Tag Archives: friends

Hiding In Plain Sight

So, my seasonal job seems to have turned into a permanent position, which is fabulous. That was what I wanted to begin with. I figured that Christmas was a good time to get my foot in the door so to speak. Also, my kids have birthdays in the end of November and the beginning of December, so I figured that worst case scenario, I would make some extra loot during the holidays and have some experience in the field that I want to have an eventual career in.
Well, it is February now, and week 1 of the retail year, and I am still employed. I absolutely love it there. I have gotten quite a few positive guest feedbacks on our surveys that we invite all our patrons to take. I love the people that I work with as well (for the most part – of course there are a couple of people that I don’t get along with). It is all women save for one gay man, and they all are as obsessed with makeup as I am. It is fun to have a place where I can be around people who have the same passions as me, and I am privy to what new products are coming out as well.
The one single issue that I find that I have is the same one that I have had at every other job, hiding my history. For one, I feel that it would truly cost me my job. Not so much my past drug convictions or assualt arrest, but my numerous theft arrests and subsequent convictions. See, we have a problem with thefts at my store. Ironically we sell a good deal of what I used to boost, but thank God, I never stole or tried to steal anything from my store. There was a big crackdown a few years back on all of the pawn shops in Baltimore that took all of the stolen pharmaceuticals, so no one really has a place to sell that stuff any more.
No, no one is stealing razor blades or Olaay’s from my work. No, they go for fragrance. That and the Urban Decay “Naked” palettes.
Since I have been employed there, I have seen a fellow employee get fired for theft of some sort. I don’t thi that she was physically stealing so much as helping or enabling someone else to steal. Obviously I wou never do anything to jeopardize a job that I love in a field that I love, but would my manager see that? Or if she knew my record would suspicion always be cast my way when ever there is a theft during a shift of mine?
As for the new friends that I am making, would they still like me if they new that I am a recovering heroin addict? It is easy to say that if they would care then they are not people to be friends with anyway, but it is not that simple. I have a very hard time opening up to people and making friends. I don’t want to ruin any chance of making new friends by sabotaging my chance by revealing a past that they really have no business of knowing.
I do feel in a way that after all of the progress that I thought that I had made, maybe I haven’t made as much as I thought after all. Maybe I should be confident enough to say fuck them if they can’t handel my past. I feel like I have been able to own my addiction, but I guess that I am not as secure in myself as I thought. Or maybe, I am allowed to have some secrets. Maybe we all do. Maybe my past is none of their business as I honestly am an entirely different person than I was back then.

