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Finding Serenity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By , Moonstone, CA
Smack, H, dope, junk, horse, white girl, hero, lady, goods, fix.

Whichever term you use, heroin takes no prisoners and has no mercy. Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way. I chose a path nobody would ever wish to take, and one that I am doomed to walk for the rest of my life.

When you start chasing the dragon, there are only three places you can end up: rehab, prison, or dead. I was affluent enough to avoid being locked up, and I managed to escape what was almost my death. I lucked out; most don't get that chance, and even for the few who do, don't think for a second that rehab is a walk in the park. It's a continuous battle. From that first time you decide to take a chance until the day you die, that craving, that dynamic desire, will forever be inside you.

My life was completely out of control. I was doing things I could never have imagined, but I found ways to justify my actions. I was skipping school, staying out all night, both doing and dealing drugs, stealing money and belongings, pawning jewelry, selling anything I could get my hands on, getting into fights, going to raves, and disrespecting everyone, including myself. I didn't care about anything except my love affair with drugs. I did all sorts of unimaginably selfish and stupid things. I was wild and rebellious, seemingly beyond help. Rehab was the only speck of hope anyone still held for me.

I was the devil child with two saints for sisters.

Looking back, I wonder, how did it all happen so quickly? My first time remains a vivid memory in the depth of my mind. The rest is one long flashback mixed together from many recollections.

An innocent little girl, an experimenting curious child, in the blink of an eye became a thief, a cheater, a user, a liar, a loser – a dumb, dense, miserable wretch.

All that, I became; all that, I was.

For a long time, I didn't even want to change; I just did what was expected so I could leave rehab and go back to my old ways as quickly as possible. I knew nothing else, no other way of life. I attempted to ­ignore what I was being taught in rehab. I listened, to give the impression that I was progressing, but I ­wasn't absorbing a word of it.

Words of wisdom were meant to bring change, to instill hope. But they went in one ear and out the other. I saw them as fierce words with no intended meaning, blowing by like the piercing wind.

Eventually, our groups became more intense. I couldn't ignore it any longer. No matter how much I wanted to, or how much easier it would have been to run away, I stayed. It was as if a huge monster was staring straight at me. I was more frightened than I can tell you, but I had no choice but to stand my ground. Contrary to what I believed at the time, it was a life or death situation.

I started to take in what was being said. I began to hear the words, even though I didn't want to because I was used to living my life in denial. I protested behind the walls of my own world. It was a long and deadly battle, but I was eventually defeated. I was conquered by what I came to believe were angels.

Get me out of here. Too long, it's been too long. I feel your tight grasp around my neck. My throat closes. No air, gasping for breath. Suffocated.

Finally, after being sent to a second rehab center in New York, I came to realize that something needed to change; I needed to change. I now understood that I was not as happy as I thought I was. My mind had been playing tricks on me. There was something else inside me, something I had no control over. At that point … I had a problem.

Drug cliché number one: admitting you have a problem. Check. A breakthrough.



Dear Disease,

You numbed all my pain away but caused me more in the end. You brought me way up high, but then struck me down so remarkably hard. You let me have fun for a while, but gave me problems to last a lifetime. But I want to thank you.



I was in the cafeteria for lunch one afternoon while the adult patients, who were detoxing at the time, sat at the tables nearby. I remember watching them fighting, whining, and acting like children. Their behavior mirrored the way the teenagers in rehab acted, except they were adults. It seemed as if they sincerely thought like kids. Why don't you act your age? I thought. If I was blind, I would assume you were five. How old are you? I suddenly realized that when someone gets heavily into drugs, they get stuck at the age they began at. Their mind gets locked up since all the drug use blocks its growth. They never grow up.

It was in that moment that something clicked in my head. I knew that I never wanted to be one of them. I couldn't imagine having to live in a drug rehab facility as an adult. Obviously, something needed to change. I realized I could not leave and go back to the way I had been living. I needed to start putting in an effort to change my habits, but I knew it would be almost impossible on my own.



Dear Disease,

You tricked me, only to make me realize the truth. You took away all my friends, only to show me who's real. You took away the life I knew, only to bring me here to save me. You locked me in your dream world, only to make me learn what reality is. Thank you, for I am a stronger and better person now.



At rehab I met some great people. I had the most helpful and understanding counselors, case managers, group leaders, and speakers. But I never thought, when I finally reached out a hand, that the people who would help me up were the ones in need of help themselves. I was fortunate to befriend others who knew exactly what I was going through. Not only did they help me with the realization that I could no longer hide in the drugs, but they made it easier not to go back to the friends I had before.

In time, when I was stable enough, I gave my hand to them. Together, we learned how to deal with the emotions we had numbed. I found a family of people I didn't even know existed a few weeks earlier.

How could they be so selfless?

They were there for me, and they knew what it was like. We dragged each other through the struggle together.

My father always told me that when he was in Vietnam, the most important thing was the man standing next to him. That's how it was with us. Their self-denying souls carried me the whole way through.

With so much help and support in staying strong, I learned more than I ever imagined I could. I wanted my new family to stay proud of me, as they were from the start. I would do anything not to disappoint them. In a way, every one of them took part in saving me. If it weren't for them, I truly do not believe I would be here today.

“Some I've seen; some, never again.

But there isn't a day my heart doesn't find them.”

Saying the Serenity Prayer each night before bed with my new friends gave me a new foundation to live by. This experience taught me that I must come to terms with what I can't control in my life, to turn around what I can change, and to be able to tell the difference between the two. Drilling these life lessons into my head helped me to understand what they really meant. Then, putting that knowledge into action created a drastic and positive change in my life – a turn for the best.



“God, grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

The courage to change the things that I can;

And the wisdom to know the difference.”



Although I don't regret the mistakes I have made because I eventually did learn from them, I never plan to go back and make them again. Even though it has not been easy, this day-by-day struggle is something I have learned I have the strength to overcome.

I now live one day at a time,

And savor each moment as it comes.

I have accepted that catastrophe is a road to peace,

And continue to take this world as it is.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






Join the Discussion

This article has 7 comments. Post your own now!

LifesIllusion said...
Nov. 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm
i really enjoyed reading this. the way you described what the main character was going through was perfect. it made me really stop and think about how lucky i am. oh and congrats on getting a story in the magazine. :) check out my work? thanks!
 
whiterosebeauty said...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 8:21 pm
i really like this. i like the imagery and description. it's really great that the main character was able to realize what she did. there are so many people that never even come close to that realization. and it's really quite sad. but all in all, great piece.
 
adastraabextra This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 10:50 pm
thank you so much. and yea, its truly unfortunate how many people lose their battle with addiction or even just give up competely, and the main character in the story is actually me. i really appreciate the feedback. thanks again. :)
 
Annabelle7614 said...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 3:14 pm
This is very good! I like the symbolism and description you used!
 
adastraabextra This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 4:52 pm
thanks for reading it, and for the feedback, i truly appreciate it. :)
 
straycat said...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 2:53 pm
no idea why people start doing that stuff anyway
 
adastraabextra This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm
i completely get why some people don't understand why someone even begins to use drugs. there are many reasons that people do, and i know most of them seem stupid to others, and thats fine, but things such as certain undiagnosed psychological disorders, depression, stress, peer pressure, and even curiousity are a few examples of what may lead a person to try drugs.
 
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