Friday, May 31, 2013

A message I sent to a reader:

You absolutely can do it. Fuck your ego. Fuck shame or guilt or remorse. This is your life. This is your time. Be in the moment. You only have to get recovery right one time no matter how many times you have tried it. Let this be the time. Stop killing yourself and live. The body wants to breathe. It wants to live. Embrace life. Stop killing yourself over what others have done or will do. Now is the time. Let's do this. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Bondage of Self

I am fat. When I say this, people instantly become uncomfortable as if they need to argue in my favor. You can call me thick. You can say pleasantly plump or chubby but really it means fat. The scale provides scientific evidence of reality.

When I say I am fat, I am not putting myself down. For many years, fat was a protection for me. The worst thing you could be as a teenager was fat. In the 80s, there were not many fat kids. We had no protections. No one gave not one damn about bullys. I was fat. It kept me safe in my own isolation. 

Then I lost weight. It messed with my sense of self to be desired for my physical self.  It was if someone had turned on a faucet of attention. I was not prepared for the stream. Addiction amplified my anxiety. Thin and pretty never were two words used to describe me. Crazy and thin or pretty crazy suited me well.

In my recovery, I am always in transition. My body is transitioning again into a new self. I'm not as fat as I was, but certainly not thin. I made a commitment to myself to stop fixing my feelings with food. The pounds are coming off but I am left an emotional wreck. The process makes me crazy. I am an addict. I want the end result, not the work that goes with it. 

Whatever beauty I have comes from self confidence. I am who I am. Accept me. No one is tearing me down today. I will not allow  negativity to push me into hurting myself. I love myself today. If there is something you don't like about yourself, it is not going to change by you tearing yourself down. Take some action. 

In the meantime, embrace your faults. I am fat- And I love myself just the same. And i know you love me too.

I had this picture done of me six years ago. I'm roughly the same size. This blog is essentially a journal with a touch of narcissism so here I am laid bare. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My birthday- Carry me

Today is my birthday. Always a bittersweet day. I am older but in a sense I am a year farther away from the grave than a year closer to death. When I did the movie "Black Tar Heroin" I never believed I would make it to 30. I lived to use and used to live. Deep inside myself though, a spark of hope existed. I wanted to believe that despite all the evidence that I was going to die a worthless addict, there might be some way I could survive.

As a scared, tired 27 year old I made my way into recovery through the jail house. I literally had to be locked up. I could not, would not stop using on my own. Things were hard for me. Slowly, they started to improve. 

In my forties, my struggles are different. I have age lines on my face. I have track marks, stretch marks, had three csections so I have a spare tire. My weight is a struggle. These are luxury problems. Honestly,survival looks good on me. I am sophisticated beyond my years. I am not getting loaded. i am not selling drugs or my body for survival. I have love. I have stories to tell. And I have you. 

Feel free to leave me comments today or any other day. I always read them. The pic below is a modern day remake of the scene from the movie where I'm grabbing my knees wondering if I will ever get clean. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

From the sacred to the profane

When I rolled into recovery, a big piece of my issues dealt with my concept of myself and self esteem. Growing up a fat kid, I was isolated from the typical adolescent dating experience until I lost 50 pounds in high school. I received male attention for the first time in my life. I found it confusing and it made me dizzy. For the first time in my life, I had to learn to assess a man's character verses his desire to get between my legs.

Addiction creates a constant struggle to keep your sexuality sacred when everything around you is profane. Heroin took the place of sex. I had no desire but I still had to perform. We learn tips to lose our bodies while our mind travels to a better place.

In residential treatment, there was ten men for every woman. The men placed bets on who was going to sleep with which female. The guys that caught my eye were a mirror of my addiction. I went out on a pass to fuck a guy who had just completed treatment. He lived in a hotel four blocks from the rehab. He barely spoke English. I speak very little Spanish. At least we used a condom. The sex was  horrible. I was so ashamed of my choice. I could have been kicked out of treatment. I took a shower and told no one.

After telling myself never again, I did something similar a few months later. I went to a cheap hotel with hourly rates, maybe the Dahlia or the Dalt, to fuck a guy from the neighborhood. He didn't have any identification so he couldn't come up to my room in the transitional house. He was best friends with a drug dealer I was friends with at the time. The poor decisions were piling up.

When he took his pants off, I was horrified by the size of his enormous penis. It was almost down to his knee. If we would have ever kissed or hung out like normal people I would have been aware of this. I told him "all of that isn't going to fit in me". Nor did it fit in a regular condom. He left a ring of shame, bite marks two inches wide in a semi circle around my neck. I was so afraid of that monster dick, I didn't notice. I had to walk around with the ring of shame for a week. I had to tell my women's group about my poor choices. I had to go to work looking like a victim of a choking incident. I had to stay clean. 

The final straw was a few months later. He was in recovery. We knew each other from our addiction. He had a year clean. He came over to watch football. Ha. We ended up all over my room. As big as I am, he spun me around twenty ways. He strained all of the muscles in the inside of my legs. I couldn't walk right for five days. And he didn't call me. I obsessed over him. Why didn't he call me? I paged myself to make sure my pager was working. I picked up the phone to make sure it was on the hook. I had to limp into my women's group and tell someone. I was in the grips of obsessive and compulsive behavior. I told myself. " if I don't get a sponsor and work the steps, I am going to use". I felt like you feel after you promise yourself you aren't going to use then use anyway. I decided I would never, in life, give myself away to some one who did not deserve me. I have kept that promise to myself.   I had to spend many years alone to learn my boundaries.

When someone wants me, my first question is why? My second question is what are your expectations of me? My physical self is too important to squander.  Love yourself today. Learn from my mistakes. Celebrate the self. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

My Memories of Tracey Helton

My Memories of Tracey Helton

Christy Schragal



Tracey is a friend back from public grade school days, but do I really have any personal memories of her before we ended up at the same Catholic, college-prep girls’ high school? Do I really have any memories of her before junior and senior years? Where was she? Where was I? I still have the t-shirt that she gave to me for my 16th birthday, a memory I can at least time stamp because the shirt says “1986.”  I have to take this as my first “Tracey” memory, yet a prior friendship must have existed if she gave me a gift…right? Right? Where was I in our friendship?

I remember having a surprise summer 16th birthday party thrown by my group of friends from that same high school, a group with which Tracy was probably loosely affiliated, yet I think that she was not at the partyinstead received her gift at my home one day when I was home alone, babysitting my four younger siblings. We were always under strict orders not to have anyone, not even an adult neighbor who we knew, in the house when our parents weren’t home. We were not to even answer the door.When Tracey rang the doorbell and I saw who it was through the curtain sheers, I hid. I knew then as surely as I know now that it was more than following my strict mother’s order or fear for my personal safety that kept me from the door – I was embarrassed to explain my situation. I was embarrassed that someone had just shown up at my house. I think that I was embarrassed that it was Tracy, although I am still hard pressed even now to say why. We hid through another doorbell ring as well as a knock at the back door, and then she left, leaving behind the birthday package.

