He was supposed to come over while my mom was at work the following day. I was already breaking the rules. What the fuck, Macey. I don’t know what I was thinking.
The truth is, I probably wasn’t. There was just something about him. Something about him that made me lose control.
But I wasn’t about to let him know that. I knew how to work it. So at the last minute, I pretend something came up. And I ditch him. Not in a mean way. I was playing hard to get.
I guess I played too hard. Because this was around the time he thought I wasn’t interested. And I shouldn’t have been. But I was.
I was also eight months clean, which doesn’t really count —seeing that most of my sober time was spent in rehab. There’s no temptation when you’re behind bars. The true test comes when you transition back into reality. Would I pass? Or, would I fail? I choose the ladder. Because I had been home for less than two weeks and me wanting to get high had already turned into a full-blown relapse. So yeah, that’s around the time I lost control.
And that’s why they say not to date anyone when you’re in early recovery. On one hand, yes, it’s entirely possible for a romantic relationship to succeed when you’re newly sober. However, studies show that most intimate relationships that occur within the first year of sobriety tend to take a turn for the worse. From what I’m about to tell you, I think you’ll see why. It’s just, if you knew what I was really up too, you’d know I wasn’t actually sober anymore.
Because what I haven’t mentioned is how Aiden and I met.
If you remember from a previous post, I decided to move back in with my mom (Cherry Hill, New Jersey, here I come) after completing the program at that long-term Christian rehab. We called it the Mission a.k.a. Mission Teens. Nearly an entire year went by and now, just like any other girl I was home —waiting for her best friend to pick me up. I hadn’t seen Fiona in years. I think the last time I saw her was when she visited me in college, which seemed like a lifetime ago.
She was actually the only one out of my group of girlfriends who made an effort to see me and stay in touch. There were eight of us. But now, we were more like strangers. It was my fault, mostly; considering I was on drugs and lying about it. They wanted nothing to do with that. As a result, they wanted nothing to do with me. What I haven’t told you is that Fiona was doing the exact same thing. Because she and I used to get high. We used to get high all the time.
In fact, our drug-dealing boyfriends ended up becoming friends.
We all did. But whenever I’d go home, we’d hang out. We’d hang out and the four of us would get high. I guess some things never change. Because I was about to tell yet another fucking lie. Because my mom didn’t want me hanging out with anyone —especially Fiona. And that’s exactly what I was about to do. Because it didn’t feel good to be on the outs. It felt like a double standard. As if I wasn’t good enough. Looking back though, I think it was that Fiona played both sides better than me. Because she was still pretty close with them all.
But now that I was home, and on the straight and narrow, there was nothing standing in my way. I thought this is how I get back in. I didn’t know if I wanted too. I did know that I wanted to feel like I was apart of something. So when I get a text from Fiona inviting me out for some coffee and a catch-up session, I thought this is how I do it. And even though my mom didn’t want me to hang out with her, I did. Because from what I heard though, she was clean. I figured what could harm could it do for the two of us to grab lunch?
Turns out, it could do a whole lot.
This was the Beginning of the End.
And this is how it started. Because Fiona was here. I remember grabbing my purse from the kitchen counter and quietly shutting the front door of my mom’s two-bedroom condo. She was at work; so I pretty much had the whole day too myself. I recall running down the steps and seeing Fiona standing outside of her car —impatiently waiting for her long-lost best friend. We hug. We hug for a while. I couldn’t believe how nice it was to see her. I didn’t realize how much I missed her. She says to get in. I have a surprise for you, Mace.
That’s when she pulls out a clear white baggy from her middle console.
What was in it? A bunch of Roxicet ’30s, another name for Oxycodone, which happened to be my fucking drug of choice. I couldn’t believe the thing I was running away from; the very thing I worked so hard to overcome was now staring at me in the face. I found it strange seeing that Fiona knew all of this. She knew I just got home from rehab. And she knew I was trying my best not to get high. I thought I’d never see this shit again. In this case, that would have been a good thing. But now, I couldn’t look away. And I certainly couldn’t say no. The truth is, for the past two weeks, I was only pretending. Pretending to be happy. Because I was sad. I was sad, lonely and a bit lost. I mean, I was sleeping in the same bed I slept in during my hormonal teenage days.
The same bed I told myself I’d never have to sleep in again.
It was the same bed I cried myself to sleep in. I remember experiencing my first heartbreak in there —after I found out my first love cheated on me. I remember slamming that same door shut and jumping into bed —after these girls at school bullied me. Because of all that, I remember telling myself I’d never go home again either. But there I was. Here I am. I guess I did a lot of things I said I’d never do. And in this case, that was a bad thing. But I didn’t have time to think. Not with my eyes on those damn things.
