Giving Birth, Names, and Santa (first two pages of Chapter 13)

By the time I gave birth, Nikki was back in the kids’ lives. It was awkward at first, but after a while we got used to seeing each other and started to become the fucked up little family we were.

I had my first contraction at 1:30am on June 28th, 2011. My boy wasn’t due until July 13th, so I was not prepared and had no idea what I was feeling was indeed a contraction, so I went back to sleep. I woke again at 2:30 and just thought I really had to poop, so that’s what I did.

Then they became more frequent and at around 3:15 I realized something was going on. I woke Jack up, but he had work the next day and said “I don’t want to get no sleep if it’s a false alarm so I’m just going to stay home,” so I drove myself to the hospital. I had a contraction in the car when I arrived, and another when I got into the elevator.

I originally went to the emergency room because, like I said, I had no idea what was going on. But they assured me that thirty-eight weeks was considered full-term so they shipped me off to the maternity ward. I went up to the desk, told them I thought I was having contractions, and was put in a room to wait. During the wait I had more contractions and really felt like I had to poop, so I went to the bathroom. While I was in there I got so bad that I literally just laid on the shower floor, afraid I was going to pee and poop myself, and pulled the nurse call button. Five nurses came running in and explained that no one had told them I was there. They checked me and I was already six centimeters dilated.

I kept asking for drugs, but one nurse was insistent on getting all of my information first. Finally, when she was done, she told me I was too far along for them to give me anything. I asked if she knew that the whole time and just didn’t tell me so I didn’t freak out, and she admitted that was exactly what she had done. Thanks a lot, lady.

Since I was already so dilated, they wheeled me into a birthing room. I called my mom, Nate, and Jack on the way. My mom answered and came immediately. Nate didn’t answer. Jack answered and said he wasn’t coming. The next day he asked me why I didn’t call – turns out he was asleep and has no recollection of the phone call.

When I got into the delivery room they checked me again, and I was ten centimeters dilated and ready to go, but my doctor hadn’t arrived yet. I told them I felt like I had to push, but they were very insistent that I wait for her to show. I was told it’s law that the on-call doctor arrive within thirty minutes of the time they’re called, so I held that baby in for half an hour. I watched the clock the whole time.

I was still on methadone and somehow the labor had kick-started my withdrawal, even though I wasn’t due my dose for another few hours. I was thrashing around on the bed and a rather large nurse yelled at me that I was going to throw myself off the bed. I glared at her and yelled “HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN LABOR AND DOPE SICK?!” and she left me alone after that.

At exactly thirty minutes from the time the nurses told me the doctor would be there, I started pushing. The doctor hadn’t arrived but I was not waiting any longer. I told the nurses they had to deliver the baby because he was coming, and I started pushing on my own. My feet weren’t even in stirrups – I had to hold them up by myself. Every five minutes or so I would give up. I would say “No, it’s impossible for a human being to come out of my vagina. I cannot do this.” They assured me I could. I didn’t believe them, but I started pushing again.

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Breakups, Pregnancies, and Kids (first two pages of Chapter 12)

One day I had finally had enough of the heroin-chic lifestyle. I had had enough of waking up sick every day, sweating yet freezing, skin crawling off, stomach in knots, yawning excessively, eyes watering, feeling like I had the bubonic plaque. I had had enough of spending my life waiting; waiting to get money, waiting for my dealer to come through, waiting to get home to do the dope, waiting for my ritual to be over, waiting for it to hit me, waiting for the sickness to come on again and do it all over. I had had enough of it all.

So I decided to get on methadone. Methadone is a medication used for heroin users to help them get off heroin. It’s an opiate as well, but it’s given under the care of a doctor and helps to relieve withdrawal symptoms and cravings. If handled the right way, it can be a lifesaver.

I went to the clinic and they drug tested me and I tested positive, and they went about their business of getting me on methadone. I took my first dose and would like to say I got my life together, but that wouldn’t be very interesting.

Jack didn’t get on methadone until a week after me, so I still copped and used for the first week. Around the same time I got on methadone, my dad decided he had had enough of me living in his house for free without paying the bills, so he kicked me out (even though he still wasn’t living there). Jack and I moved in with my mom.

And everything seemed to be looking up. I got two jobs and Jack got a job and I started doing my artwork. I would make sculpture-like pieces out of found items, like a cat out of car parts. I gained weight and weighed in at the most ever in my entire life – 122 pounds. I started getting my portrait painted by a local artist and actually left the house every day. It was summer and things were wonderful.

Methadone, however, wasn’t so wonderful. Looking back, I know it saved my life, but I know now that I got a little high from it. Every day I would have to go to the clinic in Atlantic City and wait in line with a million other cranky addicts to get my dose. I had to take random drug tests and attend group once a week. It wasn’t easy.

