Category Archives: Death

Death, Family, and Dealing With Stigma

Sorry that I have been MIA recently. I have been very busy with work. I actually up for a promotion so hopefully that works out. I really, truly enjoy wear I work and who I work with. I have not ever enjoyed a job this much.
The main reason that I have been absent as of late is due to the death of my Grandfather. He was very sick, as I had mentioned in my previous post, so we knew that his time with us was comming to a close. That doesn’t make his death any easier. It stings extra hard because I was going to say goodbye to him the afternoon that he died after I had finished babysitting my niece, but he passed that morning.
I was not at all prepared for how upset my six year old son was going to be. When he got home from school that day I told him the news. Later that night I went into is room where he was crying. He doesn’t really understand death, but he knows that he will miss his Great-Grandfather. When I explained the concept of the viewing, that he could say “Goodbye” and that while Grandad couldn’t respond, he could see and hear us, Aidan said, “Oh, he’s in a hot air balloon or something?” Something like that buddy.
For the viewing and church funeral (the burial hasn’t happened yet as it takes Arlington National Cemetary about a month to scheduale a burial) a good deal of family flew in from California, Denver, New Jersey, Alabama, etc. The same family that has shunned me for years, has refused to speak or look at me to be perfectly honest was now in the same room, restaurant. Some of them would awkwardly say hello and ask about the kids. Let me be clear that this is not all of my family, it is just some and they are both in state and out of state.
If looks could kill… Listen, I know that I fucked up a time or two when I was in my active addiction. I have apologized however. These are people who pride themselves on their Catholic upbringing, yet look at me and my husband, my sister and her boyfriend like we are parasites.
They are like a lot of people who feel that they are above anyone who has struggled with addiction not realizing how easy it is to get sucked in. People also fail to understand that addiction forever changes the chemical makeup of your brain making relapse so easy. We do not want to relapse anymore than a person with cancer wants their disease to come back, it just does.
Likewise, we are not stupid, lazy, bad people. We try to overcome our disease, we try to make amends for our past transgressions. We try to move on, but often it is the judgement of others that holds us back. In fact, a great deal of the time, people refuse to seek help for their addiction because they know who they will be treated and looked at for the rest of their life once people know the truth about them.
I just don’t understand why even people who know that it is wrong to discriminate against others due to race or religion or gender feel like it is perfectly acceptable to look down upon someone who has the disease of addiction. We are people too. Honestly people have gone through and beaten addiction are some of the kindest, strongest, smartest, and most compassionate people out there. We have fought tooth and nail to achieve and to maintain our sobriety. We have spit on and discriminated against. We have seen people and their lowest and have worked through the depths of our despair.

Death and Getting the Most Out of Life

Yesterday, my husband and I went to visit my Grandfather in the hospital. He is 92 and he is most likely dying. He has been in and out of the hospital a lot this year. Usually after a day or two he is back at his assisted living home. The previous time, it was determined that he was not well enough to go back to Harmony Hall (the assisted living) and had to move to Lorien (a near by nursing home).
When he was in the hospital that time, he came in at 165 pounds. His doctor was incredibly worried about his weight and stressed how important it was that he not loose any more weig. He is at 130 now, normal for him is about 210. Appatently no food is getting into his stomach, it is all getting into his lungs. He is beginning to refuse treatment, and it seems inevitable that the end is near for him.
As he lay in his hospital bed asleep yesterday, I was struck by how much he reminded me of my father. My grandfather, who is my mother’s father, is a mere she’ll of his former self, just as my father was before he died. Of course one glaring difference is that my granddad is 92 while my dad was 42.
I am trying to clebrate his life instead of only mourning his death. When I think back on his remarkable life, I am struck by just how much a person can accomplish in a lifetime. He served in WWII as a marine where he received, not one but two Purple Hearts. He moved on to the CIA where he worked directly under J. Edgar Hoover and the first George Bush. Hell, he even bought a car from George Bush and had to go back over to their house to get Barbra to sign the title over because George forgot to. He was interviewed to have his life story documented for the Library of Congress. Him and my grandmother (who was a premier cryptologist in WWII) raised 7 kids (an eighth died at the age of six months) while traveling all around the world, living in Germany, Japan, France, Spain and other places.
The stories he has, my mother has, my aunts and uncles have, my grandmother had from living all over the world could create the most extravagant movie. His life is truly inspiring.
I look at all that he has done, and I realize how little I have done. I have stressed and spoken before of how much I fear death and how I feel like I am starting my life so very late. I ruined so much potential I have, and now at 30 I am starting fresh. I am just now, finally doing something in a field that I am passionate about. I am at a base position, but I am good at it and I like it. I get compliments. I hope that I can use this has a jumping point to launch my career in makeup and cosmetics. To me, makeup is more than a fun little pastime or accessory- it is my passion.
As I sit here with tears welling up in my eyes thinking of losing my beloved Granddad, I realize how profoundly honored I am to have even met such a remarkable and one in a trillion man. He has taught me so very much. Watching him take care of my grandmother after she had a stroke that paralyzed half of her body, and seeing how devoted he was to her up until her death showed me what true love really is.
Grandad, I am praying everyday that you are able to pull through this as you have done every other time, but if not, I can honestly say that anyone who was ever able to meet you was blessed. I love you and will miss you terribly.

