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‘It helps me keep things on track’

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When the work grows over Liza’s head, she snorts cocaine. “The next day I fill the lunchboxes crackling.”

Liza (38) has a husband, a son (7) and a daughter (11) and an administrative office at home.

“It was around midnight. I stared at my computer screen and fought sleep. My family slept upstairs, I still had to work for hours. My eye fell on the toiletry bag in an open filing cabinet. Our stash, my husband Coen and I jokingly call it, because that bag is usually empty. That night it contained a pack of cocaine, left over from a wild night out a few weeks before.

In front of me was a pile of work. My eyes rolled with fatigue. The list of tasks I still had to do seemed endless. I laid down a line, fished out the kids’ lemonade straw from the kitchen, cut off a piece, and sniffed the powder in one long drag. Within a few minutes I was sharp, and I got rid of my work at a murderous pace. Flawless. Bouncing, I dove into my bed at four in the morning.

Been there, done that

Coen and I have known each other since our student days. We sometimes took ecstasy back then, but only at major dance events. We graduated on time, got married and had children. We swore off drugs. Irresponsible, we thought, with small children and careers. A rounded era: been there, done that, that idea. Moreover, I have breastfed for years, then you certainly do not use.

When Coen celebrated his 40th birthday two years ago, one of our friends brought some coke. In our circle of friends we like to party. That night we broke up for the first time in years. We had the time of our lives. The kids are staying over and we are the carefree party animals of the past. Since then we do a pill or line together once or twice a year. None of our friends would dare to continue with this on a structural basis, none would tolerate that from the other. I barely take a paracetamol when I’m sick.

Until the wee hours

An administration office at home sounds very practical, but it is difficult to keep running when the children are running around the house after three in the afternoon with friends. They want food and drink and attention. I do as much as possible during school hours, but I don’t get everything done during those hours. That’s why I leave for my office every evening as soon as the kids are in bed and Coen is lounging in front of the TV. I drink a couple of double espressos and get to work.

But once in a while all that work gets way over my head. When the stress and sleep deprivation become too much for me, I give in. Since that first time in my office about a year and a half ago, I use about twice a month. Never more than two or three lines per evening. When I say it like that, it doesn’t even sound that outrageous. But it’s every other week. Then you are an experienced user.

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Crackling broke

Coen has no idea, and I feel incredibly guilty about that. Especially when I fill the lunchboxes for the kids the morning after a late night, and he’s still reeling from the wild lovemaking I woke him up for a few hours earlier. That coke really hits your libido. To make sure I still sleep after a few lines, I take an oxa or temazepam these days. That makes me feel a little human the next day.

Inclined plane

I know I’m on a slippery slope. It’s hard to stick to those twice a month; the temptation is great to get rid of all the tiredness and stress with one simple line. I’m terrified that I’m going to die soon, because that mess is bad for your heart. But yes, I immediately put things into perspective: one takes a line once in a while while going out, I work on it for an evening. I really don’t hang out on the porch of the local dealer every day, don’t use when I’m taking care of the kids on my own, don’t move in dark circles and it doesn’t get me into money problems.

Fun girlfriend

An acquaintance occasionally gives me something and in exchange I take him to the café or give him the twenty euros that such a package costs. I can easily participate for a month; smoking is more expensive. Although that same acquaintance recently pushed me a metal pipe that is specially intended for snorting cocaine. “Gift for my fun girlfriend,” he said. Does he know much that I don’t use it for fun, but purely to keep my head above water. I was happy with it too.

stress

I’m considering trying Ritalin sometime. You also seem to get incredibly focused and sharp, and it feels less like junkie behavior to me than when I take a line. Better for my mental health too, because the stress doesn’t get any less thanks to that coke. The drug works on your dopamine system, making you feel cheerful, active and confident. By the way, it also messes with the serotonin in your brain, making you feel happy. Less than with ecstasy, but still.

“What if something happens?”

During an evening like that I feel fantastic, but in the next two days I crash down hard. Then I feel tired and depressed. I have a short fuse and snap at the kids. That also makes it so easy to use; then you really just want another line. I feel responsible enough not to give in to that. Don’t get it into my head to take anything during the day because what if something happens to the kids? That I have to pick up a sick son, while I had my nose in the powder a minute before? I would never put my children in danger. On the evenings when I take something, Coen is always at home, and I only do it when everyone is asleep. Also imagine that the neighborhood mothers find out. Before you know it you will have the authorities on your roof.

Man overboard

I tell myself that no man is lost as long as I am aware of the dangers and limit my use. If I were constantly walking around the house like a zombie and shortchanged my children, I would stop immediately. Now I’m still in a gray area: nobody suffers from it anymore, and it helps me to keep things on track – although you can of course wonder to what extent you have things on track when you need hard drugs.

To fail

I can’t bear the thought of Coen finding out what I’m keeping from him. I can wake up from that. In fact, I do it to support our family – although I now sound like a junkie trying to justify his behavior. Investing in drugs to keep up with my work is the world upside down, I understand that. I’m sure Coen would say: ‘Joh Lies, quit your business and take care of the children full-time. I’ll work for two.’ I don’t know if I want to hear that. I feel like I’m failing if I can’t handle my job, and I don’t want to show that vulnerability. Even if a sniff to cover things up is of course really wrong.”

This article was previously published in Kek Mama.

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