68: A Long Hard Fight

68: A Long Hard Fight

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

A Long Hard Fight

Life is very interesting . . . in the end, some of your greatest pains become your greatest strengths.

~Drew Barrymore

My friend died on April 13th. I remember sitting in that dirty bathroom stall with her, passing a pipe filled with the same evil that took her life. One day we were lost, struggling, and addicted, yet determined to change. Within hours, however, my friend, who I will call Serenity here, lost her chance.

It only took one hit for me to become addicted. Serenity took a little longer, but within months she was a full-blown addict. We wore the same clothes for days. Showers were a privilege, and food was revolting. Glass shards took the place of our meals, our mothers, our hearts and our souls.

We weren’t forced into this life. We weren’t born into poverty. We had families that would die for us. We had everything we wanted.

Our lives gave the impression of being picture-perfect, and we kept the tormenting thoughts and evil flashbacks well hidden. We believed nobody would understand, nobody except our pipe, and the thick white clouds of smoke that filled our lungs. Addiction pushed us out of our homes and into the back seat of the man with the powdered devil. School was replaced with drug binges and the temporary relief of the high. We lost contact with our families and with our true selves.

On April 13th, we were two very sick teenage girls. We had been up for days, and Serenity’s demeanor was not normal. She passed up hitting the pipe, and talked about her family instead. I could tell she needed to go home. The drug was becoming less and less effective. The hateful thoughts grew and our self-respect died. We weren’t meant for this life.

We brushed our knotted hair and put on our cleanest clothes. Serenity was the first to be dropped off. We said our usual goodbye and I love you.

Not much later I arrived at my parents’ home. I knocked tentatively on the door. My mother’s relief-stricken face appeared. No judgment. No anger. Her embrace was the most comforting I had ever felt. My father’s eyes quickly filled with tears the moment he saw me, his broken, sickly-thin, addicted baby girl. His embrace told me, “I will protect you forever.”

I spent the next few hours getting reacquainted with a home filled with love. I lay on my bed, staring into the familiar, innocent face of my childhood dog, the same innocence I had possessed before the drugs.

The telephone rang. The call was for me. It was Serenity’s mother.

I expected a long speech. I expected hateful words. I wish that was what I heard. Instead, I heard cries of agony. “She’s dead.”

I was filled with a sorrow so deep it literally hurt. My best friend, the only person who ever understood me, was no longer here. My heart shattered. Hours later, there was another knock on the door.

I thought it was Serenity when I first saw her. She wasn’t dead? Was she really right here? But it was her sister. She told me how her sister, my best friend, had lost her life. After arriving home, Serenity had smoked a stash of meth she had hidden months before. While under the influence of that poison, she pulled the trigger of a small pistol.

People often ask me why I think my friend killed herself. I always respond with the same answer. She didn’t take her life. The drugs did.

People thought the loss of my best friend would end my drug use immediately. But I thought giving up the crystal would mean giving up the only friend I had left. I don’t remember much of the next few months, other than countless meetings with my drug dealer and sleepless nights spent weeping. I wasn’t really living at all. The only thing keeping me on this planet was remembering the tears of Serenity’s mother, tears I would never want my own mom to shed.

Then it happened. I felt myself being poked and prodded with needles. I could hear the sobs, so familiar, sobs of a mother losing her child. I heard an incessant ringing, and beeps so loud they hurt.

A male voice filled the room: “Toxicology report is back, ma’am. Your daughter has overdosed on crystal meth.”

My mother screamed.

I left the hospital nine days later and immediately checked myself into a rehab center. I had been to one before, but I had never been willing to actually change. During my time there, there were dramatic ups and downs, but eventually I began to blossom again.

It’s been over two years now since I lost my best friend. Her death was one of the biggest hardships of my life. She taught me so much during her time here on earth, but her death taught me even more. I’ve been sober for a year now, and I can honestly say I’ve never felt better.

My mother still worries, but her worry no longer consumes her. I’ve come to accept and love the person I am.

~Jeanette Rubin, age 17

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