Epidemic- Chapter 19
My entire body is heavy with heroin. The feeling of opiates taking over my ability to feel anything is familiar. Its intoxicating escape causes me to succumb to its seduction; I am unable to resist its sweet lures. I could welcome death. Death is a sweet alternative to fighting to overcome this sickness, this hell, I’m held captive in.
My eyes struggle to open. I can’t die. The biggest difference between me and all these tweakers and junkies I have surrounded myself with is this, I still have a family who cares about me. A father and stepmother who are caring for my daughter. Praying every night for my safety and return. A daughter, who already has experienced the abandonment of her father and depends on me to be there for her. A sister, who while can be a little rough around the edges when it comes to expressing her feelings, cared enough to be honest with my family when she discovered the meth use after my 30 day stent in state rehab. A mother who is beside herself in disbelief that I would walk away from my child. My cousins are so worried they are off plotting plans to kidnap me and bring me home, forcing detox and rehab in me to save my life.
In addition, I have an entire church community, as well as a college community, that have been shocked by my actions and addiction. I am certain there are many of them praying for me, as we speak. There is not a single person you could find in my life, who would ever believe that I would end up becoming a heroin junkie. I don’t fit in anywhere, anymore. The junkies and tweakers are constant with their insistence that I don’t belong here and that I should go back home. My refusal to partake in petty crimes, is too honest and unfamiliar to them.
My church would welcome me back with open, praying arms; however, I can’t face that music. The thought of going back to God and admitting my failures, once again, is something I cannot find the strength to do. My family all wants me home, but of course, under the condition of my not using drugs. I have a choice. It is I, who continues to choose the darkness over light. It is my own decisions that continue to keep me bound in these chains. Every time I pick up my needle. It is my choice to push in the demon. The door to hell is wide open with routes for me to escape its fire and torment. It is my decision to close it and burn in its fire. It is the guilt of knowing that it has always been my choice that makes it harder for me to: abandon my demons, go through being sick and healing, as well as, facing the ones that I have let down along the way. So I continue to choose death. This cycle of drug abuse is hell on earth. You are sick without it and even sicker with it. You lose all ability to think clearly on dope. Things your sober self would never be willing to be a part of, slowly creep in one infraction at a time. A little lie here, a bigger lie there, until the truth never passes through your lips anymore. Your moral compass dwindles, one broken commandment at a time. With each violation of who you truly are, the next violation becomes easier to accept; until suddenly, one day, your reflection in the mirror reveals that you have become every part of the person you swore, you would never be.
It starts with simple justifications and rationalizations for your actions. Everything you owned has been stolen from you, so it’s alright to walk into a Walmart and come out with clothes underneath your own. After all, you don’t have anything that fits anymore because you haven’t eaten in three weeks and what little you have left doesn’t fit you anymore. Walking into a grocery store and coming out with a sandwich under your jacket, is acceptable because you are starving and every dollar you get your hands on is spent on heroin. It’s not your fault because without it, you will get sick. Lying to your family about what you are doing is excused because they don’t know what it is like to walk in your shoes. They aren’t even trying to understand your side of it because all they understand is who you were before and they don’t know you anymore. Making a sign that reads, “Help I am homeless and starving” and then standing by the drive thru at Mc. Donald’s, is suddenly less intimidating and embarrassing than it was your first time doing it. What once was humiliating and unthinkable, has now become your hustle and game. Driving up and down I-5, parking your car at the gas pump and begging strangers for money with your bull shit story of being stranded, no longer causes you to shake with stage fright. You’ve rehearsed the script enough. You’ve become confident in delivering your lines and have acquired several imaginary Oscars for your brilliant performances. Who is this stranger inside you? The stranger inside you, is you. The real you, the sober you, has become the stranger.
Still struggling to open my eyes, I attempt to focus my energy on sitting up. Where is God in all of this? Many times, I’ve obeyed his call. Through church, fellowship and prayer, I have been led to: donate money, feed the homeless, travel to Israel and so much more. God has used me to help so many others, so where is he when I need help? I’ve disappointed him again. Perhaps, this was the final straw and he has abandoned me, as I have abandoned him. Where is my rock bottom? I call out to God with cursing and anger, but am unaware as to whether or not I was able to actually speak the words or just think them. Am I dreaming? Am I dying? What if the Catholics are correct with their belief of purgatory and I am stuck in this eternal limbo between heaven and hell? Forever trapped in a mindless wander of what ifs and unanswered questions? Unable to move my body or open my eyes, but with a nonstop chatter of doubts and emotions? If I could cause my body to shutter with this possibility, it would.
