Extract From: Christiane F. - Us Kids from the Zoo Train Station
("Zoo" is the name of the central train and subway station in Berlin.)
copyright 1993 by Stern Publishing, first published in 1978
Translation and Sub-titles are mine
In 1977 Christiane F. was a young heroin addict in Berlin who prostituted herself so she could get her daily fix. This narrative tells how she tried to withdraw from "H" and how Narconon came into play.
mark - German dollar, worth about 50 cents in 1980 Detlef - her boyfriend's name Gropiusstadt - name of a district in Berlin Kudamm - a busy strip in Berlin - Kurfürstendamm clean - not addicted to or associated with heroin cold turkey - to stop taking heroin hooked - addicted to heroin stoned - high on heroin john - a man who pays a prostitute to hook - to prostitute French - In regards to this narrative, it means having oral sex
How I Decided on Narconon
And sometime in May 1977 I somehow got it through my muddled head that I had exactly two choices: either I would intentionally overdose as soon as possible (give myself the golden shot), or I would make a serious effort to kick my heroin habit. I knew that it was me who had to make this decision. I wasn't going to count on Detlef for this one. I couldn't leave the decision up to him.
I drove to Gropiusstadt, to the house in the middle, to the evangelical youth club where my drug life had started. The club had closed since I had been away because they couldn't handle the heroin problem any more. For that they had drug counselors. To be honest it was drug counselors just for Gropiusstadt. That's how many drug addicts there were two years after the big "H" made its first appearance here. The counselor said something to me which I had known for a long time, that I only had a chance through a real recovery program. They gave me the addresses of "Drug Info" and "Synanon" because they were supposed to have the highest recovery rates.
I was kind of paranoid about these programs, since I had been told by old-timers that recovery was extremely difficult. The first month was supposed to be worse than jail. In Synanon you even had to get all your hair cut off. The idea of this was to prove that you wanted to start your life all over again. I didn't think that I'd be able to bring myself to shaving my head and running around like Kojak. Somehow my hair seemed to be the most important thing I had. I used it to hide my face. I thought that if they wanted to cut off my hair, they may as well kill me, too.
Even the drug counselor told me that I probably couldn't get into Drug Info or Synanon because neither one had many openings. The conditions for acceptance into the programs were very strenuous. You had to be physically fit and also prove through voluntary self-discipline that you had the power to to pull yourself away from "H". The drug counselor said that I was still very young, not even 15, practically a child. For that reason it would be difficult for me to give them what they wanted. They didn't have a special type of program just for children.
I said that I really wanted to go to Narconon. Narconon was the half-way house of a cult, the Scientology Church. A few junkies who had already been to Narconon spread the word that everything there was just as it should be. There were no conditions for acceptance at Narconon, as long as you paid in advance. You could bring your junkie clothes, your own records and even pets.
The drug counselor said I should think over why it was that these junkies were telling people that recovery in Narconon was so great and here they were pushing. Anyway she had not heard of a single case of successful recovery with Narconon.
I asked what I should do since I had no chance at all with the other programs. So she gave me the address of Narconon.
Back at home I dribbled beef blood extract into my cat's mouth with my only syringe. When my mother came home I told her, "I'm finally moving out to Narconon. I'll be there a couple of months or maybe a year, and then I'll be clean for good."
My mother acted as if she didn't believe a word I said. But she grabbed the phone and tried to get information about Narconon.
I was totally into this recovery trip. I felt like I was born again. I had not had a fix all afternoon and I wasn't carrying any "H". I wanted to go clean before I went to Narconon. I didn't want to go into the turkey room first thing. I wanted to show up there perfectly clean in order to have a head start on the other people that were new there. I wanted to prove right from the start that I had a real desire to break loose from "H".
I went to bed early. I laid the tomcat, who wasn't feeling so well, next to my head on my pillow. I was a little bit proud of myself. I'd withdraw on my own, completely voluntarily. What junkie had done that before? I would have told my mother that I was quitting cold turkey, but she would only have laughed. She wouldn't have believed me. For her, [my] withdrawal pangs were an everyday occurrence and quite hopeless. I had to go through it all by myself.
By the next morning I had the shakes. It was as bad as the other withdrawals, maybe even worse. But I never thought that I wouldn't make it. When I thought that the pain would kill me, I just told myself that it was only the poison working its way out of me. "You will live because this poison will never again find its way inside of you." As I dozed off, I didn't have any nightmares. Only pictures of my wonderful life after recovery
Ideal Life in a Drug Dream
When the pain became more bearable on the third day, I saw paradise playing before my eyes like a film. It became more and more real. I'd go to school again. Until the college entrance exam. I'd have my own house. A convertible out front. Which I'd drive most of the time with the top down.
The house would be in the country. In Rudow or maybe in Grunewald. It would be an old style house. But not one of these big city houses like they have around the Kudamm with those insanely high roofs and things. Not a building with a hall at the entrance and red carpet runners and marble and mirrors and name plates with gold letters. Not a place in a building which reeked of wealth in any way. Because wealth, I imagined, meant pressure, tension and stress.
I wanted a place in a blue-collar neighborhood with two or three small rooms, low ceilings, small windows, with well-worn wooden steps to the stairwell, where it always smelled a little bit like food, and where the neighbors came out of their doors and said "Hi, how's it going?" The steps would be so narrow that you'd have to stand aside for your neighbor when he came through. Everybody would work hard, but they would all be very satisfied. They would not be into accumulating things; they were not envious, they would help each other out; they would be completely different from the rich and also quite different from the workers in the high-rises from Gropiusstadt. No pandemonium would break out in this house.
