Puzzle Piece #3
It was in the early days, when The Ex and I were intent on reining in our raging heroin addiction. We believed that you could manage to use heroin and hold down an full-time job. Wasn't that what I had read in a magazine somewhere? That even lawyers were getting stoned now? Hey they aren't junkies - they are 'recreational users'. Right. Perhaps we could get stoned just sometimes, instead of getting drunk or getting high and no one would know, bar each other?
What I did not know then was you always risk the chance that you may get hooked, it doesn't matter how often or less that you use. When you inject and keep on injecting , you risk a switch being flicked to on in the back of your brain , and you find that once your "on " you are never quite the same. For some people, that switch does not exist and for others - you already know it does but you resist for that very reason. You might be able to hold down a job but for the rest of your life , your always in constant battle with your mind as you struggle to fight it and then there is always the very real chance you can give into heroin entirely. I was nearly 20 and my schoolyard friends were slowly slipping away, moving onto bigger and brighter things. They wanted to go and frolic on the beaches, have barbecues and not talk about "shooting up". I was an alien to them. They did not understand why their friend was putting needles in her arm. It was shocking. It was sad. It was too much for them to deal with. Although I liked to inject needles into my arms, I could not tell them that. To make it harder to explain to them was that I still remembered what I enjoyed doing and dreaming about as a young girl and I still wanted that. I just did not have time for that anymore. I wanted something more. I wanted to make time for Heroin. Consequently, the numbness of the drug, felt good. In spite of myself and my dreams, I hit the switch down and slipped into the underground. Underneath the radar, we soared like broken angels on bent wings. The isolation of the total unknown embraced me with it's ungraspable comfort. I do not know what I was looking for back then, and why I thought it could be delivered from the eye of a needle...
We ardently believed that we could manage to hold down the job that had held for a year now. The Ex and I were working together canvassing (door to door) for a local softdrinks company. We explained away our blossoming dependence as a "naughty urge" to sneak in a few hits every now and again. Nothing too heavy, In the beginning Heroin does not grab you with all it has; Heroin toys with you - like a cricket trapped under the kitten's claw - forcing you to deliberate your entire direction.
Do you flay on the knife edge of death, powerless to the most addictive substance in the world or will you attempt to escape it's razor clutches?
Will you fight or will you die?
Do you say "No more?" Or do you say "One more time, just one more time"?
In all of my candid memoirs, I write to you as a recovered heroin addict. I can substantiate that Heroin was the mother of all substance addiction, for me. I do not smoke cigarettes ( unless I am drunk , lol ), drink alcohol (which I cannot do anymore) nor do I do other chemical drugs. I am not the 'typical' addict.
People often ask me.
"What is it about heroin that made you get so fucked up? "
I ponder how to answer this..as I don't like to glamourise the drug itself , but it is true. I would be lying if I said I never enjoyed getting wasted.
But I would rather my seven years, (think about seven years of this shit) back ?
I would rather have my degree rather than just starting it. I would rather my health and I would rather that certain people were alive.
Heroin wasted me away..Not the other way around..
But back to then.What was the appeal and has it stopped ? I hope so. I will always be prone to H, but I have better things to live for now. What holds us back, also gives us roots.. and so I learn to love and live, all over again. But the switch still will always exist for me. I simply love slipping under, I simply adore getting sexy and slow. I simply worship the silkiness of smoke and the seduction of sleep. That will always be with me. The minute I slipped into the warmth of the bath of opiates, the high embraced me with its soft and warm curves. I was totally smitten. I was firm and fresh for the picking. Pretty as peaches and naive to the lure of something bigger than I could ever describe to you. Opiates have existed for centuries for a reason.
The drug itself could not fail me when it came to giving me oblivion, but when the time came to come back down to earth, it sent me crashing with all that it had. Getting wasted was a powerful weapon in my artillery of denial, everything was easier if you your head was in the clouds. I guess the smack become a psychological crutch , which combined with the harsh and punsihing detoxification involved, makes quitting a constant yet distant second choice to getting high. Although the agony is totally valid and consequential, the double edged sword is this, the pain can also be knocked on the head - in an instant with just one shot. Just to make it stop. As Britney once said, "Hit me baby one more time."
