Sunday, May 6, 2012

COPS! Part 1

(Note: I planned on telling three stories here but, as usual, the first one was so long that I decided to break it up into more than one part. I'll try to write part 2 next week.)

As always, italics are the words of the voices in my head

The hardest part of writing about things that happened while I was on meth is coming to grips with the foolish and embarrassing things I did that involved people that weren't using meth. You might think that's crazy or doesn't make a lot of sense. It probably doesn't, but for whatever reason copping to the things that went on in my head or with other people just as high as I was seems kind of zany and wacky. My behavior and antics when there were sober people around seem humiliating and depressing. Actually, that's only partially true. I can usually tell these stories in a room full of other addicts without much problem. For reasons that aren't completely clear to me, sharing them in this forum leaves me feeling extraordinarily exposed. (I know there are several people who will read this and want to explain these reasons to me. Trust me when I tell you that you don't know why it bothers me any better than I do AND, even if you do, I don't think I'm ready to know.)
Be that as it may, those things are part of my story too. And a couple of them give you a incredibly clear indication of just how terrifying it was to be inside my head back then. And how real it all was to me.

As an aside, I'd like to just explain that as difficult as some of this is to disclose, I don't regret any of what happened. At least not in the sense that I would erase it from my memory if I could. Someone in a meeting recently was talking bout how grace (i.e. God's grace) is a gift we get even though we might not deserve it. He was referring to the gift of surviving our addictions and having lives that are in many ways truly miraculous. But I also see the things that happened to me during those dark times as grace. I'm defiant as all hell. I always think I know best. I'm always certain I can think my way out of a situation and I don't need your advice. Well, at least that used to be me.

However, I got the gift of being shown – day after day for more than a year – that I did not have the answer to this problem. I'm sure I've written here before that I would walk around all day at war with the voices in my head that were conspiring against me. At least 75 percent of the time, just at the point before I had to sleep (regardless of how much meth was in my system), my brain would let me believe I had found the answer. I had finally outsmarted them and when I woke up everything would be fine. Of course you know how that turned out. Every time (I was going to say every day but I neither slept nor woke up daily) I woke up, everything was exactly the way it was the day before. Every time. Without fail. For a year (actually more). So when other addicts say things to me like, “I think I can probably drink without using meth” or “I really thought I knew how to handle it this time” I'm never swayed. At least I haven't been so far. Almost five years later, I still remember the crushing and total mortification I felt each time I realized I'd been duped again. I am not ready (and hope I'll never be ready) to do battle with that kind of futility again. And I honestly believe that if I hadn't lived through every moment of that, I might be one of those people who continually believes the lie that this time I can win.


It was probably December of 2006 when the it happened for the first time. I was home all day alone as usual. Only not really alone because there were people talking to me from everywhere. They were in the bedroom. They were in the air shaft outside the window of the “office”. They were hovering outside the bathroom window. I didn't know how they were doing it, but I knew they were there. They were also right outside the front door. I would try to get a glimpse of them by staring out the peephole for minutes at a time, occasionally opening the door quickly to catch them ducking back into the stairwell. But theses MoFos were clever. And quick. I could never quite see them. Now and again, I'd see a shadow so I was certain they were there. But that was all I ever got.

Periodically I would leave the front door wide open. My strategy was to lay such an inviting trap that they wouldn't be able to resist running over and getting a good look inside. But they weren't stupid by any means. They were never lured into view. Those times that I did have the door open, the worst one (the woman who I never identified) would stand up on the floor above in the stairwell plotting (in what was obviously a stage whisper she intended me to hear) with her co-conspirators.

If we call the police and the door is open when they get here, they can just walk right in, right?

Now I wasn't aware of this at the time, but I'm fairly certain now that my level of fear and frustration at what was happening around me was directly related to how many hours/days I'd been awake. Usually, after a few hours sleep I could tolerate some amount of antagonism without reacting. Because of what I did in response to that statement, I can only assume I'd been up for several days.

As soon as I heard her say that I flew into a rage. Oh yeah. You want to go there bitch? Let's go. I have the phone number for the cops too. Let's see how you like it. Now, whenever I think back over these incidents one of the things that always astounds me is how lucidly would blend fluidly with psychosis. Here I am, charging to get my phone to call the police (on MYSELF – let's not lose sight of that) and I thought right then: don't call 911; this definitely doesn't qualify as an emergency.

