The following conversation took place in a living room in Cincinnati between two reunited friends, Tyler and Forest, and an interviewer, David.
Tyler: We met on the school bus. He was wearing Vans shoes—I always wore Van shoes—and I asked him if he skated. He saw my “misfits” t-shirt and he asked me if I’m into punk rock. We clicked right away. That first day we met, we hung out after school; we went skating. I was 17, he was about 15. Within a couple weeks, he told me that he always wanted an older brother, and that’s what I was. And I got a younger brother.
Forest: What bonded us so close together was how similar we are.
Tyler: And all the problems that we’ve had in our lives. He helped me get through mine, and I helped him get through his. Before I met him, I was drinking heavy, smoking mass pot, and taking a lot of pills. I was fourteen when my girlfriend passed, and basically it got to the point where I couldn’t handle missing her. I tried fixing the hole in my heart with sex, drugs, and relationships. I was cheating in my relationships—but none if it helped. I was like a baby trying to put a star shape into a square shape. I had a hole in my heart, and I was filling it with the wrong things.
Forest: I was also trying to mask pain with any kind of high that I could find, just to get my mind off of it for that time being.
David: How did you help each other?
Forest: We were just together.
Tyler: When he broke up with his girlfriend, I gave him the shoulder he needed to cry on. I was there for him to talk to, and I helped him get his mind off of it. It was like the more he hung out with me, the less he thought about her. That’s honestly what kept the drugs at bay—what made me slow down was having somebody to talk to.
When my girlfriend died, I didn’t talk to anybody about it. I didn’t even tell my therapist—I just couldn’t do it. The first person I actually opened up to was this guy [Forest]. It was the third day we hung out.
First off, you got to understand my whole life has been nothing but pressure. It’s not like he forced it out of me, he was just there and showed me that he cared. He was having a rough time, and I had a lot of trust and faith in him. He felt like a brother already. It took a lot for me to tell him that. It took a lot for me to open up like that—it took me four years. Four years and lots of meaningless sex. Four years and a lot of drug abuse. Four years of depression and sadness. And this guy helped me through it all.
Forest: When [Tyler] first started getting into meth, I didn’t know what was going on. I had some people telling me things that he was getting on it, but I didn’t know who to believe because he was telling me he wasn’t. But he was acting different—
Tyler: —I acted like I didn’t give a shit. I was there, just disconnected. I was still emotionally there, but if something happened to me I didn’t care.
Forest: Yeah, it was just different. I started— I don’t want to say avoiding; just the people he was around a lot, I didn’t like to be around them—so I started to distance myself a little bit…. I ended up moving out of town, and I didn’t have the urge to even message him at all. I didn’t want to be around.
Tyler: The longer we were away from each other, the worse [the drugs] got.
Forest: But in the back of my mind, I figured it was something you needed to do yourself. I didn’t feel like I was able to help.
Tyler: But honestly, I was still at the beginning stages and it was eating me up that I was doing it. So if someone close to me would have said, “Hey, man, you need to stop what you’re doing,” it might have helped.
David: Forest, how did you feel when you found out that Tyler was using meth?
Forest: I felt betrayed. He always promised me that he wouldn’t be on anything. So I felt betrayed. He eventually told me—and I didn’t say anything back…. I just kind of lived my own life then. I stayed in my punk rock van.
David: How does drug use affect a friendship?
Forest: When you’re heavily addicted to something—whether pills or coke or meth—you’re not the same person. You’ll do absolutely anything to get that next buzz. It makes you an absolutely different person. You’ll push everybody out of your life: friends, family. It’s a hard thing to get out of an addiction. But when you think about other people that you’re affecting, it’s almost like a suicide. It’s a very selfish thing to do: because what are you doing to other people around you by doing this?
David: Tyler, what was your friendship with Forest like during your meth addiction?
Tyler: Honestly, him leaving didn’t help my situation. I felt like he abandoned me—and my whole life I’ve felt abandoned. I was already going down a bad road, and with him not being around, I kind of lost my conscience. I had nothing…. I got new friends, and guess what? They had better and bigger and badder drugs. I didn’t have anybody around that cared about me at the time, so I didn’t care. If I overdosed, I didn’t care. I didn’t have any girl that I had to call mine. I didn’t have anybody there that (1) was telling me I was messing up, and (2) saying that you need to stop. I didn’t have anybody.
David: How did you get in touch with each other again?
Forest: He had messaged me on Facebook, and said, “Forest, I’m clean. I have a new girl that I’m probably going to be married to. And I have a new kid. I want you to go and meet your goddaughter.”
That was a shock. Honestly, I couldn’t believe that he had picked me [to be the godfather] after not being around for so long. But it was a happy feeling, and I ended up moving in with him for about two months.
Tyler: Well, it was the first sober thinking I had in years. It was my fault that we quit hanging out. I didn’t know what I did to push him away. I know I changed a little bit. It was more or less a way to let him know I quit, and that I was sorry that I did whatever I did to push him away. In my mind I was making amends for what I did to push people away.
About the time that I learned that Izzy was conceived, the first thought that went through my head was, “What if I’m not here to take care of her? Who is going to get my baby? I want it to be someone I know and trust.” And I trusted Forest.
Forest: A real friend is always going to be there for you when you need them. You may have people that you think are friends, but if you’re stranded in a ghetto at 3:00 am, a true friend will come and get you. If I were to call Tyler at any time during the middle of the night, he would come and pick me up. I know he would. No matter how bad it inconvenienced him.
Tyler: Hell, wasn’t there a time when I carried you home?
Tyler: I picked him up like a fireman, and took him home for a mile or two.
David: Tyler, what is true friendship?[Points to Forest] This is. When you can pretty much do anything to your friend, and it be forgiven. When you can go through that kind of hardship and still be friends—that’s true friendship. A true friend accepts. It’s better to forgive and still be there for the person than to completely leave…. And don’t be like me either and don’t start getting addicted to drugs. Because that doesn’t just affect you; it affects everyone around you.