|Biographical Non-Fiction posted March 20, 2009||Chapters:||...54 55 -56- 57...|
Valerie hits bottom.
A chapter in the book A Leaf on the Wind
Chasing the Dragon
Valerie hits bottom.
Sexually abused as a child Valerie grows into an adult with severe psychological problems. Diagnosed with PTSD and BPD she has to deal with nightmares, hallucinations, seizures, depression, alcoholis
"I've seen firsthand the terrible consequences of drug abuse. My heart is with all who suffer from addiction and the terrible consequences for their families."
The phone rang and the pager began to beep simultaneously. It was going to be another busy night. It was only ten o’clock and I had already gone on three calls. The numbers 000 flashed on the beeper, telling me Sue had a client for me. I picked up the phone and was surprised to hear Sarah’s voice instead of Sue’s.
“Hi mom. Working late again?”
Sarah knew I was working for an escort service but I told her I was simply a companion and there was no sex involved. I told myself she believed me but I also knew she wasn’t stupid. I made her promise not to tell Tina. I regret telling her about my job and asking her to lie for me.
Sarah still lived with me but Tina moved in with her father months earlier. Our constant fighting had become unbearable for both of us. Despite spending the night with a friend, Sarah always called to check on me. It didn’t matter where she was, she always felt the need to make sure I was okay.
Suddenly the pager beeped again and I told Sarah I had to go. I hung up the phone and immediately called Sue.
* * *
Dr. L. told me to slow down. He said I was heading for another breakdown. I insisted I was fine. I no longer hallucinated and it had been months since my last seizure. While he was concerned for my safety, he didn’t seem particularly shocked I was working for an escort service. Promiscuity was a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder and he said it was common for abused children to become prostitutes as adults. The word prostitute stung and I immediately became defensive.
“Prostitutes stand on a street corner and have sex in dark alleyways or in the back seat of a car,” I explained to Dr L. “I am an escort, I wear expensive clothes, go to fancy hotels, and I make damn good money.”
Dr. L. smiled and said, “a rose by any other name….”
I interrupted him, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I didn’t find his remark amusing.
“Valerie, you have sex with strangers for money,” Dr L said emphatically. “That is the very definition of prostitution. Let’s not get into playing word games, okay?"
I nodded with an air of sarcasm written on my face.
"In six months you have made a fortune and you still haven’t paid off any of your bills and the bank is about to foreclose on your house.” Dr. L said candidly. “You are out of control. The only positive thing I can say is you haven’t started using drugs.”
But I had. Working twelve to fifteen hours a day was exhausting. On more than one occasion, I had nearly fallen asleep at the wheel on the way to see a client. Being too tired to work was no excuse. Jack offered me some cocaine to help me stay awake. He knew cocaine was dangerous and addicting but his only concern was making more money. Whether or not I became addicted played no part in his generous offer to help me stay awake.
When I first started working as an escort, I was sent to nice hotels and repeat customers who had used the agency before. Most of the clients were nice guys just looking for someone to spend a few hours with. Some didn’t even want sex. They just wanted someone to talk to. After a few weeks, I started going to motels where some of the clients weren’t as amicable and often more demanding. I didn’t like seeing clients in their homes. Many were openly vulgar and being on their own turf seemed to give them a sense of power that often frightened me.
Complaining was pointless. The bottom line for Jack and Sue was money. Jack’s favorite line was, “For the kind of money you’re making you can put up with a few awkward minutes.”
Jack and Sue had more than twenty girls working for them and if each turned down just one call a night they lost $1,000.
Saying no to a call was simply not allowed.
Despite their lack of compassion, there were some rules Jack and Sue insisted we follow. Never stay on a call if there was more than one person on the premises. No exceptions. It was simply too dangerous. Never stay on a call if the client openly did drugs. They didn’t care if the client was high or, if he left the room to do a line, or to light up but if drugs were laying out in the open you had to leave.
