In February, I successfully completed a program of inpatient treatment for the first time. It was a ninety day program that took me seven months to finish, but – hey – some are sicker than others. For the first time ever, I was able to make the transition to outpatient treatment. It was also around that time that – faced with the real world again – I knew I’d have to start earning some money to support myself. One of my counselors and one of my peers had been really encouraging when it came to my art. They said it was good. Good enough that people would want to buy it and I could maybe make a living doing what I loved. I decided to try and believe them. I chose optimism and faith (another first for me).
Living in the outside world, I was suddenly free to paint as much as I wanted, which meant I didn’t have time to store up ideas for paintings. I decided to experiment and create images for their own sake, without worrying about what was happening in my head or what I was feeling. In a sense, I still do that to a degree but… not like this.
I didn’t wanna not say anything about this piece but – seeing as that shit’s super boring – here’s the story of some wacky shit I did back in January 2012 (about one month into my first stint of inpatient care at my very first facility).
Sometime right around New Year’s Eve, Hal was kicked out for using. Before he left, he gave me five letters, each addressed to a different person in our treatment center. No one was in the courtyard. I sat down and opened the one with my name on it. “There are eighteen unused syringes stashed in the bathroom trashcan across from John’s office.” Interesting… There was also a phone number. “I met Stacy at an NA meeting. That’s how I got the dope.” Fuck. I didn’t know what to do with this information. I wanted to get better but… Fuck. I decided not to call, but I didn’t throw the number away. And I retrieved and re-hid the needles inside the couch in my unit. That night, I was alone in my unit. I took a syringe out, held it in my hand, and just stared. I took the cap off and stared some more. I grabbed a cup of water from the kitchen, went into the bathroom, and shut the door. My chest felt tight, my heart raced. What was I even doing? I put the needle in the water and pulled the plunger up, letting the barrel fill about halfway. I took my belt off, wrapped it around my arm, and stuck the needle in a vein at the crook of my elbow. I drew back and watched my blood swirl into the chamber. Fuck, I’ve missed this. I let out a little breath, almost a gasp, and I pushed the plunger forward, my body frozen, until the barrel was empty and I felt a quick swell then release. I shut my eyes and felt bliss. I know it was entirely in my head but – for about two seconds – I actually felt high. Two seconds. And then I felt crazy. And confused. I smirked at myself in the mirror. So… My smirk faded and my gaze fell. What the fuck was that for? I was disappointed that my “high” was already gone, sort of glad that I hadn’t actually used, wishing I had used, and wondering if this was what my future looked like… injecting water for… – I didn’t know what for. Really, I wasn’t sure what I felt. I filled the syringe again to see if I could get another two seconds of high. It didn’t work. God dammit. I cleaned up, put my belt back on, and put the needle back in the couch with the others. Okay, I thought, What now?
- This story is actually an excerpt from the 134th page of a much longer story. If you like it, let me know and I’ll continue tomorrow where this left off.
- My painting, “Pregnant Baby Kimono Dragon,” is for sale.