Addiction

This post is not going to be organized.

I was once in a terrible relationship. He was an addict and my first love. For a girl with abandonment issues and from a dysfunctional family that did not a healthy love, make. Our relationship hurdled down a gamut of emotions, as most relationships do. But, dating an addict is different. Dating an addict when they first decide to get clean is extremely different. Dating an addict who is also your coworker and eventually creates this messy triangle between your friend-also a coworker- and you at the boarding school where you grew up and all three work, is novel fodder of epic proportions.

It took me an excruciating amount of time to get to a place where I wished them well. They’re married and have a kid, and I honestly hoped they were in a fabulously healthy place. In order to stay in that well-wishing spirit, I need to stay as far away from information about them as possible.

Finding out that my friend, let’s call her Sarah, went to visit my ex and my former friend made me pause. We’d been playing phone tag and I’d stopped trying to get in touch with her because I knew I’d ask her how my ex was doing knowing it was bad for me. Codependency does that. Falling in love at 24 with a predatory addict does that.

After talking on the phone with my friend I went to a bad place. A terrible place. I knew I would. Not because of how they were doing, but because of how my friend referred to and categorized my relationship with him. It was along the lines of: “…he’s doing so much better now that he’s not with you. His wife [my former friend] is so different from you that he’s a much better person now.” Typing that gives me literal heartburn.

Hearing that made me question my sanity. I began to believe what she said.

However, here’s the truth: He’s not better off now that he’s not with me. Those two statements have nothing to do with one another.

The first time he acknowledged his addiction was while we were dating. He began to see a therapist and do some serious work. During this he began to go to meetings and stop “acting out.” This was a time where he chose to work on his issues and when he became incapable of dealing with them reverted back to old behaviors. This is a person who, while in a relationship; got a blow job in a McDonald’s bathroom because somone offered him one –like it was a box of Nuggets–, who trolled the back pages of The Stranger met up with and received a blow job from a *transgender woman even though he reportedly “was not attracted” to her and hated himself while it was happening, who has slept with hundreds of prostitutes, who, while married to his first wife, had sex with a poor woman in his neighborhood for money several times — they had an “arrangement”, who physically fought an ex girlfriend for pills she’d been prescribed because he was addicted to them.

This is a person who physically assaulted a student where we worked and only received a 3-week, without pay, suspension from his job. This young girl went on to commit suicide a few years later.

I was the adult who saw him assault her, I was the adult who picked up this sobbing child and carried her to safety. Who spoke with his class afterwards and helped them know that his actions were unacceptable. Abuse is never okay.

I was, am, and will always be the person that reminds him of his inability to get clean.

I remind him of his failure. I am a source of pain for him because after knowing all of his dirty secrets, I loved the shit out of him. I didn’t judge him. I stood by him as he treated me terribly. I loved him as he fucked up his life. I walked away when he dove face first back into his addiction in front of my eyes.

He is not better because we’re not together. He is not better because he is in another relationship. I am not, nor was I ever the reason he was an asshole to me and to others. His actions have nothing to do with me.

For Sarah to trivialize a relationship that was pure hell is offensive and hurtful. For her to assume that our relationships are anywhere NEAR being on the same plane is idiotic. I held his figurative head over the toilet bowl while he vomited up his self-hatred, fear, and inability to love anyone not just me. I lashed back at him when he treated me terribly unlike anyone he’d ever known. I stood my ground in situations where his other partners cowered. I stayed in that relationship for entirely too long while he used me.

My memories are real. His actions were real. His addiction is real. Her assessment of my relationship with him is unreal and bullshit. It’s pompous, misinformed, and based on 3 days with a couple and mostly like a shit ton of Facebook photos. Facebook exists to share the gilded and hide the truth. There was no hiding with me. Anyone who dates me doesn’t have to hide.

Typing this is a syntaxed sigh that weighed heavy while internal. This is something for me to look back on and remind myself that it happened. It was horrible, painful, difficult, and real. The first time I fell in love was difficult, ugly, brutal, and very very fucking real.

Ugh, I really need to see a therapist.

*the issue is not with getting a blow job from a transgender woman. the issue is his self-hatred and inability to engage in intimacy during the sexual act…doing something that made him despise himself.

Pooping

I just pooped, wiped, looked at the toilet paper in my hand and didn’t know what to do with it.

I spent the last 30 days pooping and peeing in Turkish Toilets — for the most part. In my hotel rooms there were western toilets with Turkish expectations.  This is a Turkish toilet.

Turkish Toilet

Thanks shwiya b shwiya blog!

