Full disclosure: I don’t remember much about this time period. I think my brain purposely blocked most of it out —like a defense mechanism, protecting me from some pretty ugly shit. Because it’s ugly. Like really ugly. However, since starting my blog, I’m beginning to remember more and more of it.
And as dark and twisty as this shit really is, I can’t deny that it’s still somehow apart of who I am. So this is me piecing together a bunch of events that ultimately drove me further into the ground —leading to my first rock bottom.
It was February 2012. I had just gotten some pretty awful news. My roommate, the guy who owned the house I was subletting, just evicted me. Shit.
I had 24 hours to get the fuck out. What was I going to do? There was only one thing.
I’d have to put my tail between my legs and beg my sister, Michaela to let me stay with her —at least until I figured out a more permanent solution.
Because I couldn’t live with her, in the state I was in, for too long. I could keep up appearances but only for a little while. I mean, she knew what I looked like at my best.
And I was anything but that this time around.
Like when I first moved to East Boca, I stayed with her. But that was when I was functioning. You know —like a functioning addict. It’s just now (almost a year later); like back then, I was a GOD damn mess. I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I wasn’t the happy girl I used to be. Truth is, I hadn’t been her in years. My skin, pale. Face, sunken. Eyes, blank. The mere thought of who I had become filled my insides with terror. But Michaela didn’t know that. No one did. I made sure of it.
Because whenever I’d get high —which was most of the time, I quite literally was on top of the world. I could do anything I wanted. I certainly didn’t need anyone either. I mean, these drugs became my best friend (my only friend) and my worst enemy. It’s confusing, I know. It’s just, if I wasn’t fucked up (I made sure that didn’t happen very often) —well, I couldn’t do anything at all. Or, at least that’s how it felt. Because once that feeling faded (it always does), I’d feel more alone than ever.
But then I’d get high.
And when those drugs hit my bloodstream, everything was OK again. Or, at least that’s how it felt. Because I could breathe and nothing else mattered. Instant relief. I remember having to snort a line just to feel OK enough to call my sister. Because I had to snort something (anything) in order to do just about everything. At the time, I was worried she’d question why I got kicked out in the first place. But I was prepared. I always kept a clever one-liner in my back pocket. Because when you’re living a double life, you have too.
So I had an answer just in case —more like a lie, but it could have been true. Because he didn’t want a roommate anymore. He liked living by himself and I was cramping his style. See —sounds true enough, right? In reality, though, I think he found out (or at least suspected) that I was on drugs. I’m assuming, he simply didn’t want the drama. I get it. I was a lot back then. I was coming and going all day and all night. Like when I should have been sleeping (because he definitely was), I’d be “sneaking” out.
When I was home, I never left my room.
In my defense, I thought I was quiet. I thought I was low key about it all —I guess not enough. Luckily, my sister was pretty busy with her own shit that I didn’t need to explain myself. I couldn’t believe it. She said yes. I also couldn’t believe that she wasn’t even home. And she wouldn’t be for the entire month. Talk about good timing. Because her husband, Reid, (whom she lived with), was in Georgia on business. His family was into commercial real estate (among some other shit). They were working on this shopping center deal that would bring in a few hundred thousand.
Needlesstosay, for the entire month (maybe a few weeks more), the two of them would be there working on that. So she loved the idea of me house sitting. Because she didn’t know what I was really up too. No one did. I had become pretty good at this whole double life thing. And that was the cherry on top. Because on top of getting kicked out, I had just gotten fired from my first official post-graduation job. But not yet. If you remember from a few posts back, I started my South Florida journey applying for a shit ton of local jobs online.
I was also trying to stay clean.
Because my college ex-boyfriend and I had gotten ourselves addicted. I guess I thought if I could simply leave, then I could get better. I was living my life through the saying, out of sight, out of mind —hoping my new digs would magically change me. But I failed to realize that wherever you go, there you are. Because my idea of beginning again only dragged out the inevitable. Not at first though. Because I brought a month’s worth of Suboxone and Xanax down with me, which meant I could detox without medical care.
I also happened to have 50 pills left over from my last pick up with Brad (the college ex). I was supposed to give them back to our dealer along with some bread we owed. But I never did. I kept it all. For a while though, I was pretending that shit wasn’t there. Well, at first. Because eventually, I snorted those too. And then, I bought myself some more with the cash I technically stole. Because the thought of withdrawing caused me so much anxiety that ultimately, I became willing to do just about anything to get high.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, here.
