You know that moment between sleep and wakefulness —when you’re just getting up and reality is a little warped and everything seems OK?
Well, that moment ended.
Everything comes flooding back when I realize, it wasn’t a dream. What the fuck was I going to do now? I was in love with yet another addict and I would later learn that my bad taste in drug dealing boyfriends only escalated the inevitable. I wanted to find my happily ever after. I really did. Except, I kept picking these awful guys. Did I think I wasn’t worth a good one? I’m not sure. All I knew was that I hated to be alone.
I had just gotten home from my eight-month stay at Mission Teens, a Christain rehab in Savannah, Georgia (prior to that, I was at a 30-day rehab followed by a few months in halfway, only to relapse hard and end up right where I started —more on those specifics later). I remember flying home —back to where it all began. Cherry Hill, New Jersey. I was about to live in the same room as my high school self. I recall walking in feeling this anxious nostalgia.
I was excited about my new life.
Except, I was still in my touch with my ex, Nate (the one who asked me out 24 hours after we met). He was still in Florida, still high but he was telling me that he was sober and I was still the love of his life. We would talk on Facebook messenger. Except, I knew deep down that I’d never see him again. At least it was nice to feel wanted.
He told me basically every day that I was the one who got away and I was the hottest girl he’d ever dated. We try and make plans to run away together, which never happened. But still, we talked. I think I kept in touch because he knew every bad thing about me and still, he liked me. But when he loses his shit and ends up in jail, needless to say, we never speak again.
Then I meet Aiden, a Jersey boy who was new to this recovery thing —so much so, that he wasn’t recovered at all.
The Story of My Life.
It’s been a while since I last saw him (years in fact), but truth be told, even when we were together, he never really saw me. The last few weeks of our relationship, he was gone. He was there physically but mentally, he was on autopilot. He hurt me. I didn’t think I could ever get over him (I did). Every time I would try to let go, something would give —leaving me unable to forget.
We met through a mutual friend who sadly is now dead. Not to be harsh, but unfortunately, he overdosed on heroin and died a few months ago (RIP). But back then, we were living double lives. Like I said, I just got home from literally two years of intensive drug therapy in three separate treatment centers.
You’d think I would have learned my lesson. You’d think I would have said no. But when a friend of mine offers to buy me free pills, I cave and say yes. I had a moment of weakness that sparked a year of torture.
That’s when I met Aiden.
He thought I was cute and I thought the same, which is how my double life started up again. We exchanged numbers and I was playing hard to get. Whatever I was doing, it worked. He seemed to be into me. And so, we went on a few dates.
I was working as a nanny for a neighbor. I was getting off one evening and he offered to pick me up (I didn’t have a car anymore). He even copped a few blues and saved them so we could get high together. We both relapsed at the same time and it was hard to break out of that mode. We started using and you’ll later find out that’s how it all ended. At the time, both of our families thought we were clean.
I mean we were, but not anymore.
He had just gotten home himself from 30-days in rehab. He didn’t go to Florida but his family (a good one) got him into a local facility where he got it together —only to lose it all. I think his family blames me because I know mine partly blames him. Except, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that if an addict wants to use, he or she will find a way to do just that.
And so, the months go by and everything is getting worse but only below the surface (for now). I’ll never forget when he said he loved me for the first time. We were walking into his house on a cold winter day when he just looks at me and says: “Macey, I love you.”
I was shocked. I thought I was dreaming. It had been a while (like over a year) since a guy told me those words. At first, I couldn’t say it back. Hell, I couldn’t say anything. I waited a minute as he stood there and stared at me —waiting. Then, I say it back. At that moment, I was happy. I don’t know how it got so messy after that.
In short, our fun turned catastrophic real fast.
Maybe it had to do with the fact that we both got ourselves addicted once again. It started off slow. I was still going to church and doing my step work. But about every other night, I’d hang out with Aiden and we’d get high. His dealer was always good and so it was the same thing every time.
After a while, it became an everyday habit. And so, we found ourselves withdrawing again too. How could we let this happen? We promised we would be good, but I guess the high was better.
Employed But Out of Control.
At this point, I found a job at a real-estate law firm, saved just enough to buy myself a Nissan Sentra. I gave notice at the hostess position I previously had and started my new job. I was excited since I would be making actual money and doing something other than standing at a restaurant looking pretty.
