Meridith passed away at home in Calvert County Maryland while trying to detoxify from Alcohol Addiction. Meridith went to Jail on her 9th DWI for one year. She got clean and stayed clean for 6 years.
She became a nurse at Towson State and started injecting pain medication and resumed binge drinking. Last week she phoned me to say she wanted to work with Veterans at the VA Hospital in Washington DC because she cared. Meridith was one of the most beautiful women in the State of Maryland. In 1988 Meridith gave me her story for my book Addict:
After I had my daughter Elsie…during the process of nursing her, her first six months of her life, her first visit to the pediatrician when she was two weeks old, the pediatrician asked me if I liked beer. And I told her I did like beer. She didn’t know just how much I liked beer, and she told me to drink beer because it was good for nursing-babies. So I started consuming a lot of beer after Elsie was born. The first drug I consumed was at the age of twelve. It was Cutty Sark.
Meridith Mariana Edwards Little died in her sleep Wednesday, May 8, 2002,
at her home in Calvert County, MD. She was a 1977 graduate of Sidwell Friends School in Washington and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing summa cum laude from Towson State University, Baltimore. A runner, swimmer, and cyclist, she won many racing trophies in southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore. Meridith was the beloved mother of Elsie Little; daughter of Mike Edwards; sister of Mickey Edwards; and longtime companion of Bobby Breeden.
A memorial service will be held Friday, May 17, at 11 a.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, Broomes Island Rd., Port Republic, Calvert County, MD. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Calvert Animal Welfare League, P.O. Box 350, St. Leonard, MD 20685, or a charity of your choice.
This ad appeared in The Washington Post on 5/13/2002.
From the Book Addict Out of the Dark and into the Light copyright Keeley 1987-2007.
DOB: 11/7/59; Atlanta, Georgia
I have six days clean today. The first drug that I consumed was at age twelve. It was CuttySark, and that was my first drink and also my first blackout. I don’t remember anything that really happened except for a few sketchy details, and I got sick for about two days after that. It seemed like a long time before I tried anything else to get high on, but actually it was less than a year later I was trying pot for the first time, at an A.U. (American University) concert in the fall.
I think, recollecting now, that the stuff was actually PCP and not pot, but it was several days later where I began smoking pot fairly regularly, smoking it before school. Rarely during school, because I would have been in too much trouble had I gotten caught, but always after school.
I guess I was in the ninth grade; I started experimenting with alcohol again. Just drinking beer. It started out as a Friday afternoon thing, drinking with a girlfriend, and occasionally she or I would bring a beer to school in the morning, or a couple, and we would drink then in the bathroom.
I got involved with somebody when I was about fourteen who went to my high school and he introduced me to all kinds of drugs, other drugs starting with white crosses, PCP, LSD. When I was sixteen he introduced me to heroin and cocaine, which we injected. I also tried opium, just about everything I can imagine. He also turned me on to medicine cabinets. I didn’t realize what all was lurking behind the door of a medicine cabinet, as far as prescription drugs. Back then tranquilizers, sedatives, and then amphetamines were widely prescribed.
And between my parents and my friends’ parents we always had something to get high on, and abuse and experiment with. I left high school a semester early. I had finished all the credits that I needed, and I worked the last semester. I managed to save enough money to buy a car, while I was still taking a lot of drugs, but it all seemed very recreational, something to do at that time. It was accepted. I guess my life evolved around drugs then, but I didn’t perceive it as a problem because all of my friends were using drugs. My parents were very oblivious to this fact.
I didn’t realize at the time that my mother was a practicing alcoholic. They were very wrapped up in their own world sort of to realize that I had a drug problem. My brother had had a drug problem years prior, but they figured that I gained enough insight from his experiences to not use drugs and that insight never came to me. I was wholly unaware that his problems were centered around drugs.
I went to school in California for a couple of years where I began to smoke a lot of PCP. I was so involved with this person, this boyfriend from high school who abused drugs far more than I did. He abused me physically and verbally. At about age seventeen, I guess it was when I was living out there — I hadn’t turned eighteen yet. It occurred to me that he was an alcoholic.
I did not know, really, what an alcoholic was. I had never really heard much about alcoholism really talked about, except that he drank first thing in the morning before school, and all the time. And the drunker he was, the more he would abuse me physically.
He was always in search of drugs. Always. I foresaw him being far more fucked up than me. And I think in reality he was, but it was just a question of time before I was on my own away from him, where I was actively seeking drugs. I was a garbage head. I would take anything. I did quickly learn the things that I would prefer not to take. There were just certain things that I just didn’t like getting high on. I never liked sedatives. I would get into trouble with them because of blackouts, and I would get violent and angry and break things. Eventually I couldn’t take the physical abuse from this person.
