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Track Marks and Tattoos: No Freedom Until I Lived Through Hell

I tattoo my pain on my body so I never forget where I came from. Born and raised in Keansburg, NJ. One square mile of a shitty ass Boardwalk town. I was born when kids still played outside and music was actually coming from talent. There were always kids around to hang out with growing up. I lived across the street from Forest Park and we would play man hunt, hockey, football (I was always a tomboy type) and it was innocent fun. 

I remember all the older kids would sit on the picnic tables smoking and drinking and I would look at them and think ‘I can’t wait to grow up’. As I grew older and started dabbling in drinking and smoking on the beach or baywalk. Gambling over dice for hours at a time. Endless drop offs by the cops for drinking and smoking pot. “Tara just stay in the house for the rest of night.” 

Growing up in my neighborhood was so fun but the party never seemed to end for me. I remember the first OD we all ever dealt with was at a young age. We were all in the garage drinking and doing drugs and we almost lost one of us. The cops of course, crashed the party after the kid hit the hospital and sent us all home to not return back out. I watched a kid throw a bag of Coke under the couch that night and sure enough 3am my ass was back in the garage stealing that bag of Coke. 

See the difference between me and others was always for me the party was never enough, I had to have more. While others could have a few drinks and go home, I’m that kid walking out of the bar at 6am cause I stayed after it was closed and snorted lines of Coke with the owner. 

The only way to stop me from using or drinking was to lock me away and throw away the key. When the Devil himself (heroin) entered my life, I just knew this was the answer to all my problems. With no education on drugs or withdrawal, I had no idea that I would be up against the battle of my life. I’ve never felt comfortable in my own skin. I’d do anything to get outside of myself. Drugs, alcohol, love, gambling, you name it and I can and most likely have been, addicted to it. 

Heroin brought me comfort. Heroin brought me the escape from the reality of my shitty ass life. Heroin was my answer to be able to sit with myself and feel okay. That’s pretty powerful to have that much self hated that the only way you ever feel alive is to basically be engaged in killing yourself. I always say ‘death was welcomed‘ in my life. I was never scared of dying. I was the type to be scared of living. 

My heroin use got out of control quickly because I can do nothing in moderation. One day I came to, fully clothed in a freezing bath tub and I remember looking around like ‘what the fuck is going on‘ and my roommate was crying standing over the tub screaming at me ‘you were blue Tara, I thought you died‘. I remember being so mad she brought me back like that. I looked her right in the eyes and said ‘you should of let me go’. The look she had on her face was straight fear and I held so much anger towards her for this. I was mad because she saved my life. Sick when you think the only answer to your current situation is death. Sick when the self hated runs so deep you couldn’t imagine why anyone would really want to save you to begin with. 

Another episode happened and I came to, locked in a room in a psych ward. There was a lady outside the door laying on her back screaming ‘I’m upside down! Help me! Help me!’ (Roll over lady). Fuck, I really did it this time. I got them to let me out and tried to check out of this place because I had no idea how I even got here, or why. I couldn’t get out; I was committed. They placed me in a room with some chick I couldn’t see cause she was buried under her covers. A few hours later while I was making a phone call (to my dealer to smuggle me in drugs) I saw all these objects come flying out of my room and slamming into the wall. I saw all the nurses running into my room and I remember thinking ‘damn my bunky is crazy as hell’. They pulled my best friend out of the room. We both did ourselves in with one too many the night before and had no idea. 

If it wasn’t for us having each other and playing the ‘I am totally cured game’ in there, we both probably would have been committed for long term because we were both completely out of our minds during this phase of our addiction. Again, I found myself ungrateful for another chance at life. So I went back out and continued to destroy myself, my relationships, my family, my appearance, my spiritual and mental state. I didn’t deserve to live. I didn’t deserve a happy life. I was a piece of shit junky that was incapable of getting clean. A better life wasn’t in the cards for me. There are no happy endings for people like me. 

The first time I went to rehab was by way of drug court. I went into detox so wasted my head was in my own lap for hours. 90 pounds soaking wet, my hair probably wasn’t combed for weeks, and I’m sure I smelled like a bottle of Jameson and a pack of newports. Some how I passed my drug test (no idea how this happened) and they couldn’t medicate me for my withdrawls so I had to kick with Motrin only. I was punching walls, spitting at the nurses, throwing my trays of food out the room and literally I thought all these behaviors were justified because you should be giving me something. One nurse was able to calm me down enough to take my blood pressure and gave me something to sleep. This kick was horrible. I stayed in the shower for basically 5 days because that was the only relief I could find. 

After detox they sent me over to the rehab and as soon as I walked in everyone hugged me. ‘Oh hell no, I am not doing this shit.’ I hadn’t had any human touch me in such a long time that those hugs literally disgusted me so much. I’m a disgusting person why would these people want to touch me? I wasn’t even human anymore. I was living a life in full on survival mode. I couldn’t handle anyone actually coming into my personal space even if it was in a loving caring way. I hated myself. 

 We sat through a meeting then got up and they held my hand and said the Lord’s Prayer. That was the last straw for me. I dropped my hands and walked right out of that circle. Are these people out of thier minds? Both times I was brought back to life, those minutes that I was gone there was no light. There was no pearly gates. There were no images of my loved ones leading me to heaven. There was nothing but cold darkness so how dare you make me pray to a God that isn’t even there. 

I packed my bag and walked right out the door. I was caught by the sheriffs two days later and taken back to jail, yet again. When I reflect back on this now, I know I didn’t see the light because it wasn’t my time. My life never had a purpose before. Well, it did but I wasn’t aware of it or willing to accept it. 

I have a tattoo that says ‘Every Saint Has a Past’ another one that reminds me on the daily to ‘Just Breathe’ and the huge spider web from my time down in prison which covers most of my track marks from the years of using needles to get high. They are reminders of the life I once lived. They are my story, my journal, my motivation and my stepping stones into the life I live today. ‘There is no esquisite beauty without some strangeness.’ And for me, there was no freedom until I lived through hell.