Jack and I weren’t doing so well. We started drifting apart. I wanted to do things and he didn’t; I wanted to live our lives and he wanted to stay at home; I felt I wasn’t getting enough attention and he thought he was giving plenty. In August when I was twenty-two, I broke up with him.

It wasn’t a clean, mutual breakup. He was devastated. He cried, I cried.

But he didn’t have anywhere to go, so he continued to live with me. Which may seem weird to those on the outside, but we remained best friends (and continued to have sex) so it was pretty normal for us.

Nate and I had stopped sleeping together when Jack and I got together. But that didn’t stop Nikki from resenting him for it, among other things, and ultimately breaking up with him the summer I was still on heroin and living in Mays Landing. He made some advances but overall we just stayed friends. He dated some other people and I was (mostly) happy with Jack. But once Jack and I broke up, Nate and I found our way back to each other.

That was in August. I found out I was pregnant in November.

Pregnancy was not good to me. I had morning sickness all day, every day. I got stretch marks and had phantom pains. But I loved it – I loved every second of growing a human being inside of my body.

Abortion Clinics, Bricks, and Escorting (first two pages of Chapter 11)

Heroin.

I’ve sold my soul to something far worse than the devil.

I want to travel deep into my brain and give it a hug, tell it everything will be okay.

It’s not like we mean to. But we are slowly heading toward oblivion. And what the hell is there to do there? Once everything runs dry . . .

Sometimes it’s easier to fear the worst. It breaks the silence in your head. My head, at least.

Which would you rather – nothing, or everything in reverse?         

            I’m thinking too much, guessing too often, supposing instead of knowing. We don’t need to know everything. I’m just so run down. Cold and still, sad and cold, still and numb. Exhausted from feeling. More exhausted from not. From trying to feel. Where did my feelings go? Did I sell them with my soul?

No one cares about a heroin addict in love. In fear. Consumed with so much fear, so much wanting. He has made me selfish. Heroin has made me selfish. I can’t keep my eyes open, but I can’t stop filling the silence in my head. My heart? Does one exist?

She’ll show you the time of your life, then make that same time run out.

My life has become a love letter to heroin. The track marks are simply a game of connect the dots. If you number them correctly, they form the truth. In my love letter I will tell her all that I have sacrificed for her. I will name those who I have pushed away, and she will hold my hand as I am unable to weep. Soon enough you will not read my letter on paper. A pen will no longer be my instrument. Instead, a syringe will take its place. And my confession will be in the form of scars, for all the world to see. She wants humanity to know how much I love her. That I am no longer a part of it. I am lost in another world now. A world I’ve become too blind to see.

 

Try to keep your composure
But it’s so hard when every word is a moan,

            every glance is a secret scream

            We’re reaching out for insanity,

            because it’s so much easier to find.

 

It’s always a lie, even if you don’t know it.

Someone put up the wrong street signs. I followed the one that said “Somewhere” when it should have said “Nowhere, you’re just driving around in circles. There is no exit. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.”

 

Lack of Heroin.

            My body’s writhing but I can’t move. The pain is too intense.

Is it possible for one’s skin to actually crawl off?

Because that’s what mine’s trying to do.

It’s impossible to do this.

You don’t think. There is no thinking involved. No matter the promises you made, or the people you’ll destroy. Nothing else matters. There’s a cure for the agony you’re in. Even once it’s not quite agony anymore, there’s a cure for this harsh reality. And that’s all that matters.

She’ll find a way to get what she wants. She made you fall in love. She made you need her.

You just don’t realize, the people you’ll really, truly need, you’ve killed in the process of getting to her.

You’re on the road to killing yourself.

And you may start to realize just how alone you are, but then, they’ve never experienced pain like this. You won’t be alone whilst she is holding your hand.

All the crying you couldn’t do, the emotions you couldn’t feel . . . yeah, they’re here now.

But it doesn’t matter because they don’t mean a thing. Nothing does. Nothing but finding her

Boyfriends, Heroin, and Jesus (first two pages of Chapter 10)

Jack was one of Luke’s friends, who came around during the Luke and Harper phase. He used to party with us all every night. He fell in love with me long before I fell in love back.

We were good friends, though. I remember the first night I met him – he was sitting on Harper’s steps telling me all about his mom. I told him “I’m sorry, but I don’t give a fuck about your mommy issues” and walked away. We later found him passed out upside down.

Our group of friends was weird with Jack. Someone always loved him, while another someone always hated him. I’m still not sure why that was. He was overbearing and tried too hard to impress all of us, and some of us took advantage of his kindness while others were put off by it. Nate never liked him. Luke originally did, and I originally didn’t, and then we switched.

Luke and I started dating when I was twenty and moved into a house in Ocean City together. Jack was always there. He was my new best friend, and Luke didn’t like that much. But, we were all too high on Roxys (an opiate much like Percocet) to really care about much of anything.

