Thursday, October 11, 2018

Little hands

"Mommy- have you ever shoplifted?"
This was an unexpected question coming through the darkness from the direction of my sleepy son. We recently had started a series of question and answer time before we fall asleep. Due to an unforeseen series of events, sleep has been evasive for me. The fan in his room provides me with just enough white noise to drift off into dreamland (until I wake up at 1am, 3am, then finally 5:30am for work).

"Why are you asking me that sweetheart?" I don't want to be evasive but I am certainly curious where a seven year old heard this term. "and yes, I have shoplifted before..."

The truth is, I was already shoplifting when I was his age. I had already tried weed. I had already drank. I am not looking for sympathy. These are simply facts. My upbringing was a complicated one. On the outside, things might have looked relatively normal. But the foundation had many cracks in it, just beyond what was visible. Stealing wasn't what I called that behavior. It was just the rush of taking an object I wanted and getting away with it. Later in life, I did some minor theft but that was related to things I couldn't afford like tampons, lice medication, socks, and food. I explained these realities to him but he appears to be growing disinterested.

I get a lot of questions about what I will tell my children about my addiction to drugs and homelessness. The truth is that I have already clued them in to these things. I feel like there is no point in hiding it. They would find out, they would be angry that I hid the truth. Instead, I am trying to integrate them into my life and into my advocacy work. They are a shiny example of how families need to be kept together, that the system needs to be overhauled, and that ex offenders need treatment.

So I answer uncomfortable questions.

Dear readers- Please educate your friends about overdose. Get naloxone. Contact me if you need it. I love you and hope you are enjoying your day.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Flavored Coffee and a side of remorse

I got up at 6:45 am this morning to head to the lab at my HMO. They said I had to fast 12 hours so of course I woke up every 30 minutes imagining myself withering from hunger. By 7:14, I took a number. I took my place on the hard plastic seats, a favorite furniture choice of medical clinics and waiting rooms outside county jails. I was holding labels for six tubes of blood. One to see if my food choices is clogging up my heart, one to see if my fatness is actually a medical issue, one to see if I have early markers for the cancer that killed my mother, one to reassure me that I did, in fact, clear the Hep C virus, and one to see if I have any signs of the DIABEETUS,

My name is called. I have to explain to Ben the handsome Asian tech that I used to use IV drugs, I have no veins, and other sordid details. Mercifully, he agrees to stick the needle where I recommend. The blood starts to register, uh I mean rush, uh I mean pour in. I thank Ben for his kindness. I have a snack in the pocket of my hoodie. I pull it out like a security blanket. I drop by the cafeteria for a quick cup of coffee. It's close to 8:00 am now. I'm two full hours past my normal coffee o'clock. I pick the hazelnut flavored one.

As I go to put the lid on, this remind me of the coffee shop next to the methadone clinic. I'd mix 1/4 cream, 1/4 sugar and the rest a thin brown liquid. It tasted sweet as candy and helped to boost me up. A cup of coffee meant I could sit at the table for an hour. I had paid the price of admittance. I sit and stare out the big windows that face the clinic. All my belongings are in bags beside me. I hoping to be seen. If I can sell two more bags, I have enough money left over to reup and get a room for the night. I take the balloons out of my mouth and put them in the palm of my hand. The coffee feels warm as it drips down the back of my throat. I haven't eaten today but I have done a 1/2 a gram plus a bag of coke. If I rest my eyes here for a second I can almost feel my dose.