Heroin Saved My Life… Just before it began to kill me

Heroin Saved My Life… Just before it began to kill me

When I was in the 5th grade, we had a D.A.R.E. awareness class every Wednesday with Officer Mazy, a kind, funny and handsome police officer in the city of Chelsea Massachusetts. We were the first of our class to participate in the initiative to educate children before the heavy gang influence of the city got a hold of the youth. He passed around a plastic case this one Wednesday, and in it was a real-life drug of every category. Every drug you can think of was displayed in this case and we all got to pass it around the class and familiarize ourselves with them. He went down an entire list and described each one. “Psychedelic mushrooms, acid and MDMA will make you hallucinate,” he said. “Cocaine will make you feel ten times your strength with lots of energy”. I looked at all the little pills with the cute shapes on them. They looked like candy. The tiny bright colored pieces of paper. He passed around the little plastic case with the cocaine in it which was boring. He showed us PCP, and a few others that I can’t remember. The last one he showed us was a brown powder. He said “this one I’m about to show you is the worst one of all. It will ruin your life really fast, it’s highly addictive and if you stop using it you will feel very very ill.” My eyes widened and I grew eager to see this “mother of all drugs”. “It’s very cheap but can kill you very easily”.

A boy in my class raised his hand and asked, “well why do people do it if it does all these bad things?” Officer Mazy got more serious than he was originally. He propped his foot up on a chair and leaned in toward the class. “People do this drug because it makes them feel like all their problems have disappeared. It causes them to feel like all their sadness and fear is gone. They will describe it to feel as if you are meeting God, euphoria but this feeling is only very temporary and …. “I believe he went on to explain how the aftermath is horrific and all your problems return tenfold, but I was starry eyed. It sounded like everything I had ever wanted in my short life. It sounded like freedom. It sounded like a childhood. Right there in the middle of Officer Mazy’s lecture I turned back in to hear him say “and it’s called Heroin” and I said to myself… “THAT’S the one I’m going to do.”

Developmental Trauma

The last house I can remember living in with my parents was a 2nd floor apartment in East Boston Massachusetts. I was 5 years old in the early morning after Halloween of 1989 when my life changed for what I thought was for the worse… and then for the better… and then for the worse. My parents were young, traumatized from their own childhoods, and nowhere near ready to raise 4 children. My mother was later diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder, Munchausen bi-proxy and sociopathic tendencies. She was an interesting case because many of her mental disorders were fabricated by her and as young children, we had to become very keenly aware of when she was pretending to be mentally ill and when she was suffering authentically. She didn’t have Multiple Personality Disorder but for some reason felt like she needed to in order to be cared for. Some days she was our mother, some days she

was a 5-year-old child named Annabel and on bad days she was a very scary “man” named The Saturday Man. I imagine this personality only came out on Saturdays but at 5 years old I did not maintain track of days of the week. Annabel was fun but mischievous. She talked like a baby and played with barbies with us. But sometimes Annabel wanted to get into trouble. On the days she was feeling like making trouble she orchestrated games for us to play. Things like taking out all condiments in the fridge and squirting them all over the walls, throwing eggs at all the windows, taking all the clothes out of the drawers and tossing them all over the floor or eating random concoctions. This would go on up until my father came home from work. My mother would suddenly snap back into herself as my mother and look around the house shocked at the mess. She would start crying and tell my father she took a nap, and we destroyed the house. My father was what I called a rage-aholic. It was his drug of choice and he used it every single
day. He would call us animals after seeing the condition of the house, beat us and send us to bed. Once we were crying and very confused my mother would sneak into our bedroom and the Munchausen would kick in. “It’s ok, don’t cry, mommy’s here and I won’t let him hurt you again”.

This was the foundational program that was set in my mind’s processing system on pain and relief. My mind began developing a system of suffering and then relieved by the same hand that caused that suffering and everything in my life to come was filtered through that program. Heroin mocked this program perfectly. It became my mother in many ways, a mother I was taken away from and was reunited with in the form of this little brown powder that I could control completely when it entered or left my life. If I worked hard enough and made enough money, I would always have my mother’s love. If I didn’t work and earn money, Annabel and the Saturday man would return and I’d be suffering in withdrawal.

