This is the preface (part one) of my rock bottom number three series. In case you missed it, you may want to check out: Blurred Lines & Hard Times, Coastlines, Crack, & Rehab Fraud, False Freedom, Captivity, & A Lot of Deception, Coercion, Consent & Control as well as The Last Few Days of Captivity (in that order) once you finish reading the below.
And for a poetic account of what took place, feel free to read: Chains, Reins, & Brains. Thank you!
As if my life couldn’t get any worse —I was still a hostess at The Office, the same $18 gourmet burger joint on Atlantic Ave. in Del Ray Beach, Florida.
If you remember from a previous post, I relapsed and eventually got myself kicked out of the halfway house I called home.
I also found another pill-popping boyfriend, Nate, who tried his best to save me. Turns out though, I needed to save myself.
Long story short, the morning after my umteenth relapse gets me kicked out, I wake up with 55 voicemails from my mom, dad, and older sister on top of Janel, the halfway house owner who had just spilled the beans. She did as she was supposed to and called my family to fill them in on what I had done. They knew I ran away and were worried because they didn’t know who I was with, what I was doing or if I was even alive.
I ignored them all. I was still trying to figure out what the fuck I was going to do let alone tell them what really was up. I honestly had no idea what my next move was so I had to stall for as long as it took to figure out a solid plan.
I snort a bunch of pills and tell myself that I’ll figure it out later —at least I was able to stay at Nate’s (well, until I wasn’t).
Nate’s dad wouldn’t let me stay (or any girl at that). An ex of his stole a bunch of valuable shit so his dad was cautious as to who he let in. Little did he know, Nate was sneaking me in after his dad fell asleep. Then, the next morning, I’d wake up really early and wait outside down the street until his dad left for work. After that, we had the house to ourselves for the next several hours.
The days were pretty much the same. We would save just enough the night before to not feel the dreaded withdrawals the following morning. We’d normally have a sufficient amount left to get us to lunch until we figured out a way to get more. Eventually, panhandling turned into a second job.
I mean I looked like a sweet girl, sweet enough at least.
I would go to this Shell gas station on Federal Avenue and ask the customers outside if they had anything to spare. Some wouldn’t give me the time of day, others a few bucks and most of the men would give me about $20. After an hour-ish, or before the manager kicked me out (whichever happened first), I would expect to leave there with around $150.
We would then hitch a ride or take the bus to his dealer’s house where we’d re-up, get high and then casually stroll back to Nate’s before his dad arrived. There we were —two junkies with no money and definitely no place to stay. Eventually, his dad found out he had been sneaking me in.
I didn’t have a chance to charm my way out of it, and so, he kicked Nate out too.
We couch hopped for a few weeks, slept on the beach and did anything and everything to stay high, which included stealing and robbing from strangers as well as friends. Luckily, we were never caught. And if I can be honest, we were having fun.
Except Things Were About to Take a Turn For the Worse
I remember Nate was meeting up with a friend to fuck over this one day. He was going to sell him fake pills —$20 a pop and there were 10 of them. The profits would get us high for the next day or at least a few more hours. Nate preferred to do the robbing himself, which is why I stayed behind. In the meantime, I sit my cute butt outside of the Starbucks on Atlantic Avenue and wait. I end up running into this kid named James who had just parked his motorcycle across the street as he makes his way over to get some iced coffee.
I had seen this guy at a few NA meetings and I think I remember seeing him around town too. He seemed like a decent enough guy and so when he approaches me, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to strike up a conversation.
He asks what a pretty girl like me was doing here sitting alone.
Honestly, I was pretty lonely despite Nate. I mean, I really liked him but the fact that he couldn’t even support himself let alone me was a bit annoying; at the same time, I was pretty much homeless and so I start explaining my situation. He says that he actually has an extra room at his house down the street and I was more than welcome to stay. I thought that was pretty damn tempting, but I figured Nate would never go for it.
I mean, this kid, was pretty good looking so I thought my boyfriend would be too jealous to let me stay at another guy’s house without him. We were digging this Bonnie and Clyde thing we had going on anyway and I really didn’t want to change things up (I’ve always hated change).
Except, a warm bed and bathroom would be nice.
20 minutes later, I see Nate walking over to me with a smile on his face, which was an indication that everything went accordingly to plan. He wanders over to James and I sitting at one of five small circular tables that sat directly outside Starbucks. Immediately, James introduces himself to Nate —so far, so good.
