One Detroit Junkie's Battle Laid Bare

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Gunna Let It Shine

I feel like I have known you my whole life, and the life before this one as well. I feel like every inch of you I've seen before, like every piece of you I've known before. This feels less like getting to know you and more like reminding myself all about you, remembering things I knew before. 

You saw something worthwhile and bright and good in me when I believed nothing in myself was anything better than dirt. You sat next to me while we circled around tables with other addicts learning to live clean, you listened while I shared my struggles and triumphs and I while you shared yours. You passed me your number through a friend and the next night we sat in a coffee shop and talked for hours, then sat in your van that became our van for hours more after a meeting that night and talked on. No silence felt uncomfortable, no topic felt taboo, no shred of our pasts felt like something needing to be hidden from each other. Complete honesty from the start was a firm foundation for the love that grew and spread in our souls like wildfire. 

I told you I wasn't good at this kind of thing, that I needed you to make the first move. The next day we kissed and then we fell fast and hard. Absolutely out of control in love. I knew within days you were the one. And you said you knew the same, and I could feel in my heart and soul you spoke the truth. 

I have not since childhood felt so safe as I do in your arms. I have not put my trust so completely in another as I have with you. I have never before come together with someone and wanted to pull our bodies so close together that we become one being, for you are the piece of me I never knew was missing but now could not imagine being without. When we lay wrapped around each other, drifting off to sleep, I'm often hit by a wave of love so intense it hurts deep in my heart, and ache pure and good. There is no place on earth I am more content than in your embrace, bodies pressed together, being still and silent and knowing nothing could ever destroy that moment of ours. 

You are my love, my life, my heart and my soul. You are the wind that lifted my broken wings back into flight. You nourish me and guide me and lead by example. You love me without limits and I do the same. You point out all the good things you love in me and never once have you brought up the bad. You've showed me all the reasons I should love me, you're the reason I looked myself in the eye in the mirror today and realized I love myself today, I love what I am today, who I have become with your gentle nurturing. 

I love you with everything I am, with every fiber of my being. I spent 26 years waiting for you, not knowing until I'd met you how alone I'd truly been all those years. It's only been four months I've known you and yet my heart has been waiting for you all my life. I am meant to be yours and yours alone. Thank you for being my Big Goofy, my soulmate, my one true love. Thank you for loving me as deeply and irrevocably as I love you. You've shown me the true gifts of life without smack- all the powerful emotions and you remind me why drugs are no longer an option for me. My euphoria is found in being one with you, in knowing all will be well in the end. 

Our life together stretches out before us, our futures having now become our future. I've waited so long for you, and now the waiting is over and our life has begun. There's a flame that burns in my heart for you and you alone, a flame that's burned away my regret and given me firm faith that everything happens for a reason. I burned myself down with smack for fifteen terrible years so I could walk into that first meeting back and keep walking right into your arms. 

This flame, I know is one that will never burn out. This flame I will keep lit all the days of my life. This flame is good flame, this flame is pure and bright and cleansing. 

I love you Joel. Always and forever. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Every Burn Heals

I find myself wiping tears from my eyes quite often these days. I've always been a crier, always had a steady supply of saltwater to back up my other signs of pain and injury, emotional and physical. Once every few months I could be relied upon to break down sobbing uncontrollably, sounding like a wounded, broken, doomed animal who sees the end coming on fast. 

These tears though, they're different. They come when I think about my life and where it was 118 days ago versus where it is today, with 117 days clean. They come when there's peace surrounding me and peace within me. They come when I think about the look in the eyes of the man I love as he gently, so gently, strokes my cheek as we fall asleep side by side every Saturday night, our designated "no matter what!" overnight date night, in addition to seeing each other throughout the week. These tears come when I laugh with my new friends, friends who understand and support me and helped give me my life back, friends who loved me until I began to find things to love about myself and then loved me some more. These tears, they aren't tears of sorrow, of pain, or anger or even of happiness. 

They are tears of pure, overwhelming, soul-filling gratitude. 

I believed I would die a junkie. I believed I'd slowly rot away, too chicken to kill myself quickly so opting for slow suicide by smack instead. I was terrified to really try to get clean, I didn't think I could face all the wreckage of my addiction without a chemical buffer. I was so dead fucking wrong. 

