Showing posts from May, 2013

A message I sent to a reader:

You absolutely can do it. Fuck your ego. Fuck shame or guilt or remorse. This is your life. This is your time. Be in the moment. You only have to get recovery right one time no matter how many times you have tried it. Let this be the time. Stop killing yourself and live. The body wants to breathe. It wants to live. Embrace life. Stop killing yourself over what others have done or will do. Now is the time. Let's do this. 

The Bondage of Self

I am fat. When I say this, people instantly become uncomfortable as if they need to argue in my favor. You can call me thick. You can say pleasantly plump or chubby but really it means fat. The scale provides scientific evidence of reality. When I say I am fat, I am not putting myself down. For many years, fat was a protection for me. The worst thing you could be as a teenager was fat. In the 80s, there were not many fat kids. We had no protections. No one gave not one damn about bullys. I was fat. It kept me safe in my own isolation.  Then I lost weight. It messed with my sense of self to be desired for my physical self.  It was if someone had turned on a faucet of attention. I was not prepared for the stream. Addiction amplified my anxiety. Thin and pretty never were two words used to describe me. Crazy and thin or pretty crazy suited me well. In my recovery, I am always in transition. My body is transitioning again into a new self. I'm not as fat as I was, but certai

My birthday- Carry me

Today is my birthday. Always a bittersweet day. I am older but in a sense I am a year farther away from the grave than a year closer to death. When I did the movie "Black Tar Heroin" I never believed I would make it to 30. I lived to use and used to live. Deep inside myself though, a spark of hope existed. I wanted to believe that despite all the evidence that I was going to die a worthless addict, there might be some way I could survive. As a scared, tired 27 year old I made my way into recovery through the jail house. I literally had to be locked up. I could not, would not stop using on my own. Things were hard for me. Slowly, they started to improve.  In my forties, my struggles are different. I have age lines on my face. I have track marks, stretch marks, had three csections so I have a spare tire. My weight is a struggle. These are luxury problems. Honestly,survival looks good on me. I am sophisticated beyond my years. I am not getting loaded. i am not selling drugs or m

From the sacred to the profane

When I rolled into recovery, a big piece of my issues dealt with my concept of myself and self esteem. Growing up a fat kid, I was isolated from the typical adolescent dating experience until I lost 50 pounds in high school. I received male attention for the first time in my life. I found it confusing and it made me dizzy. For the first time in my life, I had to learn to assess a man's character verses his desire to get between my legs. Addiction creates a constant struggle to keep your sexuality sacred when everything around you is profane. Heroin took the place of sex. I had no desire but I still had to perform. We learn tips to lose our bodies while our mind travels to a better place. In residential treatment, there was ten men for every woman. The men placed bets on who was going to sleep with which female. The guys that caught my eye were a mirror of my addiction. I went out on a pass to fuck a guy who had just completed treatment. He lived in a hotel four blocks from

My Memories of Tracey Helton

My Memories of Tracey Helton Christy Schragal 05/25/2013   Tracey is a friend back from public grade school days, but do I really have any personal memories of her before we ended up at the same Catholic, college-prep girls’ high school? Do I really have any memories of her before junior and senior years? Where was she? Where was I? I still have the t-shirt that she gave to me for my 16 th  birthday, a memory I can at least time stamp because the shirt says “1986.”  I have to take this as my first “Tracey” memory, yet a prior friendship must have existed if she gave me a gift…right? Right? Where was I in our friendship? I remember having a surprise summer 16 th  birthday party thrown by my group of friends from that same high school, a group with which Tracy was probably loosely affiliated, yet I  think  that she was not at the party .  I  instead  received her gift at my home one day when I was home alone, babysitting my four younger siblings. We were always under strict orders not to

Being vulnerable

Being clean is not the solution to all my problems. In fact, getting off drugs might be the beginning of a new set of problems! Since I never was much at taking care of myself prior to recovery, I had to learn how to be an adult without a means of escape into a bottle or spoon. Bills? I never paid them. Kids? I never had them. Relationships? I always had multiple romantic relationships that overlapped each other so I would never be alone. I'm sure you can relate. And in terms of sexual desire- I can fuck you with out feeling you. Heroin made that easy. The skin you touched was a mask to hide the person inside.  I am so vulnerable in recovery. It's like the moment you turn your neck to some one to stick a needle in there. My whole life is in their hands. At that moment, I can feel pain, pleasure, fear. And I frequently find it impossible to communicate my feelings . You have been digging around for awhile so I end up bruised and disappointed.  It is hard to show a person that pa

