Monday, December 26, 2016

The Sweetest Thing

Finding a vein the first time.
Isn't that the sweetest thing?

I don't want to look at your face because I know what you are thinking. You are thinking you are so much better than me. Better as in well. Better as in you have the strength to resist all of life's more primal urges. You want me to understand that you excel in the art of "NO". You can hold back when my whole life revolves around GO. My heart is just a frozen sacrifice. I threw it in the dumpster next to the blood wipes. I passed by the smell of rotten air. I knew I belonged to this. I belong in this place, altered and alone. My confusion is only temporary. My focus is clear. Everything I need in life exists in little bags spit out by fragile men on street corners or hidden underneath the nut sack of some man I would never want to ask me for a favor.

Life is funny that way. It has the sickest sense of humor. As sick as me on a cold morning waiting for my man. Not a lover. The only really man in my life. The dopeman lies to me yet I say thank you every time. I am grateful to see the person I hate the most. I swallow all those curses I was about to deliver to him for being late. I walk hurriedly to my next destination, leaving behind the crumbs of my self esteem.

Where did I get that money? Does it really matter? Does it really matter that I lied to my job, lied to myself. Told my mother about some trip I needed to take. Told my trick I would see them soon, Told my friend I would pay them back next week. Told myself I would never do this again- until I did.

Finding a vein the first time.
Isn't that the sweetest thing.
It's the best thing that will happen today.
I will have to be okay with that.

     Recording the audiobook 

What is the sweetest thing about NOT being strung out? I woke up this morning sandwiched between two sheets next to my dog without worrying about if I was going to have to suck a dick today to get my next fix. Yes- I think that is pretty much it.
 There certainly are other things that are good. I enjoy having hot meals without being in county jail to receive them. I enjoy having a whole entire day without crippling stomach cramps. I enjoy having a day (relatively) free of lies such as "I'll be right there" "I'll be right back" and the popular "I'll be there in fifteen minutes". I enjoy having tits. I never have them when I am strung out. They are the first thing to go, after my self esteem, of course. I like having the ability to look down at my arms and legs for other reasons besides finding that one last spot that *might* work if I try to inject there. I enjoy spending time with my cats (probably too much 😉) and they seem at least moderately enthusiastic about spending time with me.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Semantics of Happiness

This is a work in progress.

