Walk Down Misery Street

We tried to reconnect Frida with her parents and advised her to return to college, get a job, take up yoga—shortly, to do anything healthy and helpful. Frida refused everything. Any conversation with her about God or the possibility to get her back to religion invoked a very angry reaction in her.

We clinicians suspected that Frida went through some sexual traumatic experience, but when asked, she denied it.

There was a good tradition in the clinic of organizing cultural outings for the patients: to bring them to the cinema, to concerts, to dances, so that they would experience fun and pleasure without drugs. At that time, I was assigned to bring the group to the famous Yankee Stadium to watch a baseball game.

Clearly, the patients shouldn’t drink beer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hard drink or a light one. One drop of alcohol is the same as a hundred. Booze is booze. All the patients who came with me to the stadium were again given strict warnings on this account. Frida was in our group.

Once inside the stadium, she right away made the acquaintance of two forty-year-old men. Within a blink of an eye, the two had their arms around her and she was holding a can of beer. During the game, these two tomcats tried to persuade Frida to leave with them. She likely promised them something, and they were happy to get on so easily with such a pretty girl. If not for my strict warning, there’s no doubt Frida would not be on the bus with us after the game, but would have headed in another direction.

It became clear to me then that she was walking on the edge without realizing it.

I saw Frida again several months after she had quit the treatment program. I met her in the ER of our hospital. Frida sat on the bed, wrapped in a hospital gown. She was trembling. She recognized me and gave a weak smile. The fresh burns and red marks on her neck and hands confused me.

She told me that on the street she had met a Caucasian man who introduced himself as a stockbroker. He seemed intelligent and even courteous. They walked around the city and then went into a bar, drank some beer, and sniffed something in a dark corner. Then they went to his friend’s house.