“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” – Carl Jung
This is an update on my Ex, D. Fighting for his life.
Today I became painfully aware that I have not truly grieved the loss of my precious identity and beauty, things I never knew were inside me to begin with. These being the innocence of my heart, the dignity of my sexuality and the tolerance for my own discomfort. I have accepted these losses and hurts, came to grips with them. But to authentically grieve for myself? Not yet. I feel I am on the verge of a breakthrough. I often feel that, but then nothing happens.
Right now, I feel the pain and tears well up in the back of my throat. I am alone, so you would think I could let emotions burst with no inhibitions. But, I let it out in small spurts like hiccups. If I submit to my welled up emotions, I may end up in a heap on the floor.
It feels like a simultaneous eruption of little earthquakes in my stomach. From top to bottom, my insides shake. Moving like a strong building floor violently rolls in an earthquake . Somehow I must be able to stop it. I absolutely should not, but I do. I see a single tear drop fall to my shoe through my shaky fingers. It is unusual for me to get to even this point. It’s a start. It’s progress. Healing, it’s called? It genuinely feels like like grief. I am painfully aware of my heart. I can actually feel the life pumping inside me. I now know it is receiving life and losing it at the same time. This is struggle in its purest form.
I can just visualize the end of my outburst, exhausted and curiously poked at by my kids as they arrive from school. So I better just keep it together. For everyone’s sake.
There is an empty space inside of me. It feels like a hundred little holes that make up a larger one. Like a paper target at a shooting range, with the face in the middle? The gaping holes inflicted by blunt force, shredded at the edges from trauma. My chest actually feels hollow. My heart hurts. It needs to give in to the dam I have been keeping so close to me. I don’t know where it ends and I begin. Grief is more complex than just processing a loss. It is not just an emotional reaction, it is physical, cognitive, behavioral and social. My PTSD has arrested my ability to go through this process. As badly as I want to, it is paralyzing to allow a thought or a memory run its course through my head and heart. I guess that’s why it’s called a “process.”
I feel like I am walking in the dark, arms outstretched, searching for a door that needs to be opened, and only I can open it. I feel terror knowing I have to open it and I have no idea what awaits me on the other side. If and when that door opens, that’s my new life unveiled. That is my new self, my authentic self. Someone I have never seen. It is a being, a state of wholeness I long to discover more than anything, but I am comfortable with what I know. Isn’t that sad? Change is frightening. Illumination is blinding. That’s why addictions and mind sets are so hard to break.
I found out that my Ex-husband, I refer to him as D, relapsed a few weeks ago. I am surprised, and not surprised at the same time. He has been using drugs his entire adult life. He has managed to string together some sobriety here and there. We managed to get married, have 2 children, and live a somewhat normal life for 7 years. We were married for 10 years. Do the math… yes, there were relapses during the marriage. All in the last 3 years. It was an ugly time. I had to get the kids and myself out before they were removed from our home. Every day after work walking up the stairs, hoping not to smell crack smoke, became very tiring. Worrying the money would be gone, the car loaned out to a dealer. I was even sold when there were no inanimate objects left to sell, trade, or pawn.
The last relapse closed the deal for me. I knew I had to leave. A fighter rose up inside of me I did not know I possessed. D picked me up after I worked a long night shift. I could see in his eyes he was high. It’s a haunting look I can never forget. He was strangely quiet. The blue in his eyes covered in an opaque sheet of black. When we got home, he asked me to use with him. I was disgusted. Even as an addict myself, I knew asking the one you’re supposed to love to join you in misery is inexcusable. That fighter who rose up in me did something it had never done before. I gathered my things… car keys, money, credit cards, packed a small bag, ran down the stairs and drove away. I was able to salvage some of what usually would end up in smoke. Including myself.
I talked to D on Thanksgiving. He spoke with the kids briefly. I am always happy when they get a chance to talk. However, because of the Protection Order, there is little contact. I decided it was time to say “fuck the protection order.” His life is in danger. I usually let them talk and he and I don’t speak. I wanted to hear his voice this time. I always know when something isn’t right. He had the chance to leave the state with his parents a few months back, which I believe would have saved his life. He pleaded to stay here to work and better himself. He had completed a 9 month inpatient treatment program, lived in a halfway house voluntarily, and accumulated a year clean and sober. He even got a job. I thought he would stay clean this time. I hoped. But after 25 years of the overwhelming temptation and lure of Crack Cocaine, and the trigger of payday cash, this relapse is a clear picture to me. By staying here in this city, a using playing ground for him to run wild, he opened his own coffin.
He told me he sold his van. He was living in it. The weather has been extremely cold and I was hoping he had not sold it yet, for I knew he eventually would. I know his addiction. He walked away from his only source of protection from the elements, leaving all its contents inside. Everything he owned. All that remains are the clothes on his back.
