After a long day at work I stood in the kitchen flipping cheese quesadillas. Tired, achy, and irritable. From the other room I can hear the kids arguing back and forth over a doll. The time to intervene comes. I raise my voice calling the name of the child I know is responsible for the chaos. That is when I hear the words “I am going to tell mom!” In a squeaky tattle tale of a voice. Every time I see my youngest play with dolls I can’t help but wonder how she plays make believe when nobody is watching. Is she kind, loving and nurturing? Is she patient and understanding? Or is she mean and yells a lot? Looking back I struggle with mom guilt on the way my baby dolls were treated. It’s no mystery that children will mimic the personalities of the major influencers in their life. The influencers I had in my early years were DARE program drop outs.
In 1991 my bio dad was murdered. Not just murdered but brutally murdered. The headlines read ‘CONVICTED RAPIST BEATS FELLOW INMATE TO DEATH WITH EXCERSICE BAR’. All the memories I have of my bio dad came from pictures. The first time I ever heard his voice was by accident when watching some old videos. The first memory I can recall ever having was his funeral. I remember my grandmother not letting go of his casket. Screaming at God for taking her baby boy. I had no idea at the time, but I was witnessing a part of my grandmother being taken that day. A part of her that she would never gain back. There would always be just a touch of sadness in her eyes. A sadness that would remain until he came back to get her in 2011. I was 4 years old when he died.
Bio mom’s blood type was heroin. I am sure just with that info you could paint a fairly accurate portrait of my childhood. Clean urine in the fridge was always a guarantee since she was always on some form of supervision. CPS, parole, probation, etc. Spoons were for cooking heroin and never for cereal. I remember one time living in a house so infested with fleas that when I put my feet on the ground my legs turned black from the knee cap down. No room for exaggeration. This comes straight from the diary of that one kid in class that your mom would curse for continuing to start the school lice epidemic.
It should come as no surprise that my baby dolls weren’t taken care of in the same way that other little girls took care of their babies. There was some yelling. There was some pretend cigarettes to the skin. There were some hotter than normal bathes given. Pretend of course. Until this day it has never dawned on me just how NOT normal that behavior is.
I hope my daughter forgives herself if she ever loses patience. I hope she knows that mistakes happen but we carry forward. I hope she knows that when it comes to being a mom, tomorrow is always the day to be better than the day before. If you aren’t happy with who you are then you have the ability to change.
I will never forget the car ride to the airport when I made the first real big attempt at getting clean. I was about to board a plane to Arizona. I looked over at my daughter, “Do you know why mommy has to go away for a little while?” She looked at me with the most grace filled eyes and said, “Yes mommy. You’re sick”. Before that day I am sure that I never realized the pain that I was causing my girls . Right then and there did something spark within me that said FIGHT. A 7 year old little girl had just explained addiction to me in words I could understand. I was sick. I made the decision right there to fight. Regardless of how many times I would stumble my daughter would never have to question her worth due to the fact of me not trying. Addiction is a beast. It changes every part of your being. It puts value on things that will destroy your soul. Reducing the value in things that should have been placed on a pedestal and never taken down.
That day hearing my children argue and threaten to pull their mom card gave me gratitude. No longer was I sheltered in the bathroom trying to find a vein with tears rolling down my cheeks while my child was babysat by the tv. Just for today that wasn’t me. I never have to feel that way again….if I choose not to.
God finds the strangest ways to remind you of where you came from. On this day I can find gratitude in that burnt quesadilla.
For so many years all I wished for was a DESIRE to want to change. Maybe if I would have prayed, instead of wishing, then I might just be writing a different story. I honestly was not sure that I would ever be able to change. The simple fact that others cared more about my well being then I did was half the battle. I was looking for a quick fix. Turns out there is no such thing when heroin is your demon. Becoming a full blown junkie takes time. Consist of many broken promises to myself. Many nights of restless legs. Theft. Multiple trips to rehab. Detox centers. Leaving against medical advice. Lies. Manipulation. Overdose. Jails. The list goes on.