Stewie

Stewie

It was a bitter cold January morning in Sandtown that day. Aaron and I were crouched down in my Chevy Cavalier, with the engine off so that the car would not emit smoke out of the muffler. We were just two of the hundred or so waiting for Flatline to start hitting.
Flatline was a white fentanyl-based dope. It was good, really, really good. It was great because it took Aaron and mine’s thousand dollar a day habit and cut in a third. The problem was that no other dope got you high. If Flatline was on hold to long, or if the police came and locked up everyone on the block for the day, twice as much of another dope would just barely get you well.
Most people waiting for them to yell, “Flatline in the hole”, would hang out in the little corner stores or liquor stores, or abandoned row houses. Being as though we were lacking in skin pigmentation we waited in the car. You had to be fast when they started hitting, as they would sell out in like five to ten minutes flat, never hitting more than half of the line. Then they went on hold for another hour or two.
Being white added additional risks. Anyone who gets caught walking out of a hole (or an abandoned alley) is fucked. If you are black though, once you get out of the alley on to the street, you are basically fine. Those of us that are fairer, are a walking target all the way to the car. Even then,you are not really safe. If a cop sees you white ass driving around in Sandtown, you are getting pulled. They will figure out a reason for why they pulled you over later. Total racial profiling. Maybe this is why I am so sensitive and disgusted by racial profiling, I have had it happen to me. At least though I am the race that is the majority in most parts of this country and only would face it in Baltimore. I don’t face it every time I go to the airport or am in an upper or middle class neighborhood.
Aaron and I had our little routine. Flatline was the only dope that we could not only get well, but get HIGH off of just one pill. Every morning we would ball in town, cop two, get well and then go out boosting to get money for drugs for the rest of the day.
After we would cop everyday, we would go to the same BP and pull up to the same pump, pump one. Aaron would start cooking up the dope while I went to pay for gas. It was always the same dude working. He would always have my Tropicana peach papaya juice ready for me, and new what pump we were using. I would start to pump the gas, and leave the pump in the car as we got on.
It worked, but we had no tint, and sometimes it would take us an awfully long time to find a vein. One time we had a really close call. Since we didn’t want to sit at the pump any longer than we had to, Aaron would pull off as soon as we were done and I would clean the tools (needles) as we were driving. One day after we got on, we were waiting to turn on to Franklin Road, when a cop car drove by. It had a white female and a black male, and they practically broke their necks looking at us as they drove by. Sure enough they got right behind us. I had no time to put the tools or cooker away, and I couldn’t throw them out the window, so I dropped them under the seat. Within 15 seconds, the lights and sirens went on. They said that they pulled us over because Aaron didn’t have his seat belt on the entire time, but that was bullshit. Aaron was buckling it while we were still at the gas station, as they drove by. They pulled us because we were white. After she looked at our IDs, which stated that we were from Howard County all of 20 minutes away, the first thing the lady asked us was, “What are you doing here?” I thought this was America not Iraq, but we were white in an area that wasn’t. “We were just getting gas and going back home”, we told her. She instantly pulled us out of the car. “Are their any drugs in the car? Is there anything that can cut me, poke me, scratch me?”, she asked. “No drugs,” I responded, “but there are two needles under the passengers seat with no caps on them, so be careful.” By now the backup arrived. “Be careful!” She exclaimed to the other officers, “There’s needles everywhere and none of them have caps on!” This was of course a gross exaggeration. There was not needles everywhere without caps. There were two needles without caps, the others had caps on and were inside of the pink sarin Chanel bag that I kept the cooker, needles, ties, alcohol wipes, water, etc. in. Most people are probably wondering why I so easily told the officer that there was needles in the car, and where they were. The answer is that in Baltimore the don’t lock people up for needles (crack pipes are a different story). The jails are far too overcrowded as it is to lock up people for a crime that only carriers at the max a $500 fine. Now, if the cop had pricked herself with one of those needles, we would have been arrested for sure. We would have been charged with assault on an officer at the minimum, and I have known people who have been charged with attempted murder for similar situations. The AIDS rate in Baltimore is so high, that they fear being poked with a dirty needle more than most things. After we were both thoroughly searched, we sat on the curb and watched the three of them tear my car apart, getting angrier by the second that they could not find any drugs. “There has to be drugs in here. They have the cooker, the tools out,” she said. “Unless they just did them,” the black officer told her. “Just tell us where they are,” she pleaded with me. “I told you, there are no drugs. We just shoot up at the gas station.” Finally after about 45 minutes, she have up. “Get the fuck out of here. If I catch you all around here again, I’ll lock you up on some petty ass paraphernalia bullshit.”
The point of this anecdote is to illustrate that it was always a little risky getting high at the gas station. We faced the car away from the road, but still, had those cops drove by three minutes earlier, we may have been fucked.
So on that particular January day, Aaron came back to the car with this short, balding white dude in his mid-forties. “This is Stewie. He says he’s got a place on Fulton. If we give him a ride home, we can get on at his place.” “Get in,” I say.
We arrive at his house, a blue four level, beat up row house. “I’m in the basement,” he told us as we went inside. We followed him into the basement into something that I had never seen before, but saw many times afterwards. It looked like a homeless shelter. There was probably six people that lived just in the basement. Beds, cots, and sleeping bags were strewn haphazardly all over the concrete floor. Next to every bed, each person had all of there belongings, which were shockingly few. Each person had a few backpacks and bags. In the far corner, there was a card table and three chairs where two men where playing cards. There was a tv on nearby ( this was in 2004 before you had to have a HD TV, cable, or a converter box to watch television). He lead us to a bed right in the middle of everything, ” “This is me”, he told us. He proceeded to introduce us to everyone in the room, all of who were friendly and polite. After we got on Stewie asked us if we would take us to go buy some ready. “Sure,” I responded, “but is there a bathroom that I can use?” “Third floor. I’ll take you.” We were in the basement, so the third floor was actually four levels up. I was stunned as I made my way through the house. Every bedroom, living room, office was rented out. There were people sleeping, living everywhere except for the bathroom and the kitchen. There was probably 30 people living there. In the master bedroom next to the bathroom sat the lady who owned the house, Mary. Stewie introduced me and told her that I needed to use the bathroom. “Go ahead,” she said.
That house was the first time that I had seen something like that, but I went on to discover how common it was. Someone will get a house or an apartment through Section 8 and pay $50 to $100 a month. They then charge everyone $10 a night to sleep there. It’s not a bad hustle.
After I used the restroom, we loaded up the Cavalier to get the ready. “Where you want to go?” Aaron asked. “Po homes,” was the answer we got. We took him to the Po homes, a large section of projects. We went into a court yard that was essentially an open air drug market. Dudes were yelling the names of their respective dope or coke as we walked by. Since we had never copped there before, we let Stewie take the lead. We got these 20s of ready that were HUGE. We were hooked. We went on to cop there all the time for awhile and showed it to everyone. Funnily enough, everyone that we showed the PO homes to got locked up there, except for us. See since the projects are government property, they can automatically arrest you for trespassing unless you live there. You don’t have to be dirty.
After we were done getting high, and before we left, Stewie asked us if we would pick us up that night and take us out to make money. We responded in the affirmative and we came pack at around midnight. We took him to an upscale neighborhood where he would go in driveways and go into unlocked cars. You would be shocked at not only how many people keep their cars unlocked, but how much they keep in those unlocked cars. Cash, credit cards, electronics, Rolex watches. It was shocking. It was never necessary to brake into anything. Actually, you want to make sure not to break into anything as that is another, much more serious offense. Some people even leave the keys for the car in the ignition. One day after we hadn’t seen Stewie in awhile, we saw him at Flatline in an Acura that he had obtained in such manner. Driving or riding around in stolen vehicles always scared me far too much to ever even get in a car that some one else stole, let alone steal one myself.
We hung out with Stewie everyday for a few weeks. One day we showed up and he wasn’t there. He didn’t have a cell phone and we stopped seeing him, hanging out with him. The last time we saw him was that day at Flatline, where he was in the Acura. Sometime in 2007, the house that he lived in burned down, and I have no idea whatever happened to Stewie, just another name, another face in the story of my life.

