Because We’re Confined, Only By The Walls We Build Ourselves, & This Girl Was Finding Her Way Out: In The Aftermath Part Two

Editor’s note: Hey guys. I wanted you to know that this piece follows my last one. So you may want to read, Relapse, Recovery & A Dash of Hope, before proceeding below. Otherwise, please enjoy.

It was nearly 3 a.m. and I couldn’t sleep. I’d toss and turn and remanence. Unwillingly. I had gotten pretty good at this whole insomniac thing.

For once though, I didn’t want to be good. But I was trying. I was trying a lot of things.

I was trying to forget, trying to forgive, and trying my best to move on. It’s just, sometimes, your best isn’t enough.

I know I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. But like I said, I was trying.

So yeah. I wish I could tell you after I escaped things went back to normal. I wish I could tell you I woke up every morning with a new found motivation to get things right. And I wish I could say that I wasn’t still reeling the loss of everything in-between. Because that would be a lie. I mean, I was free. That was true. I was living with my dad and his roommate’s family in Naples, Florida. I was safe. I was sober. But it was far from over.

At this very moment, I was listening to my breaths —trying to shut out the noise. It wasn’t working. Nothing ever did. I’ve always battled sleep. It’s just, I hadn’t in years seeing that, I was always high. Because a major side effect of the opioids I was on is sedation. Not anymore though, which was actually one of the hardest parts of my new life. Because my mind wouldn’t ever shut the fuck up; that’s a big reason why I loved those things. So yeah, I knew why I couldn’t sleep. But if I spent another second trying to self-analysis myself, I’d end up spiraling.

Because shit still felt weird.

It was weird to think about. Like I did that?

Because without my drug of choice, I wouldn’t have done any of those bad somethings that fucking asshole made me do. I was a different person. And I know that’s a good thing. But it didn’t always feel good. Tired of pretending, I decide to start my day a little early. So I get out of bed. On top of saving my life, my dad also so effortlessly gave me his bed to sleep on and his room to sleep in. He knew I’d want some privacy. He was right. And besides a comfy bed, his room had a bathroom attached. I remember walking in, turning on the faucet and splashing some cold water on my face.

My dad was on the couch and like everyone else home, he was fast asleep. Not me. I had to pee really bad. So I do just that and then grab one of my bags from underneath the bed. For those who remember, I secretly still had the half broken cell phone Bruce threw in a glass of orange juice. I put it on rice weeks ago and it worked. Well, kind of. Nevertheless, you should also remember a guy named Liam who too saved my life. He was the one who picked me up and helped me execute the great escape. Like the day I ran away from Bruce.

He also helped me get over Aiden.

And even though I wasn’t officially past it, I couldn’t have gotten here without him. Because I used to call Aiden. But I hadn’t since arriving. When I was with Bruce though, whenever I had the chance, I’d sneak off and try him. 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.

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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. And even though I could have contacted him with my secret half-working phone, it didn’t seem worth it anymore.

He had my number.

If he missed me as much as he said, couldn’t he be the one who called? Yup. So I was trying not to be flattered that he missed me. He should miss me. I’m deeply missable. However, he was still the same person he used to be. And, the only reason he missed me was because he was choosing, every day, not to be with me. He could have fought harder. So yeah, at least I was smart enough to realize that. And strong enough to hold myself back from doing anything stupid.

Because when you think about, nothing was stopping me from calling him right then and there. But what would be the point? Exactly. I was holding out for something better. Because even though sexual trauma makes relationships a little tricky, I still wanted to find love. I still wanted to be loved. It’s just, I had to work on myself first. And I had a lot to do. But Liam was a good distraction. We all need one of those. From the time I spent with him, he was one of the good ones. He wasn’t on drugs. He never even did drugs. And he was honest.

I liked him.

I liked him back then and the thought of him liking me (because I sensed he did), made my heart smile a little more than it otherwise would have. Plus, he was the only person who knew all the shit I had gone through. And yet, he was still into me? I had a lot of emotional baggage. So it felt really nice not to be judged. Because as much as I loved Aiden, he’d always find a way to hold my past against me. And I know it’s hard to imagine having a crush on someone when you were in the situation I was in.

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It’s even confusing to me. But if you remember, during my time with Bruce (we’ll call it that), I wasn’t always stuck inside —although, I was permanently stuck with Bruce 24.7, we did leave on certain occasions. Like when he needed his motorcycle fixed. Because that was our only means of transportation. Bruce didn’t have a valid driver’s license (even his motorcycle was pretty much illegal). So, he’d throw his dude at the repair shop extra cash to fix shit when needed.

I recall this one day, we rode over. I think something was up with 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. He didn’t want me talking to anyone or most likely, call for help. Unluckily for him, there happened to be a few workers around my age doing their thing. When I walked in, they all pretty much stared. 

One, in particular, caught my eye. Liam.

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. I tell him I’m a Jersey girl. I think he got the impression that I was from a good family, which was true. And that I was a good girl, which may have been true in another life.