I’ve used them before when I traveled in Eastern Asia.  The difference now, however, is that in Morocco (and probably Turkey, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been) you don’t put the toilet paper in the hole. You fold it in on itself and put it in a wastepaper basket where it sits until someone takes out the garbage.  In my small village, when the garbage was taken out, it went to a larger container that sat in the bushes near cherry trees and the water source.  Just because it’s out of the house doesn’t mean it’s out of your life.

I enjoy using Turkish Toilets. The squatting position is better for your system and just feels great. I love pooping in the woods because it combines the prime squat position with a beautiful view. That’s the life right there, y’all.  I didn’t love pooping in Turkish toilets because the smell from the wastepaper basket, or merely the knowledge that it’s there, is distracting. I just wanted to poop in a smell free poop free environment.

My pooping in Morocco was disjointed.  When Moroccans found out that I was a vegetarian they’d laugh — because they thought it was a joke– and then they’d ask if that meant I ate lamb…or chicken… or fish. Seriously.  If you say in Darija, “I don’t eat meat.” You also have to explain that you don’t eat fish, chicken, turkey, or lamb. It’s quite a process. Even then, me not eating meat meant I ate a crap ton of potatoes with a few carrots.  At one point I sat back and recollected on my food consumption for the day. “You know what?” I said to my co instructors. “I had a hard-boiled egg and bread for breakfast. Now I’m having a hard-boiled egg and bread for dinner. The hell is going on?”  That was pretty much the extent of my food options. Bezzaf (a lot) of Khobs (bread). Granted, we convinced Mama Fatima to make us lentil soup and frites (french fries) for lunch and it was so good we asked for it every day.  We didn’t always get it, but we asked.  I think she felt bad preparing us the same lunch so she tried to vary it.  If only she knew that I could have eaten that for 3 meals a day and been absolutely fine. The lack of vegetables in my diet led to me feeling clogged up or uncomfortable for most of my days.  We often had to request watermelon (dluh-h) and cherries for the sake of taste and fiber.  There were also honey dew and cantelope melon hybrids that I grew to enjoy. I hate them in the States, but hey, when 98% of the food options aren’t on your menu you’re not going to get too picky with the 2%.

My last few meals in the city were splendid. Well, one was falafel and hummus at a Syrian restaurant — that was splendid and the other was pizza — that was okay. I think my bowels valued familiarity.  The food on the Air France flight was similar to Morocco, which shouldn’t surprise you because France colonized Morocco in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The quality of bread and cheese on the flight was more my style than in the village. I mean come on, who doesn’t love fancy cheese and croissants? 😉 I ate the inside of a Spinach burrito from Gorditos upon my return and I’m pretty sure my stomach brain just had an aneurysm. I haven’t had veggies aside from slivers of zucchini and carrots (and potatoes) in a month. It has no idea what to do with itself.

I’m struggling a bit as my stomach struggles to right itself, but that’s okay. I’m happy to be back in Seattle and pooping in a toilet that I don’t have to share with a gajillion other people… even if it has a toilet seat.

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Passport

I’m packing my belongings in a room in Chicago that smells of overpowering cat urine.  Staring at treetops over plant starts growing on the windowsill and wondering how my life will be different one month from now.  I’ll have been in Morocco for quite sometime and all of this may seem so small.  That’s what happens when I travel. My life in The States becomes much smaller.

My passport is in front of me and I just flipped through the pages with all the stamps from visas. There’s Republic of India, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Tanzania, Kenya, Jamaica, Republica Ferderativa Do Brasil, and Vietnam. Some stamps, some stickers, most old, a few relatively recent. I have traveled. Though I was labeled student when the majority of those visas were I assigned I still feel as such though currently traveling as teacher.

A friend of mine just returned from burying his mother in the traditional Islamic way — they handed him his mother’s coffinless body wrapped in a cloth and he helped lay her six feet below the surface in an Arizona desert facing east.  It broke him in many important ways and in some unimportant ones too. But during our conversation at midnight as he smoked and drank beer I could tell her death repaired him as well.  I cried last night thinking of my grandmother how, like he, I missed her death because I was too far away. And, like he, felt the pull to relocate to be closer to the remaining loved one.

Life happens like this; in bits and pieces never all at once.  We are changed by our momentary involvements but life is never changed by us. Too old for influence it bowls us over or passes us by, but doesn’t stop to check for a pulse.  I was changed by my travels. I was changed by the death of my grandmothers. I am changed by everything that happens to me.  There is something peaceful in that realization.  I am changed by everything. I wonder, how will I be different tomorrow.