Less Than Nothing (It is what it is)

When my addiction took over, it was like a 2 by 4 had come out of nowhere
and knocked me down. All I knew was that I was trapped in a tangled web and
I didn’t know how I’d arrived there or how to leave.  I loved my boyfriend Mark, but he couldn’t support my addiction any longer.  My drug use had turned from

recreational to life altering in a matter of months. A predator in
disguise, Chewy (Walter), pounced like a wild animal on fresh meat when he saw my attraction to crack and Mark’s inability to provide it for me.  Mark had this ability to walk away from a drug.  He sold drugs to support our habit, which is how we met.  I hung out in The University of Washington district (The Ave) after school and on weekends looking to buy acid and willing men of age to buy alcohol.  I met him on a summer day between my sophomore and junior year of high school. At 22 years old, he was happy to buy alcohol and supply me with all the acid I wanted.  I wouldn’t smoke weed. It made me pass out, which is unfortunate, because it’s the safest drug.  Once he introduced me to Meth and

Cocaine, my addiction escalated at an alarming rate.  It takes some people years to get to such a point, others never get there at all.  I have learned that each addict is different, manifesting different characteristics at various times.

As our drug use increased, I fell out of his grasp. He tried to warn me of the consequences when he saw my need to use was greater than his, but he was incapable to stop me or help me.  He witnessed the drug dealers eyeing me like a sacred untouched virgin fearfully awaiting sacrifice.  He could see the future.  He knew of girls in his past who were like me. He had seen many outcomes to the same beginning.  He could only stand by and watch where this was going. 

When Chewy would motion for me to follow him into the bathroom, Mark
wasn’t looking. I naively went in anticipation of the good hit that I was
usually denied when using with Mark. When I said, “What about Mark?”
knowing their hatred for each other, He replied, “Don’t worry about him,
he doesn’t love you, he can’t take care of your needs.” I hesitantly sat
on his lap waiting for that pipe to touch my lips. He wouldn’t let me do
it myself; he was in control the whole time, something unfamiliar to me,
something I was about learn and never forget for the rest of my life. He
took a hit in front of me as I watched. He held the pipe to my mouth and
put the other hand under my shirt or in between my legs. I didn’t like it,
but I wanted the drug and I didn’t know how to speak up for myself. And all
of a sudden I was addicted to his lure, and his new addiction was my
Mark caught on to these brief but frequent encounters with Chewy.
He was livid. They threatened to kill each other. I was scared. I was
loyal to Mark because I loved him. It was my addiction that followed Chewy.
I know now that very few who smoke crack can sell it as well. Your
profit ends up in smoke and you can’t make any money. The successful dealers
are those who don’t smoke it. Of course this is something I only know in hindsight.  Chewy smoked crack, and he was arrogant and selfish.  He assumed I would buy his façade.
He continued to ask me to be one of his girls. I declined, at least
knowing that meant being a “prostitute.” I know he had at least one girl
out there on the street making money for him.  Translation being… sell yourself, hand over the money or drugs, and be left with nothing but a feeling of emptiness, which originated as a hope of getting high to forget what you had become. A vivious cycle.
One night in a crack infested apartment, Mark saw me come out the
bathroom with Chewy. Chewy left. Coward.  Mark looked at me with heavy
disappointment. I felt ashamed and guilty because I knew this was exactly what Mark had warned me about. I just sat there as Mark ignored me in an apartment

full of strange faces and crack smoke.  It was so foreign to me then, but now as I recall it, it painted the scene of every crack house you have seen on TV or in the movies.  Except I was there, and I was practically a child.  I wanted to go
home…but I couldn’t.

Mark followed Chewy with a gun in his hand.  Mark was so temperamental.  At 22, he seemed already so damaged by the drugs and lifestyle.  His personality would change in an instant. Looking back, I am sure he had a major personality disorder.  He shouldn’t have had a gun.  Often, we would be driving in my car, and he would start shooting his gun in the air and yelling out the window.  One time he became angry with me about something I cannot recall.  As he left my house, he walked down the alley firing shots.