Because 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, he had a job and he was clean. Plus, he was really nice.

THERE WERE ACTUALLY A FEW OTHER INSTANCES, BEFORE AND AFTER, WHERE BRUCE LET ME LEAVE THE HOUSE WITH LIAM.

And 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 snuggling with him on a wooden lounge chair. We both loved the beach, especially at night.

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I remember looking up at the stars with his arms wrapped around me.

I think that’s when we kissed for the first time. 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. But it did feel nice. Oh, and then another time, he locked his keys in the car. I remember calling AAA and waiting. I remember us laughing and him thinking the whole night was ruined. Never. Because instead of a fancy dinner, we end up grabbing some hoagies from Publix for a late-night beach picnic.

It was romantic and I didn’t want to leave.

I remember the drive home. And I use the term home loosely. Nevertheless, I recall 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 it. 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 first time Bruce invited Liam over (separate from those one-on-one dates). I was confused. Because Bruce always had ulterior motives.

I think the three of us were in the living room when I’m called to Bruce’s bedroom. He said he needed me for a minute. He didn’t. He didn’t need me at all. He merely wanted to prove a point. Because Bruce made me do shit to him while Liam was in the other room watching T.V. (like sexual shit); to show me who was boss. Because it was all about power. And this was Bruce’s way of saying, he had it all. And I let him. I let him have that one. But it was on purpose. I wasn’t as naive as I let on. I was doing what I had to in order to survive.

Pick your battles, they say. Because ultimately, I won the war.

I proved my power. Who’s the bitch now, BruceAnd Liam? Well, he proved to me just how wonderful he truly was. He proved it by showing up. If you remember, the day I escaped, 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. 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.

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Bruce ends up breaking 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 one of 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 either. They were on vacation in the Florida Keys.

SO I CALL MY DAD.

And he was the only one who came through. Like Liam, 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 (I hope it’s making sense now) to save my fucking life. 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 (our spot) on Atlantic Ave. as soon as possible.

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. That 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. I never did. I only made Bruce think that. Because I too was playing the game. And I was playing for keeps. I was playing to survive. Because smart Macey lifted Bruce’s apartment key earlier that day. I was always more self-aware than people gave me credit for.

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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 to 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 doors and that window was up. 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. But neither were we. Nevertheless, Bruce gets up.

He runs to his bike, races out of the parking lot and 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’re getting back into Liam’s car. That’s when we see Bruce. He puts his bike in park and then launches it onto the pavement floor. 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, you fucking 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 because you’re a fucking rapist.” Of course, Bruce wasn’t listening. 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. That’s when he starts cursing. He was freaking the fuck out. I think he knew it really was over. So he tries following us. But another car pulls in behind ours and we lose him.

Holy shit. That was intense. Yet somehow, we made it.

I owe it all to Liam.

Do you remember that scratch piece of paper with Liam’s number on it? Well, turns out, I still had it. And since I couldn’t sleep, I start thinking about him. In fact, I felt like texting him. So I’m underneath my bed still trying to reach for that bag I used to hide my half working cell phone and a bunch of other shit. I was expecting to simply pull out the phone and message Liam. But I find something else. I remember opening the bag. I remember seeing another piece of paper. It looked like a letter. I was confused.

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So I pull it out and read it.

My confusion turns comfort real quick when I realize what it was and who it was from. Liam. He freaking wrote me a little something before I left. I couldn’t believe it. I was touched. Moved. I guess he sneakily put it in here right before my dad picked me up. I remember trying to remember him sliding it in. But I couldn’t. Damn. He was good. I do, however, remember the two of us sitting on a bench on Atlantic Ave. waiting for my dad. He was driving from miles away. And like I said, we had time to kill.

So we’re sitting on that bench. My legs entwined with his. I was probably crying (definitely) and I remember him comforting me. He told me that I was the strongest chick he’d ever met. He said I was the most intelligent and most beautiful and that I just got on the wrong path. You can get off anytime, which is what you’re doing. You got this. And at that moment, it felt like I did. He made it seem like I could get through anything, which made me feel a little better. He said he knew I needed to get out of town but at the same time, he didn’t want me to leave.

That’s when he kisses me.

That’s when he says, “I’m going to miss you more than I’ve ever missed anyone. Because I’ve never known another girl like you.” Wow. That was the sweetest thing I ever heard. I recall walking back into the bathroom with all this swirling in my head. I turn the light on and shut the door. I think I sat on the toilet so I could read it without anyone else knowing I was awake. I remember crying. It was a happy cry; I think because his words meant so much. Sunday, August 18, 2012 —appeared in the top right-hand corner.

He must have written this a few weeks after we met. I’m thinking when he knew I was leaving, he had nothing to lose. Like if I didn’t feel the same way, he, at least, wanted to tell me the truth and get a few things off his chest. I liked that. I liked all of that. I can’t recall what today’s date was but presumably, it was a few weeks after that. Because my clean date, like the last time I ever did an opioid, was when my dad picked me up. I remember popping the last morphine I had from Bruce right before I got into the car.

