3030 word memoir - comments appreciated - makes it worth it - blah blah tired !
When you’re trying to grow up as a teenager addicted to heroin , it ain't easy. You become even MORE selfish and indulgent, bitter and resilient to anyone or anything that comes between you and the drugs. I've never been told by my parents why saying ‘No to drugs’ is still considered a powerful personal choice. Rather, I have been thinking all my life , that saying "No" to drugs is what you had to do to please others, a way of conquering the fear of choosing to be someone different. Someone who would try Heroin. That was me. I wish I learnt that saying No was ok, early on in my life and got my thrills from other less life threatening persuits. Sometimes, I wished I had played sports, learnt how to drive or persisted with my ballet lessons. Maybe, things could've been a lot easier. I always reveled in (and always will) taking the road less traveled. A result of this being that I have ended up in some pretty desolate places - places that no matter how much I describe , in detail, the smell or the sights - you are lucky not to know them.
You really are.
When I was in love with The Ex, I always held on to hope.
I would hope, with as much as my naive heartstrings could carry, that everything would turn out ok. So we took a wrong turn. But then we grew up into even bigger problems. However, the Ex and I thought that if we could fumble our way through the motions of an ideal existence - it would find us for real. Ambitious (yet totally deluded for being so ambitious) the Ex and I tried to maintain our dignity in other ways. We made rules in the sand that we could never break. Lines that could not be negotiated - no matter what.
We would never steal.
We wouldn't rip off people whom we knew didn't rip off others.
We respected our dealers and would never harm them.
We would try to pay the bills.
We would try to pay the rent.
We would not cheat on each other.
We would not leave each other.
We would always try to retain a sense of self.
Yet we drew up these rules of engagement and crossed so many, in that same shared sand. With only high hopes to guide us , we fell short of this list on many occasions. Situations unfurled in a madness that we could’ve never foreseen. Sleeping outdoors so we could afford a hit, then begging his parents and pretending that he was dying of blood posioning. They lived far away and would wire us cash which we would turn into dope. We could only do that a couple of times. A lot had to happen before I chose to get better. In fact, it wasn't until every single bridge had been burnt in my life, that we could salvage any self worth. I found my sense of dignity and respect smoldering, whipped into a frenzy by the whistling winds of the greatest denial.
As addicts, we denied love in all shapes and mutations (unless it was tapped into our veins from the needle) Love, and the all the gamut of emotions it required became too painful to own and too precious to give away. We loved the drug so much, that it took everything else along with it. We were stupid. I won't pretend that we weren't. It seemed to those who cared about us, our sordid demise was inevitable. The stepmother never understood what was more heartbreaking for me, as a young girl, was the gradual descent of self-love. I tried to believe that the drug was just trying to help me love myself. It didn’t. I wanted to be ok with not hitting the big time, I wanted to have a chip on my shoulder and then it became all of me.
Just before I rehabilitated, The Ex would stroke my face to sleep on the nights we were forced to sleep on the streets of the city. I would be fading away before him, in total trust. He could let me sleep as he kept a watchful gaze over his princess, his vigil made easier by the nightmares that stopped him from sleeping. With the traffic as our endless lullaby, we fell into a fitful concrete-clad sleep. Other times, he slept in hallways and doorways. Wherever he could find somewhere soft and warm.
They fight over places to sleep you know?.
What would you do to stay out of the rain ?
Keep in mind, The Ex was not a loser. We both went to university and we both have different endings now. He slept on the streets to save s money. It was what had to be done. He just slept "outside". It was the only way I could afford to feed us both. I managed to avoid the homelessness, being a girl. I guess you could call it lucky.
Even junkies who knew both of us, were saying it.
"You guys should give up" Working Girl suggested many times.
"We're going to soon, ' I said.
Or maybe it was the Ex that said it?.
"We're going to get married, you know?"
No that was definately him.
I blush. I lick a stream of blood from my forearm.
"One day.." I say to nobody in particular.
The Streetwalkers took our images in, with those world weary eyes. Makeup caking in the dismal expressions. Clown like faces against the saddest expressions.They want to believe you, and believe in the chance that two junkies may kick together - but these street warriors look fifty for a reason. They had seen it all. I wondered if I could just leave it at that ?
We were grappling with survival, trying to understand this all encompassing need for dope that started every day of your waking life. It was almost too much to comprehend that somehow we were supposed to dredge up love as well. However much I wanted to be girly and pink, prissy and polite - it was all a grand illusion. My veins were like engorged rivers that brought warm and seductive bliss onto the glacier of my heart. I thought maybe I could love heroin and keep all the plates spinning. No one would have to know that I could not cope with being 'normal'
I was wrong.