But because I had money, Aiden eventually started using that to his advantage. He knew if we were hanging out, I wouldn’t sit there while he watched me get high —so I started supporting both of our habits. I worked so hard and for what? To throw it away for a few hours with a boy who was just using me? But like I said, it happened slowly. At first, he bought me pills.
But you’ll later learn that ended even quicker.
He didn’t have a job and I hate to say it but I think he was a momma’s boy. He was the only son among two daughters. Because of that, his mom was laxer with him than she probably should have been. She did her best though.
I hated to use alone and Aiden was right. I wouldn’t sit there and get high with him staring at me —with nothing to snort up his nose. And so, I split everything with him and what did he do in return? Nothing. He said he loved me, but don’t actions speak louder than words? I think so.
I was hurt. I was so hurt; time and time again. I felt like he loved the high more than me. I knew addiction —clearly, but this was different. I guess I was just dumb and in love or so I thought.
Did I ever really love him or was I addicted to the pain, the exquisite pain of wanting someone so unattainable?
He was broke and jobless. I was his ticket to the clouds. It seemed like he was only using me for drugs and it ate me alive. He promised he wasn’t and that he would change —that he’d get his act together. I had promised the same thing to people I loved, and I was lying. They are only words, after all. Was he lying to me?
Like I said, actions speak louder. It was a vicious circle. I’d pick him up (he never had money for gas so his car just sat in his driveway), we’d figure out a way to get money and text all of our dealers. Then, we’d pick up from whoever answered first and get high. Normally, we’d go back to his house and chill until I had to be home. His family liked me or at least the person I was pretending to be. I remember this one time though.
We were on our way home from a long night.
Our dealer had a party and since we had gotten pretty close (we were seeing him multiple times a day, every 24 hours), we were invited. And damn. We had fun. Our guy ended up giving us free pills. Aiden wanted to hold onto them and I knew if I let him, he’d snort them without me. He promised he wouldn’t but he wouldn’t stop arguing with me.
Secretly, I copped a few extra behind his back. And ironically, he did the same. Except, if I was around, he was broke (you know the type). Since I had a backup plan, I caved once again to avoid an even louder fight and what do you think happens next? Well, morning comes, we have some coffee with our dealer and his girl. Then, we head for the car to drive home.
I was, of course, driving when I ask for the pills he was holding.
Guess what? He didn’t have any left. I remember being so fucking pissed. It literally made my blood boil and skin crawl. I was driving, though. Well, that didn’t matter. We were going about 65 miles per hour on a major road when I literally put the car in park. We swerve out of control and almost hit these innocent pedestrians.
said, no I screamed, “I never want to talk to you again. I’m never buying you pills again. I fucking never want to see you ever again. I fucking hate you, you worthless piece of shit. I knew this would happen. You literally just broke my heart.”
It was like he cheated on me, at least that’s how it felt.
I was betrayed, lied too. As I proceed to open the door, still on that road, with those people staring at us, Aiden wouldn’t get out. I think they called the cops when I decide to let him stay as we get back on the road officially. I light up a cigarette in an attempt to calm myself down. It didn’t work.
We fought every second of the ride home. But by the end, he somehow made me feel bad and promised he would make it up to me by buying more pills. I asked how he would pay for it and he said he’d rob anyone to make me happy. WTF. At the time, I thought it was romantic that he was willing to go above and beyond for me because he fucked up. But I was still pissed and in the back of my head, I never trusted him again.
Except, I was letting my heart lead because I loved him so much.
Stupid is As Stupid Does.
Eventually, though, he did buy me those pills. His comeback was always bigger than the setback. And I think that was the point. He knew he was wrong, clearly and I think he really did love me, but these pills man. They fuck everything up.
I remember his mom finally drug testing him. When he failed for opioids, he was no longer allowed at his house —or at least inside. He had to sleep outside in their shed. I was still so mad at him for lying to me. But I remember going to visit him on my way home from work anyway. When I saw him outside looking like complete shit, he tried to convince me to give him one of my pills. He was withdrawing since he spent the last of his dough on those pills for me.
You see after that night, I never let him hold the pills again nor was I going to go out of my way to help him get high, which he never failed to hold against me.
That day though, I had to be home as per my mother’s request so I couldn’t help. He made me feel so bad for it, but I actually stood my ground. I didn’t give in. I did tell him that everything would be okay. I get home about 15 minutes later.
