This story is by Frank Charon and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
PULLED FROM THE GRIPS OF ADDICTION
myself on a tattered mattress, with no pillows, blankets or sheets i sat up and looked around the room and saw another random mattress stuck in the corner with two other people passed out on it. The only other furniture in the room was a small 70’s style table, with a shag rug material around it, and a mirrored surface. There was a half rolled up dollar and a credit card laying on the table with some powdery residue.
I stood up, and was hit with a wave of dizziness and nausea as my body began craving it’s next fix. I quickly realized withdrawals were quickly overtaking me, and I began searching for something, anything that would stop the sickness. Unfortunately for me, every single day of my life begins this same way; waking up, feeling terrible, and doing anything necessary to get my fix and get myself feeling “normal.” After years of abuse there was no longer a pleasurable feeling when I used, instead I needed drugs just to get myself to a baseline functioning state.
I shoved my hands in my pockets hoping I actually had saved myself a pill from the night before. The morning was always the worst, it was the longest period of time I ever went without using, and waking up to that instant fix was the greatest thing in the world. Any person of reasonable mind would learn from waking up feeling like you were allergic to your own bones, and would always keep something aside to cure this pain. But I always find myself down to that last pill when the damn voices begin their chanting, convincing me that I can take that last pill, i will have no problem finding another in the morning and more than anything I deserve it! I usually can keep temptation at bay for a while but the thought of crushing up that pill,and lining up that powder always won in the end.
As my hands reached the bottoms of my pockets and found them empty my heart sank. Not willing to give up I told myself “those pills are tiny, it could be crammed in the corner of my pocket and if I searched a little more I may find it.” That’s the thing with addiction, you find yourself searching all the time, searching for money, searching for a dealer, searching for a place to sleep, searching the floor for a long lost pill. I turned my pockets inside out and like most of my searches this one came up empty.
I got down on all fours on the stained, and sticky floor. I crawled around the mattress I had slept on, and like a hawk patrolling the skies in search of a mouse, I began patrolling that floor for any sign of my small round savior.
I could feel the sickness getting worse.
I stood up in desperation and slowly crept over to my “friends,” that were still sleeping. I shook both of them making sure they were still passed out. After getting no response I slowly slid my hands into their pockets. Maybe one of them had their shit together enough to have ignored the voices and held on to something for the morning. I was only able to find a $20 dollar bill in one of my friends pockets.
This was a guy I grew up with, we were like brothers, and now I found myself robbing his last $20 as he slept. I gave up my conscience and the last bit of human decency I had over the last few years. I had become a machine that existed in a perpetual cycle of addiction. Seeking – Obtaining – Using – Seeking all over again.
Shoving the $20 into my pocket I moved towards the table hoping to get my fix from the leftover residue. Picking up the credit card I began to scrape the mirrored surface, forming the residue into a small line. As I leaned over the table a tiny crumb caught my eye. There stuck in the shag material was half of a pill. As I reached for that pill I I felt all my withdrawal feelings magically disappear. Just knowing I was about to satisfy my cravings was enough to cause my body to react as if I had already done it.
I grabbed the pill, placed it under the dollar bill, and pressed down on it with a lighter. I felt it crumble beneath the bill turning the pill into a fine powdery substance. I grabbed the credit card and scraped up the pill and added it to the pile. Disregarding the dirt, and hairs that I had also scraped up I leaned over the table, put the bill near the line of powder, and inhaled. I felt the powder hit the inside of my nasal cavity and all anxiety, and sickness vanished. This brief period of time after snorting a pill was the only time I felt at peace. No stress, no anxiety, just bliss.
I looked at the friend I had just robbed, looked at the table I had just snorted a line from, and glanced around the room. I was in a living hell, my family and friends had all given up on me.
My grandmother gave me a chance when everyone else gave up, and I ended up cleaning out her bank account, causing her to be unable to afford to to live in her home that my grandfather built, but because of me she was forced into an assisted living home.
As the thoughts of all those I had hurt flooded my mind, eventually forcing me to think of my son. Noah was 3 now, and was taken away from me after he lost his mom to addiction, sadly I realized he was probably about to lose his dad too.
I stood there and realized all those little attempts at quitting, all those little road blocks and number changes meant nothing. What it was going to come down to was me deciding right then and there that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. It was at that moment I felt as if something reached down inside of me and planted a seed. A seed that instantly began to grow giving me the willpower to take my life back. It was as if this higher power was carrying me in its hands, I saw myself floating from the room, and out of that terrible house. I saw an image of my little boy flash before my eyes, followed by a feeling of true love. The next thing I knew I was in a room in a detox facility. I couldn’t remember getting there or even checking in. Something was granting me 1 last chance at life.
I had stopped using for a few days here and there in the past but always gave in to the sickness. I walked into that detox facility knowing I had a fight for my life in front of me, and I could not fail. The withdrawals and sickness terrified me, and honestly its what prevented me from attempting to stop in the past. But this was my one life on this earth and I was not going to let a little pill destroy it for me.
I walked into my room, a room that has bore witness to days of pain and suffering by those that came before me. The room had blue cement walls, a bright fluorescent light on the ceiling, a cot and a toilet. I sat on the cot, reached into my back pocket and pulled out the one picture I had of my son Noah. I sat there cupping his photo in my hands, and began to cry for the first time in a long time.
