This is part six of my rock bottom number three series. In case you missed it, you may want to check out: Rock Bottom, Rape Culture & Recovery, Blurred Lines & Hard Time, Coercion, Consent & Control, Coastlines, Crack, & Rehab Fraud, as well as False Freedom, Captivity, & A Lot of Deception (in that order) before preceding below.
And for a poetic account of what took place, feel free to read: Chains, Reins, & Brains. Thank you!
In hindsight, it’s crazy because you look back and you’re like red flag, red flag, red flag. How did I not see all that?
Probably because he always played the hero, even though he was the villain the whole time. And me? Well, I was too drugged up to notice.
Or maybe, I was too drugged up to care. I choose the ladder since the damage is done. There’s nothing I can do about it now.
Because I didn’t say no —at least at first. But not by choice. I didn’t think I could. I didn’t know how too anymore.
I was chemically chained to a man I thought was my friend. But he wasn’t. He never was. Bruce made it seem like no one loved me anymore. And because of all the shit, I had done, it was pretty easy for me to believe him. I was knee deep in a plan he concocted —a plan I went along with. I didn’t want too even then. But it was this or the streets. Because my mom had just kicked me out. So yeah, I literally had nowhere else to go.
Between my drug use and lack of address, I see now —that this made me rather vulnerable for sexual violence, at least that’s what I’ve read. Because my offender, Bruce saw all that as an opportunity. Because some assailants seek women who they expect will be unconscious or semiconscious (physically and figuratively). Because drug users like myself are normally already hiding from public view. Because, most likely, we’ve lost connections that might otherwise offer us protection.
And all of that was true for me too.
I lost everything. I had nothing and I felt like nothing. Because he knew the rest of my family was over it. And now my mom was too, which I think he saw as his way back in —since the two of them kept in touch. Like I said, he always played the hero. If you remember from a few posts back, after I graduated that eight-month Christain rehab, I moved back to Cherry Hill but not for long. When I reconnect with old friends and meet some not so nice new ones, I end up addicted all over again.
So when my mom finds out, she says, “That’s the final straw.” She was fed up with me and my lies. She couldn’t believe —after everything, I was doing it again. “I don’t understand, Macey.” Because I wasted a lot of her money and the last few years of my life. I hurt myself and those around me, yet, I still didn’t learn my lesson? Well, I did but I guess not enough to keep me away. These drugs are powerful. Because I wouldn’t have been in the situations I was in, if I wasn’t an opiate addict.
It’s not just me (although it definitely was). Because most of the time, it starts off slow. People don’t realize what’s really going on until you run out of pills. Until it’s too late to make a choice because you’re already addicted. So back then, at this point, I was still going to church and doing my step work. But about every other night, I’d hang out with my new boyfriend, Aiden and we’d get high. His dealer was always good —so, it was the same thing every time. After a while, there were no days off. It became an everyday habit.
As a result, eventually, we found ourselves withdrawing again too. I didn’t understand how I could let this happen? Again. I promised myself I’d be good. But I guess the high was better. And that’s the point. Because I’d have these moments of clarity like, this has to stop. I know better. I’m smarter than this. But then there was this very apathetic voice inside that would say, “I don’t care what happens. Fuck it. I’m getting high.” And that’s why the cycle went on for as long as it did. And because I still had money —that hadn’t yet run out (not yet anyway).
Because it soon would since Aiden was broker than me.
He knew if we were hanging out, I wouldn’t sit there while he watched me get high. Needlesstosay, I started supporting both of our habits. I worked pretty damn hard at this local real estate law office (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) —and for what? To throw it away for a few hours with a boy who was just using me? Like I said, it happened slowly. At first, he bought me pills. But by the end, not only was I buying them for him, I was also giving him my phone and my car. He said he needed it. He didn’t.
