Category Archives: Family Stories

East Coast Smile

Did he make it? I think he did, I rejoice in him when I see him. There is a look of caring about him. His eyes are brighter, clearer. The color of his skin is healthy. His teeth are new and white and even. They accent the big smile of triumph and happiness on his lips! There is a twinkle in his eye and a lilt of excitement in his voice. There is complete joy and gratefulness in his heart. There is a sense of freedom that surrounds him. It is fresh and catching, that feeling of freedom and newness that oozes from him.

It was the hardest thing he ever had to do, this gaining freedom. He had been captured. Yes, captured and wrapped up tight. So very tight. He and his loved ones had thought the knots would never be able to be loosed. They had given up. He had even given up all hope of a cure as he knew there was none. Or a reprieve from it and the road to hell it had led him and his down.

He began as a child. He folks’ were of a notorious biker group. They were the rough and ready type, not just recreational bikers. The bikers of the 60’s. He was raised around the partying and drugs and became addicted to heroin as a pre-teen. They allowed it. They allowed him access to it and did not care. They were in their own little world then and did not look to the future. Someone shot him up, I don’t know who as he never said. He learned to do it himself. He smoked it. It was the number 1 most important thing in his life. He fought at different times to come “clean” and stay that way. It never seemed to work, for long anyway.

When I first met him, my impression was that of a rough guy with an East Coast accent. Nice looking guy, except his teeth. I was introduced to him at one of my husband’s rehab meetings. They became friends. They connected. They were both clean and sober.

Over the next few years, my husband relapsed. But his friend did not. The East Coast guy went to every meeting and even started going to church and praising God in every way for his freedom and new life. His wife and family life were happier, he was happy too. His work was coming along well. He had more money. He got a beautiful new set of teeth. His smile was even prettier!

He had made it. It gave me hope that somehow my husband would again, “make it.” I was happy that he called him a few weeks back, thinking good, he is a good influence. My husband looked up to him. I was happier still when he phoned again, thinking maybe he is getting through to my husband. I was doubtful when the next time he called, my husband left the house. A week later, when he called our home 3 times in a row, I was skeptical.

An hour later the phone rang. As he spoke with my husband, I looked out the window. Rain was coming down hard and I saw East Coast leaning up against our front fence talking on his cell phone. Then my husband went outside in the pouring rain, wearing my pink rubber shoes on his feet to meet his friend underneath a tree that shaded them like an umbrella.

It really struck me! When my husband came back inside, the anger poured out from my heart and mouth. “What are you doing?” and “Don’t you be a part of his relapse!” and “Oh, my God!” The grief that followed surprised me.

East Coast with his beautiful new smile and freedom had relapsed. I thought he wouldn’t. Somehow his sobriety had become a symbol of hope to me. Now that was crushed. Did he make it? I thought that he had, but not this time. I sincerely hope and pray that he does again. I hope he makes it for good next time. I hope there is a next time.


Gemmey’s Mom

Gemmey’s Mom can’t take it anymore. She is sure she is going to loose her mind. He screams and screams and beats on her. She just doesn’t know what is wrong with him. He does not talk, he just screams.

He is almost 2 years old and has not even said “Mama”. It breaks her heart. She is pretty sure that he is autistic. He is showing the signs. The social workers think so. She has some literature to read and has had meetings with a specialist.

She loads him into the stroller and walks down the street to the little market. You can hear Gemmey letting out a shrill scream every so often as she walks him. She goes into the market and directly to the beer case, where she picks out two 40 oz. of the cheapest beer. That will do for now. She smiles tensely and chats with the girl at the counter and looks nervously about as Gemmey lets out another scream. She has got to go! “Bye now! Have a good day!”

She goes back home and pours herself a beer and gets Gemmey to settle down for a morning nap. Finally. Thank God. Then she reads some material on autism given to her, dreading the facts. Her husband has already left her. She loved him so. But they fought. When they drank, they fought. He has been very little help with Gemmey. He wants to see him, but she is afraid. She is afraid he will steal Gemmey away from her. She would loose her mind without that baby. She has lost 2 before to miscarriages. She has another beer. Then another. She is buzzed pretty well by the time Gemmey wakes up.

