For the record, my headline is long on purpose. It's supposed to be an ironic kind of something. Sarcastic. Cynical. Wry. Because it's true. That shit did, in fact, happen. And this is how it all went down.
But first. I have a question for you. I don’t understand how something so bad, can feel so good? At least it used too.
Because when shit was good, it was real good. But when it was, it was really bad.
I’ll never forget the first time I met Aiden’s mom.
I don’t think she will either. Actually, I know she won’t. Like if I was nervous about not being memorable, I didn’t have to be. I definitely nailed that one. And then some. Was that a good thing? That was yet to be determined. On one hand, I just spent the last few hours picking out the perfect outfit. So yeah, I dressed the part. It’s important to know your audience; I like to think that I know mine. Meaning, there were no crop tops at this feast. In this case, though, clothes weren’t too important. At least not anymore.
If you read that shit up there, I think you’ll see why.
Because when your boyfriend’s mom is this close to calling 911, fashion do’s and don’ts kind of go out the window. It wasn’t all bad though. Actually, it was mostly good. If you read this shit below, I think you’ll see why. Turns out, my little choking incident was like a really big icebreaker. But first. I had to get there. I remember knocking on Aiden’s front door. I remember walking in, setting my stuff down and asking, does anyone need help? I figured that would be a good starting point. Maybe I’d bond with his family over dishware and table settings —start from the outside and work your way in.
Thank you, Titanic.
Happily, I did my research, which meant, I didn’t have to be that nervous. Because I got the family basics from Aiden well in advance. I made sure too. Because everyone has a different vibe. Everyone likes certain things and dislikes all the same. So I wanted to know what to say and how to say it accordingly. I wanted to feel comfortable. I wanted them to feel comfortable —all without trying too hard. Above anything else, I wanted them to like me. Them being his mom, Jackie and two sisters, Jessica and Jamie. I was meeting them for the very first time.
So yeah, it was your standard “meet the parent’s” dinner.
We start off by exchanging your typical clichéd pleasantries —a.k.a. a bunch of small talk; filled with vivid introductions —telling Aiden’s mom how much I adore her son. I wanted them all to get a sense of who I was. More importantly, I wanted to imply that she did a wonderful job raising a wonderful kid. For the record, that wasn’t totally true all of the time. But she didn’t need to know that. And Aiden made sure I knew all the same. He was kind of nervous for me to meet everyone. I was nervous too.
An impression was certainly made. That’s for sure.
If you remember from my last post, Aiden was trying to show me he took our relationship seriously —serious enough that it was time to meet his family. After the whole Schnapps ordeal (you can read about that here), he knew he needed to do something. And this was just that. Because I recently found out Aiden had been lying. He wasn’t cheating or anything. At least not in the sense you’re probably thinking. Although, at the time, it did feel that way.
Because for the past few months, not only did he mislead me about how many pills he was taking, he was also way worse than he originally made it seem. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t be honest. Because my side of the street was anything but clean. I was anything but clean. I thought we were in this thing together. You know. Like partners in crime or something. And I guess we were. But we also weren’t. Because not only would he make me buy him as many pills as possible, all while knowing I could barely afford my own addiction; he was also mixing painkillers and benzos on the DL
I wasn’t even supposed to know. But I did.
For the record, this is how a lot of kids die. Because when you take the two of them together, you’re intensifying your overall high —so much so, that by the end, I couldn’t understand half of what he was saying. Except, his slurred speech was only the half of it and that shit didn’t exactly go down just yet. But it could have. On one hand, I was relieved our dealer Schnapps told me what he did. But I only got bits and pieces. So I didn’t understand how much of the two he was really taking.
And living your life in a permanent haze wasn’t too appealing to me.
I guess when you think about it, that right there is pretty ironic. Because that’s exactly what opioids do. But in a different way. Because I thought I was doing a pretty good job at hiding the fact that I was addicted. Because Aiden’s mom said she was happy he found such a good girl like me. So yeah, thus far, the evening was off to a great start. Like way better than I thought. But this is where you find out that I wasn’t as graceful as I wanted to be. Because the night ultimately ends with me running away from the dining room table.
I ran away crying.
