Monthly Archives: April 2014

A Riot Grrrl Amoung A Sea Of Stepford Wives

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter had a play date at one of her good friends house. I drove her over to this girl’s house to drop her off. This was my first time meeting her parents, and they asked me if I would like to stay while the girls played. Panick time! I mean we are talking severe anxiety.

I am by nature a very shy nature. Luckily, my husband and son were in the car and we were on our way to Home Depot to buy supplies to fix a major flooding disaster that was occurring at the house at that time, so Imwas able to politely decline. Crisis averted.

Yes, I was a server and a bartender for years, a job that requires speaking to perfect strangers all day long in order to procure tips. That I can do, especially behind the bar. I mould keep ESPN and NFL Network on the TVs. I can start a sports conversation with anyone. I love sports. I am obsessed with football. I can talk for hours about the draft, free agency, trade deadlines, where a team went wrong switching from the four-three to the three-four, when a team should bench a QB, etc. That usually gets people at a bar talking (and tipping). I have learned the cardinal rule to NEVER talk about politics. Or religion. I am true to form Taurus, meaning that I am stubborn as shit. I have very strong political views. Because of this I don’t speak up when political discussions are buzzing about in my bar.

Put me in a jail cell with eighteen other women in a cell that is meant for one person, and I will talk. I will even start the conversations. That is basic psychological survival. Time ticks by incredibly slow in jail. Every minute feels like an hour, every hour feels like six. Sitting in silence in a stubborn refusal to talk to anyone makes a bad situation even hellish. Talking, making friends, doing hair is the best way to past time. In jail there are many addicts, mothers who are pulled away from their children. We all have the Sam struggles, regrets. It is nice to cry with someone who can understand the pain and guilt that comes with watching your child walk out the door on the other side of a glass window, while you are cuffed and taken back to your cell. To agonize together about the physical anguish and misery of detoxing off of heroin in a jail cell.  Being dope sick sucks ass, but when you are on a gym mat for a mattress, your never ending back ache is multiplied exponentially. The guards seem to get off on watching you flop like a fish, letting their inner sado-masachist  come out. You will be lucky if they give you a Tylenol and some Pebto Bismal. The number one way to pass time in jail is to sleep, but insomnia is another horrible side-affect of detox. So, you might as well talk to people. Make friends. Tell stories. Just don’t talk about pending charges. That is rule number one.

Why is it, then, that I can talk to people in these circumstances, but  damn near have a panic attack when this little girl’s parents invite me to stay at their house? The most basic and simple explanation is that both of the examples above were cases where I HAD to open up. I had to talk. It is not merely that simple, however. Yeah, I had to socialize, but I was never hit with the wave of anxiety that happens to me when I am around other parents at my kids school.

More so with my first child, there is a huge age difference. 95% of the parents of the kids in my daughter’s class are a decade older than me, at least. I am well aware that there a millions of women who have children at 21 (the age I was when I had my daughter) or younger, but they aren’t at my kids school. I am a lot younger than the parents of my son’s friends, but as he was born three years later, it is a slightly smaller gap.

The age is just the beginning. The economic status in the biggest difference. We rent a basement apartment with three bedrooms from my mother. I live in the house that I grew up in. My children go to the elementary school that I went to. We could never afford to live in this school district otherwise. I mean we have ex-NFL players across the street, owners of huge construction companies next door. A recent Truila search of houses for sale near by, showed a few houses. One was $750,000 and that was the cheapest. Most of them were well over a million. Yeah, my husband and I are affording that lots.

We just look like we don’t fit in. You can tell by the looks on their faces. My husband has full sleeves. I only have a few tattoos, but I have yet to see a mother up there with a tattoo. I have actually been asked if I was the nanny. For real, I dropped my daughter off at a birthday party. The party was their house, but it was a freaking circus. Moon bounce, clowns, animals, a whole slew of carnival games. The goody bags that were given to the kids were worth like $35. So, I drop her off, and the lady says’s ,”Hi, I am (name not mentioned), (girl’s name) mother. Are you her nanny?”. No sorry, lady. Just because I am 15 years younger than you, doesn’t mean that I can not have children. I know that it is a shock that there is someone that is not in the 1% at this school but here we are.

The differences are not just age and socioeconomic status. It is everything. I am not a Stepford Wife. I am stubborn. I can be a major pain in the ass. I am a feminist. I roll up at the school bumping 2 Chains and Jay-Z. Of course there is the criminal record. The fact that I am a recovering addict.  I listen to these women talk, and I just can not relate. I do not get facials weekly. I do not attend ten thousand dollar a plate political dinners. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the county councilman who is being groomed to be the governor of Maryland one day, his kids are in my daughter’s class.  The struggle of not having transportation during the day due to the fact that my husband I share a car until he gets a work truck. I get looks like I have three eyes when I explain this.