He told me he was suicidal.
I saw a story on the news the other day. A man had driven his car into a store, loaded his vehicle with items to sell, and was hiding when the police arrived. My heart sank and my mind raced. I recalled a story D told me of a crime he committed 20 plus years ago… He drove into the back of a music store in this same area, stole merchandise, and got away before the police arrived. Up until a few hours ago, I have been checking the jail inmate registry on the hour, every hour. I sent him a text 2 days ago with no response until a few hours ago.
I have tortured myself with obsessive worry. Not because I have “those kind of feelings” for him anymore, but because he is the father of my children and someone I have known literally over half my life; someone I believe to be a good man in the deepest part of his soul. He was, at one time, a providing husband and loving father. Some Psychologists would say this is the unhealthy “Caretaker” role emerging from me. But something just feels different this time. More urgent. More tragic. I don’t want him to die. He has relapsed a few times since our separation. This is different. We both have an eerie and tragic feeling in our gut… something two people who have been to hell and back, hand in hand, would only know. In sync. Too bad when drugs became our god, he no longer held hands with his earthly love, but with a demon…and soon could not decipher the difference.
I know first hand when death seems a sweet relief, the closest angel in your life can beg and plead, but there is a stone wall around your heart. Hearing no life. Seeing no life. Speaking no life. Sometimes the will to die overpowers the will to live. The pull is overwhelmingly strong.
I texted him again today and asked him to please just let me know that he was alive. Within minutes, he called, from an unknown number, of course… the paranoia kicking in. I told him, “Fuck the protection order, your life is at stake!” I truly exhaled for the first time in 3 days. He may be alive, but far from well. He is barely alive. He is waiting to die. Those are his words.
His phone had been shut off, which is why he didn’t get my text the other day. I sent him pictures of the kids. He chuckled “You ruined my high.” I said, “Good, that was my intent.” I knew the responsive laugh was just a cover for shame. He is using drugs because he can’t handle the pain of what he did to us. All of us. I told him I understood. And I do. I am the only person who understands what he is going through. He told me I am the only person he could talk to. He is right. The last time we spoke, I told him he could call the crisis line. But we both know, on the other end of the line, sits a volunteer who is looking at a script pleading with us that “it’s going to be okay.” On that same note, he is the only person I know who really understands me in my addiction.. We went through all this together. Too many times.
I have scrolled down my phone contacts… and the green dots next to the names on my laptop, all in search of someone to talk to… I end up not able to see the screen as my eyes fill with tears. I am alone. Addiction is powerful. Not many understand its gravity. I am done praying to God. I am done with 12 step programs. Addiction is bigger than that. It’s a monster bigger than all of its so called “help” combined. It’s a monster that never leaves you. It can be arrested and in remission. But it waits. And it pounces when you’re not expecting it. Believe what you want, but this I know. When I told him to call the crisis line, I could hear the ridiculousness in my voice. I felt like a hypocrite. I have been in that place. After the volunteer on the other end disappears, the hope disappears as well.
So, today, when he said the pictures of the kids ruined his high. To the “normal” person, that sounds horrible. But let me translate. He is so full of guilt and shame, he cannot bear to take another breath without needing to stop the screaming in his head. The self condemnation that plays on a continual loop what a loser he is and how he fucked up his family. This may, in fact, be true in some aspects. But I hurt for him. My heart breaks for him. There are a few times I can recall when he sobbed on the floor in front of me after a devastating relapse. We had lost everything. Looking back, sometimes I don’t know how we survived. How did we keep a roof over our heads with two kids? That’s why I made him leave… with the help of the law. He is a stubborn one. Most addicts are, and master manipulators as well. We develop that as a survival technique and to support our habit. Because at the time, nothing else matters.
He told me on the phone he could not bear the pain of what he had done to me. He was called to protect me. It was his duty as a husband. Especially after knowing that I was sold for drugs at 16 by the infamous “Chewy” I have written about, and D did the same to me. He is so ashamed. Hindsight is always 20/20, and consequently, devastating. There are little words, which explains perfectly why he wants to numb himself. What he let happen to me is the lowest of betrayals. I heard the excruciating pain in his voice. I told him he was forgiven. I do not hold a grudge. And that is true. I released him. I told him I knew who he was when the crack was not in control of him. That was not his true self. He said he knew that, but even though it was his physical body, the drugs were inside him, he was my husband and should have never fed me to the lions. I told him it was okay. In actuality, It is not okay. But it has to be now. I can grieve while he fights for his life. This will not kill me; but it is killing him.
