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October 2001. I was lying on the hard, cold floor in the bathroom of the famous Chinese bistro Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills. It is one of the most upscale and renowned restaurants in the world, yet I was at the lowest point of my life. With my head next to the toilet, I was alone, in debt, with no friends and no hope.
It had been a long, hard trip that led to this fall. It was a wild roller-coaster ride which included some of the hottest names in hip hop and Hollywood. For two years I rode it out. I was in the middle of it all - dining with P. Diddy, partying with Vin Diesel, going one-on-one with Shaquille O'Neal.
I had money, three cars, a condo in a prestigious neighborhood, a nanny for my son. I had starred in some of the hottest music videos with Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Ja Rule, and Ludacris. I had even costarred in the blockbuster film A Man Apart, opposite Vin Diesel. But here I lay on a cold bathroom floor, hugging the toilet's frigid porcelain, completely hopeless. I was broke, homeless, and probably dying.
The last thing I remembered was my body shaking violently as I sat on the toilet with my head in my hands and my friend Eva hovering over me asking me if I was okay. But now I was on the floor and she was gone. Can I move? was the only thought swirling through my head.
I tried to say something to make sure I was alive. I couldn't. I tried to move my leg, and it worked. I stood up gingerly and made my way to the sink. I looked around the small, one-stall bathroom. It was dimly lit and tiny, yet elegant. I held on to the sink, looking at myself in the mirror. My pupils were fully dilated, and I could feel my knees wobbling beneath me. I splashed cold water on my face, hoping to snap out of the trouble I was so obviously in.
I looked at my jewelry and clothes. I still wore the diamond-heart pendant and the canary yellow diamond earrings that my ex-husband had given me years before. My ring and bracelet were gifts purchased at Tiffany. My long nails were perfectly French-manicured, and my hair was long and black. My skin had been tanned by the Miami sun and my eyes were gray thanks to my colored contacts. My face was made up to perfection, compliments of MAC and Chanel. My jeans were a two-hundred-dollar pair by fashion icon Marc Jacobs, and the rest of the ensemble followed suit. Everything was designer-made, from my jewelry to my makeup to the clothes I wore - even the drugs I'd consumed.
The next thing I knew, I was on the floor again. When I came to from another bout of convulsions, my tongue was swollen and bloody. I crawled up from the floor and made my way back to the sink to splash more water on my face. I desperately wanted someone to walk in and help, but no one came. I began to panic, with thoughts of the late actor River Phoenix racing through my head. Thoughts of him seizing outside of the Viper Room not too far from where I was, on Sunset Boulevard, right before dying.
I thought of how awful it would be if I died in the bathroom at Mr. Chow. I thought of the irony of it all - of the paparazzi waiting outside for Nicolas Cage and LL Cool J, who were both in the dining area eating with friends. I thought of how pretty and rich I looked, yet my life had become ugly and poor. But the most prominent thought was of my son, Naiim. My nanny hadn't heard from me in months and had no idea how to find me. No one even knew my real name or where I lived or who my family was or where I came from. To them, my name was Yizette, a name that I had made up when I was sixteen, during my years as a stripper.
I thought of Naiim and wanted to live. I thought if I screamed his name as loud as I could, God would hear me and allow me another chance at being a mother. God had to know that despite everything I had done until this point, I loved my son and I wanted to do right by him.
I stumbled to the bathroom door, opened it, and began to scream his name into the stairwell that led downstairs into the main dining area of the restaurant. I screamed his name over and over until my voice was gone ...
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