Hope. I finally had some. Freedom. I was free. I had almost forgotten what it felt like to wake up in my own bed —to wake up feeling safe. To not need a substance to survive.
And because of all that, the air seemed strange —even though, it filled my lungs like it always had. You breathe in. You breathe out. But today, it felt different. Honestly, it felt different every day.
Don’t get me wrong. It was a good feeling; finally something positive but unfamiliar at best. Because even though I escaped, I was still reeling the lose of my ex-boyfriend, Aiden.
And I was definitely still trying to wrap my head around what had happened over the last 30 days —make that the last five years. Because yeah. I was still alive. I always had been.
It’s just, the type of living I was doing isn’t something you want. It wasn’t even what I wanted. But there I was. And now, it was all behind me. As if it never happened. And that’s just it. All of it did, in fact, go down. I couldn’t help but think —what now? Seriously. What now? How do you get over something like that?
The truth is you don’t. But you can recover.
Which is what I was trying to do. If you remember from a few posts back, my journey to serenity began at this 30-day rehab in Boca Raton, Florida. Technically it started at the intervention my sister arranged; followed by a two-week stay in this awful county ran detox —none of which I chose to participate in. Sometimes though, you just don’t have a choice. Shit was out of my control but that was definitely a good thing at the time. Nevertheless, I was about to experience my first taste of the institutional life.
And now, I’m going to paint a picture to prove just how powerful these opioids are. Because on the outside, it probably looked like I wanted to be there. And a part of me did. It’s just, another part also wanted to get high. I think that trumped just about everything. So I tell them what they want to hear. And whatever I said, worked —seeing that, I was now a resident at my very first halfway house. Unfortunately, me wanting to get high turns into a full-blown relapse. One time becomes another and before I know it, I’m officially addicted.
For some reason, I thought I could pull it off. Nope. Definitely not.
Because a few days after that, I get caught red-handed and they kick me out. So yeah. I was powerless and now officially homeless. I had nowhere to go. I couch hop from one friend to another. I was trying my best to make do. But the only thing I was successful at was being a dumb ass junkie. And when I burn all those bridges, I end up in some sticky situations —situations I wouldn’t otherwise have been in. One thing leads to another and before I know it, I’m running down the street —trying to get away from this guy who just raped me.
Not to be so blunt. But it’s the truth. I call this, rock bottom number two. Long story short, this guy James said I could crash with him until I found something more permanent. I was desperate remember? And homeless too. He seemed like a decent enough guy. How could I say no? I should have. And I did. But he didn’t care. Immediately following the attack, I remember reaching for my things. Just as I began sliding my red skinny jeans back on, he asks where I thought I was going. To get the fuck away from you.
I had nothing more to lose. I remember thinking, I’m getting out dead or alive. Honestly, though, I didn’t think I’d make it. I truly thought that I’d die. But God had other plans. So by the skin of my fucking teeth, I successfully escape. And that’s how I ended up running down the street. I remember sprinting with tears streaming down my face. My eyeliner and mascara were also running and my clothes were disheveled AF. I was a bloody fucking mess. My top wasn’t even zipped. My pants weren’t even buttoned, but I just keep running.
Because my appearance was the last thing on my mind. And so, I start screaming louder as I run faster and faster. I was beginning to lose hope. I thought James would eventually catch up with me —seeing that I had nowhere to go and no one to help me. But then, I spot two ladies —who holler at me from across the way. They were about to save my life. And so, I sprint towards them. I’m almost in their yard when I notice James. He was now only a few feet behind me. But that didn’t matter because my guardian angels were closer.
As one of them runs toward me, we embrace. And then, I literally fall into her arms.
Holy shit. I was safe.
That same lady holds me up as we walk from the street onto their front porch. The other one opens the front door as we rush inside (obviously shutting and locking it behind us). I’m assuming when James saw them grab me, he either ran the opposite direction or missed us completely. I’m not exactly sure if he knew these women, what he was planning or if he was calling it quits. Because when we walked inside, James was just gone. And me? Well, I was safe; even though, I was still freaking the fuck out.
