Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Loving an Addict

I was having a conversation recently with a friend about my minor obsession with the well being of a friend. She casually stated "the only thing worse than being an addict, is loving one." These words kind of fucked me up for a few moments. I'm a writer. I consider myself able to turn a good phrase. Yet, I had no witty rebuttal. These words stung for days. 

For the first time in my life, I was experiencing what others must have experienced when I was on drugs. I have made friends with addicts before, hundreds of them over the years. Between my own drug use and working at harm reduction facilities, I have been in the consistent company of drug users for close to thirty years. To a certain extent, I always was able to put up a decent sized wedge of self preservation between myself and the other person. I always knew in the back of my mind that at any moment, the "other shoe" of overdose, murder, or other type of brutal end could happen to my people. I am a jaded realist, I thought. Keeping my emotional distance the way I kept it after my father relapsed for the first time. That event sealed my belief that a piece of my heart needed to be set aside for the inevitable downside that comes with a life dealing with driven by chemicals. 

I was blindsided recently by a friendship that developed over a common love of writing. I caught myself laying awake at night wondering if this person was alright. Silly, I told myself. Not worth stressing over I would say outloud. Yet it happened to me. I was the person who loved at addict. I was the person wondering if every missed text meant they were somewhere shooting up in between their fingers. I was the person checking social media to see if they were still there. It isn't to say I haven't loved other people who have been hooked on drugs. I have just never experienced the other side of it. That complete helplessness of knowing someone is bound to make poor choices and there is not a single fucking thing you can do at that moment. That loss of control over any aspect of the relationship is both scary and crippling. I couldn't help it though. That was what I felt, how I felt. They became my friend. So I cared/care despite the pain. It turned a mirror to myself. 

I don't know if this person and I can or will remain friends because that is just how life goes. But I do know I grew as a person. I know I have a deeper appreciation for my work in harm reduction. I know I can't be afraid to pass up the small moments in life anymore. 

I love you xoxo 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

No title

Everything about you is so perfect. 
My heart aches knowing you. 
Like the bed is spinning 
After a night of heavy drinking 
I get sick to my stomach 
With just a few of your passing words. 
Painful to see you toss and turn, 
To grip the pillow with swollen fingers. 
Painful to see your empty smile. 

If you could only see what I see. 
Like the friend I have always wanted 
Like the person I know you to be 
Perfect in your imperfections. 
Like the person I know you to be. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Let me live

This is dedicated to all the fools who says that we should just "let them die". 

I loved shooting drugs.
I loved shooting drugs in public places. 
I didn't not give two fucks if I shot up in front of your kids. 
I would lick the blood to taste the last bit of dope. 
I would carry rigs in my pocket like my life depended on it. 
I've shot up with water from a puddle. 
I've walked all over the city with no shoes high on meth. 
I've turned a trick on soiled newspaper in the rain. 
I've cried over spilled dope. Never over my choices. 
Until I did. 
One day, I imagined something different for myself. 
People change.
I changed. 

Never, ever tell me there is no hope. 
I am living proof. 
I am a mother, an employee, and activist, a wife. 
People love me. 
I rescue cats.
I help others. 
Fuck your judgment. 
Let me live.  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Heavy Burden of Truth

I'm fat, family.
Not "pleasantly plump" or "curvy" or "thick". I am fat. And I did this to myself.

Long, long ago before there was a metric fuckton of meth or heroin or whatever other drugs pounding through my veins, there was a little girl sitting on the couch over indulging in food. I have some pictures under my bed that I pull out occasionally. I can see the change in between first and second grade. I went from a slim girl of six to a round girl of seven. The journey there was a complicated one. It only makes sense upon my reflection.

My father was a late in life alcoholic. By all accounts, he was a quiet man with a dry sense of humor. A good looking country boy from London Ky He was raised in poverty, born 7th of 9 children. His parents were a stern couple that dealt with a lifetime of tragedy. They were a practical sort. My grandfather refused to attend his high school graduation when my father insisted on completing rather than getting a job at Krogers.  They were the type to hold on to long standing resentments. My father joined the Navy to get away from a life that would have easily ended up in "the cemetery or the peneteniary", where is where many of his peers resided. He had hung around stick up men, pool sharks, and men with shady pasts that worked the carnivals. He wanted to see the world. On one of his ports of call, he was quickly ensnared by the raven haired beauty from New York City later known as my mother.

My father had seen first hand the destruction at the hand of alcohol. I remember him telling me stories of stabbings over card games and the death of his older brother. His parents were never drinkers but it seemed to permeate the rest of his life. In my adult years,  I never asked him why he began drinking to excess. I suppose it was for many of the reason I began sticking needles in my arm. First, it feels good. Then, it feels good not to feel anything. The major difference between us is that I didn't have a family depending on me to be present in their lives. As he slowly crawled inside the life of a semi functional alcoholic, through my childish lens I saw any chance of an idyllic family life disappear before my eyes. I suppose working constantly had forced him to hold it together for many years. It was ready to unravel.

