I hate to generalize, but I’m going to anyway: addicts love to justify, excuse, and rationalize their behavior. I know because I am one – now sober for over twenty years from cocaine.
My first marriage was to an addict.
I am, once again, married to an addict.
See a pattern? Yeah, me, too. Embarrassingly enough, it took almost a year of therapy for that tidbit to reveal itself. I digress.
My current husband is a recovering sex addict, and he’s been sober for almost a year. My first husband, who was also my high school sweetheart, was a cokehead like me; he’s deceased from a motorcycle accident 15 years ago.
I met “Senior” when I was 15 and he was 16 and we were normal, regular teens. We smoked a little weed, drank beer on the weekend, and every so often did a hit or two of acid or mescaline. No big deal when I grew up in the eighties.
This snippet comes from a time when I justified, excused, and rationalized like the addict I was and, instead of hitting rock bottom, embraced denial.
Senior and I shared a dilapidated house in a crappy part of town with Anthony. It wasn’t much of a home, but at the age of 18, it was mine and Senior’s and Anthony’s. Anthony was our roommate and a drug dealer, which was quite convenient, contributing to our demise and fueling our addiction.
Senior and I had an agreement: I would never, ever go to college high and he would never, ever go to work high. It made us feel as though we were in control of our drug use. Rationalization at its best.
Senior and I abided by this agreement throughout our drug use days. Somehow it made us feel superior to the people around us.
Trust me: we weren’t.
We managed to fit in more drug use in those short hours after school and work every single day than most other users did all week. Yet we managed to delude ourselves we were the “smart” ones of the bunch.
Anthony’s agreement with us was that he’d only deal weed and coke. He could stay with us for free as long as he supplied us with the drugs we wanted, as often as we wanted. It worked out great for all three of us for quite some time.
I was used to watching random people come in and out of my house. Some would stay for minutes, others for days. I recall some staying for weeks at a time.
However, the “vibe” of the house began to change. It became more Anthony’s house than ours. His paranoia was increasing: he had deadbolts installed on his bedroom door, he placed baby monitors outside doorways, and the smell coming from bedroom – well, it was unfamiliar to Senior and me. We tried to talk to him about it, but Anthony was high ALL of the time now. A strange, scary kind of high we couldn’t place.
I came home from school one day and saw Anthony’s door was actually open for a change, but noticed he had one of the living room chairs blocking the doorway into his bedroom. I figured he had someone in there with him getting high and proceeded into the bathroom adjacent to his room.
As I sat on the toilet, I noticed three small holes in the wall. It took a second or two for me to register that the holes actually went all the way through the bathroom wall and into Anthony’s room. I could see into his room through the damn holes!!
My gut knotted. Something wasn’t right.
I realized I still hadn’t heard anything from his room since I walked in.
Holes in the wall.
Could he be dead?
I peered through the holes and saw him on his bed, smoking a cigarette.
Whew, not dead.
Okay, then why the holes? They were definitely bullet holes.
I thought to myself, “Whatever it was, it’s obviously over, and besides, I can see he’s got coke on his desk.” I flushed the toilet, washed my hands and stepped outside the bathroom door.
Anthony was already inside his doorway, feet away from me as I stepped into the hallway. He had moved that quickly from his bed to the doorway – it took only seconds.
“Hey Ant, got a line?” I asked him, leaning over the green velvet living room chair that was keeping us apart. My eyes drank in his room and I could see where one of bullets ended up, in his closet door, on the other side of the room.
I glanced at the desk beside me, saw the coke, and the addict in me screamed. I looked back at Anthony, waiting not so patiently for an answer.
Fuck the bullet holes, I really wanted to push him and the chair out of my way and get to that mirror with the pile of blow on it and start shoving it up my nose! He’d probably been partying all day!
I’d been stuck in class all day, now it was my turn to party. I felt myself get twitchy from having to wait. The feeling of “it’s there, but not there, so close but so far.” If you’re an addict, you know it, and it’s awful.
I glanced back to the desk, back to Anthony, and I saw the pistol he used in the bathroom.
I figured he was waiting for me to ask so I said, “Why are there bullet holes in the bathroom, Ant?”
“Fucking cockroaches. I hate ‘em.”
He reached over and grabbed the mirror off the desk and slid off a line for me. Finally! My body exhaled and tensed all at once. I felt my pulse quicken with anticipation.
I didn’t care about the cockroaches. They were a dime a dozen where we lived. Why he would decide to shoot them that day, in our bathroom, didn’t even strike me as being unusual.
I just wanted my fix, which he had in his hand still. I was getting pretty pissed by now. Just give me the damn line already! I just needed one to help get me started with my homework.
“What the hell Anthony, gimme a line!” I raised my voice.
“I will.” He taunted me with the cocaine. He passed the mirror before me. Right under my nose. Inches from my face. If I breathed too hard, or God forbid, if I sneezed, we were both screwed. Hundreds of dollars lost! It’d be at least an hour, maybe even two hours before it’d be replaced.
As he passed the mirror by my face I saw him move with his other hand but my eyes were glued to the coke. He put the mirror back on the desk and the knot in my stomach moved into my throat. The anticipation of getting high has turned into the fear of something unknown.
Anthony continued, “You’ll get your coke when you tell me where it is. Where did you put it?”
My mind began to race. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. My eyes scanned the room again.
There were two empty packets, not one. Why two? Think!!
There was also a needle on the floor by the bed with a tie-off. Okay. Someone had been shooting up in here. But shooting up what? Coke? Heroin?
Had Anthony started shooting up now, too? Was the second packet for heroin or did he do so much coke he’s just that fucked up in the head right now?
My eyes went back to the pistol on the desk. I’d been around guns for a long time. I’d been taught how to use them, so I wasn’t afraid to shoot someone if I had to. I didn’t think so, anyway. But, he was blocking me, and so was the chair.
Suddenly, Anthony screamed at the top of his lungs. Asking me where it is, where did I put it? Did I sell it? Did I use it? I was petrified (and remember thinking, even in that state, that I was glad I had just used the bathroom). It was then that he pulled the shotgun from the side of the chair, hidden beside the desk.
It was Senior’s .30-.30, his favorite hunting rifle. Anthony put the barrel of the rifle to my forehead (oddly, it wasn’t cold like I thought it would be) and he began yelling the same questions over and over again.
Instead of embracing the fear that was growing within me, I felt a sense of absolute calm settle over me. I knew with every fiber of my being that Anthony was not going to shoot me. He was not the one that would end my life. Not that day.
In a calm and rational voice, while looking him in the eyes (and his eyes were purely crazed), I told him, “I don’t have anything of yours. Think about it, Anthony, I haven’t been here all day. I just got home from school. Put the gun down and I’ll help you look for it.”
Sure enough, he did.
I found out later that he had been speedballing for weeks.
Unfortunately, this incident was not my rock bottom. I merely went into denial for another year. However, it made me realize I have the ability to reach inside me and find inner strength, even when times seem dismal and scary and beyond hope.
I have reflected much upon this incident. Although it occurred during a dark period in my life, it still brings me strength. I reach back to that person with the shotgun to her forehead quite often and remember who I am at my inner core.