I hear bells. Bells are ringing and echoing around me. Heaven? I must be dead. Where is the white light? The bells are playing with an escalation of chimes. Where are they coming from? Suddenly, my eyes open and I am in my grungy, motel room. The bells were not that of heavens grand welcoming but rather my newly acquired iPhone. It is dark outside now, how long was I in my heroin coma? The caller ID reads, Eric. I can’t believe it! That son of a bitch found his phone in the mess of thorns and has the audacity to call me after what he just did. My heart begins to race with anger and I refuse to answer the call. I cannot send him to voice mail, as I have not set it up yet. It continues to ring with back to back calls from him, so I silence it and flip on the television. The screen lights up, so I am aware that he has called thirteen times, but I am unwilling to answer. The thought occurs to me that he may find his way back here and be angry and abusive because I didn’t answer. The thought causes me to laugh at the realization that he is angry and abusive towards me most the time already anyways.
The text message flood gates open and I am met with a novel worth of reading. Shit, as expected his plan was not fool proof and he is in trouble. According to his texts, cops have pulled up and he is hiding in the bushes up the road from where he fled my car. I am a fool. A damn fool. Cops are involved and I don’t want him to get into trouble. He is out in the middle of nowhere though and I am not sure I can even remember how to get to him. In addition, I don’t know how smart it is to have my vehicle spotted anywhere near that area when I have already had the local police inform me my vehicle has been flagged for suspicious activity. Furthermore, he has no dope, (that I am aware of) and I know he has to be feeling sick by now. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. What do I do? My phone vibrates again with his call and I answer it, professing I was in the bathroom, aloof to why he is calling. His frantic voice whispers the details of what I have just read and he begs me to come rescue him. The word, rescue, marinates with me for a moment. I can hear my father quoting this scripture:
As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.- Proverbs 26:11 NIV
Eric’s voice is trembling with fear and I assure him that I am on my way, but to silence his phone and I will call when I am close. After all, it is likely I will need him to give me directions back to his whereabouts. He concurs and I grab my belongings and head out the door. Once I am close, I call Eric’s phone and he does not answer. Instead I am met with an immediate voice mail message. I try again, with the same results. Did he turn his phone off? Did his phone die? Is he sending me to voice mail? Did he get arrested? I have no idea where I am, or how to get to him and am unable to get a hold of him. I decide to brave the unknown territory and take several unknown turns, in hopes that I will stumble across the location. The dark makes it more difficult to identify familiar areas, although the large rock ahead looks familiar. There is graffiti on it and I am certain I have seen it before. My vehicle is forced to stop at the stop sign and I pause at the decision to go left or right. As I am about to commit to making a right turn, Eric runs towards my vehicle from the dark, forested area to the left of me. He jumps into my vehicle, winded and frightened and instructs me to hurry up and flip a bitch, (a u-turn) and get the fuck out of here.
There is no hesitation to heed that command, as I whip my vehicle around and make my way back to town. Eric is panting and is unable to speak much of anything for what seems like several minutes. Paranoia kicks in the moment I spot headlights in my rear view mirror. I am careful to watch my speed and inform Eric there is a car behind me now. He reclines his seat, ducks down and tells me to keep driving, elaborating that I am doing great. My adrenaline is high and my own fear and panic sets in. What if I get pulled over? Could I get away in a high speed chase? Eric has caught his breath now and begins to explain. Once again, he has lied to me. There wasn’t any police at all. The cars that had pulled onto the property belonged to the tweakers he had overheard about the place from to begin with. They hadn’t even spotted him because he had ran immediately off; however, he had spent the day taking whatever was worth anything and stashing it for safe keeping in the woods to come back for later. My blood boils at the realization that once again, I should have listened to my dad’s voice, with his little Proverb reminder of how foolish my listening to anything Eric says is. Now I am stuck with Eric again and who do you think he is going to want to go back with to collect his stash?