I recall sitting with them on a sofa in their living room. They were doing their best to calm me down but I kept getting up to see if he was still out there. They assured me no one was getting in. And then, they make me some hot tea. As I take my first sip, we talk. They didn’t ask much of what happened. I know they knew something bad had gone down; so they let me lead. This is when they ask if I had any family members I could call. Nope. My family had no idea where I was.
And if I called them in the state I was in, it would have done more harm than good.
If you recall, I was a hostess at this upscale burger joint on Atlantic Avenue in Del Ray Beach, Florida. I remember Bruce saying if I needed anything, I should call and he’d be there. So, I did just that. I had nothing to lose since I literally had no one else. Because right before I dialed him, I tried a few other people I knew locally. But no one answered. Bruce was the only one who did. And when I did, he was there within minutes. So, he picks me up and I crash with him for about two weeks. I had to lay low and I also had to find the courage to call my family and tell them what was up.
When I finally called, I made it seem like Bruce was the hero. As if he was more than decent. In a weird distorted way, he kind of was. But then again, he wasn’t. Nevertheless, my family was thankful. They loved him; only because they didn’t know the whole story. They only knew what we told them. And we purposely left a bunch of shit out. Because Bruce and I were still getting high —his kind, not mine. I guess at the time, I thought that made it OK. Because he said he wanted me detoxed by the time my family planned on picking me up.
As if he cared. As if he had my best interest. Nope. Wrong again.
Because his definition isn’t what you’d expect from a medical facility. It was more along the lines of, doing every drug available minus the one I actually wanted. And so, during those two weeks, we smoked a ton of crack. We popped a bunch of Xanax and I didn’t have to pay for a single fucking thing. I thought that was sweet. As if he was taking care of me. If I can be honest though, they weren’t free. I mean, I didn’t have to give him any money but there’s still no such thing as a free lunch. Because that lunch had strings.
And those strings were my dignity. Because he made me do a few bad something’s I didn’t actually want to do —a few bad somethings, I thought I could handle. I thought those bad somethings were the least I could do with all that he had done for me. Nope. I was manipulated. But I survived. I think I was just doing what I thought I had to. Like what I had to do in order to survive. Because eventually, I talk to my family. I muscle just enough courage to tell them I had to get out of town. And that I couldn’t stay here for much longer.
Luckily, they agreed.
I’d say no questions asked but there were a few. Nevertheless, 14 days later, my mom and dad figured out what to do with me. And so, my dad picks me up from Bruce’s and drives me to this long-term Christain treatment center in Savannah, Georgia. I was there for eight long months. And that place was strict. Needlesstosay, at first, I hated it. But ultimately, I found my groove and ended up doing really well. Because eventually, I graduate, which is when I decided it was probably best to stay away from Florida for while.
And so, I move back home to Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Now, if you remember, the whole reason I’m recounting this shit is to show you the impact opioids had on me.
Because they literally fuck up your entire system. But that’s the thing about addiction. Just as cardiovascular disease damages the heart and diabetes impairs the pancreas, addiction hijacks the brain. And unfortunately, as you can see, it wasn’t just me and my brain that were affected. It was everyone around me. So after everything I went through, everything I survived, wouldn’t you think I’d finally want to stop? That I’d actually stay clean? Like I already said though, I did. That part of me never stopped wanting to stop. It’s just, the other part, also never stopped wanting to get high.
And then, my mom finds out. Shit. “This is the final straw.” She was fed up with me and my lies. And I don’t blame her. She simply 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. Because these drugs are powerful. Because I wouldn’t have been in the situation I was in, if I wasn’t an addict.
And it’s not just me (although it definitely was).
Most of the time, it starts off slow. It’s like, you don’t realize what’s actually going on until you run out of pills. Until it’s too late to make the right choice because your brain is already addicted. Like when I first moved home, I went to church and did my step work. But as time went on, I slowly stopped doing the next best thing. Because 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, we found ourselves withdrawing again too. I myself, didn’t understand how I let this happen. Again. I promised I’d be good. But I guess the high was better? And that’s the point. Because I’d have these moments of clarity. “This has to stop. I’m smarter than this, Macey.” But then, there was this other 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.