I gave myself one last shot at recovery. I walked into an NA meeting, sat down, and finally fucking surrendered. I finally admitted I was truly powerless over drugs. I spent 15 years, well over half my life, trying to find a way to use drugs successfully and I almost died in the process. I have fingers that don't work anymore due to gangrene caused by shooting up in them. I have scars over my jugular veins from using them daily for two years after all other veins gave out. I have chunks of flesh missing from my upper arms from abscesses I got injecting into my muscle after even my jugular veins became impossible to hit. Every vein in my body has scars above the length of it. My hands turn purple when I get the slightest bit cold. And my instinctual reactions to loud noises and fast movements will always be skewed. I'll never be able to sit with my back to a door. I had to train myself to brush my teeth twice daily instead of twice monthly again. I've had to learn to function as a normal adult for the very first time. 

And I love every second of it. I truly love my life today. And in the last couple of weeks I've been able to finally honestly say I love myself as well. I am a recovering addict today. I am an employee today. I am an equal half of a very serious relationship with the love of my life, my soul mate, my one true love, Joel. In the next couple of months we will be moving into our own home together with my dogs- one of whom has switched allegiances and become his dog, that disloyal little dork! Joel has almost a year clean and is one of my biggest supporters and the one I trust most in this world. 

The best part of proving myself wrong and learning to live clean? I can now pass on my experience, strength, and hope to other addicts and help others walk a different path as well. I have a story worth telling and it seems to finally have a happy ending. It isn't going to end abruptly with a needle in my neck from a bad shot. It isn't going to end with me unidentified in the morgue for months because I drove away all those who knew me. It isn't going to end because of filthy fucking heroin today. 

I'm rambling. I'm just grateful. I'm grateful. I have 117 days clean and I know I have many more ahead of me, shared with my dogs, my boyfriend, my family and my friends in recovery, who helped me get my life back and make it one worth living. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Black And White

I need to remind myself, when I think life is some awful thing that could be fixed or somehow improved by stabbing myself with needles full of soul poison, exactly what I've gained by being clean and living honestly, and exactly what I stand to give away if I use even once. Reading it over in black and white drives home what I can so easily let myself push aside in the heat of inner turmoil.

List ten things you are grateful for: 
1. Life as I now know it- clean.
2. Narcotics Anonymous.
3. My dogs, who never turned their backs on me no matter how sick I let myself get.
4. My family, who drive me nuts and keep me grounded all at once.
5. My boyfriend, Joel, who I love falling deeper in love with every day.
6. My friends, both new and old, who catch me before I fall and know me the way I'm finally starting to know myself.
7. The ability to laugh at my mistakes, learn from them, and then move forward.
8. My job and a boss who is cool with not scheduling me past 5:00 so I can make meetings.
9. The roof over my head, the floor under my feet, the food in my stomach and the fact that I have heat.
10. My higher power, who also has the ability to laugh at my mistakes, force me to learn from them, and then shove me from behind if I try to dwell and not move forward.

List ten things you would lose give away if you were to use drugs again:
1. My home
2. My boyfriend
3. My sanity-the ability to sanely and honestly assess a situation and see it for the surmountable thing it really is
4. My health- hello, abscesses, it's been awhile since we hung out together!
5. My job- I'd either steal, call in sick repeatedly, or come in too high to work (fuck, too high to speak probably)
6. The bits of trust I've worked my ass off to earn from those I love
7. My hope- it's so easy to let it go, so hard to find even a tiny shred of it again
8. My self-confidence- probably the easiest thing to shatter as it isn't too solid yet, it is so new
9. At least a few of my new friends
10. My clean time- I am the only one who can ever take that away from myself

Explain what made you have an urge to use drugs today:
I blew my entire first ever fully legal paycheck on a hotel room and dinner for my boyfriend and myself last night, and felt guilty for spending it all and only saving $2 when my friend in recovery said to put away $5 from each check to build a nest egg so decided to spend the rest of my day today beating myself up and convincing myself I am not worth the air I breathe, let alone the enjoyment of my first paycheck.

Explain how using drugs would have improved that situation:
It would have served only to give me a split second of oblivion- a split second before the reality of what I had done and what I had given away hit me.