I am not saying that I am any better. I am uncomfortable going outside my shell, and they won’t come out their world. Maybe I should be more Stepford, but it just is not me.

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Who Is The Addict?

Image  For the hell of it, I decided to do a Google search on “Heroin Addicts”. The above photo is an example of what came up. There was pictures of Amy Winehouse and Macauly Caulkin, who are of course known heroin addicts. The rest were sickly, anorexic-looking people. All pale skin and stringy hair. Some were probably legitimate pictures taken of real heroin addicts. Many of the pictures, however, were staged. Some were clearly fashion models, you know heroin chic. The models were thin and had stringy hair, but there was absolutely zero indication that these women had any history of abuse. But, I suppose smear their eyeliner, but some grease in their hair, and they must look like heroin addicts, right?

The problem is that when people see these images they look even farther down their noses at addicts. Parents with children who are struggling with addiction buy into this, and all of the sudden the son or daughter that they have raised since birth is the devil. They in turn treat their child different.

These perceptions of addicts come to us via movies, books, TV, magazines, everywhere. The problem is that more often then not perception is reality. There is very real, very tangible damage done by portraying every addict as someone who is ready to whore out their mother in order to get their next fix. It makes people so ashamed to be an addict that they are terrified to speak up and ask for help. They know that once the label “Dope Fiend” is tattooed on to their forehead, it is a scar that they will work for the entirety of their life,to work off.

This is not conjecture either, there is factual evidence to back this up. Portugal has decriminalized heroin and most other drugs. Since they have done this, the number of heroin addicts has been cut in half. Switzerland has started heroin clinics that work very similar to the way methadone clinics work in America. Users can go once or twice a day and receive an amount of pure heroin that is determined by a doctor. The patients use the heroin at the clinic (much like a methadone clinic makes a patient drink the dose in front of them). They provide clean needles, cookers, cottons, ties, matches, everything. They even have nurses that will help an addict shoot up if they can not find a vein. The results of these sort of clinics is astounding. Obviously drug arrests are down, that’s a given. It is so much more than that however. Felonies over all are down. Burglaries and thefts are down. People don’t have to take such extreme measures to obtain the money to support their habits. The most remarkable thing that has happened is that the rate of addiction is way down. More and more people are getting help. They are going to rehabs, they are getting clean.

See, once the stigma was taken out of the equation, people are willing to admit that they are addicts. As anyone even remotely familiar with NA knows, the first step towards getting clean is to admit that you have a problem. In this country, there a millions of people struggling in silence, to afraid too speak up.

That leads me back to the title of this essay, “Who Is The Addict?”. Especially now a days with the influx of people becoming addicted to prescription pills, the addict is your mother,father, neighbor. The ting is, opiate are very sneaky thing. The physical dependency sneaks up on you faster then you realize. Many people get hooked innocently enough.  They get prescribed Oxys or percs by a doctor because of a surgery or a car accident or a pinched nerve or WHATEVER. Then one day, the doctor decides that you have been on these pills long enough and cuts of the script. Unfortunately, if you have taken any sort of opiate day in and day out for months or years, you can not just stop. Unless you only took them for a week or two, you get physically addicted without even realizing it. One day you wake up and have no more pills left and realize that you are fucked. Most people will not just up and switch right to heroin instantly. They usually stick to whatever they were prescribed. Thing of it is, dealer are charging up to a dollar a milligram to people who are purchasing small quantities. This ridiculously expensive. Heroin is much stronger and cheaper. For someone used to taking three Percocet thirties at a time, can do five dollars worth a heroin and be rocked. More often than not, they end up switching to heroin.

Yes, I have seen grandmothers copping in the hole. Business men, corporate women. Admittedly, most corporate types pay someone to cop for them, but the point is that they are the faces of addicts. I’m not going to lie to you, if you go to Skid Row, or under the subway, or wherever the homeless live in your area, many of them are going to be addicted to one drug or another. Honestly though, that may be one of the only ways to make that sort of situation even slightly bearable. But the thing is that they only represent one aspect of the population of drug addicts.

Stereotyping all addicts as skinny, scrawny, bad skinned, homeless, devil children only pushes addicts farther back away from society. Making people think that their loved ones that suffer from the disease of addiction are the spawn of satan only alienates the addict even more. No one wants to come forward and admit that they are the lowest of the low, the scum of the Earth, it is easier to just stay addicted. If we could realize that  addicts are everyone. They are our loved ones, maybe we could get more people to receive help.

Is this a heroin addict or a model?
Is this a heroin addict or a model?