I felt like a shit. I was surprised by the gift. I knew I now had to acknowledge both Tracy’s surprise visit and our presence behind the curtains. My hypocritical mother chided me for not answering the door to my friend. I know I stammered some excuse to Tracy about not being home, or maybe even got brave enough to admit not being allowed to answer my own door at age 16. I was not brave enough to admit my discomfort with our friendship. How does one do that at 16 without at least knowing why? Without something obvious to blame, like a fight, or a new friend, or a boyfriend, or moving away?

The more I’ve tried to recall how I spent time with her in those years, the more I can see her sitting at our chosen cafeteria table during a free module, talking with some of the members of the group who were not super close to me, but a part of the group nevertheless, etc. Where was I? We must have shared lots ofclasses; we certainly shared senior home room, where we chatted away, passed notes and called each other “Monkey” and “Froggy” every morning. I knew that Tracey had started some voice lessons, that she was interested in a (older?) guy named Ian – a name I’d somehow never heard before and imagined to be spelled “Eon.” I knew she had friends from her neighborhood or from other walks of her life that were older, or different, or more sophisticated, or something that wasn’t me. I think I was glad that I was never included in those friendships. I knew that her mom smoked and her dad drank at Tommy’s, and that both of these things scared and fascinated me as being completely foreign to my own home experience. I once slept over at her house and came home with a copied Prince tape and a sleeping bag that reeked of cigarettes.


I still felt uncomfortable – I felt sought after for reasons that were unclear to me as well as flattering. But I didn’t seek back. Iremained the party of reluctant and least interest. I felt pressured by Tracey to be different than I was, to love her. I felt pressured by the good girl inside of me, and my artificial good girl mother, and by my own tendency to go with the flow to accept the friendship, but I refused to love it.

Tracey and I both went on the school’s annual summer trip to France after our junior year. We were generally roommates at each stop, along with 2-4 others from our group of school friends, and all of us mixed and matched up for the tours, the free time and the meals.  This was my first trip away from my family, on a plane, overseas. I’m in shock to this day that my mother allowed it and I know that my mother would be shocked to know just how much free time, and personal freedom we were permitted, as well as by the potentially unsafe, but benign and relatively dumb things we did. Like getting lost between the Metro and Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, and accepting both directions and a Coke from a strange man at his neighborhood bar, and later ponying up some Francs and chaste kisses on the cheek when he insisted. Like visiting Le Pompidou and having to leave immediately with a bloody nose, wandering alone without my group into the large, slanting public square outside while I waited for the gush to stop.

While I waited (and hoped that it wasn’t forever) I gratefully came across Tracey who was already outside in the square for some reason. Perhaps on her own that day. We walked a bit, and stopped near a dark, filthy alley so that I could dispose of my wads of tissues and blood clots. A tall, dark man in dreadlocks approached us and we declined whatever he was offering as well as his unwelcome company, and yet I had the impression that he had approached us for a reason. As if Tracey had already been talking to him, or as if we looked like we wanted what he was offering. I don’t even know what it was – but I know I could not get away fast enough. When I revisited Paris two years ago, I returned to Le Pompidou and pointed out the general area of the bloody nose to my husband. I did not see the slightest trace of dark, or filth, or the man, or my fear.

On our last night in Paris, the school group traveled to a train station to take night passage to Lyons. Our days and nights of freedom in Paris were over and I cried over the transition. Tracey comforted me, and allowed me to wear her cool black leather jacket as several of us stood in the aisles and screamed goodbye out the open train windows as Paris rushed away. I felted protected, and warm, and much cooler than I was, and I was fine and happy again among my friends. We have a picture of our group inside our tiny 6-bunk sleeper room, each hanging out of our bed in order to fit within the frame of the doorway, and there are Tracey and I on the same level  - was it the bottom bunks?

At some southern stop of the trip we stayed at a small hotel where the room keys were hung on giant brass weights, presumable to prevent theft. I remember getting confused over whether to leave the key with the desk clerk when you left the hotel during the day or when you had retired for the night. One night I returned my key and ran back up to bed, thereby creating the impression with our chaperones that I had been out all night. Laughable for a girl like me – but why was Tracey out so late? She was not out all night, although I think I may have taken her key down with mine on that other night of false accusations and unbelieving looks, but there was definitely a night when she went out and came back too late, alone. Where was she? Where was there to go all alone? How could she seek out the non-English speaking strangers of this little city and for what? I didn’t want to know and I didn’t want to be asked to come along, especially if it made me feel uncomfortable or uncool. I didn’t ask.

And perhaps those are the last of my specific memories….surely there were more passed notes, phone calls, weird feelings on my part, graduation, summer after, and the eventual drifting apart that happened to all of our group. I don’t know. I never heard from Tracey again and never wondered what happened to her. I think our next contact was just 5 years ago, when I joined Facebook. We eventually crossed paths, accepted each other’sfriend requests, and settled in to vicariously learn bits about each other’s current, daily lives on the Newsfeed. I remember feeling that same discomfort when we reconnected, like hearing from an ex-boyfriend and wondering what they want. Wondering if it is going to be the same. Wondering what is wrong with me that I am so mean and negative and private.

I slowly learned that Tracey was an ex-junkie. That it had been bad and that she had been clean for a long time. That I felt proud of her and relief that she had come to the other side of what must have been a nightmare journey. Then I learned that she had been on HBO’s documentary, ‘Black Tar Heroin’ and that it had been really, really bad. That she was even more amazing for her clean period, and her family and her social work. I wondered whathappened in in our years together that may have signaled her search for acceptance that wound up in drug abuse, what I had missed, what I had subconsciously sensed and run away from. Tracey began to write and write and write, and I found her life even more amazing and brave, and I read pieces of her life that meshed with mine, and remembered things I’d forgotten, and I knew I had been right all along about both her and about me. She had been struggling and needful, and that I had been scared and unwelcoming.


Where are we now? Where is she? Where am I?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Being vulnerable

Being clean is not the solution to all my problems. In fact, getting off drugs might be the beginning of a new set of problems! Since I never was much at taking care of myself prior to recovery, I had to learn how to be an adult without a means of escape into a bottle or spoon. Bills? I never paid them. Kids? I never had them. Relationships? I always had multiple romantic relationships that overlapped each other so I would never be alone. I'm sure you can relate. And in terms of sexual desire- I can fuck you with out feeling you. Heroin made that easy. The skin you touched was a mask to hide the person inside. 