The need for instant gratification is an underestimated factor in what that keeps an addict from getting clean and staying clean. I just wanted more than anything to want it. I spent nearly 3 months in one rehab. Walked out like 2 weeks before finishing the program. I was having pills tossed over the fence every chance I got. Pills packed in peanut butter and brought to me. I had the techs blinded thinking that I was wanting to change my ways when really I was just getting them comfortable enough to not watch me take a UA.
I wanted instant gratification. I didn’t want to have to do the work. I wanted to feel better and I wanted to feel better right away. In order to keep my youngest daughter, who was around 4 month’s old at the time, I would have to complete this 90 day program. I left 2 weeks shy of graduating. Was picked up by someone that was high as a kite. I had been abusing pain pills the entire time I was there. Nothing harder than that. It wasn’t long after I left that place that the needle found it’s way back into my vein.
There are so many people that make the statement that addiction is a choice. The choice is the first one you make. Control is lost immediately after. Once I made the choice that I wanted better for myself the disease of addiction still had a rough road ahead. Once the downward spiral began I was on a fast track to misery. Insanity is getting off of a train you know is headed to derail and yet as time passes you think the ride has changed. So willingly do you jump back on. Time and time again.
Today as we left church I couldn’t help but to smile. Husband was happy. All of our kids were happy. Life was good. When I look back at the path that led me here I can’t help but be amazed. I traded in a cotton filter and a bag of heroin for a life that I had convinced myself was not achievable. Yet here I am. I realized today that when I look back at who I use to be the shame that I have always felt has began to fade. I love who I have become. Not despite my past but because of it.
Some people are able to turn their life around the first time CPS shows up at their doorstep.
Some people get clean after that first overdose.
Others lose a friend or family member and are scared into sobriety.
Every scenario that I just provided has been experienced on more than one occasion. I couldn’t tell you how many CPS cases I have had. How many times I had to fight and prove that I was ready to be a parent. Only to celebrate the case closed with a cocktail of heroin and meth.
Overdose… I remember my first time. Being a type 1 diabetic I remember the paramedics trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I would go in and out of consciousness. I remember trying to fight with the nurses when they were trying to get my shirt off so that they could start an IV but I knew how bruised up that arm was from shooting up so I tried to fight them. That was when I finally shouted HEROIN. This was how I got my first dose of Narcan. After this the doctor comes in and says “Sir, I think your wife just had too much heroin”. Discharge was very quick after that. Once they become aware of your extra curricular activities…you get the boot real fast. I remember standing in the parking lot right after being discharged and shaking from the fear of what just happened and just how easily it happened and saying the words “We have to stop. Never again”. Only to find myself hours later sitting in a bathroom putting a flame to the bottom of the coke can. The hold that heroin had on me was undeniable. It was obvious I was far in over my head. Many years of pain lay in my future. After losing so many people to addiction it will begin to feel as though you are numb. Losing my biological mother and then six months later losing my sister in 2009. These are moments in my life where things began to shift. This is when I found myself at the fork in the road. It is crazy when you think about how so many people are about to make that split decision and sadly so many will make the wrong choice. One decision can change your entire future. Losing my biological mother and then my sister had a profound impact on me. The what if’s that surrounded their deaths was something that I allowed to keep me high for so many years. What if I would have tried to mend that relationship? Why wasn’t I able to offer the same grace that was so overwhelmingly offered to me time and time again? Why? So many questions that I would never have the answer to. The immediate regret of not mending a relationship that you had no idea you wanted. Then you come to terms with the fact that all those years your pain had disguised that “want” as hate. Life is unfair. When it comes to addiction you will never know which cards you have been dealt until the time comes to play the hand. Do you have that recovery card? The life saving hand. Or will you have to fold and become a lesson to someone else. I will never understand how I ended up with the life that I have today. What I did so differently to end up on this side of the deck. The life I live today is beautiful. I have an amazing husband that is my biggest fan. I have some amazing kids that drive me crazy but I wouldn’t change a thing. The key was finding a life that was worth having. For years I couldn’t imagine life without heroin….now I can’t picture life with it. I had to find a life that I enjoyed more than that high that I use to chase. Today that feeling was replaced with pure joy as my bonus daughter raised her hand to accept Jesus as her savior. That high was better than anything I could ever find within the contents of a syringe. The push of a needle finally could not even compare….
