I am doing 188 months in prison. 

Man in the Mirror | By: Mike Gardipee

Please don’t have the belief that addiction can’t happen to you, because that’s what Noah did. I hear him talk about his childhood and upbringing with all the opportunities he had in life. It blows my mind, no, it frustrates me that he has chosen the path that led him to prison: every opportunity, every advantage, all the privilege in the world.

We come from two different worlds, but yet here we are together. Unlike Noah, I was born into a dysfunctional, addicted household. I grew up in an environment where I learned and came to believe that drinking, selling drugs, and violence was a normal part of life.

Don’t get me wrong my Grandparents had a loving household and tried to nurture me with love when I came to live with them after my mother committed suicide. But then my soul was already infected with the evil spirit of addiction and with a criminal mindset.

Man in the Mirror | By: Mike Gardipee
Picture: Dennis, Mike, and Noah

Like Noah, I have seen and met every combination you can think of in regards to ethnic background or upbringing. Remember, addiction is not prejudiced in any way. It is lurking in the dark corners of this world, waiting for a victim. Don’t let it be you. 

I see these faces every day when I walk this prison yard. I hope that these words or those of Noah and Dennis will touch at least one if not all of you in a way that will make you realize and keep you safe. Prison is a dark, lonely place, and in the end, that is where addiction will take you, if you are lucky, because the other option is death.

I was asked a question early, “Does addiction have a face?” The truth is it does; I see it every time I look in the mirror!

I’m the man in the mirror

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