THE HABIT TAKES OVER EVERYTHING.
LIBRA AND I remained together for over a year and a half. Which is pretty good-going, considering that, despite my declarations that we could have gone on indefinitely, our relationship was quite obviously (in hindsight) nowehere-bound. But we stayed together, as I say, for the first year and a half of my addiction.
In this time pretty much all aspects of my life began to slide. First went my finances. The next thing to go was my housing.
Now I'd found my room in London thanks to the personal recommendation of a uni friend to a landlord who rented out a great many rooms in house shares across the local area. Not only did he charge a really reasable rent for the area but literally all was included in this - the kitchen was the best I've ever seen in a rented house. We had two bathrooms between seven of us (when he could have converted one into an extra moneyraking bedroom). Whenever anything needed doing, the workman, with whom we were on first name terms, was there usually the same day to fix it. My landlord seemed to specialize in taking in school and university leavers, artists, musicians, people starting out on all manner of careers; people launching themselves into life. In finding this room - a quiet room, one floor up at the back of the house - I had most definitely landed on my feet!
And I'd remained there a long time. I'd already been there four years when I first met Libra. As for the first year of our relationship I managed not even to "perpetuate a facade of respectability", as I was going to put it. Heroin-taking aside, I was indeed respectable. For instance, Libra actually said I was physically the cleanest person she'd ever been with. Which is so ironic considering the future course of things...
As I've said, the habit didn't really "take off" so to speak, until a year into mine and Libra's time together when I went to my family's tried to come off (well did do the entire week's "cold turkey" - only to relapse pretty drastically afterwards.) Then, faced with th eneed to earn my own money I took up begging. Took to IV injecting. Trebled my drug-intake if not immediately my habit within a week.
Of course, it is not possible to beg on the streets a couple of miles from your home without being spotted and news of your situation spreading out far and wide. I knew that all my old friends "knew" about my altered situation. But my old phone had been disconnected (thanks to a £70 bill I couldn't pay). Many had already moved on anyhow. And the rest I purposefully avoided. Financial destitution and heroin addiction and easy friendship no longer seemed to mix. If I did see them, I was convinced I'd end up sooner or later asking for money and this was unthinkable. I cherished all of my friendships. So I made a studied mve deliberately to distance myself from everyone I knew from before. That way, when I came out of what I'd still convinced myself was going to be a shortly-to-end predicament - I could pick up these friendships once more with little or no damage done. All would be fine. Well, that is what I hoped.
So what of ocurse happened was I found myself a whole new crowd on the streets. All of these people were like me. Middle class kids who'd found themselves addicted to heroin, and unwilling to fund the habit via crime, turned to begging - not only to buy our drugs, but also to eat.
I had Libra saying for up to two weeks at a time. Once a month or so I'd go back to hers for a week or so. While we were at mine we spent hours not coming out of my room. It turned into a mini opium den.
Somehow I think I've already mentioned Libra and my parting... but I'll repeat the bare facts. She eventually got "clean" on Subutex (buprenorphine) - the highest dose they'd ever given out at her clinic - so typical of Libra. She got about 28 miligrams which is more than double the dose I was eventually prescribed when I went on it ...
Libra and I inevitably grew apart after this. I suspect that she'd actually found someone else. My every instinct screamed this out at me. But she was in Norfolk; I was in London. I had no proof. The weeks she dumped me I'd been crossing the road when I got hit by a truck. This not only broke my shoulder but clonked me on the side of the head. Which knocked me into a ketamine-like hyperspace. Stcuk in dreams I couldn't break out of, I remember eventually waking puzled not to be in bed but on a roadside with a worried-looking driver breaking out of a phone call to assure me "the ambulance was on its way" ... Try as I might, the dreams snatched me away. And I was in this limbo-state all the way to hospital where amazingly I passed the concussion test and was patched up and discharged. I spent the next week barely knowing where I was and it was in this state that Libra dumped me on the phone.
Now I was alone I let one of my best freinds, who was homeless, come into my room from the streets. My landlord hadn't liked Libra very much but once this new move of mine came to light - harbouring the homeless in a petty bourgeois house! (petty, in so many words being the operative word for that house!)- this was beyond the pale. My days were seriously numbered.
To cut a long story short, my addiction to heroin was eventually well and truly found out and I was chucked out. My landlord's conscience was "clear" because my name was down for rehab at a date soon to come up.
This was a situation I pulled myself out of as soon as I plucked up the courage. And the drugs clinic actually had the cheek to try and bully me back in there! (Unlike in America where rehab does seem to be pretty much forced on certain people, the British attitude is generally that you go for yourself when and only when you are ready. What is the point in tryint to force someone? If their heart's not in it to start with, what hope have they of seeing the course to the end?
So I pulled out of rehab.
The clinic cancelled out all methadone on me.
And I was homeless.
How lovely. All at once. But I was saved from this situation for the first - but by no means the last - time by the kindness of a stranger.
More about that tomorrow ...
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