James tells Nate that he understands we are in a bit of a bind. But here’s the kicker. He says that he didn’t have enough room for both of us, which honestly seemed rather strange —red flag number one. James continues to tell Nate that I can stay there for free until we figured shit out. The weird thing was, I was pretty sure Nate and I could have shared a bed or he could have even slept on the floor. We weren’t high maintenance by any means.
Clearly, though, I wasn’t in a healthy state of mind and either was Nate who fucking accepts his offer on my behalf.
And honestly, I definitely see why. Nate just found out he was allowed back at his dad’s house but I was not. I guess Nate was planning on going home without me so this proposal was the answer to his problem. Nate didn’t want to go back to his dads but he had no other options. At the same time, he didn’t want to leave me high and dry —hence why he said yes without really thinking or even talking it over with me.
Nate says it wouldn’t be a big deal at all. In his head, we’d hang out during the day just like we always had —only, we’d go our separate ways after dinner. We both clearly needed a place to lay our head and shower. Remember, I was still working at the Office part-time so I had to look semi-decent, which meant I needed somewhere to get ready.
I had to admit, after hearing Nate’s side, James’s offer appeared perfect.
When Shit Seems too Good to be True, it Usually is
I had a garbage bag of clothes to my name, which I physically had with me at the moment. A few other things were still in halfway, but I couldn’t face going back alone. Plus, where would I keep that shit anyway? I figured it was safer there than with me.
At this point, we’re still at Starbucks waiting for a text back to get more pills. Ironically, our dealer said he was nearby and with the cash we just got, we figured we should pick up now so that we didn’t have to worry about it later. Apparently, Nate was going back home right after we got high and that meant, I was leaving with my new friend and roommate, James.
Now, James had been in and out of the program but at this very moment, he was out.
His drug of choice, I later learned was crack. We cop our drug of choice, a.k.a. more pills. Nate preferred to shoot them, and since we had been using together for the past month, I eventually preferred that way too. Except, I still couldn’t do it by myself. So we go to some random alley, kit in hand and mainline some Dilaudid. Fuck. When these drugs hit your bloodstream, it’s an immediate rush —at the time, it was the best feeling ever.
And at that moment, I felt ready for whatever was coming next. I was actually lowkey excited for this new adventure. I had no intentions of cheating and made sure Nate knew that. I warned James of this as well. The two guys shook on it and so, I honestly thought wow, we just made a new best friend. This guy rocks. Then, Nate kisses me goodbye.
It would later be revealed that this would be the last time I’d ever see Nate again.
Ugh. I say that because things were about to get bad real quick. We walk across the street to James’s bike, get on and off we go. A few minutes later, we arrive at his house. His place was on the wrong side of the tracks, but that’s where I liked it.
Except, I was about to learn that everything he said was a fucking lie. He wasn’t the good guy that stared back at me. He was a fucking piece of shit liar. Yeah, he had a home (if you could call it that), but there was no extra room for me like he promised. I was getting played.
There were so many signs, but I failed to listen.
And one of those signs was about to pass by (literally). So we’re standing out front and, everything was still normal. What’s weird is that I see this silver sedan slow down directly outside James’s house.
The driver rolls down his window —it was Luke, a kid I went to detox with. I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t seen nor spoken to him since then. So what are the odds that he’s in the same exact location I was —at the exact same time? He asks what I was doing over here and if I needed a ride. I told him I was good. I thanked him, quickly asked how he was and eventually, I walk away. Luke asks one more time though if he could take me somewhere.
I politely decline as we make our way inside.
I still think everything is fine. James and I walk into his place but only for a second. He wanted to stop by the corner store to buy a new crack pipe —another red flag. What’s even crazier is that I see Nate’s freaking aunt in the freezer section of that store, which was another clue, I swear.
I say that because his aunt never left the house so to see her physically in town was extremely rare. We sometimes would get pills from her (she had an actual prescription), and as a result, we became relatively close. God was really trying to intervene because she offers to let me stay with her and her husband (Nate’s uncle). Why didn’t I say yes? But no, I failed to listen once again. I say thank you anyway as we both head out the door.
My eyes were fixed on the prize. James promised me free pills; something Nate couldn’t afford to do. So I wasn’t about to split without them.
