This is part one of something I need to detail.
If I wanted to move forward, I needed to look back at myself. I had to look back at one of my most troubled times and the time when my life was forever altered. I had secrets from this time. I had my share of guilt and shame but above all, the regret from this part of my life would not let me move forward.
More than just my obvious drug use, I needed to break down the connection to my thoughts and behaviors. However, as I write this now, it is important for me to express that I do not do drug stories.
I do not romanticize my past. I cannot and will not glamorize that lifestyle nor will I feed into the culture; however, for all intents and purposes, I believe it is important that I detail this part of my story. I want to detail this specifically, because this story is the most important story. This is me. This is a story that takes place on a day in late August, 1989.
I was heading toward something terrible. I was not really sure what was about to happen —I only knew that whatever it was, it wouldn’t be good.
I was withering away to nothing. I rarely ate very much. At best, I would eat when I could but my stomach easily reversed itself. Besides, at this point, my meals were more chemical based than anything else.
I weighed less than 100lbs. My skin was pale-green with dark rings beneath my eyes. I used to have to tie my belt loops together on my jeans because I was so thin. I was 16 years-old and approaching 17. By now, I swear there were nights that I thought I would die. And by morning, I swear, there were times when I was amazed that I woke up and found I was still alive.
I knew something was coming my way. I could tell —it was in the mail, haunting me like the calm before a storm. There was no way to turn around and no way to stop. I was in too deep now.
Besides, in all honesty, I figured I was about to die anyway. Why bother thinking about anything else?
My life was changing. More and more, I drew closer to self-destruction. I moved towards my fate with acceptance because this is where I felt I belonged. I did not believe I could do anything else nor did I think I deserved anything else.
If the saying was true, if what goes around comes around, then this was my place in the cycle—I was supposed to be here, in the underbelly, and anything I did to anyone, whatever I stole, whomever I hurt, and whatever I did was just like the hand of God delivering what comes around.
If I was to be here, then fine—let this be me, the villain, so that I could be me perfectly: a junkie, a villain, a lowlife, and a bum.
Everything was a scam. Everything was me, trying to maintain, trying to get over, trying to get money, and trying to find my place in the clouds.
This was always me, trying to feed my habit, trying to save my brain, trying to stop the thinking, to not feel sick, trying not to care, or trying to speed up and push my fate into the hands of God, and trying to avoid the aftermath of my choices.
This was me, trying to keep moving so I would never feel the pain. The only problem is I could never outrun myself.
I remember my first dope nod. I remember coming to the idea that if this is hell, and if what I had heard is true; if this is the devil’s world, then if I die, all that will happen to me is I will come back as some other life form, maybe lower in standard and with less status.
In my drug-fueled trance, I felt a sense of warmth in my exchange; I traded my soul for a hint of paradise, which may have been synthetic and only temporary —but hey, at least I felt this way. At least I was granted a momentary reprieve. I recall a scene in my head, which was dark, like the room I was in and slow-moving, like the red lava lamp that gave us a hint of light.
See, this is the part that no one talks about. This is the obsession and the compulsion and how it overrides sanity by any means necessary.
Suddenly, the things you never thought you would do are not only something you do, but this is the only thing you do.
No one ever thinks it will go this way, but it always does.
And as far as the downside; as far as the depression, as far as the pain and the shame and the sickness and the degradation that comes with multi-substance addictions, like crawling on the floor, on hands and knees, looking for cocaine or crack, only to find out that heroin can and will take all your cares away (literally) —one would think this would be enough to make someone quit.
Unfortunately, the truth is the degradation only fuels the fire and just makes people go back to do more.
I stole. I lied. I cheated. I sold myself in ways that no one should ever have to sell themselves, to get money, to get high, just to maintain.
As I saw it, either someone was going to kill me, I was going to kill me, or the drugs would handle this for us all and I would be found somewhere, like a rotted corpse in one of my hiding places.
Or worse, I’d be found in my room where my Mother and Father would find me, dead as their hopes, and then forever have to deal with the shame that this was me. I was their son —a failure, a letdown, a junkie, and put in the simplest way —a disappointment.
There was word moving throughout my town that the police were looking for me. It wasn’t the first time I heard things like this but my level of intentions had changed because my level of crime was more deliberate.
They were looking to talk to me about a specific break-in, which happened at Prospect Pool. I knew they were looking for me because I was there. I knew they were looking for me because one of my “So-called” friends mentioned my name when they had him in custody.
I saw him do this too. I saw this when I ran. But me, I got away. And him, he was caught.
I could feel the sensation of impending doom. It felt like the hounds of hell were at my heels, nipping at me, and eventually, I knew this would get me.
I was on the run and trying to maintain my life but the harder I tried, the deeper I sank, which meant the slower I’d become and eventually, something was about to catch me.
There was a night that I recall, me, lying on a park bench in a toddler playground. I was hiding here to get away.
I was in the middle of a nod and noticed a girl entered the playground. She was one of the popular girls. She was pretty. She was friendly to the others of her kind, but she was never kind to me.
She would sooner spit at me than say anything at all. Or, perhaps, maybe this was just my interpretation. Maybe this was just the way I saw things back then because I swore everyone was against me.
I could tell she was crying. I could also foresee this being a problem should one of her male friends come by. If this happened and someone came by to see her crying with me in her vicinity, this could lead to unwanted attention, or worse, a beating —and I wanted neither.