Fears

Last year I wrote about regrets, about how as human beings, but especially as active and recovering addicts, we must learn to live with regrets. This post is about learning to live with fears and overcoming fears.
In some ways, I fear almost nothing. Except for snakes- they scare the living shit out of me. As far as other people go, I don’t really fear people too much. Humans are going to do what they are going to do, and there is no sense in me fretting over it. Example, I am not particularly afraid of guns. I have had friends murdered before, and I have been robbed at gun point before. My husband, sister and good friend were saved by the grace of God, when a revolver pointed st point blank range jammed twice (and revolvers DO NOT jam). So, I know very well what guns can do, and I do feel like there should be tighter restrictions upon getting guns. The thing is though, nine times out of ten, when someone pulls a gun on you they have it pre-determined whether they are going to just use it to scare you, or kill you. Freaking the fuck out most certainly will not help you out, in fact, it may farther the likelihood that the person will pull the trigger.
Likewise, I feel like when I watch movies and they put a gun to someone’s head and force them to do shit like dig their own grave and jump in it, no fucking way – just shoot me. I feel like free will may be the last thing that I would be possessing in that situation, so just kill me.
Oddly however, I am really quite afraid of death. It is actually something that I think about on almost a daily basis. I hope that when It is my time, I am at peace with the thought of death and am ready to go. I am religious and fully believe in heaven and hell. I fear not being a good enough person to make it to heaven. I try every day to be a good person, but perhaps my sins of the past are to much to overcome. I hope not.
Ever since I turned 30 in May, I have had like a major mid-life (quarter-life?) crisis. I feel as though I have accomplished nothing in my life thus far. I am just no getting started towards a career that I love. I am smart, I had a full scholarship at one of the top schools in the country, and I fucked it all up. Add my criminal record to all that, and I screwed a lot up in my life. I am saving up to go to school to get my makeup artistry certification later this year.
I did everything ass backwards. Most people that I graduated from high school with are just now having their first babies. They are well established in their careers though. I have a nine and six year old, and am just starting my carreer aspirations.
I briefly hit on this last post, but my greatest fear in life is that my children make the same mistakes that my husband and I made. They may not be as lucky as we were. Many addicts do not make it out alive. I fear that they will discover how off the chain we were and use this as a reason, an excuse, to use copious amounts of drugs.
Even more terrifying for me, is the fear that my daughter will discover that I used heroin for part of my pregnancy with her and refuse to speak to me because of it. She and I were both clean when she was born, but she may not understand the intricacies of detoxing off of heroin while pregnant.
I hope that 2015 will be the year that I start to overcome my fears.

Slippin

DMX “A yo/ I’m slippin’, I’m fallin’/ I can’t get up/ I’m slippin’, I’m fallin’/ I can’t get up/ I’m slippin’, fallin’/ I gots to get up/ Get back on my feet/ So I can tear shit up,” -Slippin’ by DMX

Last night I was laying in bed watching YouTube makeup tutorials (as I often do before bed), when all of the sudden a wave of dense, black complete and utter sadness washed over me. It was a feeling that I am unfortunately all to accustomed to. “Here we go again,” I thought.

