Day one —it was about that time to get “Boca-tized,” a catch-phrase my dad invented.
He and my sister, Michaela were adamant about me looking the part, now that I was an official resident of South Florida.
Hence the name they came up with. And so, just as promised, my sister makes me that appointment at her salon basically as soon as I got out of the car.
She took one look at me and said I had to get my hair cut and colored, a manicure, pedicure, as well as my eyebrows threaded before I could see anyone important. After a few hours at the salon, they said I was ready. I felt anything but. If you remember from a previous post, College, Crossroads, & Co-Dependency: I Had Two Different Paths That I Could Have Taken Post-Graduation, and I just made my choice.
If you couldn’t have guessed from the headline, I went with Florida and family.
I had just arrived in Boca but if I can be honest, my head was somewhere else. I missed Brad. Once we get home though, from the salon, I didn’t realize that my clothes also had to be of a certain caliber. I remember my sister throwing away all my high top sneakers and slutty looking clothes —replacing them with new preppy ones that were anything but me.
For some reason, Michaela and my dad were always trying to make me into something I wasn’t a.k.a. turn me into her, which made me feel like all of my insecurities were, in fact, real. Everything I felt inferior about, they negatively encouraged. I remember thinking, why did I assume this would be better than it was? I was a little mad at those two and myself for choosing them over Brad.
I mean, at least he’d bring me back up once he tore me down, but they were only fueling the fire with more bad things to say about how I looked.
No wonder why I needed to get high.
I thought that I spewed enough self-hatred but I guess they thought I needed more. They didn’t even know I was addicted to painkillers at the time. In short, they’d make snide remarks about what I was choosing to wear and how I presented myself to the world.
My sister especially would tell me how provocatively I dressed —as if it was the worst thing ever —as if I was the worst thing ever. And maybe she was right, but fashion —my clothes, they were a form of self-expression. I could say it all without speaking. And I always struggled with articulating how I really felt out loud. It was (and still is) easier to journal about these things because no one can judge me or make me feel bad.
So what if I liked tight shirts?
I liked my sneakers too, which like I said, she didn’t hesitate to throw away (literally over $1,000 in Nike high tops sat in the waste bin at her Boca Raton condo). It’s like if I wasn’t Michaela’s version of pretty, then I was ugly and a failure. I think they had good intentions. I think they thought if I looked and acted like her, I’d be just as happy as she was. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.
I tried to tell them that. I emphasized how I’m my own person with my own style and edge. I remember thinking to myself but being too afraid to say it out loud, especially to either them —that all of this, me, didn’t have to be good enough for anyone as long as it felt good enough for the girl inside. At the time though, it wasn’t. I didn’t feel good enough for anything.
And so, I needed their approval on just about everything.
I was living under my sister’s roof so I had to abide by her rules. Besides this glam shit, the only other rule was that I couldn’t talk to Brad. I was secretly missing him, but trying not too. I remember writing a Facebook message telling him that saying goodbye was the saddest thing I ever had to do. I remember explaining that I’d try it out down here for a bit and maybe eventually, I’d make my way to Michigan.
I said absence makes the heart grow fonder and that I was missing him so much —the most I ever missed anyone. But he never wrote back. Instead, he tried to call me. He called so many times, my sister kept asking who it was. We were in line, standing beside one another, checking out with the cashier at Publix, a local grocery store.
Eventually, I had to tell her it was Brad. Apparently, since I wasn’t picking up, he called everyone in my family trying to find out where I was and why I wasn’t answering his calls if I could text him.
Technically, we had just broken up.
We were going to try the long distance thing but then I told him maybe we should take a break. I think my sister got into my head. But one part of me knew she was right. I said it was just for now —until we got settled into our new normal. He was in medical school after all, so I figured he’d need some space anyway. I guess I was wrong. I guess we were both wrong.
Consequently, the two of us were definitely now in the mourning phase of heartbreak. You know, when you can’t get the other one out of your head and maybe act a little psycho. I guess I was doing a little better at it than he was or at least faking it more. So when I didn’t pick up his 32 calls that particular day, he tried my mom and my sister’s husband, Reid whom he met previously (he knew better not to try my sis because she flat out hated him).
But these weren’t a one and done type thing, he called incessantly —all day long.
Literally, my mom and brother-in-law called to tell me to call Brad back because they were getting annoyed. I remember saying that Michaela wouldn’t let me and that I was sorry he wouldn’t stop. My mom mentioned that was absurd. She knew Brad a little more intimately than anyone else did. And so, she quietly gave me permission.
