Many are the choices we deem to make
In the hope of a different path we might take
And most often the fruit not what we need
With choices often steeped in selfish greed
But one day it comes, a crossroads is reached
Confusion, bewilderment what way is the breach
One choice and life’s journey alters its way
I set out for a tenner, but eternity made
In “An ‘L’ of a day” I recounted of the build-up to finding myself in a car with a gun in my back. As I said then, I got out of the situation and quit my job (felt that was the right thing to do given the circumstances).
We lived in Ervie Street at the time, Fitzgeralds next door, Bruen’s upstairs and families we had known our whole life in almost every other tenement in this small street. I honestly cannot remember much about the Saturday, but I do want to, first, talk about the Sunday afternoon. I had got a fix of smack (heroin) on the Saturday, but I was feeling quite strung out by Sunday afternoon.
I remember going in to have a conversation with my mum. One she had heard many, many many times about how I had had enough and wanted to stop. I was half serious, and half doing the addict thing of manipulating the conversation towards my desired outcome, £10.
I promised I would call Jimmy Barr, my drug counsellor in the morning, but I still needed to get through the Sunday. I remember the look of defeat in my mum’s eyes as she handed over the money. I don’t want you to think my mum enabled my addiction, she fought against it whilst loving me unconditionally every step of the way. It was unique for her to give me money that was asked straight out for drugs. As events will show, it was also the last time. My family were also, blissfully, unaware of what had happened on the Friday night, I just lied and said I had no shifts.
I knew there was a massive dry up in Glasgow at that time (extreme shortage of heroin) but I knew where to get it. I had to make my way down to Carntyne, and as I left the house I was all psyched up for the long journey between scoring and using.
As I walked out of our close and up to the corner between Ervie Street and Easterhouse Road, there was a gathering of other friends, all probably wondering where to score. I did the decent thing and stopped to chat. I did not let on that I knew where to score as my source in Carntyne was very secretive and would stop selling me if I told others. One of the group asked me if I wanted Valium instead. Valium wasn’t my normal drug of choice, although I had abused it in the past and indeed there had been times when a particular dealer I hung out with had access to ridiculous amounts of genuine blue Valium (10mg). It was strange because I remember standing there with the £10 in my pocket thinking, if I go for the heroin I will never stop. I actually did not want to really stop, and I was quite lazy. So I went off with P and scored about £5 worth of Valium. The strange thing with Valium is that, when you are strung out, it numbs your head enough to get a sleep, even though your body is still going through the motions of withdrawal. I went home and went to bed. My legs doing the usual free kicking etc and it seemed like an eternity where I was standing up and lying down (I am not even going to try and write what heroin withdrawal is like). Eventually, I drifted off to sleep.
I woke very early the next morning after quite a restless night. I was very aware that I had only £5 left and my mind was racing as to how to complete the tenner. My life was broken down into £10 lots. Every conversation, every thought was about completing the tenner.
I came downstairs and went into the kitchen to put the kettle on, very, very quickly followed by my mum, Heather. “Right what time are you phoning Jimmy at?” man she had the bit between her teeth.
“No one there until after 9” I replied, my mind trying to work the angles. How could I turn this around to complete the tenner?
“Right get your tea (yep those of you that know me, that’s right I was a tea drinker then) and then get the number ready!” Man, this was going to be a tough sell.
At 9.15 am I tried to call the Social Work Dept Drug Team to get a hold of Jimmy Barr. I knew their number off by heart, as I said in an earlier blog if I said the right things to these people I could get free drugs.
No answer! Again and again, I called, my mum called, but still no answer. This was a Monday morning and it was highly unusual for there not even to be an answer at the reception desk. Secretly part of me was relieved because I just wanted a fix.
“Do you want to go next door and see if Jeannie has the number for that place Jim was in at Christmas?” Jeannie being Jeannie Fitzgerald our next door neighbour and. Mum to Jim, as well as a few other kids. Jim and I had been friends since we moved to Duntarvie Quad nearly 16 years previously. Many times we had walked the block together, done drugs together, built dens together, done gangs together, you get the point we had spent an awful lot of our lives together.
I said no and suggested my mum went. Which she did, without a moment’s hesitation. Jim had been in The Haven, a Christian Rehabilitation Centre, at that time part of the International Teen Challenge organisation. He had stayed six weeks and we had spoken often about it. He said that he had an experience with God there, but he found the programme too difficult. Jim told me many times in the time leading up to this morning that after his Teen Challenge experience and his God encounter he just could not get stoned the same way anymore. This was backed up by how often I would see him sitting in his front garden looking totally fed up. I always just nodded, not really taking it in. He always said it was a mistake to leave. I want to come back to Jim and Teen Challenge in another blog though.
My mum came back and said Jeannie did not have the number of the Centre, but had a card of one of the guys somewhere and would look for it. My face smiled but my heart sank. I really wanted a fix.
About five minutes later there was a chap at the door. I opened it and Jeannie was standing there with a business card in her hand and a warm smile on her face. I reluctantly invited her in, but she declined and said, “Can you give that to your mum?” And handed me the card. Now here was a problem. I closed the door with the card in my hand, choices choices choices. If I hand it over, we call the number. If I don’t there is no way on earth I am getting £5 to complete the tenner.
We called the number, it was an Assemblies of God pastor called Ken Persaud who worked alongside Teen Challenge. He dropped everything and within an hour was sitting in our living room.
This blog is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.
If you would like to know more about the Christian response to addiction, or just need hope please click on one of the links below.
Teen Challenge Strathclyde
Teen Challenge UK
Teen Challenge Global
Bethany Christian Trust
Cornerstone Assemblies of God, Maryland
Broken Chains Ayr
Easterhouse Community Church