I didn’t have it in me to say no. It’s that simple. I simply couldn’t look away as Fiona picks out two. We had done this exact routine before. We did it plenty of times —in what felt like another life. I watch as she lays an old CD case on top of that same center console. She grabs a lighter out of her purse and breaks the pills into powder. She takes a rolled up dollar bill and snorts. Once she’s done, she crushes mine too. She always did. Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.
At this point, we’re still in the parking lot of my apartment complex, when I snort mine.
I hadn’t gotten high in over eight months. Frankly, I was pretty fucking excited. After that, I thought that’s when we’d get coffee and catch up. She had other plans though. She said she needed more. I guess she wasn’t clean after all. And now, either was I. Since there was no going back; I mean, relapsing on one pill is basically the same as relapsing on four, she asks if I wanted another. I tell her I have no money but yeah. I‘d love one. That’s when she texts this kid Ron. Ron wasn’t a dealer. More like a middleman. You know the type.
Unfortunately, though, he overdosed a few months ago. Like present day, he’s dead. But back then, he said to meet at this particular restaurant a few minutes down the road. In the back by the dumpsters. He was having the lunch I was supposed to have with one of his buddies named Aiden. That’s the guy I referenced above. That’s the boy who made me lose control. The one who got away. And this is how we met. This is also when Fiona and I arrive. We drive around back just like they said as the two of them wave us over.
The guys were also picking up from their dealer, Schnapps, who was in his car across the way.
While all that goes down, I decide to stay put when I see Aiden approach my window.
I remember thinking he was cute.
Like really cute. There was something about him. Right away, I wanted to know him. Evidently, he wanted to know me too —at least that’s what he told Ron who told Fiona who then told me. So he strikes up a conversation —asking why he’s never seen me around before. I tell him I just got home from rehab and that I used to live in Florida. He thought that was cool (the Florida part; not rehab lol). He said I was charming, hot and a bit mysterious. I was flattered. That’s when he asks for my number.
That’s also when I hear my sister’s voice. Let him come to you. Play hard to get. Guys love the chase. Innately, men are natural-born hunters. They like the thrill of a good challenge. That’s why boys like to race shit. You don’t see many females out there tackling opponents to claim some pigskin ball on a perfectly good Sunday afternoon, right? No. No, you don’t. And while us ladies were politely fixing tea and crumpets for our dolls and friends, the rowdy neighborhood boys were in hot pursuit, playing cops and robbers.
Because yeah, it’s in their DNA to hunt, chase, and track shit down.
So if you make yourself readily available, guys no longer have anything to pursue. And if there’s nothing to chase after, dream about, or hunt down, they’ve probably already lost interest. So how do you avoid the clingy-desperate act, while still letting him know you’re interested? Well, I think it all goes back to not making yourself too accessible. And yeah, I know this is not very twenty-first-century of me to say this, but you need to let him come to you. My sister would always say, “Put your phone away.”
Because dialing his digits four hours after you’ve met is only going to turn him off. Or something like that. And even though, I’m not the best at following rules, this was one I’d never break. Thank you, sis. So, when he asks, “How can I get a hold of you?” —I gladly give him my number. He also said he wanted me to have his, which is when he takes my hand, grabs a random pen and jots down his digits alongside my right arm. I had no intention of actually using it but I liked that he wanted me to have his number.
Because I was hoping he’d call or text me before I had too. And what do you know?
I recall waiting a few minutes before responding.
Truth is, I wanted nothing more than to hang out with him. But I didn’t want it to seem like I had nothing else to do (even though I didn’t); so I tell him I’m busy. I need a little notice when you want to chill, which wasn’t necessarily true seeing that I was habitually bored AF home alone. But that’s how I played it. And that’s the point. Because after that, he pursued the shit out of me. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. And eventually, I give in. That’s when we hang out. Because you have to show some interest otherwise he’ll just give up.
Because guys don’t appreciate a tease and they certainly don’t like being led on. So a few weeks go by. Things were slowly heating up. I end up meeting some of his friends —all who really liked me. So far, so good. I liked them too. We were also flirt texting pretty much every day. And, he’d respond to those messages pretty much right away. I took that as a good sign because I’d always take a little longer. He said that drove him crazy. But once again that’s the point. I guess this shit really works. Unfortunately, though, it wasn’t all positive.
Because I also took the fact that he was buying me pills as a good sign.
