Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Peaches Dies Of An Overdose In Front Of her Son; Smug Mothers Everywhere Polish Their Mirrors.

Prefacing this by saying I'm already cranky today about other things and I never wanted to chime in about Peaches but after some particularly nasty "news" pieces regarding her death, here's my two-cents worth.

But two-cents won't buy you very much heroin you need at least fifty bucks for a shot. Which isn't that much money but it is when you're broke with your arse hanging out of your jeans, desperate for a fix to shut your head up and no matter HOW much you use these days your head will not. Stop. Screaming. It's easy to get, easy to do, easy to fall into a trap so awful that by the time you want out it's too late. I'm pretty sure that no little kid writes "shooting up heroin" on their list of things they'd like to do when they grow up.

There's a line in the sand when it comes to using drugs and its associated behaviours, and it gets washed away every day by the turning tide so you draw new ones and new ones until you just say fuck it and stop drawing lines. Fuck the lines. The only lines are on a toilet cistern and you're hanging out with strung-out drag queens and prostitutes and criminals and gang members and you do whatever you need to do to deal with that fucking head of yours that won't shut up. You are what you. You are disgusting, vermin, literally using drugs for a living. Being a junkie is a full-time job.

Oh and when I say "you" I actually mean "me." That was one of the first things I learnt in one of the many drug rehabs I landed in during my twenties - to speak in the first person. So here we go again - *I* am a recovering drug addict and alcoholic and there are paths I travelled down that were full-on, disgusting, huge, dark, scary, liberating, beautiful. My genetic father was a violent alcoholic. My grandmother once told me that he visited her one night, so desperate for booze that he raided her pantry and drank a whole bottle of vanilla essence. He died in bed, surrounded by empty vodka bottles. I was twelve years old. I didn't feel much because I didn't know him - the intense pain of losing my father came later, as a young woman.

When I was little I remember being at my aunties house and drinking some red wine out of a plastic cup. I drank really quickly and when I asked for some more, the adults laughed and I will never forget one murmuring "Watch out, she'll be just like her father."

Before he killed himself, my stepfather taught me how to mix his Red Label Johnnie Walker Scotch just the way he liked it. Except my three fingers were smaller than his three fingers so I'd always have to add a dash extra along with the dry ginger ale and the ice. Trot it off to the living room dutifully, proud as motherfucking punch I could be useful.

So. Addiction, alcoholism, genetics, nature vs nurture blah blah blah. Nobody who has not felt the deepest unrelenting painful despair of being an addict and unable to stop can understand what it feels like. I went to my first recovery meeting when I was 23 years old, in Chatswood. I didn't understand what people were talking about when they were sharing. I didn't understand why people would laugh when somebody was joking about their very awful experiences? I hadn't yet learnt the language of recovery, it wasn't in my heart. All I knew was, I had problems with life, with my past, with myself, and with my drinking and drugging. And maybe they were all related? I will never forget arriving home after that first meeting, pouring all of my vodka and my flatmates lambrusco down the sink (sorry Rebecca) ... and the satisfaction I felt at putting those empty bottles in the recycling. DONE. Dealt with it. I will now not drink. Easy.

Now THAT is funny, for that was only the bare beginning of the journey I am still on today and will always be on, the one where I found my heart, where I put my faith in trust outside myself and surrendered to the thought that my life would be boring forever if I stopped drinking and using drugs. I would never, ever have fun again. Putting down the drink and drugs is so fucking painful I cannot even tell you in these paragraphs here. It's losing a limb, a lover. It's giving yourself up, standing up, being accountable, getting real, learning a new way of living, accepting your past, understanding who you are. It's hard to describe. It's the root of the root. It's fucking unbelievable. It used to be the hardest thing I'd ever done until my brother killed himself. He left me behind and I didn't even want to be here much either. I wrote my first suicide note before he was even born, and he was born when I was eight years old.

