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“Can we get some food?”

I’d been at the Werewolf’s house for two days.  It was mid-afternoon, my least favorite time of day, and the drugs were gone.

The house had seen better days.  The Werewolf lived in an old house painted hunter green with a substantial front porch.  We never spent much time outside when I was there, preferring instead to hide from daylight inside.  I always hated watching the first rays of dawn come in through the blinds in his bedroom.  Watching the early light creeping in through the cracks in the blinds always put an awful damper on our bender efforts.

Inside, the house was unassuming but functional.  There was no glamour to the place.  The wood floors were scuffed in some places but were a considerable upgrade from the ugly dark green carpet that used to rest atop them.  The walls were mostly bare, although there was a large map of the United State somewhere in the house.  The Werewolf never was much of a decorator.  There used to be two deep green vinyl couches in the living room, adding to the overall greenness of the place.  Those couches were replaced by a thoroughly comfortable neutral colored couch.  It was impossible to get comfortable on the old ones.  No matter how carefully you sprawled yourself on them your skin always stuck to that vinyl.

The dining room was empty except for a basic wooden table, compliments of Walmart. There was bench along one side of the table while chairs lined the other three sides, all equally uncomfortable.  At the beginning of a bender, the table was close to immaculate and bare.  By the end of the episode, it would be littered with ugly drawings, take out containers, dirty dishes and sticky cups.

The kitchen was never a good place to find yourself.  Cramped, cheap, and empty of a dishwasher, it was not a place I liked to be.  There was usually a mountain of dirty dishes in the sink, sometimes accompanied by a small army of fruit flies.  The peeling plastic linoleum had seen more sanitary days and the cupboards were generally empty of any kind of sustenance.  The fridge, however, was usually stocked with Gatorade, champagne, and leftovers with some kind of whiskey stored in the freezer.

We’d been up for a few days and I hadn’t really eaten since we started partying.  The drugs were gone, the sun was out, and it was a weekday.  I needed food and I needed to go home.

“I’m not getting any fucking food,” the Werewolf announced.

I was tired, cranky, and coming down.  I snapped and left.  And that was the last time I saw him.  I doubt I’ll see him again.  Our lives are moving in opposite directions in different parts of the country.  Without the drugs, we never had much to talk about. When I was using I had no interest in sober people. Now that I’m sober, I doubt that he’d have any interest in me.

When I got home I looked in the mirror.  I was green.



The Golden State

You are the hole in my head
I am the pain in your neck
You are the lump in my throat
I am the aching in your heart
We are tangled
We are stolen
We are living where things are hidden

The Golden State by John Doe always pulls at me, making me yearn for something, even after dozens of listens.  Part of me likes it because the relationship described appeals to me.  And part of me is reminded of the Ex, not just our past but also the possibility of a future, no matter how remote.

“I am the aching in your heart” just calls to mind a certain sort of relationship, generally the kind that I am prone to.  To be the aching in someone’s heart suggests that that in the relationship there is still something to be desired, something that’s longed for.  This longing, this yearning, is a feeling that I highly identify with.  At my core, I’m always yearning for something.  There’s a beautiful word in Spanish for this, which doesn’t fully translate back to English: añorar, to long for, to grieve, to miss.  It’s a deep and fundamental emotion that’s often the essence and motivation for my writing.  I write because there’s something that’s missing inside me, something I long for, a hole in my life I’m trying to fill.  And at the very least, my writing is a way of channeling this emotion, of making it real by reducing it to words.  There’s an emptiness in me, a longing for something.  

At my core, I’m probably longing for a relationship, for love.  Chronically single and bad with men, I’ve nevertheless always wanted a relationship, a boyfriend, someone to share my life with.  I crave the intimacy of love and the warm, secure feeling of being in a happy relationship.  And I’ve only had one of those in my 25 years of life.  I, perhaps vainly, consider myself attractive and desirable so my bad luck is a mystery I haven’t been able to solve.  But I did have one good relationship, at least for a little while, and  that was with the Ex.

He was my first real boyfriend and my first love.  The second time we hung out he told me he could see himself marrying me.  And that momentum carried us through the relationship– he, always making grand plans about our future; me, along for the ride and ready for whatever he threw at me.  He was committed to our future, which he ardently believed included kids (lots of them) and marriage.  Well, he was committed until he wasn’t.  He broke up with me seemingly out of the blue on an evening in early January 2011.  We’d been together for a little over a year and a half.  And it took me at least half of a year to even start getting over him.