What did you learn through staying clean today, or what lesson was reinforced for you today?
No matter what, there is nothing on this earth I will ever face that using drugs can possibly make better- and everything I face can be made unfathomably worse by using drugs. No matter what my fucked up head tells me, I never have to use drugs again, no matter what. I have friends in recovery today who can tell me when my shit stinks sometimes before I am able to smell it myself, and who can give me suggestions to survive anything clean. My recovery is bulletproof, bombproof, and can survive the center of a volcano- if I follow the path laid out for me by those who have fought this fight before, if I allow myself to learn from the mistakes others have made, and if I remain honest, open minded, and willing to change and do whatever it takes to stay clean. And that I can sure make one helluva mountain out of a tiny anthill. I did nothing wrong by spending MY money.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


I've got a thing for wings and flight, the promise of freedom inherent in feathers. A promise I longed for but never came to know as my own. I'm grounded with feet planted firmly on solid ground and now I'm realizing at last that the solidity I feel beneath my feet is what I've truly always hoped for. I don't yearn to take wing and make frantic frenzied flight far away anymore. I'm happy here, happy where the snow covers the trees and my boots against the pavement have good grip. 

The strength in numbers somehow became my weakest link when the bullies ganged up so many years ago, but now it is strength in numbers which builds me strong again. New love is the best love and love when sober tops it all, and it's the friendships I've made in Narcotics Anonymous who delivered this man to me. I've never felt this way about someone before, I've never wanted someone to know everything about me- good bad and everything in between- before. Never had no fear before. Never sat and talked with a guy for hours without any awkward silences- our silences are few but when they come, they're comfortable and make me even more sure this is the right man for me. This feels right and I feel strong and it's been days- DAYS!!!- since I thought about using dope. I got rid of the last of my needles days ago and I'm committed to this new life now, and to this new man who is a part of my life now. He made it clear from the start that he's mine as long as I'm clean. I use, and it's over. Just another incentive to add to the neverending list of reasons I say fuck smack today. 

I no longer walk the line in neutral noncommittal territory- today I've chosen sides and my side is recovery. I'm free. I'm fucking free. At long, long last I'm free and the drugs don't own me anymore. They don't tell me when to wake up, when to sleep, who to sleep with, when to move and when to be still. Heroin doesn't dictate my reality anymore. I do. My higher power does. My heart does. 

When it's dark and the cold starts to hurt, it's no longer a signal that I need to scramble to find a place to huddle to survive the night. It simply means I need to put out my cigarette and go into the meeting I'm standing outside of. Surrender doesn't mean giving up. The definition of surrender is "to join the winning team." Surrender means not having to fight anymore. 

I surrender. My white flag, I wave with pride. This white flag was woven of fifteen years of pain, sorrow, rage and fear. I earned this white flag, just as I earned the white surrender keytag I picked up thirty days ago and the orange 30 day keytag I picked up last night. 

I surrender, I've crossed over to the winning team. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lapping At My Heels

I cook it up and shoot it up and make an attempt to live it up, but fighting death gets tiring. So I suck it up and turn it up and make an attempt to sing it up, but screaming lyrics gets old. And so I turn around and look around and make an attempt to live this down, but stereotypes are stronger than I am. So I fuck it up and shake things up and make an attempt to change it up, but wasted days just bleed into wasted nights and form endless wasted years.

I sit beneath the streetlight for hours before I look up and see only darkness, some kind of metaphor for the reality of my mode of living. The truth does battle with my self-convinced mind full of lies, and up sure looks like down these days. Black looks white and darkness is blinding, and I know I have become the embodiment of urban blight. Self-imposed isolation is the hardest kind to overcome, when only shattered glass and missed cues keep me company. If you ask me to lie, I'll always tell the truth, but ask me for the truth and it's bound to be a lie.

This lifestyle weakens me physically and hardens me mentally and tears away my ability to trust the human race, because I've seen the desperation of various human conditions that have no place in this world. I've seen the aftermath of a cold shoulder, the loss of hope that dulls the eyes and steals away all light. I've seen 15-year-old kids who held more pain and weariness and distrust within their souls than prisoners of war, than battered police brutality victims, than New Yorkers on 9/11. I've stared down the barrel of a dealer's gun with no fear, only a longing for whatever rides on the butt of the bullet. I've felt cold, sharp steel against my back and felt no regret, only longing for whatever hangs on the dull side of the blade. I've felt violent hands around my throat and felt no need for air, only longing for whatever floats on the other side of the darkness. I've seen the impact incoming and stood to face it because really, what could be worse than what I've already seen?