“Beating heroin is child's play compared to beating your childhood.” - Stephen King

Some families face things that other families do not and if you are lucky enough to be born into a warm, nurturing, loving family - hell, even just a family that ISN'T so incredibly fucked up - then rejoice in that and try to think a little deeper when it comes to the lives of people who were not given the same gift.

So many people feel sorry for me because I don't have a drink at the end of the day. I feel sorry for them because they need a drink at the end of the day. I like my way better. It feels more real. I'm forced to face myself again and again. I get confused when people post alcohol shots on Instagram. It's their total right because alcohol is legal and all, but when I see pics like that I may as well be seeing fully-loaded, artfully filtered syringes of smack lying gently on an outdoor table as the nearby waves on the beach wash the lines in the sand away. For "people like me" there is no distinction between drinking or drugging. I believe in total abstinence so it's all the same, I choose not to put anything in my system that takes the edge off. (Which is why I decided to come off all meds for bipolar but that is a completely different story, sorry, so much fuckedness, hard to keep up.)

I don't have an edge. I have a cliff precariously balanced at the end of the world and there is no drug powerful enough, no cappuccino martini strong enough, to take off my edge. Eminem is my hero in so many ways, and the past few years it's because he dove head-first into recovery so deep that even when he's on tour, his crew don't drink around him. And on bad days, hard days where my mind wanders to not healthy places, I think to myself, if Marshall Mathers has all of the money in the world and he STILL couldn't enjoy any drug available to mankind? Then maybe there's something to this recovery business after all.


It's good to have heroes. Like Marshall I have gotten clean, relapsed, gotten clean, relapsed. I was clean and sober for ten whole years. My love for my firstborn son cut through my addiction like a knife and he was all the drug I needed for a good while there. I went to meetings, had sponsors, did the steps. I made amends to the people I harmed. (Not all the people. Some of the people were fucking arseholes and just as screwed up as me.) You know what happens after you do the steps? You do them again. Because you're human and you still harm people anyway and you're still quite the arsehole yourself because life is damaging and you are so damaged and quit talking in the second person, Eden.

Using again after ten years was a bitter, bitter defeat. I used to judge people who went back to using. Never again will I be that arrogant. It's left me terrified. Good.

So. Last night I dreamt that I walked up to Michael Hutchence and told him he was going to die soon, but that Bono sang at his funeral and his coffin was beautiful because of that one tiger lily it had on top for his daughter, amongst all the other flowers. Then I turned to Paula who was standing next to him and told her she was going to die if she didn't stop taking drugs. THEN I walked over to Sir Bob who was standing a bit away and told him that when Michael and Paula die, he would have to take care of little Heavenly Hiraani Tigerlily. Sir Bob just looked at me with sad eyes and told me he already knew. Oh, the pain of watching the people you love destroy themselves!

Poor Peaches. She had been on methadone for the past TWO years of her short life. That's a sign of somebody struggling, somebody needing big help. That's a sign of someone who does not want to use heroin anymore. If you are not a heroin addict who has tried to stop using heroin and failed, then congratulations, good for you, seriously. Lucky you, huh? There but for the grace of God? I learnt in my very last, very favourite rehab up here in the Blue Mountains in 1998 (So why did you move to the mountains, Eden?" "Oh, you know. Fresh air, get out of Sydney for a bit.") I learnt in Westmount that you have every right to use drugs. You just lose the right to be a parent if you do. That pissed off a lot of the parents during group, but I wasn't a parent at that time so I didn't understand the significance. I was in rehab with the children of parents, and those kids had seen a lot of shit. I admire drug rehabs that take in the children of the addict, too. Because sometimes, in spite of everything - staying with your parent, even if they are using but trying to get help - is the right place to be.