But he’s never completely extracted himself from my life.  Even now, after spending more time broken up than we ever did together, he still calls.  He still makes grand plans about moving down south with me, about getting me pregnant (weird), and about making a ton of money together as successful professionals.  And, without fail, after two weeks of consistent contact he gets cold feet again and shuts me out.  “We’re talking too much” is his constant refrain.

I’ve learned to expect nothing from him and his yoyoing no longer breaks my heart– it’s become an almost comedic routine that I watch from the sidelines detached, predicting when the inevitable “we can’t talk anymore” text will arrive.

But even so, sometimes, I think that there’s still something there.  I think that he truly believes that we will get back together someday and fulfill his grand dream of marriage, kids, and money.  And most of the time, I don’t want this.  Since the break up I’ve been able to see some of his, and our, flaws and I’m ok with a future that doesn’t include him.  But sometimes, sometimes, I let myself think “what if.”  What if he is the aching in my heart?  Is that what I am for him, even if he’s not ready to admit to himself?

I don’t know when, or if, these questions will get answered.  But I do know that this song, John Doe’s “The Golden State,” reminds me of him.  Who knows if we’ll ever get back together, who knows if I’d even want to, who knows what our life would be like.  But I do know that, if not now, I have been the hole in his head, he has been the pain in my neck, I think I’ve been the lump in his throat, and maybe he is the aching in my heart.

We are love
We are hate
We are the feeling I get when you walk away….



