First and Last

For those with mental issues, this post can be triggering – drugs, sex, self-harm.

The first time I tried meth was behind a gas station with a one-armed guy named Brett. Brett had a hook on his left arm starting a few inches under the elbow. He delivered ice blocks and used his hook to peg one side of the block, then grabbed the other side with his right hand and loaded the freezer.

Brett asked me, “Wanna know what happened?” Without waiting for an answer, he continued, “I hated having a left arm so I chopped it off. I used an axe. It took two chops and hurt like a bitch.”

“You chopped it off on purpose?” I asked.

“I always wanted it gone ever since I was a little kid. I burnt the edge to make it stop bleeding but it didn’t work so I had to go to the emergency room. They asked me if I wanted to have a robot arm made, and I was all, dude. No. I don’t want a left arm. That’s why I chopped it off.”

“And now? Are you happy with it gone?”

“Sure am.” He looked proud. “Never been happier.” And he took off the wooden arm with the hook at the end and showed me the stump. “It’s beautiful,” he said and stroked the scarred end.

I should have known then to run away from meth as fast as I could. But I didn’t even think about it. My friend and I took the marble-sized white powder ball nestled in the corner of a baggie and tied closed with a twisty-tie. “It’s ok to snort it, but never, never smoke it,” my friend said. “You’ll get hooked like that.” And she snapped her fingers. We snorted 3 lines of meth each that night.

Two weeks later, I smoked meth for the first time with a dentist who was my new supplier. He snorted coke, but never meth, but said, derisively, that I could do what I wanted. I followed suit and snorted the coke and smoked the meth. He showed his approval of my choice and rewarded me with more drugs.

The dentist had a collection of knives and machetes on his living room wall and I fantasized about using one to cut my arms open. Filleted from shoulder to wrist. I saw how I’d bleed all over the floor and be found in a giant puddle of my own blood. And no one would be sad. Then I grabbed the pipe and smoked again.

Three weeks after that I was smoking meth only on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday nights, since Wednesday was in the middle of the week and I needed a pick-me-up.

Two weeks after that, I was smoking meth every night, rationalizing that I was only doing it after 5pm. The dentist tired of me and my fascination with his knives and my constant handling of them. He stopped calling and wouldn’t answer my calls. When I saw him at the bar he would ignore me like I wasn’t there. He had someone new to take home with him and warm his bed.

I felt lost. I started going home with two of my friends who were squatting in a condemned apartment building just out of town. The girl had a brother who made meth, the boy was kind of her boyfriend, and I was the new entertainment, so the three of us had an endless supply and nothing but time. I stayed in that apartment for days sometimes, mostly drinking, smoking meth and having sex, passing hours of time just staring at the wall, listening to music or jumping on the mattresses or driving to get more beer. Or hiding behind the dumpster and throwing rocks at the cop cars, laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world.

I went home every few days to shower, change clothes and sleep for a couple of days straight. One day, the police busted the apartment and hauled in the guy who I’d been hanging out with. The girl was at her cousin’s house recovering from an abortion and I was home sleeping off a four day meth binge. We were warned to stay away from the apartment by the girl’s brother and his friends. They didn’t want any of us getting hauled in and fingering them as suppliers. We met up at bars and whispered in the back, comparing notes and gossip. We heard the boy had been shipped off to rehab. Everyone asked when they would start making meth again. They decided to move their operation to another town. The girl decided to go with her brother. She was drunk 24/7 and in my very sage opinion, needed a change of scenery or she would never recover. I never saw them after that. I was on my own.

Three months after I first tried it, my life revolved around meth. I woke up in the afternoon and smoked the tiny bit of meth coating the bulb from the night before. I painted and wrote nonsense with deep meaning, then went out at 3:30pm to a local bar right when Happy Hour started. I nursed a beer or two, bought with the change from under the car seat or a five I had stashed in my pocket, taken from a drunk someone the night before. I played some pool, wrote more earnest pieces that had nothing to do with reality, and waited.