The Everyday Addict in Recovery

There are times in my life where I have to look deep within myself to figure out what exactly is going on with me. On the surface, I should be in a good place. I have significant clean time. I have a family, a place to live. I have food, friends, and a I enjoy my job. However, there are days or weeks when my mind starts spinning in an unhealthy direction. My problems seem magnified to the point I can see nothing else. Every day living becomes a challenge. I am living in a state of addictive thinking, I just do not have drugs in my system to fuel catastrophic results.  I read this today " How can we tell when our disease is active? When we become trapped in obsessive compulsive or self centered routines, endless routines that lead nowhere but to physical mental spiritual and emotional decay ."THIS is me right now. The things that started this process are real issues that I am dealing with on a daily basis. My reaction to them is the real problem. I am obsessing over outcomes,

The smell of desperation

Give me a blue eyed white boy that smells of desperation. A scene that has played out over and over. I see you standing there. Pale and alone you look at me.The sun reflects off your skin from days spent in a haze. Shorts and a white tshirt is all I need to know about you. Short hair, short on patience, short on love. I see exactly what I want to see and nothing more. Aaron carved my name into the wall. A + T in the wood like my heart. Geny carved "Tracey- I want to be your dog" in his leg. Ben told me he wanted to marry me. Two skeletons on the bed, shivering in our hoodies. Shaugn kissed me on the rocks of the civic center. His blue eyes both were black.The 40 ozs made love so easy. Brian caught my eye in the hallway. The needle hanging out of his arm. I want THAT guy. Scott picked at himself until I cried and left. Daniel called for me from one end of the Tenderloin to the other begging me to come home.  A girl shouldn't kiss and tell so I will not give you all

Let me show you love exists

I have survived a lot of hurt in my life. People I trusted have betrayed me. Men who claimed to love me have abused me. Situations that were supposed to be safe were frequently traps. I have been left out in the cold. I was left for dead by society. People passed me with disgust in their eyes. Another fucking junkie whore left for dead.  The irony is that I survive. I thrive. I live. What can not break me makes me stronger. I am strong. I have a power that can not be tamed, maimed. I have a fire that will not be stomped out. The embers burned through the newspaper in your hands.  Living well is the best revenge. No man could break me. No drug could kill me. I rose from the gutter with a purpose. Be with me. See the world through my eyes. Let me show you that love exists. Truth can prevail. Tears can be from joy. I want you to know me. Every inch of skin has a story. Examine all the angles. I will be your angel, your hope, your dream. Do not hold back your fear. I'm here. 

All apologies

At one point in my life, it seemed like my life was a series of disappointments. When you are an addict, on a daily basis you have the feeling like you are crushing people's expectations of you. In your mind, you hear the voice of a parent, a child, a lover or friend. Each hit drives in the fact that you are worthless for not caring enough about them to stop.  In recovery, I have had the opportunity to talk with many people from the past. Some people I hurt, some people hurt me. I had a conversation yesterday that was 23 years overdue. I realized that pain is not my self endeavor to marinate in. I like to sit in my pain and wear it around like perfume. I want everyone to sense it, take it in, be attracted to my beauty. However, there is two sides to any relationship. When I am strong enough,I take a look at my part. This may take months, years, decades. I am not just saying "I'm sorry" as if I carelessly stepped on their toe. I am feeling out their side and making a m

Get tested

I am not going to write a long post today. My thought for the day is that you get your health in order. It is time to know what is going on in your body. In these pictures, I am getting tested for HIV, blood glucose, cholesterol, and a variety of other conditions. I also got an Pap smear done yesterday. I got a mammogram last week. It is time for us to come out of the shadows. We need to take ownership of our bodies. Recover and live. Gyno exam blood draw from my leg

Do no harm!