D told me he stood on the edge Aurora Bridge last week. Cars were honking at him. I know he wants to die. I know him and I believe him. He is genuinely remorseful about what he let happen to his life and his family. The grief is destroying him. If his heart is beating, he will get high. No prayer or AA meeting can replace the pipe or the needle. It may suffice for some. But not for all. He can be mean and cold, but he is more sensitive than any man I have ever known, and this regret is more than he can bear. If he does not take his own life, he will overdose. He told me he was speed balling (Cocaine and Heroin together intravenously). He had never used a needle until a year ago. He said he was close to giving himself a hot shot. I asked him what that was. He said he would inject himself with air. I am not sure what is stopping him. But I hope there is a faint light in him or around him keeping him going. I don’t want a phone call from a faceless man or woman informing me he is dead. “Can you come and identify the body?” How do I tell my kids their father is dead? Honestly though, I want the police, paramedics, whoever… I want them to contact me, not his family, his blood, who have washed their hands of him.
When he told me when he sold his van, leaving everything he owned inside, I expressed my concern about the frigid weather. I asked him if he had a coat, gloves, a hat? He said he had just the clothes on his back and he is on foot or crashing in random people’s places. His hands are numb by the end of the day. But he’s “runnin’ and gunnin’” as we called it back in the day. He’s Clyde now, alone without Bonnie. He sells and smokes all day and night. Sell, inject, smoke. Repeat. He always hated Heroin. Addiction is a progressive disease. And for all of the people who cringe at this, the AMA recognizes addiction as a disease. It fits the diagnoses of all the others. It’s progressive and terminal. Would you reject your child if they had a mental illness, a severe addiction, cancer? Don’t hate on me. Look it up. We don’t choose this.
Keep walking, I beg him. I told him to please stay warm, eat and sleep. He said he doesn’t get hungry. Well, I know that. I remember. You don’t get hungry or thirsty or tired. You have to make yourself eat and drink. I can visualize him when I close my eyes. His face sunken in so his cheekbones are showing. Dark circles under his once bright blue eyes. Neglected facial hair. His face has aged 15 years in the past 5. The wear and tear of crack cocaine, the erosion morphed into deep wrinkles.
What a life, huh? Get married, have a couple kids (not to mention his two grown children from other women), fall back into old patterns, get up and fight, fall again, fight again. Finally, he is on his own, homeless in Seattle. Giving in to his every whim and need while I try to make sure our kids are fed and clothed. I feel a little jealous. That first hit is amazing. I want to feel that feeling that removes all other feelings. Comfortably numb….though sadly it’s temporary. That is why addicts end up in jail or dead. The chase of the first high is relentless and trumps all… your kids, your spouse, your parents, your belongings, and eventually your soul…. because you have sold it. Then, like my Ex, you graduate into an empty shell, just a body. The same body you have lived in you entire life, except it has become unrecognizable. Your brain does not even know who you are anymore, which is frightening and unbearable, so all there is to do is what you know how to do… get high… it all goes away.
Can you imagine? Our brains and our bodies are woven together to feel and respond to the other. You become so numb that the two become separated. It is not right. I have been there. I have felt this. Most who read this won’t understand. That is why this desperation to connect with D is imperative. I am all he has left. I am his only friend.
Isn’t that all we want in the end? Nothing else matters. No material things. Just a heart that can understand yours, no matter the history, the differences, the pain. It no longer matters. Fuck grudges… I will not give up on him, like everyone else.
My determination does not revolve around him being the father of my kids or my ex-husband. It comes from knowing his pain. Knowing that one human being needs another. He needs me a source a light in his now dark world. Those people on the street can feed his addiction and immediate needs, but not his spirit and will to live. I will place myself aside for now to save his life.
D, I can’t rescue you. You placed yourself in this position. You have been given many chances. You repeatedly fail with each attempt at a new beginning. I used to hate you for the wreckage you created, the mess you walked away from and left me to clean. I don’t hate you anymore. Maybe I should. But my sick friend, you are hurting and I understand you. I am not the one to judge you; there are enough doing that already. I know you. I know your heart. I hear the real you through the wickedness in the back ground.
You are not evil. You are kind.
Today, you say you are sick. Dope sick from the black. Every muscle hurts. You must be desperate to get yourself hooked on heroin. It’s okay. Just rest. Sleep it off. The sun will rise tomorrow and you will live another day. I know you will. I just know.
I could not move after our phone conversation. Like I was saying, the grief is trying to claw its way out of me, but it stops when it reaches the apex of my jumbled mind, or heart, I am not sure which. I guess both.
I am so close to coming undone. Another earthquake in my stomach. Only one tear after all those convulsions… so close.
Maybe next time.
“Say something, I’m giving up on you…
I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you…
And I… will swallow my pride,
You’re the one that I loved,
and I’m saying goodbye….