The other day I met a woman, let’s call her Lily. She is about my age, perhaps a little older, beautiful, funny and charming. She is also a drug-addict. As we spoke in the hot summer sun I could clearly see the injection marks on her arms.
Lily and I spoke about everyday things such as clothes and hobbies, about insecurities and dreams. In the regular cityscape, Lily is partly invisible to most people. She’s visible in the sense that she is beautiful and well dressed, but she becomes invisible from the moment people realise she’s on drugs.
We don’t like to see the junkies and alcoholics, we pretend they’re not there. Yet I saw Lily, and she saw me. What makes us different, I wondered?
Sure, I choose to not inject myself with drugs, but I bet it didn’t start out that way for Lily. Perhaps she started hanging out with the wrong people. Perhaps she was just going to try, or perhaps she just didn’t care. Perhaps Lily started out taking more socially acceptable drugs. Anyway, it’s not for me to judge her.
Lily’s beauty is now fraying. She must have been a woman everyone looked at, a woman who turned heads. Now she bore the signs of a life lived too hard and fast. Lily’s life is precarious, with a short life expectancy with her current lifestyle. She is likely to have a chaotic and unstable home environment, with a recurring focus on her drug addiction.
Yet she is also a woman, a sister, who is concerned with being happy and loved, with watching her weight and being a good citizen. So again I try to discern the difference between Lily and myself, and the different paths we walk.
You might say it’s down to choice, family and education, and you might be right. But I think it’s also about luck. Our paths are made while walking, and this is where the little decisions we make are so crucial. Like what way to walk to work in the morning, where to get my morning coffee and whether to leave in good time or make a dash for it.
These small, insignificant decisions influence the greater ones and help create the perimeters for what is possible in a situation. It’s only when the situation has been created, and I am there at that precise time and place, that I can respond to that particular situation. And that’s where I’ve been so lucky in my life and have had mostly good situations to respond to, and perhaps Lily has not.
So I bear will that in mind the next time I see her, and treat her with respect and dignity. Perhaps it will be a chance encounter that has a positive impact in Lily’s life. I wish some luck would rub off on her, so that she can lead a happier and healthier life. Perhaps she’ll get clean one day, and have a better life. Good luck, Lily, with love.
Finding the community of Cycle Harmony has made a huge difference to me. I am delighted to be writing to you from the Red Tent and hope to share thoughts and experiences you recognise, or find useful to ponder upon. I look forward to working with you all in exploring what it is to be women, and hope to hear from you. ~ Vild