Friday, May 31, 2013
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Monday, May 27, 2013
My Memories of Tracey Helton
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 16th 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 16th 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 have anyone, not even an adult neighbor who we knew, in the house when our parents weren’t home. We were not to even answer the door.When Tracey rang the doorbell and I saw who it was through the curtain sheers, I hid. I knew then as surely as I know now that it was more than following my strict mother’s order or fear for my personal safety that kept me from the door – I was embarrassed to explain my situation. I was embarrassed that someone had just shown up at my house. I think that I was embarrassed that it was Tracy, although I am still hard pressed even now to say why. We hid through another doorbell ring as well as a knock at the back door, and then she left, leaving behind the birthday package.
I felt like a shit. I was surprised by the gift. I knew I now had to acknowledge both Tracy’s surprise visit and our presence behind the curtains. My hypocritical mother chided me for not answering the door to my friend. I know I stammered some excuse to Tracy about not being home, or maybe even got brave enough to admit not being allowed to answer my own door at age 16. I was not brave enough to admit my discomfort with our friendship. How does one do that at 16 without at least knowing why? Without something obvious to blame, like a fight, or a new friend, or a boyfriend, or moving away?
The more I’ve tried to recall how I spent time with her in those years, the more I can see her sitting at our chosen cafeteria table during a free module, talking with some of the members of the group who were not super close to me, but a part of the group nevertheless, etc. Where was I? We must have shared lots ofclasses; we certainly shared senior home room, where we chatted away, passed notes and called each other “Monkey” and “Froggy” every morning. I knew that Tracey had started some voice lessons, that she was interested in a (older?) guy named Ian – a name I’d somehow never heard before and imagined to be spelled “Eon.” I knew she had friends from her neighborhood or from other walks of her life that were older, or different, or more sophisticated, or something that wasn’t me. I think I was glad that I was never included in those friendships. I knew that her mom smoked and her dad drank at Tommy’s, and that both of these things scared and fascinated me as being completely foreign to my own home experience. I once slept over at her house and came home with a copied Prince tape and a sleeping bag that reeked of cigarettes.
I still felt uncomfortable – I felt sought after for reasons that were unclear to me as well as flattering. But I didn’t seek back. Iremained the party of reluctant and least interest. I felt pressured by Tracey to be different than I was, to love her. I felt pressured by the good girl inside of me, and my artificial good girl mother, and by my own tendency to go with the flow to accept the friendship, but I refused to love it.
Tracey and I both went on the school’s annual summer trip to France after our junior year. We were generally roommates at each stop, along with 2-4 others from our group of school friends, and all of us mixed and matched up for the tours, the free time and the meals. This was my first trip away from my family, on a plane, overseas. I’m in shock to this day that my mother allowed it and I know that my mother would be shocked to know just how much free time, and personal freedom we were permitted, as well as by the potentially unsafe, but benign and relatively dumb things we did. Like getting lost between the Metro and Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, and accepting both directions and a Coke from a strange man at his neighborhood bar, and later ponying up some Francs and chaste kisses on the cheek when he insisted. Like visiting Le Pompidou and having to leave immediately with a bloody nose, wandering alone without my group into the large, slanting public square outside while I waited for the gush to stop.
While I waited (and hoped that it wasn’t forever) I gratefully came across Tracey who was already outside in the square for some reason. Perhaps on her own that day. We walked a bit, and stopped near a dark, filthy alley so that I could dispose of my wads of tissues and blood clots. A tall, dark man in dreadlocks approached us and we declined whatever he was offering as well as his unwelcome company, and yet I had the impression that he had approached us for a reason. As if Tracey had already been talking to him, or as if we looked like we wanted what he was offering. I don’t even know what it was – but I know I could not get away fast enough. When I revisited Paris two years ago, I returned to Le Pompidou and pointed out the general area of the bloody nose to my husband. I did not see the slightest trace of dark, or filth, or the man, or my fear.