Days blur into weeks and time no longer represents any real meaning in life, when you are out there banging and slanging. Sunrise and sunset, both fill the sky with vibrant pinks, the occasional purple and a myriad of oranges and red, but I can’t tell the difference between the two anymore. When you’re a junkie, there is no sense of routine, schedule or normalcy in your life, making time an irrelevant factor. You’re only purpose is chasing bags, (getting dope) and crushing them, (using the dope). Some days you can waste every part of it doing absolutely nothing, while others are filled with making moves, (hustling money and dope) making plans that you will likely not fulfill and everything in between. Money goes quickly, especially supporting two dope heads daily habits to stay well. Somehow you manage to find at least a hundred dollars a day to take care of you both but the means for getting the money is best left unsaid. There is no pride or hard work that goes into the hustle. It’s most certainly not like bringing home your first paycheck at your new job and celebrating by going to dinner with your family.
As soon as you come into money, it is gone. The larger the sum the bigger the spend. There is no savings account. Even if you are fortunate enough to come into a decent come up, it dwindles quickly and you are soon back to nothing. That’s where I am at right now. What month is it? I don’t know. I couldn’t even tell you the day of the week it is. Eric and I have been on a binge and have fully exhausted our funds. His secret stash of stolen goods, as well as my own hidden stash of casino winnings are both gone. My eyes are heavy and sleep is not a choice, as my body cannot fight off it’s demands to succumb to it. The car is packed back up with what little belongings I have left and we have no choice but to leave the motel. Our extended stay is over.
My sister is working and I tell Eric, I want to go back to the house down south, while she is away. We can sleep for a few hours, grab food, shower and I can look through what I might have to see if I can pawn anything for dope money. I have avoided pawning my belongings back home, but I am desperate and it has come to that. Eric fights me about going there and in truth, I am not even sure if my father has changed the locks or if I can still get into the house, but I am exhausted and out of ideas. While Eric is reluctant to go with me, he refuses to get out of my car. He insists that we can sleep at the park and ride and that all of our dope connections are up here in the valley. While that is true, I rationalize it is a half hour drive and we have nothing to get dope with. I know I have a couple pieces of jewelry and some DVD’s back home that I can pawn for a few bucks so we can get well. Eric is also exhausted and therefore, fading fast, so he gives up the fight and nods in his seat.
I shouldn’t be driving. My senses are torn between running the AC for cold air on my face, in hopes it will keep me awake or saving the gas the AC will consume by using it. Gas is another precious commodity in our lifestyle. In fact, this is the first time in my life that my gas tank is almost always on empty. It doesn’t help that gas prices are at record highs, but the main reasoning behind this is that when given the choice between gas in the tank or dope in my arm, the dope always wins. My eyes are rolling into the back of my head and I am forced to utilize the air conditioning.
Once we arrive to the house, Eric informs me he is going to sleep in my car and that I can go sleep in the house alone. In truth, I don’t want his ass anywhere near me; however, it is daylight, we have neighbors and I demand that he get out of the vehicle and not draw attention to himself or my father’s house. The conversation grows heated, (angry) and a screaming match ensues. So much for not alerting the neighbors of our arrival. To avoid a further scene, I grab my junkie kit so he can’t scrape anything, my purse so he can’t steal anything and I exit the vehicle. As expected, he follows. He only wanted to stay in the car, for an attempt to get high off my old cottons and residue from my bags while I was in the house sleeping. He’s not following me, he’s chasing my junkie kit.
Fortunately, the locks have not been changed and I am able to get into the house. There is no more fight in me and I collapse onto the bed. Hours must have gone by, maybe even days. My sister is not home, so I guess it has only been hours. My legs are restless and I want to sleep more. Eric will not leave me alone about getting up and putting my makeup on, so I can pawn shit before the pawn stores close. My brain tells me this is a reality and I need to get up but I can’t make my body cooperate. I am officially, dope sick.