And that was September 12, 2013.
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Dear Macey, he starts.

“I’m sitting in my room writing this letter to you because I need to say a few things…”

Last month, you changed something in me. No longer do I get up because I have to go to work and make money. I rise because of you. I asked God to please bring someone into my life that needs me as much as I need them and I’m starting to feel like He brought me you. You start a raging fire in my heart that cannot be put out and it only wants to grow bigger. Just your smile alone can turn my mood upside down and cause me to choke in my bashfulness.

Anytime I hold your hand, I feel like I can fly to the top of the clouds. I want to show you that not every guy is the same. I’m not a pig. I’m not a liar, cheater, thief, or a heartbreaker. I am a charming, caring, compassionate, selfless man who cannot give you everything in the world, but I can give you everything in my heart and soul. So I write this letter to you; not as a let’s make it official letter, but a letter to show you what’s in my heart.

And believe me, this is only a piece of what lies inside. So I’ll end this by saying one thing. I don’t want to be your scumbag. I want to be your hero.

Love always,
Liam.

PS: Sorry for any bad grammar and mistakes; I’m trying here!

Damn. I was fighting back the tears.

I could ugly cry as much as I wanted but I couldn’t be loud about it. I didn’t want my dad coming in. I didn’t want him asking what was wrong. Because he was grateful for Liam. That I knew, but I also knew he didn’t like him for me. My dad can be a little shallow like that. I guess, in his defense, he wanted the best for his youngest daughter (me). It’s just, the best changes. And the best isn’t always the richest. Because Liam was a mechanic who made decent money. “Not enough for my little girl,” —that’s what my dad kept saying.

For the record, there’s absolutely nothing wrong in being one. I tried telling my dad that. But he wouldn’t listen. I tried to remind him how awesome it was the way Liam knew how to take shit apart and put it back together. He was good with his hands and a hard fucking worker. But my dad is who he is and I knew nothing I said would change his mind. I mean, when we first got there —like when I first moved to Naples, my dad and I had a talk. That’s when he tells me I couldn’t communicate with anyone who wasn’t family and that I couldn’t use social media either.

“It’s for the best, Macey. I have your best interest at heart.”

He said I needed some time to recharge without the chaos my old friends brought. And he was right. I could use some alone time —in a safe and healthy environment. I also knew social media was a potential trigger. Like if I signed on, I’d see everyone being their best selves; living their best and most glamorous lives. And I was starting over from scratch. I had nothing and I knew seeing all that would make me feel like nothing all over again. Because I knew I’d compare myself to everyone else. Because a part of me felt left out. So I let him win that battle (for now).

I wanted to meet him halfway. Because I wanted to talk to Liam more than any of that. That’s when my dad tells me what he thought of him. And he emphasized that this guy saved my life. I’m not taking that away from you, Macey. But you have to look at the big picture here. Are you going to marry him? Do you see a future? And will you even see this kid again? No. Maybe and probably not. He did, however, let me call him on the phone to let him know I was settling in OK. Needlesstosay, I didn’t feel like explaining what I was doing and why I was crying. Because nothing was wrong.

I just had a lot of emotions.

When you’re coming off as many drugs as I was, everything comes back. Honestly, that too was one of the hardest parts. Because back then, whenever something bad or even something good happened, I had to get high. It became my only means of coping. And now, I had to find healthy tools to overcome shit. The reality is, like me, people use substances because of how they make us feel. The problem, however, is that the effect is inherently short-lived. It’s like once the euphoria passes, you want it back. Because your underlying state of being is most likely uncomfortable without it.

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And drugs (in the short-term), make you comfortable no matter what’s going on around you.

I mean, look at me. I was chemically chained to that fucker Bruce. And I stayed there as long as I did —even though it was awful —because I was able to get and stay high. I was going through a break-up, which I’m sure most of you can attest to the fact that they suck. Like you already know, it was all-consuming. My entire body ached. But after snorting a line, I was OK (even though I wasn’t). But I felt better, or so the drugs told me. Because it’s a false freedom. And that’s the problem. Because most people don’t realize just how intense it is when you finally get sober —like feeling your feelings tenfold.

This speaks to how effective these substances are at blocking or altering our emotions altogether. Because now, I couldn’t stop crying. I was crying because I was happy. But also because I was sad. Because like Aiden, I’d probably never see Liam again. Happy —because my presence had such a positive impact on him. And that the feelings were, in fact, mutual. Because you never know. People act a certain way. People say certain shit —sometimes they mean it and most of the time, they don’t. But as he said in his letter, he wasn’t like any of that.

He wasn’t like any of the assholes I dated.

