As an addict, I always lived a double life. Maintaining some sort of class and elegance in my relationships, dependable and responsible at work, but completely broken and shattered in my soul.
Of course a double life only lasts so long. It was only a matter of time before my addiction would spill over into all aspects of my life.
I remember the exact moment where I realized I could no longer function as a normal, productive member of society.
Even as writing this now, I can see signs way earlier than this moment but at the time this was the first instance my insanity was reveled to me. Denial is extraordinary. I was on duty on my ship, USS Nimitz, in beautiful Coronado, CA. I had been on a 2 year crystal meth binge and was completely and utterly out of my mind. Sleep was not in my routine, I weighed about 80 pounds soaking wet, meanwhile, I thought I looked great and the hallucinations were so vivid and real at this point.
We were in port, so no one really slept on the ship anymore, we all had houses and apartments, and the ship was pretty desolate. I remember sitting in my bunk, and I swear to God I remember getting that feeling, just knowing, that the ‘enemy’ was coming after me.
I had set up all these traps and laid wide awake, banging rails of Crystal, with a 9mm hold tightly in my hands ready to kill anyone who came near me. Luckily, for me and another shipmate no one entered into my space that night while on duty because my story of recovery and relapse would have ended this night with me in prison on a murder charge on one of my fellow soldiers.
At this point I decided it was best to just run away from the military because hell the enemy was coming after me in sunny San Diego. My first career down. My decision making skills are clearly in need of some help at this point so I make and follow through with the best decision I could muster up: I will be a drug dealer.
I would be lying if I said this didn’t work perfectly for my lifestyle at the time. It worked perfectly (until it didn’t). I would sell some drugs, make some money, and I didn’t have to answer to anyone besides myself. Not to mention the endless supply of whatever I wanted. It was Ideal, that was until the arrests started to come.
Next thing I know, I went from military hero to convicted felon, with no hope in sight.
I’ve used every drug under the sun but heroin has always been the one to take me to my knees. It has showed me exactly who I can be and exactly who I never want to be again. The first taste of heroin, which of course in my experience was the best, I fell in love. This was it. All my answers. I knew there was a high probability of death every time I used, but at the time it was perfect cause, well fuck I had no idea how to live anyways. I welcomed death because living was such a chore.
Through my affair with heroin I realized how desperate, manipulative, hateful, and untrustworthy I was. I’d rob anything not nailed down in the house, I’d manipulate anyone into getting what I wanted, I’d lie, I’d cheat, I’d steal, and basically there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do to get my fix while sick. I remember being in the projects in Newark, NJ very dope sick and just coping some dope. As walking out, this kid pulls a gun on me and tells me to give him all my shit. I told him to shoot me, cause the thought of death was no worse than being dope sick. He laughed at me and said ‘get outta here crazy ass white girl’. The desperation and self hatred i felt at that moment was so strong that I was literally upset that he didn’t kill me.
My pain, my struggle, my self obsession would have been over. That war in my head every morning with myself, of wanting to be clean but just not being able to stop no matter how hard I tried would have ended. I always try to remember these feelings of self hatred, because hating yourself so much that you can not sit by yourself, with yourself, drawing any clean substance free breaths is a extremely powerful and desperate moment.
When I finally surrendered and came to terms with the fact that I am indeed and addict, is when my process started. I was told ‘when the pain gets great enough we change’. I believe this with every being of my body, mind and soul today. So when asked ‘who am I?’ I can reflect back to all the horrible things I used to be or I can simply say ‘I am Tara and I am an addict’ because every step I take in this direction is a step closer to me getting better.