Imagine the feeling of every single joint in your body aching, every muscle sore and weak. The thought of a hot shower to soothe the aching is appealing, but you cannot physically lift your hands above your head to shampoo your own hair. Your legs are restless with the most annoying feeling known to man. That feeling of when your foot falls asleep and you don’t know whether to tap it on the floor, walk on it, shake it out or let it be. Only, it’s not just your foot, it’s radiating throughout both of your legs. Your eyes are so heavy from days of exhaustion that you are unable to keep them open. However, between the restless legs and that muscle twitching every thirty seconds in your shoulder blade, you can’t sleep. Your body alternates between extreme hot and cold, and is wet with sweat. In addition, suddenly your bowels are awake and ready to move. Heroin constipates you therefore once the opiates have left your system, the worst imaginable diarrhea sets in. You may have gone days without both eating or shitting while you were high; however, now you will spend days on the toilet, hunched over, cramping and questioning how it is physically possible for there to be anything left to come out. Vomiting is your alternative, but for whatever reason, I rarely experience that symptom of withdrawal. The only bright side or silver lining for my personal withdrawing experiences, as I detest vomiting.
Eric is persistent with his attempts to get me up and moving but I am so physically weak. It takes everything in me to even protest his attempts. Suddenly, my face is met with a torrential downpour of freezing, cold water. The pillow soaks beneath me and I jump up shocked and angry. Eric is wearing his smirk to let me know how pleased he is with himself. My stomach turns and I need to get to the bathroom again. Eric blocks the door and screams at me that I need to get us dope. He elaborates how displeased he is about being a half an hour away from dealers and how I have basically kidnapped him and forced him here against his will. What a little bitch. Does he honestly believe the garbage coming out of his mouth, or is he simply attempting to ignite fire under my ass? I realize, he too, is dope sick and desperate. My stomach won’t allow for me to stand here and fight with him, so I make my way to the other bathroom in the house. Eric pushes past me and slaps my cold, wet face. The sting radiates throughout my cheek and without any hesitation, I clench my fist and walk into the punch, I land on his jaw. Rage from the dope sick demons take over, as I scream that he better never fucking hit me again or I will drop his ass like the little bitch boy he is.
Eric clutches his face, that is now wearing a look of complete shock and humiliation, as I push past him to get to the bathroom. After I close and lock the pocket door to the bathroom, I race to the toilet and sit down. Suddenly, Eric’s fist punches through the door, as he screams obscenities and warnings. Once inside, he rips me off of the toilet and slams me to the floor. My hair is in his hands, as he repeatedly slams my head into the side of the cast iron bath tub. I think I am losing consciousness. My head slowly rotates around and if I didn’t know any better there are cartoon birds chirping around it. My body is being dragged out onto the carpeted area by my hair. Eric’s foot makes contact with my rib cage, causing for the wind to knock out of me and vomit to surface. I roll over and spit it out, still unable to muster any strength to defend myself. My pants are still down around my ankles, as Eric repeatedly screams at me to pull them up, while kicking my arms and legs. My stomach is in knots and I am seriously hoping I don’t shit myself. Adrenaline begins feeding me strength, as I somehow manage to pull my pants part way up and attempt to stand to my feet.
Quickly, my face is met with the sole of Eric’s Nike’s and my head slams back to the ground. Eric positions himself on top of me, grabs my hair and repeatedly slams my head into the floor. My head is pounding with pain, I am dizzy and fearful he will kill me. All I can do is put both of my hands behind my head and let the bones in my hands take the beating, to salvage my head from taking the full force of the blows. I scream for someone to help. The kitchen window is open; however the neighbor is mowing the lawn and no one can hear my screams.
My eyes connect to Eric’s and the demon inside of him has taken over. Dope sick demons make you do crazy things. There is no reasoning with the darkness behind his eyes. Eric gets off of me and continues to drag me through the kitchen, out towards the bedroom by my hair. There are two small steps leading down into the bedroom that he kicks me down. Every limb of my body was already weak and aching from being dope sick and now they are completely lifeless. There is no fight left in me. The room is spinning around me and I fight to keep my eyes open, as Eric climbs back on top of my chest.
Although he is a scrawny junkie, the weight of his body on top of my chest prevents my ability to breathe. Tears form at the corner of my eyes, not from crying out of despair, but rather from struggling to stay alive. My legs kick frantically, as I scream again for someone to help me and elaborate that he is going to kill me. Suddenly, Eric smashes my mouth with his hand and pinches my nose tightly, so that I can’t scream or breathe. The room is getting dark around me, panic has completely consumed my entire being and the thought registers with me, this is how I am going to die! Please God, don’t let my family find me, pants half down, beaten to death, at the foot of my bedroom stairs.