This is how bad at relationships I am: I wait until twenty-four hours after things start to get better to share my painting from when things were still fucked up – thereby risking that they get fucked up again. Actually, that’s bullshit – I don’t think this is going to fuck anything up. I’m just not comfortable sharing this ’cause I think it makes me sound petty and immature. I don’t need to write a statement for this piece because it’s got all the text it needs right on the canvas. Here’s what it says…
I didn’t cry. Well, no, when it got bad, I did. But pre-addiction, if I cried, it was usually fake. To show a girl how hurt I was. It was emotional manipulation. But at my worst, I’d break down and cry. Then I went away to treatment and I watched other people cry. But I didn’t. Still “in,” a year later, I started. Like all the time. I was a mess but I was getting better. Then I “got” “better” and I stopped.
I have an idea for a cartoon. It won’t be hard to make. People will like it. But I just wanna cry. But I don’t do that anymore. I can still force myself. I can fake it. But I don’t do it for real. I’m not holding back tears because I’m not in the kind of emotional state in which they can even begin to form.
The question of “what I wanted to do for my birthday” never came up. Maybe that’s my fault, but there were already other plans and I didn’t want to be disagreeable. Am I being crazy though to feel like I should have never been in that position? Is it unreasonable to think I should have been asked?
She’s not at all mean or selfish. She had good intent. But this gets to what was under my skin the other day. That we just might not be on the same page. We might not be right for each other. And that’s what I’m actually upset about.
On the ride home, I wanted her and told her so. She said she had to be up early for work in the morning. I guess I understand that but – at the same time – it’s my birthday and I guess I sort of thought she’d want to do whatever for me. And it makes me sad that she didn’t just want me the way that I wanted her.
I don’t think it’s supposed to be this way. I think something’s missing. She says otherwise but I can’t imagine that she gets what she needs out of me / this relationship. Which is why I feel guilty whenever I bring this stuff up. It’s not like I’m so great.
This is the story stripped of all its detail (at its vaguest). I write that way for myself. To keep the focus on my feelings. Even though I know it’ll be less satisfying for anyone else. Less “entertaining.” I enjoy an audience but I won’t cater to it. Not with this kind of work anyway.
I enjoy the sentiment of self-pity but not when its point of origin is with me. This feels like self-pity and it makes me feel embarrassed.
I wonder what I’m saying without realizing it. What I want this to say (or think it says) and what it actually says are probably wildly different. [I’m probably an asshole].
So that’s the text on the canvas… Have I embarrassed myself enough for one day? Great! Here are links to the other pieces in what might as well be considered the “series” to which this one belongs.
In the last months of 2012, I was inpatient at Tranquil Shores and taking my recovery really seriously. My general mood and outlook were more positive and upbeat than at any point prior in my life; things were going well – most of the time. When they weren’t, it was bad. I had learned to deal with some emotional triggers but others could still set me off in an instant. I was breaking down in a mess of tears constantly [and, historically, crying wasn’t something I had done very often]. The treatment team was really happy with my progress but were discussing the option of adding an antipsychotic to my daily prescription. Personally, I was 100% on board with the idea at the time. The way I felt most of the time was great. I just wanted to stop falling apart for two hours every other day.
There was something else going on though that was tearing me up and that I wasn’t talking about. There was this girl. And though (for the first time) I cared enough about “playing by the rules” (for the sake of my recovery) to not turn it into a sexual relationship, we were very much emotionally invested in one another. And the kinds of little things that chip away at my soul whenever I’m involved with any girl (coupled with the shame of having to lie to my counselor to keep it a secret) were killing me.
Eventually, I came clean about the whole thing. Alexis denied it but she was leaving Tranquil Shores in a week or so anyway. That confession was the catalyst that finally kicked my recovery into gear (for real). There was no need to talk about anti-psychotics after that. When she left, still denying everything though, I figured it was all over between us. It hurt but what could I do?
In the last week of December, she got in touch with me and we started talking again. She still saw her [also my] counselor on an outpatient basis and she had gotten honest and confessed that everything I had said was true. We had both been advised that we shouldn’t be speaking with one another until we had a better grip on exactly what was going on between us, but I was so excited to find that she was no longer furious with me (and wanted to see me) that I didn’t care. On December 30th, I snuck out of Tranquil Shores and she picked me up down the street. At the end of the night when she dropped me off to sneak back in, I could have skipped back to Tranquil Shores; I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I didn’t get caught and we made plans to meet up again the next night: New Year’s Eve.
