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[ Staff Picks ] [ Opinion ]

Dear Drugs: It’s Not You, It’s Me

I am not in love with you. You held me when I was alone, but you terrified me too. As much as I hated you, I desired you. I could not breathe without you. There was never one moment, one breath, one thought, one sentence, one line, where I did not inhale you as if you were necessary to life.

I loathed you. And I couldn’t leave. I knew that you were hurtful and harmful and dangerous. I knew you would abuse me, and beat me, and mutilate me. You would leave me bleeding on the floor all night. And wake up the next day, to say: “I am sorry my gorgeous queen. I love you.” Come back home.

You would pick me up softly, with your scent. You would put your lips against my neck, and whisper softly in my ear…“just one more time, just one more time…”

And I would forgive you.

I remember the ritual, the crushing & the snorting – the swallowing & the smoking – I remember every moment of you, even when I don’t want to.

There were moments I was so completely terrified; I couldn’t even see. My friends tried to stop me. They said you were awful and abusive. They begged me to give you up. They said you were going to kill me one day.

I believed them…But I loved you.

Do you remember our first dance? In Barcelona? I was feverish and sick and a friend introduced me. She said you would help me. You’d make me feel better. I remember that night like it was yesterday. You were so beautiful when you slept.

For many years, we were off and on. I couldn’t commit. You weren’t available. I stayed away. You chased me. We loved and we laughed and then you would leave. I would die inside, shrivel up on a couch and sweat. My legs would go restless. I would cry. I missed you. You were haunting.

Why did you have to hurt me so bad? You started changing. I started changing because you were changing. I lost faith in you. You used to be my light. You sung to me and danced with me at parks. You walked on the ocean and tucked me into my sweet home in Santa Monica. You existed in me.

When I tried to run. When I wanted to leave. You’d slam the door shut. You would barricade me in. I felt weak and unsteady. You didn’t make me happy anymore. And yet I knew, life could not go on without you. We were far too deep. Far too toxic to each other, but so enmeshed that when I bled, you bled.

The doctors told me to leave you. That if I left you, I would get better. But, I was tired without you. I couldn’t wake up without you. I couldn’t face life without you. These things all seemed impossible.

There were interventions and rearrangements. People hated you. Like, literally told me you should die. And I just couldn’t. I told them to fuck off. How dare they? Who did they think they were keeping us apart?

They didn’t understand love.

I guess you were finally charged somehow. I know you disappeared. It wasn’t slowly. It was quick and hard when you left. People told me that we were killing each other.

And I thought, well, maybe I wanted to die.

I heard you were jailed, committed. I’d been committed to. No one could handle us together. My mom told me she was dying inside. That our relationship made her physically sick. My dad had quadruple bypass surgery a year before we reunited in Malibu. His heart couldn’t take it anymore.

You kept telling me everything was fine. I didn’t need to worry. You’d make the decisions for me. But you lied, as always. The struggle of our goodbye could be a love story. It is a love story. You gave me so much material.

Some nights, I wake up hot and sweaty and flush. My heart is beating rapidly. I’m in shock. You feel too real in my dreams. Far too real. I don’t love you anymore. I have made this clear. I think you finally understand. But I imagine you are just out there abusing someone else, repeating the cycle.

We were living in the depths of hell and we kept going deeper and deeper and deeper. You said you could make your own heaven.

I think of you still. Not in fondness or joy or love. I think of how I conquered you. How I am a warrior for leaving you. Even if I left you over and over and over again. At least, I tried. Some people don’t even try.

Days are easier now. I don’t wake up thinking about you. I remember the first couple months, I never thought a second could go by without thinking of you. I kept myself busy. There was too much loneliness.

I fought hard. But there is redemption on the other side. I still have your scars. They are permanent.

You are the type to leave scars. I stare at my hand some days. I relive our war on the brink of my right thumb. I am still traumatized.

There are things I can’t do and don’t do because of you.

Do you know Nayyirah Waheed? She is a poet. She says:

I guess I lived through a war. I hear I am brave. I hear that I have climbed Mt. Everest by leaving you. I hear I am a better person. Do you know people look up to me now? It’s kinda crazy and weird and magical, in a way.

I know you would say: “YOU?!? What could you possibly offer the world? You are flawed and miserable.”

But, you don’t know me anymore. I read more. I know I lost my books when we were together. I know hundreds of poems are missing from my life. I am sure you have them. You are the type to steal things.

But, I read again. I find joy in it. I write too. I’ve written a couple poems, but nothing like the time in which we were together.

I still question myself. I still say “Who am I do to this?” “What could I ever offer?”

The good thing is you are not directly in my ear anymore. You don’t whisper the sweet nothings. I can’t hear you fully. Your voice is slowly drowning.

This letter is more for me, than for you. I just thought you should know how I am. And in doing so, I am reminded of who I am. I can’t believe how strong I am. I’ve left you. I am happy without you.

I believe in God. And He believes in me too.

My family has dinner every week. My dad looks at me like he recognizes me again. Remember, I told you how he used to look through me? He never said it, but his eyes read: “you are not my daughter.”

I have two nieces. My sister even asked me to be in the delivery room with her. I got to see my second niece be born. She is the most joyful baby on the planet. She likes to shuffle mashed potatoes into her mouth. I’m a Godmother too. I am trusted to guide my niece spiritually. My family believes in me again. It’s a slow process gaining trust but it happens.

I’ve made amends with some people you might remember. They forgave me. They cried when I asked how I could make things right. People from my past keep telling me they are proud of me. Sometimes, I am shocked at this.

It’s hard ya know? I was so fucked up; I can’t even remember all the people I harmed. I don’t remember months of my life.

The harder thing is that what I remember is the hard parts, the awful parts. Like pushing my mom. Or being locked up in handcuffs and walked through my apartment complex by the police. I imagine my old roommates hate me. I would hate me too.

I remember telling my dad he was not my father or showing up 3 hours late to Christmas because I was ingesting you. I remember ignoring phone calls from my sister and shutting off all the people who loved me most. I remember the terror. The nights I couldn’t live through. The hallucinations and the words and the fights. I remember that clearly.

You were a part of it all.

My life is so much better without you. When I feel sadness or pain, I don’t even think of you. I think of breath work or prayer or reaching out for help. It must be shocking to know I’ve made it nearly 3 years without you. I could hardly make a minute without you.

I am healthy now. You can’t see my bones anymore. I smile too. I laugh. I make people feel good. I’m proud of myself. Your memory sometimes makes it hard, because it’s still haunting.

But, I remind myself I am alive and breathing. I am here without you.

And even though you never apologized and never will, I forgive you.

I really do.