Against my better judgment, I opened the door.
Later, I told my friends and family that I didn’t let D in. It’s even embarrassing to admit it here. However, if I’m going to be honest, then I have to mention it all—even the moments I wish I could erase.
“Here’s your FAKE KEY,” D snarled.
“God, you scared the shit out of me,” I said. I was standing in my kitchen in a tank top and undies, with my hair a complete mess and my heart beating loudly.
“Glad you got the locks changed so quickly,” he said.
“Well,” I said, gesturing to him standing there.
He started to cry.
“You don’t understand how hard this is for me,” he said. “You have to take me back.”
It was too late. My walls were built. I knew I couldn’t accept D back unless he got help and got sober. I told him all I could offer him was a friendship.
“This is the hardest time in my life and you’re just going to be my friend through it?” he asked. “I want you to be my girlfriend.”
That wasn’t going to happen. I knew if I took him back he would never get help. He leaned in to kiss my neck; I turned away.
“I can’t even turn you on anymore,” he said. “Just let me sleep on your couch and I’ll be gone in the morning.”
When he left early the next morning, he sent me an email.
“You getting your locks changed so quickly made me realize that it’s really over.”
Whatever. I was so over his passive-aggressive attitude. Obviously it was a good idea to get the locks changed—what if I hadn’t? He was just going to waltz into my apartment while I was sleeping? And then what? Climb into bed?
I really needed answers. Why did this happen to me? If D loved me, why couldn’t he just stop drinking? How had I ended up here?
I looked for books on alcoholism, hoping to find some resolve. I dowloaded “Reclaim Your Life: You and the Alcoholic/Addict” onto my iPad and got to reading. Author Carole Bennett, MA was married to an alcoholic who made it through a Twelve Step recovery program. But even as a sober person, their marriage couldn’t last. She now works as a counselor for addicts and their families.
Her book pointed out the stages of drunk, which fit D to a T, and she offered tiers for the “Pyramid of Change.” D was at Tier #3:
The situation has become more untenable or out of control, and the person’s actions are now interfering with your day-to-day responsibilities and routines. Financial and/or legal ramifications may now be part of the landscape. The prospective alcoholic/addict concedes that their behavior has caused more problems and again guarantees to right the wrong. The person is genuinely sorry for their actions and promises to take the necessary steps to fix the problem. You trust them, as you feel you have no choice, but you are uncertain about what tomorrow might bring. You see some change, and the skittish behavior is tethered. You may start to breathe a sigh of relief, but nonetheless you are anxious.
I got loose with the digital highlighter, noting lines that resonated with me:
- As families, you are a special, silent group that deals with frustration, anger, and heartache on an almost daily basis. You, too, are desperate for help the same way that alcoholic/addicts feel their own desperation. (11)
- “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it.” (13)
- Your loved one may sulk and pout like a child in the hope of making you feel guilty. This person wants you to overlook that they did not adhere to the plan. Don’t budge! (125)
- Keep in mind this exercise is about you, not them! (126)
- Fundamentally, a person with addiction issues would prefer negative attention to no attention at all. (130-131)
- Whether you’re talking about addiction or what time to plan for dinner, the alcoholic/addict often lives in their own world, miles away from your world and whatever you’re discussing. (131)
- You’ve changed course and gone against the grain of what you both have become used to. (132)
- By not engaging, you are in control of your own actions and reactions. (133)
- Most likely, after years of manipulative conversations and actions with your loved ones, they know what kind of response they will evoke in you. If you pause, stay neutral, and don’t engage, then you can put yourself in control. (160)
- Addiction is never cured, merely arrested. That said, like any disease, it is also harder to understand this when you don’t have the disease. (178)
- Being physically clean and sober is very different than being emotionally and psychologically clean and sober. (180)
- As caring, compassionate people, we naturally and instinctively want to protect and help our loved ones. (186)
- Chances are you have probably ignored the fun and exciting things in your life. Recapture those! Reinstate old passion or find a new one that you can sink your teeth into and look forward to participating in. (216)
- Remember that no matter how hard you try, or how important it may be to you, if the alcoholic/addict does not want to alter their lifestyle, then there is nothing you can do or say that will change their mind. (224)
- It is only normal that you resent that person for not only messing up their own life but for creating chaos in many other lives. (260)
And one in particular that captured just how I felt:
Though difficult, please try and remember that a few years of discomfort, uncertainty, and fear are better than years and years of an agonizing and miserable commitment. Some may feel that they are a failure if they abandon their relationship. Coming to this conclusion and realizing that the end is upon you can actually be incredibly empowering. Take some comfort in knowing that you have taken control of the situation. Sometimes it’s the bravest option since it requires you to face what you might think of as a failure. But it is not a failure. In life, there really is no such thing as a crash and burn scenario; there are only lessons to be learned for a better, healthier go around the next time. (292)
I did feel like a failure. I felt like, although D said he loved me, it wasn’t enough to get him to stop drinking. Part of me even felt guilty that I couldn’t love D for who he was. After all, if I truly did, couldn’t I have stomached the drinking?
I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I kept telling myself that rationale was not a part of D’s addiction, so I shouldn’t try to look for reason. But I was in a dark place.
What happened over the next few weeks was a blur.
