3 years ago, I caught my ex using heroin in his bedroom.
The next day I wrote this:
“C has a heroin problem. I’m terrified. I knew something was wrong; So skinny and distant. Everyone warned me he’s been doing drugs for years- all of college- but I just couldn’t believe them. I couldn’t believe the person I dated for 2 years is now a drug addict. How did I miss it? 8 years of knowing him- talk to him every couple months; see him when we’re in the same place- and I just didn’t want to believe it.
I’ve never known heroin, never seen it. And there he was, smoking it in front of me. The foil streaked with black tar heroin. Standing in the door of his bathroom, watching his eyes turn to glass, his sad, shamed, way of looking at me and not looking at me at all. The tar moving around the foil, I remember thinking ‘This is what it does? This is what happens.” It rolls around the paper, and he chased it with his rolled up parking ticket, blackened at the edges, following it with his mouth and the tar streaking the foil, the foil crinkling as it passed.
It was very silent, standing there. My eyes bearing into his head. I wondered what it’d be like if he died then. If he fell in front of me. Would I hate myself for letting him do it?
Do I hate myself now because I know and I’m leaving to move to NY?
He looked so sad though, standing there. How lonely a drug can be. How lonely throwing up is.
I ate almost the whole bag of white chocolate pretzels while I sat outside his room, hearing him suck in, hearing the locusts, I wondered if I’d catch a whiff. I wondered if the smoke from heroin travels.
We slept together that night, my head on his shoulder, as I’ve done so many times in my life. Interchanging the shoulders, interchanging the amount of chest hair, the frame, the unique way in which people breathe as they sleep.
I wondered if he’d die last night. I wondered if his heart would stop while I laid on it. I wondered how he got here. How do you get to this point?
And then I look at myself, and I wonder how I’ve let myself get to this. Why am I throwing up in a bathroom twice in one day. Why do my teeth hurt, why does my stomach bloat because I hurt it. Why do I hurt myself.
Why does anyone hurt themselves. Why can’t we do what animals do, and protect?
I looked at him, and his immaculate life, and his freshly-shaven face, his ironed clothes, pressed and folded, his new house, his nice motorcycle, and jesus, what happened to you.
How can you have this whole other existence? When did I lose you? When did you lose me?
When did we stop being 15 years old, where did we lose those people.
Cause if we stuck those two people in front of each other, I don’t know that they’d recognize each other.
I watched him smoke that heroin, and all I could see was that little boy in a big truck.
And I’m so sad that little boy grew up.
And I hope that little boy finds his soul.“
3 years later, I find myself dreaming of him and heroin; wake up in the middle of the night; heart racing with these god awful dreams about heroin being offered to him and him smoking it in front of me.
Every day I walk around seeing these ads meant to scare the public about the rise in opiate addiction, but the truth is until you live in close proximity to it, those ads don’t do shit.
Until you watch someone lose everything- lose their car, their house, their job, their friends, their family – and STILL relapse, I don’t think any ad or public service announcement can adequately put that pain into description.
My ex- my best friend, the first person I kissed, the first person I called a relationship-
He’s been an addict for 8 years, and I just can’t save him.
For the last 4 months I’ve been at his side trying to feed him all same stuff I talk about on this blog. I’ve held his hand, cried next to him in the front seat of my car, gone to his rehab, laid next to him in a bed – I love this person, and it’s just not enough.
I hate that. I hate that I’m not enough. I’m angry tonight that I can’t save him.
How do you handle watching someone you love do this to themselves?
How can I be so compassionate on eating disorders and yet when it comes to him, I am just so bloody angry that he can’t get past it.
He’d been doing so well for months, but I guess now that I think about it; I saw the signs.
Over the last couple weeks, he “halfway” relapsed when he got the flu and didn’t tell the Doctor he was a recovering addict so he ended up with Tylenol with Codeine.
He was starting to recede from me. Getting distant. Lost his grandfather, who was very special to him.
He was waiting to relapse – and then he did.
