Losing Someone You Love To Addiction

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.

12 thoughts on “Losing Someone You Love To Addiction

  1. Pingback: Rehab Truth: Losing Someone You Love To Addiction | fightorflights

  2. empoweringaddiction – This is about dissecting the paradigms we operate under when we are face-to-face with human frailty and the need for vulnerable, genuine connection. It is the coming together of narrative and passion while exploring paths in addiction, human-service work, and the language we use in reference to one another. I want to dissect our tendency to define, or be defined -- to really dig at the messes our constructs have created. We exist, seemingly, by definitions of the categories we belong to, rather than the narratives that weave us together. I want to break that isolation down, and explore it.

    Man…it’s a rough one. I’ve had many nights with my partner gone — sometimes two, three nights in a row — and the days in between. Bed gets cold, apartments empty, going to work, coming back — bed still cold, apartment still empty. It’s a funny thing. And every time I got angry, I’d cycle through all the surface emotions until I looked in the mirror and saw where my anger was really coming from. I had to dig for those answers. The anger came because I wasn’t in control — really. And standing on the outside, we can see all the things we want people to do, you know? It doesn’t make any sense to us, to see our loved ones lose everything. But after awhile, I started to figure something else out. And it was a soothing, vulnerable realization. The truth was, when I let go, faced my own shit, and looked at Larissa for the person she really was, all of my bullshit dropped. There she stood — definitely an addict. For sure. Addicted to Heroin for twenty years. And until she felt she had let go of all the things keeping her from freely doing her drugs, she was always going to choose the dope over people. We can’t ask people to make the choice between drugs or us. It’s actually us who need to decide if we can take the reality, or not. Sometimes, we are the ones living a lie, expecting people to change while we tap our toes and point our fingers. I’d walk away from me, too. That’s addiction. And it’s a painful reality for everyone involved.

    1. Lindsey Hall – Brooklyn, NY – Eating Disorder Recovery blogger at award-winning I Haven't Shaved in Six Weeks.com & Lindsey Hall Writes. IG: @lindseyhallwrites
      Lindsey Hall

      Thank you for this. This is everything I needed to read. “It’s actually us who need to decide if we can take the reality, or not. Sometimes, we are the ones living a lie, expecting people to change while we tap our toes and point our fingers.”

      Reality check- thanks for writing this. Resonates a lot.

  3. God, I’ve had these thoughts. I’ve been here, wondering how far an individual’s self-destruction will go. When you love someone it’s hard not to be angry. You know they’re so much better than what they’re putting themselves (and you) through. And don’t they see all the people around them who love them? Who want them to be safe and happy and healthy? It’s mind boggling. I don’t understand it either. Please take care of yourself, the same way you would take care of another.

    1. Lindsey Hall – Brooklyn, NY – Eating Disorder Recovery blogger at award-winning I Haven't Shaved in Six Weeks.com & Lindsey Hall Writes. IG: @lindseyhallwrites
      Lindsey Hall

      SO mind boggling. It really does come down to a control thing. As you and I both know, with ED it’s all about control – and I think parts of that come out with this situation. I just want to shake him. Like throw something at his head and be like ARE YOU KIDDING. ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME.

      I want to be mean and insensitive, and then 10 minutes later I want to coddle and enable. It’s just a lot of emotions.

      Love your words-

  4. sunnyniccole – I'm 35 years old and a recovering addict. I have three beautiful children and an amazing husband. They are my muse

    Great read! And you’re absolutely right. Someone else’s addiction and recovery are personal to you when you’re a part of it! As you said you’re angry, maybe he needs that. Not the sugar coated bullshit. Maybe you have to walk away to show him he isn’t going to have you to lean on unless he works for it. Whether you realize it or not you’re enabling him by continually letting him use and come in and out of treatment and your life. Put your foot down and hold tight on your word. You didn’t heal from your disorder from people kissing your ass or telling you its okay if you continue on. I’m a recovering addict and everyone had to PROVE to me they meant what they said before I stopped showing my ass. You’re a good woman. Make him treat you like you are. And tell him you have to have a good man. Otherwise you’re done. Tough love is the only love he can have right now or he surely will die soon. Good luck sweetheart! Prayers love and hugs sent your way and his as well.

    1. Lindsey Hall – Brooklyn, NY – Eating Disorder Recovery blogger at award-winning I Haven't Shaved in Six Weeks.com & Lindsey Hall Writes. IG: @lindseyhallwrites
      Lindsey Hall

      God- this is so amazing. Thank you for writing this – I know you’re right. My biggest fear is enabling the behavior. I’ve stepped out of his life in the past for over a year because I put my foot down and said I wasn’t going to watch this hell unfold for him… but now it feels much more complicated.

      I really drift between feeling like I’m enabling or being too harsh all the time. It’s like one side of me is supportive and empathetic because I know he IS getting help, and he’s back at sober living right now. He came clean to everyone in his support group about the relapse- and I’m so proud of him because I know he’s NEVER done that before now.

      But yet there’s still the other part of me that is angry. I’m angry that he’s selfish and that he hurt me. I’m angry that it was SO easy to relapse.

      But yet I know it’s part of the process often? So then I feel hypocritical because I’ve definitely had my share of struggles too in recovery.

      Aye- such a tough subject. Thanks for your words <3 Sending support your way

      1. sunnyniccole – I'm 35 years old and a recovering addict. I have three beautiful children and an amazing husband. They are my muse

        You’ve got this. And don’t let anyone tell you different. You have to stand your ground. You can’t let him make you feel guilty for moving on either. Do your thing until he figures his out.

    1. Lindsey Hall – Brooklyn, NY – Eating Disorder Recovery blogger at award-winning I Haven't Shaved in Six Weeks.com & Lindsey Hall Writes. IG: @lindseyhallwrites
      Lindsey Hall

      SO true. Such a pisser of a disease- love that phrasing. Thanks for your message, means a lot as always <3

    1. Lindsey Hall – Brooklyn, NY – Eating Disorder Recovery blogger at award-winning I Haven't Shaved in Six Weeks.com & Lindsey Hall Writes. IG: @lindseyhallwrites
      Lindsey Hall

      Appreciate that- thanks for reading. it’s not usually the type of thing I post but it’s just very consuming. Prayers prayers prayers! It’s all you can do <3

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