"Are you okay, Lara?" Katie's voice came from the other side of the stall; the woman I adored and considered my mentor at one time. I remember the concern in her voice, and all I wanted to say was, "Just leave me alone."
"Yup. Everything's fine"
In reality, everything was not fine. Nowhere near fine, in fact. I was wearing a bandage around my wrist because I had torn through my walls the night before. Thinking someone was spying on me. Wires in the walls. A framed picture fell and glass sliced through my skin.
She probably wondered if my boyfriend was physically abusing me, with these bandages around my wrists and scars on my arm. I've changed. I am not the same as when she first met me. Friendly. Diligent. Hardworking. Ambitious. That wasn't me anymore. The drugs have turned on me. Again.
She hired me because she knew I was a doer, a go getter. In my first month, I exceeded my sales goals, just as expected. People clapped for me. Celebrated me. I don't tell them I am only 4 months sober and living in a sober living home for women who are recovering from substance-use disorder somewhere outside of west LA.
It started innocently enough. I worked hard, staying late most nights. I landed some accounts and thought I could have a drink. I started buying mini-wine bottles after work and hiding the bottles in a brown bag in the back of my car. My boyfriend smelled it. He was sober too. We met in rehab. I lied to him and he pretended to believe me.
It didn't last long, though. 2 months later, he was bringing me heroin after work. But, heroin wasn't my drug of choice. I turned to amphetamines. Adderall wasn't as easy to get ever since my parents threatened my doctor, and told him to never prescribe this drug to me again, ever.
I couldn't find Adderall. So, my boyfriend and I searched the streets of Hollywood for a synthetic drug known as bath salts. We couldn't find that either. But, he found crack. And I thought that was good enough, for now.
I smoked crack before work. I would sleep about 3 hours the night before, and fall asleep during our weekly sales meeting once the crack wore off. People stared at me, as my eyes were rolled back into my head. I excused myself after these meetings, went to the bathroom, and smoked more crack.
I didn't even like crack. It was only the 3rd time I'd smoked it in my life and it didn't last long enough. But, I had to wake up. I returned to my office, feeling a little bit better. A little bit more awake. I made calls. I did my job. I functioned, but not like I once did.
As days went on, I knew I was becoming more odd, more off-balanced. My colleagues avoided me. I avoided myself. I ended up discovering meth and started to seriously abuse it.
Eventually, I stopped showing up for work. If I did go to work, I brought my drugs with me. Work became more fun after I started carrying meth in my purse. I took breaks every 2 hours to go to the parking garage to smoke it. I couldn't keep up with this drug. I'd have psychotic episodes from it. Eventually, I got fired and I returned home to collect unemployment and live the way I never thought I would live—in active addiction, dark and merciless. This cycle would continue for a few more years.