Because I still had money —that hadn’t yet run out (not yet anyway). So Aiden and I were able to stay high without any problems. But remember. My mom eventually finds out. And let me say, when it all came to a head, it was bad enough to merit an eviction, which is when 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. And why wouldn’t she believe him?
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.” Which is exactly what happened next. So I kiss my mom goodbye then I board the plane —Florida here I come. And I never saw Aiden again. Is it making sense now?
This is what I call rock bottom number three.
I split —in the literal sense and figuratively speaking. When I first got there, it pains me to say, it started off fun. I remember feeling free. I didn’t have to answer my mom or anyone for that matter. Yeah, I still had to do a few bad somethings but I still thought I could handle it. Regardless, I had to get numb and I’d do anything to stay that way. Remember, I was heartbroken. I loved Aiden and now, he was gone. It was my fault. I made my bed and now, I had to lie in it. But boy did it hurt. Everything did.
Because I didn’t get to say goodbye. Because one day, I just left —without warning or notice. He didn’t even know where I was and I didn’t know why it stung as hard it did. I mean, throughout my life, I’ve experienced many heartbreaks. I’ve been dumped and cheated on. I’ve been lied too and kicked around. But Aiden. I don’t know. He was different. I loved him more than I could put into words. It was one of those relationships that got intense really fast. I never had a love like that before. And now it was over.
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. I guess it wasn’t all in vain. I think for him, it was a wake-up call. I heard he was also depressed that I was gone, (which did make my heart a little happy). Nevertheless, I believe he used that as motivation to change his fucking life. But I didn’t know any of that back then.
Back then though, Bruce knew all of this. 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, that’s where those few bad somethings come into play. Because I had to do those bad somethings in order to get more pills. And I more than wanted my pills. I needed them. So yeah, it all goes back to that same vicious cycle. Anyway, I should add that I 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 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 as the days went on, I was able to sneak away less and less. I remember saying that I loved him. I’ll never stop, he’d say back. He also said he missed me. And I missed him even more.
I told him to be my knight in shining armor. I remember saying that I dreamed about him knocking on the door and saving me. He’d ask where I was. And I’d tell him. But he never showed. Eventually, the phone calls stopped altogether. I guess talking to him just made it hurt that much worse because it was never going back to the way it was. And hearing his voice was an awful reminder of that. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only thing that stopped.
Remember that freedom I initially felt?
Well, that had long since faded. Once again, that’s the point. Because he used all of this shit so that he’d have me all to himself. I was his prisoner —held captive. In short, I was chemically chained to a man I thought was my friend. I was there, doing those bad somethings for nearly 30 fucking days. And if (when) I wanted out, well, he knew I didn’t have a choice. “You know 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. Before that though, 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.
It was a strange time. I honestly thought this was where I’d 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 because he had to have it on. 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 and then reality would come 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 made plans at this local bar down the street. I had proven to him that he could trust me. As a result, he was a little laxer than he may have otherwise been. Long story short (because my next post will be all about the great escape), my first move was sneaking into the bathroom. I remember asking this lady standing at the sink if I could borrow her phone.
She let me but no one answered. I remember borrowing several more phones from a bunch more strangers. I remember Bruce breaking those. And then, I remember him chasing me. I remember running around that bar, him catching up with me and then trying again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. All I wanted to do was get through to somebody in my family. But they weren’t picking up. That’s when Bruce beats me to it. He freaking calls my mom —telling her I just ran away from rehab with another pill-popping boy.
How can you run away from a place that never existed?
But she didn’t know that. All she knew was what Bruce told her. And 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. Honestly, it still does. Then I find out that my sister and her husband were on vacation in the Florida Keys. So that’s a hard no. Who’s left? My dad. My hero.
Honestly, I wish I called him first because he was the only one who came through. He was the only one who believed me. I mean, as soon as I said I was in trouble, he stopped what he was doing. He didn’t ask any questions. He literally left his condo in Naples, Florida that second. And long story short, he saved my fucking life. Needlesstosay, my plan worked. I was out. I officially escaped and now? I was finally free. It’s weird because thinking back, it doesn’t feel like me.