One particular night, Luke was being weird. I had decided to stop doing roxys because I found one in my purse, and I figured if I lost a $25 pill and didn’t even miss it I must have had a problem. But, on this night I decided I wanted some again, and Luke said he was getting some, so I asked him to get me one as well. Only he said he couldn’t; he said the guy only had one left. He was acting weird and I could tell, so I went through his phone.

Turned out he was actually getting heroin. I confronted him about it and he said “I won’t stop,” so I told him I wasn’t asking him to but that I did want the truth. A few hours later he came to me and said he was getting some, and asked if I wanted some, too.

By then I had been addicted to cocaine, cutting, and Roxys. Even given my previous history with heroin, I said yes.

And from there I didn’t stop.

Sometimes you just get lost. You don’t realize the world around you. You can’t smell the animal shit, the rotten food, the mold. It all blends together.

There’s no turning back at a time like this. It’s all or nothing.

I still remember that very first time. When he came home and lied to my face, took my money and left. When he didn’t deny it after I asked him, but simply said, “I won’t stop, do you want some?” I still wonder if that was the beginning, or the end. Maybe a little bit of both. I can see it now. His eyes so sunken, his skin so taught. But then it was just fun and games.

Sometimes you think you’ve found solace. Sometimes it comes in a powder form. Of course it makes everything better.

How could it possibly make anything worse?

That sting on my septum, that taste in my throat. It’s things like that I’ll never forgot. How my eyes rolled back and my skin got itchy; how every little touch felt euphoric. How could any of those things possibly be bad? I had seen friends die from overdose. I had seen relatives go to prison. But that wouldn’t happen to me. I just wanted to feel good.

Sometimes, reality hits you. But all it takes is another hit to make it all go away.

I remember doing dishes. A lot of dishes. Why didn’t any of our roommates ever clean their own? I remember him laying in our king-sized bed with pizza hanging out of his thin lips, and I laughed. I fed him like a baby, falling in and out of consciousness. We chain-smoked, even though we weren’t allowed to inside. The smoke made symbols and pictures of happiness.

Best Friends, Threesomes, and Affairs (first two pages of Chapter 9)

Throughout all of this I had one main best friend, Luke. Luke and I met at the pavilion when he still had blonde hair and wore baggy, ripped up pants (which are hilarious to imagine him in today). Luke was Xavier’s best friend, and originally we hated each other because we both wanted Xavier’s attention. But slowly we became close as well, and pretty soon we were inseparable.

Luke’s a weird guy. He’s cocky to all hell and can pretty much make anyone do anything he wants. I think in reality I wanted to be like him, so I ended up being like him. Many people have called us the opposite gendered versions of each other. When we get together we have an us-against-the-world mentality and anything is fair game.

We did drugs together and we slept together and we took on the world together, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

He was there for me when Nate broke up with me, and he was there for me whenever I needed him, really. He cared about only himself but somehow I snuck into his façade and he cared about me, too.

Luke was troubled, a lot like most of my friends, and struggled a lot in the time I’ve known him but he’s also done miraculous things and has so much to offer.

Luke and I went through a lot of different phases. Friends, best friends, acquaintances, lovers. I still remember the first time he kissed me.

I was living at my dad’s during my junior year of high school, and Luke and I were talking online like we did every day. He was dating a girl and I was dating a guy, but somehow we got it in our heads that we would be good together. So we both broke up with our respective significant others and he picked me up one day and we spent the day together. When he drove me home that night, he leaned over the front seat and kissed me. I fumbled to find the door handle and then tripped getting out of the car and he made fun of me the whole time. True friends will kiss you and then make fun of you.

His girlfriend called me crying every day during their split, and I had to lie to her explaining that I had no idea why on Earth Luke had broken up with her.

The idea of Luke and I during that phase didn’t stick – he got back together with his girlfriend and I moved on to my next prey, but after that night there would be many more passionate experiences.

One time we were pretty fucked up on Xanax, having sex on Duble’s couch, and Luke kept falling asleep. I would give him a quick jab and he would start humping again, and then we would repeat the process. Talk about sexy.

But Luke was more than just a good lay. He was my lifeline. He still is my lifeline, to this day.

We’ve been through everything together. Including lots of threesomes.

When he was dating another girl, we had a secret code. They would go upstairs to have sex and then one of them would text me asking to “scratch their back,” and up I would go to join them. Some of the funnest (there’s that word again) sex I’ve ever had in my life has been with them.

Then again, it was during one of the threesomes that Nikki found out I had been sleeping with Nate for their entire relationship.

Nate lasted less than a week. When we were sixteen and he broke up with me to be with Nikki, he lasted less than a week before he started sleeping with me again. Nate and Nikki started dating on May 19th, 2003 and he was sleeping with me by the 26th.