At this point, Brad was off to medical school somewhere out of state. He invited me to join him but I wasn’t about to move across the country for someone I couldn’t see a future with. The truth is, I loved him. But we were more codependent than anything else. It was not a healthy relationship, by any means. So I tell him I can’t go and eventually we break up. And now, as you know, I’m in Boca, living with my sister and her boyfriend (now husband), Reid who both hated the kid. Rule number one: no talking to Brad. Since I wasn’t the best at following rules, I chalk it up to a mere suggestion.
However, it wasn’t as easy as I probably made it seem.
If memory serves me, I recall getting rather discouraged around this time. Because shit wasn’t going according to plan. For one, as bad as things got at school, I was never alone. Brad was always there. And as spiteful as he could be, he always kept me in check. I mean, I was normally the one encouraging us to do “one more,” which is when Brad would reel me back in. And it’s ironic, seeing that everyone made him out to be the bad guy —when really, it was me. Like I’m the one who “made” us get high in the first place. Well, I didn’t force anything up his nose but you get it.
And anyone who has ever participated in the drug game should also know that sometimes, you simply can’t find any drugs. Whether your dealer is in-between re-ups or the town is temporarily dry, there are times when you either run out or run low. Like one pill left low, which happened to us a few times. And when it did, we’d have to choose between the two of us splitting one 30-milligram pill, which most likely would result in both of us feeling like shit —seeing how high our tolerances had become. Or, one of us would have to snort the whole thing —leaving the other one without.
So what is it that you think I’m getting at?
Well, Brad says he can’t in good conscience watch me withdrawal —”Even if I have too, Mace.” He literally said that he couldn’t stomach me being sick. “You hurt. I hurt, babe. I won’t accept the other half —even if you offer. I’ll just take a bunch of Advil PM and pray we can pick up tomorrow.” So yeah, he gave me the whole fucking thing. I remember thinking about that whenever I’d run low or whenever I couldn’t sleep. That’s when I’d feel especially lonely. Because I didn’t know one single person who’d do that for me today.
Because my “new friends” were the fairweather type. You know. Like when shit isn’t lit, they’re nowhere to be found. Because to them, there’s no point in coming around if there’s nothing to snort, which I clearly understood. I probably did the same thing. So yeah, there’s that. And then we have my employment status (more like lack thereof). Because I couldn’t find anything in my field that could afford me the life I needed. Because I wanted to be independent. Well, as much as a drug addict can be.
And remember, I went to school for Public Relations and Journalism.
I left with a Bachelor’s degree. I thought I’d actually get to use it. So on top of me wanting to live alone —because I aspired to do drugs freely —without worrying my sister would walk in, I also dreamed about working for some top-notch PR firm. I was in South Florida, after all —living in a pretty affluent area with a ton of opportunities. So it didn’t seem that crazy. I’m not asking for much, people. It’s just,
sometimes (actually) most of the time, you don’t get what you want. And as a recent college grad, you certainly don’t get the job you want either.
Because most places tell you that you need experience. It’s just, you can’t get experience without having a job. It’s a catch 22. Because back then, there weren’t any decent paying journalism gigs —at least none that I could find, which is why I started spending more and more time with those fairweather friends. Because I still had a savings account at that point with all of my bat mitzvah money (roughly 20 grand). And since you can only sit at a computer desk doing that shit for so long, my afternoons were pretty much open.
I had time to kill.
So in between applications and email templates, I needed something to do. I also needed some fucking relief, which is when and kind of why I started meeting up with certain drug dealers (that I met through those fast friends) pretty much every day. It became a ritual. Something to look forward too. Something to fill the void. Because those 50 pills I brought down with me went faster than I thought. And as you know, I needed more. So yeah, I’d say I was equally irritable and annoyed as I was lonely.
Because it’s a job in itself to find a job. But you don’t get paid. And this girl needed money fast. Drugs are expensive, people. I remember sharing this with Michaela (well, everything except the drug drama, obviously). Timeline wise, this is when I still lived with her —like before I moved out and before I got evicted from that guy’s place. I remember answering a text from Michaela this one random day. We had talked about all this shit earlier that morning. And since she was with one of her girlfriends for the day, she wanted to check up on me.
Based on our convo as well as the countless hours of me sending applications to random businesses online, she knew how badly I wanted to get a job. She also knew how much I wanted to move out and support myself. Because she saw how hard I was working to make it all happen. But she didn’t really know why. Because at this point, no one knew how bad off I really was. Hell, no one knew I was bad at all. Regardless, she urged me not to give up. Because she knew I’d find something.
