Below are two journal entries from my heroin using days. They are excellent examples of a person treating a junkie badly simply because he is a junkie. Both entries are discussions of letters that I received from these people.
My Alcoholic Roommate
The first example says (in the most basic terms) that I am an unacceptable roommate because I am a junkie. I had done nothing wrong: my rent was paid, I kept to myself, I didn't steal anything. It was simply unacceptable to have a junkie near by.
My Cannabis-Addicted Publisher
The second example is even better because the letter-writer is blaming my being in jail on the fact that I was a heroin user (I was not addicted). This was true. But I did not allow being in jail to interfere with completing my work. My work was delayed, because of the publisher.
Today, we see how wrong it is judge a person on the color of his skin. However, it is perfectly okay to judge him on the drugs he chooses to use. It is not necessary to show that his choices lead to unacceptable behavior. But it should be.
- Late April 1998
- This feels like the beginning of the end. My roommate of, what,
five years, maybe more, gave me a note. It read:
I am not willing to watch you destroy yourself. I am not willing to enable you to continue your habit by providing a space in which you feel it is okay to use.
By May 1st you must move out. I will help you pack and move your stuff either to another rental or to a storage facility. Please respect my decision and be aware that it is not open to change or negotiation.
I would have spoken to you about this verbally yesterday but you were so "toxic" that I could not find the right moment to bring this up. You seem to be having a good time but I feel only sadness and disappointment. I know that buried somewhere under all this craziness is the real you--who I miss.
I love you and always will.
Comment: Love comes cheap, don't it? It's three years later and I can't throw that letter away. I still don't know what to think about it. The writer was kind to me many times after that. But there is something in the letter, a certain callous lack of understanding, that hits me in the face like a hammer, each time I read it. --Jan 2001
- 20 July 1999
After having completed a manuscript from within jail, I get a
highly sympathetic letter from my publisher which ends:
If I sound a little unsympathetic--you've got it. I am not sympathetic to your plight. You set yourself up for this--and you set us up, too! And, well, I've worked with heroin addicts and I should have known better. They always fuck up and they always fuck other people depending upon them up [check out that split infinitive!], too! That IS the trip--and having a Ph.D. and being articulate, doesn't change that basic dynamic at all--as has become apparent.
So when do we get the manuscript? Haven't heard anything from [your secretary] for weeks.
Comment: The reason the publisher had heard nothing from my secretary was that my secretary was waiting to hear back from the publisher; time and again this publisher has shown that he only skims correspondence--often missing important information. As it turned out, the book this publisher was talking about had been finished for a month. Nevertheless, the book came out a year late due entirely to the publisher's incompetence (with the worst editing job I have ever been subjected to). As always (whether in jail or not), my work was completed far ahead of schedule. This is just another example of a person using heroin as an easy way to avoid accepting responsibility.
When you converse with a heroin user, their heroin use should not be part of the conversation unless they are talking to you about their heroin use. If you have an employee who isn't doing a good job, it doesn't matter if the reason is that they use heroin or not. And if they're doing a good job, their heroin use is even less important. Otherwise, they do have a heroin problem: you.