It is difficult for me to look my father in the eye, as I produce pawn receipts for items I planned on retrieving later. My computer with over 3000 of my daughter’s baby and toddler pictures on it, my favorite necklace that was a gift from my father and most humiliating, his Makita drill that I jacked, (stole) from his shed. I explain I had not thought of it as stealing, as he never used it and I had every intention of getting it out of pawn before it was sold. Even as I say the words, I know I stole his drill and how pathetic I must sound trying to justify my actions.
I ask him if he is upset with me. However, the look of disgust has already confirmed a yes response on his face. He replies that he isn’t happy about it but just wants me to get on the plane and really, get well. He reiterates what he means by getting well while elaborating one more time how much he detests the fact that junkies use that terminology to describe getting high when it, in fact, is only making them sicker to use dope. There is no point in attempting to explain my side of it. He is correct and I am ready to go get well in the literal sense of the phrase.
While walking through the airport, I call Sprint and terminate my contract, before turning my phone off. It wouldn’t be Sprint if they didn’t go ahead and fuck me with an additional fee on top of the $250 early termination fee I had agreed to in the verbal explaining of the contract I signed. Apparently, because I have an iPhone it is a $350 fee and they refuse to shut the phone off until the end of the billing cycle. There is no time to argue with the bastards or make any threats about contacting the Better Business Bureau and reporting this absurdity, so I reluctantly cave to the loopholes they have found to tack on the most money. Jokes on them anyways, I am going away and they won’t be getting paid anytime soon. Fuck them.
Because I am doped up, it is difficult for me to feel any real emotion, as I say goodbye to my father and Colleen. They are both emotionally invested in my departure and I am eager to sit down and nod on the plane. It’s not that I don’t love them, it’s that the demon has killed my love receptors and I am not capable of truly feeling anything at this moment in time. Still, I express my love with words and hugs goodbye, before my father hands me enough money to buy a sandwich and soda and sends me off through the gates.
Once on the plane, I reflect back on where I have been and what I have done. My favorite T.I. song, No Matter What, has a line that I can relate to:
God will take you through hell just to get you to heaven….
I most certainly have experienced the depths of hell. Consumed by a demon named heroin, burning in the fires of her dastardly demands. I hold onto the second part of T.I.’s claim, “to get me to heaven.” God has the ability to work all things for good. I simply have to believe and allow him to work in me. My eyes become heavy with their nod. The plane hasn’t taken off yet and I want to wait to sleep until it has. While I am not extremely terrified of airplanes, the taking off and landing are moments I want to be awake for.
My mind attempts to wrap itself around unraveling this belief that I cannot control myself or my addiction. Admitting it is a choice and that subsequently, the behaviors I have exhibited while using have all been my choices, is difficult to accept. All the lies I’ve told, the manipulation tactics I’ve utilized, the people I’ve robbed and the needles I’ve plugged my veins with, have all been me. I didn’t want to believe it, that it was me. Because it was outside my norm, but for the moment in this state of the present time, it’s been me. I’m not who I once was. I’ve changed. When you think about changing, there is this preconceived notion that it is for the better. However, in my case, I’ve changed for the worse.
Suddenly, I am faced with the reality that I am a lying, deceiving, selfish thief. All of my actions these last few months have been for the sole purpose of benefiting me. What I wanted. What I needed. With no regards to my daughter, my family or my God. My level of intelligence can connect these dots, but my immature emotional state, stunted to that of a 15-year-old me is having a hard time acknowledging the math, (truth/certainty/logic). All this time, I have blamed everyone around me and all the bad things that have happened to me in life without ever owning up to my own sins.
I’ve been diagnosing myself with a psychology 101 book and holding on to a false belief, or ideology, that as a sexually abused child with abandonment issues, I was destined to use drugs and alcohol in excess to numb that trauma and pain. I’ve tricked myself into believing that it’s much easier to have this scapegoat parading itself as my underlying condition rather than owning the fact I have created this addiction, this substance abuse issue myself. But, it’s not easier. In fact, it is much, much harder. I’ve lost damn near everything. My material possessions have been taken from me, but they can be replaced. More importantly, I’ve lost my moral compass, my faith, and my way. I’ve abandoned the straight and narrow path and have been wandering the desert for too long now. I find myself thanking God that I haven’t lost my family. They have faith in my ability to overcome this and I hold onto their faith in me.