Detoxing off Heroin was one of the worst experiences of my life. We are not nearly at the end of the memoirs, so I will not speed forward. But it can be done. I mean, I am alive now. But it takes everything you have, make no mistake of that. When you are totally spent and ready to stop, you will know. You come to the table with nothing and leave with even less. Actually, you do get something - however small - it is hope that you will survive this and maybe be that much smarter, that much stronger. Keep in mind, that when you have fucked every chance you ever got and every person you ever knew, in every conceivable way, surely that is all you can ask?
The Ex and I started off using every few days, when we were still living at the beach house we were renting. My first home and my very first mistake of many. Our "shabby chick" home was always filled with smoking strangers and people wanting to score. Needles started to appear in places that they shouldn't - the underwear drawer, under the beds and then sadly, my handbag. A real sign of the times. We were reluctant to admit that we were becoming hooked. But it happened anyway. The Ex and I ended up taking up the offer to relocate temporarily to Sydney for work. Like many junkies before us and many more to follow, we thought relocation was the best answer. If we couldn't hide from the defeatist urge to place the steel inside our arms then surely the second best option was to run? This was back when we had every intention of going back to university and then maybe get married. We wanted to be in love and make love. Fucking felt so good, the icecream was so blissfully sweet when we were melting into it. Heroin blew my mind and my innocence. It shrank the pupils of my eyes, as it pulsed through my needy veins , it enlarged my lust for the high , the ultimate high - for the ultimate price.We wanted it all and we wanted it now. But we never stopped to question ourselves.What was this heroin thing - and what had it done with my life ? I never arrived at that answer in time to save myself . Then suddenly, it was out of my hands.
We were slaving every day in earnest, only to slink home to blow the effort straight up our dedicated arms. Then we would go on the nod in front of the television, cigarettes smoldering into our clothes. Then the next day, rinse and repeat. Together, we would toil in the sun, united in our neverending quest for dope dollars. Struggling in earnest to earn dollar for dollar. Both trying, our deluded hardest. That's how it is in the early days. The Ex would be scoring off the dealer, when our boss would arrive with the "straight" people waiting in the van to go and door knock for the day. The dealer would be inside and I would be getting whacked up by The Ex and then splashing my mottled face with water. Morphine prickles , leave red telltale stains upon a vacant expression. I was always so stoned. I was always so sick.
I never did anything in halves. Pity that.
After a rude delay of about ten minutes, The Ex and I barreled into the cramped van ready for work, off our heads. In the crowded cabin of the car, our voices mumbled hello, the tone husky and satisfied. Rubbing our faces and feeling above it all, your flying at three in the afternoon. You just don't put a shot away for later on. Not if you're sick. Too bad if people are waiting. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a worried "Are you ok?" from the other side of the bathroom door. Sometimes The Ex would force me go out to the guests in the loungeroom and make idle conversation while he struggled with his veins behind the closed door. I would sort of chatter nervously, eventually excusing myself to go back into the bathroom for a hit. The guests would sit out in the lounge room, wondering and waiting . Where had their friend had gone, in more ways than one ?
I blundered on, as long as I was getting the money for the hit then I couldn't be expected to wait a moment longer than I had to. I just figured that you all "just didn't understand" . I never thought maybe I had no idea what I was doing or how I looked. I was in it up to my neck and that was hell enough. It wasn't too long,(about five months ) before people started to sense that I was always starting to lose out to the drug. Eventually people stopped asking you, what was going on. Then all of a sudden you turn around to find them , then you find that you are all alone.
The cricket stops fighting and releases into the torture and slowly wills itself to die.
Looking for a love , forever gone, but something we will always want.
So now, your a heroin addict. Suprise ! Well, only sort of. I mean, you look like shit and you are starting to sound, look and feel like a junkie. But now, it is official. Your fucked. The family and friends that loved you, knew what you were doing when they found that syringe lid, wrapper or syringe you left in the bin, toilet seat, and top of the shower. In your pocket. When you started repeating excuses. When you just "didn't show for things anymore". Yes , the jig was up and everybody knew, what was starting to happen. But I thank them now for caring and trying to save us from ourselves. I can only repay you in smiles that we share today.
I am sorry that I played my friends as fools; I frightened them with my needles and my selfishness. I lusted blood and flow and nothing more. The only person that was ever fooled was me. (And I frightened myself, so I understand.)
