To Breathe Again: Part II
As the girl found herself at the edge of the water, she fell directly into the violent collapse of waves, swallowed up by the jaws of Heroin and yet another toxic relationship.
“When you’re drowning, you don’t say, ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come help me’... You just scream.”
The twisted thing about drowning is that you're fully conscious of what’s happening to you, yet you’re unable to do anything about it in most cases. Unlike another quick and tumultuous death, drowning is a quiet, reserved form of incredible torture. Your brain has just enough time to process, Hey, I’m stuck underwater and I can’t breathe, before the lack of oxygen depletes in your brain, usually causing a partial blackout. As the water fills your lungs and floats into your sinuses, you quickly become incapacitated and lose consciousness. Essentially, you become one with the water. Though your body flails wildly in an attempt to escape, the sounds of your every will to live are easily silenced by the water as it takes your breath away. Then, your body is left to float calmly through the water, harmonizing with the waves as it merges with Mother Nature.
You might say that the process I just described is terrible; on the other hand, you could say that it is beautiful. It's all a matter of opinion, really. We have all experienced death in our lives in one way or another. Sometimes, the process can be agonizing, but what comes out of it is truly breathtaking—in a positive way, that is. There are many things that we have control over in our lives, but the cycle of life and death is a phenomenon that we will never be able to control, no matter how hard we try. Death has been an essential part of my life, working as a force behind the scenes to stimulate transformation.
My mother died of a brain tumor when I was 10 years old, and my father died of pneumonia when I was 14. These traumatic events in my life have caused me to embrace death as a natural part of existence. However, in the past, I drowned myself in the concept of death because I simply did not know how to face it in a healthy manner. I surrounded myself with walking corpses, stooped up on drugs and alcohol, intoxicated by pointless drama, and completely oblivious to the very real and awe-inspiring meaning behind our lives. Part of me wanted so badly to show these people that there was more to life, but the other part of me just wanted to join them. In the end, I suppose I didn’t really understand the meaning of life anyways—so I joined them.
I smothered myself in toxic relationships and friendships where misery loved company, and drug exchanges were the core interactions on a day to day basis. Conversation consisted of how we could numb our brains rather than what we could do to help ourselves. Life goals were limited, and at times, completely out of the question. Getting high soon became a way of life that had overtaken everything around me that I knew.
In the beginning, there were two—Derek and Cyrus. These men were the catalysts to my downward spiral. I sped forward with haste towards relationships that did nothing but hold me underwater for five years of my life. As I drowned, I felt the water overcome me, but I was unable to scream. The waves rushed over me, muffling my cries for help and rendering me powerless. I fell victim to waves of drug use, physical abuse, lies, hatred, and the enforcing hand of the law against me. It did not take long for me to lose myself entirely as I stifled the screams that willed to leave my mouth.
Cyrus was a force that entered my life without warning, causing a brutal storm that I would never fully recover from. Delusional and seeking attention, I mistook an unhealthy attachment for love at first sight. Somewhere along the lines during my search for spiritual enlightenment, I had broken down and decided to use a different approach in seeking happiness. Everyone around me was partying, getting trashed every weekend, indulging in selfish shopping sprees and worshiping the material world in any way possible. Soon, I began to indulge in my own helter skelter behavior by trying to elevate myself in the most dangerous ways.
For a few weeks, I felt like I truly had reached the eye of the storm. A sense of calm and peace had overcame me, and everything just seemed to fall into place. I had quit smoking and drinking for a short period of time, and spent a good amount of my time alone in meditative states. However, once I began to indulge in the party life just a little bit, things went downhill quickly. I was right back where I had started, in a toxic mindset. My spiritual search had taken me down a dark path where I began to sense all of the brokenness around me instead of the light within. I had awoken the intuition inside and then began to use it for all of the wrong reasons.