On our last night in Paris, the school group traveled to a train station to take night passage to Lyons. Our days and nights of freedom in Paris were over and I cried over the transition. Tracey comforted me, and allowed me to wear her cool black leather jacket as several of us stood in the aisles and screamed goodbye out the open train windows as Paris rushed away. I felted protected, and warm, and much cooler than I was, and I was fine and happy again among my friends. We have a picture of our group inside our tiny 6-bunk sleeper room, each hanging out of our bed in order to fit within the frame of the doorway, and there are Tracey and I on the same level - was it the bottom bunks?
At some southern stop of the trip we stayed at a small hotel where the room keys were hung on giant brass weights, presumable to prevent theft. I remember getting confused over whether to leave the key with the desk clerk when you left the hotel during the day or when you had retired for the night. One night I returned my key and ran back up to bed, thereby creating the impression with our chaperones that I had been out all night. Laughable for a girl like me – but why was Tracey out so late? She was not out all night, although I think I may have taken her key down with mine on that other night of false accusations and unbelieving looks, but there was definitely a night when she went out and came back too late, alone. Where was she? Where was there to go all alone? How could she seek out the non-English speaking strangers of this little city and for what? I didn’t want to know and I didn’t want to be asked to come along, especially if it made me feel uncomfortable or uncool. I didn’t ask.
And perhaps those are the last of my specific memories….surely there were more passed notes, phone calls, weird feelings on my part, graduation, summer after, and the eventual drifting apart that happened to all of our group. I don’t know. I never heard from Tracey again and never wondered what happened to her. I think our next contact was just 5 years ago, when I joined Facebook. We eventually crossed paths, accepted each other’sfriend requests, and settled in to vicariously learn bits about each other’s current, daily lives on the Newsfeed. I remember feeling that same discomfort when we reconnected, like hearing from an ex-boyfriend and wondering what they want. Wondering if it is going to be the same. Wondering what is wrong with me that I am so mean and negative and private.
I slowly learned that Tracey was an ex-junkie. That it had been bad and that she had been clean for a long time. That I felt proud of her and relief that she had come to the other side of what must have been a nightmare journey. Then I learned that she had been on HBO’s documentary, ‘Black Tar Heroin’ and that it had been really, really bad. That she was even more amazing for her clean period, and her family and her social work. I wondered whathappened in in our years together that may have signaled her search for acceptance that wound up in drug abuse, what I had missed, what I had subconsciously sensed and run away from. Tracey began to write and write and write, and I found her life even more amazing and brave, and I read pieces of her life that meshed with mine, and remembered things I’d forgotten, and I knew I had been right all along about both her and about me. She had been struggling and needful, and that I had been scared and unwelcoming.
Where are we now? Where is she? Where am I?
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Friday, May 24, 2013
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
|blood draw from my leg|
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Monday, May 20, 2013
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 in a whore house. I was clean- I could finally make some money and keep it. Before I hatched these plans into action I realized for myself, I can not be clean and live dirty. I do not want to be surrounded by dope fiends, tricks, pimps, players hustlers. Most of all, I washed the desperation out of my clothes. I had to manage to keep my actions in check. it is not my thoughts but my actions that get me in trouble.
I really, really cringe when people describe me as some type of hero. I am no hero. I am just like every other clean addict. In fact, I am pretty ordinary. The extraordinary thing about me is that I am able to communicate my story to you on a daily basis. Come up with an exit strategy. Think of what you can do to keep yourself off drugs. Pull yourself out of the chaos around you. Find a new perspective. There is a new life on the other side.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
I am being somewhat dramatic of course but pain is generally private. My pain is art and on display. It makes me occasionally feel: fat, stupid, old. Then I get over myself. I am off drugs. I really do not care if you watch as long as you understand I am clean. I evolved from that person into a strong woman. I am enjoying my life. I don't actually hate the movie- I hate that so many people are still using and searching for answers.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
No needles in my neck today
Monday, May 13, 2013
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.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Saturday, May 11, 2013
I feel like I bitch and moan about my problems a lot in here. The reality is that I am clean and generally happy.
