Fizzle, Flicker, and Blur (first two pages of Chapter 18)

In 2004, when I was sixteen, after Nate and I had our it’s-different-this-time breakup, I convinced myself I was crazy. I went to see a psychologist. She told me I had Borderline Personality Disorder.

A few weeks later I was happy because I had a new boyfriend, so she told me I was all better.

Instead of telling this super intelligent free counselor with all her degrees and whatnot that teenage girls feel happy when they start dating someone new, I simply stopped seeing her.

Ironically, that boyfriend ended up being a total jerk and the relationship lasted all of three weeks.

She was obviously not equipped to handle my mayhem.

I did, however, latch on to the (probably unofficial, possibly wrong) diagnosis. My mom got every available piece of information on Borderline Personality Disorder, including not only pamphlets and articles but books and movies with affected characters. Over the next few months we repeatedly read I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me and Borderlines: A Memoir; and frequently watched Gia and Girl, Interrupted. (Among others, those were just our favorites.)

I identified with every Borderline character in each story, real or fictional. I went through the checklist in I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me. Not only did the title aptly describe my exact mindset, but I also had:


  1. A shaky sense of identity,
    2. Sudden violent outbursts,
    3. Over-sensitivity to real or imagined rejection,
    4. Brief, turbulent love affairs (the three-week jerk boyfriend, anyone?),
    5. Frequent periods of intense depression,
    6. Drug abuse,
    7. Self-destructive tendencies, and of course

    8. An irrational fear of abandonment.


Of course, as any mental-health hypochondriac would, I probably convinced myself I fit the description more than I did. I was still a teenager, after all, and we all know teenagers are pretty nuts even when they’re completely normal.

Or it could have been my “shaky sense of identity” causing me to grasp on to any explanation I could get.

But it did make sense. Supposedly, according to the questionable psychologist, my parents’ divorce when I was not-quite-two caused my fear of abandonment. Every time I went from one parent to the other my non-developed baby brain perceived only the part about one handing me over, not the other snatching me up. Every time they switched I thought they were fighting to get rid of me as opposed to the reality that they were fighting over me.

This “symptom” of my (maybe imagined) personality disorder has become such a staple in my life that to this day I practically introduce myself as “Backstreet-Boys-lover, getting-wet-hater, abandonment-fearer Tempest Rose.”

Every single one of my relationships quickly turned from “I love you, but we’re both independent,” to “I hate you, don’t leave me.

(I often find myself wishing the book was better so I could tell people it’s my life’s manuscript.)

So I went through the next several years like a crazy person, even crazier than before I had been “diagnosed”. The “I have a mental health disorder” excuse only worked on my parents for the first few months, but it was enough to continuously justify my actions to myself.

Suboxone, What’s Wrong, and What’s Not (first two pages of Chapter 17)

Suboxone is not meant to be a permanent replacement. In order to get on it, you have to go to a doctor specializing in Suboxone treatment. He or she assesses you, makes sure your last dose of whatever drug was at least twelve to twenty-four hours ago, gives you a drug test, a blood test to verify that your liver can handle the medication, and gives you a certain amount of time to seek, and find, adequate counseling for your drug problem. Every doctor differs slightly, but they all do basically the same things.

Mine costs $300 for the first visit, and $100 for every visit after that, just for the doctor visit. The prescription itself is different, but most insurance plans will cover it, though you have to jump through a million hoops in order for them to approve it. Anyway, the second visit is scheduled for two weeks after your first. That’s $400 in the first month, plus prescription and drug test costs if you don’t have insurance (drug tests are $60 in-office, considerably more if you go somewhere else like LabCorp).

After the first two visits, you go back either once even four weeks if you are prescribed one Suboxone a day or less, or every two weeks if you take more than one a day. (As I said, different doctors do it differently. Usually the costs are different, but close to the same, and the amount of time between visits can be different).

I started out on 8mg a day, but soon found myself running out before my four weeks was up, so I upped my prescription to 16mg a day. Though, I only took about 12mg a day. I stayed like that for a few months, and then as soon as possible started weaning myself down as much as I could.

I am now being prescribed one 1mg a day, but only taking .5mg a day. During days when I get very little sleep, or feel really horrible, I sometimes take a little more. However, on some days I take less.

So, I’ve already gone down a considerable amount. I’ve already accomplished an amazing feat; getting off heroin, getting off methadone, getting off heroin again, and significantly lowering my Suboxone dose. None of those are easy things. So to say that I’m proud of myself is an understatement. And, for a while, everyone close to me was proud as well.