But we were in love and that’s what love looks right? Wrong. I’m pretty sure all of that escalated the inevitable because once the money ran out, which happened quicker than I’d like to admit, he and I had to do some bad things to keep everything up. And then when my mom found out, well —it was bad enough to merit an eviction, which is when and why she calls Bruce asking for some guidance on what he thinks she should do with me. That’s when he tells her there’s a rehab down here with my name it.
WHY WOULDN’T SHE BELIEVE HIM?
I mean, according to her brain, he was the only one who could get through to me back then —she thought, he could do the same thing again. So, she kicks me out under the assumption I was going to another 30-day rehab. And with that, she buys me a one-way plane ticket and unknowingly sends me to Satan himself. Because his version of healing wasn’t what she had in mind. Meanwhile, Bruce (Satan) is texting me in secret, saying to just go with it. “Don’t worry, Macey. There’s no rehab. Just get down here.”
And I never saw Aiden again.
I was heartbroken. It hurt. Everything hurt. I don’t know why. I don’t know why it stung as hard it did. Because yeah, I had gone through my fair share of breakups. I had gotten dumped and cheated on but this was complex. I loved him more than I could even put into words. I think it was one of those relationships that got intense really fast. Because I never had a love like that before. And now it was gone. There was no easy switch I could flip to stem the flow of feeling.
There was no way to drain the memories that pooled like acid in my stomach because he was too fucked up to do anything about it. He wasn’t going to save me. I mean, shit. He too needed to be saved. And I later learned that me leaving is exactly what saved him. It was a wake-up call. I guess he was also depressed that I was gone. And I think he used that as motivation to change his fucking life. But I didn’t know that back then. All I did know was that I probably was never going to see him again, which was true. So that killed me.
My whole body ached. I cried. I cried all month long. I cried even after I escaped.
All of which Bruce knew. I’m pretty sure he used that to his advantage. Like if I was sad, I’d want more pills. And if I wanted more pills, well —let’s just say, there were always strings attached. I had to do some shit to get them. And I more than wanted them. I needed them. So yeah, it all goes back to the same vicious cycle. Believe it or not, I actually had a cell phone with me when I first arrived. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it past the first week. What happened, you ask? Bruce threw it in a glass of orange juice.
Somehow I fixed it. Well, I fixed it enough so that I could make secret phone calls. I couldn’t see the screen but I could dial numbers I had memorized. So whenever I had the chance, I’d sneak off and try Aiden. Sometimes he answered, other times he wouldn’t. Each call was only for a few minutes, and unfortunately, as the days went on, I was able to sneak away less and less. Because we were still getting high and I was still getting free drugs, but that freedom I initially felt had long since faded.
But that was the point.
He wanted to lure me in and when I wanted out, well, he knew I didn’t have a choice. “You know that your family will never forgive you unless you finish the program they think you’re in.” That was his damn mantra. He’d call them a few times a week, one by one presenting each with a status update on how I was doing in treatment —a treatment center that never existed. But they didn’t know that. By the end, like when I finally managed to escape (more on that later), shit got even worse.
Like he had the audacity to tell them I fucking ran away from rehab with this pill-popping boy. How can you run away from a place that never existed? So yeah, that was obviously a lie. Except, it could have been true. I think that’s why it was so easy for them to believe him and not me. I was the boy who cried wolf. Literally. I remember him saying, “Macey is at it again. I just got a call from her therapist. She ran away. What should we do?”
Like I said, he’d always play the hero. But he was the villain the whole damn time.
Before I escaped, he’d purposely put the phone on speaker so I could hear what my mom and dad had to say about their drug addict daughter. They weren’t very nice. I don’t blame them though since I wasn’t either. I mean, I had already said yes to a plan we were knee deep in. A plan that affected them all. So if I backed out now, it would, in fact, look like I did just run away. As if Bruce was right. He wasn’t. Because I was too drugged up to do anything. Well, anything I actually wanted to do. But you get it.