I played it cool and waited all day for her to hit me up. Nothing. I tried her phone. Nothing. And then four more days of the same.
She had relapsed… right? The night that we were together, she had told me that that it had been on her mind a lot but that she had held strong. That was the way I usually talked to people on the occasions that I had already relapsed, but I took her word for it. I had to because I so badly wanted it to be true. It was obvious now though. Our night together had been incredible. She apologized for denying everything initially (in fear) and said that she had been dying to talk to / see me, but needed to sort through her feelings first. She had done that though now, she said, and she told me she was more in love with me than she had ever been in love with anyone and that there was no doubt in her mind that her love was real, authentic, and deep. You don’t disappear on someone for five days after saying some shit like that. It wasn’t the behavior of someone “living a program.” I didn’t know what to do. She might be dead. [People that start shooting up again after a period of clean time have an incredibly high rate of overdose]. Two friends of mine had already overdosed in the last two months. I feared the worst and it ate away at me.
In those five days, I exercised self-discipline like never before. I only allowed myself to try and reach her once or twice a day and I kept myself busy and focused around the clock with my art and my treatment plan. I was a ball of anxiety but I was extremely proud of the way that I didn’t completely lose my fucking mind. I felt like I had bullets under my skin, bouncing around my skeleton… but I managed.
Late afternoon, January 5th, I got a text: “hi sammy.”
HOLY FUCKING SHIT.
“Hey! Where have you been? Are you okay? I’m so happy to hear from you! Call me!”
She called later that night. It was … off. She didn’t sound high, but she wasn’t exactly coherent either. Above all though, she stressed that I didn’t have anything to worry about – and she asked if she could see me tomorrow [Sunday] night. “Of course.”
Those weren’t my only plans for the day: Taylor was coming to visit. I had been looking forward to it for at least a month. I got all my little papers to my counselor, got them stamped, signed, approved, and sent over to property staff. Everything was in order. It was the first time I’d get to see her since Labor Day, 2011 – when we left San Diego on separate flights and, upon arrival in Florida, I immediately proceeded to overdose (intentionally) in an attempt to kill myself. [But that’s another story].
I’ve written a lot about overlapping things I’ve had with girls (especially in this stretch of time) but I don’t consider this anything like that. Taylor and I had dated and lived together for six years, but I had spent a lot of time looking at the relationship and was almost certain that I was looking forward to seeing my friend, Taylor (and not Taylor, the girl with whom I might still be in love). I wasn’t trying to “win her back” as I had back in 2011; this wasn’t romantic, we were friends. [Though this, too, is tangential – a subject for another time]. We planned her visit at 10 AM because she was flying back to Baltimore at 4 that afternoon. I was excited.
At 11AM, I called. Running late, she said. Okay – no big deal.
At 1PM, I called. No response.
At 4PM… she’s on her flight right now. She fucking bailed on me and didn’t even care enough to tell me.
And what do you know… I haven’t heard from Her all day either. We’re supposed to meet up tonight… I sent her a text. I tried to call. Nothing. I need to go for a walk.
I signed out for an hour [I had been at Tranquil Shores for five months so I had that privilege on a Sunday afternoon]. I walked down the street not knowing what the fuck I was even doing. I sat down at a bus stop and waited… to hear from her. I wrote her a short but desperately conflicted “please let me back into your life” kind of note. I sent it as a picture so that she’d be more likely to look at it (assuming she actually had her phone and really was just ignoring me).
No response. I walked some more. Sat at another bus stop. Decided to draw. I looked in my bag and took out the only medium and paper I had on me: crayons and a tattered envelope. I was trying so desperately to remain optimistic and see everything in the best possible light. Taylor’s bailing on me that day and this girl (that I was in love with)’s strange behavior and looming death… it all hurt but it had to be for something. If nothing else, I told myself, it’s practice; I’m getting better at feeling pain and not falling apart. When I live in the real world again one day, where I could quickly and easily numb out pain with heroin, these experiences will be what keep me from doing so. I will get through this and I will be okay. It’s another opportunity for growth…
Here’s the note that I wrote her just before I drew my little cartoon.
If you wanna know how things turned out with her, it’s in my statement for “Spoiler Alert.”
Taylor and I are pals and talk all the time (but never about why she didn’t show up that day).