Wash, Rinse, Repeat
I know this is a bit heavy, but I need to put these thoughts into words and confess my sins to another human, even if only a distant stranger on the internet. This is Ria, pouring out a piece of my soul, struggling with something that's been a shadow over my life for as long as I can remember. So, I'm going to start with this present day—I danced with the devil this morning, smoking crack on my way to work to wake up and kickstart my morning. It's a dark confession, but if I'm going to share my story, I might as well be painfully honest with you, no matter how shameful it is, right? In addition to my daily crack habit, the ghost of heroin past is haunting me again, and I can't seem to shake it off. Two weeks of daily use now, only snorting it this time so it's not as bad I tell myself. My love affair with heroin is like a bad relationship you can only remember the happy memories of after the passage of abstinence and time. I'm not going to lie and tell you it's without its blissful moments. Heroin comforts you like the warm embrace of a loving parent. It slides over your body like an orgasm and washes away all the worries and miseries of life. I can't shake the undercurrent of dread however uand fear that swallows me whole however, when I think about the inevitable horrors of withdrawal, overdose, and the looming threat of death that will become my daily reality if I let it consume me again. This time will be different, I lie to myself. I'll keep things under control and not allow myself to become physically addicted. In my heart and soul, I know better. My long history of heroin abuse has brought me ten overdoses, two stints in methadone clinics, two periods of reliance on Suboxone, and more cold turkey, withdrawal misery than I care to remember. I can never keep it under control, at least not for long. So I started the day off with a small snort of dope, then a $50 bag of crack to make me alert enough to (safely) drive to work.
I'm 43 years old and live paycheck to paycheck, with the majority of my income feeding my addiction. I live with my two adult children who even at the tender age of 18 and 19 are better at adulting than I am. I like to think of myself as an intelligent person. I look good on paper at least- I have an impressive resume. By day I maintain a facade of normalcy, and if you didn't know better you'd think I’m a productive member of society. I work as an engineer. I'm a decorated veteran, and I have a bachelor's degree in law and an MBA, both from prestigious universities. You may, in fact, know me. A confession of this magnitude requires a pseudonym to hide my true identity to protect me from your inevitable judgment of my status as a drug addict and the social stigma that's attached to it. I AM your neighbor, coworker- or boss even. I may even be your daughter, wife, or mother. I promise you that I'm someone in your life who’s important to you, and you don't even know it. These are the faces of the drug addicts of today.
I tell myself every day—that today is the last day of this nonsense. I'll stop and grow up into a responsible adult tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow I'll skip the stop at the dealer's house and go home to order a pizza and watch Netflix, or whatever clean and sober people do with their evenings. Maybe I'll eat ice cream instead. Even in my own head I sound like a broken record. Somehow I use this self-deceit to make the transgressions of today acceptable. Despite the best of my intentions tomorrow keeps coming, and each day I descend deeper into the abyss. It's a vicious cycle that I can't escape, like the wash, rinse, repeat instructions on a bottle of Pantene.
The most painful part? I sense the disappointment in my family's eyes. They've seen me choose this path before, and it breaks my heart to know I'm letting them down again. I'm selfishly jeopardizing relationships and opportunities just to chase a high. For me it feels like more than just chasing a high though. It's more like filling a void. I don't have any past trauma that I'm running from facing; I don't even really have a reason to be unhappy. In some way that makes me feel so much more guilty than if I had what people might consider a 'valid' reason to stuff my emotions and seek self-destruction.
Throughout my entire life, there's been this persistent sense that something isn't quite right within me. I observe others gliding through life effortlessly, and although I recognize that everyone faces their own challenges, it seems like others navigate the daily grind much more seamlessly than I do. The concept of happiness eludes me, and I find no genuine passion in any aspect of my life. Despite countless years of searching, I've yet to discover something that brings me true joy—only an emptiness where I assume others harbor their happiness. What I'm genuinely yearning for is contentment. If I could shed this perpetual feeling of discontent, perhaps I could finally set aside the crutch I've been relying on and embark on a journey of genuine living. I'm so lonely, and I fear the day when it's just me, crack, and heroin. The irony is, as terrified as I am of sobriety, I'm equally scared of this life becoming my only reality. I yearn for a fresh start, for the chance to offer more than heartache and disappointment to the people I love. But right now, it feels like an impossible dream. Every day is a daily struggle between the fear of change and the fear of staying the same. Sobriety seems like an abyss, but this current path is its own kind of darkness. I don't have all the answers, but I know I need help. Maybe, just maybe, writing this down is my way of screaming for a lifeline. Here's to hoping that tomorrow is not just another page in this twisted diary but the start of a different story—one of recovery, growth, and breaking free from the chains of addiction. Until then, my friends, thanks for being my silent confidant as I weather this storm.
Stay Strong, Ria Dunn