I went downstairs to smoke a cigarette outside and secretly called him back. He was really mad. He said if I missed him so much why couldn’t I pick up the GOD damn phone. I tried to reiterate the thing about Michaela’s rule but he didn’t understand. So we fought. I said some mean things and so did he. I don’t think we meant any of it. I think we were both coming from a place of hurt.
He was mad at me for choosing them over him. I was supposed to go with him to Michigan. We were supposed to start our lives together. Our plan was to quit pills and live a normal life. We’d get an apartment close to campus. I’d find a job and he’d go to school. We talked about it for months in advance.
Except, the whole time, I knew my family wouldn’t go for any of it but I played along.
I think that’s what hurt him the most. I mean, I could have done whatever I wanted but they supported me financially. My dad threatened to cut me off if I didn’t go to Florida. They were my family, after all, and if I can be honest, Brad himself was kind of a trigger for me —a trigger to use. Not that my family wasn’t because they were. It’s just, I didn’t think we could pull off the sober thing together but he did.
He said he saw his future and it was with me. Could I say the same? The only times we intensely fought where when we weren’t high. I couldn’t help but think was I only staying with him because of these drugs —like how could we be sober and in love? I mean, we did start off healthy (like any other college couple). Except, it hadn’t been like that in months. I actually broke up with him a few times during the school year.
But those breakups only lasted a day or two.
We’d fight. I’d sleep at a girlfriend’s but then he’d always text me. He’d say that he was picking up from our guy and asked if I wanted any. Except, he’d always say —just to spite me that I had to pay for them myself since we were broken up. I didn’t have the cash to support my habit alone nor the guts to sell like we were. Plus, it gave me FOMO really bad that he’d be getting high without me (all of which he knew). So like clockwork, I’d tell him I was sorry and I take everything back.
He’d always come pick me up wherever I was at. We’d kiss and make up then go pick up and do it all over again. By the time graduation came and went, we were snorting over 900 milligrams a day. I thought I was helping myself by not going with him. I was wrong once again. I say that because the most ironic part is, he actually stayed clean out there. I was the one who hit rock bottom and couldn’t stop.
Things were different down here.
No matter how bad everything was at school, I always had Brad. He kept me in check. If I was condemning myself for one of many irrational insecurities, he’d be there to calm me down. If we were too tired but still had to scheme our way to get some drugs, he’d let me sleep and do all of the work. But this time, I was alone. I had no one to look out for me but me.
And this girl couldn’t do anything right.
So a few more weeks go by. We were talking less and less. I was adjusting to my new life as best as I could. I was officially Boca-tized and a pretending functional member of society. If you remember from another post, As Katy Perry Once Said, I Don’t Negotiate with Insecurities: So Let’s Battle for Some Sanity, I ended up meeting some Jersey kids at a bar one night.
I was sitting on a bench parallel to that bar’s entryway to smoke a cigarette when I realize I didn’t have a lighter. These two Jersey looking guys, approach me —offering a light. We start chatting. It turns out, we actually had some mutual friends from sleep away camp back in the day. We exchange numbers and they invite me to an after-party at one of their houses. I remember it being pretty early still and since I wasn’t about to turn away potential new friends, I say yes and leave with them.
It started as a harmless blunt session.
I use the bathroom and when I come out, I see a few guys in the back bedroom snorting pills. Guess what kind they were? Roxicodone —my fucking drug of choice. The same pills I used to be obsessed with. The same pills I was trying so GOD damn hard not to use. The same pills that essentially brought Brad and me together just to break us apart tenfold. I remember getting so excited because I hadn’t done one in a few weeks.
Well, one night turns into another and before I know it, the suboxone I brought down to help me not use became unnecessary since I was a full blown addict again. I’d only take a sub, if I couldn’t find pills because, at that point, I was withdrawing again too. Like if I didn’t snort or smoke something, I’d be sick —that same type of sick I told myself I’d never taste again. But there I was.
After all, I said a lot of things I didn’t really mean.
Well, maybe I did at one point but I found out that I often had the will to do good but not the power. In short, this time in my life was rough AF, to say the least. Meanwhile, I was still living at my sister’s place with her husband, Reid, and their Goldendoodle, Chief. She knew something was up with me but at that point, I was really good at concealing my double life. So she never had any proof to back up her claims.
I mean, she found a hollowed out pen that I’d use to smoke pills on foil. I told her that I was a closet pyromaniac and I liked to burn random things. She thought it was weird but went with it anyway. There were other red flags that if she would have known the warning signs of addiction, maybe she would have caught on earlier than she had but she didn’t. No one did.
I mean, my family members never struggled with substance abuse so they didn’t know what to look out for.
The year continues.