My misconception, that I am not able to control myself, has been nullified. If I were completely incapable of controlling myself, I wouldn’t have been able to save enough heroin for me to get on this plane. I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from scamming more money for dope from my father, during the most difficult decision of his lifetime. There is no way that I would have been able to turn my phone off and hold my daughter through the night, rather than running off to meet my demon and abuser. If I were incapable of exercising some self-control, I wouldn’t have been able to tell Eric no. I am so much stronger than I have ever given myself credit for. The truth is, I’m kind of a badass. I’ve just never allowed myself to believe anything positive concerning me. At the risk of not sounding arrogant, conceited or cocky, I’ve chosen instead to hold onto these wicked self-doubts and criticisms, plaguing my self-esteem. In truth, I am an educated, intelligent and beautiful woman. I have an awesome sense of humor, people have always flocked to be around me and I am a damn good mother with my intentions, despite the fact I have been falling short, present time. Why have I not allowed myself to see, believe or accept these things?
Negativity begins to creep into my mind. Doubts concerning my ability to achieve sobriety begin to surface. Statistics concerning my one percent chance pierce my eardrums, as the engines of the plane grow louder. Who knows the legitimacy of the number? How can there be an accurate statistic concerning rehabilitated heroin users? What means do they utilize to collect this information? Nevertheless, the number is overwhelmingly low and not in my favor. Be it, one percent, three percent, or even ten percent, the odds are stacked against me. Fuck that. No statistic is going to claim me. I won’t allow for a number to claim hold over what I am capable of accomplishing in life. I am going to make it through this. The alternative is death and I know it. I can’t fail my daughter that way. I won’t. She needs me and I need her.
When my daughter was first born, my entire life revolved around her. I eliminated all music, movies, and television from the home that might have a negative influence on her. I replaced it with Christian contemporary music, Veggie Tales and Blues Clues. I took my ass to college and worked all the way into my senior year of a Bachelor Degree so that I could obtain a job that would allow for me to provide for her, knowing, that her dad would never man up and be a father to her. We went to church every Sunday and actively prayed every night before bed. Life was so much better back then. I can get it back. All this time, I have been running from God and his plans for me, but he has never let go of me. He has shielded me from any serious trouble, despite my criminal endeavors and he has allowed me to remain alive, in lieu of all the poison I have pumped into my veins. He has a plan for me. A plan to live.
I’m done running. I’ve decided that I am going to make the most of this opportunity that my family has afforded me. Shit, I’m not an idiot. I know I am going to rehab and rehab is going to fucking suck. It’s not a vacation or summer camp. Although I don’t know what it has in store for me, I know that there are going to be things I don’t want to face, confront or do, but I am committed to accomplishing them. Even if I have to grind my teeth the entire way through, I will come home, clean and sober. The plane lifts off and butterflies fill my body. My eyes are fighting their demand to close. I look down at the track marks on my arms and for the first time, in a long time, I feel ashamed and self-conscious of them, as I observe the man next to me noticing them. I fidget, in an attempt to conceal them.
I close my eyes and see my daughter. She is smiling and laughing and we are singing together. It’s a memory of my favorite past time with her, but I am seeing it in a new light, a vision of the future we will have together. I chant a tune inside of my head, “All for her, Natalia, all for her, always” and wander off into my final heroin nod. I’m done with this chapter of my life and I am eager to write new ones. This is it. I am on my way to rehab in California. Narconon Sunshine Summit Lodge, here I come. Are you ready for me?
**Note: For those of you who have been following this series, I am happy to report that I am drug-free and have been since September 27, 2013. Stay tuned for my Narconon story. Turns out that rehab is really a front for a Scientology Cult.**
First and Foremost, I thank God, for never letting go of me, even in my darkest hours. I want to thank my angel, Natalia, for showing me the unconditional side of love and always giving me a reason to live. I thank my father, Charles, and Colleen, for getting me into Narconon, so that I would have a fighting chance and for watching my daughter and caring for her the entire time I was out on the streets and then while I was in rehab for the 7 months following.
I want to thank my sister, Christmas, for blowing the whistle on the discovery of my moving to needles and taking my daughter from me when she discovered how bad off I was. I thank my mother, Kim, for all the phone calls and support when I needed someone to vent and cry to without lecturing or judgment. Thank you to all of my church family, Facebook friends, Trinity Lutheran College buddies and anyone else, who lifted me in prayer through my entire recovery in California and with coming home. Thank you to Leslie, Michelle, Jonathan Diva Cooper, Skyler and everyone else, who faithfully wrote me letters and sent care packages while I was in rehab. All of those letters really got me through.
Special thank you to the entire Narconon staff for working with me, (and I know I was a pill) and pushing me to believe in myself and helping me to achieve success in sobriety. Thank you to all of the students in the program with me, who put up with my bullshit, calmed my insanity, held my hand, dried my tears and have ended up becoming some of the best friends I’ve ever had in life. I love you like family. We share something, a special bond, that cannot be explained to an outsider. I am always here for anyone of you.
A very sincere thank you to all my readers. You have inspired me to keep pushing through the series and I have continued to grow and become stronger in writing it, so thank you all so much for the encouragement and dedication.
Thank you to all my bropriates in /r/opiates, you know who you are! You guys completely rock and I love getting to know you.