You are drug free- you are supposed to be happy- right?!” The man seems to get more angry the more he talks. He is a well dressed man in his mid-forties. I can tell right away that if he gave me a hug, I would pull away with the slight scent of some hair care product or perhaps some kind of fancy deodorant, anything to signify an upgrade from his prior circumstances. His well manicured fade and crisp flannel drew my eyes to him right away. Underneath his collar, I see the poorly chosen tattoos peeking out from a strategic location on his neck. He is a mixture of post addiction swagger and relatable social acceptability. It isn’t how he looks though that catches my attention. It is what he says, vocalizing all my doubts outloud.  His words are like a chorus of angels singing in my ears. Finally, someone is saying all the things I have been thinking all this time.
“Well I am not fucking happy…” he takes a pause to take a sip of his coffee. I can tell he is getting heated with the release of all this pent up negative energy. “I am not happy at all. I have all these  clean months and I am not fucking happy. Sometimes, I feel like I was lied to.” I can feel people shift in their seats with the uncomfortable realization that what he is saying might be true. There is a common sort of brainwashing in these rooms. We all trade our doubts for the suspension of disbelief. It is as if the group leader is some sort of magician here to infuse us with hope against the daily evidence that all is not perfect in this protective bubble. This man is penetrating into my deepest thoughts. He is confirming my belief that maybe this has all been a sham.
He continues “but I am grateful now- grateful not to be living that life anymore”. He lost me right there. Everyone claps as dictated by a combination of group think and common courtesy. Negative “shares” get their obligatory meeting of the hands in slightly less enthusiastic manner. Gratitude is rewarded. Discontent is generally frowned up. Or at least this is how I feel in the moment.
“My name is Tracey and I am a recovering person”, I say to the jury of my peers. “This is the first meeting I have been to this year (November)...” I pause “I have been traveling a lot because of my work with advocacy.” The rest is just meaningless filler. I can’t really tell what is going on with me here. I can’t tell them about how I fix my feelings with pita chips. I can’t tell them how I lay out my traps my social media on a daily basis, hoping I can reel in some attention from admiring strangers. I can’t tell them how I am dealing with cellulite, varicose veins, and the subtle droop of my face that comes when you managed to make it past 30, a feat I never desired until I reached 29 years old. I spent way too many years listening to the Velvet Underground talking about “I am tired. I am weary.” They didn’t know what tired is- tired is chasing three kids. Tired is going to work every god damned day. Tired is learning how to pay bills on time, to wash dishes, and learn to communicate my emotions in terms that don’t start with “fuck this”. A user just FEELS tired. I am tired.
I can already feel the crush of judgement. I have broken from the standard protocol of “addict” or “alcoholic”. The chorus of disapproval will come later. I have seen this in meetings before. One person with a negative experience with recovery brings forward the white knights that feel compelled to defend it. It isn’t long before a stern looking man in an oversized sweatshirt and crisp tan pants decides to go on a tirade about how he needs to go to a meeting every single week with great emphasis since he relapsed six years ago after surgery. There is supposed to be no cross talk in the meeting yet I know he is speaking directly to me. As if a person with eighteen years clean knows nothing, I tell myself. In addition, as a woman, I feel an additional sting. Why is it he feels the need to mansplain recovery to me? I have taken pain medicine four different times. One time was a miscarriage and three times I had c-sections where I was prescribed opioids. Yet, I did not relapse. The casual dismissal of the experience of others make me shift in my seat. Instead of welcoming the prodigal child who returned to the rooms of recovery after wandering aimlessly in a desert of self loathing, I am chastised for not being a perfect member. Fuck that. Now I understand why people drink coffee in the meetings- to choke down their bitterness.
I suddenly laugh to myself. Why have I allowed this person to get so deep underneath my skin? I shake my head in silent recognition while I struggle to keep from looking at my phone. I feel the magnetic pull of the smartphone forcing me to glance. Look at me, it calls. Like the sirens singing, it attempts to pull me towards the rocks. Being a woman over forty makes me essentially invisible to everyone with the exception of feral cats, of which I have rescued two in the past year. My fuckable years long gone, my posts fall into a few categories. They are 1. Food I will never make 2. Can you believe what an asshole this person is by doing ____ 3. Look at how much weight I have lost despite the fact it is the same ten pounds every six months or so 4. Political outrage 5. Me holding a cat or a book or anything that will make you notice me. Maybe not me, the person I really am, but the well curated me I want you to see.
What if I did a social media site of just pictures of the reality of my daily life. Here I am cleaning up the mess the dog made at 12:37 am when she shit on the floor on the rug because I was two minutes too late ie trying to find glasses. Check this pic out. This is me dealing with the natural type crisp rice cereal that is stuck to the side of the sink like glue. Here I am again trying to select a few types of undershirts that adequately cover my muffin top ie the roll of fat left over from carrying these semi ungrateful children. Here I am again. Don’t I look cute bending over to wipe the butt of a five year old who still hasn’t mastered the difference between a fart of having to poop. I must look sex-y with my legs that haven’t been shaven in a month. There is a reason I have leggings on 27 days of the month. The other days I am dealing with a rash. I could also capture my one eyebrow that is over plucked, my nails that are splintering. Maybe I can even give my followers a glimpse into my life of semi lactose intolerance. Here I am regretting that fat free greek yogurt I had for lunch! See me doubled over with abdominal cramps!
I have zoned out for far too long. The meeting is almost over. The goal here was to, perhaps, meet my future BFF. Instead, another social opportunity goes down in flames. The years I spent trying to raise children from the screaming “wiggly worm with no neck stage” to just beyond “I’m a toddler so I will throw myself on the ground” has left me high and dry in the support squad area. My first wave of friends died while I was in active addiction. Some died of overdoses. Some died of AIDS or other medical conditions directly tied to injection drug use. A few of my friends were murdered. A few more committed suicide. I stayed clean long enjoy to see people start to die of natural causes. I have seen them get clean, find the perfect partner, have kids, and move far far away. A few have been reduced to slightly batshit messages and reposts about the illuminati. I guess that was bound to happen in any social circle that involved large amounts of chemicals that are known to kill brain cells. I need to find a way to find new friends.
Friends? What are those? Ok, it isn’t as if I have NO friends at all. I just have no accessible ones. Having a permanent resting bitch face doesn’t help my cause, either. There have been many times where I was quite sure I was moderately friendly only to be asked later “um, such and such thinks that you hate them. Is that true?” Hate them, I barely even talked to them! I think to myself. Oh wait, maybe that is the problem. I want the instant gratification friends. I want them just to magically appear. I want them to be available when I need them with minimal effort on my part. In fact, I want to acquire them without leaving the house if humanly possible. I quickly learned it isn’t.
Over the years, my meeting attendance has dwindled to a trickle. Not because I believe 12 step has no merit. I believe it does. Mostly I haven’t attended because of a combination of luxury problems mixed with general dissatisfaction with the way some new people seeking recovery are treated. Instead of changing this system, I have simply withdrawn from it over time. You are a member when you say you are, it says in the readings. I am still a member in my mind. Yet, I have left the hen house with some random foxes. I have left the fold, pocketed my all my knowledge, took what I needed, it the escape button. Maybe I am a recovery thief. Maybe I have preserved my precious reserves by exiting this system. Yet, it is calling me back.
In some ways, those chairs are the first place I was welcome after years spent out in active addiction. I attended my first 12 step meeting when I was 17 years old. A friend of mine had recently been released from a 28 day rehab program for young people. She asked another friend and I would “support” her ie attend the meeting with her. I remember being intrigued by the subject matter yet I in no way identified with the people in the room. I was, in fact, just getting started. There were warm beers in the trunk of her car waiting for me when the meeting was over. When we were done holding hands, I was truly ready to go.
The next meeting I attended was mandated by the court. I had recently been released from jail. My probation officer decided I should attend a weekly meeting called “Facts on Crack” at a local church run program. The idea of attending was ridiculous to me. I was NOT a crack user, I was a heroin and speed user. These are totally different things. What could these people possible say that could help me, I asked myself as I wrapped the tourniquet around my arm. I mean, I certainly wasn’t going to go to this group without a little shot, right?! It would make all these crackheads a little more tolerable.
As I finished up my dime, I forgot all about the fact that this six months in jail had essentially saved me from myself. When I was arrested, I was sent straight to the hospital. I had not one, not, two, not three, but FOUR abscesses. I liked my fuck ups to be epic. These certainly met that criteria. When I could stick my finger in between the bone section on my leg, it still was not enough to motivate me into getting any type of medical attention. I simply didn’t have the time. Living on the street made me incapable of seeing anything beyond that next bag. The only thing I need, I told myself, was a constant supply of dope. Then, I would be entirely fine. As I started climbing the hill to the mandated group, I had that same exact feeling. No one could tell me shit, as they say. I was still young and encumbered by the blindness of my youth. As I walked towards the doorway, a steady sense of nausea creeped up into my throat. The dope was still working for me since I was so newly returned to the game. It wouldn’t take long before that feeling was gone, replaced by “getting well” as the standard.
The room was situated with chairs in a circle. The vast majority of the seats were filled with older black men, many of which clearly had seen some better days. I locked eyes with one of the only women in the room as if to let her know we were in this boys club together. The man sitting next to her was a wiry white dude with some faded devil horns peeking out underneath his newly grown hair. He had that unmistakable look of someone who had just spent the last decade or so in the joint before his parole agent suggested he come here as a last ditch effort to keep him on the outside. I hated being lumped in with crazy but I suppose he and I stand out as the lightest people in the room.
As everyone starts to sip on their watered down coffee with ten sugars at minimum, a pattern emerges among the participants. There is a one upmanship here, a way of telling a story where one person wants to be better than the last. It seems as if everyone “used to be” something. A loving mother is now separated from her children. A former baseball player full of promise is now collecting cans to get his next hit. The bus driver has been reduced to three months off on disability as he grasps at one last opportunity to get his life back. And here I am the junkie, formerly of West Chester Ohio. I was born and bred to “be something”. I was told I was a special snowflake until one day that snow got grimey. Here I was 26 years old, attempting to listen intently while I continuously nod off the end of your chair.
“What brings you here young lady”, the man asks me. He is an African American man in his mid forties. Well dressed but not overly showy with one simple gold chain, a sports jersey, and freshly pressed jeans. He has that New York casual look. He is slightly wall eyed, with his eye slowly drifting to the side. I would learn later that was from someone nearly knocking it out.
I push myself up in my seat “probation” I say. “Probation sent me here”.
He smiled with the kind of smile a person gives you when they see completely through you. “Hmm,” he said, slightly turning towards me to provide some back up to his words “And you don’t see ANY relationship between what they are saying and why you are dipping in that chair?”
This was a rhetorical question. He didn’t expect me to answer. He expected me to listen. To find out why I needed to come here. But truthfully- they couldn’t tell me anything I did not already know. I knew I was strung out. My body made this perfectly clear every six hours or so. It made it clear when I couldn’t poop when I needed to, have anything close to an orgasm unless I was in withdrawal, when I couldn’t cry unless the dope man didn’t answer my calls. I was hooked alright. I just wasn’t ready to do anything about it. Not him, not the group, not any fucking story was going to change my mind in that moment. Catch me the next time I run out. For now, the only thing on my mind was a chocolate milk and my next hustle. It’s MY life. I’m supposed to be happy, right?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Please Consider "The Big Fix; Hope after Heroin" in your holiday shopping

There are recovering folk, treatment facilities, detoxes, and families struggling with addiction that would love a copy of my book. Here is the amazon link The book is also at Barnes and Noble, Indy bookstores, and I have a few author copies for sale.

All The Good Stuff

I received a special request to make a positive post. Ask and ye shall receive.

Let me start out by saying, this blog is my therapy. I let whatever comes to my mind go through the keys and out into the universe. In my ten years of active addiction, I experienced horrors beyond the average imagination. I am not being dramatic- just stating facts. I am not sure if the streets of San Francisco are unique in that the lengths of human depravity on display here are enough to provide a lifetime of nightmares. I suppose my experience of a user in active addiction could have been very different if I would have stayed in Ohio but it was headed down that trajectory. I am a person of extremes. I use hard, I love hard, I am loyal as fuck. When I get involved in something, I do it until the wheels fall off. I'm up in the projects buying crack, I am turning tricks if necessary, I am walking the city with one shoe on and one shoe off out of my mind on meth. That is the essence of my brand.

