Sarah entered rehab at the age of 21. Drinking was a common in the small upstate town she was raised in.
She bonded with a man in for heroin. Six months later, looking for a companion to stay clean with, they started a relationship.
He introduced her to his vice. “The first time I did it I threw up for six straight hours. If I laughed I threw up. If I cried I threw up.”
Heroin has been with her since and brought her to the Bronx. “Hunts Point is quicksand. Easy to get into, impossible to get out of.”
She did get out once for four years. She returned three years ago.
“I want to go to detox tomorrow. I just need a twenty.”
“To get a fix?”
“No, to get straight.”
Note: When an addict says, “to get straight,” it means they need to shoot up to end the dope sickness.
“I took a knife, and it was over. When the abuse happened again, I took a knife and started plunging.” — Brenda
Brenda, 45, looked small in her oversized t-shirt, fluffing her bangs in vain against the wind while speaking in a polite, quiet voice. She grew up in the Bronx, and has only been doing sex work for 10 years, introduced to it by her half-sister, Pepsi. She started doing heroin at 18 and has been in jail a few times (two-and-a-half to four-year stints) for selling, where she was temporarily clean. Now, she subsists on six to seven bags of heroin a day, costing roughly $10 a hit. “At my lowest point, I destroyed myself. I got my four kids taken away.” Still, she said she knows she’s a good mother, never doing drugs in front of watchful eyes, always making sure her kids had a home-cooked meal to eat. ‘They thanked me even. “I never went to bed hungry, ma,'” she said, choked up, apologizing for her tears.
Throughout her decade involved in sex work, she’s never once been abused on the streets. Rather, she was abused by her husband, the father of two of her children. Once the abuse grew too great to bear, fear drove her to take matters into her own hands. “I took a knife, and it was over. When the abuse happened again, I took a knife and started plunging.” She and her children escaped, and Brenda now lives with Pepsi in an abandoned house in Hunts Point. “I can’t live this life anymore. I’m an addict, but I’m a good person. I just got into a life of drugs, and I’m tired. I just want to be sober and get my kids together.”
Written by Cassie Rodenberg. You can find her writings here: White Noise