Especially crucial in my house would be the bedroom. On the right wall would be a very wide chaise lounge covered with dark material. On either side would be a nightstand. One for Detlef when he slept with me. [Beside the nightstands] would be potted palms. There would be many plants and flowers in my room. Behind the bed would be a tapestry of the sort not found in stores. On the tapestry would be a picture of the desert, with giant dunes. And a couple of palms. An oasis. Bedouins with white headcloths would be sitting around totally relaxed in a circle, drinking tea. Complete peace would reign on my tapestry. On the left side of my bedroom, in the nook where the window is built into the sloped roof would be my corner. A corner like they have in Arabia or India. Many cushions around a low round table. There I would sit in total peace, would experience no turmoil and would have no wishes and no problems.
The living room would be rather like the bedroom. The plants, the rugs. But in the middle would be a big round wooden table with wicker chairs around it. My best friends would sometimes sit around the table and eat what I had cooked, and drink tea. On the walls would be shelves full of books by people who had also found peace and knew about animals and nature. The hanging bookshelves would have been made by myself out of boards and ropes. Most everything in the house would have been made by me, because there was nothing in the furniture stores which I liked. Because the furniture there was made for snooty folks and was built to show that the people who owned it had paid an insane amount of money. There would be no doors in the building, only curtains. Because when doors open and shut that makes noise and disharmony.
I'd have a dog, a Rottweiler, and two cats. The back seat of my convertible would be adjusted so that my dog could really be comfortable in my car. In the evenings I'd peacefully cook my meals. Not in the confusion in which my mother always cooked. Then a key would turn in the front door. Detlef would return from work. The dog would jump up on him. The cats would arch their backs and rub up against his leg. Then Detlef would give me a kiss and sit down at the dining room table.
That's what I dreamt during my withdrawals. But I didn't know that it was all a dream. For me it was the reality of the day after tomorrow. That's how it would be after recovery, and I could hardly imagine that it would be otherwise. Everything was so clear to me that I told my mother on the third day of cold turkey that I would be moving out into my own place after I finished the recovery program.
I only needed 20 more marks
On the fourth day I was doing so well that I was able to stand up. I still had 20 marks in my jeans, and these 20 marks made me uncomfortable. Because twenty marks is exactly half of forty marks. And I thought that if I only had 20 marks more then I could buy my last fix before I went to Narconon the next day.
I talked with my sick cat. I told him that things wouldn't be so bad if I were to leave him for one or two hours at a time. I used my syringe to give him some chamomile tea with sugar, the only kind he liked and said, "You won't die, either."
I wanted to cooly stroll just one more time up the Kudamm. Because I knew that there was no leaving Narconon, or if there was, only under escort. And I also wanted a fix, because the Kudamm without "H" wasn't quite so cool. But I was still missing twenty marks. I had to find a john. I didn't want to meet Detlef at the train station and tell him, "Hey, I've just had the greatest cold turkey, it was really crazy. And now I'm looking for a john because I only need twenty more marks. Guaranteed that Detlef would not have understood. He would have grabbed me and laughed at me and said, "You are and always will be an old junkie bride." I didn't want that to happen at all.
I got the idea on the subway: hook the street. The idea came to me because I needed twenty marks. On the street you often got only twenty marks. Babsi and Stella went on Kurfuersten and Genthiner streets. I had always had a natural fear of the streets. I wanted the johns coming over to me like they did in the train station where I could look them over on my own terms, not me going over to the car of the customer who waved at me. It wasn't easy to make out what kind of guy he was that way.
The worst was when you got a pimp. The pimps disguised themselves as johns. Once they get you into the car, there's nothing more you can do. Most of the pimps don't want junkies working for them because they skim too much money for their dope. They want to drive the junkies away from the Kudamm because the junkie kids ruin the prices for the professional hookers.
One time Babsi climbed into the car of a pimp. He locked her up for three days. She was out-and-out tortured. They let all kinds of men on top of her. Islanders and drunken bums and everybody. And Babsi was of course stone cold sober the whole time. She's never been right since. And she still goes to the Kudamm. She was the queen with the angel face but no butt nor breasts.
The professional hookers were nearly as dangerous as the pimps. Potsdam Street, where the sleaziest hookers in Berlin hung out, was only about 200 yards from the Kudamm strip. Sometimes they gave chase to the junkies. If they got one they'd scratch her face.
I got out off the subway at Kudamm and experienced a deep-down fear. I thought over the advice which Stella and Babsi always gave for the street: no young guys with sports cars or American clunkers, no pimps. Older guys with big bellies, hats and ties are OK. The best were the ones with baby seats in the back seat. Good old dad, who wants a quick change of pace and who will be in more trouble than the girl.
I walked from the subway station for the hundred yards to the intersection of Genthiner Street. I acted as if I weren't looking for customers. I didn't walk along the street, but kept quite close to the buildings. Nevertheless someone suddenly waved at me. He looked funny to me. Maybe because he had a beard. He looked somewhat aggressive. I flipped him off and walked ahead.
There were no other girls in sight. It was still morning. I knew from Stella's and Babsi's tales that the johns would be quite horny if they had to drive around for a half and hour without seeing a girl. Sometimes there were more johns than girls on the Kudamm. There was a pair over there. I acted as if I didn't see them.
I looked in a furniture store window, and there was the room of my dreams. I said to myself, "Christiane, girl, pull yourself together now. You've got to get those lousy twenty marks fast. You must concentrate." That's the kind of thing I had to do when I wanted to get something over with as soon as possible.