Frostbite steals skin off my toes I won't miss, and I steal stereos and moments of euphoria, knowing always I'm only ripping off myself. Leaving smashed car windows and crushed hearts in my wake, destruction and blatant criminal acts only mask my fear of what's around the bend. If you look me in the eye I'll always look away, because to face you would mean facing myself. I run from confrontation and always crack under pressure. I'll spill guts to the masses from the tallest buildings and spill blood into empty streets and desolate alleyways, fighting with staggering violence against all that I am, all that I have become. And every time I look over my shoulder I see less and less of who I used to be, as the dust grows thicker, as the lights grow dimmer, as the wreckage piles higher. And every time I look ahead the path is drastically shorter, as I further batter my body, as the pains in my liver grow sharper, as the hours I spend asleep grow longer and longer while my body gives out. I know how it feels when my mind is no longer mine, when loss of control is so complete it leaves me questioning whether control ever existed to begin with.

I dream the dreams of the dying, so starkly clear, those that don't fade a bit after I wake. I'm dancing life's razor's edge, pushing the limits of even this addict's endurance, feeling pieces slip away as the walls close in. I don't just take chances, I take major risks, putting my life at stake by constantly seeking that once-in-a-lifetime high, shooting as much at once as I can fit into the syringe, regardless of whether it's heroin, coke, or whatever else I've decided to use to blot out my thoughts. And even when I scramble and get up on my feet for brief periods, my body still lives with the aftermath, constant physical pain and weakness that doesn't fade anymore. After I've been running the streets for months seeking dope, I finally become so sick that I sleep solid 72 hour periods as my body tries desperately to heal. To rest for the next week's inevitable torment. And yet, I just can't stop.

So I spend my life searching, while my wasted days bleed into wasted nights and form endless wasted years. And I spend most hours face down on the pavement, cursing the moon and stars while I grasp at straws that only get shorter and shorter. There's interference in the clouds and my satellite dish fails to pick up transmissions from the future, and the static is the perfect place to stage an ambush.

And as the edges blur and the sun becomes reluctant to rise, I grow tired of waiting for the storm to pass and make another attempt at learning to dance in the rain, water rolling off my shoulders, washing away a decade's worth of dried blood and city dust. And though I dance alone these days, my neck is gaining strength, almost powerful enough to lift my head again to salute the world as it passes me by, our parades marching opposite directions on the same crowded street. And in these moments, if you tell me the end is near I'll just laugh and live on forever, with flames always lapping at my heels, the hounds of hell bounding circles all around me, rain pounding my back and elusive hope slipping in and out of my grasp.

(Written by me in 2008. Still had five years of living in hell left ahead of me. And elusive hope was a lie- I had no hope left.)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Burning Alive

I'm frantic to get away but I can't walk. I'm sweating and shaking and nothing stays down, throwing up globs of blood because the acid is eating me alive inside. I weigh next to nothing and my pants are held up with the cord from my hoodie. I'm filthy, my sweat smells like death, my body is revolting against me and I can't make my goddamn legs work. I can't get up. I'm in a puddle of bloody vomit but at least there's nothing in my guts to be coming out the other end. It's winter but I'm burning up, my skin cold and clammy to the touch but if you touch me, I'll lash out and rage against you and smash my fist into your teeth and drive it through your face because my skin fucking hurts. My bones fucking hurt. My hair fucking hurts. It all fucking hurts. 

I'm on a wood floor in the living room of an abandoned house with no glass in the windows and snow gathering around my face. I'm a human puddle of pond scum, I'm vacant on the inside and my soul is fucking bankrupt. My heart's beating funny and I keep hoping it'll stop. I know I won't freeze because the white hot steaming heat my sick body throws off might be enough to burn this motherfucker down. God let it burn down. Let it get torched and just let me fucking die. Somebody please help me. Would somebody please, please just help me. "help." Put a bullet in my brain like a crippled old horse or put a needle in my vein that'll pull me out of this remorse. Somebody please just help me. I'll never do it again if you'll just help me this one last time, I promise. 