I am so vulnerable in recovery. It's like the moment you turn your neck to some one to stick a needle in there. My whole life is in their hands. At that moment, I can feel pain, pleasure, fear. And I frequently find it impossible to communicate my feelings . You have been digging around for awhile so I end up bruised and disappointed. 

It is hard to show a person that part of yourself that you normally cover up. My neck is so close to my heart. I hear my pulse in my ears. It echoes through my thoughts. I want to show you my neck. For once, I am not with a predator. I can be vulnerable and alive. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Everyday Addict in Recovery

There are times in my life where I have to look deep within myself to figure out what exactly is going on with me. On the surface, I should be in a good place. I have significant clean time. I have a family, a place to live. I have food, friends, and a I enjoy my job. However, there are days or weeks when my mind starts spinning in an unhealthy direction. My problems seem magnified to the point I can see nothing else. Every day living becomes a challenge. I am living in a state of addictive thinking, I just do not have drugs in my system to fuel catastrophic results. 

I read this today "How can we tell when our disease is active? When we become trapped in obsessive compulsive or self centered routines, endless routines that lead nowhere but to physical mental spiritual and emotional decay."THIS is me right now. The things that started this process are real issues that I am dealing with on a daily basis. My reaction to them is the real problem. I am obsessing over outcomes, wanting this to go MY way. I am complete powerless over people, places, and things. What I need to focus on is a solution. 

This example may be oversimplified but if my house is dirty, I should just clean it. However, I can spend a whole afternoon musing about how unappreciated I am and how everyone else should act. When I lose track of the solution, I am the victim which gives me more room to wallow in self pity. 

Today I am going to focus on the solution. It is a nice day outside. I can focus on a dirty house or focus on being happy. I can do what I need to do to move forward. I may not change the world but I can change my perspective. There isn't any blood crusted to my jeans today. I am not cramming a needle in my leg after searching for a vein for two hours then giving up. I am not dead. I am not in prison. I am not ashamed to admit I am human. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

The smell of desperation

Give me a blue eyed white boy that smells of desperation. A scene that has played out over and over. I see you standing there. Pale and alone you look at me.The sun reflects off your skin from days spent in a haze. Shorts and a white tshirt is all I need to know about you. Short hair, short on patience, short on love. I see exactly what I want to see and nothing more.

Aaron carved my name into the wall. A + T in the wood like my heart. Geny carved "Tracey- I want to be your dog" in his leg. Ben told me he wanted to marry me. Two skeletons on the bed, shivering in our hoodies. Shaugn kissed me on the rocks of the civic center. His blue eyes both were black.The 40 ozs made love so easy. Brian caught my eye in the hallway. The needle hanging out of his arm. I want THAT guy. Scott picked at himself until I cried and left. Daniel called for me from one end of the Tenderloin to the other begging me to come home. 

A girl shouldn't kiss and tell so I will not give you all the details. My life has not been short on friends or fiends. Each man has been different. Each one has been the same. The smell of desperation, the need for affection. Love that is dead and buried like most of them.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Let me show you love exists

I have survived a lot of hurt in my life. People I trusted have betrayed me. Men who claimed to love me have abused me. Situations that were supposed to be safe were frequently traps. I have been left out in the cold. I was left for dead by society. People passed me with disgust in their eyes. Another fucking junkie whore left for dead. 

The irony is that I survive. I thrive. I live. What can not break me makes me stronger. I am strong. I have a power that can not be tamed, maimed. I have a fire that will not be stomped out. The embers burned through the newspaper in your hands. 

Living well is the best revenge. No man could break me. No drug could kill me. I rose from the gutter with a purpose. Be with me. See the world through my eyes. Let me show you that love exists. Truth can prevail. Tears can be from joy. I want you to know me. Every inch of skin has a story. Examine all the angles. I will be your angel, your hope, your dream.

Do not hold back your fear. I'm here. 

All apologies

At one point in my life, it seemed like my life was a series of disappointments. When you are an addict, on a daily basis you have the feeling like you are crushing people's expectations of you. In your mind, you hear the voice of a parent, a child, a lover or friend. Each hit drives in the fact that you are worthless for not caring enough about them to stop. 

In recovery, I have had the opportunity to talk with many people from the past. Some people I hurt, some people hurt me. I had a conversation yesterday that was 23 years overdue. I realized that pain is not my self endeavor to marinate in. I like to sit in my pain and wear it around like perfume. I want everyone to sense it, take it in, be attracted to my beauty. However, there is two sides to any relationship. When I am strong enough,I take a look at my part. This may take months, years, decades. I am not just saying "I'm sorry" as if I carelessly stepped on their toe. I am feeling out their side and making a memory out of releasing resentments. This process takes time though. 

I am able to love you today because I love myself. I forgive myself. I avoid torturing myself with memories. I make new ones. Come out of the shadows. Step out into the sun today.

The pic below is from an article I was in from parade magazine. I made the pic artsy. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Get tested

I am not going to write a long post today. My thought for the day is that you get your health in order. It is time to know what is going on in your body. In these pictures, I am getting tested for HIV, blood glucose, cholesterol, and a variety of other conditions. I also got an Pap smear done yesterday. I got a mammogram last week. It is time for us to come out of the shadows. We need to take ownership of our bodies. Recover and live.
Gyno exam

blood draw from my leg

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Do no harm!

What does it mean to be clean? This is a frequent question posed by my readers. Clean is subjective and personal. I am in what is known as abstinence based recovery. I, personally, do not drink alcohol, smoke pot, take suboxone or methadone, take any illicit drugs. This decision was made after many long harm filled years of experiments on the nature of clean. I personally go bat shit crazy at the addition of any mind or mood altering substance. My life becomes utterly unmanageable in a matter of days. This is my path. I've done/ do twelve step as well as other forms of recovery to assist me in being abstinent.

As far as you and your recovery, I am here to help you by not judging. Jake is dead today because a well meaning group of recovering addicts convinced him he was not clean because he was on methadone. No, they didn't stick the needle in his arm but they convinced him to stop taking the thing that was keeping it out before he was ready. Our advice and opinions can seriously injure another human being. It's about "the desire to stop using" not how people practice that in their daily lives. 

If you are on an opiate replacement, doing your thing and not using, keep your head up. If you used to shoot smack and now crush a few beers, you are still winning.  Rejoice in your accomplishment. Set goals. Pursue dreams. If you used to be a stone cold junkie and now you want to smoke pot, not my place to tell you what is going to work for you. Love yourself. Live your life. Find someone who believes in you. 