Intervention – Don’t Believe The Hype

There is a very popular show on cable television, I believe it is on A&E, called “Intervention”. The show is an hour long per episode and is broken into two half hour segments. The first half features the addict in the addicted state ruining their lives and the lives of everyone around them. The family talks about how the addict uses around them, forces them to give money to procure their drug of choice, steals the family car, whatever.
Then, the intervention specialist comes in and arranges the intervention. They set up a meeting and bring in the addict, unsuspecting and bombard them with a massive guilt trip. They then force the addict into treatment. Usually at the end they do a follow up right after the addict has left treatment to say how good they are doing now. They don’t show the addict in six months, a year or three years. I am willing to bet that the reason is that they are no longer clean.
Well, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t work that way. First of all, they find the worst of the worst addicts. Most addicts I know do not steal their family’s cars. I know one person who one time took his sister’s car keys to cop and then brought the car back. I do know some people who have used a parent’s or family member’s spare car with permission. Secondly, on these shows (at least all the episodes that I have seen) the family members of the addicts are total enablers. They hand over money whenever the addict asks. They let the addict rule the house. Addicts are not monsters. Yes, the may do some bad shit now and then, but usually they love their family, they do not wish to burn the one bridge that has always been their for them. These people let the addicts rule the entire house, often the extended family as well. They then wonder why their child, spouse, whoever acts this way. It is human nature pure and simple. People bush the limits to see what they can get away with. I’m sorry, but these people are almost as much at fault as the addict.
Anyone who knows almost anything about me knows that I absolutely adore Courtney Love. I have read many interviews where she said that she ultimately felt that she was at fault for Kurt Cobain’s suicide because she participated in and allowed an intervention to take place at their shared home. She said that they took an addicted, incredibly depressed man and made him feel ganged up upon. She explained that it was at this point that he refused treatment and would disappear into the Seattle underworld for days or weeks at a time. When at first he refused treatment she told him that he couldn’t get high in the house. After the intervention back fired, she stated that she told him to ONLY do drugs in the houses he got out of control. She said that the intervention lead to his suicide. She is of course taking the blame for something that is ultimately not her fault, but she is right.
I personally, have never had an intervention pulled on me, but my husband has. It was before we were together, shortly after his family found out about his heroin use. He was able to hide it for a few years, going to work every day, mail ting relationships, having money etc. his girlfriend at the time would steal hiss mom’s ATM card while he was at work, get money, put the card back, go in town, get high, and be back before he got home. She played it off to him that she was going out boosting while he was at work, which since they did this together, would seem legit. One day his parents’ card got declined for a purchase of a hundred dollars or so when they should have been thousands. Now they had been spending a lot, but they knew that they should not be broke. They called the police and the FBI got involved. They brought back pictures of my hubby’s ex, and her friend at the ATM. They could press charges and get the money back or no charges, no money. The problem was that they were going to charge my husband as an accomplice. They didn’t want him with the felony and a federal charge, so they kicked out the girlfriend and let it go. He did, however, have to come clean about why she would be stealing all of this money.
They were shocked to discover that he had been using for years. He came home from work one day to find his whole family waiting. Brothers, sister-in-laws, aunts, etc. I don’t know how it works everywhere, but Maryland has a law that if a certain number of people stage an intervention and say that a person needs treatment, then that person has to go. They don’t have to stay.
So, as the law required, my husband went into in-patient rehab. He stayed for a few days and then left AMA (against medical advice). When he left, his relationship with his family was shot, he move into an apartment in Baltimore where you can stay for $10 a night with a bunch of other addicts. His habit got way, way worse then it was. His relationship with his parents has now recovered, but not with all of his family.
We are both now clean and sober, but he didn’t get clean due to the intervention. That is the kicker, you can not make an addict get clean. You can force them into treatment, but if they don’t want it, really want it, they will relapse. This is why so many addicts on parole or probation that have months or years of back of time, go back to jail after submitting a dirty urine or because they failed to complete treatment. It doesn’t matter how many logical reasons one has to do well or stay clean, they have to want it. They have to “hit rock bottom”. Some addicts are far from the bottom. Some are functioning addicts.
Sadly, thanks to the A&E show and other media portrayals, friends and family of addicts have it in their head that they can stage an intervention and their addicted loved one will change their life forever. It is fiction. It is better to be patient with the addict. Show them love and support. Let them know that you care for them and that you love them regardless, but that you feel that they would be happier sober. Remind them of their life pre-drugs. Do not guilt trip them. At the end of the day, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t teach him to drink.

The Dangers Of Hiding Our Scars

One time I read a quote about how there is no one stronger on the face of the Earth as an addict who has managed to achieve and maintain sobriety. I couldn’t agree more. I have gone through a lot in my life. Rape, near death (through overdose and guns drawn on me), jail, loss of friends and family, and more bullshit than I care to get into in this blog, but overcoming addiction and managing to stay sober to this date was (and is) by far the hardest thing that I have ever gone through.

My question then is if we as recovering addicts are the strongest people on Earth, why are we shunned by the rest of the world? In 2007, I came home from jail after I had spent Christmas and New Years Eve away from my daughter locked behind bars waiting for a bail to be granted so that I could get bailed out on four different warrants. I came home sober to a very different life than I had before I went to jail. My husband was also locked up on a no bail warrant. (Actually, our no bail warrants both arose from a charge in which we were co-defendants. We were charged with everything from first, second, and third degree assault, to theft, to conspiracy.) One of my best friends was locked up in the strict-as-fuck Commonwealth of Virginia.

I knew that going out boosting was simply not an option. First of all, my partners in crime (my husband and my best friend being held captive in Virginia) were both locked up and thus un-available. Second of all anyone who steals (or whores or deals) in order to receive drugs knows that you simply cannot continue that activity if you wish to remain clean and sober. 

Well, I was a single mother with a daughter for whom I was the sole provider of, I needed a job ASAP. I got a job at an UNO’s Pizzeria. I never told a sole there about my history. When I had court dates, I made up an excuse as to why I needed to miss work that day. I was in a women’s addiction group every Wednesday night that I told my managers was a photography class. I told co-workers that I was separated from my husband instead of saying that he was in jail (eventually I did say that he was in jail, I just didn’t tell them that it was drug related).