That being said, I embraced recovery in the same way. I jumped into it 100% with the determination that I was fucking DONE. Period. I don't believe in a bottom. I have seen it proven over and over there is much lower a person can go. The "bottom" was when I said fuck this shit. I can't, I won't do this anymore. I have never used illicit drugs or alcohol since then over this eighteen years. I stopped at 27, almost 28 years old. That is close to the age of most of you avid readers. It is a good age, an age when you have PLENTY of life left to live. You can rebuild your life, salvage some relationships. The time may be later or earlier for you. The reality is if you are using drugs, the vast MAJORITY of you will stop at some point if you don't die. That isn't my speculation, it is held out by facts. You probably won't bang or rail dope. Some of you may bang the bible, some of you will be 12 steppers, some of you will be smoking weed or drinking ie punk rock clean. The daily grind of an active user just isn't sustainable. Your body, your funds, your spirit will fail eventually. Trust me when I say there is no one who loved drugs more than me (until I didn't). I loved shooting up in public places. I loved licking the blood off my arm, I loved the grind of middle manning, shoving big wads of dope or money or both in condoms up my pussy in the cat and mouse of the life. I also hated no veins, no friends, no stability, being sick every 6 hours, and the way my life was 100% consumed by a few chemicals. I'm off that shit now. I am grateful.

I got off dope.
I went back to school. Got two degrees and a credential.
I own a home.
I have a career.
I have a healthy relationship.
I have three great kids.
I had a good relationship with my mom before she passed. RIP.
I am well respected.
I show up for my life today.
I am snuggling next to my cat. (I have three).
I am snuggling next to my dog.
I am under the warm covers.
I have love in my life.
I have my self respect.
I have you.

Maybe I deal with the ups and downs of depression but overall, my life is pretty damn good.

I love you readers. Thanks for being there for me.
This is the view from my house 

Dusty one of three cats 
My hometown 

Friday, December 2, 2016


There are echoes inside my head
Telling me I am alone 
There are ghosts from my past 
They follow me where ever I go
I have memories like spiderwebs 
They trap me every time 
I breath out my insecurities 
I try to still my spinning mind 
Though bruised, this life can't break me
Though angry, your words won't choke me
I will stay up, find a come up 
I will find a way to fucking shine. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Fuck the Holidays 2016 Edition

Every year since I got sober, I get to experience individuals on all sides telling me how grateful I should be during the holiday season. Let's get this out of the way, I AM grateful. I am grateful I am not walking in wet socks and a scratchy wool blanket to park my shopping cart outside the soup kitchen to get a plate of slightly overcooked holiday food. I am grateful I did not wait in line this week for 2-3 hours for a box of holiday food I would then walk down the street and sell for $10 to put in for a bag of dope. Not that I had a kitchen anyway, or wanted to eat, or had anyone to celebrate it with (see: heroin). I am grateful I am not getting my last $19 I spent all day panhandling ripped off by another dopefiend with red hair and slightly green teeth. Yes, I let my money walk on Thanksgiving. I couldn't go to the open air because I had ripped off the only Mexican dealer there willing to work on a holiday. That's right. Not only do dealers have families but I got burned. I spent the rest of that day walking around sick as fuck. Finally, I am grateful I am not going to sell every ounce of Christmas shit this year for dope after I PROMISED myself I was just going to keep this ONE thing because I DESERVED it yet it would go up my arm anyway. *SIGH*.

I have about ten years in the books of these types of Holidays. Crying in the rain holidays. Sleeping on the sidewalk holidays. Injecting meth in the soles of my feet to keep me from freezing outside holidays. Getting arrested for prostitution on Christmas Eve holidays. Those memories make me think about my brethren in the fraternal order of the burnt spoon out there struggling to cope. These days are hard for us. Whether you are kicking, or sober, or somewhere in between sometimes we are just not feeling it. These days pull up a lot of memories of guilt and shame. They remind of of promises we have broken. Friends we have lost. Places where we are no longer welcome. It can be overwhelming. With both my parents gone, I spent a lot of my time thinking about the cherry squares my mom used to make that I will never taste again. Kinda sucks. She LOVED this time of year. There was at least seven years I wasn't home at the holidays. Maybe that is a kind estimate. Now, I'm the mom making some new memories. Still, I can never forget.

I am not going to participate in some manufactured joy. I spent from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve raising money for harm reduction causes while the average person is felling generous. I am grateful that many of them think of us at all. This year, I am providing author copies of my book "The Big Fix" for anyone who makes a $20 donation or more to a syringe exchange. I am constantly surprised by the generosity of strangers. There are people out there that love addicts. You may not SEE it or even FEEL it. They are there. The Holiday season to me is about reflection. It is about compassion for self and for others. I love you readers. I am thinking positive thoughts for you. It is 100% to say FUCK THE HOLIDAYS. You don't need a day or a season to remind yourself that you are deserving of love. I can tell you that every god damned day.

I hope where ever you are, you are safe. I'm thinking of you. I'm pulling for you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Two Junkies at the Holidays

Gathering 'round the yule log, a massive erection caused by 16 hours without a fix, my boyfriend and I laid on the bed. We were reaching that magical place where the sickness made it nearly impossible to hustle, yet hustling was the only thing that could end the sickness.
"Can you call your mom?" he asked.
"Negative," I told him "She already sent me a card with some cash in it. Remember that $60?"
I had taken out $40 to fix before he got home that day. What he didn't know wouldn't hurt him.
I sneezed in rapid succession. I know deep down he wanted to fuck. I had been awhile since his dick had gotten anywhere near functional. The very last thing I wanted was someone hunching on me. The thought of anything pushing again my stomach was "...Fucking ridiculous"
"What babe?" I asked him. I was laying on the bed in a pair of his boxer shorts. My body was starting to ache from all the hits and misses from the bottom of my feet to the small veins in my tits.
"This is fucking ridiculous", he told me. He rolled over to face me. For a moment, I could see a reflection  hope of my in his eyes. Maybe we could kick this time. Maybe we could ride it out. Maybe we could get little jobs, get married like he promised. We could have a kid someday. We could be just like normal people...

"I'm going to go get a date", he told me.
He pushed himself off the bed. He pulled on his pants. He glanced at himself in the mirror above the sink. I saw him turn sideways, out of the corner of my eye. I was pretending that I wasn't happy about this. I hated the fact that I was- happy it was him and not me. He looked at himself in the mirror, getting his head in the game. We always lied to each other. No, we would say, I really didn't have to do anything with him. The truth was much more brutal. I didn't know what he did with the men. I never felt the need to push him. I just was glad it wasn't me this time. Merry Christmas. He was going to ho, ho, ho he joked.

As I laid back on the bed, I asked him if he wanted me to walk with him. I already knew the answer was "no". It would go faster if I wasn't there, he assured me. I knew this was also true. As I kissed him goodbye, I wondered how our lives had come to this place. Both his parents had been junkies. He had been raised to believe there was no other way. I knew something different, yet I was drowning here. I turned off the lights. I laid in the bed alone hot tears on the pillow. I wasn't sure if I was crying because I was sick or crying because I was detached enough to let him to let him go alone.