I got out on my own when I was still trying to go to school, but I was smoking so much PCP that I had to, I dropped out of school. I became very depressed for the first time in my life, and I had suicidal thoughts. I met a girl where I worked who knew of a doctor that would prescribe sleeping pills — I can’t remember their name, Dalmane or something. And I was going to kill myself but I hung on to them. I would take them sometimes if I was wired all night on coke and I wanted to sleep. I would take one, or just something to do. I would just take one. I just kind of held on to them, just thinking that if the rut got bad enough that I would just take them all.
I was nineteen when I first experienced this depression. And I moved back to Washington and began to abuse Dilaudids. And when I started getting strung out on the Dilaudids, I would buy PCP and smoke that for a few days, then give the D’s a rest. I started getting back into LSD very heavily, and came into the connection, a couple of connections where I ended up selling lots of acid and PCP, and that supported my Dilaudid habit, along with somebody else’s who I was getting high with, who I needed to get me my drugs.
It got to a point where I was totally flipped out, even my friends were concerned. And my parents tried to commit me to an institution. And this went on for a few months. I was always running from them, still abusing drugs, and it got to a point where I was real crazy. I was seeing a psychiatrist whose ultimate advice I guess helped, except it was don’t do the hard drugs, just smoke a lot of pot and drink a lot of beer.
Eventually, I did straighten out, after playing a lot of games with my parents about a mental institution. I would tell them I would go, and then I would meet them there, then I would run away. And they never did quite incarcerate me. I did give up the harder drugs so to speak, and began to drink heavily. This was when I first realized that I had a thing with alcohol, where I just wanted to drink it all day long and did. I had a job where I could get away with getting loaded. The people I worked with were friends and they got loaded. We all would just cover for each other.
I was working for a veterinarian and had access to bottles of Demerol, which I would take on an occasional basis or just take home a big syringe full and divi it up. And the stuff would blind me after I would miraculously hit a vein, because I was still relatively inexperienced in hitting myself up. I would like stumble around, keep getting high, and still try to keep hitting a vein. I trashed one of my arms. I had an abscess. That was my first experience with doing any permanent damage with needles. I think I was twenty then.
Somehow I got straightened out enough to fall into a relationship and marry this person, and started the marriage out with a baby. The person uses drugs but is not an addict. Things were okay for a little bit as far as my not using drugs, I think mainly because we traveled for a year together.
I spent a lot of time on open waters on a sailboat, so I really didn’t have a whole hell of a lot of choice. I was doing drugs and alcohol but I was happy because I was traveling, I was seeing the world. And I hadn’t done any traveling for a long time. That was kind of a vice in itself.
After I had my daughter Elsie, I went back to work when she was about six months old, after I had weaned her. During, though, the process of nursing her, her first six months of her life, her first visit to the pediatrician when she was two weeks old, and the pediatrician asked me if I liked beer. And I told her that I did like beer. She didn’t know just how much I liked beer, and she told me to drink beer because it was good for nursing babies. So I started consuming a lot of beer after Elsie was born.
And my first job back after having her was in an Irish pub, which was very conducive to my beer drinking habit. It was very good beer and I began to suffer quite a bit as far as my alcoholism. I still didn’t realize that I was an alcoholic. With having money in my pocket waitressing, always an undisclosed amount, I didn’t have to answer to my husband as to how much I was bringing home. I could tell him I had a good night or a bad night or whatever and still manage to buy drugs.
And I got reintroduced to PCP, or I reintroduced myself to PCP and Dilaudids all over again. This PCP habit persisted though for several years. And the people that I hung around with and the wild goose chases I went on helped me to get my first D.W.I. arrest. Actually, it was two in one night.
It was St. Patrick’s Day, and I was released on my own recogni-zance and I went back to this party to relocate my car, my truck, and got drunk all over again, and was arrested once more on the way home. That time they didn’t let me out so quickly. I think my husband was away at that time, and I had to hang out in jail until he got back into town to bail me out.
He moved down to the Chesapeake Bay to start a boat business. We weren’t having marital problems, or so we thought we weren’t. But I choose to stay in the area for a while, because I had a job and we needed an income. We needed my income for financial reasons, and I needed one to support my drug habit.
I eventually moved down to the Bay and then moved back up and commuted occasionally, so basically I was not living with my husband. I had my daughter with me, but this afforded an opportunity to start using heroin and Dilaudids again, which I did.