For some strange reason, I was hit with this fear of death. This happens to me every so often.  After my dad died, I went through a stage of severe depression that was directly linked to an intense fear of dying. This lasted for a few months. Months of feeling like literally nothing was worth doing because I was just going to die one day anyway. Ever since then, every once in a while, I will be almost end teleported back to that time in my life. It is a mix of fearing dying too young, wondering what is the point in anything, being saddened by how incredibly short life is, and worrying that I will not accomplish anything significant during my short time on Earth.

I turned 30 a few months ago. I have been having an almost mid-mid life crisis. I worry that I wasted my youth, my twenties, and that I am starting my life so late that I will not ever accomplish anything worthwhile. I live a rather closed off life. I trust very, very few people. On top of that, I have had to distance myself from a great deal of the friends that I hung out with for the last almost decade because they were my “get high buddies”. I often feel like Gatsby, where if I die, virtually no one will realize or care. It will be one of those situations where someone casually mentions, “Hey, remember that girl that we went to high school with(or worked with, or whatever)? She died a few months ago”. “Oh, that’s sad”. Followed by the people going back to whatever conversation that they were previously involved in.  The ironic thing is that while I am fearful of a funeral that is attended by three or so people, it is I who pushes everyone away.mi have just been hurt and fucked over far too many times. It is easier to be alone than to be hurt.

I feel like I am in a race. Against time, against the world, against my inner daemons.  Once I get pushed into the race and the gun goes off, I do not have the option to quit. I wish it were that easy. The race is not a fair one, either. It is not on a flat, even surface. I am at the bottom of a deep hole. I have to somehow make it to the top, but the surface is smooth, there is nothing for me to grab ahold of to climb up. It is not as if there is someone there to throw me a life-line, and honestly, I don’t think that anyone would take the time to throw me a rope even if they could.

To a person who doesn’t or hasn’t experienced chronic and severe depression, what I am saying probably makes very little sense. The thing that I find that people have such a hard time understanding is that there , doesn’t have to be something major to drop me to the bottom of the well, or the rabbit hole as I tend to call it. There can be, but there doesn’t have to be.

For example, we recently found out that my mother-in-law has cancer in both her lungs and ovaries. My father died of lung cancer in 1996, and I sat on the sofa with him and watched him die. Hearing this news, especially since she is truly a second mother to me, brought back floods of images of my father’s painful death. The good news is that they caught the cancer in the very early stages, very unlike my father. She will not have to go through the chemo like my dad. I watched the chemo take a strong, healthy 250 pond man who hunted, fished, did construction for a living wither away to around 160 pounds, unable to walk, talk. A man who was on so many medications that he was incoherent, hallucinating all the time. They did not catch his cancer early, at all. He had been having bronchitis every winter for three or four winter in a row. Then the fifth winter they did an x-ray and discovered that one of his lungs was collapsed and that he had advanced lung cancer. My mother in law’s situation is vastly different. The cancer is small enough that they can remove it, also she doesn’t need her ovaries, so they probably will go in and take out the ovaries entirely. She is going to be fine, I have been praying nightly.

I don’t know if it was this news, or that we are headed into winter, or the fact that my husband was laid off, but I am desperate to try to get out of this tailspin before I am entirely consumed by blackness. I don’t really know why I am writing about this. Part of me just needs to write what I am unable to vocalize. Maybe part of it is that I feel that you are only as sick as what you hold inside. Also, just like with addiction, talking about depression helps to de-stigmatize it. Hopefully someone will read this and know that they are not alone.  I have been this way before, and I have survived.

What is it that I need? Someone to care, perhaps? Will that make a difference? I need to not feel like an insignificant piece of nothing for some amount of time. Even if it is brief, maybe it will be enough to give me hope that I may be normal at some point. Here’s to hope, I supose.

