Laura Palmer, Heroin & Me: The Waiting Room

I never set out to be a junkie.

Nobody wakes up one day and says to themselves that a life of solitude, crime, suicide attempts, wondering where the money for your next fix—and, if you’re lucky, next meal—is going to come from. I’ve never met a person who told me their goal in life was to be full of so much self-hatred that nothing mattered and it certainly wasn’t my goal either. You can’t escape either because you don’t get high anymore; you’re just not detoxing. There is no end in sight, except the “exit stage left” we all take one day. The life of a strung-out addict is one where death feels like the only way out. Perhaps that’s why I was always drawn to Laura Palmer.

I won’t compare my pain and my life to hers but I do feel like I know her. I feel like I know Bobby Briggs, too. While the details may be different, the underlying emotions are similar. I never went through the sexual abuse that Laura went through but I know her coping skills all too well. I used them too.

I watched Twin Peaks when it first aired, at far too young of an age with my Mom. It left an impact on me that would last my entire life. 13 years after Twin Peaks ended, at the age of 18, I started having Twin Peaks viewing parties where I would get as many of my friends to watch as I could. What nobody knew at the time, not even my closest of friends, was that I was already using hard drugs. I already felt alone. I was already caught up in the grip of something more powerful than me. Twin Peaks didn’t judge me. Twin Peaks made me feel safe, like a person in as much personal turmoil as I was belonged there. I tried to surround myself with people but looking back, the only thing I had to offer was the gift of Twin Peaks. People came and went out of my life but that small town in Washington State never left me.

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The most heartbreaking look. A thousand stories told with one expression.

Long term drug addiction does many things to a person. It forces you to wear these masks so people in your life will hopefully see you the way you want them to see you. When I watched Laura Palmer play so many different roles to so many different people, I understood. I did the same thing. When I watched Laura keep someone sweet and innocent like James in her life only to reject him in favor of others that walked on her side of life, I understood. I did the same thing to a few women who had nothing but the best of intentions with me. I had a best friend like Donna who tried to understand but didn’t. Sometimes I would take him places where I knew the people, the guns and the drugs would scare him without telling where we were going ahead of time. Looking back on it, I can’t tell you why but I know he didn’t belong there, the same way Laura knew Donna didn’t belong in the Pink Room in Fire Walk With Me.

My descent into my own downward spiral lasted 10 years, between the ages of 16-26. Those last 3 years are still hard for me to talk about. Like I said earlier, nobody sets out to become a junkie and everything that comes with that. I had once been considered a good student, a kid with good manners with a passion for writing. Voted “Most Likely to go to Hollywood” by his senior class. Little did they know that I was already filled with secrets by that point.

Those last three years though, that’s when the wheels fell off and I lost it all. There were no more masks to be worn; my secrets were all out in the open. There was no duality. My world was dark and filled with hardened, violent people. All of my angels had left me. I was alone, roamed the streets day and night and all I wanted was out. Just like Laura Palmer, I wanted to die. I spent three years thinking that was my only way out. Why I’m still here today, I can’t tell you. I tried to make every time I used enough to be the last time. I tried to combine substances I knew were lethal when done together. I tried to OD on train tracks once, thinking either the drugs themselves or being passed out when the train came would be my end. I woke up and the train never came that day. I tried to hang myself in a vacant house I would use in. The noose broke and as I sat on my knees holding it, crying at my inability to even kill myself correctly, I don’t think it was possible for me to feel any lower. I thought about Laura Palmer that night. She died and found her angel, her salvation. Me, my attempts to die were met in vain. I was doomed to walk the streets, strung out and alone, in search of my next crime and my next fix for all of eternity.

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Laura’s death, her salvation & the catalyst for the story of Twin Peaks. 

There’s a lot I’m not going to go into here for many reasons but the story I wanted to tell is that I survived. I did find a way out. On May 13th, 2011, my father picked me up from a building I went into so I could sleep and he took me to treatment. My father, the most hardworking, honorable man I know, never gave up on me. Much like Major Briggs with his son Bobby, my father saw something in me, something I’ve been bound and determined to live up to since that day he took me to treatment. That day happened to be my father’s birthday although I wasn’t aware of it at first. Much like how Bobby Briggs turned his life around and tried to be the man his father knew he could be, that’s exactly what I’m doing now, almost seven years later. In this fandom of ours, we gather around a show that’s all about pain at its core. A show about a young woman who was a victim and had to lose her life to win her battle and to ultimately triumph over evil. My story is nothing like hers really, yet I could relate to her pain. Her pain, this fictional character’s pain, made her in some ways the only person I could relate to during my darkest of times. As Twin Peaks fans, we have many who identify as “Grown up Lauras”. They share their stories, they help each other heal and they do this together. As much as I never wanted to get personal about my own life, I know somewhere out there is someone impacted by this heroin epidemic reading this. Someone that perhaps uses Twin Peaks to escape the horrors of their own real life. I’ve been you before. I know how you feel and I made it out alive. You can too.

I’m here if you ever want to talk.


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9 Replies to “Laura Palmer, Heroin & Me: The Waiting Room”

  1. I know personally about addiction and recovery, despair and hope, withdrawal and rebuilding. I’m also an old school Twin Peaks fan. I have recently been immersed in the online fandom. I am latently appreciating this site. This article hits me to the core. Blessings to you and your honesty, openmidedness and willingness. More will be revealed.

    1. Thank you Jason both for your kind words and your support of the site! This was something I’ve wanted to do for awhile but did wrestle with the idea of breaking my anonymity. Ultimately the phrase “You can only keep what you have by giving it away” refused to leave my head and I sat down to write. Thank you again my friend.

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