What does it mean to be clean? This is a frequent question posed by my readers. Clean is subjective and personal. I am in what is known as abstinence based recovery. I, personally, do not drink alcohol, smoke pot, take suboxone or methadone, take any illicit drugs. This decision was made after many long harm filled years of experiments on the nature of clean. I personally go bat shit crazy at the addition of any mind or mood altering substance. My life becomes utterly unmanageable in a matter of days. This is my path. I've done/ do twelve step as well as other forms of recovery to assist me in being abstinent. As far as you and your recovery, I am here to help you by not judging. Jake is dead today because a well meaning group of recovering addicts convinced him he was not clean because he was on methadone. No, they didn't stick the needle in his arm but they convinced him to stop taking the thing that was keeping it out before he was ready. Our advice and opinions can seri

Exit Strategy

Get out while you can. They only thing you need to change is everything. Just stop using. Then what? What the fuck am I supposed to do now? The truth is that unless you are in residential treatment, early recovery is pretty boring. If you whole life was filled up with the getting and using of drugs, not using them leaves WAY too much free time. Then you are stuck with so many emotions. Buckle up- it will be like a rollercoaster. The first nine months I was clean, I had the complete inability to cry for myself. Crying would have felt good. I cried a thousand tears over not having drugs in the morning. It was hard to relate to myself as a person who was not on drugs. All the friends I had for six full year were on them. I did not know how to do the most basic things. It was if I was in a parallel universe but this one had no joy because I could not use. Wait. The change is so incremental. The insane thoughts discipate. In early recovery, I contiplated both selling drugs and working i

The Corner of Hell and Nowhere

I left residential treatment August 27 1998 with two garbage bags of clothes and six months clean. My time was paid for by a county diversion program and my time was up. I pulled together enough hustle to get a job and save $900. My options were very limited in terms of places to live. So I rolled back to the corner of hell and nowhere.  In case you want a description, I moved to 242 Turk street between Jones and Leavenworth. This was the exact block where I used to score dope. I got into a transitional house run by the Salvation Army called Bridgeway. It was a step up from my last residence - alleyway. My rent was $320 a month for the first six months. You could be asked to submit to a urinalysis as it was labeled clean and sober housing. I had a tiny room with no bathroom. It came semi-furnished. They didn't bother to clean out one of the drawers of my dresser. It contained recovery journals from the guy who used to live there. Apparently he didn't take them when he started u

On pins and needles

What was the moment when you realized that you were an addict? In 1991, I was living in an incredibly sparse apartment on Calhoun street in Cincinnati Ohio. The apartment was in the busy college district , close to bars and live music venues. The apartment was subsidized by my parents. I had wrecked my third car. After my DUI, I had no license. I was living in the city so I could continue to go to classes at the University of Cincinnati. I worked at Pier I Imports at night and drank most days. Attending classes was an occasional thing though I still managed acceptable marks in school.  I had tried heroin a few times. It was hard to get after my friend stole my connection. I was intrigued when my friend suggested we shoot morphine pills he had got from his girlfriend, the daughter of a pharmacist. "Needles and pins, pins and needles". So this is going to be different? You know I can't hit myself. I only have one rig. Can you help me out? I got $40.  In the old days, pre- n

Guest Post Carolyn from US

    What’s In a Name?  I always fancied myself a great actress. To this day I can cry at the drop of a hat. I just knew that one day a big movie director would get lost and end up on my cul-de-sac in Scottsdale, Arizona, discover me and “make me a star”.  Everyone would know my name. That’s what I wanted: to be known. To walk down the street and have people say, “look, it’s her!”.  It was never the trappings of fame that I longed for, it was fame itself. To be noticed. To be recognized. For as far back as I can remember, and I can reach back pretty far because truthfully I’ve never smoked weed (but, I digress), I was never happy being just me: Carolyn Alfieri from Phoenix, Arizona. I was raised knowing that my side of the family was looked down upon because we never had the newest things, never were slaves to fashion, etc. Granted, I never wanted for anything growing up, but I certainly didn’t come from the womb with a silver spoon dangling from my mouth. More like a plastic spork, rea

What Black Tar Heroin Means to Me Right Now.