However, things have started to change. I now get bombarded daily with “it’s that medicine that’s causing [whatever mundane thing is bothering me],” (I have a headache. It’s the Suboxone. My foot hurts. It’s the Suboxone. My eye is twitching. It’s the Suboxone. I ate too much ice cream and now my belly feels like crap. It’s the Suboxone. I fell down and scraped my knee. It’s the Suboxone.)

Everything that is wrong with me is Suboxone’s fault. And I’m sorry, I just don’t see it that way.

I think Suboxone saved my life. Scratch that, I know Suboxone saved my life. It saved my son from a world he does not deserve, and I am eternally grateful for it. No, it’s not the best option, the best option would be to not rely on any drug or medication. However, that is not a plausible option for me at the moment.

I am not just sitting on my ass doing absolutely nothing and taking drugs all day.

I am a single mother of a wonderful toddler, in school full-time, and taking care of a household consisting of myself and three males, ages two, twenty-four, and fifty-five. They are all crazy in their own ways, and it pains me to say that since I have moved into this home, my personal life has been going downhill. I love all of them with everything in me, but they don’t seem to realize how much they affect me.

Abandonment, Relapse, and Cheating (first two pages of Chapter 16)

As I mentioned, Nikki was back in the children’s lives when Nate was arrested, but she only made trips to see them every other weekend or so. Nate was living with The Smiths, Xavier’s parents, who were pretty much all of our saviors. Whenever one of us was in need they took us in, no questions asked.

Nikki came up on Christmas Eve, but was gone that night. When we woke up on Christmas it was The Smiths, Xavier’s sister Morgan, her boyfriend, their son, Nixon, Nathaniel, Holden, and me. We called ourselves “The Village,” but main people were missing.

We tried our best to give the children the most normal Christmas as possible. We opened presents and told them Daddy loved them very much but was unable to be there. We left the room when we had to cry. They seemed happy enough, but it’s heartbreaking to watch young kids on Christmas without either parent present.

Once Christmas was over it was time to discuss what was going to happen to the children. I offered to move up and take care of them, but Nikki wouldn’t allow that to happen. She said she would do it. And she did. For a week.

Nikki and I put on a good face for those around us, but there was still some hostility there. Hostility I wasn’t even aware of. Supposedly, the first thing she did when she moved up was steal Nate’s remaining Xanax and any change he had lying around, along with any other valuables of his or mine. Then she packed up all of Holden’s and my stuff to make it seem like we were never there to begin with.

Then, after a week, she started coming down to Jersey all the time again. The Smiths got worried about what would happen if one day she didn’t come back, so they called Nikki’s parents who came to get the kids immediately. The whole thing was really just one giant misunderstanding. The Smiths wanted the kids there, but Nikki’s mom took it as they didn’t.

Nikki never came back from Jersey. She was supposed to pick up the kids’ stuff and bring it to her parents’, but she didn’t. She was supposed to move in with her parents to take care of the kids, but she didn’t.

I can’t pretend to know what Nikki was going through. Supposedly she suffers from Bipolar disorder, possibly among other things, and was not in the right mind to take care of her kids. But even more than not understanding what she was personally going through, I cannot understand how someone could abandon their children twice.

When Nate got arrested we all took it hard. Nikki partied and left her children, others cried, and I relapsed.

I wasn’t planning on it.

I had gotten off of methadone at the end of October, 2011. It was a hell week. I stayed with Nate for the week so he could help me with Holden, but he still had to sleep and work so I was forced to do some stuff. I was shaky and sweaty and cold and couldn’t sleep to save my fucking life. I would toss and turn for hours on end, trying to lull myself by watching Nate’s stupid fish tank, but obviously that didn’t work. Sometimes Nate would give me a Xanax and I would be able to pass out for a few hours, but then I withdrew from that, too, so I really wasn’t able to sleep.

The Village did the best they could to help me, but I felt bad asking for so much help. After the week was over I could finally function but still felt like crap. After a month I could really function, but still felt like crap. Food still tasted like cardboard and my body temperature was still out of whack.

Screwdrivers, Incarceration, and Good People (first two pages of Chapter 15)

Obviously, there are many ways to avoid getting arrested. But in reality, anything can happen. And to attack these people when you are utterly unaware of their side of the story, or the unbiased truth; to attack the people they love and who love them back, well, that’s not very humane at all. These people are hurting. They don’t need judgmental glances and gossip talked behind their backs; they need support and under-standing. Why have we become so incapable of that?

