Hero In Addict (Chapter 12)
I awoke this morning to the same gut yearning, churning agony that has infected itself upon me every other morning for as long as I can remember. This kind of necessity inspires movement even in the most unambitious of our breed. I’m half a person at this time of day, but I know what I need and I grab the first of many fulfillments of my day; my cigarettes laying on the floor beside my mattress. My mattress, covered with the blanket covered in a thousand cigarette hole burns from nodding out in bed with a still lit cigarette. I take a deep drag before I pull myself out of bed, careful not to knock down the array of various trash I threw beside me the previous day, and all the other days before that. I look outside my third floor trashed apartment to reveal what a normal person would describe as a winter wonderland. To me, this is a massive inconvenience. I don't have the luxury of drinking hot chocolate and watching syndicated television this morning. I have an important job to do and my body and mind are depending on me to see it through.
No cabs available in this weather, and since my car has been repossessed by some plaid suit clad peddler of a salesman, this isn't going to be an easy task. With wobbly legs and an all too familiar grizzled demeanor, this is certainly a deterrent; but by no means is it an insurmountable one. Nothing is insurmountable while in pursuit of survival. I have a knock at my door, and a portion of the way down the flight of stairs I have to trek to unlock and open it, I halfway remembered who it was, and halfway guessed as there are very few people I let into my weird little world anymore. Can never be too careful opening this door anymore, not after the probation officer fiasco. It's who I thought it would be- Joel. Joel's a former love interest that didn’t work out and our relationship has found itself nestled in between a stage of friends with benefits and two people, albeit very fucked up people, with the mutual trait of trying to publicly portray the self-confidence we have long ago privately abandoned. He's about the only person I’d allow to see my place in such shambles. It’s a difficult task trying to keep up appearances to the outside, and after a while it's gotten so daunting to keep up this charade, that I've just stopped trying. I don't invite anyone else over to my apartment anymore. There’s a certain stigma I like to shield myself from, and Joel doesn't lump me in it like I know everyone else would if they saw the state of my place, and me half a person at this time of day, before the methadone. I found myself, while still difficult, capable of being able to convey a sense of normality to the world in which I didn’t really possess. I let Joel into my world because we share a particular set of demons. Joel, however, is a popular kid, but has a facial deformity, a cleft palette. Joel drew me in because of his seemingly effortless displays of charisma that I had years before been able to play off just as well, and the loyalty he displays to me, that can only come from a place of genuine authenticity. Despite all his friends and charisma, I can see past it all into the front it really is, and to a place deep down where his demons hide. He likes me so much because he knows his transparency through my eyes and that he doesn't have to put on the charade with me either. Broken people are my specialty. I have an innate ability to locate them in all their beautiful shattered truths and create the kind of vulnerability that can only be made available for viewing to their own kind, and I was that kind and then some.
Joel wants to walk with me the couple of miles it will take to restore my sanity and physical health. My initial instinct is to push him away so he doesn't know who I am without the drugs in me. So he doesn't know how vulnerable and broken I really am, and how the only thing making me the person he knows since the day we met, is still a 3 mile walk away in a blizzard. I want to, but I don't, and that's more than I can say for anyone else in my life right now, because there is no one else. He's broken too, but he's a different kind of broken, and my kind is so shattered that I don't want him to know how badly. Up to this point, Lauren's the only one I've ever allowed to see who I really am, and I don't even talk to her anymore because of how scared I am to let her see how much further I've fallen since the last time she saw me, since the last time we've spoken. I don't tell Joel I want him to come, but he sees past my tough exterior for what it really is, just like I do with him. He knows I'm glad to have the company, and he's coming along to give it to me.
I throw on snow boots, and we are off. I don’t have to do anything else, because I’ll be considered formally dressed in the place we’re going.
We walk down Main Street, passing a variety of bars, quaint shops, and houses. Houses filled with people that have lives that don’t revolve around, and aren’t a slave to this journey I take each morning. It’s not the kind of bitter cold that comes before it snows, but more the hassle of a windblown, already snow covered street assaulting my face with the kind of nuisance I don’t have the tolerance for right now. We walk through the streets with their deafening silence. That is one relief that streams through my mind; right now on this particular morning, the world shut down in the same way mine does each and every, and for a brief moment I am comforted by the solidarity of polar opposites finding common ground. Joel doesn’t ask why my ordinarily talkative self is nonexistent. He knows, and I know he knows.
It hurts to breathe in the air and be abused with the feelings and harsh awareness that come with the clarity others function with daily. For fucks sake, how do people do this every day? How do you allow yourself to feel so freely, and without constant pain? I am no longer one of those people, and I’ve accepted it with the same apprehension that must come before you’ve accepted your fate of imminent death after a bleak medical prognosis. I have no hope, no faith, and I’m forced to grasp the realization of my physical and emotional defeat.
We wrap around the corner of the decent part of town, and end up on the literal opposite side of the train tracks to reveal all the stereotypically repugnant scenarios you would expect to find in the lives of the less fortunate. I have compassion for these people, they are more my people than the ones that think they are.