I lied. I hid my scars both physical and emotional. I wore long selves all the time in order to hide my track marks. I thought that if I just hid my past from everyone new that I met then I could just become a new person. It didn’t work. I was hiding from myself. When I relapsed, I kept lying and pretending that I was not an addict. Know what happened? I got high for three more years. 

We as addicts need to admit our truth. Maybe not to everyone, but we shouldn’t lie. We need to be honest with ourselves. We are and always will be addicts. Society is not going to just decide to accept addicts out of the blue. We have to force acceptance. This will be an uphill battle of course, but I believe that it can happen. When I was in high school and college and diagnosed with a whole slew of psychological disorders it was so very taboo. Being on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medicines of any sort was something that you just did not admit to. Now it seems that every other person you meet is on some sort of psychiatric medication. 

Addiction is a disease that is both physical and mental. I think (I hope) that one day addicts can openly admit that they are addicts and that they need help. To that end, I hope that help is then readily available. Addicts (sort of like the homeless) are the forgotten. There is not an accurate picture of how many people suffer from this horrible affliction and so there is not enough resources out there for people to be able to help themselves.

I know that it is not easy or fast to change the way the vast majority of society looks at any group that is perceived as a minority, but the issue is that there are far more addicts out there than people care to realize. If people can look past their prejudices and realize that recovered addicts are some of the smartest, strongest, compassionate people in the world, then we wouldn’t have to hide from our true selves and cause greater pyschological  damage to people that tend to have enough damage to overcome. Here’s to hope!

Ghosts of Junkies Past

I don’t know if it stems from the fact that I suffer from ADD, or if I truly suffer from the junkie version of “The Seven Year Itch”, only in my book it is the two year itch, but once I have been clean for about two years, I begin to feel restless. No, I have not relapsed. I do not want to get high. That is not what this is about. I just cannot simply be content with things “as is”. I always need to have a project, something to look forward to. I have to be making plans.

I have been planning not only a trip to Ocean City, MD with my husband and kids this summer, but we are looking into buying, actually owning, our own home. I want that so much. I am thinking that this will help stave off “the itch”. I am very good about paying all the bills as soon as the direct deposit hits. Sometimes, the issue is too much extra money. That is not to imply that we have droves of extra money lying around, but a mortgage that is attached to a $200,000 to $300,000 loan is a lot to loose. It is a good incentive to keep oneself on track.

This itch is not helped by the fact that lately it seems like heroin and heroin addicts are in my face constantly. Friends, actual friends – not your average get high buddies, that I have worked so hard to distance myself, my husband, and my family from have suddenly reappeared. 

Two people in particular. One is a guy that I have been close friends with since my sophomore year in high school. The other is a guy that my husband has been best friends with since first grade, and I met while I was pregnant with my daughter who is eight and a half now. Actually, I wrote about these two men in the article “When Dealing With An Addict Is It Better To Give Love Or Tough Love?”

The man that I have been friends with for 15 years now particularly pains me to not be able to see, but I can’t. I love him. He is family. Except for one incident recently he has been really good to me, and I to him. That being said however, he continues to want to get high. He comes home from jail or rehab and starts back up in a matter of weeks or months. I had to severe the ties, but he has called recently. I do want to hang out, but addicts to not respect that you are a clean, recovering addict. They resort back to fond memories of you getting high with them and inevitably try to get you high, or at least offer it to you. I am actually crying slightly writing about this potential (probably) total loss of this man’s friendship, and I almost NEVER cry.

On Saturday, I was shopping at the local Harris Teeter, when my phone rang. I looked at it and noticed that it was a number that I didn’t recognize, so I didn’t answer. Then it called again, so I picked up. It was the other guy, my husband’s childhood best friend. I hadn’t talked to him in probably nine months, maybe more. I haven’t seen him in like two and a half years. He was locked up and I haven’t seen him since he has been home. I don’t even know where he is living. Things are very different with this man. He is like a brother to me, but he uses my husband. My husband still wants to see him for the best friend that he had for so long, and cannot see the person that the drugs have made him.

On New Years Eve 2012, me, my husband, my sister, and the first friend (the one from high school) all went in town early in the morning. We went to our usual spot to get 37 pills. My husband got out to go into the hole. He came back after about two minutes and told us that they were on hold. He went back up in the hole about ten minutes later while the rest of us waited in the SUV (we loved to use this car because it had really dark tint and you could not see our white skin through the windows) at the back exit of the alley. Anyway, the gave him the first 26 before they ran out. He had to wait in the alley for the next back. The guy went in to the abandoned row house to get the next pack and gave to my husband and sent him on his way. We were all sitting in the car and I see a cop pull up and park almost next to us. Then I see Aaron coming around the corner walking towards the car. “Please don’t come to the car”, I thought to myself. My husband was wearing gloves and a hoody with the hood up, and his head was down, so you couldn’t see his skin color. By continuing to walk the cop should have to reason to stop him, but by opening the car door and the cop seeing four white people on a small street where most of the houses are abandoned and almost no white people live there? Well, we would all be fucked. What we didn’t know was that the police had cops in abandos and on roof tops watching the hole with binoculars. They watched the hole thing. The guy throw my husband to the ground, gun drawn, and cuffed him.

They charged him with possession and possession with intent. They dropped the intent at the preliminary hearing and never intended for the felony charge to go to trial. It would never have stood up, they just did it to fuck him on his bail – and it worked. His bail was set at $20,000. So me and my high school buddy went out to get money after we got well. We had $350 for his bail before it was set. The city takes between 18 and 24 hours to see the commissioner, so we had a little bit of time. They had told him that they would not charge him with intent, so his bail should have been between $2,500 and $5,000. The intent raised the bail. We were able to bail him out on a payment plan agreement.

