Saturday, November 18, 2017

A lesson in gratitude for this writer

Last night was the holiday party for the clients from my job. One of the programs is designed for Trans Women of Color, many of whom are HIV positive. On Friday nights, the group assembles in the conference room of agency located on a strip where I spent much of my time as an actively using addict. We had a special holiday dinner for the ladies- turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy, rolls, and peach cobbler.The ladies really enjoyed themselves, we had gifts and leftovers available. It was a brief respite from whatever goes on in the outside world. 

 On my break, my coworker and I decided to get some air. Out front of the building, we heard some noise coming from the corner. In true former street people style, we decided to investigate. There was a cluster of people getting high half way down the block in the alley. While that wasn't my alley, the alley where I lived, this whole area was fairly familiar territory. The coworker and I decided we would deliver whatever excess food was available out to the alley so they could make plates. I had been on the receiving end of many meals like this. If I had to chose between money for food or money for dope, food lost out every single time. If it was for little debbie, I am not sure I would have survived my early twenties. That and home run fruit pies.

When we rolled our cart out, it was very clear we had interrupted folks doing what they do. I could see a woman poking with her uncapped syringe in light of the street light. Another two people had the flame of the pipe going. One of pretty much laid the fuck out. A decent mix of what the drug life has to offer.  I was stepping out of my current reality, back into a land that time forgot. I think we were feeling good about being able to feed a few people. That moment was pretty brief.  A few minutes after we walked away, the same folks  are now fighting over their share of the food. I didn't expect that, mostly because I have been living indoors for too too long to understand the realities of that life.

I do remember arguing for twenty minutes over two dollars. I walked up on a person trying to cook up their dope outside when they had owed me two dollars. "The cops are going to come- you are fronting me off" MOTHERFUCKER I DON'T CARE. You owe me two dollars. You need to give me two dollars RIGHT NOW or that hefty cotton. "Okay Okay" (mumble fucking bitch mumble).

What kind of existence is this when human beings are fighting over food? Drugs, poverty, violence, humiliation are the daily staples there. Do I cry, get angry, pull the covers over my head when I get home. I think I remember what the life was like. When I see it completely in my face, I realize I have forgotten so much of it.  While I made it out, that same bear trap is currently holding , or for the escaped, ripping legs off victims over single day.

As I was walking back to the train station, my friend thought it would be cute to sneak up behind me, touching my hand. In a past life, I might have tried to stab him. Last night, I was just happy to have someone walk me towards home.

My son and I were eating out on the sidewalk last weekend cause streets are for the people.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Day I tried to Kill Myself

The day I tried to kill myself was like any other day. I didn't wake up thinking this is the day I want to die. I didn't put my affairs in order. I didn't have a special meal. I said no special goodbyes. The day I tried to kill myself was like any other ordinary day in the 365 days of that year.

There is a certain finality about knowing you are dependent on a substance. Be it heroin or coke or alcohol or speed or benzos. Or in my case, all of the above. When it finally sinks in that you will never escape the grip of addiction, it is a sad fucking day. My brain truly betrayed me. It lied to me saying this would never COULD never happen to me. Yet it did. When I looked at the decaying state of what used to be my young body, I did not feel a thing. I could not feel a thing. I just knew I would never escape.

The day I tried to kill myself, I did not cry. I did not falter in any way. I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do. I did not want to feel that psychic pain any longer. If the right eye offends thee, pluck it out. I could not pull myself out of the stew of sorrow, my mind would drift off hoping I would never come back to this place. There was no one to help me, no one to stop me. I tried to kill myself. I survived. I clawed my way back from death. In dying, I realized I wanted to live.

The holiday season is a complete nightmare for current and former drug users. There are doing to be many moments in the coming weeks where you are going to think to yourself "fuck this". You know what- that is 100%. Your feelings are valid. Pace yourself. The shame train is a long ride from now until new years day. You are not alone.

I have to tell you this- as bad as this feels and it is going to SUCK- it will pass. For most you, active drug addiction is going to pass. You are going to move to something different. Please realize that there are folks out there that care for you. It might not be your family. There is some one. Be gentle with yourself. I spent a few different holiday seasons sleeping on top of a cardboard box in the rain. Yet here I am clicking away on my keyboard next to my snoring dog. I just want you to know that I see you. I am thinking of you. Don't die- I need the company.

xoxo Tracey

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The drug using sex worker and "me too"

I was a sex worker. When I say “Me too” does that count? Am I a good enough victim in that narrative. When you are a sex worker, the vast majority of people don’t believe you can be raped. When you are a sex worker, the people you are supposed to turn to for support are the same people pushing their badge to the side trying to get freebies. I got dropped off on the side of the road in the middle of the warehouse district because I said “take me to jail” rather than providing “something as a public service”

When you are a drug dependent sex worker, the landscape is even more bleak. Taken to jail on a friday for a misdeameanor case when there is no court until Monday as a form of punishment. Sitting in a pool of your own vomit with no medical care available since you have not been processed. No regular bed, just a bench in a holding tank for two days. Just anyone can come up and grab my pussy because you “can’t rape the willing”. Watching the connection scurry everyone away because he EXPECTS he is going to get his dick sucked despite the fact I clearly came with my money. Being brought to the dopeman by male “friends”, not realizing I had been sold out. At least he had the decency to wait down stairs to see if I had a clean rig when “it” was done.