A view from an area I used to get high in back in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Sickness

I got off the train to throw up. It wasn't the glorious "I'm so high I need to throw up right now" thing from when I first started. This was a deep and painful vomit that felt as if it started at the back of my heels and traveled along an electrified spine until it hit the tops of my shoes. This was beyond food poisoning puke. This was a jumping off the methadone clinic at 60 mg puke. No amount of dope could fill that void. It was going to be a few days of sleepless nights and twitching legs until my receptors conceded to the fact that the magic raspberry syrup would never touch my receptive lips again.

I'm not sure why I let him convince me to stop going to the clinic. Maybe that had been the crack talking to me, telling me I really didn't need to go. I knew my life would never be the same when he convinced me it was a good idea to spend the $50 he had received from his grandparents on those magical white rocks. I was sitting in one of their slip covered recliners as my boyfriend fed them lies they digested along with Christmas cookies. His words were just sweet enough that it made them go down smoothly, despite the evidence that made it clear to anyone who knew what to look for that he was hooked on every drug under the sun. I felt dirty inside, disgusted at myself as I sipped on my egg nog. My own family would be lucky if they got a phone call from me. I was just too strung out to patch together excuses. The overwhelming sense of shame hit at times like this. However, that wasn't going to stop the j-train from pushing me forward. 

 As I laid back against the bed in a puff of smoke, I realized my problems had gone from one of a junkie to one of a chemical garbage can. A klonopin here, a phenergan there, some booze, some coke, MDMA, take this pill, suck this up with a cotton and push it through the darkness of my barely beating heart. I think every junkie knows at least 5 times a day it *might* be a good idea to stop. The whoosh of every fluid exiting your body at the same time clues you in. Snot, liquid stool, cum, and tears all say FUCK THIS and and want to get out if you are not feeding that beast that lies in a section of a receptor in a portion of your brain that cries out for MORE DOPE PLEASE. There is nothing like the simple recognition that the functions of your body are now controlled by the overwhelming need to ingest a few molecules of relief from the burden of self. I was fortunate in that there were no mirrors in here I could use to pick my face while I muttered horrible curses at myself and my condition.

As the blood starts rushing to my head, I wonder about the sickness. Not the physical, one but the mental one. The sickness that tells me this is my life. The sickness that tells me nothing will ever change. The sickness that tells me that I am going to die this way.

My life is meaningless.
My ship is rudderless.
I am dead from the neck down.
Waiting for each day to end.
Sucking down a labored sigh.
Screams that make no sound.

Friday, October 28, 2016

From my neck down

I am dead from my neck down. My body has experienced so much trauma. My heart is broken. My feet are aching. My greatest fear is not that I will die, that I will have to live the rest of my life like this. 

Trapped in an endless darkness, I am a shadow of myself. I have taken love for granted. Given all my affections to the highs that brought me so low again. Alone. Wondering what new miseries the day will bring. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Lightswitch

"if you have been dead a couple times and you KNOW it is nothing more than a light switch, no romance , no judge of character or morality, its just like going to sleep, and there is nothing to fear about it, how are you ever supposed to hit "rock bottom" and turn this thing around?"

The first time I ever used heroin was the first time I ever saw someone overdose. Well, I had not even used mine yet. The two experienced junkies took turn hitting us suburban pupils up with the same barbed rig. Within seconds, I saw my friends eyes roll back in his head. Before anyone could scream in fear, I saw him grip the table with so much force I was told it was called the death grip. That split second when his body clung to his diminishing life force in such a way it made an impression on me for the rest of my life. The body, it seems, does not want to die despite the ill advised efforts of the host within.

In the life cycle of the junkie, there is a period at which your body is your worst enemy. Every minute of every day is a struggle to stem the tide of misery. The goal is a dreamlike state balanced somewhere between I don't give a fuck and at this moment the world is perfect. Except it isn't. The house is burning.

The real enemy of life is the mind inside the struggling body. The mind that is never satisfied, constantly reaching for the next thing that might allow for fleeting happiness. That mind churns and spins with  a riptide pulling the body under on a daily basis. Heroin is the beautiful siren, calling at the rocks until the user navigates the body back into a familiar spot until it crashes again. 

As you lay on your bed curled in a shape constructed by fear, feel the heart beating inside your chest willing you to continue. As your mind seeks answers to the same tired questions, the body silently goes about the business of living. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Loving an Addict

I was having a conversation recently with a friend about my minor obsession with the well being of a friend. She casually stated "the only thing worse than being an addict, is loving one." These words kind of fucked me up for a few moments. I'm a writer. I consider myself able to turn a good phrase. Yet, I had no witty rebuttal. These words stung for days. 

For the first time in my life, I was experiencing what others must have experienced when I was on drugs. I have made friends with addicts before, hundreds of them over the years. Between my own drug use and working at harm reduction facilities, I have been in the consistent company of drug users for close to thirty years. To a certain extent, I always was able to put up a decent sized wedge of self preservation between myself and the other person. I always knew in the back of my mind that at any moment, the "other shoe" of overdose, murder, or other type of brutal end could happen to my people. I am a jaded realist, I thought. Keeping my emotional distance the way I kept it after my father relapsed for the first time. That event sealed my belief that a piece of my heart needed to be set aside for the inevitable downside that comes with a life dealing with driven by chemicals. 

I was blindsided recently by a friendship that developed over a common love of writing. I caught myself laying awake at night wondering if this person was alright. Silly, I told myself. Not worth stressing over I would say outloud. Yet it happened to me. I was the person who loved at addict. I was the person wondering if every missed text meant they were somewhere shooting up in between their fingers. I was the person checking social media to see if they were still there. It isn't to say I haven't loved other people who have been hooked on drugs. I have just never experienced the other side of it. That complete helplessness of knowing someone is bound to make poor choices and there is not a single fucking thing you can do at that moment. That loss of control over any aspect of the relationship is both scary and crippling. I couldn't help it though. That was what I felt, how I felt. They became my friend. So I cared/care despite the pain. It turned a mirror to myself. 

I don't know if this person and I can or will remain friends because that is just how life goes. But I do know I grew as a person. I know I have a deeper appreciation for my work in harm reduction. I know I can't be afraid to pass up the small moments in life anymore. 

I love you xoxo 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

For a friend

Everything about you is so perfect.
My heart aches knowing you. 
Like the bed is spinning 
After a night of heavy drinking 
I get sick to my stomach 
With just a few of your passing words. 
Painful to see you toss and turn, 
To grip the pillow with swollen fingers. 
Painful to see your empty smile. 

If you could only see what I see. 
Like the friend I have always wanted 
Like the person I know you to be 
Perfect in your imperfections. 
Like the person I know you to be. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Let me live

This is dedicated to all the fools who says that we should just "let them die". 

I loved shooting drugs.
I loved shooting drugs in public places. 
I didn't not give two fucks if I shot up in front of your kids. 
I would lick the blood to taste the last bit of dope. 
I would carry rigs in my pocket like my life depended on it. 
I've shot up with water from a puddle. 
I've walked all over the city with no shoes high on meth. 
I've turned a trick on soiled newspaper in the rain. 
I've cried over spilled dope. Never over my choices. 
Until I did. 
One day, I imagined something different for myself. 
People change.
I changed. 