She feeds him lunch and plays a little with him, then off they go. Into the stroller again. Into the little market again. To the beer case again. Two more 40 oz. cheap beers. Her demeanor is more relaxed and she is laughing a little as she converses with the girl at the counter this time. Gemmey yells loudly. She uses some sign language on Gemmey that she learned from the social worker. The sign stands for , “Need help” as she asks Gemmey, “Need help Gemmey ?”. It is time to go. Off for a walk down by the river. Gemmey’s mom says, “See ya later sweetie!” to the girl at the counter.

It is mid afternoon when the girl at the counter is getting off of work. She sees Gemmey and his mom going by heading for home. Gemmey is sleepy looking in his stroller and his mom is sleepier looking. His mom is walking in a weaving pattern down the sidewalk. She slurs her speech as she tells the girl to “Have a good day and see you tomorrow.” She and Gemmey are going home for a later afternoon nap. Actually almost evening nap.

She appears hours later looking rugged with Gemmey in tow. She is on her way to the little market again. She is with some guy she met down at the river and they are both heading to the beer case. More 40 oz. beers are bought. Twice more that evening, they come back for more before the market closes. By the last time, she is almost in a blacked out state, you can see from the way her eyes look. There is an almost vacant look about them. If you have ever seen anyone blacked out from too much alcohol, you will know what I mean. It is a look like none other. It is like the person is there physically, but that person is literally gone in a temporary alcohol haze. She stumbles and weaves her way down the street with her friend and her son.

Her days are filled with a similar routine, over and over. Eventually someone calls the cops when they cannot get her to answer her door in the middle of the day and she is discovered drunk with her baby awake inside the house. Children’s Services is called in and her son goes to foster care.

She goes to rehab twice. She makes it through one 30 day program. She gets Gemmey back. She tries not to drink. She really tries. It is just too hard for her. She is down on her luck, no money, no husband to help her, no car with an autistic child. It is just too much for her and she begins again to drink.

Her husband shows up and they talk about getting back together. They drink together and walk Gemmey around town. Later in the evenings, they argue and fight. It gets violent. She gets a knife and slices his tires. There is a lot of screaming and cussing and he goes after her. He leaves and takes Gemmey with him.

Eventually, she looses custody of Gemmey to her husband. He can only handle Gemmey for so long and puts him up for adoption. She looses Gemmey forever. She drinks more.

Gemmey’s mom is a very sweet, loving and funny young woman………when she is not drunk. Gemmey’s mom is hindered by her drinking problem. Gemmey’s mom looses 2 more children throughout the next few years. Gemmey’s mom now lives on the streets. Gemmey’s mom “Needs Help”.

Dear God, please grant her the serenity to accept the things that she cannot change, courage to change the things that she can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

Is My Contract Still Good?

I did not sign up for this, this craziness surrounding me. This addiction of his, which has somehow become mine too in a way.

I could not tell you when it actually began, Maybe before I knew him. I think it began right around the same time or shortly after. That was years ago, so talk about a way of living your life. Time just slips by and the next thing you know it is 35 years later and you are past your prime.

You have hoped for so long that he will change. That it will change. That there is a cure out there for that which you know there really is none. You have prayed, cried, cussed, screamed, thrown things and put your arm through a window in frustration. You have tried reasoning. Others have tried.

You have done an intervention and supported him through recovery. You have learned that there is no cure for addiction. You have learned that when an addict’s mouth is moving, he is lying. You have learned and accepted that it is out of your hands. You have learned to let him fall. You have had to harden your heart.

There is admission. There is recovery. There is relapse. There are lies. There is theft. There is hurt. There is extreme grief and more and more and more. There is something close to madness at times. There is deep regret for the years you wasted, the time it took you away from your son, the damage done.

You give up, but not really. You stop caring, but of course you still do. You wish you did not care. You wish he were a totally rotten person, it would be easier to turn your back, to begin a new life, to just walk away.

I found myself wishing I could turn back the clock. We were barely out of our teens and he told me, “I have to tell you something. I like to smoke a little marijuana now and then”. Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have walked away. I did not.

I was shocked, had only heard bad things about pot. I was scared, but eventually learned to inhale it. I learned to like it sometimes, in the evening when you did not have to go anywhere, when kids were put to bed. It was never as important in my life as his.

Later on it was crank, meth whatever you want to call it. I did that with him also, recreationally for about 7 years off and on. I grew to hate it, to hate the way you felt coming off of it. I hated the paranoia, the way it made you jerk when you tried to relax and sleep, the way your internal organs ached. I told him, don’t even offer it to me anymore, I don’t want it. He would offer, and I would usually accept.

