4 Years Ago: Stigma & Stereotype- Just a junkie whore.

The photo’s above were taken during my methadone detox, it’s weird that it’s only four years ago as so much has happened since them, and when these photos were taken I was nervous about how I could find my way back to mainstream life, and if I could be authentic when I did, what was normal, and would I ever be?

During my methadone withdrawal I was seeing a chap who was very anti-heroin world, although he did indulge in recreational drugs like weed and cocaine at times, and had a fondness for diazepam as a relaxant. I was always unsure about this relationship and saw it as a short-term thing, we didn’t connect in the ways I wanted, and sometimes our differences would be quite extreme. When I reflect, I realise that I had no intention on making the relationship work, it served a purpose, and that purpose was to separate me from my ex who I’d used heroin with for years, he was in prison and I took that as my cue to start my detox and withdrawal, and having achieved that I was worried about how I would manage when he came out of prison and if seeing him may trigger some desire to use again. To avoid all this I started seeing this chap on an occasional basis, we lived three hours apart so there was a separation and space that felt safe. His life was much more normal than mine, he had two children from a previous relationship, owned his own house and had lived in the same town all his life. I had told him the truth about my past and he seemed to accept it, I also told him I wanted to be a writer and was working on a book, to start with he was fascinated by the life I’d lived and was supportive of my plans.

The truth however, is that, I still loved my ex, I loved him dearly but knew that our relationship was toxic, we couldn’t be around each other without using, we’d tried before and it never lasted, the memory was too strong, the habit too concrete. I wanted him to be ok and wanted to see him when he got out of prison but was frightened of the risk, and so I pushed him away by seeing this chap. I became distant in my communications, I knew I needed to be really careful now I’d been free of opiates for four months. I was vulnerable emotionally, as our bond was so strong that I’d find it hard to not see him, and I knew I was vulnerable physically to overdose as my tolerance would be low, and I didn’t want to use heroin again, I’d not gone through the strain and hardship of withdrawal to fuck it all up now. I’d heard from my ex that he’d be released from prison in August and it made me panic, four years ago I was in a state of anxiety about how to manage my ex’s return to the world, but it was secret, nobody knew how I felt because I pretended I didn’t care. I pretended I’d moved on but my heart still ached, I wanted it to be a fairy tale ending, we’d both be free of opiates and able to live our lives happily without risk of using, sadly I knew the reality would be quite different, I wasn’t sure how long my ex would manage on the outside without using, and I knew seeing me would likely trigger that, and possible trigger me too.

What do my journals say…

July 2016

He said I need to be more stable and get a plan, he thinks I need to know more about where I’m going with my life and get a plan for a career. He said he doesn’t understand my writing aims, he’s unsure about it and can’t see how it would work and thinks it’d be sensible to have an alternative plan as a back up. If he’d actually listened to me he would realise that I’ve been trying to find a way forward, that I’m keen to create some stability for myself, and I’ve worked hard my whole life to get an education, develop skills, I’ve done numerous jobs and could get one easily, it’s whether I want to or not that’s important now, I’ve come so far and don’t want to end up an addict again, to avoid that I need to build a life that suits me.

This led us to talk about how different we are, I said I think this is a big turning point really and I’m not sure how we navigate it. So apparently I need a plan, I do get what he means but I’m trying so hard to be true to myself and my nature, I can’t start to change my plan of having a rough plan which allows me to be more in flow and less controlling over things, just to suit him. I need to stick to my impulses and follow my truth, I’ll take on board what he’s said but it’s funny really, when I think about all my efforts over the last year his words just feel like ‘try harder’, ‘do more’, ‘be more’ ‘be normal’ ‘prove your good and worthy’ and all that shit. I am doing good, I must remember that.

I’m glad to be home, there were tensions as W had been stirring shit, he told P’s friends that I used to be on the game, that I blagged compensation and couldn’t be trusted as I was a junkie. When I was in the pub talking to someone about my writing goals they replied ‘what do you have to write about, being a junkie whore, who’d want to read that’ it took all my strength to not punch him in the face cheeky shit. People are so unkind, and they don’t even know me. I may well have been a junkie whore but that didn’t stop me being a nice person, especially to those I care about. I keep having my beliefs, interests and past mocked and used against me. I feel like I’m constantly having to defend myself and my actions, that I need to justify my existence and right to be in the world. This wasn’t what I expected when I thought about recovery, perhaps I was naïve, maybe I’ll never leave the past behind, it might always taint me and create mistrust, which is laughable to me as I know how loyal I am. Trying to see the humour and just let it wash over me, Fuck em! The haters and small minded pricks, they can go fuck themselves!!

Thankfully I’ve found a way to use the past rather than reject it, it informs all I do, and I’m committed to reducing the stigma faced by addicts, I hope by sharing some of my junkie world that people will see that it’s not all crack dens and crime, that in fact many addicts live very quiet lives, full of introspection and creativity, not all addicts harm others, most of all they harm themselves, and often believe they deserve it.

As long as drugs are criminal there will always be a judgement, but many drugs are now being trialled as treatments for psychological problems , there has been some success in trails with micro dosing psilocybin or mdma for treatment resistant depression and PTSD, I’ve tried this and can only report positive effects for my depression and PTSD. There is use and abuse in everything, and if drugs were decriminalised for personal use it would at least remove some of the barriers that exist which prevent open, frank conversations about the pro’s and con’s of substance use. People should not feel shame in trying to manage their emotional issues, sadly most addicts are riddled with shame, and that harder to break free of than drug use.

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