Gradually, and then suddenly.

I am 30 days clean from heroin and needles. I am not completely abstinent from all drugs, to be clear. In that 30 days I have used 2 8mg suboxone (not to get high), insufflated meth twice, taken a few 1mg Xanax to take the edge off when needed, and an abundance of cannabis. No heroin and no needles for 30 days and to me, that’s HUGE. You are lying to yourself if faced with the choice between you or them, that you would willingly choose to sleep on the street. Until you have been in that situation, know what it feels like to be hungry, and wonder where you are going to sleep at night, you don’t know what you would do. Human nature is designed that way. Self preservation. And lastly, please do not mistake this as me playing the victim. I know what I am, and what I am not, and frankly that is all that matters to me. The opinions of strangers, especially those of whom I have never met, are of no concern to me. My choices are what have driven me to be homeless, and rest assured that fact is not lost on me. There is no distinguishing between addicts and junkies. They all follow the same progression, whether slowly or quickly, and the destination is the same for everyone who continues to use heroin or any drug: jails, institutions, or death.

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The little moments.

I woke up this morning and couldn’t shake this memory of something that happened last July. It wasn’t a big thing, but it is one of the little moments that changes you, or kills a little something more inside of you.  I was staying at a seedy establishment called America’s Inn at the intersection of Beltway 8 and Highway 59 in Southwest Houston. For those unfamiliar with the city, this area is one of the worst. It is riddled with crime, drugs, and prostitution. It is a dirty pocket in the beautiful city of Houston. You would lock your doors, and you would not stop for gas there. But for this time in my life, it was where I stayed, and the drugs made it okay, they made me feel like this is the only place I belonged.

During this time I was involved in a lot of things I am not proud of, and I will continually carry the shame and guilt of what I have done, probably for as long as I live. This pretty little white girl was no different than the thugs posted up in Forum Park slinging dope, or crystal, or crack, and robbing innocent people’s livelihoods. This WAS where I belonged.

One night, when the agony of heroin withdrawal was upon me, I sat in the bathtub of this seedy motel and cried. Not a soft cry, but a loud one where all of the hurt and shame and pain starts to escape. The kind of cry where your life depends on it. I know if you’re reading this, and you’re an addict, no more descriptions are necessary because you already know this cry. See heroin does a very good job at masking the despair of your life. When you are alone,  you aren’t really, because heroin is always there for you. It pulls a warm blanket over your life, and envelopes you in Heaven. I laid down in the bathtub and put my head underwater, and I held my breath for as long as I could, wishing for something, anything to save me or to let me die. And I truly wanted to die, because in my mind, heroin had won that day, and death would be the only escape from the hell I was living.

It was only a little moment, but a piece of me did die that day.

Clarity.

I never realized how clouded my mind was all that time I was on heroin. It tricks you into thinking you’re all good and this is how your mind has always functioned, but you really have no idea how clouded by smack you are until you’re not on it anymore. I have clarity, I can think and feel so much that I never knew I was missing. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, and I have to remind myself that I actually am capable of processing and dealing with emotions sober. Today I value my ability to think, reason, rationalize, and feel things. Someone close to me told me once how different I am when I am not smacked out of my mind. They said I am funny, witty, clever, and smart when I am sober. Heroin absolutely dulls every one of those characteristics in me. I am left empty and hollow, while the entire time the monster tricks me into believing I am whole and that it is the only thing I need.

The difference.

I have stood at the edge of death and come back, so realize what I say on here is drawn from my experiences as a homeless dope fiend junkie thieving felon. Heroin steals your soul and replaces it with something dark and different. We are all addicts here, but we all have different bottoms; we all have different standards on what we will allow ourselves to do, or how low we can go. I don’t fear most things, but my lack of fear terrifies me. I have seen death, and heroin made me not afraid to die. I know what the future holds for me. I know what I am, and what I have done, and what I am capable of doing because experience has taught me that. That is the difference between us. What will you do when your back is against the wall, when you are so far down that you have to build your OWN ladder. That will show you who you really are.

The constant reminders.

I am approaching sixty days of sobriety but I still struggle as if I were on Day One. Today I am reflecting on the things that have happened in my life to  make me really appreciate these sober days, no matter how boring I think they are. It is because I have really been struggling lately that I have to remind myself where I have allowed heroin to take me. Today I woke up in my warm bed, hearing the quiet hum of the only laptop I haven’t had to pawn for dope yet. I did not have to go to bed last night wondering where I was going to sleep, or if I was going to be too sick in the morning to even get up. I got to watch “The Wire” and eat chocolate, after a dinner I didn’t have to steal from the grocery store. I didn’t have to spend four hours and drive across Houston at two in the morning to meet the dopeman, or stop at the gas station bathroom on the way back to a shit motel room to shoot dope with a police officer outside. I didn’t have to do any of that because today I am sober, and today I am grateful.

The Dirty H.

I have always wanted to have a public blog about my struggle with drug addiction but never had the courage to do it. I felt an overwhelming amount of shame and fear, because there is a stigma that surrounds addiction, especially to heroin, and so I kept this dark part of me hidden for almost a decade. Through this experience, though, I have come to realize that there is freedom in honesty and I no longer have to hide who I am. I became a junkie the day I used the needle, but I was an addict long before then.