Plus, he knew I didn’t have the guts either (at least not yet). He was giving me pills on purpose. Pills he knew I loved. Pills he knew I couldn’t say no too. Pills that numbed me. It was deliberate —not your typical narcotic exchange. It was far more than a simple transaction because now, I was his. I was literally a prisoner. Essentially, I was kidnapped. And in all actuality, I was held hostage, against my will for nearly 30 fucking days. I was forced to do things —sexual things I never consented too.
They call that forcible rape.
Because if I said no, he’d do it anyway. If I tried to fight him off, he’d just do it again and for longer periods of time. So yeah, I did what I was told. And yet, somehow, Bruce’s evil nature held a strange charm over me. It made me chase false dreams. I suppose chasing highs is probably more accurate; but regardless of the in-between, he kept me chained to a lie that ultimately destroyed me (and my self-worth). Because like an animal, he fed me pills as much as he fed me lies. And I was getting high a lot.
Days eighteen through twenty.
If you remember from a few posts back, Bruce didn’t have a valid driver’s license (his motorcycle was our only transpo and even that was pretty much illegal). So, he’d throw his dude at the repair shop extra cash to fix shit when needed. So one day, we ride over. I think something was up with his one of his tires. I remember him saying that it wouldn’t take too long, which meant we’d hang out while his guy worked on it. When we get there, he tells me to sit down. He urges that I keep my mouth shut.
One, in particular, caught my eye. I definitely caught his because I see him wander over as he strikes up a conversation. I figured what’s the harm in talking? You’d be surprised; Bruce was pretty mad —shocking. Turns out, this kid, Liam was pretty cool. He was originally from New York and moved to Florida after losing a shit ton of weight. He wanted to start over. I could relate to that. I tell him I’m a Jersey girl. I think he got the impression that I was from a good family, which was true.
Except, he had no idea I was secretly addicted to opioids. So we talk about everything but that. I should add that for some strange reason, a week or so later, Bruce invites this kid over to the house. I’m thinking, he wanted to mess with his head because I’m pretty sure Bruce knew Liam had a crush on me. I had a crush on him too, which I think Bruce also knew. I mean, he was a catch. Liam was good-looking, had a job and didn’t do drugs. He was really nice too.
Side note: there were actually a few other instances, before and after, where Bruce actually let me leave the house with Liam.
I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I tell him what was really going on? Why didn’t I run away then and not come back? Well, that’s what it’s like being chemically chained. Nevertheless, on those occasions, Liam and I got to know each other. He made me feel safe, which was obviously rare at that point in time. I remember going out to dinner with him on Atlantic Ave. And after, I remember walking down to A1A, crossing the street and cuddling with him on the beach. I remember picking a wooden lounge chair
I remember looking up at the stars with his arms wrapped around me. I remember him kissing me. And I felt bad. I mean, he was looking at me as if I was girlfriend-material. A part of me wanted that to happen. But another part knew it never would. It couldn’t. Regardless, it felt nice. Oh and then another time, he locked his keys in the car. I remember calling AAA and waiting. I remember laughing. I remember going to Publix after that to pick-up some hoagies for another late-night beach picnic.
I remember the drive home. And I use the term home loosely.
I remember hearing a particular song on the radio. It was Aiden’s song and it made me sad. I remember telling Liam I hated that one and asked if we could change the station. I let him know that it reminded me of my ex-boyfriend. He said we couldn’t have that. Anyway, what I’m getting at (like my original point) is the time Bruce invited Liam over (separate from those one-on-one dates). I remember being confused; Bruce always had ulterior motives. So the three of us are in the living room when I’m called to Bruce’s bedroom. He said he needed me for a minute. He didn’t.
And this was Bruce’s way of showing me he had it all.
Days twenty-one through twenty-five.
