1. There is a site called Street Rx where people anonymously post how much they paid for street drugs.
2. It’s a crowdsourced way to help people not get overcharged.
3. I am not myself a consumer of street drugs (don’t need to; I have a good psychiatrist who gives me all I need and health insurance that pays for it, a tremendous privilege I never take for granted) but it gives me a strange comfort to see which ones of my drugs have street value.
4. When I get scared, or worried, or feel that my drugs are not enough to hold me together, I go to Street Rx and see that my drugs are sought after by people who are maybe also scared and worried, and I think that if these drugs are sought after by people then they are good, helpful drugs, and they will keep me together.
5. A psychiatrist once told me that drugs are psychodynamic. I believe this deeply. All care is pyschodynamic.
6. For me, at this time, drugs are transitional objects. They are the long arm of my analyst sitting at the bedside of little scared me and giving me a glass of warm milk and a kind, kind smile.
7. After my parents separated (a brutal and violent affair) I had night anxieties. I don’t remember much. I was very young. What I remember is that I had to call my mom. I would lie in my bed a long time trying to tough it out and always caved.
8. Maybe I caved only a handful of times and those few times feel like always.
9. My mom doesn’t remember any of this.
10. I couldn’t possibly get up and go to my mom myself because I was scared of the ghost men that populated the dark, so I called and called until my mom came.
11. I remember calling a lot. I remember calling with despair. I didn’t want to call my mom. I wanted to leave her alone, let her sleep. I was worried about her. She made constantly present to us how terrible everything was for her and us, how precarious and dangerous our situation. I wanted to take care of her. I needed to take care of her so that she would take care of us.
12. But I did call, and she would come, eventually, and say, What? and I would say the only words I could find to say.
13. I can’t sleep.
14. She would go into the kitchen and make me instant chamomile tea. She would sit on my bed and cool it with her breath and give it to me in spoonfuls.
15. But she didn’t smile. She was exhausted and anguished and worried. She would say, Hurry up, drink, and I tried to hurry up.
16. That is and forever will be the tastiest hot drink in the world.
17. Much earlier, before my parents separated, I promised myself I would never show weakness in front of my mom or dad.
18. But I did, on these post-separation nights, and my mom came, and, albeit not very graciously, she took care of me.
19. I know now, and in some small part of me I knew then, that my mom had no room in her mind to empathize with her kids.
20. I know now, and in some small part of me I knew then, that she would always take care of our physical health, but would never be able to connect with our minds. Our feelings were not something she worried about. I don’t think she could conceptualize that we had feelings at all.
21. I have been reading a lot of literature written by people with troubled childhoods real or fictional and I know I’m not alone in my experience of a radically absent mother. But I have seldom seen, in literature, a mother with such profound inability to form any understanding of the fact that her kids need her more than for clothing and food.
22. The only two places, in real life or in representation, where I have seen this complete abdication of the tenderness of motherhood are the Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante and the film version of Ordinary People (I have read the book but don’t remember it).
23. I scroll Street Rx and see those drugs that are the equivalent of a cup of hot milk (not chamomile tea, it’s hot milk now) my therapist is giving me while I lie scared and lonely in my bed in the dark, and see they are coveted, and think, I have this coveted thing that scared people seek. My psychiatrist has given them to me. My therapist (through my psychiatrist) is here with me and sees my pain. My therapist loves me.
24. I am not alone.
Painting by Vincent Buchinsky, via All Things Beautiful