Never, ever tell me there is no hope. 
I am living proof. 
I am a mother, an employee, and activist, a wife. 
People love me. 
I rescue cats.
I help others. 
Fuck your judgment. 
Let me live.  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Heavy Burden of Truth

I'm fat, family.
Not "pleasantly plump" or "curvy" or "thick". I am fat. And I did this to myself.

Long, long ago before there was a metric fuckton of meth or heroin or whatever other drugs pounding through my veins, there was a little girl sitting on the couch over indulging in food. I have some pictures under my bed that I pull out occasionally. I can see the change in between first and second grade. I went from a slim girl of six to a round girl of seven. The journey there was a complicated one. It only makes sense upon my reflection.

My father was a late in life alcoholic. By all accounts, he was a quiet man with a dry sense of humor. A good looking country boy from London Ky He was raised in poverty, born 7th of 9 children. His parents were a stern couple that dealt with a lifetime of tragedy. They were a practical sort. My grandfather refused to attend his high school graduation when my father insisted on completing rather than getting a job at Krogers.  They were the type to hold on to long standing resentments. My father joined the Navy to get away from a life that would have easily ended up in "the cemetery or the peneteniary", where is where many of his peers resided. He had hung around stick up men, pool sharks, and men with shady pasts that worked the carnivals. He wanted to see the world. On one of his ports of call, he was quickly ensnared by the raven haired beauty from New York City later known as my mother.

My father had seen first hand the destruction at the hand of alcohol. I remember him telling me stories of stabbings over card games and the death of his older brother. His parents were never drinkers but it seemed to permeate the rest of his life. In my adult years,  I never asked him why he began drinking to excess. I suppose it was for many of the reason I began sticking needles in my arm. First, it feels good. Then, it feels good not to feel anything. The major difference between us is that I didn't have a family depending on me to be present in their lives. As he slowly crawled inside the life of a semi functional alcoholic, through my childish lens I saw any chance of an idyllic family life disappear before my eyes. I suppose working constantly had forced him to hold it together for many years. It was ready to unravel.

By the time, I was seven, my father had developed fits of rage. These were directed at everyone,  except myself. I was the "baby", also possibly the "favorite". Maybe I was just too young in his eyes to be involved in his tirades. He would scream or yell or get violent. My life went from soccer games to living in a powderkeg. I was walking on my tip toes, hoping things would not explode. As things whirled around me,  I clearly remember my role in attempting to diffuse him, to appease him in any way possible so he would stop. After these events, my relief came in the form of Ruffles, Doritos, or Mountain Dew. I couldn't trust humans but I could trust the feeling I got when I ate an Oreo or two or a whole pack of Double Stuf. These are no longer excuses, these are just memories.

I created a life time of dysfunction with food. I have experienced both anorexia IE attempt of mastery over the feeling of starvation  and bulimia IE having your cake and throwing it up, too. Unhealthy diets, binges, and burying wrappers at the bottom of the trash can the way a junkie hides the evidence of their use. My dependency to anything that feels good is all encompassing. Heroin provided the ultimate escape until the solution became a much worse burden.

Now, I am 46 years old with ever present food issues. I put down the spoon and picked up the fork again. I am slowly chipping away at the darker parts of myself. Continuing on is no longer an option for me. Getting off drugs is really one step in changing your life. It isn't always the drugs causing distress. Many times, there is  some core belief blocking us from being from the happiness we deserve. People ask me what it is like to get off drugs for 18 years. The work never stops, it just shifts from one area to another. I am not unhappy, I am forever unsettled. I think addiction is the constant state of longing for something you have never known.

I hope you find the joy you deserve.
I hope you know that you are perfect in your imperfections.
I want you to know that someone loves you.
I hope you are safe.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Anonymous Friends

Addiction is a jealous pimp that doesn't allow much time for friends. There are using buddies. There are cordial dealers, if you are lucky. There may even be a few "running partners". Friends, however, are in short supply.

I was always a sensitive kid, prone to tears of frustration or anger. I can't claim to have made many friends until I got involved in the punk rock/hardcore scene in my teens. In the lyrics of the music, I found a community. We were all running from something, it seemed. Unfortunately, many of us ended up in the same exact place- the bottom of a bag of dope. Of the friends I had back then, I would estimate 1/3 are dead, 1/3 are off drugs, and 1/3 are struggling with either drugs or mental health issues are both.

When I got into that police car February of 1998, I didn't know what was in store for me besides a bunch of sickness. I did know that "clean" or "recovery" could not be any fucking worse than the daily grind of a drug user. In other words, my hustle was tired. This made me open to new ideas. There is no way I could have been more desperate at that moment. I, personally, believe my "rock bottom" had come years before. This was something entirely different. This was a willingness to try something different. I am very fortunate it worked out for me. I had made a decision that if it didn't work, I was going to go on methadone for the rest of my life. I was 100% okay with that alternative. I knew that would be the only plan B that would work. Life had something else in store for me. I'm grateful. Trust me.

Now, at 18 years off drugs, I get an ENORMOUS amount of grief about why I stay connected to active drug users and people in early recovery. Why do I do it? First, "they" are "me". They need someone to show that the outside world does indeed give a fuck about their health and well being. Secondly, why not? It is not like I am shaking hands in shooting galleries. People generally contact me through social media and we connect anonymously. It is a different kind of friendship, yes, but not inauthentic. Sometimes, the most real a person can get is with a total stranger.

So know that someone out there cares on the other side of this keyboard.
XOXO Tracey.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An endless thirst

I have an endless thirst that I can't quench. I have a craving for places and faces that I will never see again. I am softly whimpering in a tone rarely heard. I cry for something I can never have again. The smell of your skin against my cheek. I drink in all the suffering. I have an endless thirst that I can't quench. I have an irrational need to be with you again. 

Would you want me if you saw who I really am? If you stripped my past,  my flesh, my bones- would you choose the trembling human that lies within? Would I have to throw myself against your feet? Would you make me beg on my bruised hands and battered feet? Would you stay one minute more to provide me sweet relief. I need you now like I needed you then. 

FYI not all my stories are actually about me. Some are inspired by conversations I have with other people. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

A brief encounter

You told me everything about yourself. I told you nothing. I was afraid to tell you what was on my mind. How could anyone understand all the crazy thoughts that vibrate between my ears. I didn't want someone to judge me I retracted into my shell, a reflex that keeps me isolated. I heard your stories. I instantly felt that I loved you. Not in a way that would make sense  I wanted to tell you that I loved you but I wanted to seem like a "normal person". Love between junkies- Not in a way where two people walk off into a hurried sunset. It is a different kind of love, more real in some ways. There is a connection between users. There is a bond as thick as the syrup that ran through our veins. There is a lifetime between us, yet for a few moments we were in the same place.
I wanted to tell you that I loved you. It would have seemed so out of place. 

I wanted to tell you that I forgive you. Not "I" as in you harmed me. "I" as in the collective "I", the world around you "I".  I forgive you for all the disappointment you have caused so many people around you. Your life can be traced by scorched earth and broken promises. I saw you cough up self loathing, swallow it back down with bitter tears I want you to know that you are forgiven.  When you ran the streets like a wounded animal, I saw you out of the corner of my eye. I saw the times you left your children. They always wondered if you were coming home. 