The Exit Interview

I.  The Nurse

“Do you know how much longer he’ll be?”
The Patient had come to the nursing station to check on the Psychologist.  The Nurse knew that the man was already 15 minutes late for his appointment with the Patient and that it would be at least another 20 before he arrived.
“I’m sorry baby, he’s running late.  Sometimes it takes him awhile to get from the Evaluation Center back here to the Women’s Center.   I’ll come get you when he arrives.  Where are you waiting?”
“I’m in the Day Room. “
The girl seemed anxious and the Nurse wanted to tell her not to worry.  She’d spent three days with the Patient during her evaluation and, in her opinion, the girl had nothing to worry about.  The Patient had been warm and open with the other girls at the Women’s Center.  The girls who came in for evaluations were usually mad at the world and kept to themselves.  They never made friends with the other girls who were there for treatment.  And treatment was expensive!  $40,000 for three months of rehab was a lot to pay, but the Nurse knew that the kinds of girls that came to the Women’s Center could afford it.
The Nurse had been working at the Women’s Center for a few years now, and she thought she could tell who needed help and who didn’t.  And this Patient just didn’t seem like a girl who needed help.  She’d talked to the girl herself and, in her opinion, the girl’s five months of unassisted sobriety should speak for itself.
The Nurses got to see how the evaluation patients interacted with the residents of the Women’s Center, how– and if– they followed the rules, what they were like at meal times, and whether they were engaged in the activities they had to participate in.  And the Nurse had watched this girl.
The Psychologist finally arrived.  “She’ll be fine,” she thought to herself as she went to fetch the Patient.  “She’s got nothing to worry about.”
II.  The Director
She greeted the Psychologist, late as usual, as he met her in her office.  He’d asked her to sit in on the exit interview with the Patient, the interview he was more than thirty minutes late for.
The Director made a comment to the Psychologist as they walked past the entrance to the Day Room, which she thought was empty.
“Bringing those prescriptions here was a red flag for me.”  
The Patient had brought prescription bottles of three controlled substances to the Evaluation, which was only three days long.  The Patient explained that although she knew that she wouldn’t be allowed to take the prescriptions during her stay at the Women’s Center for the Evaluation, she had brought them in case the Evaluators needed proof that she was taking the narcotics pursuant to a valid prescription.  
The Psychologist nodded and murmured in agreement.  He had spent the most time with the Patient and was confident that his recommendation was warranted.  Even though he had only spoken to one out of the five references the Patient had listed, he told the Director that he didn’t think that hearing from the others would change his mind anyway.
The Nurse brought the Patient in.  The Director wondered if the Patient had been waiting in the Day Room.
“I wonder if she overheard my comment to the Psychologist.  If I had known that she was in there I would have been more careful, or at least more quiet, about what I said to the Psychologist,” the Director thought to herself.
The Director noted that the Patient looked anxious.  “As she should be,” she thought.  The Director knew what the Psychologist was going to say and was attending the meeting as a silent symbol of her support of the Psychologist’s recommendation.
She watched the girl as the Psychologist rifled through his papers, preparing to read his recommendation.  She was sure that the Psychologist’s recommendation was warranted.  She hadn’t reviewed the file but, in her mind, the fact that the Patient couldn’t even go three days without narcotics was proof enough that the girl needed treatment.  Wasn’t that why she brought the prescriptions with her?
“I’m sure she was full of excuses,” she continued to muse.  She kept her eyes on the girl, who was fidgeting nervously as the Psychologist straightened out his papers and prepared to read the recommendation.  “She should know what to expect,” she thought to herself.  “The past speaks for itself.”
III.  The Patient
The Psychologist was late and I was overdue for my exit interview.  I was beyond anxious as I waited in the Day Room of the Women’s Center.  I had brought my sketch pad and doodles to try to distract myself but as the minutes ticked by– 2, 4, 16, 20, 26, 31– my anxiety overwhelmed my ability to distract myself.  
By the time the Psychologist finally bothered to show up, nearly 35 minutes had passed since our appointment was supposed to begin.  I sat in the Day Room, too anxious to draw, ears peeled for any cue that he had finally arrived.
“…bringing those prescriptions here was a red flag for me….”
Her voice wasn’t far away.  She was probably in the hall, a few feet away from the entrance to the Day Room.  Her voice was familiar but I knew I’d never met her.  I pegged her for the Director of the Women’s Program, and I could hear the Psychologist speaking behind her.  They didn’t know I was in that room and they didn’t know I could hear them talking.  Talking about me.
The Nurse called me into the room and the Director introduced herself to me.  She had decided to attend my exit interview with the Psychologist.  I did not think this was a good sign.  Her presence and the comment I had overheard made me fear for the worst. I was not getting good news.
Going into the evaluation, I had been confident that I would leave with a favorable report.  I’d been clean for five months and was obviously stable. In my mind, this was all that mattered.
But as I sat through endless meetings with different doctors, nurses, therapists, and psychologists I began to feel the tide turning, and I did not like where it was carrying me.  No one wanted to hear about my progress, about how long I’d been clean, about why I stopped doing drugs.  
The Evaluators were interested in the past to the exclusion of the present.  I rehashed my drug history ad nauseum, telling the same stories over and over. And I got tired of telling those same stupid stories.  I started to fear that Evaluators were only listening to those stories and were ignoring my description of the present.   
“We’re recommending that you enter a 90 day residential rehab treatment program.”
My heart stopped, my stomach dropped, my neck and face got hot, and I immediately had to fight back tears.  
I had been wrong about everything.  My months of sobriety were discounted and waved away– I hadn’t gone to treatment to get clean so my sobriety didn’t count.  The controlled substances I took pursuant to valid and legal prescriptions– those were a problem, they were addictive, and I shouldn’t be taking them.  The glass of wine I had a few times a week– not allowed, I was an alcoholic. 
I sat in the room with the Director as the Psychologist read off the rest of his report, tears streaming silently down my face.  I’d been sentenced to 90 days.




1 Lorazepam, 2 Lorazepam…. 55 Lorazepam, More!

“I’m moving out.”

“What did you take?”

“I’m done.”

She was not pleased. And neither was I.

It was two days after law school prom and I hadn’t slept in 48 hours. Accustomed to 10 hours a night, was unacceptable. I tried everything– melatonin, smoking green, having a few drinks. All to no avail. So I got desperate. Kept awake by my anger and an accidental ingestion of PCP– ecstasy can be a dangerous drug– I resorted to more drastic measures.

I was home alone and my roommate was working late– I didn’t expect her back before 10 pm. Searching for a solution to my sleepless problem, my mind drifted towards my lorazepam. I was– and still am– prescribed 3 milligrams of the delightful controlled substance a day. Relying on its sedative powers, which would surely be accelerated by the few drinks in my system, I delved into my purse and popped 5 milligrams. The tablets were quick dissolve and I placed them under my tongue to ensure quick delivery of the drug into my system. Then I sat on the couch, watching some vapid television, and waited for the pills to work their magic.

No luck. Half an hour later, I was just as awake as I’d been before. I popped 5 more. Still no luck.

