One morning I watched the sun rise, slivers of light penetrating the drawn blinds. Electric hell to my dilated pupils. The night had passed. A mystery powder appeared on the table. A straw moved from person to person as my friends for a night took their turns. When it came to me I was going in. It could have just been me and the potion provider. I didn’t need other people to convince me or show me it was safe. Snorting was my favorite mode of extracurricular ingestion. That was all the convincing I needed.
I saw the straw out of the corner of my eye. My hand reached for it. I knew it was MY hand but it didn't feel attached to my body. Ecstasy turned me into a living Mrs. Potato Head, “Hey. Where’d my nose go?” An elbow bent and the sharp plastic of the straw scratched my nostril as my body leaned over the sloppily cut line in front of me. “What the hell do you think you’re doing Kimmy!” my cousin said to me slapping the straw out of my hand. “Do you even know what that is?”
“No” I mumbled, chewing on the inside of my cheek.
“That could be heroin. Are you fucking nuts!?!?”
I never said no to drugs. I dared to say yes. Every time. All the time.
At 13 my bestie and I decided we wanted to try pot. Always the model students, we devised a detailed To-Do LIst.
-Steal pot from parents. ✔
-Figure out how to smoke it. ✔
We checked off our steps and were high as kites by week’s end.
In Deposit, NY fun was driving to a bonfire in the middle of a field on a dirt road. On our way to a party when I was 14, my buddy parked the car 100 yards from the festivities. Next “Too Close” was playing on the radio. He turned to me, his honey brown eyes glowing “You girls want to try something fun?”
I turned to the girl in the backseat who passed for Nancy from The Craft’s doppleganger. The corners of her blood red lips turned up as her eyes met mine. “Yes.” we said in unison. My love for cocaine was consummated in a light blue Pontiac Grand Prix that had a garbage bag for the passenger’s rear window. I fucking loved that car. You know I like it, I try but I can’t fight it.
Alcohol was the fun foundation, everything else was built upon and around it.
I quit drinking for a year after my seatbelt lacerated my liver in a car accident. My doctor said “have a glass of champagne at your wedding Kim, that won’t kill you.” Always resourceful, I balanced the deficit of alcohol with a surplus of cocaine. NBD, problem solved. “It’s snowing here Kim.” was my favorite phone call. I’d hop into my purple Hyundai, roll down the windows, light a roach from my ashtray and feel the crisp spring air on my face driving to my friend’s place.
After a year of testing the white waters I figured if I was going to die, I’d be dead already. Like a champ I got myself back upside down in keg stands next to the fire. By college I was using my fake ID to buy gallons of Captain Morgans.
I quit drinking and using for seven months while I was undergoing treatment for cancer when I was 20. I was sick and the prescribed pills did a pretty stellar job at keeping me far from sober. When I was “cured” I returned to drugs and alcohol with a newfound fervor.
There were times in my life I knew enough to say no. After a couple month long cocaine bender at culinary school in Pittsburgh, I called my mom and asked her to come get me. I looked in the mirror that morning and saw the skeletal remains of the who I used to be. I didn’t recognize the girl in the reflection. I was afraid. After my mini-rehab I still used cocaine, but only in moderation.
I also created a very lucrative business selling LSD in Pittsburgh. I broke the cardinal rule of Drug Dealing 101: Don't get high on your own supply. I tripped daily for close to three months. Shit got weird. Life only felt “real” when I was tripping. The small spaces in between felt like some weird video game I was playing. My sister called me out when I told her that I was thinking about getting liquid in bulk. When I had several barrels of the stuff I would pour them into the Cannonsville Reservoir which supplied NYC and most of the entirety of the east coast with fresh drinking water. My thoughts “if everyone is tripping the world would be a better place.”
“Ummm, NO. Kim, You’re tripping. You’re talking some crazy shit. You need to stop.”
Something snapped. My sister and I weren't consciously competing for title of "#1 Drug Adduct, but if we were she would be in the lead. Hearing my strung out sister tell me my drug use was a problem clarified the enormity of my disastrous thinking. Something snapped. I stopped taking acid.
The last few years of drinking I tried to stop. Every week, every other day, every day. I woke up and said “I’m not going to drink today.” Then found myself at Trader Joe’s with a cart full of wine “for the week.” I bought two $9 bottles and three 3 Buck Chucks, knowing I didn’t care what the wine tasted like after the first bottle or two. Alcoholism is mind control. I’d be in my car thinking “You’re not going to Trader Joe’s.” Then find myself in line and paying for a cart full of wine that lasted the night thinking "How did I get here?" I cried opening the bottles of wine, tears of shame pouring the first, the second, then the I lost count glass. I didn’t want to be drinking, but I could not stop. I was a wine zombie. Every night I drank until I either passed out or blacked out, by myself. Wine while I cut out flash cards for my son’s kindergarten classroom. Wine while I read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Wine while I cooked dinner. Wine while I wrote blogs about yoga and healing. Wine time, all the time.
The shame continued the next day taking the recycling out. I snuck out the door before my neighbors woke, tip toeing so the clink of bottles wouldn’t disturb anyone. It mushroomed when I taught yoga or volunteered at school. My soul was split. I wanted to be a different woman. A woman who practiced what she preached and walked her talk. With alcohol, no was not an option.
My friend from high school, Nicole, could and often did say “no.”. She passed the joint without hitting it and walked away from the table when lines were being cut. At parties she drank just enough to have fun and that was that. Teenage Kim thought about this a lot. There was never just enough for me. I literally never thought to say no, I just wasn’t made that way. I'm an addict. Why was she different than me? Why did she say no? A part of me thought she was missing out, another part envied her.
I never thought about saying no until saying no wasn’t an option. Until I wanted so desperately to stop and was incapable of stopping. Talk about fucking paradox. I spoke with Nicole recently, hoping to gain a better understanding of where she was coming from. We talked about how she accepted who she was enough to know that she didn’t have to say “yes” to fit in. She knew who was and what she wanted in life and that informed her choices. Her home felt safe. She knew she would be heard by parents.
That’s what it really boils down to with addiction. Feeling at home in your own body, accepting who you are, and feeling safe in the world. That’s what sobriety gifted me. I just hadn't reached the bottom......yet.