Saturday, January 21, 2017

"If I knew what to do, I would have already done it..."

Heroin made me it's bitch. There is no denying it. There is no sugar coating the relationship I have with this drug. Heroin fucks you in all your holes, tells you it is real this time, then leaves you. It is the one love that drives you to the outer limits of your fucking mind. Check your phone every five minutes. Go out in the street at 2am looking. Hand over every penny as long as it will love you one more time, every god damn time. Our love is the saddest song ever written, played every six to eight hours. I will disgrace my name for one last time to prove my love for you. I would beat or kill or fuck or beg a man- I'm just that sick.

If we can't be apart, we will die together.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Water's Edge

I hear each individual drop of as it slowly joins the pool that I hope will swallow me up. My freshly painted toes peak out at the end of the bathtub. The veins are popping out from the heat of the water. I feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into a cloud of my own making. If I only had the courage to slip underneath the smooth to hide my screams.

How long have I been in this place? An hour? A day? Time has completely escaped me. He said he had a clawfoot tub. He promised me I could seclude myself in here. A wounded little girl now has adult problems. As I slid the deadbolt, I felt a slight sigh get caught in my throat. Maybe I can rest. I gently strip off the top layer of clothing, the layer that I want the world to see. The next layer reveals my secret. The fabric of my shirt is crusted against the weeping sore that scabbed in unison with the undergarment that doubles as a bra. When I bend over to pull of my socks, I notice the shoulder that once supported my ample chest is giving way at the lack of womanly assets. I have nothing in the space that surrounds my heart with the exception of the memory hurried kisses once given by young men who called me baby.

I sit down on the toilet in an effort to balance myself. I feel myself spinning with regrets. It isn’t often I get to inventory the physical damage I have caused to myself. As I pull off my other crusty sock, I wonder when will this finally end. I place my ear against the door. I want to know FOR SURE that he isn’t going to be coming in. I can hear the rattling noise of a sleeping tiger, waiting on the futon for me to return. He couldn’t stay awake long enough to collect on his end of the bargain. That’s okay. I slipped him a xanax so he should be out for awhile. I look up at the florescent lights on the ceiling as I have the pleasure of releasing my belt in peace. My jeans are as tight as the shoelace I had wrapped around my arm. I wiggle out of them in the hope that I can feel human again. I move the condensation aside on the mirror hanging on the back of the door to reveal what remains of me. The body of a tired of woman and eyes that have seen far too many things. I dislodge my panties as I prepare myself for the baptism that can wash away my frequent sins.  
I feel everything and nothing at the same time. I'm too tired for the five different kinds of body wash he left for me. It was almost human. A gesture of manufactured affection. Really, he just wanted to  make sure I was “clean”. As I lie back, contemplating my next hit, I think about home. I think about a time when I was wanted for something besides the feeble body resting below my neck. I think about Saturday morning cartoons in footed pajamas, flannel sheets, and my special towel. No one made me a junkie. Yet, here I am. I am going to fall asleep here, pretend for a second that my life is normal. Until it is time to put back on my dirty shell and start all over again.  

I have been writing a lot lately. Thanks for listening.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Strung Out On Love

As delicate as a spiderweb in a rainstorm, my tenuous grip on my emotions dictates that gather my words off the floor. I push all the things I said back into my mouth. I hope that you didn’t hear them. I feel foolish. I am an old dog that turned a few tricks easily lead from place to place by a few pats on the head. By promises that will never be delivered. No one needs to tell me that I fall too hard. No one needs to point out that I would give anything in one moment to know that the things that have passed between us are authentic. I am stuck on you. Stuck like my legs to the hot slipcovers on the day my father left us. I feel abandoned again. I replay my childhood in every relationship hoping that this one will somehow stay. I play silently with my toys on the floor while my parents argue in the next room. My ears are ringing again. The chills are climbing up my spine, telling me this is over (over and over again). How or why doesn’t matter. I am the shy kid hiding behind my mother, pulling on her pant leg, asking where you are. It burns. It slowly eats me alive, that magnetism that will pull any woman within your orbit. I have it too- that something that draws the glimmering moths to my exhaustive flame. I burn myself out each time I use another person to feed the part of me that needs constant fuel to stay alive. I sucked the marrow from their bones, telling them they should be happy to know me. The worst part? They believe it.