He calls me crying saying that I was the only one who understood him. I was the only one he wanted and he was pushing me away. I think every emotion he was holding back, came to the surface since he wasn’t high. He asked if I could come over in the morning. He couldn’t start his day without seeing my face.
I was a sucker for kind words and his were the sweetest.
I was there that and every morning at 7:30 to pick him up. He would use my car (and sometimes even my phone) and then pick me up at the law firm at end of business. What was he doing all day? Drugs —without me. This went on for a while. It wasn’t until his drug addict aunt let him move in after he officially got kicked out of his parents —that’s when things got really bad.
This was the beginning of the end. Like I said, he was physically there, but mentally, somewhere else. Maybe because he started doing Xanax on top of opiates? His aunt was a lifelong addict with a prescription for 15s and a shit ton of benzos.
I remember sitting watching TV in the guest bedroom that now was his, but I was alone.
How do you think that made me feel? I was high too but he was incoherent. Except, he would get mad at me for saying otherwise. But how could I be mad at him when I was doing the exact same thing?
I remember thinking that I was going to move in with him at his aunt’s house. That would never happen, but I would sure try. I remember one night, we were having a “family dinner” a.k.a. I was the one cooking since Aiden and his aunt were too high to even get up. The funniest part is that I don’t even cook.
I remember sitting at the table trying to have a normal conversation when he falls asleep.
He was so fucked up that he face plants into the pasta with sauce all over him. If I wasn’t so mad at him, I would have laughed. He starts mumbling —making zero sense. This was now my life.
The hardest part of it all was that I wanted so hard to get clean, but every time I thought I would; Aiden would text me wanting to get high. I could just dump him and do as I wanted, which happened to be the right thing. Except, I’d feel left out. I had FOMO real bad and this was tenfold.
It was after I got in a really bad car accident that things finally exploded.
He had the audacity to pick me up in front of the police high AF and it showed. He almost got arrested but not before making my life hell. Idiot Macey asked my mom to pick up my belongings a few days later from the detail shop of where my totaled car was being repaired. Like always, Aiden and I weren’t on the same page.
He had stolen silver from his oblivious aunt and now jewelry from my own fucking mother when she wasn’t home. I was preoccupied stealing her unused Xanax, which left him free to roam my house.
I thought I could trust him enough. Could I be trusted? Obviously not. I honestly was not aware that he had taken those items from my mom. I promise you that. When my mom picks up my stuff, she, of course, found what Aiden stole. He stupidly left them in the trunk of my car. I was once again the boy who cried wolf. I tried to argue with my mom. I told her that I had no idea about any of this but she didn’t believe me.
The damage was done.
So, What Happened Next?
Well, things got worse before they got better, but eventually, they did. They always do. It took a while but I will say, it was all worth it in the end. The thing was, at the time, I was heartbroken. After my mom found her jewelry, she was pissed. She had enough with me. And so, she kicked me out. She sent me on a plane to Florida (which is another story I will share at another time) for round three.
I may have escaped, but I was still stuck. I felt like I was going to feel this way forever. It’s like all I wanted to do was sleep because I missed him so much. I tossed and turned just thinking about him. What could I have done to change how the crash ultimately ended him and me?
If only I was smarter, stronger.
If I could have done something more or less, would we still be together? I replayed all the times he’d kiss my forehead, make me laugh or even piss me off. It’s like I’d trade even the bad times just to get one more look at his face —for him to look at me the way he did.
He knew more about me than I knew myself. I had told him things no one else knew. Yes, when we fought he would normally hold them against me, but he never told anyone. I’d relive the bad times if it meant I could be with him again.
I try to say that it’s for the best, but the other part of me doesn’t believe it.
Eventually, like I said, I did. I stopped looking. I started living for myself, which was when the best tracked me down.
Slowly and surely I was getting it all back. As I sit here thinking about it all —everything, it overwhelms me. I want to be the first to tell you that this not so happy story does have a happily ever after.
I had a cell phone, a possible boyfriend and my best friend back (more on that later). My dad and I were getting along great in the Lake Mary (Florida) apartment we now lived in. He had given me the master bedroom, so it was beginning to feel like home.
I would go to the pool during the day, work out at night and on the weekends, I was allowed to hang out with Robby. We met through a mutual friend and instantly hit it off. Normally, he was the quiet type but with me, the conversations always flowed. At first, we hung out with those friends. But as we got closer, we started hanging out more and more. This time, alone and all weekend.