A person who wants to define reality for another in pain is doing it out of ignorance or pure selfishness. If I am not sticking a needle in my neck today, the world is full of possibilities. If you can't lift me up, sit down and get out of my way. 

My love for you today is unconditional. I am a believer. You can do this. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Exit Strategy

Get out while you can. They only thing you need to change is everything. Just stop using. Then what? What the fuck am I supposed to do now? The truth is that unless you are in residential treatment, early recovery is pretty boring. If you whole life was filled up with the getting and using of drugs, not using them leaves WAY too much free time. Then you are stuck with so many emotions. Buckle up- it will be like a rollercoaster.

The first nine months I was clean, I had the complete inability to cry for myself. Crying would have felt good. I cried a thousand tears over not having drugs in the morning. It was hard to relate to myself as a person who was not on drugs. All the friends I had for six full year were on them. I did not know how to do the most basic things. It was if I was in a parallel universe but this one had no joy because I could not use. Wait.

The change is so incremental. The insane thoughts discipate. In early recovery, I contiplated both selling drugs and working in a whore house. I was clean- I could finally make some money and keep it. Before I hatched these plans into action I realized for myself, I can not be clean and live dirty. I do not want to be surrounded by dope fiends, tricks, pimps, players hustlers. Most of all, I washed the desperation out of my clothes. I had to manage to keep my actions in check. it is not my thoughts but my actions that get me in trouble.

I really, really cringe when people describe me as some type of hero. I am no hero. I am just like every other clean addict. In fact, I am pretty ordinary. The extraordinary thing about me is that I am able to communicate my story to you on a daily basis. Come up with an exit strategy. Think of what you can do to keep yourself off drugs. Pull yourself out of the chaos around you. Find a new perspective.  There is a new life on the other side.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Corner of Hell and Nowhere

I left residential treatment August 27 1998 with two garbage bags of clothes and six months clean. My time was paid for by a county diversion program and my time was up. I pulled together enough hustle to get a job and save $900. My options were very limited in terms of places to live. So I rolled back to the corner of hell and nowhere. 

In case you want a description, I moved to 242 Turk street between Jones and Leavenworth. This was the exact block where I used to score dope. I got into a transitional house run by the Salvation Army called Bridgeway. It was a step up from my last residence - alleyway. My rent was $320 a month for the first six months. You could be asked to submit to a urinalysis as it was labeled clean and sober housing. I had a tiny room with no bathroom. It came semi-furnished. They didn't bother to clean out one of the drawers of my dresser. It contained recovery journals from the guy who used to live there. Apparently he didn't take them when he started using again. 

The first night on my own I started bugging out. I wanted to use so badly or at least hang out in the Tenderloin. There were all these things I could do differently now. I could sell drugs but not use them. I could find some dealer to take care of me. I was lonely and afraid of what I would do that night. It says in one of the recovery books "an addict alone is in bad company". I went to a meeting that night. An atheist 12 step meeting full of wing nuts from Haight Street. I felt at home. Meetings are not for everyone but I needed someone who was not using to talk to me. 

I lived in the transitional house for a month short of four years. I made many mistakes in early recovery. The mistake I did not make was thinking I was ready to live on my own. The best part of the transitional house was I forced to live in a somewhat controlled environment while I was still making bad choices. I had to sign all my visitors in and out which meant they had to have ID. That ruled out some. Frankly, very few people that are using want to go to a place to visit someone who is clean and sober. I also had to think about this- if there is only a bed in my room, if I invite a man over to "visit" what are we going to end up doing is having sex. I needed to learn many things but mostly how to live. 

Sometimes, I miss that place. Things were simplier then when my everyday focus was just staying clean. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

On pins and needles

What was the moment when you realized that you were an addict? In 1991, I was living in an incredibly sparse apartment on Calhoun street in Cincinnati Ohio. The apartment was in the busy college district , close to bars and live music venues. The apartment was subsidized by my parents. I had wrecked my third car. After my DUI, I had no license. I was living in the city so I could continue to go to classes at the University of Cincinnati. I worked at Pier I Imports at night and drank most days. Attending classes was an occasional thing though I still managed acceptable marks in school. 

I had tried heroin a few times. It was hard to get after my friend stole my connection. I was intrigued when my friend suggested we shoot morphine pills he had got from his girlfriend, the daughter of a pharmacist. "Needles and pins, pins and needles". So this is going to be different? You know I can't hit myself. I only have one rig. Can you help me out? I got $40. 

In the old days, pre- needle exchanges, you had to know a diabetic to get a syringe. You kept it until it literally broke, hopefully not in your arm while you were fixing. You would sharpen it on a matchbook. It would pull up you skin like a fish hook. In a group situation, you could be completely fucked if the rig broke before it was your turn. Couples rarely cleaned their rigs with bleach because they could not stand the wait for their issue. 

"What is this going to do it me?" Was never really mentioned. Just the feeling. Needles and pins. Four days of needles and pins. I learned about a whole new reality-withdrawal. What is THIS feeling? My legs weighed a thousand pounds. I locked up from muscle cramps on the couch. My nose was runny. My eyes watered. I thought addiction was in your head. I begged Nathan to suffocate me. "You are going to be alright Trace. You are just kicking" kill me now. 

People came in and out of my apartment that day and for the next four days. They would yell up to my window. I had no phone. No real furniture. A mattress a couch and a garbage can to puke in. Jason and Mark asked if they could stay the night. "Is there something we can do" "besides kill me, no man. Nothing." No i dont want food water sex friends air. Nothing. It should all been a warning sign but we were so young. When I get off this couch, I am never going to do this shit again. Until the next time. Pins and Needles. Needles and Pins. 

I've kicked opiates 11 times all were terrible- from using speed for four days to kicking cold turkey in jail. I can say this with 100% certainty. It does get better. It takes time. And I am going to do everything necessary to not use again. 