Peaches Geldof should not have been shooting up heroin around her children. Especially by herself. Especially as they are such young babies who need a lot of care and attention and energy, something using addicts can often not provide. She was struggling to stay clean. Swapped the bitch for the witch with methadone and you cannot say that peaches Geldof did not love her babies because you do not know if she did or not. Her Instagram feed was jam-packed with photos of her and her two boys, she clearly doted and relished being a mother. Some people think it's sick that she was putting up this fake front to everybody. I think it's so sad that she was so sick. I think the only person she was trying so hard to convince she had it together ... was herself. And I happen to believe that she did love those boys, very much.

I am one syringe away from being Peaches Geldof. I've never used intravenously around my children and I pray I never do. But I could. The odds are a bit stacked against me sometimes, especially lately, on days when I wish I could take my pain away using the very best way I know. But addiction is a liar and a thief and is SO full of false promises. A drug counsellor called Anne once said that for an addict, the THOUGHT of using drugs is actually better than using the drugs. The anticipation. The ritual. The love that you feel, the love you perhaps never got. She looked at us all in the draughty dining room and told us to look around at everybody in the room. We did.

"Statistically, one out of ten of you will still be clean in a year. Be that one."

Anne often said aloud to herself in the middle of group, "Oh how I love junkies." She did. We were smart, and beautiful, amazing, with as much potential inside us as all the other people in the world. A lot of those people in that draughty dining room are dead. A lot are back out there, doing it all again, living the misery.

“Don't ever think you're better than a drug addict, because your brain works the same as theirs. You have the same circuits. And drugs would affect your brain in the same way it affects theirs. The same thought process that makes them screw up over and over again would make you screw up over and over as well, if you were in their shoes. You probably already are doing it, just not with heroin or crack, but with food or cigarettes, or something else you shouldn't be doing.” - Oliver Markus

If I used heroin today I would try to hide it from everybody I knew, even Dave and especially my children. I'd find some secret stash somewhere and I'd only do it during THESE hours or when my kids are busy watching TV or something. I'd hide it, when deep down I know I should be saying to somebody hey, I'm struggling to raise my kids right now can you take over for a bit? I love my kids, I love them I love them. But just like I said the other day, sometimes love is not enough. If I was using intravenously today I would still try to hide it and I'd tell myself just a few more times and then I'd stop. And maybe I'd overdose and die and my children would find my body and how easy it would be for people to judge, to say no I did NOT love my children, to shake their heads in disgust. "How could she?!" And the story of my death would be turned into clickbait for lame newsites that jumped the shark three years ago.

Here's a thoughtful, brilliant piece that Anna Spargo Ryan wrote - What Peaches Geldof Did." Thank goodness for people like Anna, who realise that things aren't always black and white. Who think a little deeper. Who know that if you throw a rock in the air, you'll hit someone guilty.

My children don't keep me clean. I keep me clean. And it's fucking hard, a battle that a lot of you won't know but MANY of you have witnessed in people you love. My brother often told me he wished he was an addict so he could get the same help I had, do the same meetings, hear the stories of the people who are struggling. My brother couldn't voice what was wrong with him. Getting clean in my twenties was a matter of life and death. He just silently lived with the pain and depression and the legacy of family dysfunction for years, until it became unbearable. He's all gone.

Going to meetings and hearing other peoples stories is a gift that helps me, over and over. Something happens in the rooms of recovery that I cannot put a finger on. Redemption, power, honesty, putting your weapons down. Getting real like the Velveteen Rabbit. You pity me because I can never Instagram an ice-cold bottle of Corona complete with wedge of lime? Well I pity you because you need things outside of yourself to function when the answers are in us all along, silly!

If you don't know what drug addiction feels like then you are lucky. My battle rages, always will, I will never be free of it. Peaches is free, now. I hope she can rest in peace. And I desperately hope my two boys never get given the dreadful legacy her two boys have been given.

I really hope you can try and understand what I'm saying. I'm off now to prep dinner, fold clothes, make beds, wrap my husbands birthday presents. There's an awful lot of people out there just like me, quietly living their lives with hidden battles, doing ordinary mundane things, hanging on.

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