It was more of a laughing cry. But yeah. There were definitely tears.
And let me say, it’s not what you’re thinking. I can tell you that for sure. Because I’m laughing out loud merely thinking about this shit. So the conversation starts heating up. But in a good way, the best. There was never any lull or awkward silence. Even if there was a pause, it never felt weird. Nothing was forced. I was working the room doing my best to initiate conversations with everyone. I was also doing my best to answer all of their questions. Because for a while there, it was game on.
From their smiling faces, I think I was keeping up just fine.
I figured they’d want to know who their brother was dating. So I gladly responded with as much detail as I thought was needed. And I was honest. As honest as I could be. Because I spoke about my addiction in the past tense. As if I was recovered just like their brother. More importantly, my vibe was an open book. And I think they respected that. Because I wasn’t shy about the shit I went through. Like what I had to do on my journey to get clean. His mom even said she was impressed. “Most girls would probably lie. But I love that you didn’t.”
She said that after learning how Aiden and I met.
Unfortunately, that part was a lie —seeing that, it had nothing to do with Narcotics Anonymous (NA) like we insinuated. Because I couldn’t tell them that my first-time relapsing was actually how I met your son. If you remember, the two of us met in a freaking parking lot —behind the dumpsters of some local restaurant. Because we were both picking up the same set of pills from the same dirty dealer (that guy Schnapps). So yeah, the real story was out of the question. Instead, we went for the exact opposite.
Saying it was at a random NA meeting, which could have been true.
“Man. I wish I knew that back then,” Aiden points out.
I tell them that my older sister taught me how to play hard to get. “Guys love the chase,” I suggest. Jessica and Jamie nod in agreement. “Yeah, Macey played that game almost too well. Because for the longest time, I thought she wasn’t interested. Talk about messing with my head.” His sisters were loving this. They said they were relishing in the fact that I made him sweat and that he actually admitted it. At this point, we’re standing around the kitchen island eating some horderves. Jackie was by the oven putting the finishing touches on our almost finished meal.
It looked really good.
It’s just, I couldn’t stand there and not do anything. Because I didn’t want to spoil my dinner by eating too much bread and I didn’t know what to do with my hands. So I ask if Jackie needed any help. “This is your third time asking,” Aiden estimates. “Yeah. Because I’m nice,” I rebuttal. “You have great manners,” Jackie affirms. “You’re our guest though.” Before she could finish, Jessica chimes in —pointing to the food-filled plates laying on the counter, “We make Aiden do the heavy lifting.” So he takes that as a sign to start moving that food from the kitchen onto the dining room table. “Good boy,” Jamie jokes.
I liked their rapport.
As we all make our way into the dining room, Jackie asks, “I hope you don’t mind family style.” I reply almost instantly, “OMG. Of course. It’s my favorite.” By now, we’re seated when I decide to ask a few questions of my own. Because my older sister, Michaela, taught me well. She always told me to take the time to ask them about their work, passions, life, etc. That way, you’re able to talk with the family —without stumbling over nervous words. Luckily, as the night went on, I didn’t have to be nervous.
It seemed like they liked me for me.
At least the me I was pretending to be. Plus, people in general love talking about themselves. Aiden definitely did. Anyway, this is where I learn they were raised Catholic. I actually didn’t know that. I also didn’t know they all went to the same Catholic prep school. The youngest, Jamie, was the only one who still attended. She was a freshman there. She played field hockey. In my head, I thought that seemed right. I also thought she was adorable. Her long dirty blonde hair and petite frame were doing her many favors.
Honestly, they all were. Especially, his other sister, Jessica.
Jessica was the middle child. For the record though, she did not have middle child syndrome (MCS). I say it like that because she joked about MCS a few times. She was quick-witted and smart. I’d say she was more alternative than the other one. Like Avril Lavigne circa 2003. Well, minus the hair. Jessica’s was short and brown. Speaking of hair, this is where she tells me she’s in beauty school. “It’s my second year.” And this is where I tell her, “I’ll be your guinea pig anytime you need to test out a new look.”
That never did happen. But it fit the conversation perfectly.
