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…..my 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.