It wasn’t. Plus, that shit didn’t last. A few months down the line, I land a job at this real-estate law firm. That’s when I started making actual money. That’s also when he stopped. Like when he stopped paying for me. More specifically, my pills, which is understandable. They’re expensive. I can’t be mad at that. I mean, I can be. But knowing what I know about these things, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. And I didn’t. What got me the most was that he stopped putting in the effort. It felt like, yeah.
I won the challenge, so now, there’s nothing left to chase. Since there’s nothing left to pursuit, I’m over you. And when you’re in a serious relationship that’s a good thing. Because once you get the guy or girl, and you’ve been together a while, there’s no need to play the game. The chase is over. You can be yourself. It’s just, we weren’t there yet. If I can be honest, I don’t think we’d ever be. But I was too close for comfort. Too close to see the bigger picture. Because he was me circa 2012. And karma, as you know, is a bitch.
He was an addict who never hit bottom (not yet at least). As a result, at the time, there was never a need to stop. Because there weren’t any repercussions to his negative actions, which he took as a sign to continue. Because why not? I was getting a taste of my own medicine. Because he’d also say one thing and then do another. Just like when I’d steal someone’s stash and then help them look for it —as if I didn’t just take it. So yeah, he was taking rules from my playbook. Because how many times did I lie about this shit to the people that I loved?. Mostly though, at this point, I was lying to myself.
I’d say, he loves me, so it’s worth it, right? Wrong.
From coffee and dinner to pills and other drugs —yeah. I paid for everything. Eventually, it felt like I was being used. It’s just, I was so infatuated with him that my rational thought process and ability to say no was pretty much none existent. Before that though, like in the beginning, he did pay for everything. Because at that point, I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have a car either and he had both. He worked part-time for this accounting firm. I think a family friend of his owned it, which is how he got the job. Because he wanted to be just like Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street.
So that’s how he ended up there. From what I saw though, I didn’t think he’d make it. He wasn’t a very hard worker. Nepotism at its finest. Anyway (enough about that), I’ve been home for nearly a month now. Aiden and I still weren’t official but we were hanging out more and more. His dealer, that guy Schnapps (more on him later) was always good —so it was the same thing every time. He’d pick me up when my mom was either at work or tired enough that I could sneak out.
Other times, I’d tell her I was going to a meeting, to church; shit like that.
Or, I’d say I was hanging out with a friend in which she approved of. And then eventually, babysitting (more on that below) was my most used cover. Nevertheless, once Aiden got me, we’d meet up with Schnapps —practically right away, snort our shit and then drive around until I had to be home. Sometimes, we were allowed to chill at his mom’s house. That’s where Aiden lived. He lived there with his two younger sisters. They were pretty cool. From what I saw, I think they liked me. I definitely liked them.
The youngest, we’ll call her Jamie, was only a freshman in high school. I’m pretty sure they were all raised Catholic. And I think they all went to the same private Catholic school. Because on certain occasions, I’d see Jamie wearing this cute little uniform. Jamie had long dirty blonde hair. She was super petite. And I wanted her to like me. I wanted them all to like me —including Jessica —who was almost as old as Aiden and I. At the time, we were 23-24-ish. So let’s say she was 21. Jessica was definitely more alternative.
As for his parents —they got divorced years ago.
I think it had been over a decade —like when the kids were younger. From what I heard, his dad was always away on business. Like six days a week. Ultimately, for the mom, it felt like she was already alone because she literally was. I’m not sure if because of that, someone cheated, but I do know that the two of them didn’t get along. They were civil because they had to be if you know what I mean. And unfortunately, as our relationship grew, Aiden’s addiction got worse. As a result, his mom and dad had to work together.
Because they both had the same goal. They wanted their son to be clean. They were worried what would happen if he wasn’t. Because he wasn’t clean. He was anything but. And at this point like when it all came to a head, he was actually worse off than me (more on that later). But before that, on a normal day, anytime the dad’s name came up in front of the mom, she’d talk some shit. As for me, I liked them both. I’d say I liked Aiden’s mom a little more. Why? Because she’s a wonderful woman. I doubt she’d say the same for me. But it’s the truth.
So yeah, I feel bad. I feel really bad about everything.
Especially how it all ended (more on that in another piece). I feel bad because Jackie (Aiden’s mom) always went out of her way to make sure we were both OK. Because she treated me like a daughter. We had some pretty cute bonding moments. I think she worked as a nurse most of her life; so she was very warm. Easy to talk too. Easy to talk with. And I shared some things with her. Like about my addiction. It’s just, I’d talk about it as if it was past tense. As if my stint in rehab worked. Because that’s what I was telling everyone. So she thought I was such a good influence.
