Florida, Cocaine, and Me: A Love Story (Part I of III)
To protect the innocent, to protect the guilty, and mainly, to protect myself; this article is not written with my real name. You don’t need to know my name to know my story. And if you already know my story, well, you probably do know my name. Writing my story was proposed to me last spring. I did half of it and then put it off. At first it was because I didn’t believe I had a good enough grasp on recovery yet, and then it was because I was sliding toward relapse. I didn’t realize that I was, again, a slave to chemicals until I had proverbially built the pyramids. I write this with the news that one of my roommates from rehab was just found dead in her backyard floating around my mind. As risky as it is to write this, I have to. I tell my story because there are too many who will never have the chance.
One More Time…
I have heard Miami’s cocaine era described as glitzy, gaudy, and violent. Such was my own personal cocaine era, which began in Connecticut and ended in Miami, with all the countless acts of insanity in between - a shimmering mirage of glamor that I chased.
When I met my husband, life was not looking good. I was selling cocaine out of my apartment, and I hadn’t paid my rent in months. I was doing a post-bachelor’s program at a local college to get my grades up enough to get into a teaching certification program. I did so much coke my last two years of school that I never went to biology, not once. The F severely compromised my G.P.A. Freshman year, I was on the Dean’s List. Three years later, I was in the police blotter in the school newspaper. Seriously.
He rushed in like a knight in shining armor, and I bought it. He had been clean from cocaine for eight years. He told me he would take care of me. He did. I trusted him absolutely. My way didn’t work. I knew that. So I just did any and everything he wanted me to do. It worked for both of us for a while. The first time I went to South Beach for the Boat Show I fell in madly in love with the place. We schemed and plotted to get him an in-house position with the most prestigious fastboat company in the world. It took a year and a detour through North Carolina to work for another boat company, but my plan worked. That is one of my problems. My plans work. I rarely have a problem getting what I want. It is what I want that is usually the problem. My life was about his career, his happiness. It never quite filled the emptiness inside.
I obsessed about cocaine the whole time I was abstinent from it. I never worked on any of the underlying causes, ideas, and behaviors that led me to use in the first place, I just put myself on the marijuana and wine maintenance plan and tried to ignore the cravings.
When we moved to South Beach, I convinced my husband to let us do it just one time. The cocaine felt amazing after the long break. We talked all night long, looking out at the lights of Miami from our balcony. Here I am Miami, I remember thinking. I have arrived. I had that old feeling again, that I could do and be and have anything in the entire world.
And then the comedown…Oh the comedown. It was horrible. My nose hurt, my throat hurt, my ears hurt. My heart wouldn’t stop racing even though I didn’t feel high anymore. I hated myself and relived every bad thing I had ever done as I lay there, unable to sleep, fighting with him and crying. I felt like I wanted to die. And I couldn’t wait to do it again.
It’s All Fun And Games Until Somebody Gets Hurt
The company we had pushed so hard to get into to I obviously cannot name. The irony is that its’ name has been intertwined with cocaine and Miami as long as cocaine and Miami have been friends, or frenemies, or whatever they are.
The problem with my story is that there is no real way to ensure that it’s chronological because I was high for so long. I know that after we bought our house in 2007 there was the summer of drugs. Of course, this was not my first or last summer spent this way. That summer, my days were spent begging my husband to bring me beer on his lunch break, sleeping, and playing Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson. Really, they were spent waiting to get high. I needed to get high just to take a shower or clean the house. Sometimes we went out. Mostly we didn’t. Every day we said it would be the last one. I remember the day that I wandered around the house hoping to find even a tiny bit more set aside until I pulled an ounce out of a shoe. The feeling I got when I unearthed that bag was like a million slot machine’s going off at the same time. JACKPOT!!
They Tell Me I Should Go To Rehab, I Said, No, No, No!
Eventually, I couldn’t even stay away from cocaine when my mother or sister visited. A time when I couldn’t stay away even though our married friends were over for dinner and one of them was a chemist for the D.E.A. - the Miami field office is the largest in the nation. I began to want to stop but there were very few - I can count them on one hand – times after the summer of drugs that we managed to not use for a week. I got into therapy. I told my therapist I only used cocaine on the weekends. I didn’t tell her that my weekends usually started on Wednesday and ended on Sunday, and sometimes not at all. She suggested rehab. I said no, no, no!
There came a time when a fight over the last gram on my birthday resulted in me having a broken finger, a divorce lawyer, and a restraining order. This, I am sure, was 2008. We got back together and around Christmas time it got ugly again - there were no presents, but plenty of drugs, my husband had long since lost his job at the boat company, we had gone from Black American Express-fueled parties on the Gansevoort Roofdeck to our house being the one where scantily-clad girls spilled cocaine on the floor at 11 am on a Sunday. I rarely left except to go to Publix and 7-11. My dealer delivered. I couldn’t go one day without drinking. My skinny jeans hung off me. I thought it couldn’t get any worse. Little did I know at the time rock bottom always has a trap door.
We got into another fight where I should have called the police, but didn’t because there were drugs in the house. Things were smashed. Cell phones were thrown into the pool, which was blackish green at this point because we stopped paying the pool guy, along with anyone else that didn’t give us chemical relief. I was thrown into the pool. The car had been repossessed. We hadn’t paid the mortgage in months. We always had drugs. Whether they were fronted, or we had to pawn something, we had them. I called my therapist in tears and told her I was ready to get help. I knew there was no way I could get sober without being in a place where I had no choice.
Looking For Myself… Sober
I walked into a treatment center in Broward County on January 6th, 2009 scared and stoned out of my mind. My family had told me they were proud of me for the first time I could remember, when they agreed to pay for a month of treatment. “They’re going to tell me I can never drink or smoke pot again!” I wailed as we pulled in, certain that this was a fate worse than death. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. All I could think about was drugs and alcohol.
Slowly this began to change, so slowly I didn’t even notice until I began sleeping, began waking up in the morning happy to be alive for the first time I could remember. I started going to two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a day. I spent four hours a day in group therapy. I began admitting my faults, began being honest and open, and I grew. I wrote letters to my family, to the friends I still had. A small spark of hope began to grow inside me.
After almost four months in treatment, I was ready to get a job, and I got one, starting a new magazine at a company that advertised timeshares. I was working on my divorce, and I was working the steps of A.A.. I had made friends, and I felt pretty good about myself. I still thought I was different - the narcissism kept telling me that because I wasn’t a heroin addict or smoking crack that as soon as I completed rehab, or six months sober, or whatever magical restrictions I put on my sobriety, I would be able to have that one glass of wine...
You Deserve More Than an Ordinary Vacation.
Travel with Miami Beach 411 Today!
The Miami Beach 411 Travel Store is Open 24/7.
10 Comments on
"Florida, Cocaine, and Me: A Love Story (Part I of III)"