As we leave the shop and walk some more, I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach. Something was telling me this isn’t right. Leave. I didn’t. Instead, I open a bottle of liquor in the brown paper bag it came in that James just handed me, pierce it to my lips and sip away any doubt. He said his dealer would be coming soon with my pills and his crack.
A few minutes later, we’re back. I walk in thinking how cute this place was —well until we make our way to where I was supposed to stay. Did I mention that the room set up for me had no bed, no door, and no furniture?
When I ask where I was supposed to sleep, he says, “In bed with me.”
Shit was About to Hit the Fan
I got a little mad. I told him that wasn’t going to happen. “I have a boyfriend and I thought you respected that?” He didn’t. Oh, I forgot to mention that there was no running water or electricity. It was basically a crack house.
You’d think I would have left right away. But then, James’s phone rang. His dealer was here. He cops quickly out front and comes back inside. My drug of choice was nowhere to be found. He promised me 10 blues, which if you couldn’t have guessed was probably why I was still there.
Except, he lied. This was his plan all along.
Me being the junkie I was, would never say no to any mind-altering substances —whether it was an upper or a downer. Obviously, I preferred downers but at this point, I just wanted to escape. He hands me the packed pipe and gives me the first hit. After that, it went downhill pretty fast. I wasn’t ready nor prepared for what happened next.
I hand the pipe back to him and felt pretty good for .5 seconds. Then my anxiety meter went fucking crazy. I mean, even today —just hearing the word crack brings chills down my spine. Anyway, he takes a hit and then starts acting really strange.
It’s hard to put into words, but there was something in his eye that looked plain evil. It was like as soon as the drug hit him, something flipped. I was afraid. Now, I had been around others on crack and for those who haven’t, it’s pretty normal for the user to tweak out.
In short, smoking crack cocaine can cause aggressive and paranoid behavior.
Because crack interferes with the way the brain processes chemicals, you need more and more of the drug to feel that same rush you felt immediately following your first hit. And so, most people chase that initial high by smoking more. Unfortunately, it’s never enough because that feeling goes away after a minute until you’re even more aggressive and paranoid.
Since I knew people got weird when they smoked, I thought this wasn’t any different. I try to not think about it as he hands the pipe back to me. I take a few more hits when he turns to me, asking if I was ready.
Ready for what dude?
I was so confused. I thought we were just hanging out getting high like I did with most of my guy friends back then, but he had other plans. I’d later learn that he did this to countless vulnerable girls in early recovery. I was one of many. Anyway, he gets up from his bed where we were both sitting to lock his bedroom door. I remember asking him why since we were the only ones home.
He doesn’t answer. Instead, he starts acting extremely hostile —that switch of his was in full force. I too was sitting on his bed but I get up when he did. After he locks it, he turns around so that he’s facing me (both of us still standing). He then takes his hand to the back of my neck, aggressively pushes me against the wall and begins to unzip my juicy zip up. I quickly pull away, but he was quicker. He grabs my wrist and yells at me.
“Do what I say, you fucking whore.”
He screams that. He also says that if I didn’t do what he said, I’d regret it as he grabs a knife from underneath the bed. I froze. I was still confused and now scared as ever. Just as those words came out of his mouth, he takes me by the back of my neck, once again, this time gripping it so tight I could hardly move. He puts the knife to my throat for a few minutes threatening me some more. Then, he throws me on the bed. I was trying to stay calm because I was freaking the fuck out yet, at the same time, it just didn’t feel real.
I didn’t know how to respond. I honestly forgot how to even breathe as he unzips my red skinny jeans, forcing them off just as he forces himself upon me. I’m laying on the bed (not by choice though), he’s on top of me holding me down. I’m crying, begging him to get the fuck off of me. I tried to get up but I couldn’t. Was this my karma for being such a bad person? I thought it was my fault. In a way it was, but nothing justifies rape or sexual assault.
And so, I had no choice.
I Said No Many Times But He Didn’t Listen
“Did you really think I was going to let you stay here for free? Stop crying. You don’t want to be homeless, do you?”
Uh yeah, anything was better than this. He was trying to turn it around on me —as if it actually was my fault —as if he was doing me a favor. I say nothing (still crying). I lay there with him inside of me. I felt disgusting. I hated every second of it. I literally just wanted to drop dead. It felt like hours even though it was only like 15 minutes.