I know this pain. I acknowledge this familiar misery. I have painted myself into a corner again. There is no way out of here without the leaving the footprints that signal I had to walk away.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Conversation

"I spent six years living on the streets", I told him. "Two years of that living outside." 
I meekly reach for my lukewarm beverage as I sink into the bench. I feel like a little kid at the table for adults. Do I belong here? hate that feeling of being exposed. I spent many years putting on masks the way my mother used to cake on her makeup. It is rare that anyone sees what is underneath all the mythology I created for myself. I am pushing the boulder back up the hill, waiting for the end of a beautiful friendship.

To be a drug addict in "the life", one must completely embrace the idea that no one can be trusted, not even yourself. I have buried the truth so deep inside of me, I forget where to find it. Not the truth of daily living but the truth that is only accessed on a sleepless night when you wet the sheets with tears and the heat of pain leaving the body. The truth is revealed only in shadows while hidden away at the very same time. I lived my life with one truth- I was wholly in the grips of the drug I loved/hated so much. Now, sober, I have to sort through this life with no real idea of what comes next. 

It is rainy outside. The windows are dripping condensation from steam  and the faint smell of regrets. It feels like my mind is on fire. I am too nervous to eat, I push my food around in circles.  When I start talking about myself, my stomach turns in a similar way as it did when I reached my hands out for little bags of dope down the street. My past, this is generally my ace in the hole. It gives me the ability to shut everything around me down. The general public is so horrified by my poor choices, the rest of the conversation involves voyeuristic question or vain attempts at making me feel safe. Either way, I win. I don't have to be myself. I can be whatever you want me to be. I'm your huckleberry, your whore, or the mother you never had. I don't have to be myself; I have already been defined by a few moments in a long life that involved syringes. 

When the words slowly trickle by, I am not safe here. I am dangerous. I am wounded. I am cornered. I have to face someone who sees through me because I let them in. It is so delicate, this moment, when I wait to see their reaction. Will they judge me for what I am or who I was? What is the next joke that I can tell to shift the focus. I am still shivering but not from the walk here. We traveled a mile in the rain, handing them a pair of my glasses to see the world through my eyes. 

I hold my breath in waiting for a moment when I can live again. It isn't isn't just the track marks that need healing. It is the idea that I am somehow unworthy of love. That lies at the core of my existence, a jagged hole this new square life can't fill. I can bury myself in food or charm some random out of their clothes or buy the perfect outfit to cover up the ugly I feel inside. I know I am better than this but when I wake up from my dream state of self delusion, I missed the rest of the conversation. I was too busy sitting there judging myself. I felt better. I felt lighter. I crawled out from underneath the stones than cover my chest. For a few moments, I was completely present. It was an unfamiliar feeling but one I enjoyed.  

I brushed the raindrops off the pin on his jacket at the train station.  That was way of saying thank you. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Sweetest Thing

Finding a vein the first time.
Isn't that the sweetest thing?

I don't want to look at your face because I know what you are thinking. You are thinking you are so much better than me. Better as in well. Better as in you have the strength to resist all of life's more primal urges. You want me to understand that you excel in the art of "NO". You can hold back when my whole life revolves around GO. My heart is just a frozen sacrifice. I threw it in the dumpster next to the blood wipes. I passed by the smell of rotten air. I knew I belonged to this. I belong in this place, altered and alone. My confusion is only temporary. My focus is clear. Everything I need in life exists in little bags spit out by fragile men on street corners or hidden underneath the nut sack of some man I would never want to ask me for a favor.

Life is funny that way. It has the sickest sense of humor. As sick as me on a cold morning waiting for my man. Not a lover. The only really man in my life. The dopeman lies to me yet I say thank you every time. I am grateful to see the person I hate the most. I swallow all those curses I was about to deliver to him for being late. I walk hurriedly to my next destination, leaving behind the crumbs of my self esteem.

Where did I get that money? Does it really matter? Does it really matter that I lied to my job, lied to myself. Told my mother about some trip I needed to take. Told my trick I would see them soon, Told my friend I would pay them back next week. Told myself I would never do this again- until I did.