So off to the computer I go to hunt down the non-emergency number for the police precinct around the corner from my apartment. I'm not sure why I went to all that trouble. There was a bodega right next store to the haunted mansion and there were always cops either in there or parked right out front – right in front of my apartment building. Regardless, I made the call. You're probably sitting there right now wracking your brain to figure out what on earth I could possibly have said when I called the cops. I can help you with that, but only a little. I know that my complaint was that I was being harassed and terrorized by a woman that lived on the floor above me. I can't recall exactly now, but I'm pretty sure I explained that I didn't know which apartment she lived in, I didn't know her name and I had never actually seen her.

The woman on the phone (I remember her being a woman, but that may or may not have been the case), bless her heart, told me that I should calm down and wait there. She would send someone over shortly. I try to make myself feel better by telling myself that I'm sure I wasn't even the craziest phone call they got that day, but really I probably was.

Of course, now I had a new problem. There were cops on their way to my apartment. And the fact that I was high was really the least of my worries. I darted to the office and started hiding drugs and paraphernalia – I don't want to list everything because I know that can sometimes cause the minds of addicts to race off in directions they don't like to go but suffice to say I had more to do than just put a pipe and a baggie under the mattress.

As I was finishing that up, I looked at the shelf above my desk. On it sat a butcher knife. Shit. Now I had to run around the apartment collecting the knives that I had in every room – I never wanted to be caught without a weapon of defense at arm's length. This actually would have had to been done in a couple of hours anyway because I never wanted my boyfriend to get home from work and realize I'd spent the entire day waiting for “the battle”. Obviously I couldn't hide my crazy from him like I could from some other people ... and he was not amused. I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure he would open all the windows in the apartment before he left for work specifically because he hated that I would use broken broomsticks and 2x4s to make sure they couldn't be opened from the outside. Or he might have just been hot because the apartment was sealed like a Tupperware container 24/7 when I was awake.

I'm not sure how long it took for the cops to arrive, but I remember that I had finished “cleaning up” and was sitting perfectly still on the sofa in the living room when they rang the buzzer. I don't really know what all happened during their visit. I know they never asked to go beyond the living room, which kind of shocked me. I was so ready for this whole thing to be over by then that I think I would have let them search the apartment if they'd asked. Mostly because I figured that even if they found my drugs, they'd also find all the cameras and recording equipment that had been installed to spy on me. Plus, I had this vague notion that if I got arrested, this woman would have to show her face in court to testify.

But they didn't search the apartment. They didn't even ask me if I was high. They were incredibly compassionate. They looked around out in the hallway, both on my floor and the one above. Then they came back and explained that while they really wanted to help me, there was not much they could do if I didn't know anything at all about the person harassing me. I was crushed, but at the same time resigned to the fact that she had won … this time.

I almost got out of the whole situation without any lingering effects, but not quite. Just as they were explaining that I could call again if I had more information and were about to leave, my boyfriend arrived home from work. If you've ever seen anger, fear and embarrassment all at the same time on someone's face you can picture the look he had. In fact, after the police left he actually told me I was an embarrassment. I'm sure there many other causes, but I'm pretty sure this was the first major event leading to when he told me two months later, “I was so in love with you. Now I don't even know who you are and I don't like you at all.”


  1. I'm sending you a virtual hug. Thank you for sharing...I know its hard, but I hope it has some positive effect for you.

  2. See now, I was expecting your title to have a different meaning, especially after your first paragraphs mentioned what it's like to cop up to something.

    Anyway, the one thing I read in many of your posts that comes off as unfair is your separation of people either as users or non-users, which isn't something you started doing only after getting clean but is something that, being clean myself, I would never do. I tend, at this point, to look at people as people, all of whom have flaws, big and small.

    I like reading your stories because they help bring clarity to a situation in which I was too often involved. These posts give me clarity about what it was that you were fighting when you'd arrive at my apartment, either to hang out or to, on more than a few occasions, conduct business. Like I said before, those times were like a tightrope walk and I had little more in mind than making sure that you wouldn't hurt yourself or anybody else (which was, indeed, a concern of mine).

    I don't think you need to be embarrassed about any of these things. Embarrassment is just a form of shame, which I'm sure you understand is no good in remaining clean. I guess part of your need to share these stories is to face such shame, but only you could make that clear.

    Anyway, I'm glad you're finding more time in your schedule to keep your blog going. I've considered more than a few times starting one of my own, but I don't think my life is interesting enough to sustain such an endeavor. And, frankly, I don't think I'd feel fulfilled by doing something that I'm pretty sure would be of little interest to most people. That said, I'm glad that you are able to keep interest alive. You've always been good at telling stories and breaking them into multiple parts is a good way of sustaining interest, so I'm looking forward to part 2 (and possibly a part 3, if it comes to that).

  3. More great writing from a really great writer. Hope you are collecting these for a book! -Kathleen