While all of this was happening, his supposed “best friend” called constantly. Not to see if he could help get money or anything, but because he wanted me to take him out boosting. Then about 12 hours after my husband’s bail was paid and he was due to be released, he walked from whoever he was to the Baltimore City Central Booking and Intake Center where he knew we were waiting. He had called saying that he got a pill of dope for Aaron since he was going to be so ill. I informed him that I had three for my husband. I knew how sick he was, and I wasn’t going to pick him up empty handed. Funny thing, when he arrived, after learning that I had something for my husband, he said that the pill he had for him “fell down his pants legs and is gone”. Come on dude, just admit that you did it! It is fine, I bought him something. Don’t tell me ridiculous lies. He knew that my husband had been locked up with $150. I had mentioned it on the phone saying that it sucked that he had some of the money for his bail in his property. An inmate can sign their property over to someone, but he would not have been able to do it until after he had been moved upstairs and classified. That would have taken days. That was why he met us at Bookings. Almost as soon as my husband got in the car, right after he got on he asks, “You have a $150, right? So you can afford to get me high, right?”. My husband did because that is the kind of person he is, but he saw what I had been telling him, what everyone had been telling him, for months. This guy, his alleged best friend, didn’t once offer to help bail my husband out, but now he wanted the person who just spent the last 36 hours sick as a dog to get him high.

We hung out with him a couple of times right after that, and he fucked us over each time. So excuse me for not being particularly eager to reconnect with this guy. He is also rather chauvinistic. It is not even a remote possibility in his brain that I could be smarter than him about anything because I am a woman. Forget the fact that, sorry to sound arrogant, but I AM smarter than him, as I am smarter than most people. He dismisses anything that me or any woman has to say as being without merit automatically. He doesn’t even really listen to what a woman has to say.

I tend to be a cold, closed off person. It is far and away my biggest flaw. I let no one in. When I do let you into my inner-sanctum, I am intensely loyal, almost to a fault, but I get that close with very few individuals. Both of these men are people that at one point and time were close to me (one much closer and more trusted than the other) and now because of my demons, because of their demons, I cannot see them or really even talk to them. It is sad, but necessary to keep the “two year itch” at bay.

When Dealing With An Addict Is It Better To Give Love Or Tough Love?

I ran into one of my oldest friends yesterday. My husband and I had gotten a couples massage done. When we left, we went across the street to get gas. Thertuge was a guy that I have been friends with for fifteen years. We will call him Ethan (not his real name). He just cam home from rehab for the um-tenth time about a month or so ago. He was trying to sell us something in order to procure funds to go in town to cop some dope. This is the same story with him. Over and over. He will have a killer habit, get busted- either by being arrested or by his parents, go to jail or to rehab, come home, do well for a week or a month or six, then start getting high again. So the story goes, over and over and over again.

I have another friend who I have known for about nine years, but my husband has been best friends with this guy since elementary school. He is the same way. Goes to jail for a year or two, comes home, starts getting high, rips and runs until he gets locked up and goes back to jail. Actually we haven’t seen this dude who I am going to call Adam (again, not his real name) in over a year. We had to cut him out of our lives. He doesn’t even try to do good. Also he wants my husband and I to do too much for him. I am not a cold hearted bitch, despite how this sounds, but I have my own family to take care of. He wants money (which I have no problem giving – sometimes), he wants a place to live (again, I don’t mind giving a friend a place to stay for a night or even a week, but we have given him a place to sleep and he stayed for like six months). Also, he doesn’t ever want to give my husband and I any alone time or family time. he is always there. Actually, last time he stayed with us, he would come in our bedroom and hang out, watch tv, and get high. He would never take the hint to leave, we would have to pretend that we were asleep to get him to finally go into the guest room and go to sleep. We would then get back up and hang out alone, snuggle, fuck, talk, you know – be a married couple.

Anyway, these two dudes are very similar in that the cycle of addiction is their lives. In and out of active addiction. In and out of institutions. Only difference with that is that Adam has never gone to rehab since I have known him. Once, long before I ever met him, he was in a rehab, but was out on a day pass and got arrested for picking up a hooker thus not making it back before curfew and got kicked out. The main difference with these two guys is their families. Ethan’s parents, who are his adoptive parents, support him every time he messes up. They are self mad millionaires. They own a security company. Actually they were the people that put up the police cameras that are on practically every corner in Baltimore. The other guy, Andy. His mom and step-dad are the exact opposite. They don’t help him out at all.

So which family has the answers? Who is doing it right? To even begin to answer that, we have to delve deeper into each man’s situation.

First I am going to discuss Adam and his family. They believe in tough love to the extreme. Actually, if we are being totally honest, I think that his mother would help him, support him, be there for him, but his step-dad is having none of it. I mean they don’t bail him out when he gets arrested, but many people look at this and say that he got himself in jail, so why should his parents get him out? Ok, maybe, he is 36 after all. It is so much more than just not paying his bail. They will not visit him in jail, send him money or even write to him in jail. They won’t set up an account on their cell phones enabling him to call them collect from jail. When he has done time in the past, they refused to get his car out of impound within the deadline, thus letting it be taken over by the state. So he lost that car. Another car and another time in jail, they wouldn’t let him park his car at their house, so he lost that car because he had no where to leave it safely and eventually it was towed and as with the previous car, if not retrieved from the impound by the deadline, it is the state’s to auction off. When he comes home, they are unwilling to let him live with them, or even stay with him until he gets into a half way house. They won’t help him pay for rehab. Or give him some money to get himself started when he comes home. Yeah, tough love.

