The prick of the needle no longer had any effect on me. The strap tightened just above my elbow. My blue veins visible and pulsing beneath my transparent skin no longer repulsed me, now I relished the sight of them. Watching the blood flow steadily through your body reminds you that you are alive. It seems to be the only thing that does for me, these days. The tingling sensation in my arm as my salvation spread through my inviting veins and took over my body was what I lived for now.
Heroin, my old friend. My heart beat so ferociously that my hands hugged my ribs to keep them from unhinging. I flopped backwards onto the stained mattress. Pupils dilated and completely comatose, I lay there alone. I no longer bothered to ensure that when I lay down I was on my side. If I overdosed I probably wouldn’t even be accounted for in the statistics of drug abusers. I had tried many other drugs as well but none had ever taken hold of me the way this did. Even ketamine didn’t give me the same kick. Heroin took me to a whole new level and I wanted to stay there. If I died, at least I would go out on a high.
People must take one look at me and think: “Just another junkie.”. They never see past the cuts and bruises; malnourished body; rotting teeth and matted hair to think “At one time she was beautiful and had a future, and maybe she could again.” At one time I was beautiful and I had a bright future ahead of me. I didn’t grow up in a rough area where drugs and dealing were part of everyday life. I came from a wealthy, wholesome, american-dream type family. My older brother was prom-king and my younger brother ended up getting a top honours degree in medicine. My father is a lawyer and my mother is a nurse. I have no contact with any of them anymore. The last time I spoke to my family was five years ago, the day I dropped out of college.
I was in my final year with only two months left until I became a fully qualified business woman. Of course at this stage I was already an entrepreneur selling specialised goods such as cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana. My parents knew I had experimented with drugs in high school. They swept this history under the carpet in order to maintain their perfect family image. As a result my growing fascination with and addiction to drugs festered and stayed with me. Had the problem been confronted properly when it all began perhaps things would have turned out differently. Then again perhaps not, because teenagers are stubborn and don’t listen to anyone, least of all their parents.
Dropping out was my decision and it felt right at the time. When a dodgy guy promises you his heart and you have no self-worth you will believe him. He filled my head with drug-fueled fantasies of our non-existent future together. He was in it for the discounted drugs and sex, and I was trying to fill some deep void by means other than substance abuse. Neither of our intentions were good and I should have known the relationship was inevitably destructive.
The hardest time of my life was after we separated. I gave up my whole future and career for a hopeless, unrealistic, drug-induced dream. The only reason I didn’t end up living on the streets was because I got caught. Prison was a terrifying place, but if I had been on the streets I would be dead now. There were rehabilitation services offered but they were pointless, because prison is possibly the easiest place to find any drug you need. Prisoners can be walking pharmacies. During the six month sentence I served I did not make or receive a single phone call, and there was no point hoping for a visitor. I doubt my family even felt guilty. In their minds I had always been a burden and they believed they had done their best to help me. They thought that my marginalising me as an exception to the strong and reliable family unit, and sending me to counselling alone every week I would suddenly be miraculously cured of my addiction. The real cure would have been their acceptance and love. But deprivation of these things meant they were helping in their minds. The burden of guilt lies with me instead. I am guilty for causing pain to every family member. I am guilty for hating those who tried to love me the most. I am most guilty for destroying any chance I may have had at forgiveness.
After my time in prison I decided to stop dealing because I did not want to end up there again. I wanted to patch up the broken pieces of my life and move on. I thought I could stick myself back together without the help of anyone else. How wrong was I! My philosophy was that if I shut myself off from other people and blocked out the rest of the world I would never be tempted to take drugs again. Since adopting that philosophy almost four and a half years ago I have always been pretty much alone. I lasted two and a half years without touching any narcotics, with the exception of marijuana which doesn’t really count. My sobriety only taught me one thing: That drugs had always been better friends to me than people, and I needed a friend, so I began again. By keeping to myself during my brief period of sobriety I observed human nature in all its ugly glory. I knew I never wanted to let people back into my life having seen and encountered an infinite amount of verbal and physical abuse.
Now I lie here in my dilapidated apartment with the sound of sirens blaring, people screaming in the streets, and the smell of some building somewhere burning. I had many chances to change the direction my life was going in, but I didn’t take any of them. My life is one of billions so why does it matter to anyone else how I choose to live it? As an addict I know that death is coming sooner rather than later. Every time my small metal friend enters my arm I know it could be the last night I am alive, and sometimes I wish it is. I feel the vomit filling my throat and mouth. I cough and splutter once or twice.
In the middle of a city inhabited by millions, the body of a young, broken-hearted woman is sprawled on a stained mattress waiting to be pronounced dead.