Guest Post Carolyn from US

    What’s In a Name?
 I always fancied myself a great actress. To this day I can cry at the drop of a hat. I just knew that one day a big movie director would get lost and end up on my cul-de-sac in Scottsdale, Arizona, discover me and “make me a star”.  Everyone would know my name. That’s what I wanted: to be known. To walk down the street and have people say, “look, it’s her!”.  It was never the trappings of fame that I longed for, it was fame itself. To be noticed. To be recognized. For as far back as I can remember, and I can reach back pretty far because truthfully I’ve never smoked weed (but, I digress), I was never happy being just me: Carolyn Alfieri from Phoenix, Arizona. I was raised knowing that my side of the family was looked down upon because we never had the newest things, never were slaves to fashion, etc. Granted, I never wanted for anything growing up, but I certainly didn’t come from the womb with a silver spoon dangling from my mouth. More like a plastic spork, really. I just had that feeling of never fitting in, never belonging. I was very uncomfortable in my skin, but I did have that feeling (perhaps that grandiosity we drug addicts are born with) that one day… name was going to mean something.
I got to put my acting chops to good use for the many years I was active in my addictions. Meryl Streep had nothing on me when it came time to put on a show for whatever poor fool of an ER doctor was assigned to me while I was on my quest for prescription pain killers. Having been born with this dis-ease, I had mastered the art of manipulation: knowing exactly the right things to say to get exactly the right drug I wanted at exactly the right time and for a good while there, it worked. Until my records started getting “flagged” and I was put on a “no narcotics” list. See, people started knowing my name. However, my disease didn’t stop at hospital “surfing” or doctor shopping. No, it told me it would be a great idea to start forging prescriptions at the local Walmarts’ and Costco’s. It was during this time that my name really started “taking off”. The Phoenix police department, Maricopa County sheriff’s department, The D.E.A. all knew my name..and they were looking for little ol’ me! Now, my name was being known on court documents, arrest warrants, collection agency bills. I was famous!
I remember vividly one of the last scams I pulled in the ER before surrendering to my disease. I needed to focus on something to make the tears come and all that could come to mind was the fact that my name wasn’t known for anything positive. All I was known as was defendant, “perp”, patient..liar, schemer, scam artist, thief, manipulator. I was notorious not famous. I was the person my mother warned me about as a child. It was there on that cot I had one of my firsts “moments of clarity”. I wanted my name to be known for something good, decent and positive.  The tears came, alright and I got what I wanted:Percocet. 
I still had a few years of damage to do before I truly surrendered to my disease and started living in the solution. It took a while to repair the damage that I had created, but I have new titles now: spouse, sponsor, sponsee, leader of the meeting, friend, checking account holder, “Pug mommy”, registered recovery worker, Elvis fan, ghost hunter and my personal favorite: Carolyn Alfieri from Phoenix, Arizona.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What Black Tar Heroin Means to Me Right Now.

I hate that fucking movie. Just today. It will passs though.  Ok, maybe I do no hate it but it still messes with my daily life 15 years later. Let me explain how it feels to me. To me, the movie was like I slit my wrists on camera. When some people watch it, some people want to hand me a bandage.They want to fix me. Some people watching identify with slitting there own wrists. Some people watching can't imagine why anyone would be so stupid as to try to kill themselves. Other people like to watch the blood while they are bleeding at the same time. The problem is I am not bleeding anymore. I have stitches. I occasionally pull at them but I can't take them out. A scar is there- a healthy one. Are you looking for the scar or the stitches? One says I survived. The other says if you pull hard enough, I bleed for you all over again. Everyone has an opinion about what they are watching.

I am being somewhat dramatic of course but pain is generally private. My pain is art and on display. It makes me occasionally feel: fat, stupid, old. Then I get over myself. I am off drugs. I really do not care if you watch as long as you understand I am clean. I evolved from that person into a strong woman. I am enjoying my life. I don't actually hate the movie- I hate that so many people are still using and searching for answers.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Put down the spoon, pick up the fork

Today's post is about one of my least favorite subjects- my weight. When I finally agreed to be transferred into the treatment section of the San Francisco Jail in February of 1998, I was 124 pounds. This really is not a healthy weight for me. I was completely flat chested and you could see all of my ribs. I went into the jail at 143 pounds but I was kicking so hard, I started wasting away to the point that I was being monitored by jail health. They thought I was sero converting to HIV positive. I was put on nutritional support drinks and had to see the nurse frequently. I remember sitting clear minded pondering my fate. I decided even if I was HIV positive, I was going to stay clean. I had made up my mind.

I had to wait for the window to pass for my tests but miraculously, I was not HIV positive. I did pick up another addiction though- compulsive over eating. When you have been in the streets, the worst thing you can be in jail is thin. Thin to inmates means unhealthy or poor. The same holds true in co-Ed treatment which is where I was headed May 12 1998. I had left jail for a court ordered rehab. In the facility, I was stuffed with a carbohydrate laden diet. After essential starving for a few years, eating became a hobby of sorts. The bigger I got, the more male attention I got. Big= healthy until it doesn't. 

Fast forward a few years. I began to realize that food became one of my only coping mechanisms. Food was my friend and lover. I had never learned how to eat healthy or portion control. So add my weight to the list of problems I have to face. 

Fifteen years and three kids later, I would say my weight is my constant struggle. I've lost 51 pounds since delivering my son in 2011 but I have more to go. I see my weight like I see my recovery, I deal with some element of it on a daily basis. I am not longer fixing my feelings with food. The weight is coming off but I want instant gratification! Recovery is a process. I am evolving into a different self. When I look at my you tube videos, I hate the way I look. However, recovery has taught me that despite my fears, I show up for my recovery and help others. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Meat Grinder

 When I was using, I was both young and naive. I have little thought beyond my next fix or narcotic solution. I had little regard for the future of this this meat suit I carry around with me. My body was for the sole purpose of use and abuse.

Eventually I got clean. My teeth hurt. My body ached. I was grossly malnourished . What have I done to myself? The thought of sharing my body or myself with anyone was horrifying. How many long sleeve shirts can one person wear? I had a chipped tooth and an abcessed ones I was able to get those fixed in the first few months. Eventually, I spent $6,000 and six years of appointments getting my mouth restored. I paid $35 a month until I had a job where I could contribute more.

My legs are another matter. Dear readers, I have track marks, stretch marks, cellulite. Who is going to want me? I had an abcess that went into the bone. Instead of being lucky I saved my leg,I honestly was worried about who would fuck me. In early recovery, I was devestated by the state of my physical body. I had faith in restoration of my spirit. In some ways, the body never followed. However, if a person wants to love me they have to appreciate if not admire the entire package. My body is a narrative that tells the story of a survivor. There is also no shortage of affection available to me. 

I'm sharing more embarrassing details. My ham hock  track marked leg and the hole into the bone. I hope you will live and admire me a little today. My honesty makes me who I am

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Who Believes In Me

Find one person who believes you. Find one person who believes in your recovery. I absolutely believe that anyone who is reading my blog can get clean and stay clean. Why do I believe this? Hello?! Here I am!
Have you met me? I did everything humanly possible to get drugs, abused and denigrated myself, lived in an alleyway surrounded by all my personal possessions, stayed up for weeks at a time, tried to kill myself by drowning  in the godamned ocean and I AM CLEAN. Believe it. It takes more work that reading but it can happen. RECOVERY is happening. I need to get t-shirts printed that say that.

