I was thinking about John Lennon's "Cold Turkey". Supposedly he had been through withdrawal before, and that was what made him write the song. Nothing is like withdrawal, exactly- it's like women who say that nothing can be compared to childbirth. I suppose nothing could. But withdrawal wasn't just pain, it was a terrible restlessness, pain along with itching and nausea and diarrhea and a general sense of your body not belonging to you. You started to understand why people would kill, or abandon children, or walk away from careers, in order to avoid the feeling. It is as close as I ever felt to wanting to die.
I stared at the inside of the closet, the mops and cleaning solutions all around me, the precious box clutched to my chest. I fumbled with the flap, and then screwed the needle on top. I flipped up my scrub, feeling around for a bare patch of skin. I sucked in a breath when the needle pierced my skin, pushing the plunger down, feeling the sting and picking up the gauze I had dropped on the cement floor.
I felt relief, even though I knew that the drug hadn't taken effect yet. My breathing slowed, and I felt the tension release in my shoulders. I knew I was going to get caught, and I knew I was going to be fired again, but for that moment, for those few minutes as it eased its way into my blood, unknotting my guts, slowing the sweat on my brow, relieving the rush of my thoughts, I was an addict, I knew that, but as much shame as that engendered, the relief of knowing that the awful suffering was almost over, made me feel like I was flying.