Finding a vein the first time.
Isn't that the sweetest thing.
It's the best thing that will happen today.
I will have to be okay with that.

     Recording the audiobook 

What is the sweetest thing about NOT being strung out? I woke up this morning sandwiched between two sheets next to my dog without worrying about if I was going to have to suck a dick today to get my next fix. Yes- I think that is pretty much it.
 There certainly are other things that are good. I enjoy having hot meals without being in county jail to receive them. I enjoy having a whole entire day without crippling stomach cramps. I enjoy having a day (relatively) free of lies such as "I'll be right there" "I'll be right back" and the popular "I'll be there in fifteen minutes". I enjoy having tits. I never have them when I am strung out. They are the first thing to go, after my self esteem, of course. I like having the ability to look down at my arms and legs for other reasons besides finding that one last spot that *might* work if I try to inject there. I enjoy spending time with my cats (probably too much 😉) and they seem at least moderately enthusiastic about spending time with me.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Semantics of Happiness

This is a work in progress.

You are drug free- you are supposed to be happy- right?!” The man seems to get more angry the more he talks. He is a well dressed man in his mid-forties. I can tell right away that if he gave me a hug, I would pull away with the slight scent of some hair care product or perhaps some kind of fancy deodorant, anything to signify an upgrade from his prior circumstances. His well manicured fade and crisp flannel drew my eyes to him right away. Underneath his collar, I see the poorly chosen tattoos peeking out from a strategic location on his neck. He is a mixture of post addiction swagger and relatable social acceptability. It isn’t how he looks though that catches my attention. It is what he says, vocalizing all my doubts outloud.  His words are like a chorus of angels singing in my ears. Finally, someone is saying all the things I have been thinking all this time.
“Well I am not fucking happy…” he takes a pause to take a sip of his coffee. I can tell he is getting heated with the release of all this pent up negative energy. “I am not happy at all. I have all these  clean months and I am not fucking happy. Sometimes, I feel like I was lied to.” I can feel people shift in their seats with the uncomfortable realization that what he is saying might be true. There is a common sort of brainwashing in these rooms. We all trade our doubts for the suspension of disbelief. It is as if the group leader is some sort of magician here to infuse us with hope against the daily evidence that all is not perfect in this protective bubble. This man is penetrating into my deepest thoughts. He is confirming my belief that maybe this has all been a sham.
He continues “but I am grateful now- grateful not to be living that life anymore”. He lost me right there. Everyone claps as dictated by a combination of group think and common courtesy. Negative “shares” get their obligatory meeting of the hands in slightly less enthusiastic manner. Gratitude is rewarded. Discontent is generally frowned up. Or at least this is how I feel in the moment.
“My name is Tracey and I am a recovering person”, I say to the jury of my peers. “This is the first meeting I have been to this year (November)...” I pause “I have been traveling a lot because of my work with advocacy.” The rest is just meaningless filler. I can’t really tell what is going on with me here. I can’t tell them about how I fix my feelings with pita chips. I can’t tell them how I lay out my traps my social media on a daily basis, hoping I can reel in some attention from admiring strangers. I can’t tell them how I am dealing with cellulite, varicose veins, and the subtle droop of my face that comes when you managed to make it past 30, a feat I never desired until I reached 29 years old. I spent way too many years listening to the Velvet Underground talking about “I am tired. I am weary.” They didn’t know what tired is- tired is chasing three kids. Tired is going to work every god damned day. Tired is learning how to pay bills on time, to wash dishes, and learn to communicate my emotions in terms that don’t start with “fuck this”. A user just FEELS tired. I am tired.
I can already feel the crush of judgement. I have broken from the standard protocol of “addict” or “alcoholic”. The chorus of disapproval will come later. I have seen this in meetings before. One person with a negative experience with recovery brings forward the white knights that feel compelled to defend it. It isn’t long before a stern looking man in an oversized sweatshirt and crisp tan pants decides to go on a tirade about how he needs to go to a meeting every single week with great emphasis since he relapsed six years ago after surgery. There is supposed to be no cross talk in the meeting yet I know he is speaking directly to me. As if a person with eighteen years clean knows nothing, I tell myself. In addition, as a woman, I feel an additional sting. Why is it he feels the need to mansplain recovery to me? I have taken pain medicine four different times. One time was a miscarriage and three times I had c-sections where I was prescribed opioids. Yet, I did not relapse. The casual dismissal of the experience of others make me shift in my seat. Instead of welcoming the prodigal child who returned to the rooms of recovery after wandering aimlessly in a desert of self loathing, I am chastised for not being a perfect member. Fuck that. Now I understand why people drink coffee in the meetings- to choke down their bitterness.