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 for this picture. I'm trying to picture if I would have kept using.
Friday, May 10, 2013
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 would innocently smoke hookahs and sit in a tent we pitched in her roommate’s bedroom. Amy introduced me to nitrous and gave me my first mushroom (of the psychedelic variety) and peanut butter sandwich. Amy also introduced me to her friend living in Chicago, Jeanine.
Jeanine was a character from a story, a breathing work of fiction. She was large and boisterous, outgoing yet introverted, compassionate yet amoral. She fascinated me immensely. I lived for her stories about her junkie experiences: stealing DVD’s at Borders and selling them to pawn shops, giving blowjobs to drug dealers to support her habit, having threesomes with her friends while out of her mind on various drugs. Jeanine was headed down a path of destruction, fueled by her friends in Chicago and her lack of desire to get sober. She’d been in and out of rehab with little success and she was showing no signs of letting up.
Something happened in Jeanine’s life that uprooted her and sent her to live with Amy for a summer. We spent every waking moment together. Jeanine used this time to get clean. For three months she was sober, I felt I’d taken her away from it all, I’d saved her. I didn’t take my aunt away from heroin, I couldn’t keep my mother or my grandfather from alcohol, but I was going to save Jeanine.
Jeanine returned to Chicago (which is synonymous with heroin at this point) and continued making money by stealing from Borders. Though I voiced my concern for her habit I didn’t judge because I knew I was moving to Chicago and I could keep her occupied and away from that scene. When I arrived in Chicago we celebrated by consuming gluttonous amounts of marijuana. We sat on my bed and smoked pot for hours, talking about our dreams and hypothetical situations about our futures. Jeanine promised to stop using. I knew she meant it. We had grand plans.
A few weeks later Amy invited me to do mushrooms at Jeanine’s. I’d done all the experimenting with drugs I’d planned to do and wanted no part in it. More importantly, I had my first real date in the big city! The date was lame and I went home early, exhausted from the effort. I woke in the early morning to a phone call, Amy explained that Jeanine was “going crazy” (she was naked and throwing herself into her refrigerator). I told her that they both had drug problems that I could no longer be a part of. I hung up my phone and went to bed. I’d had it. Mission failed. I couldn’t save Jeanine.
I woke up the next morning to another phone call from Amy. Jeanine had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance because she was unresponsive. I didn’t understand why Jeanine was having such a bad reaction to mushrooms. Amy said I was naïve; I hung up and took a shower. I let the warm water race down my back and cried; I sat on the floor and cried. I thought Jeanine was going to stop using. I thought I was going to save her. Something in me knew that Jeanine wasn’t going to come out of it.
I left my apartment with my phone in hand and no idea where I was going. My phone rang as I waited for the El to take me somewhere, anywhere. I knew as soon as I heard Amy’s voice, I froze and tears streamed down my face. Jeanine was gone. Jeanine was dead. It is the most profound loss I have ever felt in my life. Heroin had killed her and I was supposed to save her.
I knew an addict. I loved and I lost an addict. Jeanine taught me the most important lesson about addiction; there is no “saving” an addict if the addict isn’t first ready to save themselves. The Black Tar Heroin documentary sparked my interest in drugs yet my friendship with Jeanine extinguished the flames. Addiction is still a part of my life as I have friends and family members who struggle and yet strive to be more than their vice. I learned, through Jeanine, the true battles that an addict faces and the pain their loved ones suffer because of their choices. It’s been 8 years and there are still songs I can’t listen to, pictures I’ve locked away and letters I refuse to look at. Addiction is no longer a fascination, it’s a harsh reality that killed my friend and continues to eat away at my family. I am thankful that I had Jeanine to open my eyes and keep me from the dark end of the street.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
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 still am left wondering why. These are MY issues. I have a deep seated belief somewhere that I am truly a fuck up undeserving of anyone. So, I become a love junkie. Seeking the next thing that will make me feel alive. I crave attention like a hit. I need it. Badly. Then those feelings fade. And I am left feeling like- damn- why did I do all that again? I laugh at myself like I laugh at ducklips on facebook.