Once, we were broken toys, played with by people who manipulated the last burning ember of youth. Now, emotions lie so far beneath the surface, entombed next to our regrets.

I am in Seattle tonight at 7 at the Recovery cafe

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Hole that Lives Inside of Me

Where did it start? When did I get the hole that lives inside of me. 

There is an empty space somewhere between my lungs and my heart. It sucks my breath away. It pumps my blood so fast, I can feel it streaming through my ears. I feel the tightness in my chest. It pulls me away from everything I love. Like a magnet, I feel it drawing me away from Hope. 

This hole is a vacuum, extracting every positive thing in my life. It takes away my words. I feel the syllables disappear in mid air "help me", simply becomes "me". A declaration of my independence is made out of my fear. I will be in a whole crowd full of people who care for me, yet I am standing alone. The black hole is the center of the universe. I am alone while life spins around me. 

I can plug the hole. I can fill it will drugs, or sex, or you. A bottomless pit that can never be filled. I place a band aid on my rotten sore. The ache never goes away. It pools up with tears when I am alone. A well of sorrow for all that chose to drink from it. 

Depression is the name people call the void. I simply know it as a constant companion. Depression is the conjoined twin that has control of my body. No matter what I call it, it is lying underneath the surface of my life. The hydra with a thousand heads. 

I am going to be at The Michigan Recovery walk on Belle Island this Saturday and Seattle on Sept 12 at the Recovery Cafe at 7pm. Both events are free- come see me

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Some Days I don't want to get out of Bed

This is the time of year when depression normal rolls in. Then, I get this face telling me to get up. 

When Your Life Fits in a Plastic Bag

The streets of San Francisco are particularly ripe right now. It hasn't rained in a month of more. No amount of sporadic power washing can peel away the layers of urine that permeate the air. The trees that line the busy sidewalks have brown gravel covering their roots. Brown from a hurried piss of thousands urban dogs moving quickly as their owners rush from one place to the next. The urban planners never imagined a density of a few hundred dogs per tree and only seven of those per block. The pit bulls and the yap yap dogs share the same space, only connecting through scent. 

The same could be true of the downtown area. There is an unmistakable odor, the smell of an unhealthy body known as a city. Everywhere you walk their are bodily fluids to remind you of the person who once was there. There is blood and bandages on the sidewalk. From the home bum who left a pool of blood when he cracked his head on the curb to the junkie that squirted his used rigs on the storefront, DNA evidence is abound here. There is feces going round and round on the belts of the escalator. There is fragrance of hot piss from building to staircase. Finally, there I catch a glimpse of the occasional used condom sticking solemnly to a tire. The soliders have made their last march. I suppose the most surprising part id that someone is actually using them. 

As I briskly move across the plane of biohazardous material, I spot a man in front of me. He has three items that divert my attention from Pokemon Go- A black backpack, a black gym bag, and a black grocery bag. It is clear that these three vessels contain all his worldly belongings. As I see him approach the stop sign, I feel the weight of his burdens on my own shoulders. Not knowing where I was going, holding on to whatever material goods made me feel connected to some sense of normalcy. There were no tampons, no socks, or underwear. Just a blanket in my backpack, a few changes of clothes in the gym bag (with syringes stuffed inside the pockets), a bottle of water,a tie, and an empty can in the grocery bags. Maybe I was carrying HIS stuff- you know him- Mr. Right now. He would tell me he would be right back. I would see him a day or two later when the dope ran out. I would feel like a fool for carrying his stuff until my feet blistered, walking all over to find him. Next time, I will be the one to disappear. It is part of the struggle when your life can all fit in a few bags and all your money goes up your arm. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Don't Leave People to Die

The title here might seem self- explanatory but I want to give more information. 

When I was 20 years old, I was visiting with friends in an apartment in downtown Cincinnati. My homeboy and I had been saving a few precious bags of dope to do when we were alone. Dope wasn't cheap, it wasn't easy to come by, and it was going to be a good night. While the friends went out to the state liquor store to get booze, we thought we would be sneaky and do our issue. The point of doing it then was 1. we didn't want to share 2. fuck you. Just kidding, sort of. Anyway, since we had to share the syringe (with no way of cleaning it), he decided I would go first since I was a lower health risk. I was a few steps away from a virgin and had barely done drugs so my blood was safer. This was how we made decisions since we might have one syringe between four people for months at a time. He had been turning tricks since he was 12?13? and had a long drug history so he was willing to share my blood. 

Once the process started, death wasn't what I expected. I was dreaming about football. The I formation, as if a game was in process. I felt someone smacking the shit out of me as I was coming up from the dream. 

"Why are you smacking me?" I asked.
Then I realized I was on the floor under a table. I had fallen off the futon, smacked a glass table, and went down for the count. So much for the peaceful exit people had described. I had heard of people waking up from ODs with their legs twisted under them to the point they damaged everything. They would walk with what we called "a gangster lean" or the "stroke shuffle". Some older junkies would blaze rocks, only to get mini crack induced strokes that made one side of their face sag and have them drag the opposite leg. They would keep on stepping though. 

My friend was crying. It was touching really. The last girl who had ODed on drugs he had seen was at a anonymous dope house. In some cities, there would be a shooting gallery or cheap apartment sealed off from the rest of the house where you could pay $5 to go in an use drugs off the street. People inside may or may not know each other. The general rule was no talking. Do your business and leave.  In unison, after a girl had fallen on the floor, the patrons started moving a coffee table then rolling her up in a rug. As she was being hauled off to a frozen dumpster, she started screaming "I'm alive!" Well, fuck it. Unroll the bitch then, he told me. I, at least, got slaps and tears. 

This was my first experience with overdose but certainly not the last. I am certain I saved five different people from overdose. One person had open sores around his mouth. He was HIV positive. I was to afraid to give him rescue breathing. So I called the paramedics from the corner and talked them through until they found him. He was drunk, did some dope, he didn't even remember what had gone on that day. I will always remember. I could have left him. I was just walking by, really. Chalked it up to the game. But I didn't. I know some people who would have gone through his pockets, called it a day. I am not that person. 

If you don't have naloxone, don't leave a person to die. Someone loves them liked someone loved me. If you don't know what to do, breathe in their mouth, put them in rescue position, and call 911. Slapping, ice, coke, all the shit they told us don't work. My friend breathed life into me in between slaps. It worked. The person needs oxygen. If nothing else, call 911 with the door open so the paramedics can get to them. Care. The next time, it could be you. 

My kids need me. I love them. I thank all the Gods every day I get to be in their lives. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Uneasy Truce With the Past

I am 46 years old, a fossil by junkie standards. The links I have to the past, they are in my memories. They are in the faces of people I see pass me by. That person *almost* looks like...but I know that person has passed on. In the nearly 30 years since I started dabbling with drugs, I have lost more people that I can remember. An army of dead lovers and friends marching across my dreams. 

Maybe I should forget the past, someone told me. Maybe I should only write about positive things, they said. That person died recently under mysterious circumstances. We all know what the social media post means when no one says why you are dead. It isn't a car crash or cancer or an act of God. Those deaths require details. When a user like us dies, we are simply left with questions. 

Why did they use again? They were certainly no worse than I was in my day. Why go back to sticking that spike in your vein when you have so much to lose? Why? Because that is what we do when we try to bury the past. The muscle memory takes over. The arms that reach for just one more. The legs that carry us that extra mile to the dealer. The ears that tune out everything except for the calls of heroin. 