I love someone who is incarcerated. Actually, I love several people who are incarcerated — two, to be exact, and I’m sure I care about even more on a personal level, and probably more than half on a human level.

That does not make me a bad person. The fact that they are in jail or prison doesn’t even make them bad people. It simply means they made some wrong choices, like most of us have, or even just mistakes — mistakes our government thought were devilish enough to warrant being locked away — and got caught. And the really sad thing is that these mistakes can range from something completely voluntary to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even befriending the wrong person years earlier.

It is truly amazing how the general public reacts to an arrest. Thanks to the internet, we can now see every arrest made, and most become “news-worthy” stories. If you want, go check out your local news source. Find the arrests. Look in the comments. Nearly every person has something horrendous to say. “Scumbag” is an incredibly common insult. Shots are made about the person’s appearance (I bet your mugshot wouldn’t look that sexy, either). Some people even have the nerve to make assumptions about the person’s family and children. Most, if not all, of those people only know the story they just read. So who, exactly, are they to call these people anything at all?

Obviously, many people in jail have done something awful to get there. I’m not denying that. But, even in those cases, there will always be a part of the story the public does not know.

Let me tell you about my incarcerated loved ones.

Chester is in prison for protecting his family. They are safe, because he sacrificed his freedom. He doesn’t have the best past, and his record shows that, so people — including law enforcement — are quick to judge. But what they don’t know is how much he’s changed, or what his true character was even before he did. I’ve known him for about twelve years. Every time his name is spoken, the same story comes to mind:

We were at a friend’s apartment — one of our known party locations — when I couldn’t have been older than fifteen. This means, at the time, I had only known Chester for a year or less. There were a few other people there, but not many. I was the only girl in the house. All of a sudden, this guy we all knew but weren’t incredibly close with came bursting through the door with a bat. Someone had royally pissed him off. I don’t remember why.

What I do remember is Chester telling me to go into the bedroom; to get away from the situation so I could be as safe as possible. I was sitting on the end of the couch closest to the door, so I was in the most danger. Being the stubborn wanna-be hardass that I was, I refused to leave the room, but obliged in my own way by standing up and walking next to Chester in the entryway to the kitchen.

Medication, Stabbing, and Jail (first two pages of Chapter 14)

Nate got arrested during the early morning hours of Christmas Eve, 2011. Holden was a few days shy of turning six-months-old. Nixon was six, and Nathaniel was four.

They say he stabbed someone.

I was supposed to go up to Pennsylvania the night before but was too tired, and decided to wait until the next day. Sometimes I wonder if I had gone up how things would be different. I awoke at 9:00am on Christmas Eve to a call from the people with whom Nate was living. They asked if I had spoken to him, and told me he’d been arrested. I left immediately.

According to the bits of the story we’ve been able to put together, Nate went out to return a tablet he bought for himself that he wasn’t happy with and stopped at the bar on his way home. Stopping at the bar wasn’t the best idea, because he was on Xanax and Prozac at the time. This is where the blackout starts.

He remembers leaving the bar. He remembers walking through the graveyard close to his house on the way home. He remembers a police officer shouting at him to get down. He does not remember breaking into a house along the way. He doesn’t remember stealing random washcloths and knives. He doesn’t remember breaking into another home, walking past a sleeping child, and going upstairs. He doesn’t remember a woman coming to investigate the noise, or stabbing her in the stomach. He doesn’t remember the woman’s boyfriend chasing him out of the house.

It’s been three years and he still doesn’t remember, but that’s what the police say happened. He remembers being taken to the woman’s house and being identified by the boyfriend. He remembers sitting in holding for hours and having his mug shot taken at 6:00am. He remembers lots of questions, and not having the answers to any of them.

I remember the article coming out online and people attacking him. I remember them calling him a crack head and saying his children would turn out like scum, just like him. I remember getting all worked up and responding to these people, as if it would make a difference.

We hired a lawyer (we mainly being Nate’s mother, because she’s the only one who had any money) who got our hopes up. He met with us and talked to us and made us think maybe we could beat the ten to twenty year deal the DA was trying to make with Nate. We paid him $1,000 and then found out that he couldn’t practice in Pennsylvania because he was a New Jersey lawyer. We never saw a dime of that money back.

Nate got to depend on public defenders from that point on. The process took entirely too long. None of them mentioned the medications he was on or his mental health. When he was sentenced, he got over fifteen to thirty years (by a couple months), because the judge said he seemed unremorseful.