I suddenly laugh to myself. Why have I allowed this person to get so deep underneath my skin? I shake my head in silent recognition while I struggle to keep from looking at my phone. I feel the magnetic pull of the smartphone forcing me to glance. Look at me, it calls. Like the sirens singing, it attempts to pull me towards the rocks. Being a woman over forty makes me essentially invisible to everyone with the exception of feral cats, of which I have rescued two in the past year. My fuckable years long gone, my posts fall into a few categories. They are 1. Food I will never make 2. Can you believe what an asshole this person is by doing ____ 3. Look at how much weight I have lost despite the fact it is the same ten pounds every six months or so 4. Political outrage 5. Me holding a cat or a book or anything that will make you notice me. Maybe not me, the person I really am, but the well curated me I want you to see.
What if I did a social media site of just pictures of the reality of my daily life. Here I am cleaning up the mess the dog made at 12:37 am when she shit on the floor on the rug because I was two minutes too late ie trying to find glasses. Check this pic out. This is me dealing with the natural type crisp rice cereal that is stuck to the side of the sink like glue. Here I am again trying to select a few types of undershirts that adequately cover my muffin top ie the roll of fat left over from carrying these semi ungrateful children. Here I am again. Don’t I look cute bending over to wipe the butt of a five year old who still hasn’t mastered the difference between a fart of having to poop. I must look sex-y with my legs that haven’t been shaven in a month. There is a reason I have leggings on 27 days of the month. The other days I am dealing with a rash. I could also capture my one eyebrow that is over plucked, my nails that are splintering. Maybe I can even give my followers a glimpse into my life of semi lactose intolerance. Here I am regretting that fat free greek yogurt I had for lunch! See me doubled over with abdominal cramps!
I have zoned out for far too long. The meeting is almost over. The goal here was to, perhaps, meet my future BFF. Instead, another social opportunity goes down in flames. The years I spent trying to raise children from the screaming “wiggly worm with no neck stage” to just beyond “I’m a toddler so I will throw myself on the ground” has left me high and dry in the support squad area. My first wave of friends died while I was in active addiction. Some died of overdoses. Some died of AIDS or other medical conditions directly tied to injection drug use. A few of my friends were murdered. A few more committed suicide. I stayed clean long enjoy to see people start to die of natural causes. I have seen them get clean, find the perfect partner, have kids, and move far far away. A few have been reduced to slightly batshit messages and reposts about the illuminati. I guess that was bound to happen in any social circle that involved large amounts of chemicals that are known to kill brain cells. I need to find a way to find new friends.
Friends? What are those? Ok, it isn’t as if I have NO friends at all. I just have no accessible ones. Having a permanent resting bitch face doesn’t help my cause, either. There have been many times where I was quite sure I was moderately friendly only to be asked later “um, such and such thinks that you hate them. Is that true?” Hate them, I barely even talked to them! I think to myself. Oh wait, maybe that is the problem. I want the instant gratification friends. I want them just to magically appear. I want them to be available when I need them with minimal effort on my part. In fact, I want to acquire them without leaving the house if humanly possible. I quickly learned it isn’t.
Over the years, my meeting attendance has dwindled to a trickle. Not because I believe 12 step has no merit. I believe it does. Mostly I haven’t attended because of a combination of luxury problems mixed with general dissatisfaction with the way some new people seeking recovery are treated. Instead of changing this system, I have simply withdrawn from it over time. You are a member when you say you are, it says in the readings. I am still a member in my mind. Yet, I have left the hen house with some random foxes. I have left the fold, pocketed my all my knowledge, took what I needed, it the escape button. Maybe I am a recovery thief. Maybe I have preserved my precious reserves by exiting this system. Yet, it is calling me back.