Keeping up with a meth habit is exhausting and expensive. The only thing that makes sense is to have someone else buy it and give it to you. The stuff you do to get the meth means nothing. The meth is everything.

So, there I was in the bar and looking around, kind of measuring everyone up. I knew he would be there. Or she. Didn’t matter. What mattered is that they had meth and were looking to share it. With the right person. And that person was going to be me.

There would be eye contact across the bar. Then some smiling and more direct eye contact. Then, a tilt of the head indicating I should come over. So, I did. With relief. Because, I knew I’d have what I needed that night.

After a few more drinks: two or three shots and a beer, we’d have flirted enough for both of us to take it to the next level. Their place. My place. A car. An empty room at someone’s party. It didn’t matter. I was past caring and all I wanted was to smoke out.

This went on for a few months until I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror. I was gaunt. My hair was limp and always greasy, even right after I washed it. My teeth and gums hurt. My face was covered in zits. I was so tired unless I was high. When I was high I had started seeing things and acting a little too odd. When I came down, I couldn’t remember what I’d done while high. But I pushed all those thoughts away. They didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was the meth. I didn’t like who I saw in the mirror, so I stopped looking.

The last time I smoked meth was about seven months after I first tried it. I went to the bar, tired and feeling sick but wearing sexy clothes, my hair and makeup done. I went in the bathroom and smoked the mist of meth covering the bulb left over from last night. Not enough to get me high, but enough to increase my craving. I nursed my beers and searched the room. Finally, I found him. Not only was he looking for someone like me, but he was so handsome! Even in the dark room, I could see he had piercing blue eyes. His shoulder-length hair was blond and wavy and thick. His smile was amazing. My thoughts took off to where he would be more than a one night stand. Maybe my boyfriend. Maybe more.

He treated me nice. He was sweet. He got me drunk and then drove me to his trailer where we smoked for hours, had sex and passed out. I remember thinking how good this could be if I could keep it going. Keep him around and wanting me.

“Hey,” I whispered, “Do you know what my name is?” He groaned and mumbled something unintelligible.

“I said, do you know my name?” I asked a little louder and closer to his ear.

“Your name? Why, babe? No. Go to sleep, babe.”

I would make sure he knew my name before I left in the morning. I smiled and my head sunk into oblivion.

It was dawn and light was coming in through the window right by my head. I cracked my eyes open, felt my dry, dry sandpaper throat and noted I needed to pee. As my eyes focused, I noticed the window was filthy and the glass cracked with a hole in the corner. I didn’t remember seeing that last night. I lifted my head to look around a little more and realized the entire trailer was a total pigsty. I half expected a rat or two to peak their heads out of the pile of newspapers and the amazing amount of empty cigarette cases in the corner. The one burner stove had a dented pot which apparently had at one time held beans that had boiled over, the evidence stuck and petrified to the sides. And, inexplicably, there was a vase with dusty plastic flowers in the corner next to a very shiny silver figure of Mary and the baby Jesus.

As I rested my head back on the pillow, I knew better than to look at the sheets and pillowcase. I decided to exit the trailer as soon as humanly possible. Just as I was figuring out how to climb over my never-to-be boyfriend, he grunted and moaned.

“Babe, hand me my bridge?”

“Your bridge?” I asked.

“Ya, in the bowl on the shelf above your head. Grab it for me.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I figured I’d just find something, anything, put it in his hand and exit. I gingerly tested the shelf above with my fingers, searching for something in a cup. I found the cup, put my fingers inside and pulled out…..teeth. As I looked at the teeth in disbelief, he turned over and grabbed them.

“Thanks, babe.” He smiled. And yep, that was where the teeth would go. Right there on the top in the front. He clicked them in.