A white car pulled up. There wasn't any baby seat in back, but the guy didn't look evil. I climbed in without thinking too much. I agreed to thirty-five marks.
We drove to Akanischen Place. That's an old railway platform that belonged to the East German department of transportation. We drove to the platform. It happened quite quickly. The guy was nice and I had good feelings about it. I even forgot that he was a john. He said that he would like to see me again. But that wouldn't happen soon because he was leaving in three days with his wife and both children for vacation in Norway.
I asked him if he would be able to drive me to Hardenberg Street, to the Technical University. He did that at once. Things would be happening at the Technical University in the morning.
My last evening with my mother
It was a beautiful warm day, the 18th of May, 1977. I remember the date because it was two days before my fifteenth birthday. I walked around and talked with a couple of guys. I petted a dog. I was totally happy. I felt crazy not being in a rush to go somewhere...
When a guy came by and asked if I wanted any dope, I said yes. He walked to Ernst-Reuter Place, where I bought a bag for forty marks. I went directly to the women's room on Ernst-Reuter Place. It's pretty clean there. I only put half the dope on the spoon because I didn't want to do the whole thing right after my withdrawal. I set about it rather ceremoniously because I thought it would be my last time.
Almost two hours later I woke up. I was still sitting on the toilet. The needle hung out of my arm. My things were scattered all over the floor of the tiny stall. But other than that I was OK. I thought to myself that I had really chosen the right time to finally quit "H". I'd had it with walking along the cool Kudamm. The good feelings were all gone. I bought potato soup and vegetables for 2.50, but of course I immediately tossed it all up. I dragged myself back to the subway station to say so long to Detlef, but he wasn't there. I had to get home, because my sick cat needed me.
The pussy cat was lying in the same spot where I had laid him. On my pillow. First I cleaned my needle and then I filled it with chamomile tea with sugar. Really I had pictured my last day as a junkie quite differently. I considered hanging out at Kudamm for just one more day before I went to Narconon.
Then my mother came and asked me were I had been all afternoon. I said, "On the Kudamm." She said, "You wanted to drop by Narconon today to ask about everything [you needed]."
I immediately blew up and began to yell, "Leave me alone. I don't have time for this. Do you understand?" Suddenly my mother yelled back at me, "You are going to Narconon this evening. Pack your bags right now. You're staying the night at Narconon."
I had made myself some meat and vegetables. I took the plate, went into the bathroom, locked myself in and ate sitting on the toilet. So this was how I was going to spend the last evening with my mother. I yelled, because she had upset me, that I was on "H" again... And I wanted to go to Narconon on my own.
I packed a few things in my straw bag and stuck the needle, a spoon and the rest of the dope in my underwear. We drove in a taxi to Zehlendorf, where the Narconon building was. The guys from Narconon didn't ask me any questions at all. They knew what was going on. They even had scouts that went to the strip and talked to junkies to see if they didn't want to try out Narconon.
But they asked my mother questions. They wanted to see some cash before I was admitted. 1,500 marks paid in advance for the first month. Of course my mother didn't have that much money with her. She promised to bring it by the next afternoon. She wanted to take out a loan. She said that her bank would do this no questions asked for such a small amount, and she pled that I would be allowed to stay. The guys finally agreed.
Welcome to Narconon, Christiane
I asked if I could use the bathroom. I could. So I wouldn't be body-searched first thing like they did in the other recovery programs, and sent home if they found your drug paraphernalia. I went to the rest room and shot up the rest of the dope. Of course they saw that I was high when I came back, but they said nothing. I gave them my paraphernalia. The one to whom I gave it said, quite surprised, "We'd like to have that, but only if you give it to us completely voluntarily."
I had to go into the cold-turkey room, because they saw that I was totally strung out. There were two others in there. One left the next morning.
That was a nice piece of work as far as the Narconon people were concerned, when somebody paid in advance for a month, and then left first thing.
I received books which contained the teachings of the Scientology Church. Wonderful old worn-out pieces of trash. I discovered that this was one wild cult. In any case they had rather worn-out stories which you could believe or not. I looked for something which I could believe in.
After two days I could come out of the cold-turkey room again, because I hardly had any withdrawal symptoms after my two shots. I went into a room with Christa. That was one totally flipped-out woman. She had been blacklisted from recovery because all she did was laugh at the therapy and the program aides. She came into the room and looked for a stash in the baseboards. She thought that someone had probably once hidden their stuff there. She brought me up to the roof and said, "Girl, we'll have to bring us up a couple of mattresses and have us a cool orgy with wine and hashish and whatever." The lady was pulling me down. Because I found her too far gone. But she was always reminding me of drugs and thought this Narconon stuff was a bunch of crap. And I was trying to get clean here.
On the second day my mother called me and told me that my cat had died. That was on my 15th birthday. My mother wished me happy birthday, then she told me my cat had died. It bothered her, too. The morning of my 15th birthday I crouched on my bed and just cried.
When the guys noticed that I was still crying, they told me that I needed a session. I was shut in a room with one of them, a former junkie, and he gave me apparently senseless commands. I was only allowed to say yes and had to carry out each command.
He said, "Look at the wall. Go to the wall. Touch the wall." And then he started all over again. For hours I went from wall to wall in this room. Sometimes it was too much for me, and I said, "What's this garbage supposed to do? You are touched in the head. You'd best leave me alone. I'm done crying." But with his smile that never changed he'd get me to somehow continue. Then I had to touch other things. Until I really couldn't stand the place anymore and threw myself on the floor and yelled and screamed.