If you throw a bunch of shit against the wall, eventually, something will stick.
“It has too and it will. It will all work out, Macey. I promise you, sis.”
But remember; she didn’t know the whole truth. She only knew what I told her; what she saw. And I was playing the good girl. I was really good at that. Long story short, I end up going on my first official interview. It wasn’t my dream job or even in the field I wanted but it paid well. Like really well. I remember thinking, maybe my sister was right. Because I’m good at interviews —like really good and I nailed it. The trick is finding a job good enough to merit an interview. Because to this day, I’ve never gone on one and not gotten the job.
So now, I’m officially a healthcare recruiter for this company called Core Medical Group. I was trying to be excited. I mean, I got what I wanted, right? Well, yeah. Kind of. You know how it goes (I hope). Anyway, we called it CMG (for short). It was a sales-based role in their Travel Nursing division. And even though it wasn’t what I pictured for myself, I was actually pretty into it —at least that’s what I kept telling myself and everyone else. Nevertheless, for those who don’t know (why would you lol), CMG had (probably still does) multiple contracts with numerous healthcare facilities across the country.
Each facility has a specific type of professional in mind.
My job was to match the healthcare professional up with one of our contracted healthcare facilities accordingly. I’d sift through resumes and job listings. The goal was to connect specialists like nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, as well as similar professionals with opportunities from that list of institutions. Does that make sense? On paper, it sounded like a pretty cool gig. I mean, my starting salary was nearly $40,000 annually. And that’s without adding in commission. Because whenever you’d close a deal, you’d get a bonus.
It’s just, the job I was trying to sell wasn’t as glamorous as they originally made it seem. Because these contract positions were just another way of saying, “Do you want to be a travel nurse?” And most people don’t. For those who aren’t familiar, a travel nurse is hired to work in a specific location for a limited amount of time. They typically move around the country depending on where they are needed. Because the demand for nurses is so high, there are often shortages in certain areas.
Consequently, they are able to choose between several jobs in a variety of areas lasting for different lengths of time. In theory, this means you have the freedom to choose where and when you work. Like you wouldn’t be stuck at the same job day after day. They said it was perfect for someone without a family —someone just out of school; who hadn’t yet planted roots. Because each gig lasted less than a month. And yeah, there was always a possibility that if they did a good job, the hospital or clinic could offer them a full-time position.
But for the most part, it was on to the next. I remember making several hundred cold-calls a day. I remember sitting at my cubicle staring at this master list of leads. I’ve always been good on the phone. And at the time, I prided myself on getting people to do what I wanted. So I thought it was perfect. I was a drug addict, after all. So I’d always find a way to turn $20 into $200. It’s just, my particular list of professionals weren’t too interested in what I was suggesting. Most of them insisted they didn’t want to work somewhere for a few weeks and then go somewhere else.
They wanted consistency. I’d try to spin it.
I’d say that we have a huge network so the possibilities are endless. Sometimes they’d bite. Other instances, not so much. I was reassured that it’s normal to experience rejection. Sometimes candidates and jobs just don’t match up and deals fall through. Don’t get discouraged, Macey. But eventually, I did. Because I wasn’t as interested in closing a deal as I was scoring more drugs. At first, though, I faked it. I made it seem like I wouldn’t rest until I locked one down. After a week or two without, I had a meeting with my manager.
Because I wasn’t as good as they originally thought I’d be. And I knew why. But once again, they didn’t. And that’s the point. “You have so much potential,” she said. Except, I wasn’t using it. Instead, I was using my lunch breaks to score those drugs. Because I was already halfway to one of my dealers. And I hated driving at night. I worked until sixish, which meant lunch was the best time to see him. Because I couldn’t wake up without snorting my drug of choice. And I couldn’t fall asleep either. Because I couldn’t do anything without 60 milligrams.
So if I didn’t have my pills, I couldn’t function let alone work.
But once again, it was a catch 22. Because truthfully, I didn’t work too well on them either. I remember falling asleep multiple times in the bathroom. Where’s Macey? And that’s when shit got really bad. Long story short, if I didn’t close two deals by the end of the week, they’d have to let me go. Because I had been there for nearly a month now. And I had zero to my name. I was a little annoyed with myself. But not enough to make a change or do anything about it. I remember doing a line instead. As the week went on, nothing changed.
Because now, it was Friday. I had a second talk with my manager on the books. Turns out, it wasn’t much of a talk as it was me getting caught. Because I was late. Actually, I wasn’t even there. Because I took that lunch break to pick up more drugs. I had too. I also had to do a few before going back in. I remember smoking one in the back seat of my car and then making my way into the bathroom. I was supposed to snort one more. I was supposed to wash up before starting my afternoon.