No needles in my neck today

Monday, May 13, 2013

Morning Meditation

I AM NOT GOING TO USE TODAY. THE END. Or, if you are feeling extra determined- I AM NOT GOING TO FUCKING USE TODAY. Another popular one from my collection- Please do not let these people try me today. I am not using but I am still crazy as fuck. A meditation does not need to be a jumble of spiritual catch phrases. It can be whatever helps you get through the day. Make a statement about your intentions. Make it personal. Use your own voice. THIS IS MY LIFE. I AM NOT USING. I GOT THIS.

 If people are encouraging you to use or getting in the way of your recovery, they are in the way. Forget get them. Ignore them. Better yet, tell them to fuck off.  I AM NOT KILLING MYSELF TODAY BECAUSE OF YOU OR ANYONE ELSE. Your recovery is just that- your recovery. It is a precious gift that other may not understand or appreciate in any sense. Do this for you. Wake up and live.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

The road from stone cold junkie to mother has been a long awkward one. The only goal I never trully believed i could complete was having children. My kids are definitely the best part of myself. They make me look at the world and see the good that exists there. They believe in super heroes. To them, I am Wonder Woman minus the costume. I love them. I like to squish their little faces. I like to hear them laugh. My children make me believe that not only is recovery possible, it is necessary. They need me to be present in their lives. I didn't get clean for them. However, I realize I need to stay clean to experience the daily miracles they bring.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I am clean today.

A simple statement. A reason to rejoice. Recovery happens. It is happening. You can not see the incremental change. You make progress every day. A minute, an hour, a day, a week. Recovery is dynamic but not magical. You made it here. You are alive. It's happening. Recovery happens.

I feel like I bitch and moan about my problems a lot in here. The reality is that I am clean and generally happy.

My feelings- loving an addict

You look at me with fascination. I am A firefly in your jar. You see the light that shines as I stumble. I beat my head against your glass. I change. I squirm. I suffer. You watch. You witness. You critique my movements with painful delight.

You want to be close to me. I hear you breathing down my neck. You did not put me in this prison. You are angry with me that you cannot be the one to let me out. I'm too fragile to be released into this world. I need some one to reach in. Carry me. Let me find my path.

I love you yes. And I hate you for your lack of understanding. Just do these long list of things and you can be happy. Just change the essence of yourself and you will be fine. Just stop using! The eyes upon my works become a boot against my Throat. You are suffocating me with your love. I wince beneath your kisses. My tracks are filled with tears.

Lets do something normal. What would that be? Where do I fit in? Stop spying on my misery so I can use again.

I aged myself for this picture. I'm trying to picture if I would have kept using.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Loving an Addict- guest post from US

This is a guest post from my nephew Christopher Auteberry.

My sister saw the documentary before I did; she told me grisly stories about prostitution and heroin injections into throbbing neck veins. I watched Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street with my mother, cuddled up on her plush couch. The film never glorified drug use, in fact it did quite the opposite, but it sparked my curiosity. I was only 14 years old when I saw it for the first time but it left an impression, a desire if you will, to experience addiction. I never wanted to be a junkie; I just wanted to know one. My aunt was a junkie but she only existed in stories and letters. I wanted to truly KNOW a junkie.

I grew up in a college town and found my niche in the older crowds. I met Amy right after I graduated from high school, I was 4 years her junior and quite impressionable. I looked up to her because she was graduating from a University and came from a wealthy Chicago suburb, she was everything I wasn’t. We would innocently smoke hookahs and sit in a tent we pitched in her roommate’s bedroom. Amy introduced me to nitrous and gave me my first mushroom (of the psychedelic variety) and peanut butter sandwich. Amy also introduced me to her friend living in Chicago, Jeanine.

Jeanine was a character from a story, a breathing work of fiction. She was large and boisterous, outgoing yet introverted, compassionate yet amoral. She fascinated me immensely. I lived for her stories about her junkie experiences: stealing DVD’s at Borders and selling them to pawn shops, giving blowjobs to drug dealers to support her habit, having threesomes with her friends while out of her mind on various drugs. Jeanine was headed down a path of destruction, fueled by her friends in Chicago and her lack of desire to get sober. She’d been in and out of rehab with little success and she was showing no signs of letting up.

Something happened in Jeanine’s life that uprooted her and sent her to live with Amy for a summer. We spent every waking moment together. Jeanine used this time to get clean. For three months she was sober, I felt I’d taken her away from it all, I’d saved her. I didn’t take my aunt away from heroin, I couldn’t keep my mother or my grandfather from alcohol, but I was going to save Jeanine.

Jeanine returned to Chicago (which is synonymous with heroin at this point) and continued making money by stealing from Borders. Though I voiced my concern for her habit I didn’t judge because I knew I was moving to Chicago and I could keep her occupied and away from that scene. When I arrived in Chicago we celebrated by consuming gluttonous amounts of marijuana. We sat on my bed and smoked pot for hours, talking about our dreams and hypothetical situations about our futures. Jeanine promised to stop using. I knew she meant it. We had grand plans.

A few weeks later Amy invited me to do mushrooms at Jeanine’s. I’d done all the experimenting with drugs I’d planned to do and wanted no part in it. More importantly, I had my first real date in the big city! The date was lame and I went home early, exhausted from the effort. I woke in the early morning to a phone call, Amy explained that Jeanine was “going crazy” (she was naked and throwing herself into her refrigerator). I told her that they both had drug problems that I could no longer be a part of. I hung up my phone and went to bed. I’d had it. Mission failed. I couldn’t save Jeanine.

I woke up the next morning to another phone call from Amy. Jeanine had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance because she was unresponsive. I didn’t understand why Jeanine was having such a bad reaction to mushrooms. Amy said I was na├»ve; I hung up and took a shower. I let the warm water race down my back and cried; I sat on the floor and cried. I thought Jeanine was going to stop using. I thought I was going to save her. Something in me knew that Jeanine wasn’t going to come out of it.

I left my apartment with my phone in hand and no idea where I was going. My phone rang as I waited for the El to take me somewhere, anywhere. I knew as soon as I heard Amy’s voice, I froze and tears streamed down my face. Jeanine was gone. Jeanine was dead. It is the most profound loss I have ever felt in my life. Heroin had killed her and I was supposed to save her.

I knew an addict. I loved and I lost an addict. Jeanine taught me the most important lesson about addiction; there is no “saving” an addict if the addict isn’t first ready to save themselves. The Black Tar Heroin documentary sparked my interest in drugs yet my friendship with Jeanine extinguished the flames. Addiction is still a part of my life as I have friends and family members who struggle and yet strive to be more than their vice. I learned, through Jeanine, the true battles that an addict faces and the pain their loved ones suffer because of their choices. It’s been 8 years and there are still songs I can’t listen to, pictures I’ve locked away and letters I refuse to look at. Addiction is no longer a fascination, it’s a harsh reality that killed my friend and continues to eat away at my family. I am thankful that I had Jeanine to open my eyes and keep me from the dark end of the street.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Love Junkie

One of the things I have noticed about addicts is that we are super sensitive people with an ultra hard exterior. That is the way you survive addiction. Getting your precious feelings hurt ends in short order when so many people have the ways and means to take advantage of you.

