If I can be honest it hurts more than I thought it would. It’s not that I miss him. I mean, I completely forgot he even existed until yesterday. It's just that it feels way to close like it could have been me. Hell, it was me. I think it's the timing of it all that makes it sting so much more. The saddest part is, I don't even have a picture of him or us together. We were addicts after all, in and out of institutions trying to get clean. It looks like I won this round but I don't feel like a winner. Right now, the only things I feel are grief, anger, and sadness. All that's left are memories. I see images I also forgot about; scenes I shoved deep down. It hurts as they come back up. I see flashes. I feel his pain as I reminisce with my demons —demons that took his life, demonic creatures that are taking way too many. As the thoughts come flooding back, I try to channel the rage inside. What comes out, you ask? A eulogy, or at least my version of it; something I never thought I'd have to write but here I am and here it goes.
Waking up really is the hardest part. Except at this point, my mornings weren't filled with fear. Or, at least not the type I had been running from. During the height of my addiction, waking up meant I had to snort at least 60 milligrams before even thinking about getting out of bed. If I didn't, I'd be sick —opioid withdrawal sick, the kind of sick you'd do anything to avoid. But that's not me anymore. It had been almost three weeks since I got high. I really can't put into words just how special it feels to wake up and not need a pill to function. Yeah, I was about to be put on some mental health meds but that' different. And so, just as the tech promised, 7:00 a.m. rolls around and I'm politely woken up by the same friendly face —ready to start my day just as I will continue to do for the next 28 days.
I remember when we said goodbye. He was so mad at me. I was a little mad at me too —for letting things get so screwed up. I definitely led him on all summer just like he said. I was an official college graduate; diploma in hand, ready for the next chapter to begin. One path brought me down south —South Florida to be exact. My family relocated there from New Jersey a few years prior and they just so happened to hate my drug-dealing boyfriend (except back then, they didn't even know he sold). I say this because the other led me west with him, Brad. Which story was I going to tell? I didn't know yet. All I knew then was that I had to make a decision. So, here it goes.
I was more stuck than ever but I couldn't let anyone else know how bad off I really was. So I'd put on a mask and pretend I was enjoying the bed I made. Except, I wasn't happy, sane or functional. I was addicted, defensive, and in full savage mode. Things were different. No matter how bad it got in college, I always had Brad. We kept each other in check, but this time, I was all alone, with no one to look out for me but me. And you definitely didn't want this junkie on your side. I mean, I was the girl who robbed you and helped you look for it. I was the girl who used to have it all together. Except now, I had nothing but pill residue everywhere. So how did I afford to keep everything up? Three words: pawn shop madness.
As if things couldn't get any worse —I was still a hostess at The Office, an $18 gourmet burger joint on Atlantic Ave. in Del Ray Beach, Florida. If you remember from a previous post, I relapsed and eventually found myself homeless after getting kicked out of the halfway house I called home. I also found another pill-popping boyfriend who tried his best to save me. Turns out though, I needed to save myself. When a friend turns foe, before I know it, I hit rock bottom for the second time. Except once you fall as far as I had, there's nowhere to go but up. Here's what went down.
Regardless of the politics, it was still hard. In short, I hated being home. It was a shocking reminder of how messed up my family life had become and I didn’t want to deal with that or feel any of these feelings. I mean, what teenager would anyway? I remember wishing I was anywhere, but here —be careful what you wish for. At the time, I was a freshman in high school. I lived in an affluent suburb of South Jersey and up until this point, everything was fairly "normal" —except, a few somethings were about to go really wrong. It would later be revealed that my once perfect existence was really all smoke and mirrors. But let's start at the beginning.
I was feeling even better than before. Today wasn’t that bad. Well, emphasis on that. It seems as if the days go by slow but the weeks, fast AF. A few things had happened in the last 24 hours though. I didn't think I could handle the cards I was dealt at the time. Except, I was about to find out I certainly could. I'd also learn, firsthand, the definition of integrity —what you do when no one is looking. But let's back up a second.
It's been a month. I feel good. I feel better, not perfect but getting there. I'm on my way to sanity. Except, for some reason, I'm still feeling left out. What were my druggie buddies up too? I couldn't help but think back. It wasn't all bad though. As the days went by, I started opening up more. I gave myself over to the process. I followed all of the rules and did my best to be my best. Eventually, I started to heal. When that happened, I realized that healing doesn't mean the damage never existed. I mean, the damage had been done. But that's irrelevant. Healing actually means the damage I caused no longer had to control my life. And when I figured that out, well, shit just made sense. Here's what a day at the mission looked like for me.
My family had finally figured out what to do with me. They weren't about to throw more money at the problem; so they found a free long-term treatment facility in Savannah, Georgia and prayed I’d find my way back again. Destination —Mission Teens. I liked how they treated each person as family. Everything was self-sustaining. If there was a problem, we didn't call the maintenance guy down the street. We'd fix it. And so, as I moved up in the program, I got more responsibilities. It was there that I realized sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere, is where you find yourself. And so, on May 16, 2012, my dad and I drive from Orlando, Florida to Savannah in hopes this place would save my life.
