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A Life Story – Addiction

In Opinion/Personal, Personal on May 30, 2015 at 3:26 pm

I still have pictures of us in diapers, laying together in the floor of my mother’s apartment, right across the hall from her parents’ apartment.  Most of my childhood memories include her.  Our mother’s were best friends.  We were raised together.  We fought like sisters, and although we weren’t truly related by blood, we came to call each other cousins.  It was easier to explain due to our shared last names and the fact that we literally grew up together.  By middle school, we had formed our own separate groups of friends, and still like sisters, we reached a point where despite knowing we loved each other, we argued more than anything.  By high school, we had outgrown that stage and became close once again.  We planned classes together.  We were together all summer break long.  There wasn’t a day that went by that we didn’t talk.

Her parents split up.  Her mom left.  Her dad was devastated.  I can remember staying the night at her house one weekend and having to take care of her father as he drank his feelings away.  Then a wedge came in.  A wedge that I viewed as a nuisance, a problem, inevitable trouble.  She viewed him as perfection.  We had both had other boyfriends throughout our years, but this one was different.  I had a terrible feeling about this one.

I knew his habits.  Everybody did.  Then I came back home from college to visit for a weekend and ran into her at a store.  We hadn’t talked in a little while.  I almost didn’t recognize her.  She was frail, bony, her cheeks were sunk in, her pupils were completely blown out.  I knew.  She had allowed his habits into her life like never before.

Their relationship was toxic.  He was a cheater.  He was in and out of jail.  Then suddenly, so was she.  DUIs.  Car wrecks due to DUI.  Not paying fines from tickets.  I spoke with her on the phone a few times, or a few times in person when I would go home for the weekend.  Conversations were strained.  She told me about crazy parties or recent arrests.  He spent time in prison for armed robbery and distributing cocaine.  Then went back to jail for another DUI.  Then was released on a rehab program.  Then failed the rehab program and went back to jail.  In and out. In and out.  Somehow, in the middle of all that, she had 2 children.

I was home for a weekend, staying at my mother’s, and she came to visit, bringing him with her.  She was pregnant with their first child.  This was the first time I was completely honest with them both.  “There’s a big difference now.  She’s carrying your child.  You treat her the way she should be treated, or I will hurt you.  Both of you, straighten up.  You’re going to be parents.  You’re going to be responsible for a child.  Get yourselves together.”  Neither could look me in the eye.  Both agreed.  She hugged me.

When he was in jail, she got jobs, took care of their children.  When not in jail, he made money by pushing drugs for bigger dealers.  “It’s just for a little while.  We need money for diapers.  We’re not using.”  Then why not get a REAL job?!  No answer.  She knew he was still cheating.  They broke up, got back together, broke up, got back together.  A broken record.  I tried to tell her that she deserved better.  A better partner, a better life.

Her second baby had some health concerns and required emergency surgery at only a few months old.  He was sent to the children’s hospital in the town I had recently moved to.  I went to the hospital.  I was cordial to him.  She looked good.  She looked healthy.  We had a good visit and the baby turned out just fine.

I heard an update later on, when the baby was now a toddler, that she had disappeared.  She came to her father’s house (who was now in a much better place with a new wife and step children and was very happy) and dropped off her toddler, asking them to watch him for a little while.  She left with her first child, and they hadn’t heard from her.  I never heard any more details about that.  She came back after a week and picked up her toddler.  That’s all I know for sure, but it isn’t hard to put pieces together.

I remember telling her at one point that I loved her, tremendously, but I couldn’t keep sitting back and watching her destroy herself.  I would do anything for her and I would always be here for her, but I could not keep in touch with her and listen to her stories of parties, spending hours tracking down her babies’ father just to find him strung out with other girls hiding out in somebody’s house, and more jail time shared between the two of them.  I couldn’t keep getting upset over her life if she wasn’t willing to make it better for herself.  I couldn’t keep trying to pick her up and make her feel worth something more when she had no interest in doing the same thing for herself.  It was too hard for me to not be able to fix it.