None of these stories matter though. Or do they? No one wants to talk to us about them. But I do. No one wants to care about a dope fiend who nearly got murdered when she fought off her rapists. We aren't disposable. Because I am not them, she is not me, I am not that addicted. I am a “me too”. I am a good victim. Sex workers are us. People on tinder, fucking for a free dinner.

Hate mail in 3, 2, 1...

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The time I almost lost my leg

"Shooting up dope with grape crush wasn't all that cool..." I told the doctor in matter of fact tone  "in fact, it was downright foolish" I don't know why I was trying to let the doctor know I wasn't completely unaware of the situation I got myself in.

Before he pulled back the makeshift bandage, I began to brace myself for the smell. I pulled up my leggings which were currently sticking to the gauze by means of dried puss that had formed an organic bacterial glue. I knew it was all bad underneath there, I just could not gauge how bad. My lower leg was no longer swollen. I had been smart enough to trade a cotton for a bottle of antibiotics. That wound- the wound was not healing.

The doctor started to examine the area "Can I cut this off?" He waved over his assistant, a person I assumed was a nurse. He was pointing to my sock which was equally encrusted to my skin. There was no way to extricate it without pulling off scabs. As he poured cold saline on my leg to loosen the fabric from the gaping hole, I leaned all the way back.

I had to be high to come here. Not Just high. REALLY fucking high. The pain was excruciating. I felt the throbbing before I even opened my eyes in the morning. My leg, twice it's size, red and swollen last week contained a two inch by four inch sized gaping hole that looked like a cross between a cheese pizza and snot. I casually stuck a clean syringe in there to draw out the puss. I gave up at five full trips to the abscess of sorrow. I could gently stick my fingers between the bones, afraid of what would happen if I went even further.

My daydreaming ended as he pulled the sock away from my receptive flesh. I felt a painful yet satisfying pop. Instantly, the room smelled like rotten garbage on a hot day "Basin please", he requested a place for my liquids to drain besides for the floor. As I looked up a the ceiling, I felt a sense of relief wash over me, I knew I was finally safe. I didn't have a place to stay tonight. I didn't have a fucking dollar to my name. I didn't have a sense of where my next fix was coming from. I just knew I was  going to not die. Right now, that was enough. The pain of knowing the truth had kept me from getting help. This would be a metaphor for my entire life.

When I left the clinic a few hours later, I had some saline, gauze, two types of antibiotics, 30 Tylenol #3 with codeine (sorry liver), and a tiny bit of hope. I curled in a ball and took a much needed nap.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Junkie Rockstar I've Been Striving to Be- Guest Post by Anee

How did i get here? How did this happen to ME? How did i end up walking down market street with all of my belongings in my high school varsity swim bag essentially homeless? well, i’m a junkie who couldn’t stay sober.
i kept getting high in my sober living and they kicked me out when all the spoons went missing. then i kept nodding out during the house meeting to discuss said missing spoons. apparently i don’t have a very good poker face.... i needed to find that residential hotel i had heard about. i think i saw it on craigslist. i knew this was coming for a while now so i’ve been feels like everyone is looking at me. do they all know? i’m torn, a part of me is excited. i’m finally free. no one to answer to. i can do what i want when i want. i can use in the open. leave my shit out if i want. no more hiding and faking this sobriety bullshit. and let’s be clear, it IS bullshit. i am finally the junkie rockstar i’ve been striving to be. then the other part, the part that was on the varsity swim team. the part that asked her parents for help 5 weeks ago. the part that would never have believed this could happen to her. that part is scared. scared shitless and wants her fucking mom.
so i find the SRO. i pay the $140 for the week. i’m safe for now. free. the guy shows me to my room. we walk in and i set all my stuff on the bed. the blankets look gross. i don’t care. i’m not out walking up and down market street anymore. that’s all that matters. i’ve never done this and i don’t know how it works? is it ok to sleep on them? this is a hotel after all. he gives me a key to the women showers too. i’m not going there now. it’s late. i know enough to stay in my room and not fucking come out. there's a bed and a sink in this room. that's it. it smells like cigarettes and pee. the sink actually looks like it has pee in it. i guess they don’t call them piss in the sink hotels for nothing. jesus christ i’m so fucking scared.
Obviously the next step is to get high. i leave my stuff in my new room and call my connect. a short bart ride later and i’m well again. i’m desperate not to be so lonely and scared so i call one of my new friends that i had met in rehab who i know has relapsed. we meet up outside. he asks if they can puncture in my room. at first i don’t understand what he’s talking about. i’m a solo user. i’m so full of shame. i don’t know much but i know enough to be embarrassed and hide everything.... puncture? OOOOHHHH. i get it. no one has taught me the lingo. so after a quick hesitation i figure it out and we all go upstairs. they do their thing and i do mine. it’s weird. it’s like the quintessential junkie moment. the one you see in all the movies. me and my two junkie friends picking at our faces, fighting over stolen drugs, nodding out. everything you assume it looks like, it does. down to me secretly taking an extra OC and then helping them look for it and accusing them of stealing from me. classic junkie move. and to be honest, THEY’RE the junkies. not me. i’m not the one shooting up in some random hotel room. this is MY hotel room.... goddamn i’m fucking delusional. i’m not THAT bad off yet. i’ve still got this under control.
After a few hours of that they leave. i have to go to bed. i still have a job to go to in the morning and i can’t be too fucked. so they leave and it’s just me. i’m so lonely and so scared and so broke. there’s not much i can do. i walk to walgreens just to be around some other humans. i figure i will buy some candy or something. i see a tiny black and white TV for $10. i buy that so i’ll have some company. i go upstairs and look around. it’s getting a little loud and scary out in the halls. i’m pretty sure i hear some fighting. maybe it’s fucking. who knows. either way it doesn’t sound happy. how the fuck did i end up here?

