Why I'm a fan of the Bruins: heroin, hockey, and how the Bruins saved my life

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Hockey saved my life. The Boston Bruins saved my life. I mean, I saved my life.. but hockey and the Bruins played a bigger role than I would have ever thought.

The summer of 2015, I was homeless. Living on Revere Beach, because of its proximity to both Boston and Lynn, its the perfect spot to be if you're a homeless heroin addict. I was 26 years old. I weighed 100 lbs soaking wet. My body was covered in track marks, including my neck since the jugular was the only workable vein I had left. I was homeless because I had lied, cheated, stolen from anyone close to me. I wasn't allowed at my parents house without supervision. No matter how angry they were at me, my family always made sure to say "I love you" when hanging up the phone because they thought that was the last time they would speak to me. I definitely did not think I would live until 30. I didn't want to live until 30. I was despondent, hopeless about the future, positive I would struggle with this drug for as long as I "lived", and it was no type of life. While every addict around me was dropping due to fentanyl, I would tell my family I "wasn't lucky enough to overdose". I was at the lowest and darkest point of my life.

Fast forward a year. I'm on the methadone clinic. Somehow, I'm making progress towards some clean time. I'm putting some work in and it's showing. Putting clean time together is the easy part. You remember when you first started middle school? You're in the awkward time between childhood and adulthood. You start a new school with new kids, you're feeling weird in your own skin. You look for other kids to befriend, to not feel like you're alone in this thing. That's what being an adult trying to get clean from drugs. You feel like you have no idea who you are a person, how to do this whole "adult" thing, looking for other people like you to reassure you that it's not just you and you're not alone. So I was 27, no idea how to be an adult, I had no friends, no hobbies, not one passion. My identity was still as a "junkie", I still identified with drug addicts.

During this awkward time, I met my best friend and now boyfriend, Vincent, a Bruins fan for life. My first Bruins game, November 28, 2015. I was being that girlfriend, buying my boyfriend hockey tickets to seem like I could give a shit. It was the Bruins vs. Penguins. I barely knew who Sidney Crosby was. Patrice Bergeron? I dunno. Marchand? Who? Tuukka Rask? Wait, what's his first name?! That's funny. I never got the sports fan thing. Playing soccer and lacrosse is why I never did drugs when I was younger. I loved being a part of a team. But I didn't get watching other people, on other teams. And feeling passionate about it. That didn't make sense. I didn't know a thing about hockey.

After that game, I was hooked. It was fast paced, it kept my attention (which is amazing), and then, they would beat the shit out of each other!!! Where was this amazing game hidden all my life?! How do more people not LOVE this?! It was amazing. After that game, I had a whole new addiction. I discovered the Stanley Cup of Chowder site, I loved the "fresh links" because I had an insatiable thirst for everything hockey so I loved being able to hit several different sites in one place. I would read at least ten different articles a day. At first, it was everything Bruins. Then I started reading about the AHL and the PBruins, our prospect pipeline. From there, I got interested in just hockey in general and the NHL. Vincent didn't get why I cared about other teams, but I just wanted to know EVERYTHING. I still do.

When the Bruins lost that heartbreaking game against Ottawa and didn't make the playoffs last year, I cried. Sobbed, actually. That's when I realized that I was part of something bigger than myself, I had a whole new identity. I wasn't just Kate, "the heroin addict". Hockey was the turning point for me, between being clean and in active addiction. It's hard to put into 800 words how important hockey is to me. Never, in a million years, would I think that i would be living clean and happy about it. But the Bruins and the NHL give me a new identity, I'm part of the best group of fans in the world. Hockey helped save my life. The Bruins saved my life.


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