I had no idea all week. I barely talked to him but I thought it was because he was with his family grieving his grandfather, but the reality is he woke up last Tuesday, and decided after 3 1/2 months he was going to smoke heroin.
He walked to his car in the sober living house, turned off his phone, and drove 3 hours to another city to find his addict ex girlfriend and get her to buy him heroin.
I know I should feel empathy, but I just can’t. I want to feel the sympathy and pity and understanding that I feel for so many of us that struggle with eating disorders-
But selfishly, I am really struggling to feel anything other than anger and hurt and fear.
Relapse happens okay, yeah, I get it. I know it. I’ve relapsed – shoved my finger down my throat a couple times over the past 2 years, like I get it.
But his addiction feels so personal to me. I know in reality it’s not, but it feels that way.
I have spent the last 4 months trying to be there every single day. My family has welcomed him back into our lives with open arms. We love him. He’s been in my life since I was 14 years old and I sat next to him in a chapel pew at school “obsessing” over how “good looking” I thought he was then.
HOW can I NOT feel personal? How do you come to a place where you realize your loved one’s addiction is nothing to do with anybody but them?
I just can’t feel that tonight.
When he told me yesterday, I stood there frozen in my bedroom.
“Why” I screamed, tears pouring down my cheeks. “Why are you doing this.”
“If you die,” I paused- gasping for air. “If you die I’ll never forgive you. I won’t; I’ll never forgive you.”
I slammed down the phone.
Do I know this wasn’t the right way to handle it? Of course.
But you know what – until you love someone, until you lay with this person in a bed for hours with your legs intertwined.
No one can tell me how I “should” react.
I believed him these last 4 months. I believed that he finally wanted to get better; that he wouldn’t relapse the first time something shitty happened; that he wanted to get better and have a chance at us again.
Over and over “I love you Linds. I need you in my life. I want to marry you.”
Addicts can be exhausting. They are like leeches to your soul.
They say not to date for a year in recovery, right? But like- who the hell actually does that? Find me one person who had abided by that sentiment and I’ll find you 100 more that didn’t.
Truth is, I get it.
I made brash and impulsive relationship decisions when I moved back to New York after treatment.
I was vulnerable and scared- and insecure and lonely- so I kissed people I didn’t have feelings for; flirted for the validation; ghosted after a few dates; hooked up with people I knew didn’t care about me.
I’ve always been attracted to self-destructive humans. Maybe it’s because I have that same vibe about me, but likely it’s because serving as a “caretaker” to someone feels like love to me, which is something I’ve just truthfully got to get a grip on.
I dunno when I’m going to learn that you just can’t save people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no mother Teresa. There’s some f’ed up thing inside of me that equates love and validation to caretaking. It’s not selfless-
But man, it doesn’t set myself up for happy successful relationships. Not in the past, and not now.
I’ve dated so many humans that have addiction abuse issues that one of my friends first questions is always ”so what’s f’ed about them?”
I overlook it too. It’s like I’m drawn to whatever the self-abuse issue is, but then justify it and idealize the whole situation so I don’t actually have to deal with the reality that I’m never going to save anyone from themselves.
Reality hit me hard yesterday- and as I sit here trying to cope with it, all I feel is just really sad and scared.
I’m going to lose this person if he doesn’t change. He’s going to die – and that reality is so terrifying and heartbreaking that I just feel paralyzed by it tonight.
He says he’s back at sober living, and that he told them. But how can I trust anything that comes out of his mouth when for 4 months he’s been working the steps, going to AA every day, living in this sober house, going to church, feeding me all the recovery shit- and yet in one day he just threw it all away.
He’s texting me that he loves me, but I just sit here reading it tonight thinking “you don’t even love you,” and I haven’t answered his messages.
I know I shouldn’t take his addiction this personally. I know I shouldn’t be selfish, but when you feel like you’ve bent over backwards to help someone – and then they do this, it’s just really hard to see it straight.
Anyway, tonight I’m just sad. Tomorrow starts National ED Awareness week and I will find my way to get back to that place that understands recovery is crooked, but tonight I’m not there at this moment- and I’m scared for the day I’ll receive that horrible phone call.