“Wanna know how I lost them?” he asked. Without waiting for a reply, he continued, “I was in a fight. I was at this party, see, and some shithead tried to leave with my shit. I had this bag, like a brown grocery bag? And it even had my name on it, but he grabbed it and walked out. So I followed him, tried to punch him and grab the sack, but, I’d been drinking,” he laughed, “and I slipped on the deck and fell down some stairs. My face hit the bottom step and BAM! my four front teeth popped out. I jumped up and ran after the guy. I had all this blood running down my chin. Seriously, it was crazy!” He laughed again.

“You know,” I ventured, getting sucked into the story against my will, “You can put teeth that get knocked out into cold milk and take them to the dentist. A lot of times they can put them back in.”

“Oh, I know. I heard that, too. But, then that dude would have gotten away with all my porn! I had the rarest tapes in there, man. Irreplaceable.” He shook his head, visibly saddened just thinking about his porn being stolen. Brushing it off, he continued, “No, I ran after him. I grabbed his shoulder and popped him one in the eye. He dropped the bag, I grabbed it and the rest is history.” He smiled, showing me his new teeth, and I noticed his eyes were brown, not blue. I noticed his hair was stringy, shoulder-length, yes, but colorless and greasy. He face was a little misshapen and the smell in the trailer was getting unbearable. Just like almost every morning over the past months when I’d woken up in a stranger’s bed, I wondered what the hell I was doing.

Grabbing my clothes, I crawled over him, found my shoes and opened the door, saying something about yes, talking soon, and you’ve got my number, right? and yes, yes, sounds good.

“Don’t forget your baggie,” he said, “You earned it. That was some night, huh?” He smiled again and I thought I was going to be sick. I turned to go, grabbing the drugs off the tiny counter. “Seriously, babe, you were awesome. If it weren’t for girls like you, guys like me would never get laid.”

Frozen, I stared at him. Then forced myself out the door and into my car. Suddenly, I realized what I was. A whore. I didn’t have sex for money, but I did it for drugs. I looked at myself in the rear view mirror, wondering why I hadn’t realized this sooner. I wanted my life to be different. I didn’t want to be “a girl like that” anymore. And for one of only three times I’ve ever littered, I tossed the meth baggie out the window into the trees. I wanted to change. So, I did.

17 Responses

  1. You’re a great writer.
    Painful to read. I’m glad you wanted to change, and even more glad you succeeded.

  2. woah. never known anyone who went through something like that; its like something you only see in movies. scary stuff, glad you realized you had to quit.

  3. So powerful and inspiring. I admire the strength if took for you to change and the courage it takes to share this story with all of us.

  4. I cry for you,

    and I love you.

    What did you do to change? Like, especially at the very first. How did you get started?

  5. And so many of us are happy you were able to walk away from it all that day. I hope your story touches someone and makes them realize there is always time to change. It’s a very powerful story, but I’m sorry you had go through it.

  6. Leah,

    Your ability to be honest about this and write it so well astounds me. You’re so brave and that gives me strength. I’m grateful we met and shared some wonderful time together in February and March and I hope those were just the first times of many that we get to spend together.

  7. I thought you never blogged anymore? 😉

    This was an awesome post, Leah. I’m not even mad that I’m going to be late for work because I stopped to read it. You’re an awesome writer, and things like this, I know sometimes are hard to write, but they do so much good for others who happen to stumble upon them.

    I’m so looking forward to getting to know you better. I can tell just by what I’ve read that you’re a strong woman who’s over come so much…

    I think you’re pretty amazing. (Not that you need my kudos or anything… but it’s nice to hear it sometimes…)

    Have an awesome day!

  8. A friend said in a meeting the other night that “my past is my most valuable asset.” The idea that I could use my past lessons to improve my future and even help others was a powerfully different way for me to look at it and helped assuage a lot of the guilt I have about things I did before coming into recovery.

  9. Holy shit, what a great story. Gripping and emotive, I can really feel it. Well written – glad you made the right choice.

  10. I couldn’t stop reading….as always. Your words touched my soul tonight. Thanks, Leah, for sharing this part of yourself.

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