Many of the girls I worked with were addicts and Jack and Sue were concerned having direct access to drugs was too big a temptation. A girl high on drugs was useless and could not be trusted. Cocaine sexually stimulates you but also diminishes your ability to perform creating a frustrating situation that can all too often become volatile. They clearly didn't care if you did drugs as long as you didn't do them while working.
Dr. L. was right to say my life was a mess. I spent all my money on clothes and jewelry while my bills sat piling up on the kitchen table. It wasn’t unusual for me to have $500 in my wallet ready to spend on a new pair of shoes or a dress. It didn’t matter how much money I spent because I told myself I could always make more that night.
* * *
It was inevitable, but the day came when all of the money I made went toward my cocaine habit. Needless to say, when I first started using cocaine I had no intention of becoming addicted. I had told myself that I was going to be different. But the power the drug had over me was indescribable. Every nerve in my body craved the maddening and intoxicating sensation it caused and, without it, my brain and body were unable to function. Jack and Sue fired me.
Addiction is a word that is inadequate in its definition. Crack addicts often describe it as “Chasing the Dragon”. That first hit is the one you spend the next five days trying to recreate. When you strike the match and hold it against the bulb of the pipe holding that tiny piece of white rock you anxiously wait for the smoke to slide up the tube. As you inhale, the anticipation of what is about to come causes your heart to race.
Within seconds, your brain is blanketed with the warm, soothing awareness that you truly have found utopia. Everything in the world is exactly as it should be. The air around you is filled with the exquisite reverberation of atoms of every color imaginable bouncing off each other creating a symphony of colors you never knew existed. You have entered a world you never want to leave. However, all too soon you find yourself sliding down the glass pipe leading back to reality. A sense of panic fills you. You absolutely cannot go back. You know if you do, you will simply die. You reach for another tiny white rock and place it in the pipe. You light another match in the hope of getting back to where you desperately need to be but, no matter how many times you light the match, you simply cannot find your way back home. And, with each failed attempt, the desperation and panic build until you suddenly realize you have spent more than three days locked in a room and spent more than $1,000 chasing the dragon.
When all your money is gone and drugs are no longer available, you cannot think clearly. Bright lights hurt your eyes so you close the blinds and turn off all the lights. Paranoia rages throughout your body, terrified you will not be able to get the money to buy just one more tiny little white rock. Just one, that’s all you need.
You don’t think about your children; who is watching them? Are they okay? You don't think about eating, you don't sleep, you don't think about losing your home. You don’t care if you have a place in which to live. You don’t think about anything except getting high. When you are an addict, THERE IS NOTHING ELSE!
* * *
The Greenwood Motel is a disgusting, filthy hole that houses drunks, prostitutes and the destitute. After sleeping in my car for two weeks, I called Teresa and begged her to get me a room for the night. I was surprised when she agreed to pay for seven nights at a motel.
I hadn’t eaten for several days and didn’t feel good. I knew I was running a temperature but I was convinced a good night’s sleep was all I needed. However, as the days passed I got worse, much worse. I was so weak I could hardly get out of bed to use the bathroom. I had a large gash under my right eye that was infected. I had no memory of how I was injured. My hands were also infected and so swollen that the skin was transparent and when I tried to bend my fingers, the skin split. The pain was excruciating. I faded in and out of consciousness. I knew I was very sick when I woke and realized I had urinated in my bed.
I opened my eyes and was surprised to see Tina, Mom, Teresa and Denise standing at the end of my bed staring at me. For a moment, I thought I was hallucinating but apparently, Tina had called them.
I tried to sit up but I was too weak. While my family stood by watching, Tina helped me to my feet and with great effort guided me into the bathroom. She helped me take off my clothes and when I looked at myself in the mirror, I was horrified at what I saw. My entire face was swollen and my right eye was completely shut. My face looked like a giant rotting pumpkin ready to collapse from its own weight. Unable to turn on the shower with my swollen hands and unable to stand on my own, Tina climbed into the small cubicle with me and still fully dressed, she began to wash the filth from my body.
Tina found me some clean clothes in my suitcase and helped me get dressed. After pulling up the blankets and bedspread to cover the wet mattress she guided me back to the bed. I lay back down, too weak to talk. I waited for my family to say something.