I hate that fucking movie. Just today. It will passs though.  Ok, maybe I do no hate it but it still messes with my daily life 15 years later. Let me explain how it feels to me. To me, the movie was like I slit my wrists on camera. When some people watch it, some people want to hand me a bandage.They want to fix me. Some people watching identify with slitting there own wrists. Some people watching can't imagine why anyone would be so stupid as to try to kill themselves. Other people like to watch the blood while they are bleeding at the same time. The problem is I am not bleeding anymore. I have stitches. I occasionally pull at them but I can't take them out. A scar is there- a healthy one. Are you looking for the scar or the stitches? One says I survived. The other says if you pull hard enough, I bleed for you all over again. Everyone has an opinion about what they are watching. I am being somewhat dramatic of course but pain is generally private. My pain is art and on displ

Put down the spoon, pick up the fork

Today's post is about one of my least favorite subjects- my weight. When I finally agreed to be transferred into the treatment section of the San Francisco Jail in February of 1998, I was 124 pounds. This really is not a healthy weight for me. I was completely flat chested and you could see all of my ribs. I went into the jail at 143 pounds but I was kicking so hard, I started wasting away to the point that I was being monitored by jail health. They thought I was sero converting to HIV positive. I was put on nutritional support drinks and had to see the nurse frequently. I remember sitting clear minded pondering my fate. I decided even if I was HIV positive, I was going to stay clean. I had made up my mind. I had to wait for the window to pass for my tests but miraculously, I was not HIV positive. I did pick up another addiction though- compulsive over eating. When you have been in the streets, the worst thing you can be in jail is thin. Thin to inmates means unhealthy or poor.

The Meat Grinder

 When I was using, I was both young and naive. I have little thought beyond my next fix or narcotic solution. I had little regard for the future of this this meat suit I carry around with me. My body was for the sole purpose of use and abuse. Eventually I got clean. My teeth hurt. My body ached. I was grossly malnourished . What have I done to myself? The thought of sharing my body or myself with anyone was horrifying. How many long sleeve shirts can one person wear? I had a chipped tooth and an abcessed ones I was able to get those fixed in the first few months. Eventually, I spent $6,000 and six years of appointments getting my mouth restored. I paid $35 a month until I had a job where I could contribute more. My legs are another matter. Dear readers, I have track marks, stretch marks, cellulite. Who is going to want me? I had an abcess that went into the bone. Instead of being lucky I saved my leg,I honestly was worried about who would fuck me. In early recovery, I was deves

Who Believes In Me

Find one person who believes you. Find one person who believes in your recovery. I absolutely believe that anyone who is reading my blog can get clean and stay clean. Why do I believe this? Hello?! Here I am! Have you met me? I did everything humanly possible to get drugs, abused and denigrated myself, lived in an alleyway surrounded by all my personal possessions, stayed up for weeks at a time, tried to kill myself by drowning  in the godamned ocean and I AM CLEAN. Believe it. It takes more work that reading but it can happen. RECOVERY is happening. I need to get t-shirts printed that say that. No needles in my neck today

Morning Meditation

I AM NOT GOING TO USE TODAY. THE END. Or, if you are feeling extra determined- I AM NOT GOING TO FUCKING USE TODAY . Another popular one from my collection- Please do not let these people try me today. I am not using but I am still crazy as fuck. A meditation does not need to be a jumble of spiritual catch phrases. It can be whatever helps you get through the day. Make a statement about your intentions. Make it personal. Use your own voice. THIS IS MY LIFE. I AM NOT USING. I GOT THIS.  If people are encouraging you to use or getting in the way of your recovery, they are in the way. Forget get them. Ignore them. Better yet, tell them to fuck off.  I AM NOT KILLING MYSELF TODAY BECAUSE OF YOU OR ANYONE ELSE. Your recovery is just that- your recovery. It is a precious gift that other may not understand or appreciate in any sense. Do this for you. Wake up and live.

Mother's Day

The road from stone cold junkie to mother has been a long awkward one. The only goal I never trully believed i could complete was having children. My kids are definitely the best part of myself. They make me look at the world and see the good that exists there. They believe in super heroes. To them, I am Wonder Woman minus the costume. I love them. I like to squish their little faces. I like to hear them laugh. My children make me believe that not only is recovery possible, it is necessary. They need me to be present in their lives. I didn't get clean for them. However, I realize I need to stay clean to experience the daily miracles they bring.