In some ways, those chairs are the first place I was welcome after years spent out in active addiction. I attended my first 12 step meeting when I was 17 years old. A friend of mine had recently been released from a 28 day rehab program for young people. She asked another friend and I would “support” her ie attend the meeting with her. I remember being intrigued by the subject matter yet I in no way identified with the people in the room. I was, in fact, just getting started. There were warm beers in the trunk of her car waiting for me when the meeting was over. When we were done holding hands, I was truly ready to go.
The next meeting I attended was mandated by the court. I had recently been released from jail. My probation officer decided I should attend a weekly meeting called “Facts on Crack” at a local church run program. The idea of attending was ridiculous to me. I was NOT a crack user, I was a heroin and speed user. These are totally different things. What could these people possible say that could help me, I asked myself as I wrapped the tourniquet around my arm. I mean, I certainly wasn’t going to go to this group without a little shot, right?! It would make all these crackheads a little more tolerable.
As I finished up my dime, I forgot all about the fact that this six months in jail had essentially saved me from myself. When I was arrested, I was sent straight to the hospital. I had not one, not, two, not three, but FOUR abscesses. I liked my fuck ups to be epic. These certainly met that criteria. When I could stick my finger in between the bone section on my leg, it still was not enough to motivate me into getting any type of medical attention. I simply didn’t have the time. Living on the street made me incapable of seeing anything beyond that next bag. The only thing I need, I told myself, was a constant supply of dope. Then, I would be entirely fine. As I started climbing the hill to the mandated group, I had that same exact feeling. No one could tell me shit, as they say. I was still young and encumbered by the blindness of my youth. As I walked towards the doorway, a steady sense of nausea creeped up into my throat. The dope was still working for me since I was so newly returned to the game. It wouldn’t take long before that feeling was gone, replaced by “getting well” as the standard.
The room was situated with chairs in a circle. The vast majority of the seats were filled with older black men, many of which clearly had seen some better days. I locked eyes with one of the only women in the room as if to let her know we were in this boys club together. The man sitting next to her was a wiry white dude with some faded devil horns peeking out underneath his newly grown hair. He had that unmistakable look of someone who had just spent the last decade or so in the joint before his parole agent suggested he come here as a last ditch effort to keep him on the outside. I hated being lumped in with crazy but I suppose he and I stand out as the lightest people in the room.
As everyone starts to sip on their watered down coffee with ten sugars at minimum, a pattern emerges among the participants. There is a one upmanship here, a way of telling a story where one person wants to be better than the last. It seems as if everyone “used to be” something. A loving mother is now separated from her children. A former baseball player full of promise is now collecting cans to get his next hit. The bus driver has been reduced to three months off on disability as he grasps at one last opportunity to get his life back. And here I am the junkie, formerly of West Chester Ohio. I was born and bred to “be something”. I was told I was a special snowflake until one day that snow got grimey. Here I was 26 years old, attempting to listen intently while I continuously nod off the end of your chair.
“What brings you here young lady”, the man asks me. He is an African American man in his mid forties. Well dressed but not overly showy with one simple gold chain, a sports jersey, and freshly pressed jeans. He has that New York casual look. He is slightly wall eyed, with his eye slowly drifting to the side. I would learn later that was from someone nearly knocking it out.
I push myself up in my seat “probation” I say. “Probation sent me here”.
He smiled with the kind of smile a person gives you when they see completely through you. “Hmm,” he said, slightly turning towards me to provide some back up to his words “And you don’t see ANY relationship between what they are saying and why you are dipping in that chair?”
This was a rhetorical question. He didn’t expect me to answer. He expected me to listen. To find out why I needed to come here. But truthfully- they couldn’t tell me anything I did not already know. I knew I was strung out. My body made this perfectly clear every six hours or so. It made it clear when I couldn’t poop when I needed to, have anything close to an orgasm unless I was in withdrawal, when I couldn’t cry unless the dope man didn’t answer my calls. I was hooked alright. I just wasn’t ready to do anything about it. Not him, not the group, not any fucking story was going to change my mind in that moment. Catch me the next time I run out. For now, the only thing on my mind was a chocolate milk and my next hustle. It’s MY life. I’m supposed to be happy, right?