Tim Elhajj Talks with Theo Nestor about Writing DOPEFIEND, Parenting in the Wake of Heroin Addiction, and Future Projects


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I sat down with Theo over the weekend to discuss DOPEFIEND. I met Theo in her memoir writing class at the UW and she has fast become one of my biggest writing allies. She an excellent writer, with a fabulous blog. She also asks great interview questions. Here is one of my answers:

I don’t want to give away the ending of the book, but what happened caused me to reflect on how my addiction to heroin altered the course of my life; the real ways in which my selfish, immoral behavior as an addict changed the lives of others, people who I cared for, some very deeply. I think every recovering addict has these sort of feelings sooner or later. I know I have in the past. But this time I could also see clear, tangible evidence of how my experience with addiction could benefit others. My son, in particular. My worst failure had become my greatest asset.

Read the rest of the interview here.

2 thoughts on “Tim Elhajj Talks with Theo Nestor about Writing DOPEFIEND, Parenting in the Wake of Heroin Addiction, and Future Projects

  1. I know Tim personally. We grew up in the same little, dusty town that lays along the Susquehanna River in central PA. Unfortunately, Tim and I share the same disease of addiction, so it was inevitable that we would run in the same circles and know alot of the same people, all junkies too. I always hated being called a “junkie”, but that is exactly what I was, even though it took me many years to admit it. I’m sure Tim went through some of the same feelings. I can still see him in my minds eye. Back then, he was this skinny, almost childlike guy, who loved to jump around and make people laugh and who loved to get high. In a way, he reminded me of my brother, who was also predestined to addiction. For such a small town, there were quite alot of heroin addicts and of course, we all knew each other. We were like a merry band of thieves, literally, running around copping dope, and doing whatever it took to get it. Some of us were luckier than others, in that, we had family who were willing to help us out. That is until the “tough love” thing started. Then we were all in trouble. Poor Tim, it seemed like he was all alone in the world. That is how it I saw him. I sort of felt sorry for him, I really don’t know why. Maybe he had this “poor me” quality about himself, that struck a chord in my heart. I don’t know. However, I always liked Tim and I was glad when I heard he had gone away to get cleaned up. We both had entered rehab around the same time. I had gotten high for so long, I didn’t know how it was to be straight anymore. I really had a time of it when I came home from rehab, although I did stay clean for two years. I heard Tim stayed up in New York and wasn’t coming back to Steelton. I remember thinking to myself, I’m glad he’s not coming back, because it’s so hard trying to stay clean, but then I also remember thinking, but was Tim going to stay clean when he was so close to all the drugs he could ever want. Sometimes in Steelton, we would have a really bad drought and we’d have to go out of town for our dope. We traveled anywhere from the lower east side of NYC to the badlands of Philadelphia and a few places in between. I always hated having to go out of town. Usually, I was dope sick, and that ride “to” get the drugs was awful. However, the ride “from” was pretty okay. Anyway, for the next 20 or so years, I mostly stayed clean with a few relapses here and there. I finally “got tired of being tired” and gave up the drugs permanently. Alot has happened in my life since then, as it does with everyones. I moved out of Steelton, but not far, and I sort of lost track of alot of people. All I knew about Tim was that he never did come back to Steelton. Other than that, I still thought he was still living in New York. I’m on facebook one day and who pops up on my screen, but Tim Elhajj. I was so happy to see his face. I dropped him a few lines and he wrote back and we sort of got reaquainted. He told me he was living in Washington state, remarried, had twins, a good job and like to write. In fact, he told me he had just finished a book, it was being published and he was waiting for it to come out. He told me to check it out on Amazon and of course I ordered it. I felt sort of a kinship with Tim. I never knew he liked to write. I always loved to write. Infact, I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t write. I always wanted to write a book too, but I just never could come up with anything I wanted to write about. When I saw what Tim wrote about in his book, I thought to myself that he couldn’t have wrote about anything else at this time in his life. When I finally received the book in the mail, I couldn’t put it down. It was so truthful and honest and sad and funny and he told it all without skipping a beat. I had forgot that he had a son who was about the same age as my oldest son. Infact, they knew each other, Steelton is one of those everybody knows everybody type of towns. Anyway, Tim wrote about his relationship with his son during the last 20 or so years, how love was the main factor for getting and keeping him clean, and it was just a beautiful story. Alot of the things he went through with his son, I went through with mine and it almost made me cry. All I know is that it was a great book and I would recommend it to anyone to read. It might help someone or just be a nice story to read for someone else. However, he wrote it from his heart, that comes through. I am very happy to know Tim Elhajj. I’m glad that his life has turned out so well and that he seems happy and content with it. All I know is this, if you use drugs, you can stop. You can have a normal life. All you have to do is want it bad enough. It is really simple. You just don’t use drugs one day at a time and before you know it, those days will turn into years and your life will follow the slow progression of normalcy. I thank God everyday that He gave me my life back. I’m sure Tim feels the same way.

  2. Wow, Lulu, thanks so much for sharing. What a wonderful post! I feel honored that you read the book and I appreciate your help making this a viable site. At almost fifty years old, I also like being remembered as a “skinny … guy, who loved to jump around and make people laugh.” I still like to jump around and make people laugh. Not so much on the skinny anymore! What can you do?

    I hope you and Tom are high and dry as the flooding rocks through PA. I just talked to my mother and sister and it sounds like all my family made out okay. Love you Lulu!

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