Ethan’s family is exactly the opposite. He lives with them. They always pay his bail. They have even put their house up as collateral to get his ass out of jail when he had a $500,000 bail. They pay for him to go to rehab when he comes home from jail. He has had hi sentence cut down before due to this. In Maryland we have what is called an 8505. This means that at least one time, a judge has to allow someone with a history of drug addiction to be able to serve their time in rehab instead of jail. A good lawyer can often get an 8505 for a client even if they have received it before. obviously, most people would prefer to do their time in a rehab facility instead of in a prison. They have put him into rehab even when jail is not involved, (i.e. not an 8505, or no pending charges where rehab would look good for the judge and possibly spare him time or at the very least receive less time from the judge). Currently he is on a methadone program. They give him a place to live, pay for anything he needs. Also, and probably one of the biggest things they do for him, they give him a job at their company. He would never get this job if not for his father. He would not pass the security clearance. A job, besides being a requirement for parole and probation, is the biggest stepping stone to achieving self-sufficiency and maintaining sobriety.
Both men, sadly keep going through the revolving door of ails, institutions, and active addiction. So who is approaching their relationship with their child right? In my humble opinion, I think that Ethan’s parents are going about it the right way.

They are not enabling him. They will pay for things he needs, but they almost never give him cash, unless they are pretty positive that he is not getting high. They have strict rules for living at their house. Now an addict is going to find a way to get high if they want to, but they do not just allow drugs in the house. If they find drugs, or needles or any other sort of paraphernalia, they are sending him into a program. Actually they have had him arrested before, but they dropped the charges when it went to court. I think that they just wanted him to “dry out” in a cell for the night. They try to keep track of any and everyone that he is hanging out with. Believe me, you do not want to be grilled by is mother.

The thing is, at least he has a fighting chance when he comes home from jail or rehab. Adam, he doesn’t even have a shot. He comes out of jail with no where to live. Yeah, you can go into a halfway house, but unless you are in a pre-release kind of jail, there is no way to find and contact these places until you get out. That is one of the primary flaws in the system. You have to have a place to stay for a few days in order to find a place to live. At least halfway houses will let you in without any money up front. Yeah, they charge you rent to live there, but they give you a couple of weeks to get a job. As long as you are actively looking for employment, they ill give you time. In the beginning, they are mostly concerned with making sure that all of your drug screens are clean, that you are going to the required number of NA or AA meetings and are helping out with the cooking and chores. It is usually a little bit harder to g from jail to rehab if there is no one helping you. If you do not have insurance that covers all or at least the majority of the cost, they are going to want a large portion of the money up front. State insurance takes a month or so to kick in. You have to go to the social services office and apply (you can also apply for food stamps too, in order to get the temporary cash assistance, you have to come to the social services offices 3-4 days a week and turn in like 10 job applications a week, so if you have no one to help you with a ride, there is really no point in trying to get the TCA), hen about a week later you get your Medical Assistance card with your number and a bunch of brochures about different insurance companies, you then call the state’s medical assistance number and tell them which company you have chosen, like a week after that you get your insurance card and have health insurance. That is like two to three weeks in the best case, fastest scenario. So for Adam with no where to stay while waiting rehab is a difficult option (I didn’t even get into the fact there is a high probability that there is a wait list). So he stays with a friend in the city. He finds someone who will let him sleep at their house for $10 a night. More often than not, these people get high as most 0f his friends that live in the city do. He needs money right away so he starts going out boosting. With no internet access, he ends up not even looking for a halfway house, Actually, the only time that he lived in a halfway house was when he stayed with us after he was released from jail and my sister complied a list of halfway houses. Being as he is staying with people with a drug habit who are taking him out boosting and then going to cop dope, it is only a matter of days or weeks that this heroin habit is back.

I am in no way trying to put all of his issues with relapse on his parents, Ethan is proof that an addict will relapse if they want. I have noticed that Adam developed a habit within about a week of coming home, while Ethan has gone a year, and almost always months. Yeah when I saw him, he was trying to cop, but I don’t think he had a habit. He is a fool to think that his casual use will not develop into a habit, but he is trying. Ethan’s parents afford him the opportunity to do the right thing, and one of these times he will get into his mind that he is sick of this life of drug use and abuse. Adam doesn’t even stand a chance. He is released from prison with no where to sleep, no one to support him emotionally or financially.

How Many Times Do We Deserve To Be Forgiven – To Forgive Others?

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It is estimated that the average addict relapses around nine times before they actually get clean. Before the idea of sobriety sinks in to our extremely thick skulls and stays there. During this vicious cycle of recovery and relapse how many friends have we pushed away? How many family members have we fucked over? And how many times have we been betrayed, hurt, lied to? How many times should we expect to be forgiven for our sins from our past lives?

Above is a diploma from my middle school D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) class. I don’t know if they still do this, but in 1995-1998, all students had to attend drug classes in school. They informed you about various drugs, their effects, addiction possibilities, etc. Being that I was a straight A student all through out school, I aced this class as well. I was going through a bunch of old paperwork over the weekend and found this. Ironic isn’t it? Now, I would be used as a horror story as to why you shouldn’t do drugs. “Meet Amy. She was a straight a student. Full scholarships to many of the best colleges in the country. She started using heroin and cocaine and threw her life away. She has multiple arrests and achieved no where close to her potential.” But back then, in middle school, I was the absolute last person that anyone would have suspected would fall under the firm, death grip of heroin.

The first time an addict finally decides, or more often then not, is convinced to enter into rehab, there is a great deal of hope and optimism amount the addicts friends and family. They will get clean, they will be cured. We will have our friend back. When you come home from the in-patient rehab, or complete the out-patient rehab, all transgressions are forgiven. Trust is restored. It is assumed that we are “cured”, back to normal. God is good.