Depression and Suicide

By now, most everyone has heard that Robin Williams died on Monday at age 63. His death was a tragic loss, as he was a comedic genius. That sense of loss was further compounded by the fact that he killed himself. I was hit especially hard by his death as a person who has struggled greatly with depression for her entire life. I have contemplated suicide on quite a few occasions.
I credit my children with saving my life. In fact on early morning, around 5 am, I was particularly down. After sobbing for almost no reason for the better part of an hour, I realized that my life will be nothing more than a vicious cycle of being uber depressed and just sort of down. I made up my mind that this was too painful. I wasn’t going to live like this anymore. I was just so tired of being depressed, run-down, anxious, and filled with self-doubt. I scurried about the bedroom until I found one of my husbands razor blades. As I picked it up and placed it to my wrist, ready to end my meaningless suffering, my son (who was about 18 months at the time) awoke screaming. It was divine intervention. I was instantly snapped out of it, remembering that I was a mother and had two young children (both under the age of 5 at that time) who depended on me. Honestly, I think the ghost of my father woke up my son to save my life. If he had woken up even 5 minutes (or 2 minutes) later, I would have already been bleeding profusely. My son quite literally saved my life.
Williams’ death was a painful and blunt reminder that you never really know what is going on behind the surface of a person. Robin Williams was a man whose talents entertained multiple generations of my family. My husband and I loved his very grown-up and shockingly raunchy HBO stand up. My children adored him in “Aladdin” and “Peter Pan”, my mother watched “Mork and Mindy” as a young woman. He could seamlessly blend from goofball flicks like “Flubber” to feel good family fun a la “Mrs. Doubtfire” to very dramatic, brilliant adult flicks like, “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting”. Sadly, it seems like Williams spent so much time and energy uplifting the rest of the world, making us laugh till we cried, that he had no energy left for himself.
Shepard Smith of Fox News called Williams a “such a coward” on air while reporting his suicide. He talked about how selfish he was, questioning, “it’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? You could love three little things so much, watch them grow, they’re in their mid-20s, and they’re inspiring you, and they fill you up with the kind of joy you could never have known. And yet, something inside you is so horrible – or you’re such a coward – or whatever the reason – that you decide that you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.” Obviously, many people who heard this were outraged.
People who commit suicide are not doing it out of an act of selfishness, rather they feel that they are so horrible, such a drain on those around them that the selfish thing to do would be to stay alive and continue to pull their loved ones down. This is obviously not true, but to a person with a mental illness such as bi-polar disorder (which Williams suffered from) or schizophrenia, or even super depression and anxiety disorders and PTSD (all three of which I suffer from, this idea seems very true.
Depression gets you to where you hate yourself to the point where you are incapable of seeing any redeeming qualities in yourself. It seems to be a ludicrous idea that anyone could love you at all. After over a decade with my husband, I still have trouble believing that he loves me. I ask him and responds with, “Of course I love you. You know this. I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t love you with all of my heart.” While that seems like a very logical statement, the reality is that no, I don’t know that he loves me. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I continually push people away and sever relationships simply by not making the effort to keep up the friendship because I have been hurt and betrayed too many times to trust anyone. These real events, combined with my own paranoia and mental illness just doesn’t allow me to think that anyone could actually like me. Why would they? I feel as though I have nothing to offer. Robin Williams may have felt something very similar to this. Kurt Cobain once said, “the most depressing thing is having everything that you ever wanted, everything that was supposed to make you happen, and still be totally miserable. Then you know that you will never be happy, that you are the problem.” I can see how that could be.
Ultimately we will never know exactly what sent Robin Williams off the deep end and made him feel that ending his life was the only solution. I read an interview with Williams recently, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Clearly, whatever was going on inside his head didn’t feel like a temporary problem.
The death of Robin Williams is terribly sad, and leaves a whole in this world. He was a comedic genius. His work spoke to all races, all genders, all generations. He could do it all. I just hope when people think about his suicide, they take it as a lesson that behind anyone’s smile or bright demeanor can be a lot of unknown pain and anguish. R.I.P. Robin Williams, you will truly be missed.