As Mark left the apartment in a rage looking for Chewy, I went after him.  I didn’t want this night to end like so many others… watching a police car drive Mark to the King County Jail leaving me alone on the street.  Scared.   Somehow Mark’s hunt for Chewy turned into a hunt for me.  I noticed Mark a block behind me. We were on University Way, it was congested with cars and people.  I heard him yelling.  This occurrence must have triggered one of his scary personality changes.  I knew I couldn’t let him catch up to me. Scared, I walked faster.  I could see people turning around with curiosity as they could hear him.  Some madman was walking the street waving a gun around.  It was my boyfriend. Mortified with fear and embarrassment, I went into a pizza restaurant and hid behind a pillar.  The people seated inside were looking at me strangely.  I don’t blame them.  I nervously peered outside hoping he would pass.  I waited and never saw him.  Too terrified to step outside, I walked to the back of the restaurant and found a row of video games.  I stayed there and hid until an employee told me they were locking the doors.

I Mustered up the courage to walk outside.   Now dark, there were still people walking and cars driving, but not so many as before.  Shaking, I could feel his presence.  I walked. During this time, I had run away from home. I hadn’t been home in two weeks.  Mark and I were living on the street, sleeping on couches from time to time if we were lucky.  I didn’t have my car.  I didn’t have any money. Only the clothes on my back.   As I turned a corner, I saw 2 police cars and the familiar silhouette of Mark handcuffed and pushed up against a car.  I froze.  He didn’t see me.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted him to.  A female officer talked with him and finally placed him in the backseat.  Sadness filled me because I didn’t want him to go to jail.  At the same time, I was angry.  Mark was abandoning me on the street to fend for myself.  A street crawling with vultures.  I waited until the squad car drove away.  With tears streaming down my cheeks, I walked. Suddenly, thoughts of Chewy flooded my mind. He was still out there.  Fear of an encounter with him sent my brain into fight or flight.  I asked every person I passed for spare change so I could use a pay phone.  This was 1991, so I couldn’t just grab my cell phone from my pocket.

When I had the right change, I nervously put the coins in the phone and dialed home.  I knew my mom was worried.  I knew she was furious.  Worried about me.  Furious with Mark.  Although it wouldn’t be a pleasant ride home to West Seattle with her crying and yelling, I knew she would be come for me. She had tried the tough love method to deal with my behavior, but she worried too much and didn’t want to find her only child dead.   After one suicide attempt already in my past, she couldn’t bear losing me.  My mother had been over protective throughout my childhood.  In her attempts to shelter me, I squirmed.  She smothered me.  I couldn’t breathe.  I rebelled.  However, calling her in the middle of the night as a last resort I never intended.  But that’s where I ended up.  And I couldn’t change it.  I stood clutching that pay phone hungry, cold and tired. That 20 minutes seemed like an eternity.  As she pulled up to the curb, I knew I was safe.  In for a fight, but relieved.  Happy just to get off my aching feet, I sat down and closed my tired eyes.  My mom embraced me with tears.  I can only imagine what it feels like when your daughter is missing.  I hope I never find out.

My mother yelled, screamed and cried in an attempt to understand me.  I didn’t understand me.  How could she?  She cursed Mark.  Convinced he ruined my life, I insisted on taking responsibility for my own actions.  I never blamed him for those things I did.  And I am just getting started digging up the memories. I have kept them locked up so long.   Maybe a 22 year old man shouldn’t put a 16 year old girl in harm’s way.  But I can’t blame him.  I was a willing participant.  I didn’t know how to stand up for myself or how to say ‘no’ but placing the blame on one person just isn’t fair.  Yes, I am a victim, but I refuse to feel sorry for myself.  I guess that’s where my mother and I differ.

Yes, I ran away again.  Yes, I continued to use drugs.  Yes, I had a couple more encounters with Chewy, one of which is in the story “The Unforgivable Morning.” Yes, I went back to Mark.  Not that many years after this, I met the man I would eventually marry, who led me down a similar path, but worse.

Life is a series of choices.  One molding the next.  I am where I am in life today because of my choices.  Sometimes I get mad and down on myself because I am not what I set out to be, but that’s okay.  It is what it is.  I say those 5 words to myself many times a day.  It doesn’t fix anything, but it helps.


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