And basically, in a nutshell, about four or five months later I found out that I spent several thousand dollars. It was not mine, that was in savings. I wrote bad checks on my parents’ accounts forging their signatures. I started out check scamming using my own account, or writing checks at the supermarkets for $50 over the amount, and then waitressing and trying to get the money back into the accounts before the checks cleared, and it ultimately caught up with me.
My parents found one of their bank statements that I had neglected to intercept in time after the postman delivered it, and this was just a month’s worth of checks that I had written. They called my husband who in turn got in touch with me. And they all decided that I would go into a rehab. And I was relieved, because I was very suicidal at that point.
It’s all kind of a blur, but I just remember it being a very anxious time, wondering how, knowing that all this was going to come out, and being strung out on the Dilaudids, smoking PCP just to dull my senses when there were no Dilaudids to be had. Wild goose chases for drugs. Having an old childhood friend who I had been using with take a thousand dollars from me on a scam. There were a lot of anxieties, and I wanted to die.
And it all came out in the open and I was very relieved and I went to rehab for my husband and for my parents and not really for myself as far as getting well. I just wanted to clear the air and get back on everybody’s good side at that time. Even being called a liar and irresponsible was just a very insulting thing, and I truly believed I wasn’t those things. So I got out of rehab, this was in February of 1985. I went to meetings and I kept my house clean.
I was living down at the Bay at this time and I was helping with my husband’s business. I was doing all those things that I was supposed to do, and I was slowly building the trust back. But I started using drugs. And it started out with a prescription for Preludin otherwise known as Bam, which I could get monthly. Thirty tablets a month from my gynecologist, his name who I got from a girl in rehab.
So naturally I looked him up the very first day I got out of treatment. So basically I was high that afternoon after I was discharged. I could function on the speed and I didn’t have to rob and steal for it. When I appeared to everybody else as just being very efficient, conscientious, and even down to washing windows and cleaning out junk drawers in the kitchen.
This I.V. use though with the Preludin led me back to the Dilaudids. Within a certain time I found myself driving an hour and a half to Washington, sometimes twice daily, to buy Dilaudids. This time, I was going up by myself. I had no friends that I could trust any longer, or whose habits I wanted to support. So I would go up by myself, go downtown and cop, find somewhere to get high, and shoot the things, and then drive back down on the nod.
And I started taking money from my husband’s company, just writing checks, and he would catch me, and I would say that I am sorry, it will never happen again. A few months later . . . This went on for a couple of years; it was ridiculous. I finally checked myself back into out patient, which lasted about a week, because I got kicked out of my group. Because within a forty-eight hour period I had incurred a DUI and then two days later I was arrested for possession of Dilaudid in Washington.
I was thrown in jail both times. They kicked me out of my out patient group, and one of my, counselors, against the rules of the out patient clinic, took me or gave me rides to meetings. I white knuckled it for a couple of weeks. That was before I got arrested. I was trying to make the out patient work. He was taking me to meetings, and during this time though I had gotten arrested for the Dilaudid.
Well, he sent my husband to Washington so that he’d cool out at his mother’s house. This counselor took me from a meeting and proceeded to try to take me to bed. So while I was on a probationary period with my out patient treatment because of the arrest, I elected to not go back there.
I didn’t want to tell them about what he had tried to do, because I figured that they wouldn’t believe me. But it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth towards this particular end of the fellowship where I was living, because I had to see him at all the meetings. Because we only had seven meetings a week that time between three counties.
I can’t really remember how I got well, I just kind of started straightening up, and started getting the trust back. I know what I did. I switched drugs. I started using speed again, and this time, when I didn’t have my prescription from my gynecologist, I would buy it from these guys I worked with at the marina, this crystal junk. I either snorted it or shot it, and this enabled me to stop drinking. So I didn’t want it to interfere with my buzz, so I stopped drinking, and had the outward appearance once again of doing very well.
I was even under the impression that I was doing well. Just because I wasn’t drinking, even though I was doing this speed. I was working two jobs and keeping my house together and basically burying myself in work. I became very distant from my husband. In spite of all the bullshit I really did love him. I just, my drugs were more important. Where my child was in all this I still really don’t know. I just remember letting her have her way so as to avoid conflict with me. I have a lot of regrets about just not really remembering the first years of her life.
Eventually got involved with somebody who interested me, who was interested in me, who appreciated my past. I thought my past was behind me because I wasn’t drinking. Who appreciated what I had been through, who told me good things about myself. And I fell in love with this person, and he was able to talk me into leaving my husband and my child, which I did. I couldn’t handle the guilt. I couldn’t handle the emotions, because I loved those two people and I still do. I don’t think I am ready to be a mother or a wife. I never was actually, but I began to drink to alleviate this guilt.
