Posted by Lieutenant Junior Grade Vora Zorell (Scientist) in Capital City of Kebbran, Tenra- A Memoir
The End of the Beginning
The alleys of The District are cold and dark. Foreboding. They carry the stench of desperation, hunger and death, occupied by the forgotten. The nameless. The pitiful. I once was that desperate, that hungry, and once I nearly died alone in one of those sad alleyways. Shivering while I sweated, the word ‘overdose’ caressed my ears, but I was barely conscious. In all the years I fought against my addiction, I have never once overdosed. How and why I don’t know. Maybe it was sheer luck. Or maybe I hadn’t yet given up. Perhaps on that day I gave up just a tiny bit and when kind friends (I didn’t know they were such at the time) found me, they sparked something in me I was too terrified to feel before: hope.
Though I don’t remember anything clearly from that incident (an irony if ever there was one), I do remember asking for help. I remember telling them that I didn’t want to die. It was one last bid to reach for a future, for something better. Maybe this time it could happen. Maybe I could finally be free.
I have a name. A strong name. A beautiful name. A name I shall keep for those that deserve to know it. The rest don’t matter, not any more.
For the next while after the incident in the alley, I went through what I would never wish upon even my worst enemies: detox. It is a gruelling and humbling process, even medically supported. Living a life now where I have access to extraordinary medical care, I weep for my younger self who was left to the mercy of people who knew they could do better, but had too few resources and simply tried their best to see their patients through the darkest of dark times. Some, like me, made it. Many did not.
When you walk down the street of the town or the city where you live, do you see them? The unseen? They see you, I promise you that. They envy you but they do not wish you harm. Well… most of them.
Once a week I pull out my mother’s one-of-kind ring, the light yellow topaz much like her skin. I put it on my finger and imagine the one who gave it to her. Were they like those laughing and carefree people I used to watch on my occasional ventures away from The District? I assume so, but assumptions are dangerous things and I have to remind myself that I cannot know what’s going on behind those smiles. That I too once wore dazzling smiles while inside I was dying. They too have a story.
I’m sharing my story because the things that once had power over me are gone. I let them go. Some who know the truth about me will laugh, because they never got to meet the real me. She was masked, hidden, locked away. She was shamed, ashamed and terribly sad.
Today though she can gaze at the stars before her and know that they are hers to know, regardless of what anyone else says. She who has a beautiful name. She with a difficult story that she accepts as her own and welcomes its lessons. She does so so others like her, and those she loves dearly can see what is possible.
And it is heartbreakingly beautiful.
~Dr. Dor Alkia for Vora Zorell
A few days later, another piece came in and Dr. Alkia posted it as promised. By now, there were a few comments on Vora’s pieces and Dor smiled at them. They were encouraging complimentary. She made sure to copy some of them to pass along so Vora knew how her story was being received.
I went through a bunch of testing once I was in the clear after detox. I would spend some of my day with a therapist working on the things that had been involved in my addiction. We never called them causes. They were variables. Any one of them would not have led to the situation I had been in that allowed my addiction to take hold. But together? It had been a perfect storm of neglect and abuse that allowed someone to take one step too far.
Addiction is very much like that terrible friend you know you shouldn’t spend time with but when you do you feel on top of the world. It tells you everything will be great, that what you feel is so much better than that terrible dullness and emptiness you feel when you aren’t high. Everything is possible, but you can’t have it on your own, oh no. On your own, you’re stupid and pitiful. Disgusting. And who wants to live day in and day out like that? I certainly didn’t. And I didn’t know very many people around me who were willing to find out what else could be said about us if we didn’t have our addictions.
When it wasn’t my addiction telling me I was worthless, it was someone else. Usually a romantic partner. The worst of all was the man I found myself attached to without my consent, who held so much power over me and my fate that I felt unable to get away. His reach was too long and in The District he was like a god. One of many I assure you. People like him (I’ll call him Kem) seemed to have no issues taking what he wanted, when he wanted it and how he wanted it. His business dealings had left him incredibly wealthy and he probably could have lived anywhere else besides The District. But his narcissism was so strong that to live amongst those he controlled and who struggled to get by day to day made him feel even more powerful.
I can sit back and examine him from this perspective only because I have had enough time and distance from him. In the early days after I finally got away I was terrified of coming across him or his associates. Even though we had had something of an agreement in my leaving, I knew at any time on a whim he could revoke it and if I remained too close within reach I would be dragged back without a say in the matter. The only solution in my mind was to be as far away as I could get. The opportunity to do so would come later and a part of me knew I had to be ready when it did. But I had and have had no powers of prescience. I didn’t know the form that opportunity would take. And wow was it unexpected!
Remember those friends who helped get me to a rehab program? Well, the tests they had me do were to test my skills, my aptitudes. It was then that they gave me the term eidetic memory to explain this strange way my mind held onto every single damn thing. They thought it was amazing. I thought it was a nuisance and one of them laughed lightly and told me I wouldn’t always.
They were right.
The wonderful thing about recalling things with such perfect clarity is that you can revisit things and double-check how it all went down. But memory is a funny thing. Even with perfect recollection, at the end of the day it comes down to perspective. How we see and interpret those memories, well, those are as variable as the people within them. And for a very long time I saw myself and my actions as villainous. Addiction and people like Kem told me I was a terrible person, that no one could love me.
And I believed them.
It would take a very long process of re-examining my own memories and everything I thought was true to start to see what might be true. Accepting that I was a good person who had made some very difficult choices and made some terrible mistakes would take years. And it would take years more for that woman to step towards love as something to be welcomed, not feared.
~Dr. Dor Alkia for Vora Zorell
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