breaking up is hard to do.

Tomorrow I will be returning to the “Peeling an Onion” saga.
Apparently I need a solid week of beer and silliness to get my typing fingers back into form.

I know that last few weeks have been filled with drugs, self-hatred, and followed by more drugs (and then, of course, even more intense self-hatred). But guess what? That’s the last time I will be falling back into the heroin cycle during this story. Of course, eventually drugs (and lies) are going to affect my life a lot more than they did while I was actually consuming them.

Something began to click in my brain that Thanksgiving week in Chicago. I saw two paths ahead of me.

The first was a direct route to junkie-dom. Sure, several stop/starts could be involved. A week-long binge here, a wild Friday night there. Several weeks or months of excruciating guilt separated each foray into heroin. But no matter the order of the steps, they all lead to the same end point: addiction, true self-destruction, the loss of everything I considered important (friends, the trust of my family, my ability to care for myself). I realized that I was never going to be able to casually use hard drugs. Just the tiniest taste made me want…no, NEED more.

The second path was less defined. Really anything could lie ahead. It was the POTENTIAL for happiness that enticed me. Of course, all kinds of terrible things might be found a long the way. But at least I had a chance at living. No more time wasted.

However, it was never easy. I felt like a pariah in my circle of drug buddies and wasted acquaintances. Certainly my moody, frequently bleary-eyed boyfriend wasn’t in agreement with my lifestyle choice.

I don’t want to mislead you: I had one brief (but still awful) relapse in Portland (years ago). Dylan was on the East Coast with my mom. I was lonely. The winter seemed rainier and colder than ever. Each week brought a new blow to my increasingly fragile sense of sanity. Finally one night I found myself wrapping a sweater around my bloody pajamas as I crawled into a cab in the wee hours. Hours were spent in the emergency room alone, refusing to let myself cry. This was the last straw. There was no way I could get through this without some chemical interference. The next day I called the one acquaintance I was sure could get me the hook up. And of course, he came through when I declared “I’m going to die if you don’t help me with this.”

Of course I instantly hated myself. I knew I was making a big mistake. Junkies don’t make good parents. They can’t hold jobs or stay on top of the laundry or give their friends reasonable advice.

Days later, I found myself admitting to my best friend that my drowsiness/general weirdness the night before could be attributed to the heroin I snorted off the sink in the bathroom at the Clinton Street Pub. The look on her face said it all. Disappointment.

And that was it. I couldn’t let myself go down that path again. Disappointing myself, my friends, my daughter. I knew that I was lucky to survive my first go-round in Chicago. The likelihood of emerging victorious from another battle with my weak will seemed unlikely, especially several years and thousands of miles away from the first round.

I vowed to myself that it would all end there.

And it did. No matter how shitty my life seemed to be at various moments. Despite any loneliness, fear, frustration…I realized that I had to stand up straight and work my way through it all.


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