Since Blake's death, I've tested out hundreds of ways to cope. The most controversial of which has been befriending a heroin addict in Detroit. Five months ago, in a strange mixture of compulsive interest and morbid curiosity, I looked up "#heroin" on Instagram. What I found shocked, terrified, and intrigued me all at the same time. With one simple search I was given unlimited access into a private world. From the safety of my bedroom I got an intimate look into the lives of people who share their drug use through pictures. It was all there: everything I read about, but had never been exposed to.
There was one person's profile that I kept coming back to. She seemed to take pride in her drug use and the scars it left on her body and life. She was so open, honest, and unashamed. But as much as it scared me to see her photos, I could sense a goodness in her. While looking through her profile I felt a magnetic connection to her that can only be explained by fate.
A week or two into my secret fascination with her account, I finally decided to make contact. What started out as a simple question turned into several comments back and fourth. Then emails. Then texts. I explained how my boyfriend died from a heroin addiction I knew nothing about and she detailed her 15 year-long battle with the same drug. We listened to each other, cried together, helped each other reach a new level of understanding. We made an unspoken commitment to leave judgment at the door and support each other unconditionally.
In the five months since we became friends, Hyena has committed to sobriety and relapsed several times. And on a night I'll never forget, she talked to me during her suicide attempt as I desperately tried to remind her how much she had left to teach the world. And to teach me. Her story was far from pretty, but I've always been convinced that she deserved a happy ending. Through it all, I held the hope that deep down she believed she deserved one too.
Detroit Hyena is now 27 days sober. Although her other attempts at sobriety have ended in using again, I know it's different this time. I know this because everything about her is different this time.
I feel different too. In an unexplainable way, from across the country and with completely different life struggles, I feel like she and I have made this journey together. When I look at her only one word comes to mind: metamorphosis. It's been an incredibly gruesome past few months, but through the turmoil I believe there's been somewhat of a rebirth, for her and for me.
Through Hyena, an unknown junkie from Detroit posting pictures on the internet, I learned that kind questions grounded in a desire to understand are the passageway to greater awareness. An awareness about those who are different than you and, more importantly, about yourself. I am forever grateful for the day that the strange mixture of compulsive interest and morbid curiosity lead me to her. I told her before, "I don't always support your choices, but I will always support you." And now, with incredible pride and love, I can finally say I support both.
Congratulations on your 27 days, Detroit Hyena. Here's to 27 and forever more.
Here's the link to her blog. She's an incredible writer: http://detroithyena.blogspot.com/