To Love an Addict
On our second date, he was tripping on mushrooms. All logic says I should have run the other way. But I did the opposite. I didn’t know anything about his alcoholism yet (nor the extent of his drug use) so we proceeded to hang out at a bar down the street. We got tacos on Myrtle Avenue later that night, by which point he was so far gone that he sat slumped over in a chair barely able to keep his head up, clinging to me while I struggled to order four tacos in Spanish. To say I was freaking out is an understatement. I was thinking about how I’d get him up the four flights of stairs to his apartment, worried about whether his roommates were home and if they knew or how I’d hide this from them, but also hopeful that if something really terrible happened, someone would be there to help. I also worried about what the woman behind the counter was thinking and whether she thought I was drunk or high, too. Mostly, I was wondering what I could possibly do to help this person. I was terrified and clearly in over my head but already in so deep. My heart was already breaking.
That is what it feels like to love an addict.
And this is what it feels like when they die: The world is instantly worse and unimaginable without him. It’s sad, empty, lonely, devoid of beauty and truth, all the things that I told myself defined his life. Nothing feels normal and I don’t know when or if it ever will again. I’ve cried more than I ever thought was possible, felt angry, depressed, scared, anxious, suicidal, and been brutally honest about the darkness of it all. I feel so lost and disconnected from everything and everyone because my anchor, my person, is gone. Half the time I don’t recognize myself. I move through most days robotically, just existing. That’s the best I can do right now.
Photography by Thomas Hawk via Flickr (cc).