This is where developmental trauma plays such a huge role in addiction. If the hormonal chemistry releases in the brain are not programmed correctly in the formative years, the mind will use whatever program was set in order to cope with all experiences and situations. Heroin offered such a monumental relief to such a crippling and dooming state of suffering, and it gave me my mother back.

This behavior went on with my mother and played out in many other ways that continued to short circuit my young processing system. Sometimes she would tell us she was on her way to the hospital to die and we would never see her again. This one day she followed this up with “and after I die the police are going to take you away and put you in a home with really bad people who will lock you in their basement and feed you other children. She recorded us a goodbye song on our fisher price recorder and left. A few moments later someone banged on the door hard and the terror in my gut was wrenching. I remember the pain clearly. Like there was a hand inside me squeezing my insides. I was afraid to open the door but knew I had to face the music. I opened the door, and it was my mother, standing there with my father laughing. She kneeled and hugged me and said, “I’m not dying I just wanted to see what you would do”. To no one’s surprise we were removed from that home on November 1, 1989 around 3am
by 4 Boston police officers. On Halloween night while we were asleep my mother beat herself up beyond recognition and told the police my father did it. The officer got my sister and I out of bed and sat us on the couch and there my mother was covered in open wounds and blood.

I didn’t know then of course that it would take me an entire lifetime to recover from this and I also didn’t know how this was shaping a deep richness in the fabric of my soul. Cracking open a lion-hearted warrior with empathy as deep as the cosmos would allow, paired with the strength to reach into the darkest of places to pull others out of. It was a horrific childhood. I won’t minimize that. But at the end of every deep struggle there is transmutation of the human condition which is a thick state of unconsciousness. For me this continued to develop into my next home. I was placed with my fathers’ parents. They received a very generous amount of money from the state for each of us and had already been making a living piling up foster kids into their home. In this home the abuse continued. Sexual abuse from my grandfather and severe mental abuse from my grandmother due to her jealousy that he favored me over her. I wasn’t allowed to eat dessert or go to friends’ homes or give out our phone number. I wasn’t allowed to have a birthday or attend other kids’ birthday parties. I did most of the house cleaning chores from the age of 6 on. At 6am I was put outside in the fenced in yard that had a padlock on the gate. I wasn’t allowed to come into the house until 6pm for dinner and bedtime.

If I had to use the bathroom it had to be done outside. I yelled and called my grandfather’s name but no one ever came to open the gate. When they found out I was going to the bathroom outside I was called horrible names, scolded and sent to bed feeling completely ashamed of my own bodily functions and basic human needs and this shame carried over thickly to my adult life. I felt ashamed of existing. I could not handle human interactions. I was mute in high school for an entire year and eventually was asked to drop out by the principal. I was 16 by this time and my grandmother ended up leaving abruptly with a man she met on the internet. She put the house up for sale, forced my heavily medicated grandfather to unknowingly sign 2 forms. Divorce papers and the proceeds from selling the house, changed the locks and placed all my furniture on the lawn.

The Love Affair Begins

Lawrence Massachusetts was an interesting place. It was surrounded by beautiful upper-class suburbs but in itself was riddled with poverty, crime, gangs and drugs and my sister and I found ourselves renting a very small apartment there for $800 dollars a month. She was 18 and I was 16 and as you can imagine we truly had no idea how to run a household. We both worked minimum wage jobs and made friends with anyone willing to make us feel safe. In Lawrence, the men who offered to make us feel safe were mostly gang members as you could guess. We had several moves in and out of our apartment and honestly had no idea what proper boundaries even were. We didn’t understand how to gauge appropriate vs inappropriate behavior and we were constantly preyed upon. My sister’s boyfriend was the last gang member to move in with us and woke me up one morning with his coat on and said, “have you ever tried heroin?” I laid there half asleep with one eye open. “Do you want to? It’s the best thing you’ll ever feel”. I flashed back to that day in D.A.R.E. class with Officer Mazy. “sure” I said and got out of bed and started getting dressed. We picked up an old Puerto Rican man named Andre. He sat in the back seat nodding out and muttering memories he and my sister’s boyfriend had from prison. I really had no business on Broadway in Lawrence, let alone driving around with two convicted felon gang members with miles of gun charges, but my understanding of danger was skewed from a very young age. I felt I was grown and making adult decisions. I was making my protector happy, and I was about to feel so much better.

