An Open Letter To The Addict I Love

You don’t know it but I love you.

You believe – that me not doing what you want means – I don’t love you.  You are wrong.

You believe that I have no idea about everything that you are going through.  You might be right there.  But I do know some things you are going through.  You, on the other hand, are not capable of knowing what I, and everyone else, am/is going through.

You are right that I won’t do what you want.  I refuse.  I absolutely refuse to do one single thing that will enable you to continue using and abusing drugs.  Using and abusing family.   And avoiding any responsibility for what you are doing in life.  I get it, horrible things happened to you.   And you choose to use instead of dealing with the pain of horrific events.  Part of me gets that.  Then there’s the part of me that doesn’t.  By avoiding all that was bad in your life you are completely void of creating and accepting the good.  You blame everyone for what happened, including God.  But you never stop to thank the world, or God, or the people you love-for loving you.   You can’t even see the good you had, and walked away from.

And yeah, you did, walk away.

You walked away from hard work that would have paid off.  Hard work that kept a home, provided for your family, and helped you deal with what happened.  Hard work doesn’t mean just getting up and going out to earn a living.  But hard and dirty emotional work in facing the demons that circle around you.  Hard work in facing those demons and beating them back to hell where they belong.  Instead you choose to ignore and turn your back on any hard work that would give you back control of your life.

I don’t minimize what happened to you.  And I don’t minimize the continued impact on your life.

There are some allowances many people make for people who were hurt as a child.

But one thing it does not grant you is a lifelong pass to hurt, abuse and exploit the rest of the world.

No matter how much I ache for your suffering I can’t abide your creating pain and suffering for others.

Here’s the kicker today, I’m pissed.  And you don’t care.  In addition to feeling pissed?  I feel guilty for being so angry at you.   And you don’t care about that either.  Why am I angry?  Not that you are capable of getting this but while you avoid this life we are in the midst of living it.  For years we have all been making do without you.   Getting by without you.  You think you’re the only one with a struggle?  You are not.  In addition to doing what we need to do to get by we have been grieving you nonstop.   Waiting.  Hoping.  Asking one another….have you heard anything?  And over this time period of forever you have set us up numerous times.  You’re going to get help.  You mean it this time.   You even “let” us get you in rehab.  Some of us recognized it for what it was.  You had no options and you played in to our eager-to-help hands.  You went because you thought it was the best thing at the time.  Not that you wanted to stop or get help.  But because you had no options and you were scared.  Even knowing what you were doing we allowed that glimmer of hope to waver and put a feeble root in our hearts.

Then you left rehab.

And continued right where you left off.

Scamming.

Stealing.

Breaking.  Every.  One’s.  Heart.

Again.

No matter your pain you have no right.

No right to abandon those little ones who wait and hope and dream about the day you return.

No right to fleece the one who gave you everything and then you stole what they no longer had to give.

No right to express anger at us who are not willing to throw away our lives.

No right to assign guilt to others for having, when you have not, when you aren’t willing to work for a damn thing.  And even when given a helping hand you blame the helpers for having what you do not.

Then a week ago you said you were ready for help.  Oh God the hope!  You reached out to say you would go today.  For the last week your mother waited.  Prayed.  Allowed you to once again set her up.  Because she believed.  Just like she did every single time up to this point.  She believed you would do it.  Believed you would want help.  Believed that you would see the value in you-that we all see.  In a dozen different locations we all sat in our various places in life.  Waiting.  Hoping.    Today, the day you said you were ready.  We were ready too.  We all believe in you despite what you have done.   Your value to us just is.   You are a person worthy of love and of no less value than any of us.  We value you.   Period.  We are ready for this.

But even in loving you, there is only so much we can do, and today was a turning point.   Today we want the enabling, every last morsel of it, to stop.  Today while we all waited, prayed, hoped, allowed that weakened strand of hope to reach in to us yet again.

Then I received the text:  “he did not show”.

You did not show.

And sitting in my car, next to my husband who was driving, I felt hope die.   The car vacuumed the air out of me.  My head dropped.  We hadn’t made any plans past today because in our basement sits a duffel bag full of clothes for you.   New underwear, socks, shirts, pants, jacket (I know it’s summer but we packed just a few months ago when we last hoped, and it was cold).  We were going to take it to you at rehab.  No plans past today because the important thing was you getting help.   We already knew we wouldn’t be able to see you.   But I looked forward to feeling at peace because I could have dropped it off knowing you were there.  Safe and getting help.

But you aren’t there.   And there is no peace in my heart.   Knowing you aren’t there means I return to what I’ve been doing the last few years.   Looking at every news story.  Watching for your face to have been arrested.   Or killed.

Do you know what I did last summer?    There was an article in the local paper.  A man your age, your description, found dead.  For two hours I was frantic.  I was convinced it was you.  I called the detective listed in the paper.  The detective they said to contact if you might know who the man was because he had not been identified.   I called and spoke to a kind detective.  He said the person had been identified.  I told him I didn’t know if he could tell me who it was.  He asked me for your name.   I told him.   And when I said your name I cried.  I fucking cried.  And that very brief fraction of a second between me saying your name and the detective’s response, froze my heart.  The detective told me it was not you.  And I cried again.  Because it gave me more hope.   I was relieved to go back to this constant fear of losing you.

Do you have any idea how many of these horrible stories there are every day?

And do you have any idea how many tentacles of hope are once again reaching out to me, and to everyone else who loves you, every time it turns out to not be you?  How many times we’ve held our breath for days and weeks and months on end.   Then we allow a breath out, and in, again.

I could go on and on.  I know,  to you,  our stories of suffering don’t compare to yours.   I know our lives look ‘good’ to you.  I just want you to know that for every thing in our life that is good?  There is always something wrong, something missing, something not right in our worlds.  And that is you.   Missing you.  Wanting you healthy.  Wishing you to know the joy and reward of working through this addiction and suffering.  And come back.  We need you.

I should only speak for myself but I suspect others feel like I do.   My world is not complete without you.  And even though you exist you are not here.  It’s as if my life is a huge picture, full of wonderful people, events, and experiences.  And there, right there, see it?  Is the place in the shape of you.  You cut yourself out and removed yourself.

I am helpless over your choices.  And I am helpless over your addiction.

Part of me believes you will read this.

And when  you do you will read my words but not believe me.

But here’s my truth.   I will not help you destroy yourself or anyone else.  I’m angry at you, I don’t hate you.  I hope you know the difference.  I hate your addiction, never you.  I hate what you choose over the rest of us, never you.   I hate your selfish and destructive behaviors, never you.

I love you.

And you don’t believe it.

You are the only one who doesn’t believe you are loved.