About 18 hours after my last hit the withdrawals began. I started sweating profusely but was freezing on the inside. Years of opiate induced constipation began to subside. I spent the next few hours, shivering, sweating, and shitting. The battle had just begun and I sat there on that toilet completely terrified of what was to come.
It was about the 30 hour mark when things became a haze. I found myself leaning over the toilet bowl, tears streaming down my face like the mighty Mississippi. An indescribable feeling ravished my body, permeating from deep inside my bones causing me to relentlessly try and stretch it away, relief seemingly just beyond reach. I reached up and wiped the tears from my eyes as I felt another painful bout of vomit upon me. I leaned over the bowl and thought to myself “this time it’s gonna kill me.” Withdrawels are a mother fucker!
I spent about 4 days fighting through the above. Between the vomiting, and shitting I attempted to sleep. Sleep consisted of laying on my back, tossing and turning every 30 seconds, my body hopelessly trying to stretch away the horrible feelings. I would roll to my left side, then my right, then back to the middle. I would angrily flop to my stomach in hopes of just a moment’s relief. The sheets were soaked from my sweat, even though my body was freezing. I relentlessly tossed from side to side, from back to stomach over and over every few seconds. My body refused to grant me even a moment’s repose.
The physical withdrawals were an absolute nightmare but the mental symptoms were the hardest to fight. My mind was overcome by severe depression, and unrelenting anxiety. It felt like I would never be able to beat this. The voices in my mind were constantly telling me that all this pain and suffering could be over in an instance, you just have to walk out of this place and make a call, and all the torment will end. Why suffer like this, you know you will never be able to stay clean for long. You are putting yourself through misery for nothing, end it now!
I must say I almost gave in numerous times, I never was able to quit before so why suffer like this now, it really could just be over in an instant. Fighting through withdrawals is one of the hardest parts of beating addiction, you know that all this horrible physical and mental suffering could be over in an instant. It would be like being tortured and knowing just taking this 1 pill would make it all stop, who of us wouldn’t end the pain?
You need to find something bigger than you, something to fight for. Something to be able to fight back against the voices. Thank God I had my boy. Anytime I wanted to just be done with the suffering I would take out his picture and just stare at it. I would imagine the time we spent together, and how if I failed my innocent boy would lose both his parents to drugs. He deserved better, and I wasn’t going to give up. It was a never ending battle, 24 hours a day against the voices and sickness. But I told myself it was not going to last forever, every minute was 1 minute closer, every hour, every day was one closer to taking my life back.
I sat up on the 6th day and actually felt like things had taken a turn for the better. For the first time the horrible feelings were going away. I actually was able to leave my room, the vomiting had stopped along with most of the other physical symptoms except the shitting. I still was literally pissing out of my ass every hour. I guess years of being constipated takes a while to work itself out. I found a computer in the main room and started listening to music. I would spend all day just playing songs, watching music videos, and writing letters to family, and my son.
The insomnia did not subside yet, but I wasn’t plagued by all the physical torment anymore. I would sit up all night just continuing to watch music videos on the computer. The songs ended up being a type of therapy. I was able to relate with some of them, while others just made me smile. Eric Church’s “Springsteen” struck a chord with me, I would play it over and over and it would make me feel better and better each time.
On the 18th morning I opened my eyes, and realized I had actually fallen asleep. I can’t explain how excited I was, the insomnia was the last of the bad symptoms. I didn’t want to get my hopes up so I didn’t make a huge deal of it, but that evening I laid down, music playing in my headphones, closed my eyes, and opened them 5 hours later. I had done it, the insomnia was gone. I was able to feel happy again, as if my brain was rewiring itself. My appetite and my energy levels began to come back. Everything was getting better.
My 30 days were almost over, and I knew being on the outside was going to be my biggest test. This detox was complete Hell, but honestly I am glad I went through it. If I am ever sitting there pondering making the call I just have to look back to these weeks of feeling so horrible that death seemed like a welcome alternative. No drug will ever be worth going through that again. This was my last chance, if I went back to using I would end up dead.
I spent the next day’s continuing to write to people I have wronged, truly apologizing, but never expecting forgiveness. I actually never expected anyone to believe I even planned on staying clean, guess your words don’t have as much meaning the 175th time around. As my last day approached I made arrangements to move to a halfway house, to continue my journey.
I wrote one last letter to my son, Noah, sealed it and placed it in the outgoing mail slot. As I headed towards the door I wondered if anyone actually read my letters, if anyone actually would believe anything I wrote, if anyone would ever actually speak to me again. I said my goodbyes to the other patients, and the nurses that had held my hand through the worst of times. The receptionist told me she had called my cab and it should be waiting. I took one last look around and opened the door.
The sun was setting as I stepped outside, casting beautiful colors through the sky. I began walking towards the cab when I heard a sound from the guest parking lot. Not thinking anything of it I turned my head and my heart instantly dropped. Running towards me was my son Noah. Behind him stood my mother and grandmother, both with smiles on their faces. I dropped to my knees with my arms spread wide as Noah jumped into them. I squeezed him and never wanted to let go. Tears began streaming down my face as my boy hugged me back.
“Daddy look,” Noah said looking towards the sky. “Mommy’s here with us.” I looked up with my son in my arms, and the most beautiful rainbow was shining across the sky directly over our heads. Noah looked up at me and said “Grammy said Mommy loved rainbows.” I couldn’t speak I just nodded as I looked up at the sky and whispered “thank you my love, I miss you so so much.”