To Out Junky The Next Junky – The Sick Games That Addicts Play

I spent many of the formative years of my twenties as a bartender. I was usually the resident daytime bartender. I worked Monday through Friday, open till, about six in the evening. I went through periods, however, where I worked Saturday five till two am, and the Sunday Football crowd (that had to stop because I can not be disturbed during football). Hang around bars for any length of time, and you hear groups of people one-upping each other. Men seem to do this slightly more, but by no means is this a game that is regulated by gender.

The stories start out normal and get more and more ridiculous as time (and booze) progresses. You know where else you hear this a lot? Jails and rehabs. In jail there is a lot of inmates bragging about their crimes. Their convictions are worn as a badge of honor. Extra points are allotted for crimes that a person was charged but not convicted of. Everyone is the hardest motherfucker out there. They have robbed more banks, or boosted from more stores, or made more money off of selling drugs than just about anyone in the history of criminals.

Rehabs (and on the streets to a degree) the one-up-manship is twisted in sort of sick, twisted game to prove who is the biggest, most hard-core junky. Everyone likes to talk about how bad their habit was. Oh, and their dope or crack or meth or whatever was the best shit EVER. On the streets are the a good deal of addicts whose sole hustle is to cop for people. They hang around looking for people (usually white people) who don’t know where to get anything. They then proceed to tell you how great the shit they get is. They usually need some extensive amount of shit to get high, but whatever dope they are trying push you to get at the moment got them ripped as balls off of just one. You then pay them a pill to cop it. Of course the trick is that they usually know that dealer really well and get a deal if you are buying a decently large quantity and end up with a few extras. One way to see if they are trying to work you is to see if they are spending any of their own money on the shit. A homeless dud begging for money all day will try to talk you into just about anything in order to get one or more for free, but if they are spending their own twenty that took them probably four hours of pan-handling to get… Well you get the idea.

As an addict, I never found anyone who found shit that was better than what we were already getting. What someone who spends thirty dollars a day thinks is great, I more than likely will not, what with a thousand plus dollar a day habit.

This is the shift that would irritate the shit out of me in rehab. People going on and on about how much they spent, how bad their habit was, etc. They were proud of this shit. I never told anyone except the nurse how much I spent a day. Obviously, the nurse needs to know, because they need to know how sick you may get, how much medication you are going to need. I was never proud that my hubby and I went through about eleven hundred dollars a day between the two of us. When I was getting high, I always wished that I had a fourth dollar a day habit. I would have gone through much less physical hell each and every morning. We could have made money last all that much longer.

Sometimes, as sort of some sick ass, self-inflicted torture, my husband and I would add up how much money we spent in a year getting high. Well a thousand dollars a day for 365 days is $365,000 a year. This went on for eleven year. Subtract five years of clean time (two now and three awhile back) and that is six years of that. That is $2,190,000. Ok, there was months here and there that we only had habits of maybe three hundred or five hundred or one-fifty. So, even if I am generous, we spent at least $1,750,000 in six years of active addiction. You know how much I could have with that? A nice ass house, even around here. We could each have a Mercedes. So yeah, I am far from proud of “how big of a junky” I was. It is embarrassing.

I suppose it stems from the fact that when an addict has just entered rehab, they do not feel that they have all that much to be proud of. This translates into trying to out junky the next junky. Everyone spent more than the next guy, and the drugs were a higher quality than what everyone else got. Every addict went harder when they were on the streets than the next addict. Why? Why does anyone feel the need to brag about what is considered by the rest of society as an atrocious attribute? I think it comes down to being a defense mechanism of sorts. It is kind of like by telling everyone how awful and rough you are then you beat the outside world to the punch. Sort of, “Oh, you think that I am a horrible person? Tell me something I don’t know.”

The quandary with this sort of logic is that perception tends to become reality. When you continually out up a front of being an abhorrent human being, someone who is merely an addict, is that over time, that is who you become. You sink deeper and deeper into this reality. I am no stranger at shutting off the world so that they can not hurt me first, but accepting that you are an loathsome, despicable person and then becoming it simply in order to beat the rest of the world to the punch is really the ultimate act of self sabotage.

Really through, the minute we become addicted to drugs, we are steadily undermining ourselves. We have very little comfort in much as addicts, I suppose being able to wear the crown of the ultimate junky offers us some sort of sick, fucked up comfort.

Midlife Crisis At 30?

My birthday is comming up in a little over a week. Not just any old birthday, either. No, this time I am turning the big 3-0. Yeah, I am getting old. Not only do I feel old, I am fucking terrified.

Form the entire past year, this of the 29th year of my life, I have been filled with tremendous amounts of regret and introspection. In some ways, I have been old for years. I got pregnant with my first child at 20, married at 21, and had my second child at 24. I wasn’t going out and partying like most people in their twenties. Not in the traditional sense, at least. Yeah, sure, I went to bars and clubs on occasion. But this only happened when I had someone to watch my kids. If they could spend the night at their grandparents, because a babysitter just for the night does me know good if I have to make breakfast and what not in the morning with a hangover.

