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