Everyone tried to tell me and I guess I just wouldn't listen. My parents invited The Ex and I over for Sunday Roast. How apt. Normally dinners and family get togethers would usually arrive at a crashing cresendo - someone usually in tears and more shouting and screaming ensues. Tonight was not going to be any different. So the tension struck, just as dinner was being served. Roast chicken, my favorite. Mind you, the situation that unfurled wasn't helped by Dad. The ex was falling asleep at the table, on the nod, when my Father shouted from the bathroom.
"You left your spoon on the bathroom sink, you fucking dirty junkie"
The next thing I see, is my father barreling down the hallway and I anticipate that he wants to hit my boyfriend, so I juxtapose myself, in between them. He pulls up, slightly. I know that my father is livid, he is not an aggressive man but I feel things have reached a “crisis point’. Why is there never a good shrink around when you need them? My father flashes his teeth as he speaks, yet he is not smiling. His jaw is squared off in anger; his eyebrow’s knitted and squirming like hairy caterpillars. I find it distracting. I have never seen him this mad before. We are in a new age of reason.
My initial reaction was anger. That never lasted. Instead, I just felt afraid.
I mean why did he have to go and shoot up at my parents place??
Fuck Man. I know he said he couldn’t wait. But he should’ve waited.
The ex is remaining quiet and he looks like he is about to run. I feel his torso stiffen. Maybe dad is mistaken. I try to negotiate.
I looked to see if Dad was up to this way of thinking and I saw My Ex's face burn red in the deafening silence. The silence said it all. He did it. The Stepmother dropped the corning ware into the sink, chicken juices and ceramics shattering over her feet and hands. We all jumped yet the diversion did not reach to rescue the tension. The Ex took this as a chance to barge past me and my Father and run off into the night. We were in the middle of the 'burbs – but I knew that would not worry him.
I really, really should have let him go.
Love is blind and so we all blunder on. So I chased him through the streets, with dad chasing me and then Mum was chasing Dad. All of us united in the thrill of the chase, we wanted to catch some understanding. We all wanted answers to our own persuit of what was right. My dad is slowing behind me. I hear his raspy breath. I keep on running. I think about Dad and how he is getting on a bit, and he really shouldn’t be running. But do I stop running ? No.
I won’t give up on my love just like he won’t give up on me.
My stepmother catches up to him. I think she hurt herself running. I only notice then how far we are from home.
I am still running though, as the Ex leaps into the forever expanding darkness ahead. He never looks behind him, not once. The Ex is pounding the cement relentlessly with his constant steps , the noise of his joggers slapping the bitumen, ricocheting of the sleepy suburban houses.
“Please ...stop running !” I shout to the figure in the distance.
I manage to gasp, my insides overcome with spasms.
"Who are we running from?!" I gesture into the vaccum of midnight. He stops running and we stare at each other, greedily gulping in the air between us.
I move towards him and soften my tone. Maybe the Ex was running from his own demons. I did catch him on that night, we had run so far and so fast - that my parents silhouttes were mere dots in the darkness. I remember when the exact moment , when I hard my father stop running. I remember how lonely my own solitary footsteps sounded.
I remember the mixture of sadness and guilt as I kept on running. As they faded into the background of my life .that I was running from, they could do nothing anymore but let us run towards what we wanted - each other
It was our fourth year anniversary dinner, The Ex and I .
What a love story? I just saw less of my family after that. I have always been a deep thinker and this is why I am able to record the memoirs, I lived and breathed every moment of them. Images so crisp, I can paint them with words..in a way they are too beautiful to forget..
It is sunset and the very cusp of winter. We would go and sit on the windy sand dunes until our eyes stung in the salty breeze. Seagulls squawing in the distance, seaspray dotting our cheeks. I remember searching the horizon for hope or salvation, then we would kiss like lovers and hold hands like everything depended on that single moment in time. I would tuck into the threadbare sweater that he loved to wear, as the sand scattered winds buried us with time. We stayed there many times, alone in our thoughts but together we braved them. He felt warm and comfortable, even without the sweater. Even if we were stoned at this moment, our guts were churning with sadness and fear. I clung to him harder and tried to block out the howling winds as it crowded through my brain. I still smell that sweater and I still hear that howling of the winds , I still remember the shock I felt when I realized it was him.