I begged God, over and over to take this demon drug from me. Eventually, I stopped and have been happy that I did ever since. I never craved it, it was easy for me. But if you have the addictive gene, it is not the same. I know that now.

There is much rejoicing by loved ones of the addict when he decides to finally, finally, get help and go to treatement or rehab. I hate the word rehab. I hate to hear people say, “when I was in rehab……..” I don’t know why. Maybe if it was the last time, or the one and only time that person had been there, maybe it would not bother me? Maybe it is the people who seem to toss that phrase out there so lightly, like it is nothing….. To me it sounds as bad as “come on honey, we need to hurry, Daddy needs to get to his P.O.”. This shit is not light stuff, like “how’s the weather” kind of stuff.

This shit should be taken seriously, as it is a life or death matter and not just for the addict. It is also the difference from feeling alive or dead to emotions, for those connected to that addict. It makes all the difference in the world to the addict’s children. You can never get or give back what you have missed with your children.

It seems like the addict is almost “rewarded” for trying to get clean. I mean they go to rehab and everyone is so relieved and full of newfound hope, that they bring him gifts, cards, candy, cigarettes, new clothes, books, anything to keep his mind off of the drug. Usually the people that are doing the giving and supporting of the addict, are the ones that he has hurt over and over. Is there something wrong with this picture? The addict steals your gold hoop earrings that your father gave you when you were 12 years old, pawns them to buy dope and you go and buy him gifts. Who the hell is the smart one and who is the dumb one, I ask you?

The smart one really is not the addict, at least not in the long run. Unless he makes the choice to stop and do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. Then he will be the smart one. The smart one is is not really the addict’s spouse either, as far as the spouse chooses to stay for more pain. Unless, the spouse stops enabling the addict, to let the addict fall, so that he might get help. If that is the case, then the spouse also becomes the smart one.

CHOICES, comes into play big time. No matter, what. No matter that the addict didn’t have a choice in inheriting the disease. No matter that the spouse didn’t have a choice if they unknowingly married an addict. Even after all of that, after all of the hurt and pain and the progression of the disease, there still is CHOICE. Not choice to become an ex-addict. There is no cure. But choice to recover, everyday that choice is there, just depends on how bad you want it.

No I am not an addict, but I as a spouse, still have CHOICE. My choice is to not support that spouse in his addiction anymore. Recovery is totally his option and I will fully support him in his recovery efforts, but that is where I draw my line. No more. I hope and pray that he makes the right choice for himself. I know that I have…………

Heroin Charly

Written and contributed by Girlswithoutshoes

His name is Heroin Charly and he helped to kill my husband. I don’t mean that my husband is physically dead, at least not yet. It was only a matter of time in my opinion. I mean how many 60 year old junkies do you see walking around? Not many if you think about it.

Charly was not really the blame, at least not by himself. He was killing himself too. You can always blame the “Pusher Man” (remember that old song?), or you can blame the drug itself. You can even blame genetics if it makes you feel better, after all it is a disease. You can blame your wife, your life, your job or your God. It really comes down to choice. Blame the choice, and that is all.

Not being an actual addict, you would think I could not possibly understand. Oh how wrong. I have lived with it in my life for 35 years. I have watched it change from a “softer” drug to the hardest possible. I have helplessly watched those choices change. I have watched the man himself change, slowly morphing into someone else, with only occasional traces of the original guy left.

I watched it, fought it, despised it, and cried over it. I intervened. It worked for a very short time. Then along came relapse, an ugly monster. I was no match for any of this and I knew it. I was tired.

Away, he went. I sent him away from me. Out of my face. I cannot watch it anymore, cannot live with it in my face anymore. For some years I was told , “You hold the key.” When I used the key, I was told, “you can’t bail out now.” “Oh watch me,” I cry, “just watch me.” …… “But it is a disease, he needs your support…..” “Where was my support for 35 years?”, I cry.

I enjoy the quiet, enjoy the air smelling sweeter. I take back my home and hang new curtains, change something, anything. I feel more relaxed. I write and then write some more. I find something inside of me awakening, almost blossoming. No, not mid-life crisis, just………possibilities. That is it. Hope. I feel giddy sometimes with hope and possibilities for my future. I also feel selfish, but know that is the demon side of his addiction. It is not my addiction, though I played a role. Now I have stepped out of my designated role. That is what my best friend told me. She is right.