D took me to lunch for my birthday (around July 2), we kissed, he told me he loved me, and that he was still planning on going to counseling so we could get back together. He tried to meet up several times before I left town during the week of July 9, 2013.
We emailed some during my trip, but the vibe was different. He was distant and I was certain he was dating someone else. Leave it to an insecure addict to catch a rebound, right?
But every time I asked him to tell me the truth about his relationship status, he told me he wasn’t seeing anyone.
His collection of emails confirmed he still wanted to get back together:
- Monday, July 8 @ 4:36 p.m.—just miss u thats all. [my daughter] and i went and ate at lava, which made me miss u tons being around there.
- Friday, July 12 @ 9:26 a.m.— u disappeared on me, i love you and i know i messed up but i didn’t want you to disappear in the beginning
- Saturday, July 13 @ 10:52 a.m.— Holly what’s your deal? I’m so lost on this situation and I don’t know where you at babe.
- Saturday, July 13 @ 11:47 a.m.— When are you coming back babe?
- Saturday, July 13 @ 12:08 p.m.— family night monday woman!
- Sunday, July 14 @ 1:20 a.m.—I want this to work come on holly
- Sunday, July 14 @ 1:43 a.m.— I didn’t see what u said holly I promise. Lets get back to where we were please
- Sunday, July 14 @ 2:24 a.m.—I really don’t drink anymore
- Sunday, July 14 @ 2:46 a.m.— Text me my phone is fixed I miss you holly. Even though u don’t think I miss u and love you
I felt like if I could manage having D in my life as a friend, I’d have the best of both worlds. So, we agreed to have a family night. I cleared my Monday night schedule, only to have him cancel on me last minute.
I asked him again if he was seeing someone. He denied it, and I persisted, saying it was cool if he was since we were broken up.
“She works at [the restaurant] with you, I bet,” I said. “And she’s also fat, right?”
He laughed, and told me I was crazy. Meh, maybe.
His back and forth behavior continued for the next week; I wondered if he was attempting to “punish” me for dumping him.
On a particularly low day, I snapped. I asked D if I could see him; I needed to see him; I needed to understand why he was treating me this way. He said he was cleaning. I told him I’d reached my limit; I didn’t get why he was acting this way. He obliged and came over, crawling into my bed like old times.
He was wearing a bright yellow t-shirt that smelled familiarly of detergent. He rolled in closer to kiss me, following our familiar dance. It was over rather quickly.
“Did you finish already?” I asked him.
He nodded, “It’s been a really long time…I’m sorry.”
We’d been broken up for exactly one month.
I saw my counselor that evening and told him I was having a difficult time understanding what things D was saying was the addiction talking or actually him.
“It’s been my experience that anyone who has an addiction… you can’t trust a word they say,” he told me.
The next morning, I texted D and got no reply.
I panicked. I’d made a HUGE mistake in sleeping with him (no shit) and now he wasn’t even talking to me.
When he finally did respond, he told me I was crazy, that he was sick of “dealing” with me, and that he wanted his TV back.
That damn TV.
I went into a bathroom stall at work and cried, DJ Tanner style. I called my mom, who suggested just cutting D out of my life—a plan that I knew was the best, but I was terrified. I decided to make a plan with D; schedule a time for him to get his TV back, and then be done with it, no matter what.
“Leave your apartment unlocked Friday,” he said.
“Okay,” I replied.
He had to have lost his damn mind if he thought I was going to leave my apartment unlocked for his crazy ass. My plan was to drag the TV into my apartment complex’s hallway, and he could get it there. If someone stole it before his arrival, it wasn’t my problem.
Friday morning, complete with hangover, I worked to get the TV into the hallway, covered it with a beach towel and went to work.
“TV is ready for pickup!” I texted D at 7:15 a.m.
“You know he’s not coming to get it, right?” my dad asked me later that morning.
I knew 100% that D wouldn’t come to get the TV. He would have a bullshit excuse, like always, and/or he wanted to use that as the final reason to keep contacting me. But I was done.
“Can’t make it today,” he texted back around 1 p.m.
I didn’t reply.
On the morning of Wednesday, July 31, 2013 @ 12:46 a.m., D sent me the following text:
“I think I made a huge mistake.”
When I saw the text later that morning, my first thought was, “Wow, score one for the Manipulative Tactics Team!”
His text was so vague it almost demanded a response. That is, if I gave a shit.
I was over it. Yes, D, you definitely made a huge mistake. In fact, you made SEVERAL huge mistakes.
Over the next two weeks, he continued to send me texts that went unanswered before he finally got the hint that I was ignoring him.
The days following his digital departure were quite blissful. My life was getting back to normal—how it was “Pre-D.” I was going on dates, meeting people, and doing well at the office. Things were looking up.
One Monday, I was stuck in meetings all morning; standard. One had just wrapped up when a colleague pulled me into the hallway.
“Hey Holly, listen, I know we hardly ever talk but I am just loving reading your blog!” she said, laughing.
“Wow, thanks so much,” I said.
“Yeah, um wait, there’s something else,” she said, whispering. “I was reading the blog not knowing who this ‘D’ person was…but, I know his girlfriend.”
TO BE CONTINUED…
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