She thought I could get through to him. Because Jackie knew her son was on drugs. He’d lie and say otherwise. He’d say he was clean. Because like me, he had just gotten home from a 30-day treatment center. I think Jackie was kind of in denial. She did what she could. But she’d always give him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t blame her. I did the same thing. I guess when it came to Aiden neither of us could say no. Plus, when it comes to an addict, we’re master manipulators. Aiden would just lie to cover up that other lie.
Like he was taking it to the grave. And he wouldn’t back down.
Pick your battles, they say. And I did. Because I didn’t want him mad at me.
Consequently, I’d always give in. And the cycle continues. Nevertheless, he didn’t always want to chill at home, which I clearly understood. I mean, there was a reason we never went to mine. So besides all that, there was also Emma and Charlie’s house. I liked it there. Charlie was Aiden’s best friend from the pre-school days. What’s funny is that they couldn’t be more different. But it was kind of cute that they stayed so close. As for Emma; she was Charlie’s wife. He knocked her up back in high school —like five years ago and instead of letting it ruin their lives, the two of them made it work.
So they started their own little family in the next town over. And here we are. Charlie worked full-time, at some 9-5 thing. So Emma was the stay-at-home mom who took care of their little girl. Emma and I actually became friends. Unfortunately, though, it was because of pills. Like she’d get excited whenever we’d come by because she knew she’d get a line or two. And then eventually, she’d buy her own. And after that, Charlie did too. I will say before Aiden and I were even in the picture, she was already addicted to Xanax.
But it definitely didn’t help that we were snorting our shit right in front of her.
So yeah, that probably escalated the inevitable. And I feel bad. I feel bad especially for Charlie because he didn’t see it coming. He didn’t know how bad things really were. The whole reason he did pills, to begin with, was because he caught Emma. She made up a lie saying she’d only do them on the weekends. And only when their daughter was asleep. And somehow she twisted it to make it seem like she got them for him. For a date night or something like that. At first, Charlie was pissed. But then, she made him do it and he understood. Because these things are that good.
But if you take away that shit away (like minus the drugs), they were good parents. Emma was a great mom. The thing is, you can’t magically take these drugs out of the equation. Because we were all addicted. Well, everyone but Charlie who really only did them on the weekends. I mean if I did the math, I bet you he only snorted them a handful of times. And Emma played it off as if that was her too. When really that was a bold-face lie because anytime she could, she would. And she did. In her defense, so did we. And me? Well, I lied. Aiden was a mooch, remember.
So yeah, I knew how to play it. Like if I got eight, I’d say I got four.
Because he did the exact same thing (more on that later). Needlesstosay, when I found that out, I felt less bad. Anyway, my point here is when we weren’t using alone in his car, we were normally at Emma’s. I even introduced Fiona to Emma. They actually became good friends. And then they left me out. Go figure. I should have seen it coming. But that didn’t happen yet. Because when things first started, it was fun. It was new and exciting. I mean, Aiden and I weren’t even withdrawing yet.
So we were getting pretty fucked up and enjoying ourselves. That’s how this shit gets you. That’s how he got me. Because romance is just as much addicting as the drugs themselves are. I read a bunch of studies testing the effects of romance on the human brain. And according to some of the most recent research, the experience a person has in a romantic relationship activates the same parts of the brain that are targeted by substance abuse. In fact, there are not many psychological differences between drug addiction and romance.
Because of these similarities, romantic relationships in early recovery put individuals at risk for a lot of dangerous shit. Shit like substituting alcohol or drugs with the thrill of romance and feelings of intimacy. Although alcohol and drugs are much more physically threatening than being in love, this type of dependence greatly increases the risk of a relapse —should things go south with the relationship. I mean, when Aiden and I fought (because we definitely did), I’d feel completely out of control. I’d be so sad that I’d want to get high. It felt like a requirement.
It’s because recovery is an ongoing journey.
Sustaining sobriety and remaining abstinent both require a certain amount of continued effort. It’s difficult to give one’s recovery the necessary level of attention while also pursuing a romantic relationship —especially when you’re first figuring this shit out. There’s a reason why they say to wait a year. They also say, if you can take care of a plant and then an animal like a pet, that’s when you’re ready for a relationship. Neither of us could do any of that. We couldn’t do anything. Anything other than getting high.
We excelled at that.