Then a very large percent of time, we (the addict) relapses. Unfortunately, the friend/family of the addict takes this as a slap in the face. Like we are doing this to fuck them over. They either didn’t research that the idea of recovery almost never sticks the first go round, or they assume that their family member will be different. One reason , in my humble opinion, that most people fail to stay sober after the first time of going through rehab, is that an addict has to want to get clean.  Many times an addict enters rehab for the first time to pacify their loves ones. This is nothing more than a set up for failure. Merely going through the motions of NA, rehab, whatever is not enough. You have to really work it. Want it. It sort of like looking at a book, but not really reading it. The information is not going to sink in.

When we relapse the lies start up agin ten fold. We are now trying to hide the fact that we failed. We relapsed. We were unable to achieve the lasting sobriety that our loved ones were expecting us to and we are undoubtedly ashamed. Most of the people that we hurt during our first bout of drug use was probably willing to forgive us this time, but each time that we try and fail to surrender to God, we loose more and more people that we care about.

Eventually, inevitably, it comes out that we are using again. We may try to deny it continually, but an arrest happens, or an overdose, or a job loss. Something happens. We fuck up somehow. Usually a good sign is that we never have money or if we have money, we do not have as much as we should.

The people who care about us take the news of our relapse as a personal a front. Why have we done this. We just completed a program. We apologize, but that trust is much harder to gain back each additional time.

More than likely we are encouraged to get back in to treatment ASAP. We are just a little slow, stubborn, they think. We are not (yet) a total failure. If, and most likely when, this go round doesn’t work either, everyone starts to wonder what the fuck is wrong with us? Why don’t we just stop? Can’t we see the pain we are causing? Don’t we care about all of the friends that we are loosing? Most importantly, why are we so fucking selfish? Do we really not care about anybody else?

And I get it. I really do. Someone who doesn’t have this disease, who doesn’t struggle daily with addiction, can not understand. It is heart-breakingly frustrating to watch someone that you love and care about so much kill themselves slowly.

When my husband was serving time in Montgomery County, Maryland, he qualified to serve his time at PRC (Pre Release Center). This actually tries to rehabilitate prisoners. It sets them up with jobs, helps them get their GEDs if they need it, has them go to twice weekly NA or AA meetings. But one rather unique thing it does I takes the inmate’s sponsor (loved one they of their choosing) attend classes before the inmate can earn any at home visits. Since I myself am an addict and have done time, I already knew almost all of the information presented, but it is a fantastic idea. Inmates with little to no family suppose stand a much, much higher chance of becoming a repeat offender. Not everyone in jail  struggles with addiction, but since the majority do, the classes teach the sponsors about their loved ones addictions.

One aspect of addiction that people need to understand, is that the drugs alter the addicts brain. Forever. Our synapses fire differently. We have a shortage of endorphins for the rest of lives. We don’t understand at first, that we are addicted for life. While the first time, it may have taken us months of daily use before we developed a habit, each additional time it only takes two to four  consecutive uses to re-developed said habit. Our habit also picks up where it left off, with terrifying speed. I feel like our families, or friends, sort of feel like we make a huge effort to relapse. Like we use daily for a month before we get dope sick again. I don’t think that have any idea how fast it really happens.

Of course, we lie and betray every subsequent time we start to use again. It is very, very difficult for someone without this awful disease to understand how truly awful we feel when we lie to the people that we love. When in my active addiction, I would, on a rare occasion, ask my mother for money. She would berate me talking about how she was nothing but a bank to me. How I loved getting money from her. The actuality was that I only hit her up for money as an absolute LAST resort. I would have rather done almost anything. It made me feels so worthless, so low. My husband and I were able to come up with almost a thousand dollars a day, so asking her was usually an emergency. Actually, very rarely did the money that she gave me go to drugs. It usually went towards court fees, rental car, or bills one way or another. I had to be very sick to ask her for gate money. Losing the trust of my mother was one of the most terrible, awful side effects of being a heroin addict. Gaining back her trust, her forgiveness is probably the single most important thing to me in my recovery. It something that I work towards daily.

Once we are sober, we want people to hand back of their trust, the keys to their heart instantly. It is not that easy, unfortunately. Once someone betrays you over and over, it seems slightly insane to forgive them. I think the only reason that we are able to be forgiven at all is that people some-what believe that the drugs took over our brains, making us do things that we otherwise never would have done.

As far as karma goes (assuming that you believe that you believe in this sort of thing) we can not expect to be forgiven (and forgiven repeatedly at that) if we refuse to forgive others. We understand relapse. We understand the insanity of addiction. It is important to forgive while still being cautious of trusting too much. We can forgive people while still keeping people at arms length. We have to understand others need to do the same with us. We have to accept that through our actions, whether as a part of a drug induced haze or not, that there is inevitably many people that we have lost forever.

Especially with those who do not understand the disease of addiction, forgiveness may be something that is impossible to achieve. Some people are not the forgiving type. I have many friends and family members that I have done nothing to, except be n addict, that I have lost forever. I have people that have committed one minor transgression that have refused to offer their forgiveness to me after many, repeated heart-felt apologies. This is something that I am forced to come to peace with. There is a Buddhist quote that goes, “Holding on to anger is like trying to throw a torch with your bare hands. You will inevitably get burned.” I take great comfort in this and have stopped dwelling on people’s whose forgiveness I will probably never receive. If they choose to hold on to hate and anger towards me, there is nothing more that I can do to remedy the situation. I have forgiven people. If they choose to let anger eat them alive, so be it.