And that made me miss him even more. A few minutes later, I finally get my composure. I grab my phone and sit back down on the toilet. Don’t worry though, the seat was down. I was using it more so as a chair than anything else. By now, it was nearly 5:00 a.m. I remembered him saying that he always got up early. I hoped today was one of those days. And guess what? It was. Because he texts me back almost instantly. And my heart lite the fuck up. I was cheesing like a little school girl. But I loved it. It felt really nice.

I hadn’t flirt texted in years. So it brought back some feelings of normalcy. He said he had been waiting for this. He didn’t want to get me in trouble because he knew the rules my dad set. Then he asks how I was feeling, where I was living and what I was up too. I told him overall, I was much better. But I have my moments. I said my dad had this really nice townhouse that he shared with another guy and that guy’s son —all who I really liked. I told him about my morning beachside walks and my low key afternoons.

My days were all the same. But it was exactly what I needed.

Because we’re never not where we’re supposed to be. Because there’s a season for everything. And this was my time to rest. That’s what he said to me. I remember thinking. Damn. He really understood where I was at. Because as you know, my days in Naples were more than low key and I always struggled with boredom, which is how I felt a lot of the time. Because when you’re high, nothing is mundane. But Liam reminds me to look at it differently. Don’t think of it as boring. He said to look at it like a vacation.

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And what do you do on vacation, he asked? You drink coffee, you go to the beach, you work out and you rest. That’s when I tell him, I’m glad I texted you. I feel way better. Because I was doing all of that. Like I’d wake up or as you know, make it seem like I just woke up around 7:00 a.m. My dad was most likely still asleep on the couch, which was directly parallel to where I was headed —the kitchen. I will say, if he was awake when I’d make my coffee, he’d usually steal an hour or two of sleep in the bed. It was his after all. And at that point, I didn’t want to be in that room anymore.

Because most likely, I had been awake in there for hours.

So I’d make that cup of coffee. And then, I’d go into the sunroom (my favorite spot), which was technically outside but it was completely screened in. There was a table with four chairs and a television with a shit ton of ashtrays. Because we all smoked cigarettes —my dad, his roommate, Jared, and me. If it was a weekday, Jared was already up. He was usually in the sunroom, smoking that cig and watching the news. He’d always have a cup of coffee like me. But unlike me, I’m pretty sure his was spiked with gin.

The truth is, Jared was an alcoholic. I remember finding out after picking up an old cup another morning. I was trying to be a good roommate and put it in the dishwasher. But when I grab it, I smell something like rubbing alcohol inside. I remember taking a peek. I remember seeing his last few sips and noticing, it was definitely mixed with some type of liquor. I thought that was weird. Because in an hour, he’d have to drive his son to school. And then he’d drive the two of us to the beach for our walk. But I never questioned it.

I figured if he wanted me to know, he would have said something.

Plus, he wasn’t trying to hide it either. And he was usually coherent. He was a salesman, after all, so he was also a smooth talker. He was all of that —until he stopped working for the day. Because normally, after he’d take his manager hat off, by 4 p.m., he was falling over wasted. I remember him cooking dinner this one night. Pot roast maybe? My dad pulls me away for a second. We walk into the sunroom when he says to not eat whatever meat Jared was cooking. I asked why?

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I’m not joking but he said, Jared had been scratching his ass and then touching that meat like every five seconds. Whaaat? I remember laughing after that. Needlesstosay, I was vegan that night. And it was just little things like that. Sometimes, in Jared’s inebriated state, he’d be hostile toward his son, AJ. Because AJ was a great kid but a little odd. Some would say he was on the spectrum. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just, sometimes, he would say some off the wall shit. It always made me laugh but Jared wasn’t as keen with it as I was.

Because Jared would always throw his ex-wife, AJ’s mom in his face.

AJ used to live with his mom and younger sister. His sister was your typical blonde cheerleader and the golden goose of the family. AJ was nothing like that. He wasn’t a jock and he didn’t have many friends. For me, I always admired the outcast seeing that I always felt like one myself. AJ and I bonded over that. I remember swimming in the neighborhood pool with him on the weekends. I remember him telling me that his mom kicked him out. Not for drugs or misbehaving but for embarrassing her.

I told him how sorry I was and how wrong that is. And for him to never change. You have your moments, but so do I. Who doesn’t? Apparently, his mother was some politician in the Atlantic City area (that’s where they’re from and where they lived before Jared and his ex got divorced, which is also when and why Jared moved to Naples). Anyway, AJ was too much for his mom to handle. So she forces him on Jared and here we are. Needlesstosay, Jared loved his son. But when he got drunk, he’d talk nonsense and it would usually end in some sort of fight.

Like AJ would storm off and Jared would drink even more.

I hate saying this, but seeing all of that in action made me feel better about myself. It also brought my dad and me closer. Because every time it would escalate, he and I would sit outside. We’d chain smoke cigarettes and just talk about life and everything in-between. That’s when my dad warned me about Jared and our morning walks. He told me if Jared ever seemed off or not clear-headed enough to drive, I could call my dad and he’d pick me up instead. I don’t think my dad liked my morning routine as much as I did.