It started on a vacation. We were drinking, I was with this new boyfriend, and when we got back, I just couldn’t stop. And I started shooting cocaine, and our relationship went sour very quickly, and he always threatened me. Ended up hitting me a couple of times, just being so angry. As my mother has said, I seem to bring that out in people.
This new relationship started out so positively, and I just figured that it would be a clean slate. Somebody that knew all about me, yet wasn’t affected by me, by my past, could only appreciate it and love me for it, loved me for being experienced. It’s kind of funny, looking back in retrospect.
But I think that’s when I finally realized that I was powerless over addiction. Because here was something that I wanted so much, there is no question today how much. And I could not get well to make this work. This lifestyle, this relationship with this person. And it, all the qualities that I was attracted to, and I learned I couldn’t hinge my recovery around other people’s expectations of me. And not only did that include that particular person but my family alike, so I admitted that I was powerless.
But it took me a year and a half to realize, actually to surrender, and realize that difference. Because I never surrendered, I just went on knowing I was powerless. I saw jobs come and go. I saw my friends come and go. I saw good oppor-tunities for me just come and go. And all I wanted to do was be single and be self-supporting, and independent, just for once in my life, and to be able to handle this relationship, but not stifle myself as far as growth.
But I couldn’t do it. I lost houses. I lost jobs. I lost the relationship ultimately. And I had to see these things come and go, and then there was this peaceful feeling after I’d fucked them up, and that they were gone and no longer in my control. And I just finally saw into the idea that I needed help and that I wanted to surrender.
I went through the entire summer pregnant, kind of knowing, and kind of not, kind of just choosing basically not to deal with it. The whole time I had the gumption to just go see how pregnant was. And I was almost into my sixth month, or the very beginning of my sixth month, which is illegal, by the way, in terms of having an elected abortion for no other reason but choice. That was a relief to deal with. That took months to deal with.
And I even began to accept the fact that I was just going to have to have the baby because it was too late and I was scared. I didn’t want another child. I had been shooting drugs. Cocaine in the first trimester causes birth defects.
Anyway, I finally surrendered. I lost my house to the point where they put my things in the street. They never do that in Solomon’s. I alienated myself from my friends, everything, very reclusive. If I could get cocaine I would just hold up and shoot it. The more I had, the more days I stayed up, then when that wasn’t there I just drank. I had to drink to function; I had to drink in the middle of the night. I had to drink first thing in the morning. I had to drink all day.
I wanted to die. I planned to go into treatment. Several weeks after I made the phone call I must have called them every other day saying that I would be there. I’d blow that afternoon. I guess about two or three weeks later I finally ended up there. And I was so relieved, I remember, just as soon as I walked in I was sitting down waiting to fill out papers and people came up to me, started introducing themselves, and telling me that they were an addict.
That was so comforting and so familiar. And I knew that it would be different because I wanted it. I started having a lot of reservations before I got out of treatment. I stopped having vivid drug dreams. I would always dream about trying to shoot up and never finding the privacy to do it. And I stopped having dreams about people that had been in my life. The anxieties fell to the wayside. They were just compulsions. I just wanted to use.
And I prayed, I think I sincerely prayed for the first time I was in treatment, for help through these times, and knowing that I was about to face the hardest thing I would ever do in my whole life — ever. And it was up to me. I could do it now, get the pain over with, or I could take a chance and deal with it later, or I could die.
And I prayed that those situations, when they came up, would not be so painful. And I prayed for strength. And then I decided that there was going to be another time that there was just going to be one more time knowing full well that I couldn’t do it. And I prayed for help to get that feeling out of my head. Sometimes it went away and sometimes it didn’t. I finally acted it out.
And I got right back in. And I was honest about it and I had never been honest about anything like that before. I didn’t want to go through the embarrassment or the shame. But it wasn’t shameful or embarrassing. That’s what was so different about it, it wasn’t really that remorseful. And I don’t think that’s because I didn’t care about what I had done or didn’t want to take responsibility. It was just sort of a big relief.
Meredith died in her sleep Wednesday, May 8, 2002. Meredith passed away at home in Calvert County, Maryland while trying to detoxify from Alcohol Addiction. Meredith went to Jail on her 9th DWI for one year. She got clean and stayed clean for 6 years. She became a nurse at Towson State and started injecting pain medication and resumed binge drinking.
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