He smiled and I continued after I had settled down. Now I had this smile, too. I was totally apathetic. I was touching the wall before he gave the command. The only thing that I could figure out was that this would have to end sometime.
After exactly five hours he said, "OK, that's enough for today." I was feeling strangely agreeable. I had to go with him into another room. There was a funny home-made device, like a pendulum between two tin cans. I had to grab a hold of that. The guy asked, "Are you feeling well?"
I said, "I'm feeling well. I believe that I am experiencing everything much more consciously."
The guy stared at the pendulum and then said, "It hasn't moved, therefore you are not lying. The session was a success."
The funny thing was a lie detector. It was probably a ritual device of this cult. In any case I was quite happy that the pendulum had not swung. That was proof enough for me that I really felt well. I was ready to believe anything to get away from "H".
They did all kinds of amazing things. When Christa got sick that same evening she had to grab a bottle and say whether the bottle was hot or cold. In her fit of fever she played along. After an hour she apparently didn't have a fever anymore.
I was fooled so bad that I went into the office the next morning and asked them for a new session. For a whole week I was on the cult-trip and thought that the therapy would really get me out of there. The program ran for the whole day. Sessions, clean-up, kitchen duty. That went until ten o'clock at night. You didn't have any time to think about it.
The only thing that got on my nerves was the food. I wasn't exactly spoiled as far as food goes. But I could hardly keep the slop they served here down. I thought that they could have offered something better for the pile of money they got. Because they hardly had any expenses. The sessions were mostly conducted by former junkies who were supposedly clean for a couple of months. These guys were told that this was part of recovery and so they only got pocket money. I also didn't like the fact that the bosses of Narconon ate by themselves. Once I went up to them as they had just sat down for dinner. They were keeping the good food for themselves.
One Sunday I had some time to think things over. First I thought about Detlef and became rather sad. Then I quite soberly thought about what I could do after recovery. I asked myself whether the sessions had really been helping me. I had plenty of questions, but no answers. I wanted to talk things over with somebody. But I had nobody. One of the first house rules here was that you couldn't make friends. And as soon as you wanted to talk about your problems the Narconon guys would immediately give you a session. It was becoming clear to me that the whole time here I had not properly chatted with anybody.
On Monday I went into the office and tore into them. I didn't let them interrupt me. I started with the food. Then I told them that almost all my underwear had been stolen. You never got to wash your clothes because the girl with the key was always taking off for the strip. There were a few there that would take off to get their fix and come back when they felt like it. I said that things like that were getting me down. And then these constant sessions and the housework. I was completely exhausted because I simply didn't have enough time for sleep. I said, "OK your program is going quite well, it's really good. But my own problems are not getting solved. Because this whole thing is just a drill. You're just trying to drill us. But I needed someone that I could talk my problems over with. I needed time to discuss my problems.
They listened and smiled. They said nothing at all. When I was done, they growled that I needed a special session, which lasted the whole day until ten at night. That brought me into total apathy again. And I think that they knew exactly what they were doing. My mother had told me during a visit that she would get the money she had to pay to Narconon refunded from the welfare office. And I thought that if the state gave money for this, that it must really be OK.
Others in the building had more problems than I did. Gabi, for instance. She had fallen for this guy and absolutely wanted to screw him. In her genuine stupidity, she told the Narconon bosses about it and immediately got an extra session. After she hopped the guy's bones a few times, the word got out, and the two of them were yelled at in front of everybody. Gabi took off that night and never came back. The guy who was supposedly clean for a couple of years and worked as a program aide split sometime later. He went back to being a junkie.
It didn't matter that much at Narconon if we screwed each other. It was more important that no friendships came out of it. But the guy had already been there a year, and how long were you supposed to last without friendship.
The little free time we had in the evenings I spent with the younger people. I was the youngest in the building. But in our slowly forming clique, no one was yet seventeen. This was the first wave coming into recovery that had already started shooting up as children. They were all as hooked as I was after one or two years because the poison gets to you more in puberty than it does later. They had never had a chance to try out the other recovery programs.
After a while most everybody else needed the sessions just about as much as I did. When two of us younger people were together the entire session would turn into one big joke. How long could you stay serious if you had to shout at a football or stare for hours into each other's eyes. We didn't need the funny lie detector anymore because we said that the sessions weren't doing anything for us. Outside of making us laugh. The poor session leaders became more and more helpless whenever they had to work with us.
During our time off there was only one thing to talk about in our clique: "H". I talked about getting out of there with several others. After two weeks with Narconon I had worked out an escape plan. Together with two boys I disguised myself as part of the Cleaning Commando Squad. Our trash cans, brushes and buckets got us through all doors. The three of us were in bliss. We practically dirtied ourselves just thinking about that first fix. We separated at the subway. I rode to the Zoo train station to meet Detlef.
Nowhere to Go
Detlef was not there. But Stella [was]. She practically died with excitement at seeing me again. She told me that Detlef had not been seen by anybody lately. I was afraid that he was in jail. Stella said that the john business was lousy at the station. We rode to the strip at Kurfuersten Street. Nothing was going on there either. We ran from the Kurfuersten Street station to Laetzow Place before somebody finally pulled over. We knew the guy and his car. He had often followed us before. Also when we went to the rest rooms to get a fix. We had always pegged him as a plainclothes cop. But he was only a john who specialized in young female junkies.
