Don’t it make ya feel sick? (Trigger warning: discussion of drug use)

Oh baby, I’m sick of you! Lou’s boogie woogie roars out of the speakers, as he peddles sarcasm and laconic coolness, Baby, bye bye! It would have struck me as amusing if I could have found the strength or interest, instead I lifted my eyes off the floor and tried to fix my jittering eyeballs on something solid. Failing that, I found myself staring at Billy who was busy hacking at a square of carpet. Someone had spilt something interesting on it, and some other poor bastard had got so desperate they were sucking and sniffing at the disgusting carpet in the hope of a high, any high. Shit, I thought, anything is better than that, even sharking the carpet for the mythical crumb of weed or shard of speed and instead smoking a small piece of cat shit and a fragment of Christmas tree from seven months ago. Still he was determined to stop the degeneracy, I don’t think he could bear to watch any longer and couldn’t find anything better to do.

“Ill cook some potatoes or something later,” he declared loudly. He was one of these wierd speed freeks that can eat, I don’t mean eat eat, but had been known to devour spoonfuls of peanut butter, or plates of fried potatoes. I couldn’t stomach it. There is nothing more boring than a speed freak at the height of their run, who cannot imagine anything better to do with their time than clean a wall, chop up the carpet, or fry potatoes. In fact the latter could get dangerous I figured. One of the duller methheads had carefully shaved the brindles out of a pitbull, an even duller more mindless creature than he was. It couldn’t work out to bite him, and he couldn’t fathom why it’s owner, a nice older female junkie, was getting ready to cause him physical harm.

My world had divided itself into two camps: team UP, and team DOWN. Team Up had their uses: they were very good at obsessively checking on team Down, cleaning things – whilst never really getting anything done. No truly dedicated methhead gets anything done at all. They do nothing very quickly and very obsessively. Arranging the fringe on a rug could take one of these guys an entire night. Some got weird and dedicated to the cause of impossible masturbation. Less said about these lost souls the better. I won’t even tell you about G____ and his fuckboard. He showed it off to anyone interested or not. It was his ultimate invention. He was disgusting. Still, at least he wasn’t bothering women, men or the wildlife. Good for G_____…I guess!

The older woman who wore gloves on her feet and no shoes was sitting at the table. Now, I never approve of public consumption. It is like going to the bathroom in front of somebody, something so intimate, so private that you just don’t do it out in the open. To have given up to the point of shooting up in front of almost strangers at the dinner table filled me with horror. I determined to never ever become foot-glove-woman. She sat there, with the spike in her vein, pushing down on the plunger just a little, barely a unit, and holding it there, nodding out a while…she would raise her head, look down, push the plunger down a little more, not slipping out of the vein, keeping it in her arm, her head would dip again, nodding out…and repeat. She was this shining light of self restraint and dexterity. I watched her fascinated, knowing I could never do the same myself.

I had got in a little deeper than I had intended. I was a terrible puker,I puked when I got good and high, and I puked when I didn’t and needed to. I had my white bucket of shame that lived next to me. Emptying the bucket was a kindness Billy never seemed to shy away from. Lou singing about New York, sick of it, sick of it all. I was sick of it too. I was sick of watching my friends die – this was a time way before any fentanyl had made it’s way onto the market. Heroin was heroin, some of it hotter than you expected. New stamps were treated with caution, but not the sheer terror of wondering how much fent is in the mix, which apparently nowadays is more likely than not to be all of it that is active and not cut. Stamps would start off great, and then tail off into shittiness as the corner boys stepped on it into oblivion, cutting it further and further until it was basically homeopathic smack. Just the impression of diamorphine remaining.

Sometimes morphine would come along, and various downers and uppers. Sometimes someone would waltz in with peyote or mushrooms, LSD or poppers. I was not really into team up’s stuff, but also not particularly fussy. I didn’t like to drink that much back then. Later on I managed to get myself a tiny little drink problem, and spent one of the worst kicks of my life shaking and puking while my body demanded alcohol. That was all Billy’s fault – he drank and I tried to keep up with him: bad idea.

Quite simply if I had never taken drugs I would have been dead. Yes, it almost killed me on more than one occasion, but I was so devastated by a childhood in which I was abused horribly, that I could not cope with the pain of existing as me. It took away the hurt, it took away all the images that ran through my head, it took away the feeling that I had lost out on life, that I lost out on the mother I should have had, the one that loved me, the one I belonged to. I felt cut adrift, unloved, unwanted, unfairly judged and rejected. I was wounded in such a primal way, that my only hope of survival was something that took the pain away. I was subjected to abuse of the more usual kind, and simply it was either get high, or else…well I would not have made it past 17. As it was I found things to live for. I stopped idolizing obliviEND and started clinging onto life. Lou sings “her life was saved by rock and roll.” It was not quite right, it wasn’t rock and roll, but all those computations made it all right.

I look back now, I am totally clean, one hundred percent sober. I never went to rehab. I detoxed myself repeatedly. I can’t bear the thought of leaving my son orphaned, with absolutely no one. I know how that feels, so instead of luxuriously numbing the pain, and exchanging it for other pains of my own choosing – the pain of addiction – I let myself hurt, I let myself cry, I let myself feel all the sadness and disappointment and cruelty of my life, and cling onto the fact he needs me to live as long as I can.

I generally get the feeling I am moments away from kicking the bucket. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to reach The End. I want to die an old woman with him safely embraced within a family and career of his own, and I decided I would like to write. I would like to earn real money from writing. It might well be too late for me, I am no spring chicken any more, especially when life demands I move refrigerators. It might be too late, but I guess I am going to have to find out.


  1. nickreeves

    Here’s to the self-detoxers, the only true high wire artistes of the dirty circus (in my opinion – but then I would say this!).
    ps. Here’s to the legendary hearts

    1. The Paltry Sum

      Yeah….but when you quit you quit…but you always wish you knew it was your last shot! There really is no other way to go…after all, it won’t kill ya, just make ya wish you were dead….or something like…night!

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