Category Archives: drugs

My Reprieve

flowers_two

Lost in a mire
for half their lives and more,
two children, their maturity halted by addiction…

…and I could point my finger at causes,
or take the blame upon myself.
I could break down in shame and remorse,
but the past would remain the same.

I could try to turn back time
and change the way their lives became;
as if I may find relief in the madness
of that aspect of grief.

I could do all these things and more;
these sad practices I acted out a thousand times before,
but they relieved me of my feeble susceptibility,
when they exchanged lies and deceit for honest fight.
Each day they draw clean swords, and slash at their demons,
and with each clash the demons get weaker.

They are retrieving their lives,
thereby returning mine to me,
and so I say, with gratitude and pride,
Thank you for all you have achieved.
Thank you for the reprieve.

A tribute to my two younger children, Laura and Paul.

The Daily Post #Reprieve

©Jane Paterson Basil

Panic mode

.

broken-heart-1207383__480

.

At first it was cannabis. Some say it’s not a serious drug, but it hit my two younget children like a disease that races to the bloodstream and keeps on running.  Neither of them had reached sixteen, so the risks were greater. Within a few weeks my son was a stranger who seemed to hate me, and my daughter had receded into the distance.

They became obsessed with the drug, and it was impossible to keep them safe. They rebelled against all rules disappearing in the evening, and trying to stay out all night. It was often hard to track them down. Once we found them at 3am at a party on the beach, stoned out of their heads, and it was difficult to get Paul into the car to take him home. We tried grounding them, but they still snuck out.

Each time we couldn’t find them I panicked.

Later, the police suspected Paul of dealing, and chased him whenever they got the chance. Usually he was too fast for them, but one night he was caught, and landed in court. The criminal justice team got involved, but it didn’t solve the problem. He began experimenting with any drug he could lay his hands on. He became addicted to cocain, and sold it to pay for his toxic fun. I was scared for his welfare, but he didn’t care. He dealt with the cocaine problem by replacing it with heroin.

When I found out about his habit I panicked and confronted him. He denied it, I handled it badly and we ended up quarrelling.

A couple of months later, I learnt that Laura had fallen into the same trap. I panicked, but didn’t let Laura see the state I was in.

Ten years on I’ve lost count of the many times I’ve panicked; rushed around like a fool looking for a cure for my children’s addictions, and trying to help them out of dire situations that they got themselves into. I’ve had gun-toting crack dealers holed up in my attic, heavies threatening to smash my door in, or smash Paul’s face in, and a couple of times they did. I had to mop him up. I’ve been threatened, bullied, conned and robbed by him. I’ve had to turn him in when he was on the run, for his own protection. I’ve refused to smuggle drugs into prison to prevent him from getting a beating. I’ve watched my daughter turn into a skeleton, witnessed her in the grips of screaming psychosis, seen her running in front of moving traffic, been told that her organs were breaking down, and she would die soon, and sometimes I rose into panic mode, while other times I sank silently to the floor, curling up until I could cope with the agony.

I’ve panicked many times over the past fifteen years, but when the worst thing of all occurred, I kept my head. If I hadn’t, my son would have been dead that first time he OD’d. He’d stopped breathing, and I resuscitated him until the paramedics came. I watched as they tried to save him. When the first shot of adrenalin went in, it didn’t work, but I was calm. When the second dose produced no result, I stayed calm. After the third shot, the paramedic told me that it was the last one she could administer. If it didn’t bring him round there was nothing more they could do. I held my breath, but I didn’t panic.

The seconds ticked by. Four paramedics stood in the room. I sat close to Paul’s feet. Across the room were two of my daughters, and my fifteen year old grandson, who shouldn’t have had to see his uncle like that. The room was silent, waiting for a horrific proclamation. Nobody breathed.

My son lay, grey and motionless, on the sofa. Time slipped away, as  he lay still, and we waited.

It happened do fast that we were all thrown backwards. The paramedic who was tending to Paul nearly lost her footing when he leapt into a standing position, inadvertently pulling the canula out of his arm, sending blood spurting up the wall. He stared around him, terrified. He was shouting incoherent accusations at the room. It later transpired that he thought he was being raped, but I had no sympathy for his terror. I didn’t panic. I just screamed blue murder at him for frightening me so much by nearly dying.

I didn’t panic three weeks later, when he OD’d again, but I wouldn’t say I’ve become immune to panic. However, I’ve learnt to control it when it hits me.