When I began doing witchcraft, I looked for a Goddess that resembled who I felt that I was inside. I also wanted one who would help me to seal the gaping hole that I felt growing inside. In my desperate attempt to love myself, I chose Bast, the Egyptian Goddess of love, beauty, and sex. She had a very strong energy, though a dark one indeed. Once I set this intention, I started to be attracted to her colors: red, black, and gold. I set up a small altar in the room and began placing offerings on it. My prayers were genuine, but they did not match the needs of my soul. Instead of love, I wanted to be loved. To be worshiped. I wanted to be beautiful, so that men sought after me and I basked in their lustful wishes for me.
In turn, I decided that I wanted to live in the material world as well. My search for enlightenment had turned into a search for destruction. Beauty and lust soon turned into sex, drugs, alcohol and violence. I spent days wishing that drugs would come to me and that men would worship at my feet. I got exactly what I asked for, but it turned out that what I asked for was not what I needed at all. My intentions were so strong that I attracted the material wasteland that I found myself drowning in.
I met Cyrus on Plenty of Fish, a dating app that I started using to manipulate men into showering me in alcohol, drugs, and lust-filled gazes. I’d had hundreds of messages in just a couple of days and already met up with a handful of men who granted me my wishes. Somehow, Cyrus stood out to me more than all of the others. There were men offering me money, great sex, and real love, but instead, I chose someone who promised me that he would destroy my life. He told me that he’d just lost his job and wanted to get high for the first time in two years. He had nothing to prove himself with besides a small bedroom in his parent’s house at age twenty eight and a reliable connection for hard drugs. I convinced him that getting high with his last paycheck would be a great idea.
When he arrived, Cyrus glistened in the sun as he climbed the ladder to my porch on the second floor. I admired his muscular physique and was taken by his smile. In the beginning, the attraction was so strong that it almost seemed like love. However, we dived straight into a visit with heroin. She swooped in like an angel from above, saving me from the disaster that my mind had become. For a short time, I actually felt like my humanity was restored at full force. Cyrus ended up staying for days on end because I enjoyed his company. While he was there, I obtained a check for $3,000 from DCF which was meant to pay my outstanding tuition bill from the New Hampshire Institute of Art.
Instead of paying the bill, I was lost in heroin’s embrace. She held me for a month straight in her arms as I drowned silently. It felt like everything was fine until I was sober again—Then, all of my trauma, mistakes, and insane thoughts resurfaced and I had to delve underwater once again to restore the “clarity” in my mind. Rather than paying any of my debt, I chose to buy a cheap Saturn with the other half of the money. Much to my dismay, my pockets were emptied of the entire $3,000 in about a month and a half; but this did not end our drug run by any means.
My foster sister, Vanity, decided that she was completely okay with us doing hard drugs in her house. In fact, she decided that she no longer wanted to be an innocent bystander. She contributed to our self-destruction immensely by inviting a young drug dealer named Andy into the house. Andy was a bit of a lost puppy—He was a nerdy white kid who seemed sort of out of place, but for some reason, had large amounts of drugs on him all the time despite not seeming to have many customers. In fact, he had so much that he shared a good quantity of his coke and ketamine with us frequently. Cyrus taught him how to cook crack and we eventually found a close connection for heroin, so the house was booming with drug activity. Again, I found myself in a trap house environment, just as I had asked for.
Cyrus and I got into our first fight only a few months after we started dating. It was not pretty, and it ended with blood splattered all over the floor in the house after he cut his arm open badly because “I didn’t say goodbye to him before going to work.” He ended up going to a mental hospital for a week and I was left questioning what kind of psychopath I had brought into my house. As my mind continued to spiral out of control, I met another man named Luke, who was quite charming and claimed to be a valuable source for heroin. Lost, confused, and desperate to get high, I followed Luke to his house, where we got high and got laid. The next day, I confessed my sins to Cyrus. He was devastated, but decided to stay with me anyhow.
Over the next few months, things grew increasingly more tense. Cyrus had convinced me to go to the Suboxone clinic because I ran out of money for Heroin and could not get my psychiatric meds for some time either. Suboxone was a whole other type of bitch—Her embrace was heavy, relaxing you in her warmth. However, you could tell that she was fake. And it turned out that the withdrawals from her were far worse than Heroin, lasting for up to a month or more. I was naive when I first started taking it and I trusted Cyrus so much that I didn’t believe anything bad would happen. Well, I was very wrong.