When I see him, he looks sick. He looks like crap. I feel sad for him, so very sad that he has wasted his life. I feel sad that his possibilities are squashed, like a bug, by The Choice. My heart wrenches some, but my heart does not have too many wrenches left in it. A heart can actually become “wrenched out”, so to speak.

A good captain goes down with his ship. I am not a captain and he is not my ship, but captain of his own ship. I do not hold the “Key”, at least not for him. Only for myself. He holds his own “Key”. Now it remains to be seen what he chooses to do with that “Key”.

I saw Heroin Charly yesterday. I tried not to look at him, but he approached me. In his hand, he held a long stemmed pink rose that he had picked from someone’s yard. He reached out his hand and offered me the rose. I hesitated, and then took the rose. Charly said, “Be careful, watch out for the thorns.” His eyes were full of meaning. Maybe it was guilt, or sadness, or understanding, after all he did not ask to be an addict either. I looked at him square in the eye and said, “Thank you Charly, I always watch out for Thorns.” I took the rose and turned and walked away. I deserved that rose. I am, after all, a Heroin Widow.

*original post Heroin Charly



Share this post :

How Battle Stories Started

Jani just turned 43, she has 5 children and is the sole bread winner for her family.  Each day she goes to homes to clean in order to make enough money to feed her children and to put them through school.  Her eldest, Ami, was just 21 when a friend of hers uttered the words “Come on just one hit, feel what I feel, it will take all your worries away”.  She took the hit and her life will never be the same again.

She is now 24 married with a child but her story is far more dark than the surface belays.  Tik is the drug of choice in Cape Town and is gaining popularity country wide.  Made from a mix of over the counter drugs including normal sinus medication it is cheap and therefore more accessible to the general public, especially the poorer communities.

It grabs you and holds you captive much like Heroin, first hit and you are hooked, it brings you heaven and then hell.  It sucks your body dry and at the same time alters your personality so much that you lose hold of love or hope, emotions don’t exist further than your next hit.

It took a weekend filled with Tik, rape, gang rape and more drugs for Ami to eventually crawl home to her more than distraught family and plead with them to help her.  She said she would go clean but knew she couldn’t do it alone, the pull was too strong, so she got her parents to book her into a facility.  Her parents took her in their arms and carried her to the rehab which cost R250. 3 days work for her mother, 3 days of food away from the other kids but they did it because they loved their daughter as if their own lives depended on it.  The family all started pulling together to the point that even the young ones tried to do extra odd jobs to bring in more money to help Ami.

Eventually after a lot of trauma Ami was released, she was stronger, brighter and she was clean.  Soon other families heard of her healing and sought her out to speak to their children, friends of friends spoke with her and heard her story.  Her story is unknown to many but it needs to be told for it holds so much hope, so much truth of the reality in Tik use and what it does not only to the user but the very people they love.

Her story needs to be told along with all other Tik survivors, the story must get out in order for it to help more people. Families who have been touched by Tik both in the present and past need to hear it. Users both present and past need to hear the story so that they can see that it is possible to come through the other side and breathe, that they do have a choice and that they can do it.

I spoke to Jani today and I told her this, I told her that her daughter is an inspiration, that she and her family are inspirations.  I then told her that there are so many out there with similar stories, if we could find them and get them to write down their stories perhaps they could save more lives.  So we agreed again.  She is now going to speak to the other families and the ex users and ask them if they would like to write about their experiences.  The ex users about their experiences, how they got started, what happened during using and how they got clean.  Their families about what it did to them, how they handled it, what they would’ve done differently and how it felt to have their family member back home.

This book will start out just being about Tik but I feel that it can also move into all drugs, stories of surviving and coming clean, experiences and the truth.

Ultimately about the truth, the whole truth and not the gloss.

I now open it up to you. If you have ever used Tik or any other drug, know of someone who might want to contribute, if you are a family member or friend of someone that is currently or has used in the past we would like to hear from you. If you are interested, want more information or would like to contribute your story you can send an email to and I will respond respectively.

With your help perhaps we can make a dent in this epidemic…

There is no going back

Anti Tik Campaign Short Advert

Unreported World: Lost Generation Pt 1 of 3

Unreported World: Lost Generation P2 of 3

Unreported World: Lost Generation Pt 3 of 3

Share this post :