I tried to hang around people that were straight, I wanted to be like them - care like them and act like them. I wanted to give a hoot about fuck knows what and who's doing who. I would perch upon the lounges of intellectual types and fancy dandy scholars and make feeble conversation about the latest sporting event or real estate. I would delight and tease all the gentlemen and collect business cards like candy. I would weave elaborate stories of who I was and what I was going to be. I embellished not only for them, I did it for me. In reality, the brutal truth was I was a junkie who slept with a lot of men to get high. I didn't want them to choke on the vole vents.
To compensate for "their lack of knowledge" I become adept at omitting details and manipulating conversations away from potential "moral minefields" of sex work and drug addiction. I became two entirely different indemnities. The Working Girl and Me. I started to meet and date men who were succeeding in life and it made me question things like never before.
You see, all along I wanted to be in a honest relationship with The Ex without the drugs , to see which one I could love more. Was I with the Ex, just because I was co-dependant on him - like many other things before him? Why do I always have this massive need to make someone so intoxicated to me, I am not happy until they are quivering with the fear of losing me?
It is not like I am the poster-girl for emotional stability. I was working 18 hour days, with no respite in sight. I wasn't sure anyomre if he was entirely as helpless as he made out. I wanted him to expose himself as a user of not only heroin but me and everything he had ever loved. Then I could leave him and not feel bad for it. I never got to find out if I really was the girl he wanted to marry. How much I wanted him to treat me with love and respect - not just because I supported his habit - but because I was worth so much more than that.
Everyone told me he was using me for the gear and I guess I just refused to see it. I wanted to hope for more. Instead I just shot up more, to make the doubts disappear. Pale skinned and precious, I made many secret attempts to leave him.
I admit to you though, that I only left him to see how fast he could chase me. I knew I was addicted to him and the comfort of this will do.
I knew in my mind, I deserved better but my heart was willing to settle. So a fool, alas in love, we become. I tried to sever the ties in the meantime; I would go and stay with friends I had met on the game. He was very good at finding me. I was his life. I was his ticket to a better life. I started to realise that maybe, we were destined for different paths and I was becoming a little tired of being a 'free ride'.
I wanted very much (perhaps too much ? ) to be the girl who made him love himself again , and maybe in turn love me? I wanted to be his happy ending. I did not wish to abandon him. He feared being alone, the most. He would chase me down, hysterical and in tears. He would slash his wrists constantly. Stalk outside my motel rooms, and call my cell phone endlessly. The Ex would bail up my friends and then the dealers. He knew my dealer personally, for a start. He also knew that he was the only one who could shoot me up at any time, every time.
He knew that I would need him again, some time too soon.
Sure, I had girlfriends that tried to shoot me up, but I was demanding, impatient and outright rude. I was used to the Ex and the way we did things was so second nature. I missed it, immediately.Sometimes I would be so demanding that Working Girl would panic and inject the gear into the wrong vein. Instantly my arm swells like a gigantic and morbid sausage filled with blood engorged muscle and paralyzed tendon. You have to wait about two hours for it to sink in. In the mean time your arm is paralyzed and engorged with fluid. It is extremely painful. Not worth wasting the hit, so I would go back. Without heroin, there was no point to dreaming forward.I would try and convince myself and any one else who would listen , that I was just going back to him, 'to get things sorted and then maybe the rest would work itself out.' Then you wake up, nine days later and you realize your habit is bigger, your poorer than ever - you love each other yeah , but so what? Who the fuck cares about that?
When the gear was great days could blend into weeks and you rode the wave whilst you could. Sold your jewelry to get more, worked the highway instead of waiting for the jobs to phone in. Work in an agency and on your own. My earnings started off fabulous for two years then slowly petered out as I became more sick and complacent ( jaded) Plus, I was no longer the new girl on the block and I let a lot of my clients get fucked around, not only by me but by many other young junkie girls. I would sell them to the highest bidder and absorb the profits. I was always one step ahead of some street girls that had meager educations. I looked after them as much as I could, but I made a tidy sum for the task. I was ruthless. I met attractive girls hooked on the shit and I knew that as long as they were sick they would need me and I would need them. I worked with many girls like that, some got better - some died. Life happens. Eat less. Take valium. Take Rohypnol's. Send your man out to beg for money. Yeah, the Ex started to think that maybe he could sell himself too. I knew he never would though, because he never could. For me, the legs were open - but the mind was closed. Lines in the sand, gone forever.