To My Mom

So this is, like most of what I do, a day late and a dollar short. Anyway, I wanted to write something about and for the beautiful woman who brought me into this world. We have not always had the eaiest relationship,  many years of it have been tumultuous at best,  but I love her with every fiber of my being. 

As I have gotten older, as I have had children of my own, I understand that as a mother we sacrifice everything for our children. When my father died she was not able to take time toGrieve properly.  She put eeverything that she had inside of her, to take care of my sister and I. Sometimes she would snap. Sometimes she would zap out. At the time, I would be angry that I was left to calm down and care for my little sister. Now as a mother of teo chikdren, I get it. 

 

She had a year or so before my father past, while he was dying of lung cancer, where she had to take care of a 5 year old, a 10 year old, and a husband that went from a strong man, a man’s man, to not even being able to walk.  It was nice just the physical deterioration that she was forced to deal with, either. He was so heavily medicated that he became an entirely different person. He hallucinated all the time. He often thought that our house was some sort of war zonem and that my mom was in charge of the opposition. Honestly,  I can not even begin to imagine the heartbreak that most go with caring for a person that in no way resembles the person that you married.  My mother,  though, she never complained. She was a soldier the whole time. She continued to work, and she took on the extra responsibility of my father’s health problems. 

When he died, she tried her hardest to make sure that we were ok. She took no time for herself. She never remarried,  hardly ever dated. It was just me and my sister.  She did everything on her own. She drilled into my head, that the worst thing in the world is to have people pity you. Honestly,  she may have taken this a little too far, but I learned how to be a strong woman watching her refudal to ask anyone for help ever.

I was a child and had no idea how much weight was instantly thrust upon her shoulders. She worked full time, she took care of us. She made ssure that we never had to move out of the house that my dad had built a massive addition on to. We were able to live in his place of handiwork. 

My mom, used to tell us stories about her hippy days. She saw the Beatles, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hanncock, and many others. She would talk about going to Mowtown concerts that would have all the greats. She went tothe fampus Monterey IInternational Pop Festival. She instilled in me a love of music.  One time when I got stoned with her, she sat there and stared at the radio saying that she was “watching the music”. She played Michael Jackson, and the Four Tops, and Linda Ronstead, and the Beatles.  She took me to a Prince concert when I was 2 years old. I learned from her just how powerfully music can affect your mood, your entire being. She is the reason that I wanted to become a music executive. 

As I previously stated,  my mom was a full fledged hippy in her youth, her twenties. She taught my sister and I to love everyone regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation,  economic status. She showed us the injustices in the world.  She explained how fucked up this world was. She told us about the Veitnam protests. She shared stories about the civil rights movement. 

My grandfather fought in World War II as a Marine and received two Purple Hearts. After he left the Marines,  he went into the CIA. He was like three people from the top dog, and his job entailed that him, my grandmother,  my mom and her two sisters and four brothers move all over the world. My sister and I would listen intently as my mom told us stories of living inside the Berlin Wall.  Of moving into a house in Japan that came with a chef, a maid, and a nanny. We would revel in the fact that her entire family had to use false identities for every new country they went to. We lostened to the fascinating story of how their true identies were discovered in Japan and they had to leave right away without packing or daying goodbye to anyone.  I woukd jealousy ask about her times in Spain and Paris.

I learned what a feminist was from my mom. She (and then Courtney Love) sparked what would be a life long love of feminism.  She showed me what a REAL feminist is, hot the stereotypes.  We are not ball busting, man hating, dykes. We are just women that want to be treated the same as men. My mom never asked for special treatment because she was a single mother, a widow. She got fucked over at work, amking less then men that had the same position as her even though she worked twice as hard and was twice as good. She always had some asshole trying to rip her off because she was a woman. Mechanics,  plummers, electricians, really anyone that came to fix something at the house. She didn’t complain,  she just started having one of her brothers with her when getting estimates.  She never wanted pity, she figured out how to deal with a fucked up situation the best that she could.