Even my dad loved him, which was the opposite of most boys I brought home.
Robby came over to make my dad and I dinner a few times —steak, peas and mashed potatoes are the way to his heart. I remember getting a little antsy, which was when I knew it was time I find a job. I felt strong enough to transition back into the workforce.
I remember printing out 20 copies of my resume, putting on a professional outfit and hitting the streets. This time, I would walk into every local business open or closed and either hand my resume to a random worker or slide it underneath the doorway. I was determined.
Macey was Back.
It was hot. I was sweating, but I wasn’t stopping. I remember finding this yellow office building. I start downstairs and worked my way up. I arrive at a law office and since my last known official occupation was a paralegal, I thought this may be perfect.
I open the door and was pleasantly surprised as to what I found. It was a cute firm with vinal décor and a sweet office manager. For some reason, her and I hit it off instantly. We chatted for a few moments as I tell her part of my story. I, of course, left out that I had been a drug addict for the past five years.
Yet somehow, I managed to pull it off.
She was going to hand my resume to the owner personally and if all went well, I would receive a phone call for my interview. A week later, I was sitting by the pool with my very first iPhone. It rang and guess who it was? The law firm. I got the freaking interview. I did it.
The next day, I work out in the morning, shower and get ready. I decide to wear this purple blouse with black skinny jeans. I put on a pair of black wedges to match and make my way out the door. I walk in and was greeted right away by that awesome office manager who shows me to the conference room —a small office next to the lobby that sat six people at a wooden table.
I take a seat and wait.
A few moments later, the owner walks in. Ironically, her favorite color was purple so we hit it off as soon as she saw me. I remember acing the interview but also having a genuinely great time. I was even introduced to my potential supervisor and didn’t leave for almost two hours.
Finally, the owner shakes my hand saying, “Macey, it was an absolute pleasure getting the chance to meet and talk with you today. We will review your file and someone will be in touch.” —I thanked her back and off I go.
I remember calling Robby to tell him how well my interview went. We were going to celebrate.
And the rest is history. I end up getting the job like I’ve been this normal girl the whole time. No one there knew I was recovering addict but I was OK with that. Eventually, I move in with Robby. We get serious and I couldn’t have been happier. It was like Aiden who? I was actually being treated right. I wasn’t lied to. I wasn’t being deceived. And because of that, I wasn’t lying or deceiving either.
I remember one weekend, a bunch of us, including Robby travel to Orlando, which was about 20 minutes away. We had gotten a room at a nice hotel and planned on going out on the town, which turned out to be an epic night. I remember getting wasted. I think it was the first time I had gotten drunk in a while. It was actually fun.
It brought back all those college fun times before the narcotic insanity set in.
It was nice to be out with a good group of friends socially drinking like nothing else had happened —like I never left. I remember drunk dancing and barhopping with Robby. I remember getting back to the hotel to smoke a cigarette. Robby didn’t smoke but he kept me company. I knew he was drunk too. I remember him having enough liquid courage to ask me out.
I couldn’t believe it. It really is true. When you least expect something to happen —when you stop trying, it finds you. It had finally found me.
“Macey, would you be my girlfriend? Let’s make it official.”
And after that, everything just started working out. I saved enough money to get my car shipped from New Jersey to Florida. I even started a savings account, which had actual money. I had no cravings and barely even thought about using.
Robby was not only my boyfriend and roommate, but my best friend. I had finally gotten my sister to fully trust me again. I was on a good note with all of my family members and rekindled all the bad blood with my old friends. I was still working at the law firm and still doing an amazing job.
I even got myself a promotion.
I had my car and an amazing apartment. I cannot believe that after everything, the damage done, the wreckage in my name, I finally found the way. I sit here now writing this with almost five years clean and closer to age in 30 than I am to 20. So much has changed, and somehow, so much has stayed the same.
And yet, I’m more me than I’ve ever been. I don’t dread waking up anymore. Hell, I actually look forward to my days. I realize that it starts and ends with family and I no longer have the feeling of being left out. I no longer feel unworthy or not good enough.
I have the confidence that I used to envy or look for in everybody else.
I think maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming something or being with someone. I think it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you so that you can become who you were meant to be in the first place. Like I said, I’m more me than I’ve ever been and happier than I’ve ever felt. Because when you refuse to settle for less than the best, the best tends to track you down.
*names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.