Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Last Day I Ever Used

When I say "the last day I ever used", I want to make it perfectly clear to readers. I am done using drugs. It was not easy but it was worth it.
February 26, 1998. It was the day that changed everything. 

The hotel Kinney was not for the faint at heart. It was not the kind of place you would visit unless you needed something. The place was a beacon for empty souls that filled that space with vices of all sorts. The rooms were dingy and dark. They smelled like old beer, crack, and stale cigarettes. The elevator was the type that had a gate that needed to be slowly slid into place before it would trudge to the next floor. The stairwell was always a center of illicit commerce. The hallways were the site of many a robbery and even an occasional rape. It was generally assumed using the bathroom in the sink in your room was safer than walking down the hall to the shared toilets. Someone was knocking on doors looking for matches or chore boy. 

I had given up my room facing the street. I was selling heroin. Lots of heroin. Too much fucking heroin. I liked the window in the front of the building because people could yell up when they needed something. My connection would throw me a free bag of coke if I came correct with all the money. $500 was my end for a Mexican half ounce. I say a Mexican half ounce because their bags are always short. 

Selling heroin as a woman was horribly dangerous. I had been robbed many times. A robbery and a rip off are totally different. I rarely got ripped off. I knew all these customers. They hated me. They hated that I was a junkie and sold heroĆ­n. Suddenly, I "thought i was better" they said. I didn't feel better. I was cooking up half grams and injecting them in the soles of my feet. I wasn't better, I was worse. I was carrying $500 in singles , fives, and a few twenties in a condom in my pussy. I prayed my snatch would go back to normal after shoving a bankroll the size of my fist in there twice a day. I would spent two hours on a bad day trying to get a hit. Covered in my blood, I would have holes all over me. I wondered if I drank water, would it all pour out like a junkie irrigation system. 

My boyfriend left me for his street "sister". She was a white girl with a gold tooth and a tattoo of two pimps ago on her neck. I had told him I really, really, really wanted to find a way to get clean. He didn't want any part of that. I know he had loved me but he loved that dope more. He had hounded me every day I was on methadone to try to get me using until eventually I quit the clinic on 60mg. He liked the hustle. He was not down for a doughnut and a coffee near the clinic as his only form of entertainment. 

I was alone in the world with stacks of money and drugs as my only companion. The ex did give me a gift though. He had got me started smoking crack in addition to all my other problems. Crack sneaks up on you like "I don't smoke crack- do you have some?"then it's "I don't smoke crack really but can you get me some?" Then finally "get me some fucking crack dawg." That was kind of it for me. I was starting to get heart palpitations from years of speed now cocaine use. After the incident where I did the hit of coke, shit in the sink, and threw it out the window because I was too paranoid to go out of the room to the bathroom- I was never the same. 

I don't remember all the details. I know I started out my day by mixing speed, heroin, and coke in the same syringe. I used to call it "the normal". It made me feel normal for a few minutes, almost how I feel now. I should have called it "the bi- polar" because ten minutes later, my moods went up and down. It was a ridiculous cycle of chasing a feeling that may not have ever existed- the feeling of being satisfied. I am not sure I have that feeling today. I am always moderately dissatisfied with one thing or another. I think I am simply hardwired that way. No drugs, no food, no sex, no love can cure this feeling. It is what it is.

The day ended in my room. It was the day before "check day", the day when recipients of government checks who have addictions purchase drugs in bulk. My connection had loaded me up for the business in the morning. I settled in with some crack, benzos, a 40z ounce, my heroin, and my best friend. He was passed out on my bed after a long speed run. Our friendship had survived many years of ups and downs but it did not survive when I got clean. We still hug each other and exchange "I love yous" but things can never be the same. As he put it "I can't hang out with you Tracey. because I am doing this and you are doing that." I understand it even when I didn't like it.

The police knocked on the door. I was so high, I could see something was wrong with the situation but it did not register with me. I had what what is known as a 1035 search and seizure. Once I opened the door, they had the right to search anything because of my probation. The dope was sitting out on the bed. I felt comfy in my drug induced haze. I told them instantly "the dope is mine". so they would let me friend go. I had a suitcase packed in my closet in case I got arrested. I wanted to discharge into some fresh threads not jane doe clothes. As They clicked on the handcuffs, I decided to leave everything behind. I left in a jacket and some pajamas. Bye room. Bye clothes. Bye addiction. I left all that shit there for the crackheads to pick through. I was done. Peace. 