It's a sweet song. Like the sirens driving us back into the rocks again? Can we survive the journey. He didn't, she didn't. Two dead friends in two months. People like me, in our 40s. Children left alone. The call of the siren was too strong to resist. 

People ask me why I still talk about dope. Because I am not immune to it. Because some times I crave it with every fiber of my miserable being despite knowing the consequences. Talking about it helps me resist just one more day, one more month, one more year, one moment at a time. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hitting the Road

I am going to be doing lots of traveling in the next six weeks. Come see me or let's do lunch. 

August 20-23 KCMO
Sept 10 Michigan Recovery Walk 
Sept 12- Seattle Recovery Cafe @7pm
Sept 19-20 Washington DC
Sept 26-28 New Brunswick NJ

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Cutting off Your Nose

"You are cutting your throat to spite your face," he told me in a muffled voice.

We had been sick most of the evening so I wasn't expecting much in terms of conversation. After a long day of shivering and treking around with a snotty nose, there wasn't much to say.  It was creeping up to two am. I knew this because I had seriously considered chugging a bottle of vodka to get the sick off. It was 1:30 before we had made the decision to go in on the smallest piece of dope we could afford without dipping into the money I owed to my regular connection. I had been in a typical junkie paradox. I had money, $497 to be exact, but no access until the morning. He had turned off his phone, god damn him. I assume all my money was paying for him to live a normal life somewhere. The Christmas presents for his kids were paid for with $20 bills covered in the tears and sweat of prostitutes sucking dirty dicks with our condoms just to get well. As a small time dealer, these were my customers.

"What the fuck are you saying," I asked. We had shared a twenty, which was more like a ten but it was going to have to work until dawn. I had taken a phenergan and a Klonopin to stave off the chills. It was barely working. In situations like this, my man enjoyed buying crack. I heartily disagreed. Crack was a funny drug. I remember saying many times "I don't smoke crack" as if it made me superior to everyone in this environment. Then slowly, as my boundaries lowered, it was "I don't smoke crack," but "do you have some?" Now, I had simply come to terms with the fact that I was smoking crack here and there. But not the way I felt now. Fuck to the no.

He rolled over to me. I could see by the moisture around his eyes he had been crying. I hope not crying over me, not again. He was probably crying from the sickness. Dope sickness did crazy things to a person. Nutting without ever touching your dick. Crying for the life you left behind. Most of all, it made you consider slitting your wrists. Or it did for me. I had never tried it but I had seen in more than once. I knew a person who literally cut their own throat from dope sickness after they had been refused pain meds in the ER. They cut it with a razor blade, just enough to get their attention. I was crazy but not THAT crazy.

"You are cutting your throat to spite your face." He told me again. "I don't know exactly what it means, but it seems to fit you".

He was a beautiful man. Not a handsome man. Not an attractive man. He was a beautiful man. Not what you would describe as being "the sharpest tool" when it came to things that required common sense. The type of sense he had was uncommon. He could see right through me, through all my bullshit. I loved him for it. I respected him for it. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life with him but I wanted to be with him now. Now was all I knew. When I looked into those eyes of his, I truly wished for a second that we were two normal people. I wish we had normal lives where we both went to work in the morning, kissed each other goodnight, and made love because we were capable of emotions. Instead, we were two junkies. I sucked money away from my mother.  I sold heroin, he sold his ass whenever we had money issues which was often. I could never tell him about the guy I blew in the back of a parking lot for dope money. He could never tell me about fucking some old troll. We told each other a series of intricate lies to spare the feelings of the person we claimed to love. 
"What does that even mean?" I asked. "Why am I mad at my face?" 

He shook his head in frustration. The klonopin I had taken an hour ago when I was dopesick was now pushing me into a state of being incoherent. The twenty piece we had gotten off of some stripper was more potent then I had first thought. It wasn't much but it was doing the trick for the next hour or so. I was trying to enjoy the respite from pain.  I could feel my words slowly starting to taper off as I caught myself sliding down the wall. Exhaustion coupled with a comfortable place was finally taking over. 

He grabbed my fingers. He squeezed "my fucking hand!!" I screamed "let go!" He wanted me to hear him, to feel his emotions. YOU are killing yourself was all I heard, yet I felt nothing.  He turned back over in disgust. I'M KILLING MYSELF, I wanted to argue. What about you? What was it like for him being the child of two junkies. His mother stole the money out of his birthday card on his 14th birthday to buy dope. His father would constantly follow us around asking for crumbs. It was repulsive in a way, the father begging his son for drugs. EXPECTING his son to give him drugs. Yet, he always would because he loved him. Love meant something different in this life.

"Wa Wait a minute," I tapped him "it is cutting off your NOSE to spite your face."

I could hear him sobbing into the pillow. Crying out from anger, or depression, and hopelessness. Spending all our money on dope, hotels, crack, and rarely food has left us in this impossible place where we were alive but barely living. I slept in his boxer shorts, my legs were crusty with the recent scabs of needle sticks and abscess drainage. I had become so emaciated, I no longer needed anything to hold up non existent of my womanhood. I wore a sports bra more as a universal stuff holder than a place for breasts. The same could be said of my crotch. I was stuffing condoms full of drugs and/or money inside me. I think in the past six months I had sex twice? Three times? It seemed like going through the motions of a relationship. The up and down, the crack and dope taking over whatever humanity was left.

Maybe I had cut off my nose. I no longer could smell the pissy alleys. I could ignore the rancid infections I seemed to get every few weeks from the tar. But if I had cut off my nose, I had also ripped my eyes out. I was unable to see the world around me. I was only focused on two things: the rush and the absence of pain. Everything else was ancillary. Truth be told, I was blind to the person laying next to me. I know one thing. I know that he loved me. But I also know we both love dope a little more. It shouldn't have been that way, it just WAS. As I rolled off into a restless slumber, I pretended not to notice him weeping. The only thing that could save us now was that next fix.

In case you haven't noticed by now, I don't have ads on my blog. This is something I have done on purpose. I don't want people to think I am endorsing any product or service. The loss of income isn't as important to me as my reputation. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

I need YOUR help

I am going to meeting with policy leaders in Washington DC to talk about the heroin crisis in the US. I would love to get your input on what you feel is going on, what needs to be a priority, and what you feel is working. You can leave comments here or I can give you my email.

XOXO Tracey

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sicker than Others.

When I was just finishing middle school, I was very meticulous about my appearance. This was complicated as a fat girl. However, I had discovered in the pages of Seventeen magazine the joys of camouflage. This included spending hours on my nails. I would try all sorts of combinations of wet n wild eye liners, eye shadows, and Bonnie Bell lip smackers. I would spend my free time combing the malls for just the right outfit, the one that would make people like me. In the mean time, I always carried gum or candy in my purse so people would have a reason to talk to me.

It is hard to believe that it wasn't too much later than I was sleeping on a mattress that was pulled from the garbage. It was complimented by other scores. I had a recliner someone left for the trash man, a mirror left outside a retail place, and a trashcan that became my vomitorium. As I crawled deeper into the bottom of a spoon, I prayed there would be someone to love me at the other end. Would someone come and rescue me from my life absent of love? Would I be out at a bar one day only to have them see through my pinned eyes and into my soul. It probably wasn't going to happen this way.