When we got back to our apartment, he showed me how to use it and from that first moment I knew I never wanted to stop using heroin ever again. I felt a calmness in my chest for the first time in my life. My shoulders slid down from their hunched position by my neck and the whole world of fear went away. My nervous system felt hugged and loved and soothed. My mother was wonderful at that moment. So were my grandparents, DCF workers, police, landlords, bosses, banks, worries and troubles. They were all wonderful and for the first time in my 16 years of life I was not afraid.

A Progression

I have sometimes referred to heroin as the most physical manifestation of karma. The balancing of all things. It offers such immense peace, calm and euphoria but will balance these extremes with its polarities of chaos, fear and suffering to a proportionate degree. I found myself involved in guns, robberies, theft, fighting, shootings and the death of what was the beginning of many friends to come. When everything got too heated in Lawrence, I moved to Lynn Massachusetts at 19 years old where my addiction progressed to incredible degrees. By the time I was 22, I lived in the dugout of Barry Park and continued making the streets my home for the next 5 years. At one point I was reacquainted with my mother and had my 15 minutes of fame as “a mother daughter shoplifting team” as the news called us. We made our way up and down Massachusetts highways hitting every pharmacy we could find stealing all the baby formula they had. My mother became my using partner and although it may seem silly to others, it was the bonding I never knew I wanted. I knew deep down that it was strictly about the drugs and not a relationship, but I felt some normalcy in it. Some familiarity in it.

That relationship came to an end one summer afternoon when she picked me up from the abandoned house I was living in and asked me to make her $300. The manager of the store caught on to what I was doing and called the police. I was arrested and my mother was interrogated. The police came back to my holding cell with a written statement in my mother’s writing that I forced her to drive me to this store to steal and threatened to harm her if she didn’t. The illusion of our bond crashed down at my shackled feet. When I was released, I continued my mission to numb the world around me. I didn’t want to think about what my mother had done to me. I didn’t want to think about anything. My entire world revolved around getting money to buy my temporary exit. I continued stealing large quantities of baby formula and then reselling at ¼ the price to smaller convenient stores, and on days where that was not feasible, I resorted to prostitution. I did not shower or eat and rarely needed to use the bathroom. I slept on a metal bench in the ball field. In the colder months this felt like slow torture. I didn’t sleep often. I didn’t lay down often to preserve body heat. My feet had developed gangrene and my hair, unintended dreadlocks. I didn’t know this then, but heroin saved my life for a long while, just before it began killing me. It was my exit from this painful realm. Death without the commitment. I didn’t want to die. But I didn’t want to live in this painful place either.

The Last Goodbye

In November of 2009 I was walking up and down union street scanning the streets for an opportunity to make money. I was in heavy withdrawal and for whatever divine reason I felt defeated. There was something different in the air like a portal had opened. This portal was the end. It was the start of a consciousness arising within me that this was the end of the long sleep. The long exit. It was time to return. I was incredibly aware of my suffering that day and I walked up and down the street holding back the tears. The incident that night was what some fellowships would call my “bottom”. I was assaulted by two men and left laying in a puddle of engine oil on the floor of an abandoned garage. This was the final push the universe gave me. I was cracked open, and my consciousness began flooding in. ‘What have I done?’ I suddenly could not refuse the pain. I couldn’t will it away. I couldn’t smother it with tasks to make money. I had nothing left. The consciousness was here, and it was flooding. I looked around at the world I was in, and it felt foreign. How did my feet walk all those miles every day in such horrible condition? How did my poor veins take so many assaults from dirty dull needles? My organs and my heart, what have I don’t to myself? It was the question that changed my life.