I didn't cry. I was done crying. I didn't beg to be let go. I was done with that life. I knew the pain I would face detoxing on a hard floor in a jail cell. I was ready to give it a go. I had kicked heroin 10 times. I had done 2 methadone treatment programs. I had 1 chance left. I was going to take it. That was 17 years ago ago. Tomorrow, unless the needle slips and falls in my arm,  I will have 17 years clean. Thank you for listening.




35 comments:

  1. i feel like, all you need is an addict's story (hey like my mom) and you get - "that's moving" or "that's deep"; where's the Pulitzer? where's thee Oscar? But this was written so well. Frank and unapologetic. and unsympathetic. I hope it was cathartic to put out there. It was refreshing to read. cheers. and i hope you stay clean forever.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow...your story gives me chills! You are such a gifted writer who is using your testimony to teach, help, and advocate. What a blessing you are!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love your stories like this. They make me think there's hope for me.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for sharing this story. I can relate to this and all your stories in so many ways. I love your writing and look forward to your upcoming book. You are such an inspiration to me, not only in recovery, but as a new mother, wife and student. Congrats on 17 years!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. You're the best, Tracey. I truly, absolutely mean that from the bottom of my heart.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow Tracey you inspire me so much and give me the strength too fight. I love your blogs.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks so much for your blog. Your statement today:

    I am always moderately dissatisfied with one thing or another. I think I am simply hardwired that way. No drugs, no food, no sex, no love can cure this feeling. It is what it is.

    Allowed me to feel better as I have been suffering from that feeling lately and needed to know others do also.
    Thanks
    Bendon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is one of my favorite lines as well. Thanks for reading

      Delete
  8. Do you ever feel immense pressure stemming from the public nature of your recovery?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When the movie came out, I was fucking irritated by all the attention. I was out of the public eye for 5-7 years and it gave me a chance to recharge my batteries. My recovery is solid though. I ran that car until the wheels fell off. There isn't anything left there

      Delete
  9. Wow.... amazing.... thanks for leaving the door open so someone like me could come in and find a new way to live....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We all need someone to believe in us and someone to believe in

      Delete
  10. From being THIS close to the junkie's lament, as described by Warren Zevon in "Carmelita," to being the heartfelt, brutally honest angel that you are today gives me goose bumps about the enormous power that a human can exert to get, and stay, clean! You're just such an amazing girl. Thank you for sharing that struggle with us all, Tracey.

    ReplyDelete
  11. When I saw the film I knew that you were the smartest and the strongest. Seventeen years is awesome. I fucking hate the TL and that entire lifestyle. I will be three years free from OC on March 31. I would rather die than ever go back to that hell.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for this.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow! so many emotions in this mix. you couldn't have told your story any better... if this inspires just one person.... a true message of hope. thank you for sharing and please please continue!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wonderful! I always love what you write and now I read your blogs to the girls I live with in sober living. Congrats on 17 years. I just got 1 year clean on Feb.13th...Becca

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've often wondered how you felt detoxifying in jail? Also is there are a part 2 to the story where you lay down next to the man with the sunburn and the running make-up, calling out "mummy"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Detoxing in jail is horrible, borderline inhumane.

      I could write a part 2 to that story. That person was a very colorful character

      Delete
    2. I have heard that today jails (at least in the Bay Area) are more sympathetic to inmates going through detox. I imagine back then they didn't give a damn.

      Delete
  16. I love reading your stories. The very raw, intense, portrait that you paint keeps me wanting to read more and more. I can relate, as I am a recovering herion addict as well. I love how you write so unapologetically. You are truthful In a way that most people I have come across who tell their story are not. They tend to leave the most disturbing details of their addiction out, as you do not. I need that. I need brutal honesty. It's the only thing that keeps my attention. I would love to get a copy of your first book. What is the name of it so I may try and get me a copy of it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sell the pdfs for $10-25 sliding scale

      Delete
  17. You are absolutely beautiful. Your most recent picture is so vibrant compared to the past, and you are a talented writer; You write with honesty and it is so intriguing. I am so proud of you. I am studying to be a public health nurse and I hope to be a support for people that are going through similar experiences to what you did... I have not experienced the life of an addict, but thank you so much for sharing your story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading. I work at a hospital. We need more individuals who seek to educate themselves in addiction :)

      Delete
  18. Love your stories and can't wait to see what you write next

    ReplyDelete