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But I urged that it was helping me stay sane.

He couldn’t argue with that as long as I promised to keep him in the loop. I did. For the record though, I never needed to make that call. Because when it came down to it, I think his morning gin was equivalent to my morning pills. As awful as this sounds, he wasn’t drinking to get drunk. I think he was drinking to get normal. Most likely because he’d feel like shit without it. Because like drugs, you can, in fact, withdrawal from alcohol if you drink every single day and then don’t.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal typically occur when someone stops after a period of heavy drinking. Like I said, every morning he’d have that cup and then every night, he’d down a bottle maybe three of whatever was around. So when you’re drinking a lot like he was, those withdrawal symptoms normally start anywhere from two hours to four days after the person’s last sip. And this shit is intense. Like if he didn’t have that morning cup, he’d experience some awful shit.

Here are a few symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Hallucinations
  • And in more dangerous cases, seizures or even death.

Because life-threatening wise, alcohol withdrawal is even more severe than opioid withdrawal. I say that because you can actually die from it. Now, don’t get me wrong. Opioid withdrawal is literally the worst feeling in the entire world. But chances are, you won’t die. You may want too but the awful symptoms alone won’t kill you. Needlesstosay, my dad had every right to be a little wary of me hanging out with Jared.

But he was never inappropriate. And he never put me in harm’s way. If you remember, we’d take AJ to school and then drive to the beach. All of these locations were within minutes of where we lived. And I’m not trying to justify Jared’s behavior. Because drinking and driving is no joke. So I’m definitely not condoning it either. I just want to paint a picture of what it’s like as a functioning alcoholic. Because knowing what I know now, Jared was definitely that.

Because like Jared, a typical functioning alcoholic is likely middle-aged and well-educated.

He or she usually has a successful career —possibly married, however, they don’t have to be. Generally, they have some type of family structure —instead of being isolated, broke and alone. Those around the functioning alcoholic may not recognize that a problem even exists. Because they ordinarily go to work all day. They may even go to the gym after. But when they get home, it’s off to the races. That’s when the alcoholic will down multiple bottles of liquor. And unfortunately, many family members take this as normal behavior.

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Since the person isn’t having financial problems or missing familial obligations, he or she must be OK. And he was; but then again, he wasn’t. Because he may have seemed OK, at least on the outside. It’s just, his insides would tell a different story.

But everyone is different. What may be functional to one person can be detrimental to another. That’s neither here nor there. Luckily, he had an assistant, Lisa, to help with the in-between. She was really nice. I loved her. She was actually the only female figure in sight —so we got pretty close. Like whenever she had a break, we’d always talk. Turns out, she too experienced trauma and had her fair share of addiction woes. Not her but an ex-boyfriend. Needlesstosay, she understood where I was at (figuratively and physically).

I could tell her how I was feeling. And she never judged me nor did she share my info with anyone else. Because my dad asked. But she respected my privacy. She told him if there was something I said that he needed to worry about, she’d tell him. But until then, it’s girls only. So I had a second dad and now a second mom. She ended up giving me so pretty stellar advice that, looking back, I can say helped me get through all this shit. Because even though I was safe, like I said, it was far from over.

I remember sharing all that with Liam.

He said that was a lot to deal with on vacation. But he was impressed with my tenacity to stick it out. After hearing his words of encouragement, I started seeing it from his perspective. I was pretty awesome. Resilient. At this point though, he had to get ready for work and I was distracting him —a good distraction but he said he had to go. He asked if it was OK to text this number every now and then. I told him of course it was. I empathized that I may not respond right away.

I mean, technically, I wasn’t allowed to have a phone. So I said, whenever I could reply, you know I will. He understood. So we say goodbye and I start getting ready for my new morning routine, which as you know started at AJ’s school followed by that ocean walk with Jared. I peak in the bedroom. My dad was awake. He says he was so comfortable he couldn’t get up. I tell him I know the feeling and to stay in there as long as he wanted. I ask if I could use the bathroom. I said I needed to shower. He had to pee real quick but otherwise, it was all mine.

So I get in the shower, brush my teeth, wash my face, do my hair, and put some clothes on.

A few minutes after that, I meet Jared and AJ in the sunroom for some coffee. They were watching TV (ABC news), so I quietly say good morning and light up a cigarette. Jared was kneedeep in his. Any past or present smokers, I’m sure you’d agree that it’s always better with someone else. That’s actually how I started smoking —socially. Like whenever I was at a party in high school and college, we’d drink. Eventually, a group of us would go outside. Sometimes to get air but mostly to puff something.

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And for whatever reason, it was always a bonding session. I guess some things never change.

Because that’s when and where my dad and Jared, AJ too (even though he didn’t smoke) would have our best conversations. Anyway, we hang out there for a little bit longer and then head out the door. This was pretty much the start of my day, every day. Like I’d make coffee and then proceed to the sunroom where they normally already were. Sometimes, AJ would sleep in and wouldn’t have time to chill. But most mornings he did. So now we’re in the car. I always let AJ sit up front and then I’d steal his seat after we dropped him off.

