The group leader was a smaller man with a fire in his eyes. He talked with a half smile. He wore a baseball hat, Levis, and a modest amount of jewelry. When he talked, he gestured. It was if he was trying to pull me into what he believed. I wasn't sure why I was here. I knew I had been arrested. I knew I was being forced to come to these classes. I knew if I didn't attend them, I was going right back to jail. I wanted to believe the things he told me. However, the group members made me more dubious than hopefully.
One man raised his hand. He started the conversation "well, I am here because I got caught with a few zips. I was never a user. I was just a seller. My P.O. thought I might benefit from this group".
I roll my eyes. Such fucking bullshit. I knew this dude. The only zip this dude knows about is unzipping his pants to piss behind his shopping cart.
The facilitator looks around again. No one wants to raise their hand. He calls on the chick in the half shirt trying to hide in the corner. She breaks out of her trance to answer.
"Well," she starts "I needed to come here to get my kids back. They are in the system. I am lucky because my mom lets me visit any time I want. If I finish this program, I can get them back."
The facilitator smiles at her and nods as if her understands her. No one her can I understand her. None of these 12 men can certainly understand what is like to give birth to a child then lose it to addiction. I don't understand either. I knew a few women with children. They would ask me to watch their kids while they went to re-up or turn tricks. The children would smile at me through the slats of their cribs. They seem completely oblivious to the fact that their mom wasn't normal. They just wanted her to come back. I would try to be a good friend, to change their diapers on time. I dropped my heroin in the crib when I put the baby down one night. The mother found my drugs and flushed it down the toilet. I was so mad- that was perfectly good heroin. It was also the last time I ever babysat a kid. I was not the person for that job. Anyone desperate enough to have me watch a kid might not be the best person to have one.
The facilitator wanted me to talk but I told him I would "pass". I wasn't ready for all this. I knew he had been clean five years. That seemed like an impossible amount of time to me. In my world, any time clean was just a period of rest in between runs. I had tried to stop many times before. The first time I made it six months. The last time was a few days.The length of time I could manage between binges got smaller and smaller. I hated the way I felt when I was not on drugs. I hated all the emotions that flooded over me. My mind would run through all the horrible things that had happened over the past few years. It was crushing to me. It was like a horror movie I was the evil villain. I had a perfectly good life. I traded it in for a powders, bags, and numbness.
In these groups, I hear people call themselves and addict. I don't see myself as an "addict". I never even heard that term applied to myself until I went to jail. The staff were always trying to reassure me by telling me I was an addict. How the fuck would they know? I saw myself as a junkie. A junkie was a pioneer. I refused to embrace the conventions of normal society. I choose my own path on a daily basis. It just happened to be laced with heroin. It is not like I don't know I have a problem. I have a problem with drugs every 6-12 hours. But an addiction, I see that as something else entirely. Addiction is for old people. I am young. Maybe I will stop. Maybe I die with a needle in my arm. I don't know the answer.
Instead of sitting down, the facilitator liked to pace back and forth when he got in front of this group. I was in awe of this man, I had to admit it. He could get up in front of group of people, tell the truth, and not give a fuck. He told us last week about how he had been molested as a kid. He was able to put the past behind him and stay clean. My life was no where near as fucked as his. Maybe I could do it too.
As the group ended, he shook my hand. I know he wants to talk. Unfortunately, I have things to do. I walk to the side of the building to collect my belongings. Under a bush, I find my paper bag. I stashed a syringe with 20 units and a 40 oz. I figured if they didn't take me to jail, I would need something for the day. The best part- the beer is semi-cold. As I shuffle back to the streets, I am grateful for my stash. It is going to start today out on a high note.
This story is a composite of two stories. The facilitator helped me immensely in early recovery. He did not end up staying clean, but I did. I thanked him for what he did for me.
FYI- if you are interested in more true stories about heroin, Shane Levene from memories of a heroin head is releasing a book called "The Void Ratio". The link is here if you are interested. http://memoiresofaheroinhead.blogspot.fr/2015/01/the-void-ratio-book-release.html