The Awakening

One week before thanksgiving I checked into detox. I didn’t know it then, but it would be my last visit into one of these facilities as a patient. I sat there in a chair in the hallway waiting to be called in by the nurse. The smell of vomit and industrial cleaner in the air. I was numb. I stared down at the hole in my sneaker. Next to me sat a black trash bag with whatever clothes I had left. I stared down at my feet. At the hole in my sneaker. At the hole in the bottom of my trash bag of my only possessions. A woman my age was sitting next to me staring at the side of my head. I knew she was staring but I didn’t care. She held a vomit bag in her hand. Every few minutes she would wretch into the bag. Didn’t wipe her face. Just stared at me. I could hear the fluorescent bulbs buzzing above my head. I could hear the television down the hall. I could feel the breeze from the heating system flow through the air. I stared at the hole in my sneaker. The woman wretched again. Stared at me. I didn’t mind. I sat there and stared at the hole in my sneaker. “Hi Erin, come on in” said a smiling shiny lady dressed in scrubs with little puppies on them. She was so clean. She smelled good. “What brings you here today?” she asked. “Heroin and benzos” I said. “How much a day?” “As much as I can get”. She typed away at her keyboard and I imagined her life.

She was pregnant and I thought about how happy she must have felt picking out baby names and decorating a nursery. Her clean car she gets into after work and her nice big kitchen in her cozy house. Her husband waiting for her to come home. I thought about him protecting her and his unborn child with his life and I felt so comforted in the daydream. “How long have you been using for?” “Since I was 16” I stared at my sneaker, at the hole. “Have you ever overdosed?” “Yes twice”. I stared at the bottom of my trash bag, at the hole in the bottom of it where my sock was sticking out. “How long have you been homeless? “7 years”. I stared at the hole in the trash bag, at my sock sticking out the bottom, at the hole in my sock. “How did you get those bruises all over your face Erin?” My eyes started welling up. I kept my gaze on my sock, on the hole. “I got beat up”. But I didn’t get beat up and I didn’t know how to explain that I hurt myself on my last day on the street. I did it to gain sympathy from a drug dealer for a bag. I did it because it hurt less than all the other ways, I was hurting myself and I didn’t feel her shiny, clean, pregnant self could understand this. No one understands now. “you’re alone now,” I said to myself. “You said goodbye to your last ally. Without heroin you have no one now”. And I was telling the truth. I had no parents and no family. My siblings were stuck in severe mental illness and drugs, and I just turned my back on the exit portal.

The pain was emerging daily. As if there was a storage locker inside my heart of every time I suffered as a child and teen and the locker was slowly opening. At the time, if I had not believed that all that pain would be gone once my 6 months stay in rehab was complete, I may not have stayed. The truth was that to this day it’s still emerging. But so is a whole lot of beauty. As the days went on in rehab my confusion about life plagued me. Here I was approaching 26 years old and could not seem to balance a simple day of tasks. I had to learn how to live again. How and when to do laundry. When to shower. When to leave for work. When to pack a lunch. It was all so foreign and overwhelming. This was half the battle.

Trying to crash course into adulthood when you left life at 16 years old. There were endless mistakes, emotions, failures, dirty laundry, late workdays, missed buses, rotten behaviors and horrible responses to innocent things. I thought I was putting my life back together but when I looked back, I was dismantling an entire corrupted program. I was in rehab for a total of 18 months, 11 of those months were spent in one of the most challenging therapeutic treatment programs in the country and it cracked me wide open. It was my first taste of self-observation. Awareness of myself and the world around me. Introspection of my inner programs and dialogues and with that awareness came an emerging beauty of the world around me. I felt euphoria from deep within my chest. I saw the trees again and the smell of the ocean. Began meeting challenges I never dreamed possible, and I had found that all along, my mother that I searched for was right inside me. I had always taken care of myself, no matter what anyone told me about how horrible my choices were, they were choices I made to keep myself living in this world. It was not conventional, but it was my path and I aced using the tools I had to work with. Nothing can ever take that away from me.