I partied in a different way. Yeah, I partied my ass off. Here in lies the major hindrance in me having an easy transition into the third decade of my life. I don’t even really remember large chunks of my twenties. Bits and pieces here and there in a story that is a blur overall. An outline of a story in which the majority of the details have yet to be filled in. So, yeah I partied in my twenties. I spent the majority of ages 19 to 28 high. Albeit with a three year hiatus between ages 22 and 25.

I have avoided both my five year and ten year high school reunion due to my lack of accomplishments in life. I went to a high school that is ranked in the top twenty high schools in the nation. In that school, I was always an over-achiever. You know one of those “most likely to succeed” people. So you might say that I am a major disappointment.

I go on Facebook and what not and see my peers with their great jobs. Their new, shiny, big McMansions. Real grown up shit. Real careers. Most of them are just now getting married. Just now having kids, if they have got that far.

Don’t get me wrong, I have never, not for one single day, regretted getting married at such a young age. I am well aware of the statistics on young marriages, but ten years later, we are still as much in love as the day we got married. I actually feel that I am very fortunate in the respect that I didn’t have to search for years, kiss many toads in order to find my prince. I found my soul mate early on in life, and that is truly a gift. My children are also a blessing. They have saved my life many time over. They are for sure the reason why I am here today, sober and alive.

So yes, I am aware of the many blessings in my life. Even still, I can’t help but think that I have been a let down to myself and my family. I was supposed to be a major music executive or an elementary school teacher. What am I? A stay at home mom with an extensive criminal record, two years or so worth of college credit, a fucked credit score, a resume that is all over the place, and deep ass track marks all over my arms and legs that tells everyone in the world exactly who I am. Yeah, I am still the smartest or one of the smartest people in the room, but I am smart enough to know that that means exactly jack shit.

Here I am turning thirty and my life is nothing like it was supposed to be. In all honesty, I didn’t even want to have my first child until I was about thirty-three or so. I figured that I was going to be a modern woman, a career woman. I didn’t even figure that I was going to get married until I was almost thirty. I was going to live in New York City. I was going to be wearing designer everything. Smart, sophisticated, feminist- that was going to be me.

I know what you are thinking, shit happens. Life happens. I know, and that’s fine. I know that I am ODD, and that I probably had my life a little too planned out, and maybe I did. But how the fuck did I let my life go so off course?

I don’t even talk to or see any of my girlfriends from high school any more. I am too embarrassed and ashamed, and they wouldn’t understand. They gossip about me, wondering what the hell happened to the shy, sweet girl they knew from back when. Yeah, everyone knew that I had a dark, depressive side, but no one saw this coming. Maybe, just maybe I did.

When I was a teenager, I was always interested- obsessed almost- with what one would call the underbelly of society. I always had some sort of sick desire to try drugs. My life was so sad and black that I was almost looking for a reason for it to be so hard. I tend to self-sabotage like that. Yeah, I am a sick fuck. Lol.

I have been working  on accepting that what has happened, has happened. It is the past. I can not go back and relive my twenties. How I wish I could. I don’t remember most of what should have been the best decade of my life. I will never get those years back. They are gone and I fucked them up. I have a beautiful family, but that is all I have.

One of the biggest threats to my sobriety is my inability to accept my life as it is. This is me. There are many days that I am fine with the fact that I am an addict. It has made me a really good, caring person. I am fine with WHO I am, just not WHAT I have accomplished, or rather that lack of accomplishments. I am having a n extremely hard time justifying how little I have done in my thirty years on Earth. It is almost enough to make one want to give up all together.

Maybe peace will come to me after my birthday comes. I have been studying the teachings of the Dalai Lama. This new found “zen” has offered me some small amounts of peace. I am far from the woman that I want to be. I do like the idea of always being a work in progress. I am the kind of person who can not just be still. If I am ever complete, I would be in complete and total misery. I just thought that I would have made far more progress in my life. Well, here’s to another decade.

Black

Turn off the lights

And pull down the blinds

The blackness comforts me

I black out the windows

I can not bear to see the sun

It shines on me

Accentuating my sorrow

Contrasting the bleakness in my heart

Highlighting my disparity

Keep it as black

And as dark as my soul

I need the quiet

To sort out the voices

That are in my head

They are way too loud

I fear what is out there

I fear what I might do

I’ll stay here instead

Safe, quiet, and alone

In the dark

In the black

Trying To Take Two Steps Forward Without Taking Three Steps Back

This week, my husband changed companies. The new company is giving him a raise, paid holidays, and a work truck. The work truck is the best part of the deal for us. See, we share a car at the moment. If he has a work truck, then when my youngest starts kindergardten and is in school all day, I will be able to go back to work part time.