Honestly, I loved those drives. I love simply being on the property of his school.

And I know it sounds weird but it was like this new nostalgia. Clearly, I didn’t go to that school but I went to a school. So being back at one made me feel like the girl I used to be when I was a student. Like when I went to school, I was a good girl. I didn’t do drugs and I rarely broke the rules. I didn’t even lose my virginity until I was nearly 18. I was always a late bloomer. It wasn’t until a bit later (my junior year at college) that I started to spiral (eventually, you’ll hear all about my high school and college days).

After that, we’d head to the beach. We’d walk up and down for close to an hour. We’d small talk sometimes, not talk on others but there were always occasions when we’d get deep. Remember, he was a party boy back in the day; so there was always something to discuss. And he was easy to talk too. It all depended upon what was going on —at least that was always different. And then we’d head home so Jared could start his work day. For me, since I was already in workout mode, I’d have extra motivation to keep it going. I’ve always loved walks —long or short; by myself or with a buddy —it didn’t matter.

I think I liked it so much because it was a way to clear your head. Cathartic.

And it’s not just me. Experts say that being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress. Because exercise of any kind releases that feel-good chemical, dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter (a type of chemical messenger that sends signals from one nerve in our body to another) that regulates pleasure and reward, as well as movement, emotion, cognition, along with motivation. So yeah, walking is good for you; it increases feelings of pleasure. And the ocean. Man. There’s nothing like it.

Luckily, the neighborhood we lived in wasn’t too bad either. Townhouses like the one I was at sat along the perimeter of the complex. And if you drove a bit deeper inside, you’d find it was mixed with a bunch of McMansions. So I’d walk a circle around the entire development. While I walked (sometimes I’d jog), I’d talk to myself —either internally or out loud since no one was around to call me crazy. I’d go over what I’d say to Bruce if I ever saw him again. I’d do the same thing with Aiden.

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And in a way, it cleared out some of the clutter and negative thoughts I’d have, which as you know was a big reason as to why I couldn’t sleep. It was like I had all of these secrets. These awfully embarrassing secrets. And they were heavy. I felt them everywhere.

That’s why they say your secrets keep you sick and we’re only as sick as our secrets. Because it’s true. We are. It’s just, when I finally started talking, I felt a release. Like a physical weight off my shoulders. At the time though, I mostly only talked about this shit to myself. Sometimes, I’d tell Lisa if I was having a bad day. And on a few other occasions, I’d secretly text and talk to Liam. So yeah. Shit was tolerably mundane and pretty much the same; but remember, this was my season of rest.

I’d say that to myself (multiple times a day). For the most part, I’d believe it. But sometimes, not so much.

Because I quite literally did the same thing every day —besides a few outings with my dad (lunch or dinner and a movie; errands too). But when it came down to it, I wasn’t my best self just yet; so I needed this time out. That’s why I’d go on that second walk. I needed all the help I could get. After, I’d do some calisthenics in my room (because I’m crazy) and then probably take another shower. Next, I’d eat some lunch and make my way to the pool (weather permitting). I’d always bring the same pink journal with me. That’s where I’d write.

I’d write about missing Aiden, missing Liam, how much I hated Bruce and how I was trying not to hate myself. Because I did for long ass time. Do you blame me? Once I was pooled out, I’d head back to the house (possibly take a third shower) and just chill with my dad and whoever else was in the living room. We’d watch TV, smoke more cigarettes and eat dinner. Remember though, a week or two in and I got myself a job. So after dinner, I’d normally go upstairs with my new work buddy (that girl with missing teeth who was really nice) and try to set up those stupid appointments.

That’s also when I’d secretly sign onto Facebook.

Because I was sitting at a cubicle with a computer and internet connection. We needed all that to keep records of all the people we called. The computer also had the list of leads —current customers the company thought may upgrade to this points system. So we’d call them, one by one, in an attempt to schedule a meeting for that particular client to talk to a member of Jared’s sales team. Like I said in that other post, it was one of those pyramid schemes. But I was just the receptionist. I got a flat free regardless if I made 10 appointments or zero.

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This is how I ended up reconnecting with my college best friend, Bella.

You should also recall my dad telling me the other day, he had plans at the end of the month to start this golf tournament in Orlando, Florida. So one of the errands that particular week was finding a place for us to live. Because we’d be moving. I remember being a little sad. As mundane as shit was, it was also comforting. Because I’ve always hated change. But when I reconnect with Bella, I find out that she just so happened to live in the same fucking town that we were moving too.

What are the odds? I mean seriously. It felt like fate.

