I met Sandy toward the end of 7th grade at the graffiti wall where all the smokers hung out. She had porcelain skin, dyed hair, tiny feet and balls of steel.
You guys get to meet her next week. You’re welcome.
We were best friends for 10 years. Our addictions brought us together and then tore us apart. I watched the sparkle in her eyes fade as her parents divorced, she gave her daughter up for adoption and her father died. Yes, she was not the only person on the planet to suffer loss, but it was simply too much for her.
Sandy struggled with drug addiction her entire life. She used meth daily until she lost all of her teeth. Then she quit meth. Unfortunately, she switched to abusing prescription medications and those eventually killed her.
She was only 43-years-old when she died.
I write this blog because I think my misadventures drinking and using are pretty hilarious. Reno is hilarious. Sparks is beyond hilarious. And all of the characters I met along the way made me who I am. It’s healing for me to find the humor in my tumultuous upbringing.
But I could write this blog a very different way. It could be dark as hell and very tragic. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to be a funny post. Because losing someone to addiction isn’t funny. It’s simply fucked up.
There are no hard or fast rules. Some drug addicts can quit their drug of choice and can drink and use recreationally. Others cannot.
Sandy could not.
I’m coming to believe addiction as a disease similar to cancer. Some cancers are so aggressive they simply cannot be overcome, some cancers are defeated completely and some return. The relapse is generally harder to defeat, just as the return of a cancer is often. Some people beat cancer five times!
Sobriety was never on her radar. She knew I was sober, but she didn’t understand why I had to quit everything. Her brain was also damaged from all the meth.
The Sandy I knew died a long time ago, so this grieving process has been very strange for me. I’m happy that she’s with her dad again and I’m sad for all of us left behind. It’s the death of the hope of a miracle. When an addict gets sober, it’s a miracle.
I’ve been working a 12-step program for a long time, yet there was no magic cure I could offer her. Christianity saved her mother and sister, yet they couldn’t save her. In my experience, the only thing that could’ve saved her was a Higher Power.
So am I saying God hated her? Absolutely not. We’re born with free will – the will to surrender to something bigger than us to solve our problem. Maybe her disease was just too terminal for her to surrender.
Or not. I don’t know.
The best way I can illustrate this is comparing addiction to Godzilla. The addict is a little, teeny, tiny ant. Godzilla is ginormous and breathes fire. And here’s the worst part – nothing, and I mean nothing, feels as good as hanging out with Godzilla.
When Godzilla and the addict hook up, it’s limos and glamour and excitement all the way. We feel like we’re in heaven, but when we want to go home, when we get tired, Godzilla says “Oh hell no, little ant, we’ve only just begun.”
I have no idea when Godzilla’s going to be done partying and the addict has no vote for when we’ll stop. Only the monster has the power of choice and he can choose to squash us at any time. That’s the risk we take to hang with the biggest and baddest of them all.
We have to stay far away from him, but it’s not easy. I have friends who hang out with him still and assure me that he’s cool. I get in my car and there are billboards with him looking fly in a tuxedo. He looks so good it’s hard to remember how bad he truly is for me. He even comes to me in my dreams.
In L.A., I can actually call Pink Dot and have him delivered to my house.
I got in his limo after 15 years sober and he almost flattened me. Every time I’ve even looked in his direction, he’s been on to me. He’s magnetic. He says things like:
“Girl, we haven’t hung out in so long you don’t even know me anymore. I’m so much more chill now.”
“I promise we’ll just have a couple and then I’ll take you home.”
“You’re so boring now. What happened to the party girl I remember?”
If he gets me, it doesn’t matter how hard I fight, only an act of Providence can save me. I cannot fight him on my own. He only laughs at my feeble attempts.
I’m an ant, remember?
All of the knowledge I have about the disease does nothing for me if I go near him. He’s too magnetic. The years I’ve been sober only make him want me more. I cannot rest on my laurels because he’ll be right there, Gucci sunglasses on ready to go.
I miss Sandy. I got to be there after her family made the impossible decision to unplug her (because her brain was dead), and I got to hug her and kiss her and stroke her hair before she left this realm. I just returned from her memorial and my heart is heavy.
But I know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that none of us could’ve saved her from Godzilla.