He said…”And one thing that has become clear after reviewing the footage and taking in all the stories we’ve heard is … It didn’t matter who they were or where they came from or how they got started, the ending is always the same, jail or death”. This comment made recently to me by one of the two DEA agents spearheading the documentary on Rx abuse that will be shown in schools, rehabs, jails and mass distribution to the public. As I’ve written before, our family and 5 other families are profiled in this DEA sponsored and produced film. This journey has taken a while to complete, but it looks like we are almost there.
When they first asked me to participate, I enthusiastically agreed but expressed my concerns and inhibitions about coming across as the reformed addict that preaches salvation and perfection, while still in the throes of my own recovery. I also secretly wondered to their motivation, I mean, were they investigating me and using this as a ploy to get more information from me? Then I thought, no way. I had already been so open with them I’m sure it surprised and disarmed them. Deciding I had nothing to lose, I opened up to them like I was confessing sins to God… really. As they reassured me, I began to understand that the imperfection, fight and exposed healing process is what makes people such as myself, so right for things like this. Showing the raw side of a relentless struggle is the best way to affect others. So I consented , yet still internalizing doubts about my readiness for this considering I was still in the prelim stages of grief and regret from losing my best friend and daughter. Not to mention, I was in relative and forced recovery from an abnormally severe addiction. I mean, I still had cravings and lived a very chaotic life. Yet, it was imperative for me to come across as authentic as possible in the interview. I couldn’t figure how it would be possible, but I was determined to do it right.
The morning of the filming, I woke to them knocking. I quickly threw on whatever I could find and ran upstairs. At the time I was living in a basement with my significant other , surrounded by the occasional cockroach. Yet, it too was a stair step up from the rock bottom I had hit less than 2 years before. When I opened the door, I noticed it was a bright and sunny morning and something I generally shunned these days. I was pleasantly greeted by the DEA agents I’d come to trust and their warm and affable camera crew. I laugh now at what one of them asked… “Are you ready to go, I mean do you need to change or put on the makeup or whatever?” I nodded that I was fine and ready to roll but then thought better of it once they started setting up. I excused myself then ran to the bathroom and brushed my hair, added a little mascara and decided against anymore makeup because I thought, well, if I cry it off I’ll only look worse. Frankly, I think I was also thinking that I needed to not make this about me. How I looked was nothing and what I was going to say was EVERYTHING. I imagined she was watching and my daughter’s approval was all I was seeking so, I took a deep breath and came back out. Once they got the lighting and backdrop set up, I sat as instructed in the chair against the prop, heart exposed on display. For a moment I started feeling anxious and nervous but I wouldn’t let it stop me, it was time for me to do something right, something bold, something that wasn’t about me and that forced me into the light again… And so I took yet another deep breath and braced. They asked a few leading questions and with that I poured out as much as I could allow, taking conscientious jabs at myself and my guilt and remorse. All I can remember is, I wanted my pain and misery to convey. I wanted the ugliness and sadness of my loss to be palpable. Try as I did however, I stopped short of allowing the reality that she was actually gone from this Earth to wash over me. To be honest, I still haven’t. I have been running from that fact since it happened. Yes, I can talk about it. Yes, I can say she has died. But its like I’m telling someone else’s unfortunate story even though the experience of it affects every aspect of my being. In my mind and heart, I pretend in an odd way that I’m still in jail and she’s out here and this is is all temporary. Maybe it isn’t healthy… but its all I can do for now.
What, you want to see evidence that I bleed so you cut me deeply??
“Pain, without love
Pain, I can’t get enough
Pain, I like it rough
‘Cause I’d rather feel pain than nothing at all” (Three Days Grace)
As I talked, I was about as beaten down as a woman could be, trying to be transparent while my proverbial fig leaf still in place. Not only was I attempting to open up and talk about the one person I could hardly think about without shaking from the crushing weight of my life without her, I had just been freshly wounded a few days earlier. My significant other, in his apparent confusion or whatever, had “cheated” on me and told me like a day later. All I remember thinking is, why? I mean, my daughter has been gone a little over a year and what all of you asses perceive as insensitivity or arrogance in me, is actual mind numbing agony. All I could think is, who would do this to someone obviously suffering and isolated after surviving the ultimate loss, just to punish me or prove a point??? What, you want to see evidence that I bleed so you cut me deeply?? And the person he chose, low hanging fruit no doubt, but someone who one would think would have a little empathy, being as they are a mother themselves? I understood from that experience that a low self esteem doesn’t consider feelings or possess empathy. If they can’t love or consider themselves , how would they consider anyone else? The insanity of the argument was beyond comprehension so I did what I do with all pain… I shelved it for another time. I didn’t tell the agents about the incident until later and as the interview began, I forgot everything around me. I cared less where I had been or who I was. I didn’t give a shit what anyone thought about me. I just wanted a moment to do something right for the first time in a very long time, do it with the very best of intentions and however it played out , it wouldn’t matter. I was doing something selfless…something for her and anyone like her. I was opening up and telling my secrets to the world, my imaginary privacy invaded… and deserving of such violation.