Fast forward to my life today. I am a love junkie. I crave attention. I crave affection. I crave a text, or look, or touch that tells me some one wants me. You may think with fifteen years in recovery I would have worked out my self esteem issues. The answer is a resounding NO. The main problem with my need to be adored is that is in direct opposition with my desire to be left alone. When I am alone, I have my fantasy. A fantasy some time is better than reality because a fantasy cannot hurt me. When I have my fantasy, I ignore my reality. Truth be told, my reality is not bad at all. I have built a stellar life for myself.

My kids can hug me. I can not always feel it. Other people tell me they love me. I still am left wondering why. These are MY issues. I have a deep seated belief somewhere that I am truly a fuck up undeserving of anyone. So, I become a love junkie. Seeking the next thing that will make me feel alive. I crave attention like a hit. I need it. Badly. Then those feelings fade. And I am left feeling like- damn- why did I do all that again? I laugh at myself like I laugh at ducklips on facebook.

I am laughing at this attention whore below with fine tattoo work!. A freaking love junkie.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

To My Reader(s) from Russia:

Leave me a comment or send me an email . I see you log in every day :)

My Level of Attraction

My level of attraction
            There is a stereotype that women who get into bad relationship have daddy issues. This may or not be true. For myself, I am constantly led astray by the aesthetic. There is a certain type that I go for that looks absolutely nothing like my father.
            I was what some may consider a late in life bloomer. I was very, very VERY interested in boys and catalogues there comings and goings in great detail in journals that I found in the house after the passing of my mother. I had different symbols to characterize if a person was somehow nice to me, said hello to me, generally acknowledged my existence. In retrospect, this was a sad tome, a reflection of my lack of social interaction. If someone had been interested in me, I surely would have folded into their arms with absolutely no boundaries. I was spared that challenge into my teen years.
            I had both a diary and a notebook. The notebook was of the spiral variety. I had my key in the front the reader, namely myself, could use to decipher my desperate attempts to catalogue any kindness. I was meticulous about this journal. I had every day entered into these pages as well as the scores from all the sports events I attended from sixth to eighth grades. I suppose from a modern perspective, I near the level of a stalker. Gladly, there was no  facebook back then so no one had the glee of declining me as a friend or placing painful comments on my wall.
            The transformation from layer hair, well scrubbed yuppie lover to supporter of all types of parolees seems a long journey. I would spend my entire summers watching television. We got cable television in 1982. This is the place where I learned everything I knew at the time about music and sex. This was long before the age of parental controls. On the weekends, I would stay up long after my parents went to bed and watch movies on the USA network. They had a program called night flight. My tastes in music and in men were transformed with every movie, every scene, every song. I saw movies such as “Decline of Western Civilization”, “Times Square”, “Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains”, and “Breaking Glass”. My taste in young men went from button up shirts to closely cropped hair, leather jackets, and tattoos. I was not longer attracted to athletes. I wanted pale and angry. Soon, I found my place among people who felt as if they did not fit it. Always the asthetic that drove me.

            There is an expression that water seeks the lowest level. I was at the low point of my life. Years and years of being alone and isolated had started to take their toll. If I would not have found punk rock and Oi music, I probably would have killed myself. I used to cut and burn myself to relieve my stress. I had lost 40 pounds between my junior and senior year of high school. For the first time in my life as a teenager, people started to notice me as more than someone who you can use to get answers for a test or write your term paper for a fee. I wanted OUT. Out of my skin. Food was not working, tv was not working, I had no friends. When I started going to punk rock shows, for the first time in my life, I felt ALIVE. And the boys seemed interested in me. I was in the spotlight for the first time. I was out of my shadow. I wanted OUT in a totally different way. I wanted OUT of my house so I could go to the city and evolve into my true self.

Monday, May 6, 2013

My blue period

I promised myself I was not going to write today. I swore it to myself. Because I am in a blue period. I have been through an enormous amount of pain in my life. I lived on the streets of San Francisco as a desperate junkie. I have walked around with open wounds. I have had my nose broken numerous times by men who claimed to love me but hurt me anyway. I have had three c- sections. I have experienced pain. My nick name for myself has always been hard core because I can survive ANYTHING. But now, I am in a blue period.

You can get used to just about any abnormality. A habit, a voice, a needle in your neck that pierced your heart instead. I do not know why I feel this way but I am in a blue period.

I hate when I feel this way. Have you ever wondered how someone who had everything still killed themselves? That is what depression does to you. But I am different friends. I will not suffer alone. I will not be silent. It happens. It is beyond sad because sad has a reason. There is no reason for me to feel this way. And yet I do.

I will not use drugs. I will not hurt myself. This will pass. Hope is defined by my character not any particular event. I'm sure you understand readers. Find one person who believes in you and wants to help you

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Guest post Paul Payne UK

In a few days I shall be moving back to the town where I grew up. In a twist of fate my son has moved there, and I want to be there for him as he approaches the dreaded teenage years.
The last time I was there I was at my lowest,my rock bottom. It was enough for me not to want to return after a successful stint in rehab. The last year there will never be erased from my memory, or my nightmares. My Best friend had killed himself, I was the last person to see him. We were heavily into heroin, and at his funeral his poor Mum couldn't even be near me.
As I was selling a bit, I was able to couch surf from night to night, always making sure that I never stayed in the same place for two nights on the bounce. The Police were stopping me all the time, even though they never got anything , they enjoyed degrading me in front of passers by. Fair enough I suppose I wasn't the nicest person at the time. There was a nun named Sister Pauline, who through a chance meeting with my Mum seemed to have faith in me. She was instrumental in me getting a rehab place.
The day before I was due to go into rehab, must have been 20th june 1999, I was once again stopped by the Police. I said to them " look im off to rehab tomorrow, ive nothing" quite pleased with myself. What they said still rings in my ears..." I don't give a fuck if you sort yourself out or not, its shit like you and your mates that are my bread and butter. I hope you fail, so you come back here and I can nick you"
Morning after I was gone, never looked back. A clean start, and a clean slate elsewhere...

But now im going back, there will be memories, there will be triggers, even after 13 years. In my recovery I haven't yet had to go down the route of facing my old stomping ground. Well I am now, im excited, and nervous, a triumphant return...I know what I have to do......