When I think about the damage I have done to myself, it is easy to get discouraged. The list is fairly lengthy: destroyed my credit, rotten teeth, scars, felony conviction, estrangement from family, nerve damage to my feet, scars, PTSD, lack of faith in humanity, and an overall inability to connect with others. Some of things have been repaired over time. Some have not. Personally, I find that the love of animals has made it easy to cope in the world of humans. The unconditional love of my furry friends makes me feel loveable and supported after a hard day of being an adult. Going from injecting gutter water into being a public health professional has been a steep uphill climb. The anxiety I feel some times revolves around feeling as if I am an imposter, that my life is going to crumble at any moment under the weight of this fraud.

When I started writing this blog, I got a few eye rolls from people. Why couldn't I just leave the past in the past? Did I really want to rehash all these old events? I complete disagree. I see my writing as a conduit for exercising my demons. The dark cloud of depression still kicks around in my mind. My past is something so incongruent with my current life, I can only understand it by piecing it back together like forensic evidence. The reality is that no matter who I am today, I will always be the person who sacrificed everything for that next hit. I want to know why in the philosophical sense- like why do we (the collective we) cast aside all the trappings of civilized society to pursue a few chemical compounds that inextricably alter the paths we follow. They say in twelve step meetings that some people are sicker than others. Maybe some people pursue a relief from their circumstances with the same vigor that some people pursue their goals. We all need a purpose in life. When you feel rudderless pouring down the eternal stream of life, drugs temporary provide an anchor that pulls you to shore. Until the day, battered and bruised, you crash on the rocks searching for a new way to travel again.

I have a bunch of personal problems swirling around at the moment. I will update you all soon. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I haven't been writing much this week.

I am on a deadline to collect research for my naloxone program. Hoping to use it to get funding for it. 

I'm starting something new tonight. 

Here is a cat picture to cheer you up! 

Sunday, July 17, 2016


I have said before that heroin probably saved my life. I still believe that. I know that doesn't make sense to the uniformed. How is it this substance that grabs the user by the throat and leads them around could possibly have a positive impact? Well, it was certainly true in my case. There comes the point in the life of a suicidal person where there are only sparse alternatives. For me, drugs were the very last one. The crippling depression I had experienced since I was an adolescent was pulling me under like a rip current. I no longer could paddle my way to the sandy beach. The more I tried, the more I felt the undertow. The cold blackness pulled at me until I felt as if I was walking around in life, merely gasping for air.

Heroin, for all the myriad of drawbacks, provided a brief salve for my mental wounds. I didn't go STRAIGHT to heroin, of course. I had to work my way around the other opioids first. Eventually, those had become less and less effective. Never the less, they call them "pain killers" for a reason. They soothed my pain. The pain that I had deep inside of me. That pain told me I was worthless. That pain told me no one loved me. That pain told me day after days in a variety of ways that the world would be better off if I was not in it. So- there it was. The heroin was a triumph of sorts. It gave me the way to navigate all the fucked up things my mind told me. Instead of battling my demons, I was chasing my tail. The struggle to maintain a drug habit is a sudoku of sorts. You are constantly trying to find the right combination to unlock the puzzle of life. It is a puzzle you can never finish once you start playing. The only way I could win was to walk away.

Someone asked me this week how I could have compassion for active drug users. I guess it is because I understand them. I am them. I ate all the candy then evolved into my final form. We found the same joy, felt the same pain, and travel the same path. It bonds us. The fraternal order of the spoon so to speak. We made a blood oath to the same master only to see it change faces.

I love you all. I hope you are having a good Sunday. XOXO Tracey.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Heroin- that bitch ain't real

I wish you could see the person I see
I wish you could feel the way I feel 
I wish you could feel love again-

Heroin- that bitch ain't real. 

A different clip from my appearance on Dr Oz

You can click here to see one or both clips

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Good Girl

There was a time when I was the nerdy kid flipping through pages of my latest book. I would be sitting inside  laying my blanket on the vent of the air conditioner on a hot summer day eating Doritos and sipping on Mountain Dew. Summers in Ohio would get sweltering with the heat mixed in with the humidity. An occasional thunderstorm would roll in to water the grass, only to create a outdoor sauna in the morning. My hobbies included playing video games, drawing, and staying up all night to catch the latest R rated movie while my parents slumbered unaware in the next room.

I was the good girl. I didn't have teenage boys awkwardly fumbling between my legs or weed stashed in a hollowed out book in the closet. I wasn't oblivious to vices, I just wasn't interested in them. I had seen the sloppy way the people in my life moved and behaved after they ingested a substance. They smelled of desperation, the alcohol leaking out of their pores as they swatted mosquitoes next to tiki torches or fading barbecues. The conversations would always end in someone stumbling in the general direction of their homes while the teenagers silently swilled the remnants of their whiskey sours with puckered faces. Maybe someone puked that night. Maybe some one flashed the top of their panties as an invitation to sloppy fornication as the saxophone from Saturday Night Live blew the melody of an ending day.

I don't know how I ended up a heroin addict. Well, yes I do. I tried heroin. I guess that was the first step. But how did I get to that place. How do you go from watching a Star Trek Marathon in footie pajamas to finding a vein between two parked cars on a foggy San Francisco morning. The chilly wind forced goose bumps to spread across my pale flesh. All that matters now is this brown, some blue, and a flash of red in that syringe. If someone would have told me I would become a junkie, I would have never believed it. I was a good girl. Good girls don't become junkies. Until they do....

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Open letter to my readers.

Today's entry is directed at you. You as in the collective "you" that take the time out to read my blog stories. First of all, thank you. I started this blog a few years ago as an outlet for the memories that have haunted me over the years. The memory of the hooker with the colostomy bag, the 13 year old boy who used to turn tricks then cry as he begged people to inject him with the money he extracted from the pedophiles that picked him up. There was the opportunity to explain that Jake was a fully realized human being that I called my friend. There was the legacy of the lovers that passed through my life only to end up dead as a result of their drug use. Finally, I got a place to process all the traumas that occurred in those years while I lay slowly dying. The rape, the violence, and sense of despair that hung over my daily existence.

Over the course of publishing this blog, I ended up becoming friends with many of you, mostly young folk. I use the term "friends" to describe a loose relationship based on mutual affection. I have met a few of you in real life. Most of you remain anonymous through reddit or some other form of social media. The blog turned into a naloxone program, a book, and many long days of texting you while you struggled to understand how to get out of the grip heroin had on you. Many of you died. Many of you have gotten clean. Some of you linger in that place of general dissatisfaction. I respect that.

I wanted to make this post to tell you that I love you. I wanted to make this post to tell me that it is possible you are going to die soon if nothing changes. I wanted to make this post to tell you that in six months or six years you will wonder how you could have spent so much time chasing dope. The only thing constant in life is change. You can change for the better or this can get worse. Only you can decide that. But really, truthfully- it is up to YOU. Take some ownership of your destiny. In the years that I have been writing this blog, I've met a 19 year old that died from sepsis from unclean injection procedures. I met a veteran that survived the war then died in a train station. I met mothers and fathers who have lost their children because of drugs. I have seen car crashes, death, despair, and even HOPE. I get letters and messages daily "hey do you remember me?" Yes. I do. I remember you all. And I am richer for knowing you.