Eventually, he stops. He cleans himself off and gets up.
He tells me not to move. He reminds me that if I tell anyone about this, he’d fucking kill me. He grabs the knife again and threatens me some more. He urges me to look out the window where I see a bunch of his black neighbors hanging out in someone’s yard. He explains that those are his boys and if he finds out I ratted on him, he’d have them do what he just did.
He also said he had a gun in the other room and that he wasn’t afraid to use it if I didn’t cooperate. Basically, I wasn’t allowed to leave. He actually said he wanted me to live with him permanently and become his sex slave. I was not about to let that happen or anything he just said go down again. I had to act fast.
I was more than OK to be alone in his room because he left his cell phone.
I quickly grab it and call Nate. I fucking tried him 27 times. No answer. He told me if I needed him, he would be there within minutes. He wasn’t. I was so upset. He was most likely getting high and fell asleep. I bet since his dad let him back in, I was now old news. I quickly delete the calls from his phone and put it back where I found it as I hear the door open.
If he caught me trying to make a call, who knows what he would do, but what the fuck was I supposed to do? I burned all my bridges and literally had no one else to call. James comes back in to see that I put my top and underwear back on. Just as I was sliding my red skinny jeans up my leg, he tries to stop me.
“Where do you think you’re going and why the fuck are you putting your clothes back on?”
I don’t answer. Instead, I grab my garbage bag of clothes and try for the door, emphasis on try. He stops me dead in my tracks, emphasis on dead. I wasn’t going without a mother fucking fight, except he wasn’t about to make it easy for me. Suddenly, he decides to hit me in the face. It hurt. It almost knocked me down, but what’s another bruise? With all my might, still holding that garbage bag, I lunge it backward to get some momentum and as it advances forward, I hit him in the fucking face. I did it! It worked!
The best part was, I had to wear these devil high heels to work, which happened to be inside of that bag. Well, I suppose the heels were pointy enough that when they made their way to the bottom of it, they broke the plastic so they were sticking out. When I released the bag, each heel happened to go directly into each of eyes as the rest of the bag hits him in the face —knocking him down for a minute or two.
Those black shoes saved my fucking life as he falls to the ground.
So he’s laying there on the floor and I fucking run to the front door, which of course was bolted shut. I play around with the lock for a second. It felt like hours. I didn’t think I’d make it. I finally figure it out and sprint out outside. I couldn’t fucking believe it. It honestly felt like a scene from a movie. And if I can be honest, I really thought he’d catch up with me. I really thought this is where I was going to die. But I carry on anyway.
I freaking run as fast as possible with tears streaming down my face. My eyeliner and mascara were also running and my clothes were disheveled AF. In short, I was a bloody fucking mess. My top wasn’t even zipped. My pants weren’t even buttoned, but I keep running anyway. I mean, my appearance was the last thing on my mind. I start screaming as I run faster and faster.
“Help me. Help me. Somebody, God help me, anybody. Fucking help me!!!”
I see an older black woman across the street sitting on a bench in her front yard. I run towards her, but I stop as she yells,“Get off my property; I don’t need your problems, white girl.”
I didn’t need another person attacking me so I comply. At this point, I’m aimlessly running in the middle of the street as fast as I can when I turn around and see James running after me. I assumed when he woke up, he saw the front door was open and knew I escaped. He was a few feet behind me when I spot these two African American ladies who holler at me from across the way. They are about to save my life.
“Oh Lord, Jesus. Are you OK? Sweetheart. Come over here. What’s wrong? Quick!”
I sprint towards them as I see James catching up. Thank GOD one of them walks toward the street, embracing me as I literally fall into her arms. Holy shit. I was safe. That same lady holds me up as we walk from the street onto their front porch. The other holds the front door open as we rush inside and shut the door. When James saw them grab me, he either ran the opposite direction or missed us completely.
I’m not exactly sure if he knew these women, what he was planning to do next or if he was calling it quits. Nevertheless, I walk into their home and James was just gone.
But I was still freaking out. They lock the door, close the curtains and make me some tea. I sit down with them on their living room sofa as they try to calm me down. I kept getting up to check if he was still out there but they assured me no one was getting in.
One of them brings me a blanket as I sip my hot drink.