And through all the shit —all the wreckage in my name, I looked fear in the eye and found a way to overcome. Because there’s always a way out. And even though addiction overpowers everything —like red flags and common sense, never did I stop. I fucking made it. All those bad somethings were, in fact, behind me. Buh-bye. I’d never have to do that shit again. It’s just, as I said above, what now? Seriously what now? How do you go on living after something like that? How do you pretend to be normal when you’re anything but?
The truth is, you don’t. But you can start over.
Which is exactly what I was trying to do. And now, we’re all caught up. I was finally more than safe. I was protected. I was living with my dad, his roommate Jared and Jared’s youngest son, AJ in Naples, Florida. And even though, a few weeks had gone by, above anything else, for some fucking reason, missing Aiden hurt the most. I didn’t understand. I mean, I was kidnapped and yet, my heart didn’t care as much about that as it did him. I guess that’s what heartbreak feels like.
Because my stomach still swelled with acid and everything still ached. So I’d listen to sad love songs and cry myself to sleep. I remember going to bed each night replaying everything over and over in my head. I mean, I had nothing else to do besides think about what had happened —with Bruce and how much I missed Aiden. I remember thinking of Aiden being with someone else. Did he have a new girlfriend? The thought of him kissing another chick made me physically ill. But I was gone. I was never coming back.
Why wouldn’t he? And that’s when I’d start to spiral.
I remember remembering how we spent our days together. I remember him and I jamming out in my car. We had so much fun. Young and in love, they say. It scared me to think I’d never see him again. I wondered if that scared him too? Did he miss me? Did he love me? I remember trying to put all those emotions on paper. I remember trying to read the words back. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t read anything because I was hysterically crying. Tears streamed down my face and onto that piece of scratch paper.
And then, I remember trying to forget. It didn’t work. Because the more I tried to move on, the harder it was to let go. I think above anything else, I wanted answers and I needed closure. I’d give anything just to see him one more time. But I’d have to get over him myself. Because I knew that was never going to happen. Fortunately, each day was a little easier (for the most part). And unfortunately, each day was more and more of the same. The quiet life, they say. I knew I needed it. It’s just, I always had a thing with boredom.
But I was making due.
Remember, my dad was living at his friend’s house (that guy Jared I mentioned). It was a three-bedroom townhouse and my dad so willingly gave me his room —so he was sleeping on the couch. Because Jared’s son, AJ had the other. I remember thinking how nice it was that he was trying to help me like he did. At the same time, I remember being a little annoyed that I wasn’t allowed to contact anyone outside of the family. And I couldn’t use social media either. I knew staying here would be like this.
Be careful what you wish for.
I mean, before I escaped, remember, I prayed every night that if I got out, I’d take a lifetime of boredom just to feel safe. So yeah, I was a little jaded but thank God, I was safe. So I just kept reminding myself of that. And you know what? I got through it. Because my dad’s roommate was actually pretty cool. Well, he was a certified alcoholic but a nice guy nonetheless. I remember starting a new morning routine. Jared had to take AJ to school every day. I remember him asking me if I wanted to join. Heck yes. Anything to get out and be amongst the living.
I remember enjoying those rides. It made me feel almost normal. I remember being able to talk to Jared about shit. He was the party type in his past life so I think he related. After we’d drop AJ off at school (he was a freshman in high school), Jared always went for a walk on the beach. For those who don’t know Naples, the beach there is actually the Gulf of Mexico. It’s so calm, clear and beautiful. I remember joining Jared on the beach that day and nearly every other for the duration of my stay, which ended up being roughly two months.
I remember my own dad being a little cautious about our involvement.
But I assured him how nice Jared was to me. And that he never did anything out of line. Anyway, we’d typically get back around 9:00 a.m., which is when Jared would go upstairs for pretty much the rest of the day. That’s when I’d either walk some more around the neighborhood or do some indoor calisthenics. Then, I’d write, hang out by the pool and then just chill and watch TV. As the days went on, my dad and I got closer. So did me and Jared. Same with his son, AJ. I truly loved them all.