He only wanted me, but Stella was allowed to climb in, too.
I said, "Thirty-five for French. French is the only way I'll go."
He said, "I'll give you a hundred marks."
I was flabbergasted. This had never happened to me before. The guys in the big fat Mercedes crapped themselves over five marks. And this guy in a rusted-out Volkswagen was giving away a hundred. Then he said he was an officer in the German CIA. So he was a liar, too. But these flipped-out high rollers were the best johns, because they liked to throw their money around.
Then he actually gave me the hundred marks. Stella immediately bought some dope, and we shot up in his car. We drove to the Ameise Hotel. Stella stayed on the floor. I took my time with the guy, because I was completely stoned from my first fix in two weeks. And because he had paid me quite respectably. I was so stoned that I didn't even want to get up from the narrow bed in this crappy hotel room.
I gabbed with the guy for a little more. He was a really funny blabbermouth. To top things off he said that he still had a half a gram of heroin at home. He would give it to us if we were out on the Kurfuersten Street again in three hours. Then I hit him up for thirty more marks. I said we needed it so we could go get some good food. And I knew that he had plenty of money and only drove the old VW as a cover, because he was supposed to be into espionage. After that he had no choice but to give me the money.
Stella and I rode back to the Zoo train station, because I had not yet given up on meeting Detlef again. Then all of a sudden a small, fluffy black and white dog came running up and jumped on me. I must have reminded the dog of somebody else. I thought the dog was great. He looked like an undersized northern sled dog. A rather ragged looking guy came up and actually asked if I would want to buy the animal. I agreed right away. He wanted seventy marks, but I haggled him down to forty. I was stoned and totally happy with the dog. I had a dog again. Stella said that I should call it Lady Jane. So I called it Janie.
We ate meat and vegetables in a restaurant on Kurfuersten Street, and Janie got half. The fake spy actually came on time and gave me an even half a gram. It was crazy. The half a gram was worth a hundred marks.
Stella and I rode to the train station once again to look for Detlef. We met Babsi. I enjoyed myself immensely because in spite of all our differences I liked Babsi better than I did Stella. The three of us went up to the strip. Babsi looked terrible. Her legs were like matchsticks and the last appearances of breast were gone. She now weighed 68 pounds. Only her face was as pretty as ever.
I told them that Narconon was supposed to be a really cool place. Stella didn't want to hear anything about it. Stella said that she was born a junkie and wanted to die a junkie. But Babsi was completely carried away with the idea, to finally withdraw [from drugs] with me at Narconon. Her parents and her grandmother had also tried in vain to find an opening for her in recovery programs. Babsi was once again shacking up, but she really wanted to quit. She was not doing well at all.
After we were all talked out, I went with my Janie to the Metro, a shop in the train station which was open evenings. I bought two plastic bags of dog food for Janie and a whole lot of pudding as nourishment for myself. Then I called Narconon to see if I could go back. They said yes. I told them I was going to bring a friend along. I didn't tell them that my friend was Janie.
I had not thought too much about it, but in principle it had always been clear that I would be going back to Narconon. Where else was I to go? My mother would have really freaked if I had shown up at the door. Besides, my sister had moved out of my father's and was now sleeping in my bed in my room. I didn't want to shack up. For me that was the last straw, to be totally dependent upon a john who kept me overnight. I had never stayed with a john the whole night because that would have automatically meant sex. Above all I still really wanted to withdraw [from drugs]. And I still thought that I'd do that with Narconon because I didn't have any other choice.
In the house (we always just called Narconon "the house") they were not friendly, but said nothing. They said nothing about Janie, either. There were already 20 cats in the House, and now they could add a dog to that.
I got some old blankets and made Janie a little nest next to my bed. The next morning the dog had crapped and peed all over the room. Janie would never be housebroken. She had a real fit. But I had those too. I loved Janie. Cleaning up after her didn't bother me.
I immediately got an extra session. That didn't bother me. I did everything completely mechanically. It only bothered me that I could not be with my dog for hours on end. Others took care of my dog, and that made me sick, because Janie was supposed to be my dog. Everybody played with her and she played with everybody, because she was a little flirt. Everybody fed her, and she got fatter. But only I talked with her when we were alone. At least now I had somebody I could talk to.
I took off two more times. The last time I was gone for four days. The first time I shacked up. I was able to live with Stella because her mother had just finished an alcohol binge and was in the withdrawal clinic. The same crap started in. John, fix, john, fix. Then I found out that Detlef had gone to Paris with Bernd. I really flipped out.
That the guy who I had as good as married had cut out of Berlin without saying anything to me about it was the last straw. We had always wanted to go together to Paris. We wanted to rent a little room like they have on Montmartre but gave it up because we had never heard anything about the drug life in Paris. We thought they didn't do drugs in Paris. Just a bunch of shabby artists who drank coffee and an occasional wine.
So now Detlef and Bernd were off to Paris. I had no more friends. I was all alone in the world, because Babsi and Stella had once again started up the old battle over the same old crap. I only had Janie.
I called up Narconon and they told me that my mother had already picked up my things. So my mother had given up on me, too. Somehow that made me mad. Now I wanted to show them all. I wanted to show them that I could do it all by myself.
I rode to Narconon and they took me back in. I did the program as if I were obsessed. I did whatever they told me. I became a regular model student and was permitted to hold the lie detector, and the needle never gave a read when I said how much I had got out of my session. I thought, "now you'll do it. Right now." I didn't call my mother, who had taken my things. I borrowed clothes. I wore boy's underwear. But that didn't make any difference to me. I didn't want to ask my mother to bring my things back to me.
