Have you ever had to choose between your life and someone else’s? I felt like I had to do exactly that: I had to choose between keeping someone else alive and doing what I knew was right for me. If I left him, I knew I might receive a phone call telling me that I had caused him to overdose by leaving. But if I didn’t leave, I knew I’d be letting my own life slip through my hands.
The relationship I’m speaking of lasted a long three years, but it felt like a lifetime. Now, don’t get me wrong: It wasn’t always bad. When it was good, it was great. However, when it was bad, it was horrible. I felt trapped, like I was trying to cover up one love with another, and it eventually led me down a road I almost never came back from. A road that led down to destruction and a wild beast called heroin.
Before him, I hadn’t been around heroin much, but little did I know I was getting ready to become all too familiar with her. I was the one that always said I’d never touch a huge demon like heroin, let alone shoot that demon in my veins. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
At first, I was blinded and had no real idea what this demon was capable of. It wasn’t until after my boyfriend and I had both used together and were trying to get clean that I realized what we were up against. Before I finally got clean, I had gotten clean many times only to use again.
As a result of that experience, I knew that the only person that can get you clean is yourself. In other words, an addict has to want to change—no one else can force him to. Still, for some reason I thought I could fix him and make him better.
I thought I could help him. I was severely wrong.
I had been under the impression that he was clean many times, when in hindsight, I really wonder if he ever was. Because after I thought he was clean, I would find paraphernalia, then I knew he wasn’t. The worst was seeing him continue to live the life of an addict when we were supposed to be clean. We had made an agreement not to put ourselves in situations we knew we couldn’t handle. But it turns out I was the only one abiding by our agreement.
I felt trapped and lied to every day. But what I realized next changed my life.
I took it upon myself to stay with a friend for a week. It was not planned; one of those things that just kind of happened. However, it was the best decision that I could have ever made. Because after three long, exhausting years, I stepped out of my situation to see those three years for what they really were. I saw the pattern of addiction and depression in both of our lives and how it affected us and how it might never work between us, and I realized that I was done playing with my life.
Call me selfish, call me heartless, call me what you will—but there comes a time in life when you have to buck up and block unhealthy emotional attachment in order to see things the way they really are. During the week I was gone, I realized that I couldn’t fix him, and that if I didn’t leave the relationship my life wouldn’t go anywhere. I needed to get my life back on track. And I saw how many people were willing to help me do that when I got away from him.
It was horribly scary to make the final decision to leave him because I was so worried of that dreaded phone call. A phone call saying he has overdosed is the last thing I want, because I do care about him as a person. But because I stood up and took control and let go of my feelings for the first time, I am standing here today (though I still struggle, just like everyone else). And, by the grace of God, he is still alive.
Not everyone knows about this part of my life yet, so I feel like I’m coming clean all over again writing this piece. Yes, I am putting it all out there on the front street—because I never want anyone to go through what I did. Granted, I had to move an hour away and start my life completely over at the age of twenty-four. But looking back, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today had I stayed where I was.
Editor’s Note: If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction there are ways to find help, Call 1-800-662-HELP.
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