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Breath & Shadow

Fall 2016 - Vol. 13, Issue 4

"Three Word Memoir"

written by

Izabela Jeremus

Addiction takes lives. First, it empowers. Answers, you think. All depression, gone. Mental illness, handled. I can stop. You tell yourself. You believe it. Addiction lies, though. It'll take control. Eat you alive. Just one more. The addiction lie.


I was twenty. Heroin, my lover. Struggling through college. I worked constantly. Mental illness abounded. Snorting golden relief. We were working. The dealer, gone. Straightening, I smiled. Another hellish day. Over soon enough. Synapses firing pleasure. I was ready.


"Want to sweep?" I asked her. Passed the straw. Now, her turn.


She smiled back. Nodded at me. She hated mopping. We worked together. We closed together. Every night, together. That's the job. It was boring. It was rough. Pin-point pupils shone. Best workers there. 'Twas the drugs. Energetic from drugs. Friendly, always smiling. Rarely missed shifts. Cocaine and heroin. Our secret fuels.


Stocked the shelves. Cleaned smelly bathrooms. Counted the registers. Shift finally ended. Finished, more drugs. Dealer waited outside. Treats for sweets. We lazed around. We got higher. Tumbled into bed.


Classes were tomorrow.


Classes, work, drugs. Heroin, cocaine, ecstasy. Days melted together.

Had a girlfriend. She didn't mind. She did it. We partied together.

Divided my time. My best friend. Then my girlfriend. But always, heroin. Drugs were everywhere.


Days of darkness. No heroin, sadness. With heroin, happiness. My mind, enemy. Wanted pain away. Hallucinations taunted me. Only heroin fixed.

I needed it. Heroin breathed life. Without it, death.


I got caught. Forced into sobriety. I lost her. Kept the girlfriend. I was miserable. It didn't last. Drawn to heroin. Heroin, my life.


Couldn't live alone. Sought it out. Sought her out. We used again.

Slowly, at first. We had control. Just to party. Just to bond.

Addiction was lacking. For the weak. We spun out. We smoked crack.

Every day, up. Up, higher, up. Crack spiraled up. Heroin brought down.

Up, then down. Spinning around, lost.


It took years. Finally, an ultimatum. Get sober, leave. Chose to stay.

Chose to stop. Refused to lose. Brought her in. We stopped together.

We helped ourselves. Helped each other. Always together again. Thought about it.

Ditched the girlfriend. Kept best friend. Didn't love drugs.

I loved her. Always loved her. Not the girlfriend. Not the drugs.


Therapy and pharmaceuticals. They saved me. I saved myself. I graduated college. Degree in psychology. I started working. I helped people. That helped me. I was useful. I was needed. It was beautiful.


I reinvented myself.


I pushed forward. Work was life. Sobriety was exquisite. Though not perfect. Far from perfection. Mentally, I struggled. Illnesses to beat. I tried, hard. Therapy and medication. Work, work, work. Trouble at home. Still raising brother. Avoiding crazy mother. Losing cheating father. Always shielding brother. Combating my mind.


Finally, something new. I met her. She was incredible. I fell, hard.

We fell together.


One day, bam! An ankle broke. Then a herniation. It required surgery. I never recovered. My back crumbled. No more work. My depression spiraled. Darkness surrounded me. Suicide whispered daily.


She rescued me. Tended to me. We got engaged. Rescued a dog. My health deteriorated. Double pulmonary embolism. I almost died. I pulled through. I wasn't ready.


We got married. Happiest day ever. Sunshine and music. Only closest friends. Some family too. Best friend hugs. Daddy walked me. My brother assisted. Down the aisle. I was exhilarated. She was gorgeous.


She fairly shone. Everything fell away. Heart-filled vows blossomed.

Everyone cried then. It was blissful. Perfect beyond reproach. Yes, I do.


We are partners. We are family. Equal in everything. Only the best.

She's my lover. She's my friend. She's my light. She unchained me. Set me free.


Now I write. Saving my soul. Always wanted to. Universe pushed me. I'm pushing back. I'm not alone. All is possible. I will survive. I will prevail. I believe now. Thanks to her.

Izabela Jeremus is a poet and writer. One of her articles appeared in Voices Magazine published by the University of Hartford. Izabela lives in Massachusetts with her wife, Kim, and their rescue beagle, Face.She enjoys reading everything from literary fiction to true crime and all forms of arts and crafts. Izabela has a degree in psychology, but due to her disabilities is unable to work. You can follow her on Twitter.

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