We arrive at our destination, and I ask Joel to wait outside. Right now he has his own demons, but not the ones that need to be suppressed by washing them down with even bigger ones. I know that there are some sights that can’t go unseen, and this is one of them. Before my act seems selfless, it is a shallow notion as I have my own selfish ulterior motives of not wanting to be branded in his eyes as “one of them”, as despite his knowledge of me, he still views me as a girl that belongs on the other side of the tracks with him, and I can’t bear to lose that. I can't bare to lose that last bit of normality projected, falsely projected, but projected still through the reflection of me in his eyes.
I walk in to see the familiar faces of those less fortunate souls, slaves like myself, deemed the dregs of society by the ones that make it a universal rule to hate and discriminate against us. Us, the broken ones, the junkies. They're waiting in line to pretend they’re real people, before they taste the liquid that actually turns us into real people, navigating this world. I haven't tasted it yet either, and I'm in line pretending to be a real person too. They are as familiar as the face that stares back at me in the mirrors I try not to look at anymore. What these people, my broken counterparts, and I silently and shamefully have in common are the irrevocable emotional scars that led this plethora of age, gender, race, and background of people together, united for a shared goal: suppression and survival. I wait in line with my people, and no one speaks except to perhaps significant others which are a typical common theme to see here, or to yell at their children they have brought along.
I urgently await my turn and I can feel my anxiety rise a few notches at my first glance today of the tiny cups being doled out. It is finally my turn to stand in front of the small bulletproof glass window that connects to the room that the nurses lock themselves in, and dole our drugs out from within. After all, you can never be too careful, they figure, when dealing with us societal outcasts, the walking dead of the living, the broken ones. I give them my name and the two hundred milligrams of pink liquid life awaits me in a tiny cup no bigger than my pinky, but large enough to be my savior when supplemented with my daily regimen. One gulp down the hatch, and my mind that was previously my enemy is temporarily quelled with the knowledge that in fifteen minutes I can walk back over the train tracks and continue to portray my artificiality without my body betraying me into divulging the horrible truth; at twenty two years old, I am over a decade into being a stone cold drug addict with an uncontrollable penchant to destroy myself. I walk past the league of children whom are statistically doomed to this masochistic lifestyle, and I know this because I am those children. The adult child of two addicts, statistically doomed still. I find myself back out in the blizzard, able to face one more day. Things will go on like this until I can no longer face another day, with or without the pink liquid.
The lines are so blurry during this period, and the darkness overshadows me to such an extent that it's hard to say exact ages and dates anymore. I'm somewhere between 22 and 23 when I've decided to stop living altogether.
I couldn't afford to get the pills anymore, and the logical next step was to start shooting dope to get by and survive. I'm so tolerant to drugs though, and methadone is the strongest of all, that heroin just doesn't hit me the same way it does most. Usually people go from heroin to methadone to stave off the dopesickness. I, on the other hand, am going from methadone to dope to stave off the methadone sickness, which is undoubtedly significantly harder.
I want to quit, and I called for assistance to try to get into another rehab, but I don't have healthcare anymore after losing my job after the jail stint, so that just isn't an option.
I'm somewhere around 22 when I apply to be accepted at a methadone clinic, but not to get better. It's simply to prevent me from killing myself as the methadone withdrawal is far too intense to continue living if it keeps happening, and I have no money or healthcare to enter treatment now. We, the broken ones, just don't have the necessary help or guidance we need to get better. It's already statistically next to impossible for someone in my predicament, with two addict parents making me genetically fucked, and a horrid childhood making me equally as emotionally fucked. Those kids in the clinic, with their addict parents, are fucked too if nothing changes for the better in this world. This stigma is simultaneously contributing to the spread of addiction, and things will be even worse for those kids than they were for me. We've declared a sham "war on drugs", which like every war, is only being waged for political gain. It's less a war on drugs, and more a war on us, the people that use them. Those kids will grow up under a veil of shame and secrecy that will mire them deep down into the exact cloak of darkness addiction needs to grow and thrive within. Like me, no one will ever explain to them it's not their fault, and that there's a way out, so they'll never know there's a way out. Like me, but only worse now with a war waged against them, against their parents who they love and still respect like kids do, they'll learn they're worthless. They will continue down this path of destruction and recklessness until their kids, and their kids' kids, know they're worthless earlier and earlier in life until it's all they know straight out of the womb, and no one will ever tell them they're wrong. Junkies straight out of the womb, and no one will ever tell them anything different. The world will only reinforce their beliefs by waging war against them, these babies and their parent's alike, until they're, we're, all dead and gone like the world has designed. If you remember, junkies don't get special treatment. We don't get any treatment.
The same people that fight for these babies to be born are the first people to turn their backs, and I know because I am them, one of those babies ,only grown up. No one has ever told me anything other than that I've chosen this life, and if nothing changes, no one will ever tell these Children anything different either. I look at these kids, and I see a junkie genocide, because I am their future, and I am dead just like they will be without help.