When I first met heroin, it started off as a casual thing.
"Only on the weekends," I told her.
I made it very clear.
My mind was made up, especially since I had so much to do during the week.
She understood her place at that point in time.
Then, I realized she made me feel unlike anyone else had made me feel before.
She made all my problems go away.
In a world that seemed so crazy and hectic, she made it sit still.
She had a thing about her, a mysterious side I wanted to know more and more about.
Our relationship became serious over the ensuing months.
To some, this is nothing. To me, this is a look into the darkest part of my life.
It reached a point where I would see heroin every day.
I craved her.
She knew she had me wrapped around her finger. I would do anything and everything just to get a taste of her.
I wanted to feel her slow my mind and body down, to feel those chills she would shoot throughout my body.
When she was with me, everything felt normal.
Having heroin in my life created a new normal for me.
One day, we both were caught.
It was that same day I lost seemingly everything.
She was a manipulative girl.
She tricked me into believing if I only had her, nothing else mattered.
She isolated me as I continued to lose all I had once known.
I became obsessed with her. Days turned into months, and months turned into years.
Heroin was an expensive woman.
She demanded hundreds and hundreds of dollars, or she demanded I steal from those who trusted me.
On another day, our toxic relationship took a turn for the worse.
The woman I loved so much got the best of me.
One moment, I began coughing profusely, as if I had water in my lungs.
The next thing I knew, I woke up in a hospital bed.
People around me were hysterical, crying and yelling. I had no idea what was going on.
The doctors hovered over me, saying, "It's going to be okay, kid."
After I was released, I wanted to see her again.
My entire being craved her.
My mind was fixated on her. She was the girl of my dreams.
Yeah, she had almost taken my life, but at that time, this was the type of love I would have died for.
It took another near-death experience to realize this relationship did more harm than good.
I laid motionless in a closet, my eyes closed and my hands twitching.
My body felt as if it was lifting, rising to another realm at a velocity I had never experienced in my life.
It was then I realized the painful truth: She was no good for me.
She manipulated, isolated and took all that I had.
Heroin was not the girl I thought she was. She was a monster who was destroying my life.
Perhaps the hardest thing I had to do was leave her.
Leaving the woman who I thought was the reason for my new normal and my new happiness was going to be hard.
It was tough. I ran back to her, time and time again.
Finally, I got the courage to say, "Enough is enough."
On that day, I took a stand against her.
She has gone, but she has never fully left me.
I touch my arms and feel the holes where she would meet me.
Smells of pizza fill my nostrils and remind me of her.
Rubbing the back of my veinless and smooth hands remind me of her.
Pictures, the letter "H" and houses in the Paseo Arts District flood back the memories we shared together. They were numbing and time-slowing recollections.
She was, at one point, my everything.
Heroin is a vengeful woman. Leaving her made me feel uncomfortable.
Sneezing, cold sweats and not being able to sit still or be comfortable were the signs this breakup would be messy.
Her signature move — her go-to that would make me want to run back to her again — was making me throw up.
I would feel so weak, I did not know who I was without her.
I needed her now more than ever.
It seems simple to have a quickie with her. I'd just have a one-night stand, and then I'd never see her again.
This is how she would trap me again, isolate me, wrap me around her finger and take all of my money and my life again.
Being a fighter and a true advocate of what you preach are the keys to achieving and conquering anything you set out to do.
This is the hardest thing I have ever encountered or had to deal with.
I have come to terms with the fact heroin's memories may never leave me.
But, I have the upper hand on her.
I have ambition to leave a legacy of greatness and triumph that will keep her shut out of my life for good.
Three years down the line, I am not turning back.
It's been tough lately, but I remember how I felt when she put me in the hospital.
I never want to feel like that again.
We all struggle, but it is the size of your fight that determines whether you can make it or not.
Be a fighter. Be a warrior.