On May 22, 2007, the day my son opened his eyes for the first time, I was high on oxycontin. To this day that memory haunts me to my core, this day and every other day since, so in some ways, I guess it was the best worst day of my life. At that point, I had become really good at hiding my addiction from the woman I loved, and when I tell you we were in love... I mean Kitty and Marshall Dylan had nothing on us. We were Johnny and June Carter, we were the noiseless racket in a big-flaked snowstorm, but what would be the point of telling you this if we had lived happily ever after? Being an addict is something I know all too well - I know what it's like to look in the mirror and hate the person you see but not be able to do a thing about it. I wish I could tell you that love fixed everything, but this is real life and the real world just isn't built that way.
The day I met her I was most likely high and most of the days thereafter, if I had to guess - but we can skip all the “on the day we met she was wearing green cargo shorts and a white t-shirt” stuff and move on to the part where we fell in love. At first, I was wary of how much younger than me she was and I had almost talked myself out of dating her before she had spread through me like a wildfire, but I didn't and all of a sudden I had two loves, her and opiates. Keeping your two girlfriends from finding out about each other is not an easy task, but I learned as I went along and something that comes with being an addict - is the art of manipulation. I know what many of you are thinking, “I would have seen through it”, but the fact is you are manipulated all the time, every day. You are manipulated through advertisements or politics and if you are naïve enough to think you aren't, then you are part of the problem in this world. At first tricking her was easy; however, she's a smart girl, so I had to get more clever as the days slipped past. I succeeded for a while but she caught up quickly. I can't tell you the day she figured it out any easier than I can tell you how she smelled the first time I kissed her, but what I can say is that she did.
At first, I had no intention of stopping and when I finally did it was too late, so I spent the next decade chasing the dragon. She put up with it for awhile, on and off and she's a better person than I for doing so, but inevitably every broken hull will take on too much water. When I did finally get to the point I knew I was losing her; I tried to fix me, and she tried to fix me, maybe that kept us together longer, but who can say. Looking back I see how unfair it was to put someone I loved through that - somebody already going through more than the worst of us deserves, but what is an addict if not greedy? And I was amongst the worst. I used her love for me in the way a car uses gas; from the first time, the car starts until it finally dies it needs more gas, even though the gas eventually tears it apart from the inside. The fuel doesn’t care; it's unaware, it's unchanging, but the car continues to show wear, until one day..it quits.
Being an addict is a hard thing to wrap your head around if you aren't one and impossible not to wrap your head around if you are, so I'll do my best to explain it. You know how if you go for a run on a hot summer day and afterward you can't quite quench your thirst? Or the itch in your shoe you can't seem to stomp away without taking your shoe off? It's like that. I loathed the rest of the world for feeling normal enough they didn’t need to resort to substance abuse, almost as much as I hated it myself. I begged, borrowed, and stole in the name of feeling normal for one more day, it was taking me apart from the inside and I wasn’t going down alone. In the end, I burned bridges, lost friends, lost family, got into all sorts of trouble, and even had an entire clip from a gun emptied in my direction. Bear with me, this story has somewhat of a happy ending even though it's not the one I would have hoped for. Back to my better half; she pleaded with me, tried fighting, reasoning, but it was never enough.. my mind was willing but my body had different plans. In the end, I would no doubt be dead if it wasn’t for her because even if she couldn’t see it, I was way better when I was around her. She never gave up on me even though she gave up on us [who could blame her]. I'd love to tell all of you that I overcame opiate addiction on my own because I'm strong-willed, nothing would be further from the truth. She is the reason I'm even here now, her and our son. So, in the end, she defied my odds and overcame addiction. For those of you who are addicts - not in recovery yet or just starting out - it gets better, I know losing drugs feels like losing a loved one but time heals.
Five and a half years ago I went into recovery because of her and I'll never look back. She saved me and as frustrating as it must have been, she never gave up on me because she loved me. I'll probably never be able to repay her, but I try every day. I try by staying sober, not for me - I don’t think think that much of myself, it's for her and our son. I don’t deserve it, but they do. If you're an addict listen close, don’t listen to those people who have never been like us, “you have to do it for you," that’s wrong. As addicts we don’t think very much of ourselves so how could that ever help?
Do it for the people who need you and when you get better try to help people that walk on the same path you did. We are the only ones who truly understand and can give actual real-life advice that can hopefully make a difference. Lastly to the “she” in this story you did this, not I and I could never thank you enough but I'm going to try.
My name is Elmer and I'm a recovering addict and alcoholic.