I remember going back to Atlantic Ave. But this time, it was Bruce and I. I remember riding over. For those who know the area, there’s a designated motorcycle parking lot next to this bar, Johnny Brown’s. To this day, whenever I go over there, I get this eery feeling throughout. I guess you could call that a trigger. Because I remember that day and many others just like it. He’d always make me hold his hand. I hated that. I hated him thinking I was his. I hated thinking other people did too.
And I hated the fact that Bruce thought all of this was OK. Because it wasn’t. It’s just, most of it is a blur. It’s hard to piece everything back together —hard as in it hurts and hard because my brain pretty much blocked most of it out. As I sit here trying, the Del Ray hospital comes to mind. If you remember from another post, Bruce’s dad was there. He had cancer and was dying. So yeah, that’s sad. But what’s even sadder is that I walked by multiple doctors and technicians, yet, I never asked for help.
I spoke too numerous nurses who all thought Bruce was my boyfriend. Ew.
I never corrected them but it was only because Bruce was right there. And his family. They were there too. They were your typical Long Island crew. He had a sister who had a husband who had three kids. They were in the midst of growing up and none of them knew who their uncle really was. They too thought I liked him. I think a part of them didn’t understand why but another knew it had to be drugs. I mean, Bruce was the bad seed of the family. They even joked about it.
Because his sister had to bail him out of jail countless times. His brother-in-law secretly sent him money on a few occasions to pay a bookie or a dealer. So I’m pretty sure they assumed the ladder. I remember them inviting us over for lunch one day. They lived in this beautiful gated community. That’s Boca Raton for you. Their place was nice. Like really nice. I remember Bruce accepting that lunch. I remember going over there. I remember pretending. And after that, I remember riding around to pick up more drugs.
Because all roads always ended up there. It was always about drugs.
Because crack was what pills were to me. Most of the time, we’d speedball on both. I also have a vague memory of Bruce stealing food from random places. Places like the hospital and his sister’s house. We barely ate so when we did, you best believe we weren’t going to spend our precious drug money on nourishment. Because Bruce wasn’t much of a cook. I remember him trying. I can still smell the scent of burnt food lingering in the air as I snorted another line off the kitchen table. Who needed food when you had narcotics?
Days twenty-five through thirty.
It was a strange time. I honestly thought this was where I was going to die. I’d literally go to bed each night praying I wouldn’t wake up. Because anything was better than this. I remember falling asleep to the sounds of One Tree Hill and 90210. Bruce loved the Soap Net and we both needed noise to fall asleep. Although it was mostly because he had to have it on. Because I never got what I wanted. It was all about him. To this day, those shows give me both a little bit of anxiety and oddly enough, comfort.
It’s hard to explain but I’ll try. Basically, I’d imagine I was Brenda or Kelly (anyone really) and that my life was beautiful. I was a student in Beverly Hills, California with the world at my fingertips. I could be anything I wanted. I was anywhere but here. Except, I knew it was all pretend. Nevertheless, it still made me feel better for those brief moments of bliss. I’d literally put myself in their shoes and as each episode played, I was OK. But then, I’d hear a commercial break and then reality came back. I wasn’t safe.
Well, until I did something about it.
I remember the day I finally escaped. It was like any other. Except, I finally had enough. As fate would have it, there was some big ball game on T.V. that Bruce just had to watch. So we had made plans at this local bar down the street. Since I proved to him that he could trust me, he was a little laxer than he may have otherwise been. Long story short (because my next post will be all about my great escape), I end up borrowing a few phones from random strangers at that restaurant. Bruce breaks a few. I run away and then I try again.
All I wanted to do was get through to my family. But they weren’t picking up. That’s when Bruce calls my mom telling her I just ran away. He knew I was trying to reach them so he thought if he could talk to them first, his story would be the one they believed. And you know what? He was right. Because a few phones later, I did get through. And my mom had the audacity to tell me to go back to Bruce. She thought I was lying —that pissed me off. Unfortunately, My sister and her husband couldn’t help because they were on vacation in the Florida Keys.
So then I call my dad. I wish I called him first because he was the only one who answered.