So we tried to run away from the addiction but the drug found us first. We thought that all we needed to do was get back to basics, maybe just smoke a little pot, chill out. No more needles and no more smack. We really, really tried. But, not hard enough. As soon as we re-entered society we were straight back to using with passion. Not only did we blow all of our savings, we also sold a lot of our possessions that made us feel a little bit of self worth, personal jewelry, televisions and stereos and cds. Gone. So many things I have lost. It makes me so sad. Things I lost that I never knew I would miss, things like seven years of my youth.
I remember when we returned from Sydney and found our home had been ransacked. I still remember the smashed glass as the door leered open from its busted hinges, to welcome us back , our little home destroyed around us. We stood in the entrance to our bedroom with our luggage dangling in disbelief. I surveyed the total destruction of our lives, and the birth of a new age of despair. I remember a huge rat running comically over our bed; and we burst out laughing out of pure shock. I think some street kids had been squatting here. It did not look how I remembered it. It did not smell how I remembered it. "It" was not my home anymore. Although we had not had a shot for a few days, it did not seem to matter. All I wanted to do was get high now. It seemed to be always there, never changing - and always willing. So we did it, amongst the rubbish and with the doors wide open, like rodents ourselves, injected the very last bag of comfort as we always knew we would. Who were we kidding?
I remember picking my way through the overflowing rubbish and the pans filled with strange rotting food. Food I had never bought, by people I had never seen. I remember crying like I had never cried before. The Ex looked at me and tried to compensate for his "friends" that had done this to us. This was the life he could provide to me? I was so angry. Even he looked shocked , it was our first brush with the nasty side to heroin addicts. The stealing. The fucking over. All this damage, everything was broken and impersonal. Nothing was something I know , or even wanted anymore. This could never be my home again never trusted what we knew , from then on. The wind had definitely changed.
Deep indentations in the leaf strewn carpet, was all that was left to remind us of our possessions. Broken wires twisting out of the walls and the carpet stained with human waste and mouldy bowls full of spaghetti. It wanted to tell me a story , a story of despair but I blinked away the darkness as it reminded me too much of my own. I was better than this and I clung to that hope, forever. Blankets and dirt strewn through the house. Like a testimony to my fate, the sharps canister was thrown on the bed. Syringes dotting the duvet. The yellow biohazard symbols even brighter in the grim harshness of the day. A notice taped to the dilapidated door, stating we were evicted. The writing jagged and pissed off looking. The signature underlined twice. We expected this part though.
That is what happens when you run away from things.
I was expecting us be locked out on our return from interstate. The house was now deemed unsafe, and would have to be totally remodelled. I felt ashamed that my family, after being asked by the landlord to collect my things before they went to the dump. So as my eyes took in the littered landscape , I knew she had seen this. She cried when she found the syringes. It was undeniable now. There were about seventy of them scattered over the bedroom floor. The little children, my borther and sister, had to be taken outside. The stepmother, forever the clean freak, attempted to scrub clean the pungent mess through a curtain of tears and shame. It was whilst she was packing away my makeup that she found the positive pregnancy test. My sister recalls that The Stepmother sat crosslegged in the bathroom, staring at the positive strip. Devastated and alone with her rage and denial, she cried amongst the shattered mirrors and beetles. As a parent, she cried for her little girl and for the grandchild she would never, ever see. It broke her heart that I had drifted so very far away. The cold reality that I was still out there, alive or dead - nobody knew. My baby sister still recalls that day with melancholy, she was seven and the memories of the needles and her innocence slipping , are vivid and real. When I hear my memoirs , from the other people involved, is just as heart wrenching for me as it is for you the reader of mine. It sickens me my family went through that, but my sister will certainly never touch needles. Just ask her.
I had only just spoken to my friends that day and reassured them that I was clean and that I was off the drugs. I heard the sadness in their voices , and I could not place it. Now, I knew, that they too had seen this mess and I knew there was no more hiding from the shame and hurt that was on the horizons of us all. Everybody knows/
That night I struggled to clean the house. I wanted to try and salvage some sense of responsibility - I wanted control. I was screaming at the Ex , pleading with him this life had to stop, I mean where this end would? The house, the utilities where all in my name. I was turning 19 and I was meant to be over the stupid mistakes, the bad judgment. It seemed that everyone else our age had cars, boyfriends and nearly finished university degrees. All I had was a drug addicted boyfriend, two holes in my arm, a garbage bag full of clothes and a lot of favors I needed to call in .