Two weeks before, my live-in boyfriend of just under 6 months had broken the news to me at a bar, in public, that he had cheated on me. Now, mind you, my entire former workplace already knew but those low life losers ate it up, it just supplied their need for drama in superb form. Not only was this the first time I experienced something like this in my life, as I had always been the “cheater”, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. The relationship had started intensely enough as we intimidated details of our lives over social media and email. He had noticed me when coming to see his brother who was my coworker and asked more about me. Despite everyone advising him against it , he reached out to me with a ” friend request” and therein began the most tumultuous, insane and passionate relationship of my life. I was as vulnerable as a girl could be while maintaining a degree of defensiveness. He moved in with me quickly and things just went far and fast. Whatever his reasons, he decided he had to prove to himself and/or me that I was worth the frustration or continued commitment after months of highly charged, frequent sexcapades followed by crazy fighting, followed by more sex. It certainly didn’t help that when we met I was on an ankle bracelet and he was fighting tooth and nail for visitation and custody rights of his adorable son. The consequences of his decision to verify his feelings in the manner he did, my reaction and his reaction to my reaction , played out like a bad soap opera that I am still healing from today. I can recall as if it was yesterday, having that ominous sense that something wasn’t right . As we fought horribly that night after getting in our best digs about whose going to fuck who, he angrily forced me out of the car, ready to exact his revenge on me for my imaginary offense. Feelings of abandonment are prevalent in the psyche of many addicts and mine was amplified having just had my daughter taken , not to mention being orphaned as a child. As I begged him not to go, he sped away and I cried with a severity that almost took me to the ground. My heart was finally taking its last break, I was done. I decided against reciprocating the action against him that night, weakened from the constant ache, I went inside and cried myself to sleep. I woke up to him crawling in bed, tears on his face and even though I just knew, I refused to believe and I fell asleep feeling safe again , even if it was wasn’t real safety. Admittedly and in hindsight, I’ve come to understand I was expressing the anguish of losing my daughter while thinking it was all his betrayal. No, in all fairness to that event, it had all become this convoluted desperate need to just be done with emotion and the discomfort it had always caused me.
The consequences of addiction of any kind is all the same. What starts out as beautiful and intense, plugging up the gaping holes in our souls as we chase fulfillment and happiness outside of ourselves, becomes a broken and ugly obstacle keeping us farther from the happiness and love we seek. Two halves of a person do not make a whole. We need to become the best we can be, achieving acceptance and love of ourselves , only then can we give to another. We can’t feed others if our garden doesn’t grow. Tend your garden first…this is what I’ve learned, what I’m learning. I’ve also learned that I was allowing myself to be harmed because I felt unworthy and unwilling to go on in a normal state without my daughter. I mean, if I let her down when she was here, what right did I have to get it together when she was gone? That was THEN. I now believe with my entire soul that she wants her mom at peace. She wants the mom she always knew before I succumbed to my demons. She always wanted me to let down my defenses and love but I now realize she would also want me to be LOVED.
Life is about choices, still, no one comes into your life by accident. I believe we come to each other’s spirits to strengthen the weaknesses and magnify our strengths. No love or battle is in in vain, there’s always a lesson. As they say, there’s some hideous, but ultimately there’s mostly beauty and wisdom in the breakdown… AND the heartbreak. So, I say , hey, thank you for the lessons, right? Not so fast. In my head I’m still cursing about the whole thing, as I haven’t decided if it was a needless lesson or not… and there you have it, my conflicted mind.
Getting back to that interview, I’m almost afraid to review the film and see the woman I was that day but I wouldn’t change a thing but this… I would’ve allowed the truth and finality to wash over me whether it destroyed me or not. Yes, I know I’ll see her again but not for a while and I have to live with that. I want those who don’t get it to get it. Addiction fucking sucks and costs you everything and everyone and before long, it will even steal your ability to feel the deprivation in your life. Just say NEVER to drugs unless a robotic existence or death is your idea of a great time.