The Daily Post #Panicked

©Jane Paterson Basil

Who they may have become

laugh-536287__480.jpg

Some squeeze into lonely, ignoble deaths, leaving loved ones grieving, inconsolable, screaming the loss, their dreams stolen in that icy moment. No-one will never see the greatness of who their beloved may have become, if they’d lived another day.

Backs sag, knees bend, wet eyes watch the coffin drop, long years of pinprick horror forgotten — stolen by a final tickle in the vein.
So long they grieved, but not like this,
never like this.

Old tears swim through fishes’ salty fins
to swill in the ocean of lesser loss,
while this monumental pain will always taste the same.

It makes no sense in heavy heads which rattle with the muddled question of where the connection may be, between

the child with smiling eyes, whose chubby fingers reached for the rising sun, the girl who laughed to see stars in the night-time sky; the boy who cried when the dog died,
and that cold pair of letters that nudge together: O.D.

O.D. Odd. Ode. Overdose. Too much of something, somewhere beneath the skin. The old hands know that the first shot was an overdose. Too much of a drug that the body didn’t require, which twisted the mind into thinking the needle of death held the elixir of life.

Photos spill from pine tables in rose-garden homes, they pile upon worktops in slick city buildings. Suburban parents and council house tenants examine the pictures in search of their children, trying to find a way to bring them back again.

Painfully, they recall
the day he won the game,
the way she longed for fame.

They can’t escape the horrid thought that hammers in their brains: “Was I to blame for the fall?”

Misplaced guilt and memories increase the weight of pain,
but still it tastes the same,
still it tastes the same.

“Another day and he may have gone straight,”
“another day and she may have been great,”
“They may have seen the light,”
they say, and they may be right,
but tomorrow came too late,
too often, it comes too late.

Some struggle with hope, and some recover to become great.
These are the lucky ones, for whom tomorrow was not too late,
but they have to be brave to break the chain
that binds the brain with links of lies;
their wills must be strong.

Those who succeed should give thanks that the reaper
made the mistake of waiting
another day.

The Daily Post #Elixir

©Jane Paterson Basil

Recovery

delicate-arch-960279__480

Last year, though drug-riddled and ill, still she wanted to please me. She saw a vintage sewing machine – my favourite make – in the window of a charity shop. She thought of me, and asked to see the manager, who told her she could put down a deposit. The manager knew it was for me – we go way back to schooldays, when we used to spend our weekends together, sitting on five-bar gates, swinging our legs, flaunting our budding sexuality, watching cars go by, and getting into scrapes with unsuitable dates, using each other as an excuse for escape. But that’s another story.

When I next saw Laura, she asked me if I would like a sewing machine, and I gruffly said that all I wanted for my birthday was for her to be clean.

She bought the machine anyway. It weighed a ton, but she carried it back to my flat, and I was grateful. It was beautiful, and worked like a dream. I thanked her, gave her a hug and told her I loved her, but I couldn’t resist smiling sadly, and saying, “Maybe I’ll get that other gift next year.”

I turned 62 yesterday. She gave me a book and a lovely card, hand-made by her, but most important of all, she delivered the miraculous gift I had been longing for.

Laura is clean.

blog28px

Laura was a child of spirit, born into a world of flesh, and she didn’t adapt in the way that most of us do. She spent her childhood confused and unhappy, but she was brave. She tried to fit into a world that understood her no more than she understood it. She was beaten down, time after time. The day came when she couldn’t take another beating, and she turned to street-medication.

She has felt, and witnessed, things that we cannot imagine. She knows what the bottom of the pit looks like, because she’s been there – in a place where we have never been, because our hearts beat differently.

I knew that she had to witness pure darkness before she could see the light, so I turned away from her. It was horrible – I looked down on her from my safe window, saw her staggering by, and felt my insides shredding. I coped by being angry, by feigning indifference, by talking to Serenity, my mannequin, by chanting affirmations – any way I could, I coped. I woke some mornings terrified that she may have died in the night, all alone – yet knowing she hadn’t, as I would have felt it as her life ebbed away.

She was sliding on black ice. She slid until there she was in utter darkness, with her eyes closed. When she opened them again, there were glints of light twinkling in the distance – not one, but many. There was her boyfriend Joe, me, her sister, Sarah, and other family members who never stopped loving her – and not only those, there were many – twinkling away, in this country, and all over the world – in America, Australia, Canada, Africa. I hope you all know who you are – all you who sent your good wishes, your healing thoughts, your love and your prayers – she saw your light. I know I’ve mentioned it several times, but I can’t get over what you have all done for her.