Those Jersey boys were still my friends and now one of my many dealers. From pharmacy hoping, pawn shop buying, and a shit ton of pretending, I end up worse than when I first got here. In short, I hit rock bottom twice (make it three times but the third came a little later). Because of all this, I couldn’t help but think I made the wrong choice. But I suppose, the same thing would have happened eventually —wherever I ended up.
I mean, I thought that moving to a different zip code would change me but remember, wherever you go, there you are. A few more weeks go by and I find myself a rather impressive post-college job. My first since graduating. I applied for a ton online after settling in. I arrange and attend that interview and was actually offered the position on the spot. I was going to be a healthcare recruiter at some random office in Deerfield Beach. This is where I’d later meet that insurance guy who would become my roommate.
This is also the same job I got fired from for not performing well enough.
Oh, and the manager caught me sleeping in the bathroom after I snorted one too many pills (I plan on writing a separate blog post about my employment journey, this position included; so stay tuned for those specifics). So yeah, it didn’t end well. But at this point, none of that happened yet. I was hopeful that I’d be able to pull off this functioning addict thing since I was about to be making close to $40,000 annually, which is the most I ever earned at a 9-5 desk job.
I thought that would be motivation enough to keep going. I mean, if I was going to continue on my pill-head path, I’d need money to support my habit. But I’d later learn it wasn’t enough. Nothing was. So after I get fired, I find another job and then another. I couldn’t hold one for very long. I’d put in some work and talk a big game.
Except as the honeymoon phase ended, so did that effort.
My narcotics were more important. They trumped everything including my dignity. So it all comes to a head, which you guys already know about. In short, my sister finally catches me red-handed, puts together an intervention and makes me go to a local detox to get these pills out of my system. I was so far into the addiction lifestyle mostly because I feared opioid withdrawal so much.
So my sister thought if I could do that under medical supervision, I’d return to the good girl I used to be, which as you know didn’t happen either. Then it was a 30-day rehab followed by a short stay in a Del Ray Beach halfway house, which ultimately ended in that rock-bottom number two I mentioned above. After all of that goes down and a few more bad somethings, I hide out at a friend’s before my dad picks me up.
He was taking me to my family’s last attempt at helping their struggling daughter. I was about to be a resident at that Christian rehab in Savannah, Georgia. All of this took place within a few months. While I’m staying at that friend’s house, roughly one year after I said bye to Brad, he ironically sends me a Facebook message asking how I’ve been. We hadn’t spoken in months but I had recently reconnected with a mutual friend —telling him I just got out of rehab and was living in a halfway house.
I guess that friend filled Brad in and he wanted to check up on me.
I told him I was an idiot but I was trying. I said when I initially moved, I ended up befriending these Jersey kids who sold pills and somehow, I ended up right where we left off. I said that things got pretty bad to the point where my sister caught me with blues and forced me to detox and then rehab.
I said it was the hardest thing I ever had to do but I finally have more hope than before. Maybe, I’ll get it right this time. I asked how he had been with that shit and life in general. He said that everyone messes up. It’s what you learn from fixing these things that are important. He said he’s been good and that he just finished a year of school. He was about to take a summer semester and transfer to Michigan State because it ranked better.
He told me that he hasn’t done any pills since the move.
He made all new friends but admitted that he when he goes home, it’s not as easy to say no. “I got lucky with it I guess,” he added before asking if I still liked Florida. We chatted a little bit more and when I had to go, he said to hit him up anytime because he didn’t realize how nice it was to talk again.
Unfortunately, I never did call him back. But only because I was going to another rehab —that eight-month one where I couldn’t talk to anyone who wasn’t blood. Honestly, though, I thought about it. And for a while after that, I thought about him too. But eventually, just like everything else, time healed my wounds and we lost touch for good. I think it was for the best.
I guess the moral of this one is that no matter how much we want to be different, wherever we go, there we are. There’s no getting away from ourselves. I mean the Huffington Post says that wherever we look, we are looking out of the same pair of eyes; whatever we do, it’s still the same body doing it. Maybe in an attempt to get away from ourselves, we search for something or someone to make us happy.
The grass constantly appears greener someplace else.
But in every relationship and every situation, there we are again. So instead of trying to run away, just stop. For right now, this very moment is all there is. Nothing else is going on. Nothing else is happening. Nothing else matters. Because being right here, right now with ourselves is exactly where we need to be. And if you don’t like the person you’re with, then change your face —don’t change your place because like I already said, whenever you go, there you are.
You can work towards being a better person or at least better than you were yesterday. You’re worth it and you matter. For me, yeah I fucked up a lot. I hated who I was for a very long time. I hated everything about her. It wasn’t until I changed my insides that I slowly began to appreciate everything outside.
So did I really make the right decision? I guess we’ll never know but the new me is more than OK with that.