The last time I had a job, it was in 2011. I worked as a waitress at a little tavern, near my house. I left the job because we were going to be moving to Tenneessee. We did move, for a month. We hated it. It was in the middle of nowhere, total bum-fuck America. I’m talking an hour from the nearest Target, Best Buy, mall, doctors, zoo, civilization. On top of it, my oldest was starting kindergarten that fall (my youngest was 2 1/2 at the time). The schools were we live now are ten out of ten. The school around there were a four out of ten. So we moved back home, ill as shit. We drove 110 mph the entire way, switching drivers every hour, making an eight and a half hour drive in six.

My husband and I were both in the depths of active addiction. My husband caught a couple of charges and ended up doing some time in Virginia while he was waiting for them to give him a bail. The charge was total bullshit and he didn’t do any time other than the time that he did until we could convince the magistrate to give him a bail. He also got eighteen months with thirteen suspended in Maryalnd.

This is when I got clean once and for all. I did not want to be the reason that he relapsed. The jail that he was in while he did his time in Maryland was a pre-release center. They allowed him to get a job. Once he cam home, he was able to get back into the D.C. union and get a good job with benefits and what not. I have been a stay at home mom this whole time. My son doesn’t go to school until one in the afternoon. The both get home from school right aroung four. So add that to the fact that we only have one vehicle, working has been out of the question. But now we are going to have two cars.

The issue is what job to get. I never finished college, so I have no degree. My work history is all over the map. Oh yeah, it doesn’t help that I have a rather extensive criminal record. The only plus on that aspect is that I have no felony convictions. Unfortunately, you can not take an IQ test to apply for a job. See, I don’t have a whole lot of skills, per se. I am just really fucking smart, but that is not something that you can put on a resume.

I have taught pre-school, I have worked as a receptionist at a car dealership, I have done renovations at Jo-Ann Fabrics, I have been a cashier, I have been a sales girl at Coach. What I have the most experience at, what I did from 2006 untill 2011 is bartending and waitressing. I was lead server at a chain restaurant, I trained other servers there and was the daytime bartender. I was in charge of inventory, ordering liquor, beer, wine, kegs, etc. I helped decide what beers and alcohol we were going to feature during different promotions, etc.

Bartending is an addicts dream job. You work – you get paid. You don’t have to wait untill the end of the week to get paid and try to make the money last, knowing that it will be gone by the end of the weekend (if it lasts that long). Actually, I was really lucky. Since I was a lead server/bartender, I made slightly above minimum wage, plus my tips. Not the $3.07 serve minimum wage, the real minimum wage. That went on my pay check, I got my tips daily. I got the best of both worlds.

I am not trying to go back the restaurant world. It is a feeding ground for drug addicts and alcoholics. There is not a bar, restaurant, tavern, club, pub, whatever that does not staff a plethora of addicts. I am worried that this sort of job will trigger a relapse or at least the overwhelming desire to use. I have distanced myself from all of my friends that are addicts, whether they are in active addiction or in recovery, I am not sure if I want to work at the sort of job that attracts addicts to it. As I stated in the title I don’t want to take two steps forward simply to take three steps back.

Another issue with a serving job is that aside from management, there is very little room for career advances. There is no raises. You can not budget the way you do a normal job. There is no, “If I work 40 hours, then I will make this much.” It varies too much. You could make thirty dollars on day and three hundred the next, it is hard to tell. Obviously a Saturday night will tend to yield more money than a Monday lunch shift.

As a mother, being a manager at a restaurant interests me very little. You work very, very long hours for very, very little pay. I am not interested in working sixty hours a week or more for thirty thousand dollars or less.

So then, the question is, how do I move forward? I am keen on becoming a makeup artist. Makeup is something that I love and am very much obsessed with. This is a hard field to get your foot in the door. Clients tend to want to hire people based on word of mouth, and if you have no experience it is hard to get the clients to yield that experience.

Since I have started writing this blog, and getting letters from people thanking them for what I have written, I am thinking that social work is my calling. I have laws had an internet in helping others, but going through the trials and tribulations of addiction, I really want to help fellow addicts. A friend of mine that I used to work with, is heading up a homeless shelter in Baltimore over the summer. I told her that I would love to help her in any way possible. I sincerely hope that she takes me up on this request.

When I was getting high in the streets of Baltimore, I saw, met, got high with a number of homeless people. As a society, we need to help them, I want to help them personally. It is a matter close to my heart. Homelessness is the core problem, but substance abuse or mental health issues or physical and/or sexual abuse is almost there as well. These are issues that need to be addressed with these people.

Of course,this would be great experience as well. I know that I am more than likely have to get a degree in order to be a substance abuse counselor, but at least this is one profession where my past struggles and history with addiction and my criminal record will not hurt me. Actually, it will probably help (not the criminal record). It would be great to use my addiction for good.

