I thank you very kindly for the opportunity to share my own story, as we journey together on the path of recovery.
The story of over three decades of self-medication is the story of an attempt to die. It's also the story of an attempt to return to that which we once were, part of a supreme consciousness unbound by human frailty.
This is the short version.
I began this particular journey at age nine. At thirty-nine I understood what it was that I'd been trying to do. It seemed pointless. I decided that I would cease my quest for death and renew my relationship with grace in another way.
My first drug of choice was Scotch whiskey, easily available in the home of two working parents who continually received alcohol from business associates. They were non-drinkers & so the bar was always well stocked with good liquor; no one was the wiser if the stock was depleted.
In no time at all I was sharing the bounty with friends. Along with this were the various pills in the family medicine chest; later, after my parents' divorce and my mother's acquaintance with the bar/disco scene, were the pills from her friends & lovers, which she somehow misplaced. I drank continually.
In high school there were pills, pot, booze & acid. Codeine came from the doctor for a medical condition; I developed an instant affinity. Cocaine was served along with shots at the East Village bars we visited instead of high school classrooms.
Pills, pot, booze & cocaine were the drugs of choice for a young girl newly released from a painful situation at home. By 1979 the East Village was an open marketplace for cocaine & heroi. They became the two greatest loves of my career.
In time I dealt cocaine & painkillers cadged from forged prescriptions. I worked as a beard & lookout for street heroin dealers; I moved from the straw to the needle.
A speedball was my nirvana.
Friends were arrested, became homeless, were hospitalized, disappeared. I overdosed a number of times, but miraculously survived.
I kicked, suffered, staggered, stayed clean for a week or a month, picked up. Went into the rooms, went out. Was hospitalized, detoxed, released. On the day of my release from the hospital the first person I saw on the street was a dealer.
On the street I was robbed; I was assaulted; I was poisoned by a brand of dope that left me nearly blind & delirious, wandering the streets until a friend found me & brought me home.
My lover overdosed one night; I revived him after two hours' effort, pausing for a shot myself.
I left town to escape it all, but returned. I left and returned numerous times, always to the needle, to the previous scene. I left, got sick, got well, returned. This continued for four years.
I finally returned because my lover had overdosed & died. I spent the next month cleaning out our apartment. By the time I was finished I was shooting up approximately every 45 minutes, with or without cocaine. One night I heard his voice, inviting me to follow him into death; I saw him floating beyond his fifth floor window & grabbed onto the sill to keep from going out.
A friend visited the apartment with cocaine, then with her dealer. I shot speedballs, she smoked crack & heroin. After the apartment was empty, I moved in with her & her husband. We did all of it together. I taught her to shoot up. I witnessed her husband physically abuse her; then he began abusing me.
I left town.
My friend left home to score one night & disappeared. Her body was found nine months later in a storage room beneath the Manhattan Bridge. She had been raped & strangled. Eight more women, all addicts living in the same neighborhood, were murdered that year.
I stayed out of the state for two years, returning clean in 1991. I've been clean since then, by the very grace of God.