My nose was raw, my heart was pounding, but my life force – non-existent. Don’t be confused. I felt euphoric and able. The day ahead was something to anticipate, not dread. And by dread I mean fear with all of the stress my stomach could contain, and then some.
When I woke up, my cure all was next to the bed, folded in a receipt and carefully placed in the zippered pocket on the back of my guitar case. This is how I kept the tears, anxiety induced vomit, and uncontrollable mood swings at bay.
After the fix I was enjoying a shower, singing while I styled my hair, artfully applying winged eyeliner and marrying a black floral dress with combat boots.
I made the bed, took the dog out and said bye to mom. She asked me if I wanted to bring leftovers for lunch. I refused but thanked her warmly. She asked me why I hardly ever eat. I executed an excuse.
Pulling out of the driveway I wondered who I would be if I wasn’t an addict. I wondered who could tell. I lied to myself that my family didn’t know, that it was better for them if I stayed this way. After all, when I’m high I’m able to be around more. I enjoy being with them and have the energy to keep up with life.
After work I came home, did laundry, tended to my garden and the remaining housework. I acted casual and made a couple of trips to the bathroom. Flushing the toilet to drowned out the sounds of pills crushing, all the while waiting for the text.
The text came at 10 p.m., I already had my excuse ready. I’ve been “getting guitar lessons” from a friend at work.
Free at last, I peeled out of the driveway and navigated the rural mountain back roads to town. First I had to go to my dealers while the getting was still good, then I could make my way to my friends where we split up the pills the 3 of us went in on.
Me, Keith and Waze got high in the kitchen and made our way downstairs to shoot shit and smoke cigarettes. I held the flashlight for Waze while he skillfully worked magic under the hood of his truck. We were good, felt the euphoria coursing through our brains while making witty small talk.
Then I realized Keith hadn’t come back from the bathroom. Making my way up the stairs I yelled for him louder than necessary in the spirit of love-hate friendship.
I found him in his room, face down and unresponsive. Saliva dripping onto the floor, lips an unnatural purply-pink. Screaming for Waze I sat him up and started slapping and shaking him. All of the panic and fear I’d been numbing crashed into me with the force of an earthquake, followed by the unstoppable landslide of dread.
I went several more months without being able to quit using. Keith survived after the paramedics brought him back. He never spoke to me again after that night. Who could blame him? I was supposed to be his friend and I almost killed him. I stopped his heart.
Shortly after, I underwent severe withdrawal… by myself. No one knew. I was in horrible condition and should have gotten medical care but then everyone would know. The opiate withdrawals made me want to die. The dehydration caused from vomiting combined with the mental anguish and body aches is something I will never forget.
Two weeks later I relapsed.
After 5 years of addiction, I knew there was only one way to stay clean. I had tried and failed so many times in that town that I knew it wasn’t possible, so I did the only thing I knew would work. I left.
With only the clothes on my back, I got in my car and drove halfway across the country to my dad’s house in Dallas. There was guilt, sadness, and uncertainty. I had to tear myself from my mom, sister, grandparents, aunts and cousins, dog, job, friends, and all of my belongings but it HAD to be done. And the freedom I felt was like a hot bath in the middle of winter. I soaked in it and smiled from my soul.
One and a half years later, I am the manager of SEO at one of the largest e-commerce companies in North America. Everyday I take a moment to look out of the wall of windows lining our 9th floor office and take in the freedom. I thank God for saving my life and bringing me from the brink of death back to life, and life abundantly.
My story has never been told until now, and that’s because it didn’t need to be. But to many of you, it means life. There IS hope so reach out and TAKE it. No one can do that but you and as long as you don’t, your amazing and opportunistic life is passing you by. You will see and experience amazing things, achieve goals you can’t even imagine, and truly love your life instead of just surviving it.
Your hope, your time is now.