You meet a person. They’re funny, they’re cute, they make you smile. You love the way they get excited when they tell a story. You love their dimples, their bright eyes, their passion for the things they love. You find yourself attracted to them, missing their presence when they’re gone. You like them. You develop a friendship and get to know each other. Maybe they socially drink or occasionally smoke a bowl, but they maintain control and can put it down whenever they want to. But you know, deep in your core, you know, that you’re different from them. The drugs you do control you; not the other way around. You’re an addict. But this person, they’re intoxicating and attractive and everything you ever wanted in a partner. You’re afraid if they find out you’re an addict that they won’t want to be around you anymore. So you hide it. Lines in your car before a date, extra drinks when they’re not looking, shooting up in the bathroom… You hide your sickness while you fall more and more in love with this person who makes you feel alive again. They say no one has ever made them smile like you. But you’re an addict. So you don’t do anything in small fashion. You run head-on, full force into this person. You start dating and for awhile everything is nothing short of magic. Long nights of talking until the sun came up, dates that give you butterflies, making them laugh, and watching the way they stick their tongue out when they read. And the sex! You can’t forget the mind blowing, life changing, world altering sex. Everything is… perfect. The relationship progresses and they start to notice little things. Maybe you drink “a little too often” or “a bit too much”, or they comment on how little or big your pupils are all the time. They notice you’re up at strange hours by the loving text messages you send them. They notice how long you spend in the bathroom when you wake up each day. They’re starting to sense something but they haven’t been able to put their finger on it yet.
You have your first fight, about how sometimes you “just seem off”. It shatters you. You know why you’re “off” sometimes but you have to keep the secret. Have to stay hidden, stay quiet, seem normal. Your addiction spurs your total codependency on this person and you feel like you can’t live without them. But you can’t live without the drug either. You’re ripped in half between what you “need” and who you want. Mercilessly torn between a decision that is no longer a choice and a person you choose again everyday.
So you balance these two worlds on the tips of your fingers, trying ever so carefully to maintain both, without being caught. You plan you’re using, when you buy, when to not be “way too high”, and how to hide behind excuses when you’re sick and can’t hang out. And you do so good, for a little while. You want to be with them as much as you want to use so you choose to move in together. You sign the lease and combine your lives and for a little while it’s amazing. At this point they know you like to “party a little hard”. But they think you only use the “acceptable drugs“: weed, alcohol. They don’t know about how much of these drugs you actually use though or dare I mention, that you use the “not acceptable” ones. But you’re in love with each other. Living together makes you’re obsessive and compulsive behavior harder to hide. They start to notice when you come home “a little too late after work” because you had to go cop. They notice your occasional emotional outbursts when you’re too high to realize you’re being ridiculous or too dope sick to care about hiding your insanity. They know, somewhere in them, they know that they aren’t seeing the whole picture. They grow suspicious.
And then it happens.
They find a needle, or a bag, or catch you doing a late night line in the bathroom. The lid has blown off the fucking pressure cooker and they know. You try to deny, rationalize, minimize, justify, and then cry. You try to defend, explain, guilt trip. And they love you so they accept your half hearted excuses praying that maybe, “it’s not as bad as it looks or seems”. But they know. Fear has never run so deep and this thing you have? This beautiful, magical, life altering love? It becomes tainted. Stained with the choice that isn’t a choice anymore.
The dynamic has changed. Those nights you pass out sitting up on the couch they find themselves watching your neck to make sure your heart is still beating. They barely even notice how insane this is because they’re so concerned for you. You notice they stop breathing every time someone uses a drug in a movie or talks about it amongst your friends. While you’re taking that “20 minutes to grab gas on the way home” that actually turns into an hour of you waiting on your drug dealer in a Walmart parking lot, they’re sitting at home wondering where you are. Consumed in fear that you’re not okay. What if you got shot, got caught or ended up in jail? What if you got that “one bad bag” that everyone talks about. Their life has become one heeping pile of “what if”. They fill their time researching drugs and how to help addicts. They still think this is a problem that can be easily managed and don’t believe the people on the forums who tell them to “just walk away”. They can’t believe that it’s that bad. Denial isn’t just for the junkie, it’s a family disease. They might as well be out there with you, because God knows their mind and heart are. They start to notice the little things. The red nose from “your allergies”…that has lasted 6 months. The “mosquito bite” on your arm that just won’t go away. Your pupils that never seem to be a normal size. The late nights. How you’re always “sick” but only in the mornings and a random day here or there.