Even by doing some of these ideas - you would only ever get a rather short term "earn" for a day's scavenge. Enough to use for a few more days. As we moved throughout your malls and we hovered in your petrol station toilets, we jacked up and spat out. We rewarded each other bravado for every new trick that could be done, to get more dope. The habit got bigger so we had to get smarter. Tolerance is a bitch.
I was spending at least three hundred a day - on each of us. That is every day, until the end of time. Until one of you dies. That is how bad it is now. So how you gonna earn today? The Ex found out new ways to pilfer change from public telephones , and the racket became so large - they now manufacture public telephones in the area - completely different. I would never tell him how the men would touch me or how many there was. It was just money. It was unspoken. Except when we were sick. Out it came. How it was my fault we were in this mess, because I made it so easy for him to get stoned. I spat in his face. What a sell-out. I might of been able to peddle my wares, but I was not about to start bargaining with him, who would bear the personal cost of our addiction. It was both of us. It was all of us. The gear, we never tried to mention it - when we didn't have it - but we didn't have to as it hung in the air between us, like a giant cloudy question mark.
It was ok for me to start to take my clothes off, because it would be. It would all turn in to normal behavior and it was just easier that way. It paid for me to be with other men, but it didn't pay to think about it. I enjoyed many high-profile clients and the pantomime rolled on through several towns and I definitely was the coming attraction. For a long time I was the celebration of the industry. I was nineteen, educated and uniquely open and engaging. For at least two years we lived like royalty, in the kingdoms of invincibility.
When we got these nice places (before the motel rooms) we were full of hope, it was swish and with a layer of heroin - it was to die for. I refused to spend money on condoms or any props for my customers. I am a natural saleswoman and I was open to ideas. I also make others very aware of mine. Everything extra was B.Y.O. I was fully kitted out in the latest lingerie, purchased by well meaning albeit adoring clients and heeled in the finest of shoes and sundry. I just supplied the long legs and the lusty laugh and The Good Times. I reveled in being worshipped. It was a great fantasy to play and I craved love, from all the wrong places. I snorted coke and had group sex. It all felt kinda wrong though. Even stoned.
I met some wonderful ladies though and I guess I don't regret that part !
I never met a male client that I could've fallen in love with, the Ex was always very worried about this eventuating. So much so, that he became increasingly paranoid and wanted more gear as a result to "handle the stress". He banned me from the agencies forever. I was on my own with him now. No more fancy cheese. I could occasionally oblige him of this lavish treat and let him nearly overdose on the shit. Sometimes, I would wish for it to happen. Things all pretty, were looking quite ugly.
Footnotes and Mentions
In the worst of my days, health supplies were made available to the general public for free by the local welfare. We collected condoms and lube when we got our new canisters of syringes. Kind like grocery shopping for the "bare" essentials. I didn't do a lot of sex as the other girls would do it for me. It was my pay-off for scoring the dope. I did my share and that is all I am prepared to recall, at this moment in time. All the girls used the condoms that the clinic provided. They saved many, many, many lives by making them free.
I hear along the grapevine, the government is always trying to shut down the clinic that I went to due to complaints from the locals about the "undesirables" that congregate outside said "pits of hell". I think if they just lived inside my motel room at the height of my addiction for a few months - they would fund for another two clinics in the city. The clinic was tucked in behind the Methadone clinic and shifty people would lurch like ghoulish doorkeepers and welcome you in the "little shop of horrors" That's what they called it. But for me, it was a place of understanding and safety. I would not need to give personal details and I could just name the drug I was using and then The Needle Exchange would give me the fits. Number One was all you had to say - That was Heroin. Then you gave your age and your postcode. Unfortunately, though that was all you had time for as you had the 'fits' and most probably some fresh 'gear' that could be put away, quick smart. That's why I don't have AIDS, no other reason.
I would say God Bless to the tireless volunteers that work in such important peer education and health "safety zones" - but they don't want that - they just want to be real contributors to society and continue to do what they do - they can and always will, easily do without the accolades and trimmings. To you guys, you helped me. You guys do change lives - like mine - everyday.
What education I garnered from your services, on the safety of ; not only sex work but also intravenous drug use has been a key factor in my survival. I thank you guys from the bottom of my beating heart that I am alive.
I know that you read along and hope for the happy ending, much like I do...everyday of your lives. We hope for a day of improved understanding and support, for us all.
Anyone can be a hero or a heroine ,
And I pass your message on to others that they can live on..
This memoir is for you.
How did this memoir make you feel ? Your comments are appreciated. Don't be shy.