I have gone through hell and back to get sober. I might as well try to do some good with the knowledge that I have accrued along my journey. If I can help someone from making the same mistakes that I have, then perhaps all of this pain was not in vain.

As a recovering addict, it is important to not get too complacent or cocky. It is important to keep those memories of the depths of our disparity at the forefront of our minds. I am not talking about dwelling on the past with a stubborn refusal to move forward, I am simply talking about not forgetting how hard it was to acheive sobriety. When we get too comfortable with being clean, when we forget how far gone we let ourselves get, it is too easy to slip back into addiction. I want to move forward, but I do not want to slip back into old habits by feeling like I am invincible.

With every step

And every day

I move closer to the edge

Farther from safety

Looking for a reason to jump

The harder I pull

Against the tides of monotony

The stronger it grasp a hold of me

Every time I reach towards happiness

The darkness consumes all of me

Pushing me back

Deeper into the blackness

The faster I run towards the brink

The farther away the light gets

And at this point

I don’t know if I will ever get there

Lies

I guess we were both lied to

No one mentioned that I was a chick

While I wasn’t told that you were a dick

So hard to comprehend

Intelligence like that

On a woman?

I know, I got the memo before

Dumb it down

Pretty it up

Don’t be too aggressive

No body has time for that

Won’t get anywhere

Running your fucking mouth

But not me

I won’t be quiet

I won’t be meek

Here I am again

All alone in the boy’s club

And so rude was I

I didn’t even knock

I busted in the fucking door

Writing, Blogging, Therapy?

This blog has even up for about three months now. In this time some really remarkable has happened. I got a free therapist. I have been able to write about issues and emotions that ai could never bring myself to speak aloud, even if within the confines of a shrinks office.

My intentions for starting up this blog was to serve two primary purposes. One was to put it out there. My life, my past. This was to serve a few different goals. One was to hold myself accountable in my recovery. I had been clean before for almost three years when I relapsed. My hope is that by publicly discussing my actions and my life, I will be less likely to relapse. I know that I can not right about recovery and clean living if I am getting high. This is a thought that is at the forefront of my brain. I now have people all over the world to hold me accountable. I have people that can tell me that I disappointed them if I pick up. To that end, if I do fuck up, I have hundreds of followers to support me on my journey to get back on track.

As a mother, an addicted mother, I am far too painfully aware of the ostrisizm that society can afflict on women – especially wives and mothers- who struggle with substance abuse. For some reason, people seem to have it in their minds that as soon as a woman gets pregnant, their addiction just subsides, disappears into the blackness of outer space. Of course this doesn’t happen. People look at it like it is simply a matter of selfishness. If you loved your child, whether it is an unborn fetus or a child that you are currently taking care of, you would just stop. It is not that simple. Not by a long shot.

First of all, depending on the drug that the mother is addicted to, and if they are pregnant, they can not just up and quit. I was using heroin and cocaine when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. Irony of ironies, I discovered that I was pregnant while doing the intake at a rehab. I was trying to be admitted to a pilot program for suboxone which was relatively new at the time. Along with a drug screen, upon entrance into the program and then weekly, all women were given a pregnancy test. See, unlike methadone, suboxone is not FDA approved to be taken by pregnant women. So on that fateful day, I found out that not only was I not allowed to be admitted into that program, but that I was pregnant. Pregnant at the age of 20, with a drug habit to boot.

I subsequently started looking into programs to go into. While researching facilities, I found out a few things. Firstly, and with the most impact, was that a pregnant woman can not just quit heroin cold turkey. Opiate withdrawls are highly unlikely to kill an addicted adult, but there is a very high chance that they will kill the fetus. So I quit using the coke the moment that Indiscovered that I was pregnant. But for the heroin, I had to find a place. Well, almost no rehab, program, clinic, anything, wants to take a pregnant and addicted woman. This is farther complicated by the fact that methadone is the only drug FDA approved to give pregnant women to get off of opiates of any kind.

I called around to all of the methadone clinics in the area. Not a single one would admit me as a new patient. If you are already a client of a methadone clinic and then become pregnant, they have no choice but to continue to let you benefit from their services. There are not going to take on a pregnant woman as a new client. Too much of a liability I suppose.

Finally, after calling what seemed like hundreds of places, I found CAP – The Center For Addiction And Pregnancy- at Johns Hopkins Bayview. They are an eight day I patient program. Upon completion of the inpatient portion a woman can either continue on with their intensive, and I do mean intensive, outpatient program, or transfer to another inpatient rehab. Once CAP has detoxes you, other facilities will take you on. This is provided that you do the eight day methadone detox, like I did. If you choose to stay on methadone, or do methadone matinence, then you have to stay at CAP. You go seven days a week for 28 days straight. They dose the women who are on the matinence program and everyone (whether they are being dosed or not) attends groups for eight hours a day. After those 28 days, you drop to six days a week (matinence women receive a Sunday take home). After 28 days of that you go to five days a week, and so on and so on.

