In my previous post, I brought up my journey from my worst day to my best day. I’d like to share a glimpse into my worst day with you.
It’s April 22, 1994. My thumb, burnt from the heat of the lighter, keeps the flame steady to liquify the rock. The sizzle makes my stomach jump in anticipation as I crouch in the corner on my moldy bathroom tile. I tilt the needle into the spoon and pull the plunger to capture every drop of my fix. My hands shake from need as I gingerly place the needle on the side of the bathroom tub. In my tank top and cut-off jeans, a musty odor permeates my grimy skin as I survey my arms for just one tiny place to shoot up. But I can’t find even that, because I’m covered in track marks and bruises. The longer it takes me to get started, the more I shake. But I am determined to find a place to stick the needle. I pick a scab off the tender part of the inside of my forearm to make my own fresh spot.
I’m 20 years old, living alone in Tacoma, WA. The windows and blinds are closed, keeping out the morning light and keeping in the rancid odor of the overflowing litterbox. My refrigerator and cupboards are bare—except for my standard diet of Pepsi and Newport’s. I’m on the tail end of the cycle that had become my life.
The cycle always started with lines of crystal meth to jumpstart my day, a steady stream to keep the day going and then smoking it or shooting it up at night. After being awake for days, I’d try desperately to sleep, telling myself “I’ll stop. Just let me sleep. I won’t do it again. I promise.” I’d pop a downer and finally sleep, the final stage of the cycle. Then, I’d wake up a day or even two days later. Delirium replaced by sluggishness. Oh, I have lines in my drawer. Of course. I’d always save a stash for when I woke up. The cycle continued. I created a life that relied on snorting lines to function and smoking it and shooting up to get high.
My drug dealer had kept the needles from me for years. He’d say, “If you do this, you will never have the chance for a normal life”. Yet, he was the one who eventually put the needle in my arm.
He was right. I never would have the chance at a normal life. But what he didn’t know is, I never had that chance.
By the time I was eight years old, I knew poverty, transiency, instability, fear, pain, betrayal and ultimately, the loss of love.
At 13 years old, I was smoking pot and dropping acid. I didn’t do this to fit into the crowd or the party. I did it because the feeling of being high filled the gaping hole inside me, or so I thought.
By 17, I was snorting lines of cocaine and crank which quickly led to daily use to maintain my illusion of normality. But to get high, I smoked it, from a pipe or aluminum foil, and eventually shot it up. I lied for drugs. I stole for drugs. I sold myself for drugs. Any goodness left in my life, was exterminated by my own destruction.
So, here I am alone on April 22, 1994. I squeeze the band on my left arm with my teeth as I position the needle in that vein, the one place I have left. I see a clot of blood swirl into the syringe. I push the fix into my arm. I release the band, feel it, take it.
Afterwards, when I am able, I pull myself up by the sink to splash water on my face. I see, on my left shoulder, the tattoo that was personally inked by the leader of a gang now in prison for murder. I look in the mirror and see a skeleton of a girl I might have known once. Her vacant, sunken, empty eyes stare at the tracks and bruises of despair.
I’m ashamed, scared, hopeless and just so tired. This is it for me. I will die, here, like this. I want to die.
I look back at my last rocks. This is all I have left. I place them in the burnt spoon and light the flame.
Then, I hear a ring…once, twice, three times. I glance at my cordless phone on the bathroom floor and see the first three numbers on the Caller ID: 254. Killeen, Texas. My sister.
Had she called a day earlier, I wouldn’t have answered. Had she called a day later, I couldn’t have.