One day my father called me up, "Hi Christiane. Tell me where you have ended up. I've just heard about it for the first time."
I said, "Gee I think it's great that you're worried about me."
He, "Say, do you want to stay with that funny group?"
I, "Sure, no matter what."
My father took a deep breath, then he asked whether I would like to out to eat with him and a friend. I said, "Yes, I'll do it."
A half hour later I had to go down to the office, and there was my dear father, whom I had not seen for months. He came with me up to my room, which I shared with four others. He said, "How's it look here?" He had always been a Neatness Freak. And our room looked really crazy, the same as everywhere else in the building. Dirty and trashy, and clothes lay everywhere.
We wanted to leave to go eat, but one of the bosses said to my father, "You have to sign a statement that you'll bring Christiane back."
My father freaked out. He yelled that he was the father and that he alone would decide where his daughter stayed. If he took me with him at that time then his daughter would never return.
I ran back to the recovery room and yelled, "I want to stay here, papa... I don't want to die, papa. Please let me stay, papa."
The Narconon people, who were gathered around because of all the yelling, defended me. My father ran out yelling, "I'm getting the Police!"
I knew he would do it. I ran away to the attic and climbed up to the roof. There was a little platform for the chimney. I crouched down there and froze.
Two police vans actually showed up. The cops searched the building with my father from top to bottom. The Narconon bosses were also calling me in the meantime, because they had started to be worried. But nobody found me on the roof. The cops and my father took off again.
On the next morning I called my mother up at work. I cried and asked, "What is going on?"
My mothers voice was quite cold as she said, "I don't care what happens to you."
I said, "I don't want for papa to get me out of here. You have custody of me. You can't just turn your back on me. I'm staying here and I won't skip out any more. I swear it. Please do something to get Papa from getting me out of here. I have to stay here, Mom, really. I'll die otherwise, Mom, believe me."
My mother was very impatient and said, "No, that's not going to happen." Then she hung up.
I was devastated. Then I got mad again. I said to myself, "They can kiss my butt. They haven't worried about you your whole life. And now they're jumping around like they're going to have a cow, those idiots, they've always done everything wrong. Those pigs have let you totally go to pieces. Kessi's mother has seen to it that her daughter didn't end up in total crap. And these pieces of shit of parents of mine all of a sudden think they know what's good for me!"
I asked for an extra session and totally got off on it. I wanted to stay with Narconon and then maybe become a member of the Scientology Church. In any case nobody was taking me out of here. I didn't want to fall to pieces on account of my parents. That's what I was thinking in my total hatred.
Three days later my father came back. I had to go down to the office. My father was quite calm. He said he had to bring me to the welfare office on account of the money which my mother had paid for Narconon and which she was now to receive from the welfare office.
I said, "No, I'm not going. I know you, Papa. If I go with you then I've seen this building for the last time. And I don't want to die."
My father showed the Narconon boss a document. It said on it that he was permitted to take me out of here. My mother had legally empowered him. The Narconon chief said there was nothing he could do, I had to go with my father. They couldn't hold me against my father's will.
The boss told me that I shouldn't forget my exercises. Always confront. "Confront" was a magical word with these guys. You had to confront everything. I thought, "You are idiots. I have nothing to confront. I have to die. I'm not hiding that. I could last at the most two weeks before my next fix. I couldn't do it. Not by myself. That was one of the few moments in which I clearly saw my own situation. In my confusion I talked myself into thinking that Narconon was the only salvation for me. I screamed with anger and with confusion. I couldn't take it anymore.
Loses Her Illusions -- Part I
In no way did I think it was a good solution that my separated husband took Christiane after the disappointment with Narconon in order to make her see reason, as he called it. Outside of the fact that he could not watch her around the clock, I also had moral difficulties because of the relationship between him and me about letting him have Christiane. On top of which her sister had shortly before come back to me because her father was so strict with her.
But I was at a loss and hoped that maybe he could do with his methods what I had not. But I don't want to rule out that he could have talked me into it so that he could escape the responsibility for Christiane. Since her first withdrawal I was constantly torn between hope and despair. I was mentally and physically at the end of my rope when I asked her father to intervene.
Three weeks after the first withdrawal which Christiane had painfully gone through at home with Detlef, the first relapse hit me like a ton of bricks. The police called me up at work, they had picked up Christiane at the Zoo train station. I was supposed to go pick her up.
I sat at my desk and shook. Every two minutes I looked at the clock to see if it was four o'clock yet. I didn't risk leaving before close of business. There was nobody I could trust. Both of the boss's daughters cursed the ground I walked on. All at once I understood Detlef's father. You're ashamed right from the start.
At the police station Christiane's eyes were swollen from crying. The policeman showed me the fresh tracks in her arm and said that she had been caught in "unmistakable circumstances" at the train station.
At first I couldn't imagine what he meant by "unmistakable circumstances." Maybe I didn't want to. Christiane was very unhappy that she had relapsed. We withdrew all over again. Without Detlef, she stayed home and appeared to stick with it. I built myself up to telling her teacher what was going on. He was alarmed and thanked me for my openness. He was not accustomed to hearing about this from parents. He assumed that there were other heroin addicts in the school, and he would have been glad to help Christiane. He just didn't know how. It was always the same thing. Whoever I talked to, either they were as helpless as I was, or they had completely written off people like Christiane. I would have to go through this plenty more later on.