After I had completed the inpatient and the first 28 day level of outpatient, I tried to have my case transferred to my counties outpatient program. I was not trying to drive to Baltimore everyday. It wasn’t the driving. It was the fact that I only ever went there to get high. I was too much temptation. I was in my counselor’s office while she was on the phone with the Howard County Health Department. For background Howard County is overall the richest county in the state of Maryland. The average house is about $700,000 and this is brought down significantly because of the two clusters of apartment complexes that are affordable. Affordable being $1,250 a month rent for a one bedroom. Anyway I heard her on her end, “Yes, she is addicted to heroin.”. “Yes, she is pregnant”. “No, I understand.” They wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole.

So long story short, I write this to help clear the stigma of addiction. To be clear, I do not have some sort of over inflated ego that allows me to think that by me writing about myself, my struggles, and my thoughts on addiction, I am going to change the overall climate on the views of drug addicts. It’s just that when I was in high school and first went on anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications, back in 2002, it was very taboo to discuss or admit to having any sort of mental health issues. Now, twelve years later, millions of Americans are on some sort of psychiatric medication. My hope is that by me opening up and talking about the taboo that still lingers around addiction, I can help to motivate people, if only even one, to seek help, to admit to having a problem.

I have had a few mothers thank me for talking about addiction and motherhood. This is not to say that men are given a free pass at being addicts. Not at all. It is just that motherhood just adds one more obstacle to push through in order to have people accept you. It means the world to me to have some one thank me for writing about, vocalizing, my story.

That has been the big surprise of writing this blog. I had no idea just how therapeutic and beneficial just putting this shit out there could be. By writing about being raped, I was able to finally process it in ways that I had not been able to do in the thirteen years prior. I was able to forgive my rapist. We will never be friends, nor do I ever want to see him or speak to him again, but I am fianlly able to begin to heal. I couldn’t begin to move forward with my life until I let go of the hate and pain that was attached to the refusal to forgive. That rape, whil traumatic, painful, and awful made me a stronger person. I still don’t really trust anyone which is incredibly isolating, but perhaps with time, I will work through that as well.

Recently someone suggested that perhaps I should stop writing about so much personal shit. They were saying that it was a bad look to talk about all this drug shit. To this, I say a big, hearty, “Fuck you!”. Most people knew or had some idea of my addiction. Not everyone, some people were totally shocked, but people in my family, they knew somewhat. Now instead of the whispers and the gossip mill of the fake as motherfuckers that would smile in mine and my husband’s faces and run their mouths behind our back, they have the truth. There is nothing to gossip and whisper about because I have copped to my past. I own it, and that is a huge weight off of my chest. Also, I have been clean for two years in July. These stories of things that I did while I was living in the on-going hell that is active addiction is just that – stories – past tense.

I have to write. It keeps me same. It keeps me sober. Even from a purely selfish stand point, I can not stop. I will not. Besides that, I have received enough positive comments from people to feel like for once my addiction is serving some small, tiny good in the world. Maybe this is my calling. I have never figured out what my path was supposed to be, what my place on this Earth was. Perhaps it is to write, or to be a social worker, to help people overcome their own demons and battles with the monkey on their backs.

As for if this is my true calling in the world, it is too soon to tell. What I do know, is that this here, this blog, this is me. For the first time in my life, something feels so right, so natural. I set out to document my struggles with addiction, but I had no idea just how much I would gain in the process. This has been and continues to be a true lifesaver. To everyone who reads my posts and comments, thank you so much. It means the world to me, and I hope to continue to have your support. I look forward to hearing your comments.

Secret Addictions

I have made it known, some people tell me far too well known, that I am an addict. A heroin addict at that. Yeah, I cop to that one. I have stated before that giving up coke wasn’t particularly hard for me. By the time I gave it up, it wasn’t all that fun anyway. Actually, the moment of impact was the only enjoyable point. The reverse drinking of that bitter taste. Those few seconds of euphoria was followed by thirty to forty minutes of straight hell. Coke is also easier to quit, at least for me, because it is a mental only addiction. You do not physically withdrawl of of coke. You may crave it, but you are not throwing up layer upon layer of stomach bile, sweating cold sweats, shivering in 100 degree weather as you are with heroin. If there is a monkey on your back with coke, it is a Pygmy marmoset, while heroin is a hundred pound gorilla.