My eyes are glass, you couldn't tell what color they are they're too filmed over. I'm seizing now, my body moving on its own with energy it apparently has but that I can't harness to make my useless legs move. My legs move all right, they move constantly, kicking and crawling and I need to punch them till they're black and blue to get them to stop for five fucking seconds. Now my arms start. Punch one with the other and then switch sides. The dopeman, he's not shown up here today. Where the fuck is he and why did I let this get this bad? Why didn't I walk and cop while I could still walk? Why do I keep trying to kick when I know I'm gunna die a filthy disgusting junkie with nobody to mourn me?

I got fantasies and dreams- I fantasize about rotting here after this finally kills me. I dream of ending up in the hospital with an IV line to exploit. Hopefully a central line, those are the best. It'll be a central or a jugular line, that's all the options left for anyone's needle now. My fingers black with gangrene stink like the rotten flesh they are but my sweat smells worse. Oh god, what did I do to deserve this? The smack was an escape, how did it become the very thing I now cannot escape from?

I haven't slept in a long time, I either nod instead or am wide awake in misery as I am tonight. The dopeman was supposed to come by, he does every single day like clockwork to take care of me in return for me taking care of him. Did he die? He got shot I bet. I bet he's never coming back. I bet he's doing this on purpose. I bet he's watching. I bet I'm gunna die but not anytime soon cuz I've got to burn for my sins first. First I got to suffer and suffer I am. 

I'm delirious. I'm hallucinating. I'm starving. I heard a noise, I hear birds but its midnight, why're the birds awake? Why're the birds whistling? Why're they yelling at me to sit the fuck up? Oh god it's him. It's the dopeman. I'm saved! I'm saved. I'm saved from responsibility and from reality and from a future I'll never know. The rig's preloaded, he'll let me get loaded before I take care of my end of this deal...

I'm awake now. I'm awake. I'm awake and I'm sitting in bed. I'm not high. I'm not sick. I'm not in an abandominium, I'm in my mom's house and I'm safe here. I've still got 19 days clean and I'm in my inflate-a-bed with my dogs awake and looking at me with concern. It was a nightmare. It was all a nightmare, it lasted fifteen years but I'm awake now. 

I'm awake. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dousing Flames

Everything has a natural summation, an ending unavoidable and with all the hallmarks of finality. Life ends at death, day at night, autumn at winter. It all follows a natural order without deviation. Addiction is no different, but it has two possible endings- death or recovery.

It has been a long, long fifteen years. I had fun in the beginning, running wild and enjoying my newfound love, heroin. But that fun ended so many years ago. It devolved into the lowest form of slavery, I gave away all I loved and all that mattered before the dope to avoid that horror that is withdrawal and the greater fear of reality, life on life's terms. Then Monday before last, eleven days ago, some shit went down that left me asking myself how high a price I was truly willing to pay to live as a junkie.Was I willing to spend years in prison? Was I willing to die and leave my dogs without their mom? Leave my family broken, leave life behind, all for a fix? Just to avoid being dopesick and avoid the pain I've held inside for so long? Willing to chance the next near miss not being a miss at all and instead being a screeching halt and a farewell to any possible brighter days, against my true will?

I've lived in a motel the past eleven days. Well, one motel the first night and then a much cheaper and seedier one the rest of the nights. A clean drug test was required to come back to my dogs and my family, and I got seriously lucky in that an unlikely friendship meant rather than sleep outside or in a vacant house or the two-door Neon a friend loaned me, I slept in a bed. Massive doses of loperamide- in the 100mg range (they only come in 2mg the math) kept the worst of the sick away, and today I took a drug test that came back negative for heroin- my first clean test in five years.

I threw away over two years clean five years ago, on a cold and rainy Devil's Night in Detroit. I cried the whole way to the dopehouse, begging whatever higher power had kept me alive over the years to please make me crash the car, get pulled over, do something, any fucking thing, to stop me. Nothing stopped me. I gave it all away that night and the next night, Halloween, was nodding out while giving kids candy. That night, I was told to get the fuck out and I spent months afterward on the street. Spent Christmas Eve in a burned out Crown Vic in an empty lot, digging for veins. Thanksgiving at a soup kitchen. The only call those I loved would take from me was if I called to ask to go to rehab- a call that never came.

