Thursday, November 24, 2016

Fuck the Holidays 2016 Edition

Every year since I got sober, I get to experience individuals on all sides telling me how grateful I should be during the holiday season. Let's get this out of the way, I AM grateful. I am grateful I am not walking in wet socks and a scratchy wool blanket to park my shopping cart outside the soup kitchen to get a plate of slightly overcooked holiday food. I am grateful I did not wait in line this week for 2-3 hours for a box of holiday food I would then walk down the street and sell for $10 to put in for a bag of dope. Not that I had a kitchen anyway, or wanted to eat, or had anyone to celebrate it with (see: heroin). I am grateful I am not getting my last $19 I spent all day panhandling ripped off by another dopefiend with red hair and slightly green teeth. Yes, I let my money walk on Thanksgiving. I couldn't go to the open air because I had ripped off the only Mexican dealer there willing to work on a holiday. That's right. Not only do dealers have families but I got burned. I spent the rest of that day walking around sick as fuck. Finally, I am grateful I am not going to sell every ounce of Christmas shit this year for dope after I PROMISED myself I was just going to keep this ONE thing because I DESERVED it yet it would go up my arm anyway. *SIGH*.

I have about ten years in the books of these types of Holidays. Crying in the rain holidays. Sleeping on the sidewalk holidays. Injecting meth in the soles of my feet to keep me from freezing outside holidays. Getting arrested for prostitution on Christmas Eve holidays. Those memories make me think about my brethren in the fraternal order of the burnt spoon out there struggling to cope. These days are hard for us. Whether you are kicking, or sober, or somewhere in between sometimes we are just not feeling it. These days pull up a lot of memories of guilt and shame. They remind of of promises we have broken. Friends we have lost. Places where we are no longer welcome. It can be overwhelming. With both my parents gone, I spent a lot of my time thinking about the cherry squares my mom used to make that I will never taste again. Kinda sucks. She LOVED this time of year. There was at least seven years I wasn't home at the holidays. Maybe that is a kind estimate. Now, I'm the mom making some new memories. Still, I can never forget.

I am not going to participate in some manufactured joy. I spent from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve raising money for harm reduction causes while the average person is felling generous. I am grateful that many of them think of us at all. This year, I am providing author copies of my book "The Big Fix" for anyone who makes a $20 donation or more to a syringe exchange. I am constantly surprised by the generosity of strangers. There are people out there that love addicts. You may not SEE it or even FEEL it. They are there. The Holiday season to me is about reflection. It is about compassion for self and for others. I love you readers. I am thinking positive thoughts for you. It is 100% to say FUCK THE HOLIDAYS. You don't need a day or a season to remind yourself that you are deserving of love. I can tell you that every god damned day.

I hope where ever you are, you are safe. I'm thinking of you. I'm pulling for you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Two Junkies at the Holidays

Gathering 'round the yule log, a massive erection caused by 16 hours without a fix, my boyfriend and I laid on the bed. We were reaching that magical place where the sickness made it nearly impossible to hustle, yet hustling was the only thing that could end the sickness.
"Can you call your mom?" he asked.
"Negative," I told him "She already sent me a card with some cash in it. Remember that $60?"
I had taken out $40 to fix before he got home that day. What he didn't know wouldn't hurt him.
I sneezed in rapid succession. I know deep down he wanted to fuck. I had been awhile since his dick had gotten anywhere near functional. The very last thing I wanted was someone hunching on me. The thought of anything pushing again my stomach was "...Fucking ridiculous"
"What babe?" I asked him. I was laying on the bed in a pair of his boxer shorts. My body was starting to ache from all the hits and misses from the bottom of my feet to the small veins in my tits.
"This is fucking ridiculous", he told me. He rolled over to face me. For a moment, I could see a reflection  hope of my in his eyes. Maybe we could kick this time. Maybe we could ride it out. Maybe we could get little jobs, get married like he promised. We could have a kid someday. We could be just like normal people...

"I'm going to go get a date", he told me.
He pushed himself off the bed. He pulled on his pants. He glanced at himself in the mirror above the sink. I saw him turn sideways, out of the corner of my eye. I was pretending that I wasn't happy about this. I hated the fact that I was- happy it was him and not me. He looked at himself in the mirror, getting his head in the game. We always lied to each other. No, we would say, I really didn't have to do anything with him. The truth was much more brutal. I didn't know what he did with the men. I never felt the need to push him. I just was glad it wasn't me this time. Merry Christmas. He was going to ho, ho, ho he joked.