Gradually I saw how easily young people got their heroin. The dealers waited for them on the way to school on Hermann Place in Neukoeln. I thought that I was not hearing correctly when Christiane was approached by one of these guys while she and I were out shopping. To a degree it was foreigners, but also Germans. She also told me how she knew these people, "He deals with him, and he sells that, and he does anything." The whole thing was absurd to me. I thought, "where did we really live?"
I wanted Christiane to change schools to a prep school on Lausitzer Place, at least to avoid [the pushers] on the way to school. Spring vacation was just around the corner, after which I wanted her to start at her new school. I hoped that she would be taken out of the dangerous environment at the train station. Of course that was naive of me, and nothing came of it. The prep school administrator immediately told us that applications for students from public schools were not usually accepted. And he couldn't make an exception for us because Christiane's grades in mathematics were so poor. For curiosity's sake he asked us why she wished to change schools. When Christiane said that the student council was so bad, the director grimaced "Student council? There is no student council in public schools." Because of the constant disagreement between the students, he explained, there could not possibly be a student council.
I didn't know who was more disappointed, Christiane or me. She just said, "That was completely pointless. The only thing that'll help me is a recovery program." But where was I supposed to find a recovery center? I called around in the government. They referred me to drug counselling centers. And the counseling centers insisted that Christiane must come to them voluntarily. As different as they all were (one would speak poorly of the other), they all agreed on this one point. The only provision for recovery was the willingness of the participant. Recuperation would not be possible otherwise.
And when I urged Christiane to go to a drug counselling center, she'd become fussy, "What am I supposed to do there? They don't have a place for me. I don't want to hang around there for weeks at a time."
What was I supposed to do? If I would have dragged her by force to the drug counsellors, that would have violated the only rule they had. On the one hand I can understand their attitude. Up to this point Christiane was not really ready for a serious attempt at recovery. On the other hand I was of the opinion that children like Christiane who were addicted to heroin had a right to be helped even if it was involuntary.
Loses Her Illusions - Part II
Later on, when Christiane was so bad off that she really wanted to go into recovery on her own, they said again: no openings, six to eight weeks waiting period. I couldn't catch my breath. I could only say, "And what happens if my child dies before then?" "Yes, she should receive counseling in the meantime so we can see if she means it seriously." Today on the whole I can't blame the drug counselors. With the limited number of recovery centers they have available, they are forced to somehow exclude applicants
I couldn't get her enrolled, but when Christiane came back from her spring vacation I had the impression that she didn't need it anymore. She gave the impression of being as alive as life itself. I thought that she had really kicked the habit. Also she was making a lot of disapproving comments about her friend Babsi, who sold herself for heroin to an old guy. She herself could never do such a thing. Now she was happy that she had nothing more to do with drugs and all the trash [that went with it]. She appeared to be convinced of that. I could have sworn that she was serious.
After a few days she had been dragged down again. I could see it in her tiny pupils. I didn't listen to her excuses anymore. "What are you going on about, I've only smoked a pipeful", she'd lie. This was the beginning of a very bad time for me. She started lying straight to my face. Regardless of what I knew. I grounded her. She didn't stay at home. I considered locking her in. But she would have climbed out the window from the second story. I wouldn't risk that.
I was just about at the end of my rope. I couldn't take those little pupils anymore. Three months had gone by since I had caught her in the bathroom. Every couple of days the newspaper reported an overdose. Mostly just a couple of lines. They counted the heroin victims the same as they counted traffic deaths.
I was pitifully afraid. Most of all because Christiane was no longer open with me. Because she had nothing to say. This deception put me on edge. If she felt like she was being watched, she'd become wary and mean. Her very being slowly began to change.
I occasionally gave her spending money - 20 marks a month. I had this constant fear that I would give her 20 marks, then she'd buy a shot, and that might be too much. I could halfway live with her being addicted. It was the fear that the next shot could be the last that got to me. I was content that she just came home. In contrast to Babsi, whose mother often tearfully called up and wanted to know where Babsi was.
I was in a constant state of agitation. When the telephone rang, I was afraid it would be the police or the morgue or something of the sort. I still jump up out of bed whenever the phone rings.
There was no more point in talking with Christiane. When I addressed her addiction, it was, "Leave me alone!" I had the impression that Christiane had given up on herself.
She stuck with the story that she didn't shoot heroin any more and only did hashish to the degree that I would have made nothing of it if it weren't for the fact that I didn't believe her. I regularly searched her room, and I found all sorts of paraphernalia. Even a syringe two or three times. I threw them at her feet, which only made her scream, insulted. That belonged to Detlef. She had taken his needle away from him.
When I came home from work one day, the both of them sat on the bed in the children's room and were just heating up the spoon. I was completely perplexed at their gall. It was all I could do to shout, "Just get out of here."
As they went outside, I screamed out loud. All at once I had an uncontrollable anger at the police and our government. I felt all alone. The papers wrote about drug deaths. There were already over thirty victims this year. And it was early May. I couldn't understand it. You saw on television what ungodly amounts the state was giving out for the fight against terrorism. And in Berlin the dealers ran around and sold heroin on the open street like it was ice cream on a stick.
I was deep in my own thoughts. Suddenly I heard myself say "Crappy government." I didn't know what all was going through my head. I sat in the living room and looked at all the furniture. I believed that I would have liked to break each piece into bits. That was what I was getting worked up about. Then I screamed some more.