She sat not too far away from me on one of the other benches. I stood up and started to walk away.
I apologized for being there, to which she said something like, “That’s okay. You were here first,” which was odd because I don’t think she had ever spoken that much to me before.
I started to walk away but there was at least a shred of me that believed I should ask if she was okay.
So I did.
She was a girl from the other crowd. She was like me in some ways too, young and just trying to find her way.
However, unlike me, she was one from the popular crowd. What happened after was something I would have never expected. I never knew much about the pressures of someone else – someone other than me. I certainly never imagined that anyone else would think like me, or could feel like me.
The girl talked to me for a while, although, I doubt she ever told anyone. We talked like two people. We didn’t talk like two people from different sides of the lunchroom. No, we had an honest conversation. No image, no status, just two kids, trying to figure things out.
She asked me, “What is that stuff like?”
“That stuff you do.”
The girl wanted to know what I was on. She asked about the drugs, which, I did not share, nor did I tell her what I was on.
It was enough to be seen as one of the town’s derelicts, but heroin was just making its way to the scene, and as it was, crack and cocaine had already taken off in my town. The social virus had begun, and it was more than just contagious.
I was high, but I knew enough that if I dosed her or so much as showed her a bag, someone would find out, and then there would be someone or something else for me to worry about.
I don’t know why this conversation happened. And I’m not sure I was able to process this until a time when my head was clear.
This was unlike anything I had ever experienced—in a way, this somehow humanized other people to me.
See, I never knew how other people thought or felt. I just knew about me. I never knew other people suffered or struggled. I just thought it was me.
I blamed everything about me on something. It was just me. I was stupid. I was mentally ill. At the age of 12, I had a doctor tell me I was emotionally disturbed. But what the hell does that mean AND how do you tell a 12 year-old he is emotionally disturbed?
The girl asked what the drug was like. She wanted to know what it was like to shut the world off. But why her?
Why would someone like her need to get away from her life?
Like me, I suppose she just wanted to euthanize the world for a minute—to just pause for a second, so that she could catch her breath because things move so quickly sometimes, and the way the world is, sometimes, life can be one hell of a cruel bitch.
Everything is pressure. Everything is about status, how you look, what you have, how much money you have, and in fairness, everyone is one step away from controversy —everyone is one move away from a rumor or the gossip mills, in which case, your best friends today will only laugh at you tomorrow to keep themselves from being part of the rumor factory.
I asked her, “Why would you want to do what I do?”
I couldn’t figure out why someone like her would need to be high the same as me. I had nothing else and as I saw it, she had everything.
She had everything. Everyone liked her. Everyone wanted to be around her. She was pretty. She was popular and smart.
She could have any boyfriend she wanted, and yet, here she was, teary-eyed and crying, asking me about the effects of a drug.
I spent much of my life, feeling alone and trying to find my place in the crowd. I spent most of my life, in fact, believing there was a secret ingredient to being cool, which I lacked, of course.
I was alone.
But I was always alone. I felt alone, even while sitting in a crowd of people. I would have never believed that anyone else could feel this way—let alone, someone like her.
She asked, “Did you ever look around at your friends and the people you’ve known for as long as you can remember, and you just look at them and feel like a total stranger?”
I answered her, “All the time.”
She told me she wanted to disappear
She asked, “Is that what it’s like?”
And I knew what she meant. She saw me plenty of times before, too high to talk or think, and sometimes, too high to even move from the floor.
I didn’t answer her but the honest answer was yes. In my best description, the reason for my high was to climb inside my little cocoon —because in there there is no pain, no stress, no hardships or reasons to worry or wonder about anything else.
I fell into a nod and nothing else mattered. And here is the biggest trip—as sad and degrading as this is; somehow, this is not a deterrent.
The warnings do not warn anyone. No, they just attract us like moths to a flame because the curiosity is just so incredible.
I know in the beginning I promised I would never let it get this bad as I swore I’d never do heroin but, “It must be that good of a high if people would throw themselves away like this.”
And sure, I looked terrible. I was losing everything. I was about to die (or hoped to) I wanted to disappear. I wanted to get away. I wanted the world to stop moving and find a method to suspend myself between weight and gravity.
I used to find places in my town to hide. I would hide under a bridge from time to time. I fell asleep there. I woke up with glass stuck in my face from the ground, bleeding, and my pants were wet because I pissed myself.
I would hide all the time. I used to break into the basement of one of the local bars. I’d hide in the dark with the mice and the roaches. I hid there when the weather was bad.
I’d bring a candle with me and hide myself behind a series of boxes, situated so that if someone from the upstairs came down, they would never see me.
I could understand why I lived the way I did. This made sense to me. I knew why I wanted this, but her? Why would she need this?
I remember this girl, beautiful and younger than me by a year or so, sitting in the moonlight. I remember our conversation ending quickly because someone else was coming over to check on her.
And I had to run away. I had to go hide. I had to go back to one of my places, like the sewers or the gutter, or in the fields near my home.
I suppose it was nice to hear someone else say they felt the same as me; however, at the same time, I felt more alone than ever.
My days were numbered. I knew there was something coming my way. I wasn’t sure what it would be; I just knew it would be something.
I was a scrawny kid. I had a small .25 caliber pistol, which I would have used on anyone, even if it was up close and personal. I was tired. I was tired of being afraid. I was tired of the impending doom. But wait, no.