What I am trying to say is that as a child I had no idea, not even the slightest inkling of how much she was dealing with. I would see her freak out at my little sister and I, telling us that she couldn’t take it anymore,  that she was leaving forever, get in her car and leave, and be furious. I would think that she was being so selfish. I didn’t understand how much of her own happiness she had sacrificed for us. She didn’t grieve the way she needed to because she was trying to keep our lives as normal as possible. Sometimes it was just too much and she would snap. I get it now. After years of putting my mother through hell,  of refusing to forgive her for mistakes that she made, I get it. I grew up, I had kids, I stopped being a fucking selfish brat. I look at my kids, and I see how much she gave up, how hard she worked. She kept our lives as normal as possible after the death of my dad. She bought us nice clothes, she took us on vacations,  she kept us in the h I use that my dad built. She did her best to keep us happy. When I went through my struggles with addiction, my mom never gave up on me. She supported me time and time again. Her love knew no limits, and I am almost positive that her love and support is part of the reason that I made it through to the other side alive. For that, and for everything, Mom, I love you. Now and forever. 

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.

Oh, Just Get Over Yourself

As a person with depression and anxiety, I have to be careful not to blow shit out of proportion. I have the tendency to get wrapped up in my own head. I have to say, however, after being an addict I have learned to get over myself somewhat. That is not to say that I don’t have my episodes. It’s just that after having a gun pointed in your face, after having friends murdered or almost murdered, a lot of the little shit seems somewhat trivial.

When I was in high school, I set out to be the darkest, deepest, most depressed person to have ever roamed the face of the earth. In collage, I discovered Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Wurtzel. I identified with their plight. The struggles of being at the bottom of an endless black hole, looking up and not even being able to see the slightest hint of light. Everything was the end of the world. Suicide was always just around the corner. My all time favorite Plath poem is ‘Lady Lazarus’. She wrote it after her second suicide attempt. She laments, “Dying/ Is an art, like everything else/ I do it exceptionally well.” She so clearly articulates the pain of being on the brink of wanting to escape, to end it all. This was (and very often still is) a pain that was right there behind the smile and bubbly exterior.

At first the drugs helped me to numb or suppress this pain. It calmed me. It quieted the storm of rage that was constantly brewing inside the pit of my stomach. My husband always remarks that how with every other girlfriend that he has had, the drugs made them crazy. Lying, stealing, whoring. They became despicable, ugly human beings that he could no longer trust. There is a certain amount of weakness in a person if they let the drugs change them to the point that they steal and lie to the person that they are closest to. All addicts lie and hustle, but you have to be able to sleep with yourself at the end of the night.

He has told me that one of the reasons that he knew that I was his soul mate is that I never betrayed him while we were getting high. If anything, the drugs made me more sane. To clarify, that is not to say that I need to be on drugs to have this level of sanity. It is more that I went through so much shit, and saw so much shit as an addict that it made me get over myself. I realized that aside from someone holding a fun to your head (and with the intention of pulling the trigger) shit is not life or death. This feeling of the world is bigger than just me was further compounded by having children. I am able to step back and look at things on a larger scale.

The irony is that when I was in high school and collage, I thought that I was so worldly. I was so deep and smart. I was going to be a rock star at a very young age and everyone was going to remark at how mature and insightful my poetry was. Now, when I take a look back at my younger self, I laugh at how naive I was. I was so fucking wrapped up in my own head. I was selfish. I thought that all of my problems were the most important things to exist in the universe.

I know that this is no longer true. I may be a little to detached. I almost never show a wide range of emotions externally. I have used up almost all of my tears, and thus rarely cry anymore. I am not susceptible to wild bursts of excitement. For example, if I won the lottery, I would not be one of those people that would be jumping up and down and screaming wildly. I would be happy, don’t get me wrong, but I am just not that excitable.

I am looking into finding ways to pay in forward. I am trying to help others. Be it social work, or volunteer work. There are bigger problem out there than my own. People face far tougher dilemmas than those that I face in my own life.

I am embracing many Buddhist principles in my life. I have taken a step back in my life. It is a little sad and ironic that it took almost a decade of a thousand dollar a day heroin and cocaine habit to figure out that I am the center of the universe. It may not have been the most ideal path to take between point A and point B, but the important thing is that I got there.