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To the Drug That Beat Me to a Pulp and Spat Me Back Out


Editor's Note

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction, or if you’ve experienced domestic violence, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by selecting “chat now” or calling 1-800-799-7233.

For addiction, you can contact SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

Dear heroin,

Or is it politer to call you by your birth name, papaver somniferum? Typically, I would ask someone what name they prefer, but I won’t give you that privilege. Papever somniferum is such a beautiful name, don’t you think? The scientific name for the opium poppy from which you are derived in a meticulous and toiling manner. I used to crack open your pods in the fields in the woods behind my house, rubbing my fingers in the white sticky latex you dripped out. I used to make mud pies for my imaginary friends, and the latex I collected from your pods was one of the crucial ingredients. At that age, I didn’t know that the dried latex I was spooning into an imaginary mouth would be the same material the first love of my life was injecting into his bloodstream.

My mother often said, “heroin is a beast of a drug” during her chemistry and nutrition classes, and her students would get a kick out of that. They didn’t think they needed a chemist to tell them that. Some of these same students would go back to their dorm rooms and ingest pain killers, your sibling. I too got to know them really well in college. They tricked me, though. They knocked down all illusions of self-control I had built up over the years. “But it’s not heroin,” I would tell myself every time I opened the pill bottle.

Heroin, you really scared me. I first fell in love at the age of 13, and to this day I still insist it was the strongest love I’ve felt. It lasted years, too. I’ll call this boy your pet because you surely did groom him to become that. One summer night I opened his fridge to find Naloxone. As an antagonist, Naloxone blocks opioid from binding to his precious receptors in your brain. I knew he did painkillers. I remember in middle school, when he used to sneak into the bathroom to find sweet relief in those pills. That was the first time I realized what a drug was. Oddly enough, that moment in middle school was also when I realized I loved him. That summer night when I opened the fridge, your pet saw me double-take; he claimed the Naloxone was for his brother and I passively agreed, sidling back naked over to the couch to rest my head against his bony shoulder. Heroin would never course through the veins of the man I had loved for nine years, right?

Heroin, you proved me wrong. That night, I opened the door of his bedroom to find him leaning over a piece of tinfoil, pipe in his mouth. I saw his eyes widen as he lunged for the door, forcing me to my knees. I’ve never screamed like that before. He locked the door and I could hear you consuming him as I clawed at the handle. I pressed my ear against the door and it was silent. I thought you had taken him. Minutes later, the love of my life opened the door and let me into his room. He looked weak but happier than I had seen him in nine years. I sat down on the bed, cocked my head, and watched as he played piano for me. “It’s just opium. Don’t worry, Hannah,” he said, smiling at me. “You want to try?” Heroin, this is where you proved me wrong again. You took advantage of me. My greedy hands and mind knew no limits. “But it’s not heroin,” I told myself as I took the tinfoil and heated up the rocks.

That night, I cried in bed as he screamed over me. You made him violent, and I hate you for that. You made me fear my safety, from the man I had loved for nine years. I picked up my phone to reach out for help, and heroin, you made your pet rip it from my hands and throw it against the wall. It wasn’t opium he had been smoking; it wasn’t opium he had offered me. It was you, heroin. You manipulated him into manipulating me, and I despise you for that.

Yet heroin, in some twisted sense of the word, I love you. I love you because you showed me strength. You beat me to a pulp and spat me back out, ready to keep fighting. That morning, I drove to the beach by myself. I hate water, but I needed something beautiful to look at. As I watched the waves claw at the desolate beach, I imagined waves coursing through my body, pushing you out. I never thought that my most spiritual experience would be the night after my loved one offered me one of the deadliest drugs with a lingering glint in his fading eyes. I had been living life ravenously because nothing could satiate me. Heroin, you made me realize I was chasing illusions, and I love you for opening my eyes to that revelation after 22 years.

Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash