Saturday, October 31, 2015

Poem by Martha Frankel


You want to cloak yourself in your fury, but its too sharp
Like wind on the beach against a bad sunburn
So instead your first layer is the toddler he was,
Grape jelly smeared across his smiling face
Blonde hair sticky and damp
His grandma laughing beside him

You scream his name
And remember him as A Mutant Turtle, A Pirate, Batman
A sword always at the ready
You hold onto that, breathing in the smell of him
The sharpness, before that other smell, that smell of decay, of deceit
That sword, how you wish he could've used it

You’re still seething but next you add on the boy he was on the field
All sinew and charm and goofiness
You’ve forgotten that he was once goofy!
Before the lying, before the stealing, before his mother grabbed him from behind and wouldn’t let go, screaming into the night
Before the lying
Before the stealing
That boy, in his dirt-stained uniform
You wrap yourself in that

You add a layer of grace, for the times it seemed like he would find it
Might find it, please, let him find it, let him know 
A minute of peace in the center of his swirling madness 
The days he dropped the lies and the attitude and admitted
He was scared
You wrap yourself in that

And then it is time to walk out the door
But you know there is something else, and you run back to find it
Your wife calls from the door— “Hurry, we’ll be late!”
You don’t even know what it is you root for in the drawer
Past the tie clips and the golf T’s and buttons and paper clips
Past the coins that say II and VI and X, not even the heaviest, XXVI
Not those, but the cheap white plastic one that says 1 Day
You put that in your left breast pocket, like the sword it is
And go to bury your son

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Overdose

"Do you know where you are?"
 I hear a disembodied voice. Are they talking to me. I feel a sting on my face, some heat. My legs feel heavy. They are numb. I feel a heaviness, like I am trapped inside my body. I am dreaming. Dreaming about football, on a tiny screen. Like that hand held game I used to play as a kid. I see the green on the field. Is this an I formation? My vision is off, like I am heading up a tunnel. I see football at the bottom. 
As I scan the room, I feel a sting again. 
"Tracey...Tracey wake up..."
I grab my face to stop the pain. Then, I feel the weight of someone on top of me. I feel my shoulders being shaken. That slap again. Then a face. I see a familiar face. 

"Why are you slapping me?!" I ask, grabbing my cheek indignantly. I feel the pressure against my legs again. That pressure is coming from the floor, my friend is over me. His legs have pinned my legs to the floor. Why am I on the floor? I see the glass above my face. I reach up to touch it. It has a smooth, round end. Wait...this is a table. Why am I under a table? 

"Why am I under a table?" I ask this person I now recognize as my friend. I see his eyes are watery. His cheeks are red, he is out of breath. He looks as if he ran up a flight of stairs. He pushes up his glasses as he grabs a cigarette with shaky hands. 

"You ODed bitch," he tells me in his loving way. He pushes his hair out of his face as he lights up his Newports. 

I shake my head as if to say no. 

"You fucking died bitch, believe that" he scolds me as he grabs my hand to help me up. 

I plop myself on the couch. "No fucking way," I tell him. I don't believe him. The last thing I remember was him pulling the needle out of my arm. I was NODDING, he is being dramatic. 

Suddenly, I feel a pain in my chest. I feel this pain. I feels like someone punched me, kicked me. I rub between my boobs,

He takes another drag of his cigarette, points at me, and tells me "Exactly!! I was doing CPR for 20 minutes. Don't try to tell me, I was here." 

I feel the drugs hit me again. A heaviness fills my limbs. I push myself back into the couch. Overdose? This was only the second time I ever tried heroin. I couldn't have overdosed. There is supposed to be a white light, not football. I want to argue but I feel the calming sea of warm water pulling me down again. I curl up to enjoy the moment, drowning from my own ignorance. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Red Ribbon Week Reflections

It is red ribbon week at my kids' school, a time when I always feel generally uncomfortable with both the past and the future. For those who are unfamiliar, Red Ribbon week is when the schools try to find catchy ways to get school children to pledge to stay off drugs. I cringe when my children come home with red ribbons or discuss how they are doing "crazy hair" for red ribbon week. Is this really the best way to keep my kids off drugs?

