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.