I used to love soap operas. When we were kids, my sister and I would spend our summer days watching Young and the Restless. We knew everybody’s business in Genoa City and kept up with Victor and Nikki and the crew on holiday breaks. Years later during a spell of 90’s club kid unemployment, I started watching All My Children. Baby napping, a crazy lady trying to prove she was reformed and a gay teacher overcoming the riducle of a small town. It was juicy stuff and a perfect way to get lost in somebody else’s problems. The show’s anti-heroine Erica Kane had all the symptoms of a big alcoholic (which she later became). She got herself into bad situations but nothing was ever her fault. She used people but couldn’t tolerate the retribution. She lied constantly to get what she wanted. Sounds like every addict I know. Myself included. So it was only fitting that my friends and I gave cocaine the codename of “Erica Kane.” While the character Erica Kane married ten times on television, I stayed in a relationship with the chemical “Erica Kane” for nearly twenty years.
I never really thought my cocaine use was ever such a big deal. I mean I was primarily a drunk. Cocaine was the Gucci loafers to my Dior suit. It was an accessory. But if I’m really honest with myself, it was a huge problem for a really long time. The first time I tried it, I was seventeen. Like every cliched addict story, I thought I’d do it just the one time and never do it again. Uh yeah. That didn’t happen. At first, it was this fun glamorous thing to do that gave me energy to dance all night. As the years passed, I continued to tango with Erica Kane in various locations. From shitty bar bathrooms to domestic car dashboards, Erica and I hung out in some tragic places. And the pursuit of cocaine was always so filthy and so epic. As time went on, I realized that I didn’t have that sorority sister story of “Oh I just do a few bumps once or twice a year.” Sure, I loved doing coke on my birthday but some years I needed to do coke to get to work or to keep myself from blacking out. Although I’m clearly not one, normal non-addicts simply don’t have those kinds of relationships with chemicals. They don’t need to drink or do drugs to function and that’s how I know for sure I’m not one of them. The last several years of my using, cocaine was more regular and less fun and far from glamorous. It made me edgy, neurotic and gave me anxiety attacks towards the end.Cocaine often made me vomit which I later learned is a sign of overdosing and of doing too much. Sexy. Again, that doesn’t happen to normal folks without cocaine problems.
This past year, the TV Erica Kane went off the air and into television history. My Erica Kane left my life when I got sober in 2009. And honestly, I don’t miss the bitch.