Like I needed to splash some cold water on my face if I was going to look the part.
Except, I never made it out of there.
Because I fucking fell asleep on the toilet. 4:00 p.m. rolls around and I’m nowhere to be found, which is when and why my manager scours the building —trying to find me. Because our meeting was hours ago. Ugh. Eventually, she does, in fact, find me. I wish she hadn’t. Because that’s when shit got even worse. Needlesstosay, that was my last day. I was officially fired. Because not only was I tardy. Not only did I not close any deals, she now suspected I was on something. She didn’t know what and I don’t think she wanted to make any waves so letting me go —no questions asked, seemed to be the best alternative.
Somehow, I end up finding another job pretty quickly (I’ll be writing another post about that a little later). Turns out though, I’d be making less than half of what I made at that healthcare gig. Shit. Because the stash of detox meds and opioids I brought down with me were long gone. So was my $20,000 savings account. And now that we’re all caught up, I’m sure you can imagine how hopeless I felt. Because figuratively, I felt like nothing and physically, I had nothing. I mean yeah, I had a place to stay.
Thank God for that.
But everything else around me was like oblivion. Because eventually, I lost that other job too. But it’s not what you think. Long story short, that second job was one of those attorney referral services called, Who Can I Sue —WCIS for short. The details of it aren’t important. What is, is that it was a great place to work. Every morning the entire office got bagels and cream cheese. And every Friday, the boss took all of us out for happy hour —drinks and dinner on him. I was beginning to feel like I was apart of something.
Because my co-workers loved me. And I genuinely loved them back. It’s just, I left out a big part about myself. I failed to mention that I was addicted to opioids. Do you blame me? Nevertheless, as much as I enjoyed it there, I was desperate to make more money. So whenever I had a chance —during work hours or afterward, I’d apply for shit online. That’s when I came across an opening for this movie production assistant. It sounded really cool. Like I could actually use my media degree. Because as you know, I hadn’t thus far. And I really wanted too.
As you probably know, drugs are chemicals.
When you put them into your body, they tap into your brain’s communication system. When you do them day after day like I was, they literally changed how my nerve cells sent, received, and processed information. Opioids, like painkillers and heroin, have specific chemical structures that mimic neurotransmitters that naturally occur in all of our bodies. In fact, these drugs literally “fool” our receptors by locking onto them. That’s how they activate and why they overstimulate each of our nerve cells. Except, they don’t work the same way as a natural neurotransmitter would.
Neurons, a specialized cell that transmits nerve impulses wind up sending abnormal messages through the brain and inevitability to the rest of our body. That right there can cause problems for both systems. Normally, like when you don’t do drugs, our internal reward circuit responds to feelings of pleasure by releasing the neurotransmitter known as dopamine. By definition, dopamine is a chemical messenger that carries signals between brain cells. It creates feelings of pleasure.
And the only thing that brought me pleasure were those damn pills.
And it’s because drugs just like the ones I was on, take control, causing large amounts of dopamine to flood the system. This flood of dopamine is what causes that “high” feeling referred to as euphoria. That’s why if you use drugs for a long time, things that used to make you happy (like going for a walk or laughing with friends) simply don’t. Because our brains are wired to make sure we repeat healthy activities, such as eating and sleeping —by connecting those things with feeling good.
Whenever this reward circuit is kick-started, the brain notes that something important is happening that needs to be remembered. It teaches us to do it again and again, without thinking about it. But because drugs come in and “hijack” that same circuit, people learn to use them in that same way. And after repeated drug use, the brain starts to adjust to those surges of dopamine —meaning, you’ll need more of that chemical to make you happy or at least, that’s what an addict’s brain is telling them.
That’s what mine told me.
This happens because when you do drugs for a while, the neurons in your brain eventually stop producing dopamine or they’ll make less. When there’s not enough dopamine signaling in the brain —and because drugs are toxic —some neurons may die. As a result, the ability to feel any pleasure without opioids is significantly reduced. The addict feels flat, lifeless, and depressed. Like I said, I was unable to enjoy things that once brought me pleasure. Because now I needed my drug of choice just to make my dopamine levels normal.
Or as I like to say, back to zero.
I say that because, in the beginning, I was using to get high.