Laura’s 31 now. She’s no longer a schoolgirl; she no longer has to try to fit into a tight box for the convenience of school or society. She can practice her own unique dance, and she will be admired for it. She’s been burnt and frozen by life. She’s been cut, bruised,and fractured, but her scars make her more beautiful. She is her own person, brave, strong and creative. She’ll achieve her own kind of greatness.

Joe says that when the world points its finger and speaks of the mistakes of others, they speak out of ignorance. They don’t know the background. They don’t know that what they call a mistake may have been the right thing for the individual at that particular time, or that it may have seemed like the only choice available. I think he’s right.

We have a lot to learn from those who have climbed out of that dark pit.

I’m in shock, and for once it’s happy shock. I keep finding myself smiling about nothing – except that it’s not nothing. It’s all-consuming.

©Jane Paterson Basil

In the Street

streets.jpg

Saw him in the street today.
I could say we passed like strangers,
but it wouldn’t be true.

Years of  abuse
curled like vapour
in the grey space between us.
I caught the rueful look on his face,
maybe shame, maybe regret at having lost
his power to use me.
He limply lifted his hand in vague salute,
and my view willingly slid from his face.

He didn’t slow his pace –
neither did I.

After we’d passed each other by,
I felt chilled relief;
throughout the vacant years of addiction,
I have clung on to a fake picture of a wonderful son.

I don’t know when he went, or understand why,
but he died, leaving but a shallow crust,
to be squatted by the horror I saw
in the street today.

Maybe I need to grieve,
but it feels like I’ve been grieving forever.

Please don’t criticise,
nor empathise or sympathise.
Don’t tell me he’s still there, or that he cares;
don’t treat me like an innocent,
or like a green beginner ~
I may be too brittle to take it;
I may break.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Leave me alone

no-admittance-707931__340.jpg

Today you rolled into the shop
too wasted to be wise and stay out of my face;
the promised coffee cake replaced by oddly assorted items;
passata; puy lentils;
a pack of dried apricots and a jar of spice.

I refused a proffered pasta dish
(dehydrated for longevity);
I’ve tried it before and didn’t like it.

I blame myself for this intrusion –
the last time we spoke I told you I didn’t want to see you
until you had something to give.
and here you were – giving me mismatched ingredients
for a meal.

You usually take from me, so this made a change.

Your hands shook, the left one was black, as if
from that greasy ash I used to see printed on my table,
by my sink and on the bathroom floor.

Ugly images flashed by in dripping scarlet; blood
splashed across walls;
darkening drops blotting your clothes,
insulting my senses.

Needles, ripped vitamin e sachets,
little tin cups.
filthy soot, blood, blood blood.

Impossible to forget the horror borne for so long.

Here in the present, your body,
unable to keep hold of the accepted code of behaviour,
briefly convulsed, and as you recovered
you told me you were tired, but the jerks recurred,
and with them the excuses.

Why do you always think I’ll believe your lies?
I wish that you would realize I’ve seen the signs
a thousand times or more.

Your friend Slick slunk in an opposite doorway.
offering me an unknowing opportunity.
I made no comment except to suggest you go home to bed,
then I waved, and Slick crossed the road to speak to me.
We chatted about my flat, then, quick as a flash I
asked him what you were on.

Slick didn’t know what had hit him.
He batted his unthinking reply back to me:
It’s OK, Paul hasn’t used that, he’s only had Pregabalin.

As if I didn’t know.

So sad that Slick should think I’d be relieved.
He’s too deeply entrenched in the scene to face the fact that
any street drug is lethal for an addict.

I told you to leave me alone, turned my back
and returned to my work in the Oxfam shop.

Please, leave me alone.

I want you to go away;
that I may neither see or hear from you
until you are clean.

The Daily Post #Realize

©Jane Paterson Basil

His final binge

it was several years ago.
maybe by now the parents’ grief has caught up with them.
he had been a wild child, a troubled youth
and when he began absorbing chemicals
the neighbours probably whispered together,
nodding their heads and agreeing that it was inevitable.
the speed fed his brain, made him feel he was finally alive;
pulled from his head
so many important things he suddenly discovered he needed to say.
but the day came when he knew it was time to call it a day
so he drank alcohol instead.
later, and with difficulty, he even gave that up,
limiting himself to a little weed in the evenings.

I sometimes think that if I hadn’t helped him to fulfil his dream of visiting India
he would still have a reason to keep breathing,
but instead he realised his fantasy,
came home, put a bottle to his lips,
and began his final binge.
a few weeks later he collapsed and died.

after the funeral his parents drank tea on the lawn
when offered sincere commisarations,they loooked on,
confused, beffuddled, perhaps only able to take in
that this was more than just another thing their son had done.

©Jane Paterson Basil