I am laughing at this attention whore below with fine tattoo work!. A freaking love junkie.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Monday, May 6, 2013
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 reason for me to feel this way. And yet I do.
I will not use drugs. I will not hurt myself. This will pass. Hope is defined by my character not any particular event. I'm sure you understand readers. Find one person who believes in you and wants to help you
Sunday, May 5, 2013
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 seemed to have faith in me. She was instrumental in me getting a rehab place.
The day before I was due to go into rehab, must have been 20th june 1999, I was once again stopped by the Police. I said to them " look im off to rehab tomorrow, ive nothing" quite pleased with myself. What they said still rings in my ears..." I don't give a fuck if you sort yourself out or not, its shit like you and your mates that are my bread and butter. I hope you fail, so you come back here and I can nick you"
Morning after I was gone, never looked back. A clean start, and a clean slate elsewhere...
But now im going back, there will be memories, there will be triggers, even after 13 years. In my recovery I haven't yet had to go down the route of facing my old stomping ground. Well I am now, im excited, and nervous, a triumphant return...I know what I have to do......
Saturday, May 4, 2013
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 from the doughnuts we had eaten earlier in the week. That was a major disappointment. I felt like a fool and I was angry that I hadn’t planned better and gotten more coke the night before.
Some people would tell me that because I was snorting the coke instead of shooting it, that I was wasting the high and wasting my money. But at that time, I had not yet injected drugs and thought that if I did, it would mean that I had a problem. I considered myself a social user because I enjoyed it so much, loved how my confidence grew when I was high, and I was able to be social with strangers and friends alike. My normally shy personality would be transformed into an outgoing, fun and exuberant one. Of course to stave off any feelings of anxiousness, I would wash the cocaine down with a six-pack of beer, two bottles of wine or a couple of glasses of whiskey on the rocks. But I believed I had everything under control. The fact that I was snorting coke all day at work and would come home and snort coke all night, didn’t phase me as troublesome. To me, I was just enjoying life. I would get high, clean my house till it gleamed or sit around and listen to music that would sometimes get me up and dancing. I thought my boyfriend at the time was completely uptight and I would resent him for interrupting my high when he would get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. He would be angry with me for not sleeping in a few days and keeping him up with my music. Couldn’t he see how much fun I was having?
Sometimes though, when I was hungover and out of coke, I would feel empty inside. I would wonder to myself why I couldn’t feel that good all the time? How did the depression creep back in so quickly? How were people able to relate to one another so easily without booze or drugs? Why didn’t I have the confidence in day to day life that I had when I was high? Why was I so shy and timid when I was sober?
But then I would meet up with my dealer, lay down some fat lines and begin drinking once again. All of those questions that I had when I was sober faded into the background. I once again felt my body chemistry align and felt the endorphins kick in. All was right in the world, and I was all about having fun.
It would take me some years to realize that my behavior was problematic. Concern from my boyfriend, my friends and my co-workers did nothing to sway me into believing that I had a problem. My dwindling bank account did nothing to make me stop. I believe that people give up drugs and alcohol only when they are ready to. And at that point, I was far away from being ready. But I knew in the back of my head that I had snorted doughnut powder that day in my car. People using recreationally would never end up in a situation like that. Maybe that was the beginning of my awareness.
Friday, May 3, 2013
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 transport myself to you. I am a few steps ahead reaching back for you. Recovery happens. Recovery is happening. It is here when you read and have hope that you can live a life without drugs.
I have been clean fifteen years. It is true- fifteen full years. But I need you as much as you may need me. I need to remember that I am clean but not cured. The struggle continues and junkies keep dying without a chance. And so I sit on my couch and cry for the sins of the world. And so I write and let you know recovery is possible.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
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 miracle. Then there is living life without the use of drugs. Sometimes I struggle but if I don't do the first, I can deal with the second.