He literally left his condo in Naples, Florida that second. He was already on his way to Del Ray Beach; but even with him leaving then and there, I still had a few hours to kill. I had to find someplace safe to hide out. So my dad says to call someone —anyone and we’d meet at BurgerFi on Atlantic Ave. as soon as possible. So I do exactly as he says. At first, I didn’t know who to call. Locally, I had no friends. Then, I remembered. Liam. Luckily, Bruce was nowhere to be found, which was either really good or really bad.
Nevertheless, I use that same stranger’s phone to dial Liam’s number that just so happened to be written on a scratch piece of paper that I remembered was in my back freaking pocket. And what does Liam do? He picks up. What does he say? He tells me he’s already on the way. Within ten minutes, he was there. My freaking hero. My knight in shining armor. He sprints into the restaurant, springs open the door and screams my name. I hear it and run over. We hug. Then he asks where Bruce was.
I tell him I wasn’t sure. I say that I lost him like 15 minutes ago. But we didn’t need him.
Because smart Macey had previously lifted Bruce’s apartment key when we got to the bar earlier that day. So all we had to do was make it out the door and into Liam’s car. The plan was to shoot over to Bruce’s so I could quickly grab my shit —and then we’d meet my dad just like he said. As we walk out and get into the car, Bruce bum-rushes the passenger window —where I was sitting. Luckily, we had already locked the windows and doors. So we speed the fuck away as Bruce is forced to the ground. Who’s the bitch now?
Well obviously, he wasn’t going down without a fight. So Bruce gets up right away. He runs to his bike, races out of the parking lot and rides over to his place. He was trying to beat us there. Fortunately, we had a head start because we were already on our way out when Bruce pulls in. Like we had just finished grabbing my shit (that was basically already packed up) and we were getting back into Liam’s car. Well, that’s when we see Bruce. He puts his bike in park and then launches it on the pavement. He didn’t have time to set it down nicely.
So he jumps off and starts screaming. He was trying to come at me but Liam retaliates.
“Listen creep. You better not come any closer. I will not hesitate to punch you in the fucking face. I have no problem calling the cops on you because you’re a fucking rapist.” Of course, Bruce doesn’t listen. He starts inching closer to the car as I yell for him to get the fuck away from me. It’s over. I never want to see or hear from you again. And then I throw his apartment key out the window, which lands on the ground near his feet. Of course, he starts cursing. He tries to follow us. But another car pulls in behind us and we lose him.
Holy shit. It was intense and yet somehow, we fucking made it. I owe it all to Liam. Except, you’ll have to wait to see how the rest of it unfolds. But I’ll tell you this. I didn’t think I was going to survive. I guess, I just never realized that’s what I had been doing the entire time. Because we all have a divine animal right to protect our fucking life. So don’t let anyone who doesn’t know you or your value, tell you how much your worth. Is there anything she can’t handle? I mean, I’ve been broken. Defeated. Beatdown.
Because there’s always a way out. And even though addiction overpowers everything —including red flags and common sense, never did I stop. Yeah, there were times I wanted too but I kept going despite it all. And what’s even worse is that I did see those signs in real time but I kept pushing them aside. After all, there was a high waiting for me at the end (like light at the end of the tunnel, but in a bad way). It’s just today, I learned how to cope. Because it’s not necessarily about getting over things, rather making room for them.
It’s about painting your picture with contrast. It’s about understanding your scars are beautiful. So I’m urging anyone affected by sexual violence or addiction to speak out. Because I was embarrassed about this shit for the longest time. And somewhere in me, I still am. But I think that’s the point. Because doing it anyway —even though you’re scared, well —that’s bravery. Because it felt like I’d been living underground. But for a moment, I was given a glimpse of the sky. And once you’ve seen that, how can you go back where you came from?
*names and some details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
And for a poetic account of what took place, feel free to read: Chains, Reins, & Brains. Thank you!