I am clean today.

A simple statement. A reason to rejoice. Recovery happens. It is happening. You can not see the incremental change. You make progress every day. A minute, an hour, a day, a week. Recovery is dynamic but not magical. You made it here. You are alive. It's happening. Recovery happens. I feel like I bitch and moan about my problems a lot in here. The reality is that I am clean and generally happy.

My feelings- loving an addict

You look at me with fascination. I am A firefly in your jar. You see the light that shines as I stumble. I beat my head against your glass. I change. I squirm. I suffer. You watch. You witness. You critique my movements with painful delight. You want to be close to me. I hear you breathing down my neck. You did not put me in this prison. You are angry with me that you cannot be the one to let me out. I'm too fragile to be released into this world. I need some one to reach in. Carry me. Let me find my path. I love you yes. And I hate you for your lack of understanding. Just do these long list of things and you can be happy. Just change the essence of yourself and you will be fine. Just stop using! The eyes upon my works become a boot against my Throat. You are suffocating me with your love. I wince beneath your kisses. My tracks are filled with tears. Lets do something normal. What would that be? Where do I fit in? Stop spying on my misery so I can use again. I aged myself f

Loving an Addict- guest post from US

This is a guest post from my nephew Christopher Auteberry. My sister saw the documentary before I did; she told me grisly stories about prostitution and heroin injections into throbbing neck veins. I watched Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street with my mother, cuddled up on her plush couch. The film never glorified drug use, in fact it did quite the opposite, but it sparked my curiosity. I was only 14 years old when I saw it for the first time but it left an impression, a desire if you will, to experience addiction. I never wanted to be a junkie; I just wanted to know one. My aunt was a junkie but she only existed in stories and letters. I wanted to truly KNOW a junkie. I grew up in a college town and found my niche in the older crowds. I met Amy right after I graduated from high school, I was 4 years her junior and quite impressionable. I looked up to her because she was graduating from a University and came from a wealthy Chicago suburb, she was everything I wasn’t. We w

Love Junkie

One of the things I have noticed about addicts is that we are super sensitive people with an ultra hard exterior. That is the way you survive addiction. Getting your precious feelings hurt ends in short order when so many people have the ways and means to take advantage of you. Fast forward to my life today. I am a love junkie. I crave attention. I crave affection. I crave a text, or look, or touch that tells me some one wants me. You may think with fifteen years in recovery I would have worked out my self esteem issues. The answer is a resounding NO. The main problem with my need to be adored is that is in direct opposition with my desire to be left alone. When I am alone, I have my fantasy. A fantasy some time is better than reality because a fantasy cannot hurt me. When I have my fantasy, I ignore my reality. Truth be told, my reality is not bad at all. I have built a stellar life for myself. My kids can hug me. I can not always feel it. Other people tell me they love me. I stil

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My Level of Attraction

My level of attraction             There is a stereotype that women who get into bad relationship have daddy issues. This may or not be true. For myself, I am constantly led astray by the aesthetic. There is a certain type that I go for that looks absolutely nothing like my father.             I was what some may consider a late in life bloomer. I was very, very VERY interested in boys and catalogues there comings and goings in great detail in journals that I found in the house after the passing of my mother. I had different symbols to characterize if a person was somehow nice to me, said hello to me, generally acknowledged my existence. In retrospect, this was a sad tome, a reflection of my lack of social interaction. If someone had been interested in me, I surely would have folded into their arms with absolutely no boundaries. I was spared that challenge into my teen years.             I had both a diary and a notebook. The notebook was of the spiral variety. I had my key in the fron

My blue period

I promised myself I was not going to write today. I swore it to myself. Because I am in a blue period. I have been through an enormous amount of pain in my life. I lived on the streets of San Francisco as a desperate junkie. I have walked around with open wounds. I have had my nose broken numerous times by men who claimed to love me but hurt me anyway. I have had three c- sections. I have experienced pain. My nick name for myself has always been hard core because I can survive ANYTHING. But now, I am in a blue period. You can get used to just about any abnormality. A habit, a voice, a needle in your neck that pierced your heart instead. I do not know why I feel this way but I am in a blue period. I hate when I feel this way. Have you ever wondered how someone who had everything still killed themselves? That is what depression does to you. But I am different friends. I will not suffer alone. I will not be silent. It happens. It is beyond sad because sad has a reason. There is no rea

