To the boy I spent years trying to save but couldn’t & for anyone who has ever lost an addict,
I loved you too much for my own good. I spent nights awake staring at my phone with heavy eyes, praying the reason you hadn’t come home or called in days was for any other reason than you were dead. I sat in the bathroom during school calling every jail in the city hoping you were at one of them because honestly, I loved when you spent a day or two in jail. At least I knew where you were and that you were alive. I spent hours driving aimlessly around St. Louis going to any place you might have snuck away too, calling every one of dealers figuring out when the last time you copped was and stalking any move you might have made on facebook. I would scream and cry, begging whatever god is out there to keep you alive. There were times I got hopeless, there were times I was ready to call it. But you’d always come strolling in with dirty clothes and a shattered phone. You’d always have some crazy story of where you had been and I wouldn’t even care because you were alive and I was good with that.
When I moved away to Colorado for college, I had never felt so helpless. You were a thousand miles away so when you would disappear, I had to send my friends out looking for you. I had to sit there, rocking back and forth, shooting up every half hour because that was the only way I could stomach your absence.
When we finally went to rehab, I knew you were going just to get me off the streets. I knew you didn’t want to be there. You sent me the most heartbreaking letters while you were in there, the last one saying that you were leaving. You never actually did but I didn’t know that, I was just as locked up as you were so until I could talk to my parents who confirmed you never left, I was absolutely losing my shit.
Two days before you overdosed, we sat on the phone til 5am like usual. You were tired. You were done. You knew it was over and so did I. I bawled my eyes out, begging you not to get high because we both knew you’d die, begging you to be careful because I knew you weren’t. I bribed you with kids like I had been for a while, promising you them as soon as we could both stay sober. I told you Valentine’s Day. You were supposed to take the train to see me and although I knew the idea of a kid wouldn’t keep you from relapsing for forever, I was hoping it would delay the process.
I’m sitting here smiling at this all now. We were so young and so fucked up but all we wanted was to get married and have kids. All we wanted was to somehow figure out how to have a life together. We said forever and always and actually meant it.
It’s been over a year since you’ve died and let me tell you, that was the darkest year of my life. But somewhere in the depths of all the pain I put myself through after you died, I found a whole world of light that I never knew existed. I used to say you took a part of me when you died but I don’t agree with that anymore. I think I took a part of you. While we were together, you showed me a whole new way to look at the world but I pushed it all off. You tried so hard to turn my angry ass into a flowerchild and it didn’t work then but baby, you would be so proud now.
The energy I put into saving you when you didn’t want to be saved almost killed me many, many times but who am I kidding, I would have died for you in a heartbeat. I loved you to death and I love you beyond it. Forever and always, kid.
My perspective on loving and losing an addict is different than the usual because I was in active addiction right along side him. The thing about his addiction and mine was that they were in completely different phases. I got into dope much later than he did so for the first year of me toying around with heroin, he was already in full blown addiction. By the second year I was all caught up with him and by the third, he was dead. I mean, how do you even go about fighting for someone who isn’t fighting for themselves? Better question, how do you fight for someones life while they play russian roulette with a needle every 30 minutes? I asked myself this shit a lot. I put up with way too much shit, let way too much slide, and let someone else’s problem control me because I simply couldn’t let go. I couldn’t stop fighting. Fast forward a year and my family was going through the same thing with me.
Loving an addict is the furthest thing from easy. Addiction is probably worse on the loved ones than it is on the addict. If you want advice coming from someone who’s lost an addict and who is also a recovering addict, don’t stop fighting for them but don’t enable them. Enabling them is killing them. If they’re mad at you, you’re doing the right thing. If an addict is happy, you’re probably giving them what they want. Set boundaries. You have your own life and your own needs, dont forget about yourself in the midst of all the chaos. After all, dealing with an addict is so mentally exhausting. You can’t take care of anyone else until you’ve taken care of you first. And most importantly, you can’t force anything. I know how frustrating and agonizing that is but trust me on this. True recovery won’t happen until it comes from the individual themselves. They have to go through enough pain to want it to stop. I know that sucks and I wish I had better advice but just love them to death and love them beyond that.