I'd prefer to think of myself as constantly on a quest to learn more. That's how I've always been, ever since I can remember. I would find something that interested me and pour myself into learning as much about it as I possibly could. I think that's why I'm so excited to be a student again now that I'm starting graduate school this fall. The way I see it, there is always something I don't know and I have an insatiable hunger to find out.
A week or so ago I looked up the hashtag "heroin" on Instagram. I know, I know, what a morbid thing to do. I couldn't help doing it, honestly. I've never seen heroin before, not even a picture. Actually, I've never seen the vast majority of drugs before. I have absolutely no interest in ever trying any of them, but now more than ever I'm captivated by their power over people.
All I had to do was type that into the search feature and hundreds of photos populated my screen. I felt like I had just been given unlimited access into a secret world. From the safety of my bedroom I got an intimate look into lives of people who openly share their drug use. It was all there- everything I read about, but had never been exposed to.
As the days went on, there was this one profile I kept coming back to. She seemed to almost take pride in her drug use and the scars it had left on her body and in her life. She was so open, honest, and unashamed. As much as it scared me to see her pictures, I could sense a goodness in her. While looking through her profile I felt a strange connection to her that I can't really explain.
The day she put up a picture of Soboxone (a drug used to help people with opiate addiction) I felt compelled to comment on her photo and explain why I have been casually stalking her photos.
I also wrote:
"I've been following your story for a couple days now and I just wanted to thank you for being so open and honest. You've helped me understand the daily struggle of wanting to quit, but being pulled back in. Just know someone in California who has never touched heroin doesn't judge you and is sending you strength and positive thoughts"
She responded beautifully about her battle with heroin, her vision for her life, and how insidious and truly sneaky addiction is. One of my favorite things she wrote in her reply was:
"I personally believe all addicts go to heaven if there is one because we have already been through hell on earth."
I catch myself daily making assumptions about people, just as I used to about people who use heroin. I know now that these assumptions are usually very far off base. All it takes is putting a face to these judgements and suddenly you realize how cruel it is to assume. This small connection I've made with a woman from Detroit has really served as a reminder to me to check myself and be more open minded. You never know when you're keeping yourself from a learning opportunity a person could provide you with.
I am going to end this post with a piece of something truly heart wrenching that my new friend wrote on one of her Instagram pictures. I feel like this helps paint a picture of what life is like for an addict:
"And as the edges blur and the sun becomes reluctant to rise, I grow tired of waiting for the storm to pass and make another attempt to dance in the rain, water rolling off my shoulders, washing away a decade's worth of dried blood and city dust. And though I dance alone these days, my neck is gaining strength, almost powerful enough to lift my head to salute the world as it passes me by, our parades marching opposite directions on the same crowded street. And in these moments, if you tell me the end is near I'll just laugh and live on forever, with flames always lapping at my heels, rain pounding my back, and elusive hope slipping in and out of my grasp."