In a voice filled with disgust, Teresa said, “Let’s go get a cup of coffee and figure out what to do with her.”
Suddenly everyone was gone, leaving me alone.
Somehow, I found the strength to stand up and using the wall to keep from falling I worked my way over to the door. I picked up my purse and despite the excruciating pain, I opened it and pulled out my car keys. Shaking and ready to fall I gripped the doorknob and screamed in pain as I pulled the door open. I stood in the doorway a moment to catch my breath then very slowly walked across the parking lot to my car. Unable to stand any longer I collapsed onto the ground and lay motionless beside the car as two strangers stepped over me and continued on their way. Still holding my keys in my hand, I unlocked the door and climbed into the car. My entire body was shaking violently. I put the key into the ignition and held my breath as I anticipated the pain when I turned the ignition key. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I fought desperately not to pass out. I gripped the gearshift and pushed it up into the drive position. Using my wrists to maneuver the wheel, I slowly pulled out of the parking lot. I could only see out of my left eye. Driving at well below the speed limit, I somehow managed to drive the three miles to Harborview Hospital without passing out or causing an accident.
I parked in front of the emergency room entrance and sat silently for several minutes trying to muster the courage to grasp the door handle. Suddenly a loud bang on the side window startled me. I looked up and saw a security guard signaling me to roll down my window. However, when he saw my face he immediately called for help. Within minutes I was placed on a gurney and wheeled into the ER where I found myself surrounded by a barrage of medical personnel.
A nurse drew some blood and told the aide, “Take this to the lab for analysis and make it STAT!”
My blood pressure was over 210 and my pulse was 240 and rising. I was immediately transferred to the Intensive Care Unit where I spent the next three days being aggressively treated for a serious infection that was spreading throughout my entire body. An orthopedic surgeon, ophthalmologist and a physician from the burn unit who specialized in infections were called in to assist with my care. The infection had spread to the bone in my upper cheek and required surgery to drain the puss and clean the bone. The surgeon was concerned that with my blood pressure and heart rate so high, putting me under general anesthetic could be too dangerous.
He decided to do the surgery using only Valium to relax me. By the end of the third day, I had improved enough to be transferred to the Burn Unit, the best place to be if you have a serious infection.
Once I was on the road to recovery, the surgeon told me that if I had waited a few more hours before going to the hospital, I would surely have died. He said the infection would have gone into my eye, quickly spread to my brain and would have killed me within a few hours.
I was very lucky to be alive!
I spent two weeks in the hospital. When I was finally released, I had no money and had nowhere to go. I sat on the front steps of the hospital for several hours before finally asking a stranger for a quarter so I could make a phone call. Although she was the last person on the planet I wanted to talk to, Mom was the only person I could think to call.
I began to shake when I heard Mom’s voice on the phone. I did my best to sound calm.
“Hi, it’s me,” I said tentatively. “I have a favor to ask of you. Can I spend a few nights at your place until I can figure out what to do?”
Mom was silent for a few seconds, and then as though my request wasn’t anything out of the ordinary she said, “Of course. You are always welcome here.”
It took me more than twenty minutes to find my car. My hands were wrapped in thick bandages that were covered with tight elastic gauze gloves. Wrapped like a mummy made inserting the key into the ignition difficult. Holding onto the steering wheel proved to be awkward but unlike the day I had driven to the hospital, it was painless.
As I turned onto the exit leading to the floating bridge, a wave of panic came over me. I wondered if I was making a mistake. But, the prospect of spending the night in my car quickly pushed all thoughts of turning around from my mind. I told myself it would only be for a few nights. What could be the harm in that?
Earned A Seal Of Quality
Hitting bottom is not pretty. Valerie sufferes from BPD and PSTD which make everyday life difficult. Unable to get a job she goes to work as an escort and quickly descends into the depraved world of sex and drugs. Common sense and logic play no part in this part of Valerie's life. She has literally given up.Pays one point and 2 member cents.
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