Dear Mr. Painkiller. Goodbye to you. I thought I’d never get your poison off my skin. I thought your toxins would grip me in and take me down, but today I am taking you and saying my goodbyes. It all started with a blue circular pill. A pill smaller than a fucking pea. So how could one tiny chemical combustion actually combust me? I don't know, but it happened. I had to have all of you and somewhere along the way, you took all of me.
I remember love. I remember laughter. But I also recall resentment and tears. I will say that growing up, I never went without. In fact, I always had too much. And I think that's how my addiction ultimately began. My family was loving. My mom, selfless. My dad, the provider. And, my sister, my role model. We were small but close-knit. I'd like to say fierce. They always had my back. They were (and still are) a bit overprotective but you'll never hear me say they didn't care. So if you're wondering why I am the way I am today, read this.
Home —what was that? I hadn’t had one in what felt like forever. The only thing I had was fear. Except, today, I was an official resident at my very first drug treatment center. I made it through the intervention, the detox —both which I never thought would happen, and now this. I remember arriving in the druggy buggy (our way of saying a white van) directly from the county ran detox that I didn't want to admit, saved my life. I remember them searching me. For once, I had nothing to hide. I remember them finishing up the in-take process and taking me to my new home away from home. I was ready.
You know that moment between sleep and wakefulness —when you're just getting up and reality is a little warped and everything seems OK? Well, that moment ended. Everything comes flooding back when I realize, it wasn’t a dream. What the fuck was I going to do now? I was in love with yet another addict and I would later learn that my bad taste in drug dealing boyfriends only escalated the inevitable. But eventually, I learned that when you refuse to settle for less than the best —the best tends to track you down. I was actually being treated right. I wasn't lied to. I wasn't being deceived. Because of that, I wasn't lying or deceiving either. And after that, well, things just started working out.
As my addiction grew stronger, so did my efforts to remain high. Eventually, I had to do things I never wanted to do. I knew they were wrong even then but that didn't stop me. It hurts like hell to think what chaos I caused —especially to the ones I love the most. These are the people who loved me when I couldn't even love myself. But when it's all said and done, it really does start and end with family. Here's how addiction affected mine.
In my latest blog post, I discussed how my life basically exploded as my lies went up in flames. Everything I was running from was staring at me straight in the face. I was attending an intervention I never thought would be for me. But there I was. My sister, Michaela, and Dr. Eddy finally made me crack. But in a good way —the best. I finally broke down. I finally wanted the help I desperately needed —help that happened to be right in front of me. And so, to detox, I went. I was freaked out, fucked up and alone. I had never been to anything like this before so I didn't know what to expect. And wouldn't you say, fear of the unknown is the worst kind? Because I would. Here goes nothing.
I arrive home and to my surprise, I beat my sister there. I was so depressed just thinking about what was to come. I had a feeling this was the end. And so, I tried to drown my anxiety by taking more pills. I snort three in one line. I instantly felt better. As the powder hit my bloodstream, I could breathe. It would later be revealed that all of this was leading up to my intervention, which ultimately drove me to detox and rehab for the very first time. This is what you need to know.
Shit was about to get real. According to Ted Bramer, a local county prosecutor, the wiretap obtained in the police's narcotic investigation was the first state-issued warrant in 23 years. The DEA was closing in. A task force had been investigating a particular drug ring since 2011 —after a postmaster informed them the suspects were receiving suspicious packages. Officials estimated those packages contained about 500 oxycontin pills every month. And guess which dealers they were referring to? My freaking hook up.
Even before I was an addict, I battled with sleep —not so much staying asleep but I couldn't slow my mind down long enough to go to bed at a decent hour. Some nights, I'd toss and torn while others, I was sick of pretending I was comfortable. So I'd get up at whatever time it was, usually 2:00 a.m. and start my morning routine. But once I found what worked for me, I actually felt better during the day. I want you to say the same. I want you to sleep in and not feel bad about it either. So here are four reasons you should stay in bed and snooze.
It was the summer of 2010. I was supposed to take a few classes over break but when my financial aid was denied, it initiated a chain of events that forever changed my life. Before I knew it, I was addicted. I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into before it was too late. I was sick if I didn't have them, yet, I didn’t understand what I was doing —that's the problem with painkillers. Sometimes you don't realize how bad it really is until you run out of pills.
I scroll and scroll. I feel dull and left out. When I look at people’s lives through these virtual filters, it feels like one big party that I wasn't invited too. How can my real life possibly compare? I sometimes get caught up in this comparison game. Do you? I mean, yes, these platforms have some advantages, but more times than not, you end up getting sucked into this black hole of notifications and newsfeeds. We live in an era where you can cyberstalk anyone and everything, yet, you’re at home in your striped pajamas feeling like shit because everyone is having more fun than you. So let's talk about social media and mental health.