I told myself I could control it. I got myself off the streets through manipulation and lies and scams and back into my family's house. I started a dog rescue. I had a Jeep. But the dope? I never stopped. I fooled everyone around me into thinking I had stopped, got sneakier and slicker and everyone gave me the benefit of the doubt or perhaps just ignored it or thought I was simply crazy and didn't want to risk confronting me. I balanced on a razor's edge, keeping up an outward appearance of normalcy while really I was just a fucking smooth-talking hoodrat hyena in sheep's clothing. I truly believed it was under control. I had access to suboxone, and I would shoot dope and then take sub when I thought it was out of hand- but for five fucking years, I stayed solidly physically dependent on opiates in one form or another. Even that month I had "clean" just recently- I was hooked on the goddamn loperamide the entire time. Kept trying to wean off but couldn't. Had a damn diarrhea pill habit, for fuckssake. And the whole time, my brain kept spinning, saying, "when you get your shit together, Hyena, you can handle shooting some dope here and there." Here and there meaning every fucking day again within two weeks. Meaning backed up against a wall again. A wall that eleven days ago started flashing cherries and berries and almost ended very, very badly.

My hands are still swollen, yet another abscess is on my upper arm from getting frustrated after digging for veins for an hour while blood clotted in the needle until I gave up and forced the shot into my muscle. I'm dizzy a lot, I have to pull some dopefiend moves to put gas in the car I've got use of until my friend gets her license back, I took the last bit of loperamide today and have been weaning off and feeling like shit for days but I AM CLEAN. I didn't have to dig into my jugular vein with a bent, dull, barbed needle and dig till I either hit or gave up and resigned myself to causing another abscess multiple times today. Both my main dealers are now in jail or just not dealing anymore, which I wouldn't wish anyone into jail in Wayne County but it seems like some higher being conspired to take them out of circulation right at the time I got smacked in the face with a seriously terrifying wakeup call. There's rumors in the 'hood that I'm a snitch, since both dealers were either with me or going to see me when they got pinched, but I honestly don't give a fuck what people think anymore. I'm not wasting time trying to talk sense to someone so deep into their addiction they're willing to spread shit that could kill my entire family- someone that sick won't listen to a word I say anyway, and might drag me back into the thick of it. What others think just doesn't matter to me anymore.

What matters is that I no longer have any reservations- I know I will never, ever be able to use heroin once in awhile and then leave it alone. I finally understand and accept the full first step of Narcotics Anonymous- admitted we were POWERLESS over drugs, that our lives had become unmanageable. I always knew life was unmanageable when I'm strung out, but never truly believed I was powerless- but I'd tell you I was because it was an easy excuse for why I was seemingly unable to get and stay clean. But I get it now. Powerless means that when I pick up a needle, I won't put it down until I am dead, locked up, or hit with a scary enough wakeup call to knock me into reality long enough to understand what I'm really doing to myself- and to everyone who loves me.

Heroin, in the end, makes me fucking miserable. It makes me want to put a pistol in my mouth and pull the trigger. I shoot dope and I end up crying when I'm high. I beg, borrow, steal, rob, whatever to get more. I become someone I hate to the very core and I cannot stop. Dope no longer acts as a cushion, it's a bed of needle sharp nails now. It shakes my ground and makes me give away my hope. It's clear to me now like never before what my choice comes down to- go on to the bitter end, blotting out my consciousness with as much smack as I can fit into each syringeload, degrading myself in order to maintain a raging habit that claws at my soul every waking second- or recover. Face every dirty rotten low down junkie scumfuck thing I've ever done. Heal my soul, make amends, trust others with more clean time than me. I'm going to NA and AA meetings on a daily basis, I'm learning slowly how to live through the emotions cropping up in a whirlwind, and I'm motherfucking determined not to let reservations about control sneak back into my head.

All that stands between me and death or prison or complete, irreparable insanity is one shot. One pack. One bad choice. I want my life to be more than an existence. I want something worth living. And the only way I'm going to get that is to murder and bury my constant companion of the past fifteen years, that beautiful, destructive, omnipresent Lady Heroin.

Today, I'm moving on.