That evening I beat Christiane quite badly. I sat up in bed and waited on her. My whole head was in an uproar. It was a mixture of fear, guilt and self-reproach. I thought I was a failure, and not just because of my marriage and all the work I'd done wrong. Also because I was too weak to see the facts about Christiane all this time.
That evening I lost my last illusion.
Christiane came home at twelve thirty. I saw through the window that she climbed out of a Mercedes. Right in front of our door. My God, I thought, now everyone will know. Now she has thrown away all her self-respect. Now came catastrophe. I was utterly destroyed. I grabbed her and thrashed her so terribly that I hurt my hands. Finally we both sat on the rug and cried. Christiane had come completely unraveled. I told her that she had been out hooking, and now I knew it. She just shook her head and sobbed, "But it's not the way you think it is, Mom."
I didn't want to know any more about it. I sent her to the sink and then to bed. No one can imagine how I coped. Selling herself to men, that threw me - I believe - even more than her heroin addiction.
I didn't sleep a wink the entire night. I thought, "What else can you do?" In my confusion I even thought of sending her to a juvenile home. But that would have just made things worse. First they would have put Christiane in the main foster home on Ollenhauer Street. A teacher had warned me about that place because, among other things, the girls were induced to prostitute themselves.
Loses Her Illusions -- Part III
I saw only one other possibility: Christiane had to leave Berlin immediately. Forever. Whether she wanted to or not. Out of this swamp where she would always be seduced. Someplace else where she is safe from heroin.
Both my mother in Hessen and my sister-in-law in Schleswig-Holstein were ready to take her right away. When I gave my decision to Christiane, she became sullen and withdrawn. I had already made the necessary preparations. In spite of this Christiane came crawling up to me, seemingly sorry, and ready to go into recovery. She had even found a recovery center. With Narconon.
That eased my troubled mind. Because I was not sure if she could make it to West Germany without therapy and not run away from my relatives.
I didn't know anything in particular about Narconon, just that they cost money. I drove with her two days before her fifteenth birthday by taxi to Narconon. A young man gave us the mandatory introduction speech. He congratulated us on our decision and assured me that I need have no more worries. As a rule the Narconon recovery was a complete success. I could be completely as ease. I was more relieved than I had been in a long time. Then he laid the contract in front of me for my signature. 52 marks per day with payment for four weeks in advance. That was more than my net pay. But what did I care? Besides, the young man gave me the prospect of offsetting the recovery costs through the district office.
The next day I scraped together 500 marks and brought it to Narconon. Then I took out a loan for 1,000 marks and paid them at the next parents' night. The parents' night was led by an allegedly former addict. But you couldn't tell it from looking at him. Thanks to Narconon, he said, he had become a new person. And that impressed us parents. He also reassured me that Christiane had been making progress.
In reality they were just putting us on and were after our money. Later I read in the newspaper that Narconon was part of a shady American cult and made their money from the fear of the parents.
But as always I didn't find out anything until after it happened. First of all I was looking out for Christiane's best interests. And that's what I wanted to do for as long as possible. Therefore I needed money.
I ran around the government offices. But none were willing to cooperate. Nobody would pour good money into Narconon. I was shaken up and discouraged. I felt as if I were wasting the people's time. Then someone said to me that first I would need a state medical certificate of Christiane's drug dependency in order to fill out an application for the offset of rehabilitation costs. I thought that was some kind of a joke. Anybody who knew anything about it could just look at Christiane and see her condition. But that wasn't the way bureaucracy did it. It was just that when I finally got an appointment to see a doctor after two weeks, Christiane had already taken off from Narconon. For the third time.
Once again I cried a river. I thought, "Now it's starting all over again." This time I had really hoped that maybe she would make it. I took my friend with me to go looking for her. The afternoon we looked around, the evening downtown and to the discos, through the train stations. Anywhere drugs could be dealt. Each day, every night, we started all over again. We even looked through the downtown rest rooms. We turned her name in at the police station as a missing person. They just put her name on the missing person's list. She would turn up eventually.
I would have liked to crawl off somewhere by myself. I had only fear. Fear of the call. Your daughter is dead. I was a bundle of nerves. I had no desire, no interest, I had to pull myself together to go to work. I didn't want to be put on the sick list. I started having heart problems. I could barely move my left arm. It numbed up on me when I was sleeping. My stomach rumbled. My kidneys hurt and my head threatened to burst. All that was left of me was a little pile of wretchedness.
I went to the doctor. He gave me rest. "It's your nerves", he said to me after the examination, and prescribed valium. When I told him why I was so out of sorts, he told me that a couple of days ago a young girl had come to him and admitted that she was drug-dependent and had asked him what she should do. "And what did you tell her?" I asked. "She should get herself a rope", was his answer. There was no help, that's exactly what he said.
When Christiane showed up at Narconon a week later, I couldn't really be happy about it. As if something inside me had died. I had the idea that I had put everything humanly possible into action. But nothing had helped. Just the opposite.
The whole mess was only getting bigger. Even with Narconon Christiane was becoming worse instead of better. She had abruptly changed there. She came across quite commonly, not at all feminine, more repulsive.
I was already puzzled during my first visit to the Narconon villa. Christiane was suddenly strange to me. Something was gone. Until then she had an inner connection to me in spite of everything. That was over. Gone like after a brainwashing.
In this situation I asked my separated husband to bring Christiane to West Germany. But he preferred she move in with him. He had had it with her. And if she didn't notice, it was nothing a slap upside her head wouldn't cure.
I had nothing against that. My patience had run out. I had already done so much wrong that I was afraid that the bad luck would only have continued [had she gone to] West Germany.