The week after Cyrus got out of the mental hospital, he crashed my car into a telephone pole, totaling it. His excuse for ruining my car and leaving me stuck on crutches for three weeks was that he had stayed up for three days straight smoking crack and tweaking out on Focalin, a hyped up version of Ritalin that I took for “ADHD.” We had already driven my foster sister and her boyfriend out of their own house with our explosive and violent fights, so it was just us and Andy in the house. This marked a real low point in my life, as I was kicked off the clinic for missing appointments. I was also unable to get to work when I was the only one supporting the both of us. I no longer had Vanity to lean on, and was left in the disaster Cyrus and I had created.
We were stuck for a month with no car, no food, and no Suboxone. Withdrawals set in after just a couple of days, and boy, was that bitch mean. She left our systems not giving a single fuck, leaving us writhing around in pain for weeks. I had to walk to the gas station down the road on my crutches to buy overpriced food with the little bit of money I had. At this point, I had no trust in Cyrus and would not give him my debit card. The house was destroyed, with holes in the walls and glass smashed everywhere. Vanity had stormed through the house, taking some of her valuables with her when she snuck out while we were asleep. Everything was upside down, including our lives.
It only took a couple of months for the landlord to issue enough notice that we had to leave the apartment. With no one there to pay rent, we feared that the cops would come and remove us if we didn’t leave. I ended up finding a place to stay with a friend in Gardner, MA, whom I convinced to let Cyrus in as well. It only took a few months for this girl and her father to turn on us, as everything we did was not satisfying enough to them. They threatened us, telling us we had to leave in two weeks or we would be forced out. Luckily, I used my strength and intuition to find an an apartment we could afford that let us in just before our two weeks was up.
Our new apartment in Gardner was a dream come true to me at first. I had never had my own lease on an apartment and I was ecstatic to see what the future held. It didn’t take us too long to gather furniture and for Cyrus to work his way into a new job so that we could support ourselves. The first few months went rather smoothly, with both of us sober and working diligently towards a better future. However, we slowly began to allow ourselves to drink again, which in turn set off an unexpected downfall.
As I was in New Hampshire, retrieving a stray cat that needed saving, Cyrus texted me and told me he’d lost his job because they caught him drinking and accused him of being high. He was probably, in fact, high on Suboxone he had gotten from me and he was most definitely drinking on the job. When I got into Gardner, already furious, I drove right past Cyrus walking in an unusual direction after getting his last paycheck. After some time, I discovered that he had met a prostitute at Cumberland Farms who helped him to find drugs. He returned with a small amount for me, confessing that he had spent the rest of the money getting high with this random prostitute he picked up.
I was fuming, but trapped in a situation that I did not know how to handle. So, I got high, too. From there on, a vicious cycle began that turned our house into a trap house more intense than any other I had been in before. My house soon became a chill spot for nearly half of the addicts in the town. People would show up just to get high, sharing a little bit with us to use our space. That same prostitute began renting out our spare room to turn tricks, always paying handsomely with the pile of Crack she would get. Crack was almost worse than Heroin at the time—she led us on so severely, just barely feeding our demons before knocking us dry again. Dealers came to our house just to trap out of it, paying us in Crack to stay for hours at a time. I even lent out my car to one of them for an entire night on more than one occasion just to get free drugs.
Crack became a monster of a drug that wore on my soul, causing me to both hate and love her all at once. She supplied a quick rush, penetrating our brains and heating up our bodies just to leave us wanting more. She was more of a tease than anything. However, with her presence so overwhelmingly close all the time, we just could not escape her grasp. She became a regular part of our lives for a few months, never leaving our side, even when we wanted nothing to do with her. Heroin had basically become a thing of the past, replaced by Alcohol, the relentless cunt that fueled our sex drives as well as our rage.