I remember getting a call from her out of nowhere.  “I’m in Lexington for the weekend!”  Wow, she was in my town and had called me.  Maybe things were looking up.  She went on to tell me that she and her boyfriend had needed some time away, so they got a cheap hotel in the area.  There were voices in the background and I asked her where her hotel was, who she was with.  She told me: a known junkie who pawned her children off on family members, and her current boyfriend that also happened to be the brother of my friend’s boyfriend/babies’ father – who was also a known user.  She put me on the phone with her boyfriend, stating she needed to do something.  He was not in a sober state and I told him I didn’t want to talk to him, please put her back on the phone.  After a few minutes he did, and the more I chatted with her the more I realized she was not sober, either.  She told me again that they were taking a vacation weekend just to get away for a bit, and then told me the reason she had called was because they wanted to know a good bar to go to.  She was in my town, we hadn’t seen each other in months, and she calls to force me to interact with him and to find out where she can find a place to get further inebriated.  I couldn’t believe it.  I let her know how hurtful that was, told her I didn’t know any bars to tell her to go to, and that I had somewhere to be and had to get off the phone.  She invited me to meet them at a bar, to which I declined.  That was the last time I let myself cry over her life and her decisions and how they had eroded the REAL relationships she had in her life.

I would get messages online randomly from her over the years.  She missed me, she loved me, she wanted us to catch up.  She had my number, but never called.  I could never bring myself to call her.  I felt bad for it.  We had been a part of each other’s lives since birth, and now I was removing myself from that relationship.  But I just couldn’t do it any more.  I couldn’t try to help when she didn’t want it, and I couldn’t sit back and pretend everything was fine while she slowly killed herself.  I still loved her like family.

Then she became active on social media again, portraying a better life.  She looked healthy, had weight on her body and no longer looked hollow.  There were lots of pictures showing her re-involvement with her father, cousins, being active in things at her children’s school.  A baptism, activities within church, even her own wedding to her children’s father.  I felt relieved and happy.  We still weren’t in regular touch, but seeing these things that she had pushed to the side so long ago being a part of her life again felt like a weight lifted.  Maybe she was on the right path.  I was wrong.

I loaded up my Facebook yesterday to see a slew of news stories being shared with her picture.  My stomach was immediately in my throat.  She was arrested.  Again.  Driving a vehicle so drunk that when pulled over, they could not perform a sobriety test because she could not stand well enough to get out of the car.  She had a friend with her, and also had that friend’s toddler in the back seat.  She refused to participate with police, had no proof of insurance or registration, and drug paraphernalia on her person and in the vehicle.  Drugs were woven through her last decade of life, but never like this.  Cocaine, marijuana, sometimes prescription medications.  But on this day, she was found with 2 bags full of syringes and a syringe in her pants.  My heart and my mind have been so heavy since reading this.  My vow of not allowing myself to cry for her anymore could not be kept.

Comment after comment on Facebook degrading her appearance in the mugshot, people that don’t even know her telling their opinion of how she should be shot or put away forever.  People sharing the news story just because they attended the same school as her.  I couldn’t believe it.  There were a few posts of people that did truly know her, focusing on how people should consider the family and hope that she gets the help she needs.  I am still literally heartbroken.

I hate her decisions.  I hate the choices she has made.  But she is still a person, with a family and friends that care about her.  I fully believe that she needs to face up to the consequences of her actions, but I feel this not from a place of anger like the others on Facebook.  She has a disease.  Drug addiction is a life long battle, even when the person is clean for years there is always a chance for a backslide.  I don’t think a lot of people that have never dealt with addiction, either in their own life or in the lives of someone close to them, have a good understanding of this.  People feed off of bad news and forget that her decisions, as well as their comments, extend far beyond just her life.  It can affect her family, her friends, her children.  A trying time for a family should not be like a reality show, entertainment for people that don’t even know her or her friends or her family.

I am so disappointed and sad and angry.  I want to slap her so hard.  I want to shake her and yell at her and tell her how stupid this is.  And I want to hug her.  I want to tell her I love her and that she can do better and deserves better, and her children deserve to have their mom.  I know the person she used to be.  I still think of that person when I think of her because that’s who she really is.  This person she is now is not her.  She is her disease, she is her addiction.  And all I can do is hope that something makes her see this, makes her want to change, before it gets worse.  My biggest fear is that the next story being shared like wildfire on Facebook will be that she’s dead.  I can’t imagine the thought of her being gone and never realizing how different it could have been, never believing that she deserved anything better.  Even with the months or years that we weren’t in contact or had minimal conversations here and there, I can’t imagine her not just being.  

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