We can only concern ourselves with those who are willing to let us back into their lives, into their hearts. This does not just go for addicts, but for everyone. It is important to apologize to someone whom you have wronged, but if forgiveness is something that they are refusing to give, fuck it. I know from personal experience that it will eat you up inside. It is not worth it. It is far better to take that energy and focus it towards your recovery, to those who found it deep within their souls to give us trust again, even if just a little.

Alone and Miserable – By My Own Choosing

“I wake up and feel empty/ Shit make you wanna squeeze a glock till it’s empty/ I’m already standing on the edge so don’t tempt me/ Fake Motherfuckers Envy” – Young Jeezy “F.A.M.E.

This is the chorus from a song by one of my favorite rappers, Young Jeezy, but the sentiment could have been plucked straight from inside my brain. I wake up feeling alone and empty daily. I feel this because I am alone.

I have my husband, who is great, and my two kids, who I live for. But friends, not so much. Especiallynnow that I am sober. Every rehab, NA group councelor instructs you to change your “people, places, and things” when you get sober. That knocks most of my “friends” out. Actually, councelors always try to blame my using on my husband. Either it is his fault or at the very least since we use together, we will never stay clean together. This general feeling that we will fail is so overwhelmingly prevalent that I now don’t even mention that my husband ever got high with me. He does the same. I have been proven time and time agin that we are soul mates, so fuck everyone else.

When we first got clean, it was in jail. I came home and he stayed locked up for another ten months. I told him later how terrified that we would have nothing in common except our daughter when we were both clean. We had to learn again why we love each other.

But back to my lack of friends. This issue didn’t start with my addiction, but that pushed it to an extreme. When it comes to people, I am like a spectator watching my self. I can see myself pushing everyone who ever tries to get close to me away, but I continue to do it. People will only trt but for so long. Eventually they just give up.

I don’t know if these actions started with the death of my father’s death, but that certainly didn’t help. No matter how you cut it, he left me. I was an all out daddy’s girl and he was cruelly ripped from my tenacious grip. I was not even remotely prepared for his death. I was kept in the dark, given no time to brace for the profound impact that this would have on my life. I was a pre-pubescent eleven year old with no father to guide me.

My poor mother was so concerned with the fact that my sister and I were now sans father that she decided to be our friend. She tried so hard, but she never took time to get herself well. She had two kids and bills that required her to work long hours to pay. She wanted us to like her, to think she was cool. But I would have loved her no matter what, she was all I had. I needed a mother, not a friend.

Shortly after my father’s death, I was swiftly and viciously betrayed by all but one of my friends. They decided that I thought that I was better than the because of the many shopping excursions that my mother took my sister and I on.

I was so hurt, so forsaken. I developed an eating disorder and body image issues that have haunted the darkest depths of my mind ever since. I hqd quickly learned that you can not and should not expect for anyone to ever be there for you.

Eventually in high school I became close to a boy. It was such a relief. I could tell him things. Everything. He had been molested too, so I could open up about the pain that I had suffered in silence my whole life. I told him what it was like to watch the life leave my father’s eyes.

Then he raped me. I was broken beyond repair. I learned my lesson. I would not let that happen again. I shut myself off from everyone. I released my pain by playing guitar and singing Hole at the top of my lungs. As for people, I was done.

These actions by others and myself lead to crippling self-doubt and self-hatred. How could anyone else honestly love me when I hated myself so fucking much? I could not, would not believe that anyone would honestly want to be my friend. It must be some sort of cruel trick to make me feel accepted and then to crush my soul. I have been married for nine years and I very often find myself questioning if he really loves me. And if he does, why?

When people would call to invite me out, I usually declined. Oddly, I would have so much fun being out with girlfriends, but I would shut them off. Yeah just girls oddly. I would party with lots of guys. (No, not fucking all of them either. I can count on my ten fingers the number of people I have fucked and not even use up all ten fingers.) There was no real emotional connection with the guys, so I would not be hurt if they left.

Women’s relationships with one another is on a much deeper level. When they betray you, it hurts you in a very unique fashion. It is all the more painful because you feel silly being so upset. You aren’t in love so why be so upset? It’s because in a way you are in love. You trust them to be there when your lovers fail you. to hold you up no matter what. When they screw you over for petty social rankings, it cuts in a way no romantic conquest ever could.

I had been hurt to many times over. Aside from my husband, kids, mother, and sister, I am close to no one. I have a very small support system. So I sit here alone, wishing I had girlfriends to go shopping with, grab a drink with. I didn’t even have anyone to throw me a baby shower. I remember being pregnant with my second child, my son, and crying over and over. Fearing that I wasn’t going to be ready because I didn’t have enough boy stuff. Really, it hit me how little people cared about me. There was not one person who would throw me a baby shower. Most of my extended family has deserted me too. Nothing like a miracle to let you know how little people care about you. I was hit with the overwhelming feeling that no one would care, would even notice if I died.

I can not say that I really blame people. People used to try. I always came up with excuses last minute to not go out. I would end up just sitting at home, alone. People have other friends, fun ones who want to go out. They give up.

As I sit here, alone, curled up in my oversized leather chair, I can clearly articulate this issue to you. The problem is that this is not some new revelation, some awakening that I came to due to the exercise of purging my soul through writing. I have known this. It is almost a compulsion that I am unable to control.

I am more than well aware that unless I let people into my inner-sanctum, I will be alone. The question remains, can I open up enough to let anyone get close even if it opens up the risk of getting hurt? Is being alone and safe better than having friends and fun with the plausibility – be it great or small – of being burned? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but I do know that being alone is not fun. I need to try to let some outsiders in to my heart. Here’s hoping that I can manage it.