One night, Cyrus began plotting ways for us to get high. His approach was for me to play out men who were looking for prostitutes, but as he went on talking, it seemed that he didn’t even care if I actually had sex with these men. The next morning, I met a man who fulfilled his wishes. After returning with $100, I thought Cyrus would be happy. I only did exactly what he was insinuating the night before, but it turned out that was not what he wanted. Out of a need for cold-hearted vengeance, he slept with the prostitute, Cynthia, on our kitchen floor while I laid in bed waiting for him. I woke up to him making her breakfast and instantly knew that he never came to bed with me that night. Although I knew the truth, he didn’t confess until almost two months later.
After this, our relationship began to deteriorate even more rapidly. With both of us holding in so much anger and resentment, we turned to the stem to soothe our pain. However, it only worked in the moment and then we would continuously need more and more Alcohol to come to our rescue. Alcohol only fueled our fights when we were angry, though. We would both try to invite her in to calm our nerves, but over time, she only enraged us even further. By the time the new year rolled around, our mental states were completely in shambles.
One day, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I snapped on Cyrus while he was at his computer because I knew that he had lied to me again. He had been lying the entire time, it seemed, and was plotting against me behind my back to get high. As I felt alcohol’s presence enhancing my sudden need to punch him in the face, I gave in to her wish. I ran up to him and punched him as hard as I could, not stopping until he restrained me. The more he tried to restrain me, the harder and faster I hit. Then, I began throwing the heaviest objects that I could find, screaming at the top of my lungs. It finally ended when Cyrus held me down on the floor, covering my mouth and nose with his hand to stop me from screaming—and from breathing. All I could do was desperately claw at his face in hopes that he would get off of me before I suffocated to death.
After being suffocated for a few minutes, I was hysterical. I got up and could not even think straight. I thought my rescue had arrived when the cops showed up, but it turned out they were nothing more than another death wish for me. The cops sided with Cyrus, disregarding my story as I cried hysterically on the floor trying to tell them what he did to me. They had seen the scratches on his face and didn’t seem to care whether they were in self defense or not, because I hit him first. When they went to arrest me, I resisted. Eventually, they yanked me up off of the ground and cuffed me, pulling me down the stairs by my wrists. With one officer in front of me and one behind me dragging me down the stairs, I panicked and began flailing and kicked the cop in front of me right in the nuts. I was charged with domestic assault and battery on Cyrus and an assault and battery on a police officer that night.
Cyrus dropped the charges and I returned to the house the next morning; but with everything that happened, my rage had only burrowed deeper. It was no surprise when our next big fight broke out into another violent catastrophe, with the same exact scenario but even worse than the time before. This time, I had scratched and bitten his face in an attempt to get him off me. Once he stood up finally, he had the nerve to literally run out of the house to the police station and report me. So, I was arrested for another domestic assault and battery. This time, I was held in Chicopee jail for six days before returning home.
In the end, Cyrus and I had spent most of our relationship getting high together, getting high together, cheating, and becoming excessively violent and cruel towards one another. He finally left me after cheating on me with one of my friends, who I fought in a vicious attempt to defend any bit of honor that I had left. He moved in with her anyhow and I was left alone in our apartment, which soon became the equivalent of what seemed to be a small scale homeless shelter. I had no one to blame but myself for my co-dependence, and I was disgusted with the entire situation.
By the time I left the apartment, I had nothing left to keep me going besides my will to survive and what was left of my higher power, plus the little bit of what I could fit into my car on my way out. I had nowhere to go and no one that I felt I could confide in, despite how many people I had taken in. In my time of need, I was utterly alone. And it was in that aloneness that I learned what it felt like to drown—to take in a deep breath of air and to find water in your lungs instead. I was suffocating during my toxic relationship, but I didn’t truly drown until I could see clearly. Once the illusions were set aside, the waves washed over me quicker than I could contain them.
I learned that life is not always easy, nor is it fair. I also learned that every person, place, and thing in our lives has an element of duality. The same waves that help you to float could be the ones that choke you to death in the end. Luckily, I found my way to the surface just in time to live.