When I was my daughter's age, I had already smoked pot. This was at seven and eight years old. I had already seen my father falling down drunk numerous times. I had seen older people in my life under the influence of drugs. I am from the beginning of the DARE generation where we were told drugs were bad. No one ever explained to us WHY or what drugs actually did to young bodies. We were also told sex was something married people do and HIV is God's righteous wrath for being a sinner. Except, I already had seen people on drugs, people having sex outside of marriage, knew people that were Gay that were nicer than the uptight judgemental folk feeding me this information. By the time I got to be sixteen years old, I felt adults were liars and hypocrites. It isn't what you SAY to children, it is what we SAW that made an impact on us.

During Red Ribbon week, I wonder if they will ever call on me to tell the children what it was like to be a junkie. That is what they need to hear. They need to hear some raw stuff. Some of the best emails I have ever received were from grown adults who told me they were on the fence about drugs when they saw "Black Tar Heroin". The film pushed them into the "nope" zone. That makes me feel as if allowing people to see me at the lowest point of my life was worthwhile.

I pray to all the Gods that my kids stay off drugs. I do my best to make that a reality. I sit at their soccer games. I cuddle them. I answer all their questions. I want them to love themselves so much more than I did back then. This is my greatest hope.

What was your experience with drugs? Did you see people using them? What brought you to the place where you gave yourself the permission to use?

I see you all as my extended family. I hope you love yourself a little more than you did yesterday. I hope you learn to love those drugs a little less. Those drugs are lying to you. They demand everything. They provide diminishing returns and will eventually leave you for dead.

XOXO Tracey

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pedicure and Cats

In this picture are two of my favorite things- my fresh pedicure and my cat.

I was reflecting today on how much my life has changed. I was sitting in the spa chair at the nail place. As I was getting my legs rubbed with salt scrub, I was thinking "This feels better than heroin." Maybe, that is an exaggeration but at that moment, having a leg massage certainly felt better than heroin. Plus, here it is hours later. I'm not scheming on how I'm going to get another one in a few hours.

Let's be honest, my legs are fucked. You can't inject heroin into your legs 6-8 times a day for years and come out of that unscathed. In addition to that, street level Black Tar Heroin id full of garbage. When I first started going to 12 step meetings through the rehab, my stomach used to get super upset. It took me about a month to figure out why. It was that cheap coffee smell. It was the same smell of cooking up heroin filled to the brim with instant coffee. "The best part of waking up, is chivah in your spoon..." I suppose that should have been my commercial. Finally, my legs are fucked because coffee and bacteria lead to abscesses. The sanitary conditions of shooting drugs outside is dubious at best. Combine that with enough bacteria to blow up a petri dish. My poor legs- thanks universe for allowing me to walk today.

Finally, my cat. My cat is 13 years old. I didn't know how to love when I first stopped using drugs. Hell- I didn't even cry for the first nine months after I quit heroin. People ask me- after I quit opioids, how long will it take me to feel better. "Better" is relative. You will be able to have your first seriously satisfying poop and orgasm pretty quickly. That is feeling better, right? Emotionally, it is hard to say. For while, you may actually feel nothing. You may get depressed. You may want to break someone's face. You may feel overwhelmed. I don't have a a great answer for you. All I can promise is that your life will change, most of it will be positive. Eventually, you will feel- something.

Back to my cat, after being traumatized, used and abused for many years, I had issues with feeling. Enter Smokey the cat. The month I moved out of sober living, I got Smokey. He has taught me how to love, taught me kindness. He taught me empathy. Smokey had a tumor. He needed surgery. He has loved me. I was able to get the surgery for him. If I was on drugs, I wouldn't have been able to take care of him. I would have wanted to, I just would not have been able to manage. Smokey had a surgery that wasn't completely successful. He is happy and comfortable. I will make sure he stays that way for the rest of however much time he has left. I get to do this. I am honored to help him.