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Today's guest post- KB from US

I used to let my coke dealer borrow my car to make her deliveries and go about her business. Sometimes she would weigh out her bags while we were sitting in my car.
I was hurting one morning, out of blow and wasn’t going to see her until later in the afternoon. I searched everywhere in my house looking for a bag that wasn’t there, that I had hoped I had hidden on myself. After no luck in the house, I went out to my car in the off chances that she had dropped a bag of blow underneath the seat or in some other crack in my car. I looked into the back seat and saw the white powder spilled all over the fabric. My heart jumped and I grabbed a straw that I had handy in the center console. How could I be this lucky? I sat in the back, and rather than trying to scrape it together, I just leaned over and snorted the powder off the seat. I had anticipated the feeling of getting myself back to “normal”. It wasn’t until I had snorted a fair amount of it, that I realized that it was powder from the doughnuts we had eaten earlier in the week. That was a major disappointment. I felt like a fool and I was angry that I hadn’t planned better and gotten more coke the night before.
Some people would tell me that because I was snorting the coke instead of shooting it, that I was wasting the high and wasting my money. But at that time, I had not yet injected drugs and thought that if I did, it would mean that I had a problem. I considered myself a social user because I enjoyed it so much, loved how my confidence grew when I was high, and I was able to be social with strangers and friends alike. My normally shy personality would be transformed into an outgoing, fun and exuberant one. Of course to stave off any feelings of anxiousness, I would wash the cocaine down with a six-pack of beer, two bottles of wine or a couple of glasses of whiskey on the rocks. But I believed I had everything under control. The fact that I was snorting coke all day at work and would come home and snort coke all night, didn’t phase me as troublesome. To me, I was just enjoying life. I would get high, clean my house till it gleamed or sit around and listen to music that would sometimes get me up and dancing. I thought my boyfriend at the time was completely uptight and I would resent him for interrupting my high when he would get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. He would be angry with me for not sleeping in a few days and keeping him up with my music. Couldn’t he see how much fun I was having?
Sometimes though, when I was hungover and out of coke, I would feel empty inside. I would wonder to myself why I couldn’t feel that good all the time? How did the depression creep back in so quickly? How were people able to relate to one another so easily without booze or drugs? Why didn’t I have the confidence in day to day life that I had when I was high? Why was I so shy and timid when I was sober?
But then I would meet up with my dealer, lay down some fat lines and begin drinking once again. All of those questions that I had when I was sober faded into the background. I once again felt my body chemistry align and felt the endorphins kick in. All was right in the world, and I was all about having fun.
It would take me some years to realize that my behavior was problematic. Concern from my boyfriend, my friends and my co-workers did nothing to sway me into believing that I had a problem. My dwindling bank account did nothing to make me stop. I believe that people give up drugs and alcohol only when they are ready to. And at that point, I was far away from being ready. But I knew in the back of my head that I had snorted doughnut powder that day in my car. People using recreationally would never end up in a situation like that. Maybe that was the beginning of my awareness.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Crying for the sins of the world

I cried today. I curled up on my couch with my headphones and some music. Then I cried for the sins of the world. Why does heroin kill so many people? Why are there so many people that just don't care? I have been writing this blog since January. Many days I say I am not going to write because I was planning on writing a book.

One day, I realized this blog is very important to many people. Many of my readers are sitting somewhere alone or with their partner who is also strung out or in recovery. I have at least five sets of lovers who read my blog together. The day I realized how important a word of encouragement was to so many people was the day I realized I must keep writing until whatever story within my soul is complete.

Any one of my readers could die tonight. Or give in to temptation. Or start a new journey of recovery from drugs that suck the essence of joy from whatever they touch. Many of my recovering friends have moved on to somewhat normal lives. However, I transport myself to you. I am a few steps ahead reaching back for you. Recovery happens. Recovery is happening. It is here when you read and have hope that you can live a life without drugs.

I have been clean fifteen years. It is true- fifteen full years. But I need you as much as you may need me. I need to remember that I am clean but not cured. The struggle continues and junkies keep dying without a chance. And so I sit on my couch and cry for the sins of the world. And so I write and let you know recovery is possible.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Another dead friend- Aaron

Another dead friend. I feel like when I talk about the past those are the first words that are used. The list is getting so long now,  I actually lose count. Aaron and I met during his stay at the rehabilitation program I completed in 1998.  I had about 18 months clean at the time, he had six that he had acquired in jail.  We met at a 12 step meeting. Instantly, we were drawn to each other.  I am not sure if it was my recovery or my tattoos but we shared a similar history. We liked the same kind of music. We liked tattoos. We both had a history of violence. We had hopes for a future without heroin.
I met Aaron during a time when I had sworn to myself to a life of celibacy. I wanted to focus on my step work. I needed time to focus on myself. For whatever reason, he convinced me to go out on a date with him. Or at least I think it was a date. We went out to the movies, we hung out together more than once. Finally, he kissed me. In that moment, I realized we were completely incompatible in the romantic sense. Some times, a girl just knows. But at the core, we did have recovery in common. That was much more important. He shared the intimate details of his life with me. I was part of his support system. I helped him stay clean through the death of his mother. As a thank you sort of gift, he gave me one of her rings. I still have it in a keepsake box with my other prized possessions.
Aaron and I drifted apart over time. I saw him many times and we did not speak. The silence made it clear what was going on.   He had made huge changes in his life, he evolved into another person who wanted to help others. That is never enough. Recovery has to be at the core of our being for people like us.  He reminds me that in any given moment, we must celebrate out time with our friends if they are addicts. Our predisposition to self harm makes the future tenuous. The time I spent with Aaron was an innocent time when recovery and relationships were new. I am sorry I never said goodbye to him. I would have reminded him I cared if I would have known it might have made a difference.
I totally stole this pic from someone until I can get mine up here. Sorry.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Track marks and a sunny day

Some days it feels like the only thing I have in my favor is the fact that I am clean. It is hot outside. Do I hide my track marks? Do I explain to a person that in a split second I can stop giving a fuck? Do I ignore the fact that I am slightly bitter that I can't have a sip of wine or a drink of beer at a baseball game. What about the fact that I have all these damn raw emotions. i feel like breaking something or acting out or screaming. When when when will I be released from the burden of addictive thinking and compulsive actions?

I woke up this morning. I was in a bed. This is a good start to any morning. I had food to eat. Another goal accomplished. I was able to use the bathroom inside. Yes. I texted with a friend and got out some resentments. I felt my feelings. Most of all, I was not digging in my neck, hands, or feet for a place to inject my daily emotions. I am clean- a good start to the day.

There are two parts to recovery. There is stopping the use of drugs- a miracle. Then there is living life without the use of drugs. Sometimes I struggle but if I don't do the first, I can deal with the second.