The struggle with getting clean is trying to find your place in this world with sober lenses on. For the longest time I couldn’t image a life that didn’t consist of the following:
Sun comes up: Either been awake on a bender or wake up from passing out, panic because you are out of dope and you know you are racing the clock on finding more, figure out who you are going to scam or steal from to get money, follow through with whatever scheme you came up with to score, finally have the money and feel this temporary sense of relief just knowing that you are about to feed the demon that is crippling you, start to feel sick because it has been 6 hours, call the dealer 37 times, the sickness is worsening and the stomach cramps and chills are beginning to appear, call your other connect and see what is up, finally all connects want to come through, score, not able to wait until you get home so have to stop in a parking lot risking your freedom, prepare the solution to your pain, spend hours trying to find a vein, finally it happens, euphoria for a short time. WASH, RINSE, REPEAT!
Day after day. Night after night. That is a day in the life of a heroin addict. The spiral of opiate addiction took me to places I never thought I would go. Situations I never could have imagined myself being in. To say that it was exhausting would be an understatement. My opiate addiction began March 10, 2009. The day my bio mom overdosed. This would be the first time that a pill was swallowed with the intent to medicate an emotion and it worked. It changed how I felt. At the time I had no idea that the desire to change how I felt was going to become my new normal. No clue that I was going to spend the next 12 years fighting the biggest fight for my life. Once my addiction took off I very quickly lost sight of what it was like to be sober. That vision would fade more and more with each relapse. People that got sober and stayed sober the first time were always a mystery to me. How the fuck did they do that? I have literally went to a meeting and left it and drove on auto pilot to the dope dealer. That easily. Once the detox is over recovery was always beautiful. I would start to look healthy again. Mending relationships that I damaged. For simply no reason at all I intentionally go back out. Thinking this time I would control it. I would be a functioning heroin addict. HA. I couldn’t understand sobriety and why anyone would choose it. I hated myself and the fact I couldn’t grasp recovery. I was tired of hurting my kids. I was tired of my parents health declining because they constantly imagined having to bury their little girl. The little girl that they saved from having a heroin addict mother has now become the heroin addict mother herself. Living sober was a distant memory. With each relapse I would lose hope that one day I would get it. One day I could wake up and opiates wouldn’t be the first thing on my mind. Each time in recovery I knew it was temporary. I didn’t understand why but I knew. I wasn’t ready. More than anything I wanted to be ready but deep down I just knew that I wasn’t. I would be in rehab and be using. Go to another rehab and do the same shit there. I seriously in my mind believed what I had tattooed on me. Like a raindrop I was born to fall…..I felt destined for this shit.
In October 2019 I said a prayer that was going to change my life. My life was a shit show. I was that functioning heroin addict I had once strived so hard to be. It was temporary obviously. There is no such thing as a functioning heroin addict…eventually the cards will come tumbling down. I asked God to slow me down. I knew I was about to run into a wall. I was broken and I was tired. I knew that the house I had gained during my last brief recovery, the car I was making payments on, and me being self supporting was at risk with every touch of a lighter to a spoon.
On New Years Eve 2019 my world changed forever. My prayers to be slowed down were about to be answered in ways I never imagined. The consequences of years and years of using have caught up to me. I was about to be in the fight for my life and for my recovery. Looking back if I could have greeted the year 2020 it would have been short and sweet….. fuck you.
“The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken”. Samuel Johnson
I have never found a more relatable quote. My childhood could have served as a bill board for social services. Bio-mom was arrested when I was born due to me being addicted to heroin. While I was detoxing in the hospital she was forced to detox in a jail cell and sit for the next six months. Growing up I was always told that I would be at high risk of addiction and that I would have a very “addictive personality”. This was drilled into my head from very early on. People may have said that I should never do drugs but what I took away from it was just don’t ever be like her. As long as I kept my “never would I evers” then I would be just fine.