i push the bed in front of the door. no one is getting in here. i turn on my sad tv. i wash my face in the pissy sink and climb into the bed with the blankets that have god knows what on them and cry. this is what my life has become. what the fuck? i lay there for hours scared and bored and lonely. just listening to the chaos outside. i put a pillow over my head and the blankets over that. do you think this room is haunted? it must be. GREAT. now i have to worry about that too. it's too late to walk the streets and I’m sick enough to have to leave. i made a mistake. this isn’t how my life is supposed to turn out. this isn’t supposed to be me. I’m supposed to be filming educational hair videos in fucking london right now. but instead i’m in a crack hotel cut off from everyone i love. thanks heroin. i can’t call my dad or stepmom. they made it quite clear they were done. my get out of jail free card was used 5 weeks ago. it's now 2am. i can’t take this anymore. my mom always said i could call her anytime no matter what. i know that she’ll let me come home. she always does. i do it. i call my mom at 2am. she answers immediately.
“hello?” she says in a sleepy voice.

i’m silent for a minute. i can’t believe i actually called her. “hi mom. it’s me.”
i can hear her wake up. this is the call she’s feared. “honey are you ok?”
“no. no mom. no i am not ok. i’m scared and i’m alone. can i come home?” i start sobbing. “please mommy just let me come home.”
silence. she sighs.
“i can’t let you come home honey. i can’t let you come into this house until you are sober. i love you so much and i’m so sorry but i can’t” i know this is breaking her heart to say to me. i know she wishes more than thousand wishes she could let me come home and fix me.
“i can’t. but i can stay on the phone with you. what are you doing?”
i’m crying so hard i can barely get the words out. it’s not working. she’s not going to let me. doesn’t she know what’s going on? doesn’t she fucking care? HOW IS THIS NOT WORKING THIS TIME WHAT THE FUCK? i’m crying so hard i have hiccups i choke out “i’m watching tv. will and grace”
“hold on. i’ll put that on too and it will be like we’re watching it together, ok?’
she puts it on. we stay on the phone for about an hour just watching the show together. we don’t really talk. it’s the first time she’s ever told me no. after i’ve calmed down we get off the phone. we say our i love yous and what not. i fall asleep. when i wake up in the morning i know that i’m on my own. it’s just me. no one is going to help me anymore. i’m the only one who can do this. i want to do this. but not today. probably not tomorrow either. but soon. i know what to do. i know there’s people out there that are happy. there’s people out there who don’t hate themselves. hate the way their skin feels on their body. shit, i just spent 5 weeks with some of them. they came into the program bringing meetings to spread the message. i’ve even got some of their numbers. i’m gonna call them. not today though. not yet.

Anee did get sober.
She is living out her rockstar dreams as a stay at home mother in the desert.
She looks stunning in a caftan.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Chill.

 I see my breath. I'm surrounded by the chill in air. The frost clings to the blades of grass like the memory of the last day I touched your hand. I was distracted by your dirty fingernails, bitten down to the beds. I wore your sweater yesterday. It smelled faintly of flowers. It reminds me of you. The wool irritates me, just like our petty arguments. The forty pounds you lost and gained and lost the last time you relapsed made just enough room.

 There is a gnawing inside my chest. My heart is pounding to get outside. The ribs spread to form a bony prison, keeping me from you. My lungs fill without my consent. I don't want to spend another day wondering where you are- this ache known our separation. I'll hate myself for another sleepless night.

There is a chill in the air. I am spending another night sweating. Sticking to the sheets like unwrapped  candy to the sidewalk on a hot summer day. I am sweet and easily discarded. Two users in love.