It felt like things were finally coming together. As if the dust was actually settling and the storm was over. It was calm and not the calm before the storm —just calm. We end up finding a place —a really nice place, and a few weeks after that, we pack up the little belongings we had and drive the three hours it took to our new home. I couldn’t believe it. I finally had one. I was planting roots; it felt more than good. I remember saying goodbye to Lisa, Jared, and AJ. It was bittersweet. These people took me in as if I was family. And now I was leaving.

But I was leaving to start a new —another new. Because I knew I couldn’t do the same thing over and over again —expecting different results. I had moved past the insanity. So it was a good thing. Like it’s all up from here. My dad and I were going on a new adventure. And that’s when I got excited. So I give the townhouse one last look and off we go. It’s a three-hour drive (give or take) from Naples to Orlando. So we ride and ride and then, we arrive. I remember pulling in. And I remember unpacking. I recall it being a bitch. Because there was no elevator.

And we were on the top floor.

Oh, when I say we, I mean me —seeing that my dad has four herniated discs in his back and neck (high school football). Needlesstosay, he can’t lift for shit. Not his fault but it sucked. I must have I lost a ton of weight that day. Because it was 88 degrees and I was running up and down with a shit ton of shit. But who’s counting? Anyway, after making a pretty big dent, I ask my dad if I could use his phone to call Bella. We talked about this on the way. He said after we unpacked a bit, I could invite Bella over to see our new place. He knew of her from my college days but didn’t remember much.

I urged she was good people. And since he’d be home and we weren’t planning on anything other than that, he says I can have her come by. I remember calling her and the two of us freaking out. I hadn’t heard her voice in years; even though it felt as if we were never apart. I love friends like that. She tells me she can’t believe how close I am. Bella lived with her mom about five minutes down the road. Technically, she lived in her mom’s sweet little guest house. But on the same property nonetheless.

Consequently, she was there within minutes.

I remember hearing a knock at the door. It was Bella. She looked amazing right off the bat. And me? I was a sweaty mess but she didn’t care. So we’re hugging, kissing, and screaming in excitement. I recall my dad laughing at our epic reunion. After some introductions and a bit of small talk, he said we could take this down to the pool. You know, catch up girl’s only (great idea, dad!). But not before complimenting Bella on her gorgeousness, “Young lady, I don’t remember you being so beautiful.”

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She thanked him and then asks where the bathroom was. I show her the way and while she’s in there, my dad gives me his seal of approval. He said he got good vibes from her and was really happy I had my friend back. I knew this was a good start.

So we go to the pool just like my dad suggested. And we talk. We talk for a while. I tell her everything. She was stunned. Stunned that I lived through all of that and amazed that I was able to talk about it so matter-of-factly. WowThat’s intense shit, Macey. I mean, this was all new to her. We hadn’t spoken in years. So she didn’t know how bad things really were. And it’s my fault. Partly because I had been institutionalized for so long and also because I was a straight up mess. I couldn’t keep myself healthy let alone maintain healthy relationships. But she didn’t mind that either. She was happy just to be with me.

And so was I. In fact, I couldn’t believe it was permanent. We were neighbors. Ah! Then —she fills me in on her everything. She was doing really well. Her boyfriend, at the time was ironically from the same West Virginia town she grew up in. Whaat? Yeah. Since they were on opposite sides, they didn’t know each other. They ended up reconnecting at a local bar whenever they both moved to town. I remember being stunned too. Feels like fate, girl. I remember her saying they had been together for nearly three years now. I was so happy she was happy.

And she was happy that I was finally here. Here to stay nonetheless.

But that’s not all. What’s even crazier is that my current boyfriend, Rob, happened to live here too. He was also a West Virginia native who moved to Florida to attend flight school —he wanted to be a professional pilot. That’s not even the best part though. Because the three of us went to the same university. Bella and I were best friends. And back then, she just so happened to date Rob’s best friend. I remember Bella and her then-boyfriend trying to set us up. It worked. The four of us ended up going on a double date. I don’t remember much.

Hey, I was a party girl back then. But I do remember a few things. Like him sharing that he had just gotten his private pilot’s license. I thought that was awesome. I remember him showing us some cool pics of him flying. I also recall him being really nice and super cute with the most gorgeous blue eyes. But nothing ever came of it. Back then anyway. He’s the shy type. Well, until you know him. And at the time, I didn’t know him well. Plus, I was all over the place. So it never went past that one dinner —besides a few hi and byes whenever I saw him around campus.

Flashforward five years.

And somehow, we both randomly end up living in the same Central Florida town? Whaat? There’s more. As luck would have it, Rob (my current boyfriend) and Bella were actually still pretty close. Like Bella’s mom would watch Rob’s dog whenever he’d have a long day at flight school. So it wasn’t unusual for him to be there. Now, keep in mind, for a while, like when we originally moved, I wasn’t allowed to do much of anything. I wasn’t allowed to see anyone either.

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Keep going.