One morning, Jared and I were talking about revamping my resume. Because eventually, I’d have to get a job (not yet though). I remember sharing that I had experience in customer service, journalism, and law. You know what? With my bubbly personality and outgoing persona, he freaking offers me a job. As luck would have it, he actually had an office in his upstairs loft —that’s where he’d disappear to all day. He was a salesman for this points-based timeshare program, based out of Orlando. He worked his way up in whatever company it was and became a manager for several teams of people.
So when they’d sell “points” he’d make money.
The details of it aren’t important. Anyway, he thought I’d make a great appointment setter —meaning, I’d be the one who set up the “appointment” for the sales team to try and sell whatever it is they were selling. It was more of a pyramid scheme but not for me. I was getting paid regardless if people answered or not. I’d work from 5:00 p.m. to 9ish. And I think that really helped me transition back into society. There was actually another girl who’d come over at night to do what I did. She had a few teeth missing and I can’t remember her name, but she was very nice.
Ironically though, I was better at it than she was and this was her actual job. Like I’d set 10 appointments and she’d be lucky with four. But that didn’t matter. What mattered or at least to me at the time was that I was allowed on the computer. And, of course, having a normal conversation at work with someone my age. But that computer, man. When no one was looking, I’d sign onto Facebook and piddle around. But don’t worry. I wasn’t connecting with anyone I shouldn’t. I only talked to a few good people and one in particular worth mentioning. Isabelle a.k.a. Bella —my college best friend.
I couldn’t believe it.
After an overdue catching-up session, Facebook messenger style, I learned that she relocated to Central fucking Florida. We were only a few hours apart and from the conversation I had with my dad a few days earlier, we’d soon be even closer. Because my dad was starting this stellar golf tournament, which meant we had to move. We had to move so he could be closer to his new office. And believe it or not, where we were randomly moving happened to be where Bella freaking lived. It felt like fate. As if things were finally falling into place.
Except, we weren’t moving for a few more weeks. He had signed a lease with Jared so we were going to finish out this obligation and then go our sperate ways. But that didn’t matter. What’s a few more weeks when you were living like I had for so long. It was all up from here. I remember road-tripping with my dad to Lake Mary, Florida. We were apartment shopping and it felt awesome. I remember spending all day with the relator. And I remember when we found it. You know. The one. The one that felt like home.
Unfortunately, my dad couldn’t afford a two-bedroom condo because they really are way more expensive. So we settled on a one-bedroom with a super sweet loft. And let me say, the layout was great. Spacious. There was a walk-in closet, two awesome TVs and the entire place came fully furnished. I remember loving the area. The development itself was gorgeous. Safe. Child-friendly. And gated. It even had its own fitness center and pool. And believe it or not, Panera Bread (my all-time favorite) was directly next door. Besides that shopping center and two others, it sat across the street from this fancy country club.
My dad loved golf (still does), if you couldn’t tell.
I remember getting back to Naples, going upstairs “to work” and telling Bella that we found our new place. I remember geeking out so hard when I told her where it was. Because it just so happened to be five minutes away from where she lived. Wow. Like I said, full circle. It was weird. I had a job. I had some friends and was beginning to make a life for myself. As the days went on, I wasn’t as bored as I once was. I even found myself missing Aiden a little less too.
Because that’s the thing about addiction. When you stop using, your brain heals. I was feeling more normal than ever because I actually was. Because sometimes, falling down is apart of the process. That uncomfortableness is where change happens. It’s where we evolve. Where we turn that weakness into strength. Because that struggle you’re going through is also apart of the process. And believe me when I say, you will make it through.
Because recovering from anything is honestly the most badass thing a person can do.
*names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
And stay tuned for a more in-depth look about the specifics of what life was like for me during this time. Because now that we’re all caught up, this is where I tell you, I never did another opioid again. Like after my third rock bottom, I actually got it together. And I actually wanted too. Thanks for following along. Until next time.