This post is to say I only had to give up one thing to get everything. Massages, cute toes, cats, love, self respect. It seems like I made the right choice.

I love you friends. XOXO Tracey

Monday, October 12, 2015

The tail that wags the dog

Heroin had me searching all over for things I would never find.
The truth was right in front of me.
Like the blood that poured over my skin when I pulled out the needle,
I just missed that point.
I loved drugs. Loved them. Did I mention I fucking LOVED them?
Heroin, amphetamines, MDMA, LSD, benzos, cocaine.
My love for all of you made me insane.
I'd be searching the Tenderloin with no shoes on.
Walking barefoot over broken crack pipes
I thought Jesus called my name.
I'd see Satan at the Civic Center smoking rocks,
Charlie Manson was at the corner.
He was a guerrilla pimp on a bicycle.
The chicks were sucking dicks in vans
Strange men found then on their lunch hours.
What was my life?
Just hand to mouth to bag to vein to pleasure then pain.
Until I did it again. And again. And again.
You were everything I loved and hated.
That syrupy substance that promised me release.
I cast all my burdens upon the poppy.
The promise of relief was too powerful.
I didn't need food.
I didn't need hugs.
I didn't need love.
I didn't need you...just for that moment.

I wiped the pinned from my eyes one morning.
I could finally see again.
My dog wanted to walk.
My cat wanted a scratch.
My snatch had an itch for some company.
My bank account had a positive balance.
My family let me come around.
I was free.
Heroin will never completely let me go.
She waits for me.
That one last passionate embrace.
That last goodbye, the last shot I never gave her.
She wants me back.
17 years later...that bitch still calls me from time to time.
I don't answer.
Not because I don't love her.
But because that love I have consumes everything.
Because that love that saved me once almost killed me twice.
I have to be satisfied letting it go.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Broken Toys

"Do you always play with those broken toys?" he asked me.
I nervously took a drink of my chocolate Quik. The breakfast of champions- a cinnamon roll, a Nestle Quik, and a fat shot. I had two of those three things this morning.
"what do you mean?" I asked.
He pivoted towards me for effect.
"Those men you play around with girl" he spun around in his chair "you better be using condoms."

I laughed to myself. Condoms? When was the last time I had a period. Six months? Eight months? I lost count. It isn't like I am having sex anyway. Sex to me is having someone lightly scratch my back. Sex to me is coming back to my room and having him say "look babe, I saved this for you." That hasn't happened.

In a world full of seven billion people, I gravitate towards a few people who are absolutely no good for me. The fact that I am a drug addict in the present tense doesn't make life any easier. Relationships between users seem to fall into a few general categories.

 The first would be the whipping boy. This man is nice. He is extremely nice- TOO nice. He puts up with my lies, my deceptions without question. I find it impossible to be attracted to anyone who cannot see that I can't be changed. I am the scorpion. He is my frog. As much as I would like to be in a relationship with a fully realized human being, I am turned off in a way that can't be ignored.

The second category is THUG LIFE. Bring me everything I need. We are in this together. My broken nose or black eye reveals the truth. He always has a plan- a blueprint. The great come up that will never happen. If stay together, I won't live long enough to see it.

Finally, there are my broken toys. The junkie boys that turn my world on end. From broken homes, one step away from the grave. I fall in love with the ones who ran away. The ones who are too afraid to stay. The ones who know too much about me. We share our stories of use and abuse, cuddled up together while we watch the world burn. A fleeting light, a brief shine in my world of darkness before they fade away.

What is love between two users? Is it an illusion or mutual usury? Perhaps, it is the realest thing that ever existed. Who could ever understand more than a person who has been there? Pass me the sour patch kids...

To be continued

Friday, October 2, 2015