All these little realizations turn into big fights. Accusations hurled from the place in their heart that is terrified of getting that dreaded phone call one day. Anger stemming from love that they wish was enough to make you stop. Screams bred of fear that the person they adore may never come back from this. Pleas for you to be honest, go to meetings, go to rehab, get help, any help. But you know what they don’t. Asking for help means you do have a problem. Asking for help means giving up the illusion of control that you would just as soon death grip to your inevitable grave. Asking for help means it is real and it is “that bad”. Asking for help means “you can’t control it”. And that is one thing you just can’t handle, for it will surely throw you over the edge. But in that split second of clarity that their tears bring, you can see their pain. And so you go on a bender trying to numb the look of desperation in their eyes, the fear in their cries, the guilt behind your lies. Trying to forget that you hurt them that much. More drugs, later nights, deeper pain, worse fights. You’re spiraling. You know it. They know it. But it’s only spoken about in the heat of another fight that lasts till 5am. A fight that you can’t wait to end so you can sneak to the bathroom and numb all the pain that causing them pain causes you. People aren’t meant to live like this. You can’t keep it up anymore. They can’t live in all the fear, anger, and desperation that they feel and that you numb anymore. You have the drugs. They have nothing. Except an empty pillow beside them and the love of their life they wish they could cry about this to. But they’re out getting high. You’re out getting high. At this point, even they want to numb it all.
The more you use, the more they’re along for the ride. They can’t walk away, they’re too afraid that you’ll die. And they truly, deeply love you. Somewhere in them they hope that that’s enough. That maybe this love will keep you alive. But they can’t take it either. The fights, the tears, the looking in your eyes and not seeing you in there. God they would kill for just one more day like it was in the beginning. Much like you’d kill to get as high as you did in the beginning. You need them. They need to know you’re okay. They need to feel like you want them more than the drug. You need something to tie you to reality. Mutually assured destruction. You get higher and they’re dragged lower, all the while you both become sicker. Their resentment grows as fast as your habit and you’re both left just… broken.
The good days grow further and further apart, till all that’s left is the pain and your “mosquito bite” track marks. But no one walks away because both of you are holding onto those few good days. And in those moments between highs, when you can almost remember their smile, even you wish you could make it all go away. But your stuck watching them laugh at their friend’s jokes the way they used to laugh at yours. You just can’t understand why they “don’t love you anymore”. The catch is, that they do. But this is what “love” looks like when it’s a victim of abuse. You’re addiction is a cancer. It spreads to everyone around you. Till all that’s left is the sickness. They love you but they lost you, and lost themselves in the process.
Maybe you go to a few meetings, give them a glimmer of hope, all to destroy it, when return high on dope. And they just want to know, why couldn’t it be them that you chose? They don’t understand you’re trapped, you don’t understand their broken. So you stay in this relationship, because hey, “here’s to hopin'”. But the dope has you like you have them and they’re still praying every night you don’t turn up dead. So you live this destruction between half hearted rehab stints, overdoses, and money stolen and the whole time they’re with you, getting sicker by the moment. By the time you realize they “aren’t the same anymore”, this disease of addiction has already destroyed you both and so much more. They lost you, you lost you, and they lost themselves. All in an prayer that you’d survive this hell.
Maybe you die. Maybe you recover. Maybe they give up. Maybe you stay together. Maybe you break up. Either way it doesn’t matter; because this is your relationship on drugs.
by Ashley Hebner
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