And yeah, I’m well aware none of this shit is normal or healthy. But we really didn’t care. We only cared about having enough money to get enough pills. And each other. We definitely cared about one another. At least that’s what I’d like to think. I mean, I placed most of my focus on our relationship rather than my recovery. And that right there is why I slipped back into bad habits and old behaviors. That’s why I started relapse mode and couldn’t stop.
Because I knew Aiden would be getting high. And if he did, I had to. Otherwise, I’d feel left out. And that feeling was powerful. So much so, it kind of took over. It took over until I’d get high. But that’s not OK. That’s not normal or healthy. Because it got so bad, I actually had to leave work. Well, I didn’t have too. But it felt like I did. So I’d fake being sick so that Aiden could pick me up. He’d pick me up in my freaking car that I let him have for the day; even though he had his own (more on that later).
I don’t know. It’s hard to explain.
The easiest way to put it is that I was just as much addicted to Aiden as I was to the drugs themselves. Anyway, I bet you’re wondering what my mom thought of all this. She wasn’t Aiden’s biggest fan. Go figure. Honestly, she hated him. Do you blame her? I definitely don’t. At the time, I did. I was pissed. And I was probably picking a fight. Because it was hard scheming my way in and out —trying to find ways to see him. Trying to find ways to get high. As an addict though, you always find a way to get shit done.
I just don’t understand why I didn’t put as much effort into using as I did in my recovery Like, use that bad shit for good. Because when you think about it, being an addict in active addiction is difficult. It’s overwhelming. It requires a lot of hard work. Time too. You have to plan and then execute that plan. And shit always goes wrong. And still, my mom had no idea. Dare I say she was proud? I just might. Because I was still winning at pretending. Because on the outside, I was doing everything she asked.
Everything I was supposed to do as a newly sober chick. You know.
And of course, I was supposed to abstain from drugs and alcohol. Clearly, none of that was true. I was doing everything I shouldn’t have. It’s just, I was pulling it all off as if I was doing the next best thing. As if I had been doing it the entire time. When really, it was all smoke and mirrors. I think if you got close enough, you’d see I was a fraud. You’d see I was a liar who clearly was high. There were a few times where my mom threatened to drug test me. Somehow, I’d talk her off the ledge and convince her I was fine.
I wasn’t. Far from it. The only thing I had going for me was that I wasn’t fully addicted just yet. At least that’s what I kept telling myself. Because I was getting high nearly every other day. And after a while, that shit catches up with you —just like it was about too for me. Because I didn’t have enough time between getting high to experience any symptoms. So yeah, everything I said I’d never do, eventually, I did. Because the champion my mom was proud of was fading fast. In fact, she wasn’t even there.
But I didn’t care. As you know, all I cared about was more pills and Aiden.
The two things I shouldn’t have. So yeah, that’s how I lost control. That’s how I lost myself. I remember this one evening in particular. I remember the two of us making plans. At the time, I wasn’t doing the whole 9-5 thing. I think I said I wasn’t ready. I probably could have been, but I was lazy. I wouldn’t be able to hang out with him as much if I was working all day. And I knew he’d get high without me. Luckily, my mom believed me when I said I had enough on my plate. Still, she agreed I needed a way to make some money.
Mostly though, I wanted an excuse to get out of the house. Since my mom didn’t know who I was hanging out with or what I was really up too, I thought this babysitting gig would be a great cover. Because the best lies are based on some truth. And you’ll see what I mean in my next blog post. I’ll be continuing where I last left off and hopefully, the picture I wanted to paint will be crystal clear. Because a few days ago (like back then), I end up meeting this woman at a meeting I actually went too.
It felt like fate. As if I was turning over a new leaf.
I thought this was how I put out the fire. This is how I get my life back. Because I thought she’d help me see the light. Because my new boss and I end up becoming friends. We stay friends until everything exploded. It’s not what you think. But I’m sure it’s close. And then, I make everything worse when I tell yet another lie —on that particular night when Aiden and I were making plans. Because that’s when my mom asks what time she could expect me home. And instead of being honest, I say that I’m still babysitting.
Really though, Aiden had just picked me up and we were on our way to get high. After that, it didn’t get much better. I, essentially, opened up a can of worms that should have stayed closed. Because ultimately, what happens next changed my life forever. I just didn’t know it yet. At the end though, like present day, it all turned out OK. It turned out exactly how it was supposed too. The universe is funny like that. You have to distance yourself to save yourself. And to be yourself, you must first destroy “the me” you were told to be.
Because sometimes, what we’re most afraid of is the very thing that will set us free.
*names and some details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.