The Nature and Assets of Trauma

I’m now 39 years old and have lost my desire to use any substances. It’s been 14 years since I said goodbye to the drug that saved my life for a time before it began killing me. In the years that have gone by, I allowed an understanding of trauma to settle in. The truth is, if you are alive here in this earth realm you have experienced trauma. From the moment you were pulled from the warm sack inside your mother’s womb, screaming and covered in blood, fluid being sucked out of your lungs. This was our first trauma, the birthing. Emerging into density. It is my belief that trauma is a word that describes the human condition. Its very etymology is translated from a Greek word that means “wound”. The etymology of the word wound is from the German word wene which translates to “swelling”. When we encounter an experience of something that hurts or is unfavorable, what we are experiencing is density. Everything in this realm is a spectrum of energy and the ones that drive our vessels are provoked by emotions. Emotions are what trigger the hormones that literally control our human vessels.

If someone swears at you the energy that this person is casting over, you are dense in nature and it doesn’t feel good. It’s heavy and the electromagnetic energy frequency of the heart is high. Do you see why emotions hurt now? They are literally incompatible with our heart space. So, when we experience something like assault or rape or verbal abuse it is incompatible to the energy of our heart space. But since we are unaware of what this pain actually is, which is just energy, we are unable to process it and instead we store it in our body, and it creates a “swelling” or a “wound” or “Trauma”. A war veteran will tell you about experiencing flashbacks and titles these flashbacks as a disorder labeled PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which is a clinical acronym used to describe the swelling of dense energy inside the body that we refuse to allow to be released. Trauma is never our fault; I want to be clear on this. It is simply the unconscious state of our species at this point in evolution to store energy rather than process. But therein lies the beauty of trauma if you can hold space for it.

This swelling of density is so powerful and evolutionary, it has the power to transform the nature of our species from unconscious to conscious and for those that have experienced this popping, you are paving the way for the rest of your people. Your bravery to allow this swelling of dense energy to emerge into the conscious mind is flipping the bio magnetic field of the human vessel right side out and as enough of us do this, humanity evolves. In time, it will no longer be an automatic procedure of the brain to store and repress densities in the body of abuse and pain. It will be processed immediately and transmuted. Animals know how to do this. They do not have an inverted magnetic field therefore when they get shocked by an attack of a predator, they immediately begin to shake, transmuting the energy out of their bodies. They will behave accordingly to their surroundings- i.e., if they’re abused by a pet owner they will lash out, shake or hide but they do not repress as we humans do. Given enough trust and security from a stable environment, animals recover rather quickly.

However tragic and painful our traumas can be, it’s important to remember that one, they are never our fault, no matter what, and two, that as we work through them, we are not only changing our own lives, but we are literally shifting the dynamic of an entire species. Yes, you are that powerful.

Collateral Beauty

My life has been tragic, this I know, and it has taken me a lifetime to begin to come to terms with the fact that I chose to use a life anesthetic in order to survive the most acute pain of it. I hold no shame here anymore, however. It is an act of great intelligence of the mind to numb the wound until it feels it is in a state that it can tend to the wound and in this society the wounding is plentiful. It is of this mindset that I was able to not only quit using all substances including tobacco, nicotine, coffee etc., and actually begin to thank myself and find the love in my decisions to use any of them to begin with. There was a thick program within my psyche that waged war with myself for the choices that I had made. In my humble opinion, I was not born a heroin addict, but I was born a human who feels and craves security and purpose as the human design intended. I could never have rewritten this program within me had I not suffered so deeply and in this I found a collateral beauty in the suffering. It canceled out the need or desire for substances all together and I would not change my story even if I could.

Our stories are the very purpose of our missions here on this earth. Thank you for being here with me on this earth plane. Thank you for being a beautiful human who loves and feels and fails and tries again. I could not do this without you.

L. Oaks


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