Living in Vein

a photo of a Tiny Tears Doll

Steve Berry/Flickr

I was twelve the first time I used heroin.

I had a good home life with two parents, one sister, and two brothers. My mother had worked in the government, but my father made her quit—he wanted to be the sole provider for the family. I didn’t want for anything. I was my daddy’s baby. Everywhere he went I wanted to go. He was an auto mechanic and I went to work with him whenever I could. I wanted to be just like him. But it didn’t turn out that way.

I had always been a tomboy. More than anything, I loved playing football with the boys. When my mother gave me a doll baby for Christmas—a Tiny Tears Doll—I threw it in the trash, and I got a whooping for that.

In third grade, I took this little boy’s watch and told my mother that I won it in a spelling contest, and I got a whooping for that.

I wanted to fight my teacher. My mother said since I wanted to be the class clown, she came and beat me in front of the class.

I got to junior high school, and stayed in so much trouble that the principal called my mother to come to a meeting. But then they called my mother to tell her not to come because someone had set fire to the school. Little did they know I had set that fire to keep my mother from coming up to the school.

As bad as my behavior was, I was a good student and earned my high school diploma on schedule.

The way I first started using heroin? My cousin introduced me to it. I snorted it, but I didn’t like the drain from my nose. I also didn’t like the taste as it went down.

I had smoked weed when I was ten and I liked that because it kept me mellow and gave me the munchies. I had done acid too, but I didn’t like the way it made me speed and hallucinate.

When I was introduced to heroin, I knew it was my ideal drug. It kept me mellow. All during my teen years, I continued to inject it. By the time I turned 21, I had used every vein in my body: my legs, my arms, my neck, my fingers, my feet, my toes, my stomach, my groin, my forehead, my breasts. After a while, my veins collapsed. They just burnt out and there was no place else to inject.

So I had to shoot into my spider veins, like those little ones on the back of my hand. Finally I would just inject into my arm or my butt or my back—they call it skin popping—which takes longer to feel the effect.

To pay for my habit, I hustled. I forged so many checks, I probably could have forged the president’s signature.

I was wanted up and down the East Coast, from New York to Florida. So I went out to California with my brother, who was in the Coast Guard. He knew everything about me, but I could do no wrong in my brother’s eyesight.

In San Francisco, I got stopped for driving a car with a taillight that was out. The popo (police) who stopped me did a nationwide check and found I was wanted everywhere on the East Coast.

They locked me up. Immediately, I became so sick, suffering withdrawal without heroin.

To be continued . . .

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