NEVER would I ever use a needle. NEVER would I ever use heroin.
Looking back at my younger self, if I was able to give myself some advice with hopes of possibly altering the path of pain that was before me, what would it be? When I say that question out loud so many moments during my active addiction begin to scroll through my mind on loop. Would I offer up some hard knock truths about what is to come if I continued to abuse those opiates? Would I tell myself that true love shouldn’t be painful and leave bruises and broken self worth in its wake? Would I take that time with my younger self to explain the disease that had a hold on my bio-mother and that despite how it felt it was never because she didn’t love me. Just that advice right there would have held the power to shift so much in my life. Possibly I could have saved myself from having to walk in her exact shoes to find out that it was never about lack of love. It was about a demon that once attached it will forever either be walking with you in active addiction or lurking behind you with your every attempt to get your life back and the second you let your guard down your soul is snatched up like a $100 dollar bill in the wind.
“Hurt people hurt people. You will bleed on many people that will have never cut you if you hold on too long. So ponder it, pray on it, then get over it. You will miss out on many relationships that could have been mended had you just invested a fraction of the time spent being resentful into healing. Know your self worth. Not knowing your value will keep you in toxic relationships that will leave you more broken than when you started. Oh yea, rock bottom really does come as soon as you stop fucking digging. Go figure right!?! One last thing….there is no such thing as will power in addiction. So when they say you are at high risk for becoming addicted…..take that shit to the bank. Life isn’t going to be easy but regardless of if you take my advice or not….you will come out on top. Addiction means that you will live in constant confrontation with a side of you that wants you dead. So always respect it.” A recovering older version of you
Its hard to avoid the chains of addiction…especially when you were born wearing them.
Like A Raindrop I Was Born to Fall…..I will never forget the day that I had these words engraved on me. According to Wikipedia, tattoos fall into three broad categories: purely decorative (with no specific meaning); pictorial (a depiction of a specific meaning pertinent to the wearer); or symbolic (with a specific meaning pertinent to the wearer). At the time I had no idea just how symbolic these words actually were. Slowly over the years it became apparent just how little I really thought of myself and what my purpose in this fucked up world actually was.
Living in some of the darkest days of my addiction. Every day was spent the same. Wake up and your feet hit the ground running against the clock to get that next dose. There is no time to think about changing your life for the better. No time at all. During the year 2014 the only time the thought of getting clean would enter my mind was the time it took for the dealer to return my call/text. If you blinked it was gone.
This night in particular is forever engraved in my mind. So much flashes through my mind every time it becomes a topic in a conversation. Every time I find myself failing to be able to cover it up to avoid a conversation. On this particular night my addiction was put into context. Every thing about the direction my using had taken me became clear as day. According to “dope time”, we had been up all night shooting meth. I say according to dope time because every junkie knows that dope time is 3:1, meaning when I say we were up all night, I actually mean like 3 or 4 days easy. I believe that to be the standard ratio. We were hanging with one of the coolest people I know which just so happens to be a badass artist. I knew I wanted a profound statement. A badass quote or something. Something of a few words with deep meaning. The artist said the words “How about, Like A Raindrop I Was Born to Fall”….
I felt the words deeply. Felt that shit deeply in my soul. There I was wearing a long sleeve shirt during the hottest time of year in Louisiana. When I say hot…like you could literally cook an egg on the hood of a car kind of hot, but my wardrobe would always be determined by the night I had before. It was obvious why. Typically after being on a meth bender and getting little sleep there would be times it was damn near impossible to find a vein. It got to a point where it was damn near impossible no matter the situation. We started on the tattoo and would often take many breaks to get high. Each break was spent in the bathroom making failed attempt after failed attempt to use the last bit of heroin that I had. Knowing that I was running against the clock on the syringe becoming nothing but blood that would clot and then becomes trash. The last bit I had. Diluted to the point that I should have wasted it hours before I was stabbed with it. Yes I said stabbed with it. No need to go into that right now…that one deserves it’s own post. There was an unspoken rule that I broke on this night that caused a chain reaction of fuckery. The way the routine always went was:
Step 1) We buy the dope. Cook it up. Split it evenly between myself and the other person in the equation.
Step 2) Other person uses all of their half at one time. Due to my tolerance and the already multiple overdoses that have occurred, I am forced to split my half of the dope and do some now and save the rest for later.
Step 3) Later comes around and the other person forces me to share what is left of my half.
Once it was noticed that the dope that I typically was forced to share was now the diluted blood in the syringe….was when the real memory of that night begin. Coming down off of meth. Unable to use the last bit of heroin that I had. Feeling the sickness creeping in and taking over. Getting one of the most painful tattoos I had yet to have. Here is a little unknown fact about drug use and tattoos: meth will intensify EVERYTHING. Not knowing where the next fix was going to come from but knowing that the clock was never on your side when trying to figure it out is exhausting. The breaks became more frequent the more and more the sickness came. First come the sniffles. Kind of appears like you are coming down with a cold or something. Panic mode is near. It was okay though because on this break they went to go score. I stayed behind. There is no feeling out there that compares to being in the beginning stages of detox and seeing the car pull into the driveway. There is also no feeling out there that can compare to the feeling of finding out that because you didn’t follow the unspoken rules mentioned earlier…..none of the dope made it back home for you. None at all. Now would be the chance to teach me a lesson on following those easy 3 steps. The hours to follow consisted of me going into full detox mode. Tapping out on finishing the shading in my tattoo. Having to sit in watch the heroin that should be flowing through my veins nod out in front of me for hours on end. No money to score on my own. Knowing that until the gravity of the decisions I had made earlier that night had been drilled into my head never to behave like that EVER again… my symptoms would only continue to worsen. This experience would come to be known as one of the darkest days in my addiction. The words tattooed around my neck say it all about the life I was living during that time and how I truly believed that it was my purpose on this earth. To continue that fucked up chain of heroin addiction.
Every tattoo has a story. Mine just so happens to be painful. Many people ask me why I don’t just cover it up. The answer to that is so complex. Everything about the tattoo had a purpose. All the way from the words expressed to where I chose to put it. It is impossible to see it and not ask what the rest says. When I answer though the entire dynamic of the atmosphere will shift. It didn’t take me long to grasp that if I chose not to cover it then it would forever be a billboard for my past. It would forever be an ice breaker with my new employer to ask what does the tattoo that you tried so hard to cover up but failed epically say. Without a doubt it will always give me the stage to share my story. Then I would spend the next 10 minutes overly explaining myself in fear that any second now the rug of success would be yanked out from under my feet. Lets be honest, heroin addicts rarely are able to keep their feet on said rug. Typically they are are content with forever sleeping under it.
For the past 12 years or so I have spent going through the viscous cycle of addiction. The most sincere promises never failed to end up as the most hurtful let downs. Each promise ever made when in active addiction came from a place of the upmost sincerity with every intention of being kept but always ending the same. Unkept. Empty. With each broken promise came a relationship that I was leaving in a worsened state than the way I had found it. My ability to express empathy slowly vanished over the years. All of my never would I ever scenarios came with full force leaving me just as baffled at each new level of rock bottom that would be achieved. 2 or 3 scenarios in and then life will slowly start to unravel at a fucking ridiculous speed. A speed in which I no longer could keep up with.
I came into this world addicted to heroin. 32 years later and I found myself caught up in this cycle of heroin addiction and countless failed attempts of sobriety. Each attempt and failure would have me back in active addiction for another 4 months – 2 years. It would always vary. By the end of 2019 I was tired. I was using just to function. Just enough to not be sick. Trying to come up with some master plan to get off of heroin and somehow avoid feeling the symptoms of detox. This never worked. Once the detox symptoms start to kick in I would always become one track minded and on a mission to reverse the physical withdraw.
Who knew that a spoon could be so heavy….especially when you have been told for years and years never to pick one up……