By the time, I was seven, my father had developed fits of rage. These were directed at everyone,  except myself. I was the "baby", also possibly the "favorite". Maybe I was just too young in his eyes to be involved in his tirades. He would scream or yell or get violent. My life went from soccer games to living in a powderkeg. I was walking on my tip toes, hoping things would not explode. As things whirled around me,  I clearly remember my role in attempting to diffuse him, to appease him in any way possible so he would stop. After these events, my relief came in the form of Ruffles, Doritos, or Mountain Dew. I couldn't trust humans but I could trust the feeling I got when I ate an Oreo or two or a whole pack of Double Stuf. These are no longer excuses, these are just memories.

I created a life time of dysfunction with food. I have experienced both anorexia IE attempt of mastery over the feeling of starvation  and bulimia IE having your cake and throwing it up, too. Unhealthy diets, binges, and burying wrappers at the bottom of the trash can the way a junkie hides the evidence of their use. My dependency to anything that feels good is all encompassing. Heroin provided the ultimate escape until the solution became a much worse burden.

Now, I am 46 years old with ever present food issues. I put down the spoon and picked up the fork again. I am slowly chipping away at the darker parts of myself. Continuing on is no longer an option for me. Getting off drugs is really one step in changing your life. It isn't always the drugs causing distress. Many times, there is  some core belief blocking us from being from the happiness we deserve. People ask me what it is like to get off drugs for 18 years. The work never stops, it just shifts from one area to another. I am not unhappy, I am forever unsettled. I think addiction is the constant state of longing for something you have never known.

I hope you find the joy you deserve.
I hope you know that you are perfect in your imperfections.
I want you to know that someone loves you.
I hope you are safe.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Anonymous Friends

Addiction is a jealous pimp that doesn't allow much time for friends. There are using buddies. There are cordial dealers, if you are lucky. There may even be a few "running partners". Friends, however, are in short supply.

I was always a sensitive kid, prone to tears of frustration or anger. I can't claim to have made many friends until I got involved in the punk rock/hardcore scene in my teens. In the lyrics of the music, I found a community. We were all running from something, it seemed. Unfortunately, many of us ended up in the same exact place- the bottom of a bag of dope. Of the friends I had back then, I would estimate 1/3 are dead, 1/3 are off drugs, and 1/3 are struggling with either drugs or mental health issues are both.

When I got into that police car February of 1998, I didn't know what was in store for me besides a bunch of sickness. I did know that "clean" or "recovery" could not be any fucking worse than the daily grind of a drug user. In other words, my hustle was tired. This made me open to new ideas. There is no way I could have been more desperate at that moment. I, personally, believe my "rock bottom" had come years before. This was something entirely different. This was a willingness to try something different. I am very fortunate it worked out for me. I had made a decision that if it didn't work, I was going to go on methadone for the rest of my life. I was 100% okay with that alternative. I knew that would be the only plan B that would work. Life had something else in store for me. I'm grateful. Trust me.

Now, at 18 years off drugs, I get an ENORMOUS amount of grief about why I stay connected to active drug users and people in early recovery. Why do I do it? First, "they" are "me". They need someone to show that the outside world does indeed give a fuck about their health and well being. Secondly, why not? It is not like I am shaking hands in shooting galleries. People generally contact me through social media and we connect anonymously. It is a different kind of friendship, yes, but not inauthentic. Sometimes, the most real a person can get is with a total stranger.

So know that someone out there cares on the other side of this keyboard.
XOXO Tracey.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An endless thirst

I have an endless thirst that I can't quench. I have a craving for places and faces that I will never see again. I am softly whimpering in a tone rarely heard. I cry for something I can never have again. The smell of your skin against my cheek. I drink in all the suffering. I have an endless thirst that I can't quench. I have an irrational need to be with you again. 

Would you want me if you saw who I really am? If you stripped my past,  my flesh, my bones- would you choose the trembling human that lies within? Would I have to throw myself against your feet? Would you make me beg on my bruised hands and battered feet? Would you stay one minute more to provide me sweet relief. I need you now like I needed you then. 

FYI not all my stories are actually about me. Some are inspired by conversations I have with other people. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

A brief encounter

You told me everything about yourself. I told you nothing. I was afraid to tell you what was on my mind. How could anyone understand all the crazy thoughts that vibrate between my ears. I didn't want someone to judge me I retracted into my shell, a reflex that keeps me isolated. I heard your stories. I instantly felt that I loved you. Not in a way that would make sense  I wanted to tell you that I loved you but I wanted to seem like a "normal person". Love between junkies- Not in a way where two people walk off into a hurried sunset. It is a different kind of love, more real in some ways. There is a connection between users. There is a bond as thick as the syrup that ran through our veins. There is a lifetime between us, yet for a few moments we were in the same place.
I wanted to tell you that I loved you. It would have seemed so out of place. 

I wanted to tell you that I forgive you. Not "I" as in you harmed me. "I" as in the collective "I", the world around you "I".  I forgive you for all the disappointment you have caused so many people around you. Your life can be traced by scorched earth and broken promises. I saw you cough up self loathing, swallow it back down with bitter tears I want you to know that you are forgiven.  When you ran the streets like a wounded animal, I saw you out of the corner of my eye. I saw the times you left your children. They always wondered if you were coming home. 

Once, we were broken toys, played with by people who manipulated the last burning ember of youth. Now, emotions lie so far beneath the surface, entombed next to our regrets.

I am in Seattle tonight at 7 at the Recovery cafe