Guest post Paul Payne UK

In a few days I shall be moving back to the town where I grew up. In a twist of fate my son has moved there, and I want to be there for him as he approaches the dreaded teenage years. The last time I was there I was at my lowest,my rock bottom. It was enough for me not to want to return after a successful stint in rehab. The last year there will never be erased from my memory, or my nightmares. My Best friend had killed himself, I was the last person to see him. We were heavily into heroin, and at his funeral his poor Mum couldn't even be near me. As I was selling a bit, I was able to couch surf from night to night, always making sure that I never stayed in the same place for two nights on the bounce. The Police were stopping me all the time, even though they never got anything , they enjoyed degrading me in front of passers by. Fair enough I suppose I wasn't the nicest person at the time. There was a nun named Sister Pauline, who through a chance meeting with my Mum seem

Today's guest post- KB from US

I used to let my coke dealer borrow my car to make her deliveries and go about her business. Sometimes she would weigh out her bags while we were sitting in my car. I was hurting one morning, out of blow and wasn’t going to see her until later in the afternoon. I searched everywhere in my house looking for a bag that wasn’t there, that I had hoped I had hidden on myself. After no luck in the house, I went out to my car in the off chances that she had dropped a bag of blow underneath the seat or in some other crack in my car. I looked into the back seat and saw the white powder spilled all over the fabric. My heart jumped and I grabbed a straw that I had handy in the center console. How could I be this lucky? I sat in the back, and rather than trying to scrape it together, I just leaned over and snorted the powder off the seat. I had anticipated the feeling of getting myself back to “normal”. It wasn’t until I had snorted a fair amount of it, that I realized that it was powder fr

Crying for the sins of the world

I cried today. I curled up on my couch with my headphones and some music. Then I cried for the sins of the world. Why does heroin kill so many people? Why are there so many people that just don't care? I have been writing this blog since January. Many days I say I am not going to write because I was planning on writing a book. One day, I realized this blog is very important to many people. Many of my readers are sitting somewhere alone or with their partner who is also strung out or in recovery. I have at least five sets of lovers who read my blog together. The day I realized how important a word of encouragement was to so many people was the day I realized I must keep writing until whatever story within my soul is complete. Any one of my readers could die tonight. Or give in to temptation. Or start a new journey of recovery from drugs that suck the essence of joy from whatever they touch. Many of my recovering friends have moved on to somewhat normal lives. However, I transpo

Another dead friend- Aaron

Another dead friend. I feel like when I talk about the past those are the first words that are used. The list is getting so long now,  I actually lose count. Aaron and I met during his stay at the rehabilitation program I completed in 1998.  I had about 18 months clean at the time, he had six that he had acquired in jail.  We met at a 12 step meeting. Instantly, we were drawn to each other.  I am not sure if it was my recovery or my tattoos but we shared a similar history. We liked the same kind of music. We liked tattoos. We both had a history of violence. We had hopes for a future without heroin. I met Aaron during a time when I had sworn to myself to a life of celibacy. I wanted to focus on my step work. I needed time to focus on myself. For whatever reason, he convinced me to go out on a date with him. Or at least I think it was a date. We went out to the movies, we hung out together more than once. Finally, he kissed me. In that moment, I realized we were completely incompatibl

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Track marks and a sunny day

Some days it feels like the only thing I have in my favor is the fact that I am clean. It is hot outside. Do I hide my track marks? Do I explain to a person that in a split second I can stop giving a fuck? Do I ignore the fact that I am slightly bitter that I can't have a sip of wine or a drink of beer at a baseball game. What about the fact that I have all these damn raw emotions. i feel like breaking something or acting out or screaming. When when when will I be released from the burden of addictive thinking and compulsive actions? I woke up this morning. I was in a bed. This is a good start to any morning. I had food to eat. Another goal accomplished. I was able to use the bathroom inside. Yes. I texted with a friend and got out some resentments. I felt my feelings. Most of all, I was not digging in my neck, hands, or feet for a place to inject my daily emotions. I am clean- a good start to the day. There are two parts to recovery. There is stopping the use of drugs- a mirac