At first, I didn’t really want too anyway; so staying in wasn’t a big deal. I mean, I was coming off a shit ton of drugs. And being sober for the first time in years, I didn’t look or feel like my best self. I needed some time. I knew that. My dad knew that. So those were the rules. It’s just, as the days went on, I started craving something more. I wanted a life and I needed mine back. I remember asking my dad when he’d let up a little. This is where I remind you that he loved Bella —so much so, that anytime plans involved her, moving forward, I was allowed to go.

I couldn’t believe it. I remember calling Bella and telling her she could start inviting me places. Even though, I still didn’t have a phone (yet), we ended up going on a few dinner dates, some shopping sprees and shit like that. Slowly, I was earning back his trust. I was proving my integrity. Like if he said to be home at a certain time, I’d be there. I’d be there with time to spare. Or, if there was alcohol around, (he knew I didn’t struggle with it but didn’t want temptation of any kind), he wanted me home immediately.

So I didn’t drink. And if people were, I’d tell Bella and she’d take me home.

Because before he let me have a social life, he agreed I’d do the next best thing when he was around but what about when he wasn’t? Well, that’s where Bella came in. Besides him loving her, he trusted her. So I think he thought, if Bella was around, I’d also make good choices. Because she was a good girl and he felt like her goodness would rub off on me. You are who you hang out with, he’d always say. And he was right. She was a terrific influence.

So this one random day, as fate would have it, I ask my dad if I could get out of the house. I tell him that Bella invited me over for a sober Sunday Funday. Of course, Macey. Just keep me in the loop. Like if we left her place, he wanted to know. And every few hours, he’d want an update —just to let him know I was OK. All of that was pretty much standard. And when you think about it, his requests weren’t too crazy. I could handle it. I mean, I was getting a bit stir crazy.

Consequently, I was willing to do that and then some.

I remember calling Bella and telling her. Within minutes, she was there. I remember putting on a pair of yoga pants with a crop top and getting in her car. I remember hanging out in Bella’s living room when Rob walks in. Hiiiiii. His dog, who normally hates anyone new —runs right up to me. He starts licking my feet and attacking my legs. But in a good way. Rob was laughing. He thought it was adorable. Love at first sight.

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Anyway, I bend down to pet the pup and then I look up. “I don’t recall Rob being as cute as he looked right now,” I say to myself. He was still shy, Bella said. But I saw him light up when our eyes met. I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to know him. And apparently, he wanted to know and talk to me too. So we stand there, looking at each other, saying nothing (at first). But it was that type of nothing that meant everything. And so, that’s how our relationship ultimately began.

After that, I got myself a cell phone. The guy at the Verizon store said it was actually the last iPhone in the entire state of Florida (and my first one ever; I was always a step behind —not anymore though). I think he said they had a bunch of break-ins —so everything was either out of stock or back ordered. I’m not sure if the Verizon guy said that to make me feel special. But it worked. Because my dad caved and bought it for me. It’s about time. You earned it, Macey.

Plus, I’m pretty sure he was over sharing his.

Because I was going out more and more and I needed a way to communicate with him. Needlesstosay, it was a win-win. I remember getting in the car with my dad and driving back home. I remember getting home and making my first phone call. Hey, Rob. You’ll never believe who it is. You’ll never guess what this girl did today. It’s Macey and I got a cell phone. “Finally,” he said. I’m so happy. Now we can talk.” That’s when he invited me out.

And that’s when we had our first date; dinner and a movie. We talked the entire evening. We talked about everything. We were never not talking. And if there was a moment of silence, it was a comfortable one. Don’t you love that? I do. By the end, I remember thinking, Damn. He was charming, kind and a bit mysterious. I was into it —all of it. I didn’t want the night to end. But it had too. So he drives me home. And like a gentleman, he accompanies me to my front door.

He said he wanted to make sure I got in OK.

I thought that was sweet. For some reason though, I remember being nervous walking up the stairs. You never know how the end will go. Will it be awkward? Will he go for it? Whaat? Well, for the record, he went for it. As he leans in, my nerves hush. It felt right. This was our first kiss. I remember telling Bella. And I remember her saying, “I think he likes you. This is the most I’ve ever heard him talk in all of the years I’ve known him.” I made her repeat that a few times. Because I felt the same way. I liked him. I liked him a lot.

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And it felt even better knowing it was mutual. I guess what they say is true after all —that someone will walk into your life and make you realize why it never worked out with anyone else. I could feel it. He was that someone. Because along the way, I got lost in him. But it’s the kind of lost that’s exactly like being found. So let me end with this (because there’s more, which will be revealed in my next post). That night and most others moving forward, I slept like a fucking log and never looked back. I was safe. I was sober. I was happy.

Because most of the time, what we’re most afraid of is the very thing that will set us free.

xoxo,

macey bee

If you have any questions concerning the timeline of events or need further clarification on anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

*names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. 

sources:

https://www.dualdiagnosis.org/alcohol-addiction/functional-alcoholic/

One thought on “Because We’re Confined, Only By The Walls We Build Ourselves, & This Girl Was Finding Her Way Out: In The Aftermath Part Two

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