But over time, I needed more of the drug to create that initial dopamine flood —an effect known as “tolerance.” As my addiction grew stronger, my tolerance grew with it. Without my pills, I was below zero. Negative. That’s why addicts experience withdrawal when they go without. So every morning, I’d snort some oxy in an attempt to maybe get a small buzz but overall the goal was to not feel sick. That’s why addicts say it’s a vicious cycle because it is. Even when you don’t want to use anymore, (because I didn’t), your brain tells you otherwise.
And your body is screaming at you for its medicine. It was a good day if I was able to get high. Because as you know, I needed more and more of the drug just to get to the level I wanted to be at —the level I felt when I first started. But if I can be honest, I was chasing highs and falling short everytime. But because I needed more drugs, I also needed more money, which is why I became willing to do just about anything to get more. So I submit an application for that production gig in hopes it was the answer I was searching for.
It wasn’t. Turns out, it wasn’t anything at all. But I didn’t know that just yet.
All I knew was that I had an incoming phone call from an unknown number. It was the production guy. He was calling to schedule an interview. Right away, I remember finding it a little odd that he wanted to conduct it at night —and at a hotel in a random room nonetheless. Like what about the business center? But who am I to question this shit. He’s the professional, right? I guess. Because I was preoccupied with my eyes on the prize. I just wanted the money. So I wasn’t thinking too much of how I’d get it.
Plus, the ad said it was a “paid” interview, which should have been a second red flag. Because most places do not offer money for simply showing up to an interview. I knew that. I also knew the whole thing felt a little off. Like when you get an eery feeling in the pit of your stomach? Yeah, I felt that. But my eyes were too busy on the prize. I remember thinking that if I didn’t end up getting the job, I’d at least get some money to re-up a little later. Because I always needed more.
So I get dressed and head over to the Embassy Suites off of Yamato Road in Boca Raton.
I also remember arriving and then parking. I was a little early but eager to get started. You know why. After that, I recall searching for, finding and then getting on the elevator down the hall from the lobby doors I just walked through. I remember getting off on the fifth floor and making my way to the room he said to meet at. I remember getting there and pausing. Truth is, I was a little nervous. What if he was a killer? A rapist? I didn’t want to die or get raped (at this point, I hadn’t). So I take a deep breath.
Then, I put my hand in a fist and knock three times just like he said. I was trying to be as professional as possible. I was trying to pretend I wasn’t scared. But I was. Before I could internally freak out any longer, he, we’ll call him, “Ted” opens it as I politely introduce myself. That’s when Ted advises me to come on in. “Make yourself comfortable,” he says. “You can have a seat right here,” —pointing to the couch. It was one of those hotel suites that had a separate living room from where the bed was. So far so good.
Opps. I may have spoken too soon. Oh yeah, I definitely did.
Because after that, shit got weird. Like really weird —just as I suspected. But I didn’t leave. I wanted that damn interview money. Consequently, I stay against my better judgment. So what is it that I’m getting at? Well, not to leave you on the edge of your seat or anything but you’ll have to wait for my next blog post to find out. I will tell you this —if I thought things were bad before, I was in store for a rude awakening. Fortunately, he wasn’t a killer —possibly a rapist, however, he didn’t touch me. But it’s not all good.
Because this was the first cut. And when they say the first cut is the deepest, they were right. Because I was digging my own grave. I just didn’t know it yet. Because after he gives me the rundown on what I could expect from this media assistant position, he propositions me. It’s not exactly what you’re thinking. But it’s pretty close. Ultimately though, you know how it ends. Because I’m sitting here recounting this shit, typing all this crap out at home. Because today, I’m safe. And the only offers I’m getting are from my boyfriend asking me what I want for dinner.
So yeah, I’ve been to hell and back. And I lived to tell my tale.
And sometimes it takes an overwhelming breakdown to have an undeniable breakthrough. Because that’s what happened to me. Like after the interview was over, it kind of initiated a chain of events that forever changed my life. And at first, like I said, it was bad. But it usually gets worse before it gets better. Because when you hit bottom, the only way out is up. And there’s a certain kind of beauty in destruction. Like a beautiful disaster. Because that’s what I am. That’s who I am. Me. I’m perfectly flawed and my sister was right, after all.
Because in the end, everything will be OK. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end. I can promise you that. I can also promise you that no matter how bad your life may seem, things are never so bad that they cannot be undone. Shit will get better. Like for me, when I finally came too, I realized that I could put the pieces back together the way I actually wanted them to be. And it’s only when we lose everything that we can be anything. The universe is funny like that. So never be afraid to fall apart.
Because it’s an opportunity to rebuild yourself the way you wish you had been all along.
*names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.