After ingesting about 15 milligrams, 5 times my daily dose, I started to lose the few shreds of discretion I still possessed in my sleep deprived state. When I was up to 20, I was still awake. I started researching overdose amounts– not to kill myself but to ensure the opposite, that I wouldn’t kill myself. The internet wasn’t particularly informative but I gathered that it was pretty difficult to OD on lorazepam alone. To be sure, I texted the Ex, a fourth year dental student with a good working knowledge– scholastic and experiential– of pharmaceuticals.

“How much lorazepam is an overdose?”

No response.

Ten minutes later I got a call from my best friend.

“What are you doing?!” Her angry voice sang into my drugged ear.

“Watching TV. What are you doing?” I probably slurred.

She had gotten a call from the Ex, who told her that I was trying to kill myself. I assured her that I was not. She asked me what I’d been taking. I low-balled her my dosage and told her I was, and would be, fine. She was not pleased but, being 1000 miles away, she had to take my word for it.

In a few short hours I had ingested what remained of my bottle of pills. I was up to a whopping 55 milligrams. At some point I had decided to finish off the bottle. 3 milligrams a day is a fairly high dose of the stuff. And taking 55 over the course of a few hours was pretty much unheard of.

And then my roommate came home. She could tell I was pretty out of it– I was draped lazily across the couch and my condition was hard to hide. Tired of putting up with my constant drug use, which had accelerated with each week that I backslid away from my promise to stay sober, she told me she was moving out.

We exchanged some unkind words and she stormed out of the apartment. I stormed off to bed, finally tired enough to get some sleep.

But I wouldn’t get the rest I so desperately desired. As soon as turned the lights out and sat on my bed, seconds away from pulling my feet up and myself under the covers, I was greeted by angry, glaring flashlights and the authoritative voice of a policeman.

“Ma’am, you’re going to have to come with us.”

My roommate had called the ambulance. And before I could protest, I was on my way to my second hospitalization.

This one wasn’t voluntary.

“I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m FINE.”

No one would believe me. I was able to walk without assistance, even though they did their best not to let me, speak with only a slight slur, and recount exactly what had happened. They took my vitals at the hospital and everything came back normal. There was no administration of an antidote, no pumping of my stomach. I was fine.

Unfortunately, no one would believe me. Scared by my ingestion of an ungodly dose of a controlled substance, the authority figures I was beholden to chalked my behavior up to a suicide attempt. Which meant I was headed straight for the psych ward, on a 72 hour involuntary hold.

Back in the place I hated the most, the place I swore I’d never return to, I was irate. One angry phone call to my roommate later, I was done. I knew my situation was bad but I never dreamed it would get worse.

She moved out.

I had taken 55 milligrams of lorazepam.

And everyone was done with me.


Waiting for an Ending

I’ve been working towards an ending for a long time. Months now. I started blogging in search of an ending and here I am– still searching. Maybe I can’t start from the end because I don’t know what the end looks like. Maybe I don’t have an ending. Or maybe I’m afraid of what the end looks like.

Or maybe this is my ending. Today. The stupid, ugly, tiresome present. The end, my end. I’ll tell my story from the end, and, in doing so, give you a picture of my present.

Here’s what it looks like: anxiety stretched out to the max, no substances to lean on, living in limbo– I’m dying for an end.

The Bar Admissions Committee is breathing down my neck. Hard. “Other information obtained by the Committee reveals certain information that raises some concerns including your treatment for Bipolar disorder. As a result, the Committee has determined that further inquiry will be necessary in order to make an appropriate assessment regarding your fitness to practice.”

Every time I read it, it makes my stomach turn, my anxiety rises in my gut, and I feel empty. I’m waiting for an ending.

My naked records, hospitalizations and all, have arrived at the Committee and are awaiting judgment. The things in those records– things said, admitted, disclosed under the thick and protective cloak of confidentiality— those things are what haunt me.

I’m terrified. Terrified that the Committee will look at my arguably ugly record and do their worst– Admission Denied. I’m terrified that the ending, the conclusion of the Committee’s investigation, will be my end. The conclusion of my law practice, a practice so short lived it was never given a chance to take flight.

Will the eyes of the Committee be sharp enough to see my scars? These scars, scars left by periods of instability, left by leaving lovers, left in the wake of hospitalizations gone awry, will the Committee see these scars? Will this be my end?

So here’s my story, from end to beginning: I know how this all began. And it’s not the beginning I’m scared of. It’s the end.

The end. (Or the beginning?)


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