As I laid back on the bed, I asked him if he wanted me to walk with him. I already knew the answer was "no". It would go faster if I wasn't there, he assured me. I knew this was also true. As I kissed him goodbye, I wondered how our lives had come to this place. Both his parents had been junkies. He had been raised to believe there was no other way. I knew something different, yet I was drowning here. I turned off the lights. I laid in the bed alone hot tears on the pillow. I wasn't sure if I was crying because I was sick or crying because I was detached enough to let him to let him go alone.

A view from an area I used to get high in back in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Sickness

I got off the train to throw up. It wasn't the glorious "I'm so high I need to throw up right now" thing from when I first started. This was a deep and painful vomit that felt as if it started at the back of my heels and traveled along an electrified spine until it hit the tops of my shoes. This was beyond food poisoning puke. This was a jumping off the methadone clinic at 60 mg puke. No amount of dope could fill that void. It was going to be a few days of sleepless nights and twitching legs until my receptors conceded to the fact that the magic raspberry syrup would never touch my receptive lips again.

I'm not sure why I let him convince me to stop going to the clinic. Maybe that had been the crack talking to me, telling me I really didn't need to go. I knew my life would never be the same when he convinced me it was a good idea to spend the $50 he had received from his grandparents on those magical white rocks. I was sitting in one of their slip covered recliners as my boyfriend fed them lies they digested along with Christmas cookies. His words were just sweet enough that it made them go down smoothly, despite the evidence that made it clear to anyone who knew what to look for that he was hooked on every drug under the sun. I felt dirty inside, disgusted at myself as I sipped on my egg nog. My own family would be lucky if they got a phone call from me. I was just too strung out to patch together excuses. The overwhelming sense of shame hit at times like this. However, that wasn't going to stop the j-train from pushing me forward. 

 As I laid back against the bed in a puff of smoke, I realized my problems had gone from one of a junkie to one of a chemical garbage can. A klonopin here, a phenergan there, some booze, some coke, MDMA, take this pill, suck this up with a cotton and push it through the darkness of my barely beating heart. I think every junkie knows at least 5 times a day it *might* be a good idea to stop. The whoosh of every fluid exiting your body at the same time clues you in. Snot, liquid stool, cum, and tears all say FUCK THIS and and want to get out if you are not feeding that beast that lies in a section of a receptor in a portion of your brain that cries out for MORE DOPE PLEASE. There is nothing like the simple recognition that the functions of your body are now controlled by the overwhelming need to ingest a few molecules of relief from the burden of self. I was fortunate in that there were no mirrors in here I could use to pick my face while I muttered horrible curses at myself and my condition.

As the blood starts rushing to my head, I wonder about the sickness. Not the physical, one but the mental one. The sickness that tells me this is my life. The sickness that tells me nothing will ever change. The sickness that tells me that I am going to die this way.

My life is meaningless.
My ship is rudderless.
I am dead from the neck down.
Waiting for each day to end.
Sucking down a labored sigh.
Screams that make no sound.

Friday, October 28, 2016

From my neck down

I am dead from my neck down. My body has experienced so much trauma. My heart is broken. My feet are aching. My greatest fear is not that I will die, that I will have to live the rest of my life like this. 

Trapped in an endless darkness, I am a shadow of myself. I have taken love for granted. Given all my affections to the highs that brought me so low again. Alone. Wondering what new miseries the day will bring. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Lightswitch

"if you have been dead a couple times and you KNOW it is nothing more than a light switch, no romance , no judge of character or morality, its just like going to sleep, and there is nothing to fear about it, how are you ever supposed to hit "rock bottom" and turn this thing around?"

The first time I ever used heroin was the first time I ever saw someone overdose. Well, I had not even used mine yet. The two experienced junkies took turn hitting us suburban pupils up with the same barbed rig. Within seconds, I saw my friends eyes roll back in his head. Before anyone could scream in fear, I saw him grip the table with so much force I was told it was called the death grip. That split second when his body clung to his diminishing life force in such a way it made an impression on me for the rest of my life. The body, it seems, does not want to die despite the ill advised efforts of the host within.

In the life cycle of the junkie, there is a period at which your body is your worst enemy. Every minute of every day is a struggle to stem the tide of misery. The goal is a dreamlike state balanced somewhere between I don't give a fuck and at this moment the world is perfect. Except it isn't. The house is burning.

The real enemy of life is the mind inside the struggling body. The mind that is never satisfied, constantly reaching for the next thing that might allow for fleeting happiness. That mind churns and spins with  a riptide pulling the body under on a daily basis. Heroin is the beautiful siren, calling at the rocks until the user navigates the body back into a familiar spot until it crashes again. 

As you lay on your bed curled in a shape constructed by fear, feel the heart beating inside your chest willing you to continue. As your mind seeks answers to the same tired questions, the body silently goes about the business of living. 

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.