They didn’t ask much of what happened but they knew something bad had gone down so they let me lead. We chat a bit when they ask if I had any family I could call. My family had no idea where I was and if I called them in the state I was in, it would have done more harm than good. I needed to hide out for a bit then I’d be able to talk about it and tell them. When I say no, they ask if I had any friends in the area.
The truth was, I didn’t. I didn’t have anyone. I felt so alone, ashamed and embarrassed.
I was sitting there thinking who the fuck can I call? I stand up and put my hands in my back pocket to think a little more when I feel something in one of them. A few weeks prior, a family friend, Bruce who lived nearby came to The Office where I worked for some lunch when we got to talking. He ends up giving me his business card and said if I ever needed anything, I should call him and he’d be there.
Somehow, I kept his business card that I previously shoved in my back pocket. I remember thinking how did it not fall out? I don’t question it though. When I take that piece of paper out of my pocket, I quickly realize it was Bruce’s card. I start dialing his number from their landline without a second thought. I couldn’t think of a single soul who would want to come get me so I prayed he’d pick up. I was shaking so hard I didn’t realize it was dialing as I hear a voice on the other end.
He answered. He was the only person who answered.
Bruce was with his cousin whom he lived with, whom I had met previously. What I find amusing is that Bruce actually tried three times prior to see how I was doing. He even offered to take me to a meeting, but I never answered any of his phone calls because I thought he was boring. But back then, I remember saying I’d take a lifetime of boredom if it meant I would get out of here alive. Foxhole prayer, I know, but it worked.
I remember him asking if I was for real in danger. Apparently, he was on a double date but I stressed the urgency of this situation and believe it or not, he said he’d be there in a few. As I got the address from these kind ladies, I translate it back to him.
10 minutes later, he was there.
I really don’t remember the next few days. It’s all a big blur. I think my brain purposely blocked out that entire week. In short, I chill at Bruce’s cousin’s house —where they all lived. I was still embarrassed. I thought I had hit rock bottom before, but this was like nothing I had ever experienced. I suppose word had gotten around town so I couldn’t show my face back at work or anywhere.
I continue to hide out there until my dad comes to pick me up. I actually didn’t have the guts to call my family so Bruce offered to talk to them for me. My parents thought it was a good idea for me to stay put for a couple more days anyway. James was also looking for me. I wasn’t really sure what he would have done if he found me. I mean, he said if I told anyone he would kill me and obviously I had. But from my take, he just wanted someone to beat me up and scare me enough to never come back since I messed up his plan.
After another week —my dad drives from Orlando to Deerfield Beach to pick me up.
And a few weeks after that, I end up at the mission —that long-term Christain rehab. Then I learn that Bruce (who was friends with a bunch of local DEA agents) set James up to be arrested, but not before hiring his own squad to slap him around a bit. In short, Bruce got James jumped by some of his black friends and then ultimately, arrested for assault, possession, and intent to deliver crack cocaine—he got five years.
Yeah, I could have pressed charges but it would have been an even longer road. I also didn’t want my drug escapades to be investigated or held under a microscope since I clearly was no angel. I mean, I was breaking the law literally every single day so my credibility was shot. I will say though that regardless, it was still a long way back. My path was long, complicated and everything hurt for a while. I thought I’d never feel normal again.
But eventually, I did.
With each passing moment, I was feeling better and better. I felt stronger physically and mentally. It’s hard to forget, but today, I forgive myself. Yes, I ended up in some awful situations because of my awful lifestyle choices. I was only trying to survive the only way I knew how with the cards I was dealt at that particular moment. I take full responsibility for everything.
One of the hardest things was learning that I was worth recovery. Yeah, it was scary but so is remaining exactly the same. Because I’ve been through a special kind of darkness and I’ll be damned if I’m going to go back to the same people, places, and things that almost killed me.
Because sometimes you find heaven by slowly backing away from hell and that’s exactly what happened to me. Until next time, guys.
*names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
This is the preface (part one) of my rock bottom number three series. In case you missed it, you may want to check out: Blurred Lines & Hard Times, Coastlines, Crack, & Rehab Fraud, False Freedom, Captivity, & A Lot of Deception, Coercion, Consent & Control as well as The Last Few Days of Captivity (in that order) once you finish reading the above.
And for a poetic account of what took place, feel free to read: Chains, Reins, & Brains. Thank you!