When I got clean for the first time, I painfully discovered that it was not just the heroin that I was addicted to. I discovered all sorts of hidden little addictions, or habits I suppose that I had picked up along the way. Each one of these makes it that much harder to stay clean. It is one thing to crave one thing. Each little additional proclivity just compounds the situation in an exponential form.

One extra little quirk of mine is what they call needle fixation. This happens to be true for many IV drug users. Yes, I am very aware of jus hoe fucking sick and disturbing it is to state that you are addicted to needles, but it is true. This causes me to want to shoot up my methadone. You can do this. I have. Not since I have been on methadone this go round, but long time ago. If my husband and I only had say one bottle to share, we would shoot it to make it go farther, hit harder.

Really, in all honesty, I should hate needles. My veins are shot. It would often take upwards of an hour to two to hit. By the time I found a vein, I had wasted half of the shot, thus not getting much of a rush. There would be a veritable blood bath. We always joke that if you luminal-ed the room of any of us current or former junkies, it would look like there had been a massacre in there. The tools often clog with coagulated blood. You have to apply so many PSIs of pressure to unclog it, that when it finally budged there is blood and dope all over the ceiling. I would have to shoot in my legs, feet, hands, fingers, armpits, breasts, stomach, back, you name it. I did never go in my neck, I was too afraid. I have been clean for years and still, I have awful looking scars on my arms. Infections that bubbled from the inside out pulling and stretching the skin to the max until finally the pressure is to much and it pops, mixtures of blood, dope, and puss oozing out for days or weeks. My legs constantly itch and feel like they are on fire from collapsing veins in my legs. And my hands, they got fucked the worst. I don’t have enough veins left to properly circulate the blood, so I have loss of circulation far too often. My hands “go to sleep” way too easily. One finger that had a particularly nasty abscess that required hospitalization, still has no feeling. I was hospitalized over eight years ago.

So, yeah this is all from IV drug use. Why do I desire the needle and the spoon? Who knows. I quests I am a sick fucked up person. When I decided that I wanted to stay clean, for real, I took all of my needles, cookers, ties, all of it and put it my truck. I drove down to the gas station and threw that shit away. Having needled in the house is a trigger. Get that shit the fuck away from me.

I miss the city of Baltimore. The ghetto ass parts that I have no good reason to go to anymore. I miss the community. I miss how friendly everyone always was. I especially miss Baltimore in the summer. I miss the house on Ashburton Street, behind the Westside Shopping Center where we hung out/lived. It was so great in the summer. It was a shit hole, but I would walk from there through the shopping center, talking to everyone as I walked. Stopping in the Shoe City to check out/cop the latest kicks. Buying little trinkets for the kids at the Dollar Store. Getting a Buford from Checkers. There really is no where like Baltimore in the summer. Most people have no ac, so everyone is outside on their porch in the hot months. I miss it. I can’t go though. I have no reason. I fear myself far too much, I never lived there sober. I was there to buy drugs, to get high, to hustle off shit. So I stay away. I just have my memories.

A couple of months ago, I spoke of the dangers of boredom. For me at least, that was a huge trigger. I am much better now. I am a lot more comfortable in my skin. I can be content at the house with my husband and kids and dogs. (Actually, the dogs have been a bit of a life saver.) Boredom was the reason that relapsed after like five days the first time that I tried to get clean. I was used to ripping and running all day long. I couldn’t just sit at home. This was multiplied by the fact that being out all day was how we made our money. We needed money. Yeah, I was looking for work, but even in the best of situations that will take a couple of days. I needed money faster than that. I was driving back and forth to my outpatient rehab, twenty minutes each way for one. Who was going to pay for the gas? Plus I needed money for shit to do, like the movies, shopping, going out to dinner, whatever. I needed something to do to get my mind off of wanting to get high. What is the saying idle hands are the devils playthings, or something like that. The ironic circle-fuck was that to go out to get our minds off of drugs, we had to go out hustling, cashing in right near our copping spots. Of course since we were down there… And round and round we go.

NA tells you to “change your people, places, and things”. You loose a lot of your friends,or associates at the very least. This can be lonely, alienating, depressing. You are dealing with a lot of shit, and you are doing it alone. A lot of addicts get somewhat addicted to the “party” atmosphere. You go from being around people, getting high, boosting, copping, living in groups. I lived in hotels for months. Technically, it was just three of us living there, but there was usually any where from two to six extra people sleeping there. On chairs, on the floor, wherever they could fit. To go from that to alone with your thoughts, your urges for the very thing that was killing you, can be a shock to the senses to say the least.

See this is the dirty little secret that no one wants to talk about. Getting clean only is the tip of the iceberg. Obviously, you know that it is not going to be easy to stay clean, but what it is almost impossible to prepare for is how many things you get addicted to. It is a life style. This is why people relapse on methadone or suboxone, because by cutting out the drugs you cut out all kinds of shit that you never even knew that you liked.