Around this time, his mom asks Jamie, “Can you pass Macey the meat?” We were just starting off. But so far, everything was delicious. Since the pot roast and the pretty dish it was in, was an arm’s reach away, Jackie didn’t want me to have to reach; hence her request. She was making sure I was comfortable. Making sure I had everything I needed, which is the type of woman Jackie was. I think caring was ingrained in her DNA —seeing that she had been a nurse practitioner practically her entire life.
At this point, we’ve all officially filled our plates.
For me, I’m looking at a heaping pile of mashed potatoes, a steamed vegetable medley with a few pieces of warm french bread. Oh. And of course, the pot roast. They said they were glad my plate was full. Evidently, Aiden’s last girlfriend was the quiet type who barely touched her food. “She ate like a bird,” Jessica maintains. “It was so annoying.” She continues to explain that his ex was skinny like me, but she was the worst. They all agreed I was prettier. Jamie even said better. I loved every second of that bit.
I decide to be a little dangerous.
I decide to throw in a joke, “I guess he has a type.” They loved that too. Phew. We all start laughing. “You’re cute and funny,” Jessica adds. “I love you already.” And that’s when I put a huge piece of meat into my mouth. That’s what she said. Nope. I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t. Because this is when I start choking!!!!!!!!! And this is when they thought I was joking. I wasn’t. I literally couldn’t breathe. I guess I was enjoying myself a little too much that I forgot to chew. Instant regret. I seriously couldn’t catch my breath.
It felt like hours had gone by. When really it was minutes. No seconds.
Apparently, that’s what happens when you’re choking.
So I stand up, waving my hands around; trying to gasp for air. I needed help. Because I stupidly put an entire chunk of beef into my mouth. I swallowed it whole —like I said, without chewing. Hence why I couldn’t breathe. It felt like I was suffocating. And they were all laughing. They were laughing because they thought I was trying to be funny. They thought this was apart of the joke. No, people. I’m not that funny. I guess now it is seeing that I’m OK. But for a moment, I wasn’t sure what would happen.
I remember hearing my dad’s voice in my head.
I remember thinking he would have been pissed. Because when I was a kid, he’d always say, “Chew your food good. Don’t talk to strangers, and look both ways before you cross the street.” Literally everytime my sister and I did anything, he’d yell that at us. I guess he made a good point. Because if you don’t chew your food, you will, in fact, choke. Luckily, a few milliseconds later, Jackie realizes what was really going on. She worked in the medical field, after all. So she knew what choking looked like.
She knew what needed to be done.
This is when she screams, “OMG. She’s not joking. She’s choking. Aiden quick. Give her the Heimlich. NOW!” At this point, everyone else knew this was serious. So they’re in a quiet state of panic as Aiden comes up behind me. Jackie was straight ahead and the two sisters were on each of my sides. Silence. Here’s that lull. Because they were all on the edge of their seats —quietly watching their brother maneuver my chest. He was trying to dislodge that damn piece of meat that was stuck inside my throat. One. Two. Three.
Nothing. It was still in there.
I was still choking. Talk about being uncomfortable. I literally thought they’d have to call 9-1-1. Because it wasn’t working. And I couldn’t fucking breathe. I also couldn’t believe this was happening. Why GOD, why? I was furious at myself. Because everything had been going great. I mean prior to all this, they thought I was this calm, cool and collected girl of their son’s dreams. Jackie literally said I was perfect. Perfect until this. I was absolutely mortified. But I didn’t have time to feel any shame.
Because this is when my face starts turning a shade of purple.
Oh. But then, he got it. Thank freaking GOD!!!! I may have spoken too soon. Because this is when a large chunk of meat comes flying out of my mouth. But that’s a good thing, right? Yeah, until it lands. Because it shoots out of my mouth and then falls directly on his mother’s fucking lap. Of course. At this point, I was beyond. Because I was on my best behavior. And it felt like this just ruined everything. Was it all for nothing? That was yet to be determined.
I wasn’t about to wait around and find out. I couldn’t even look at Aiden. And he knew me. He knew my person My good side. He also knew my not so good side. But his family. They didn’t know any of that. They only knew what they saw that night. And if that was an inclination about our future together—well, let’s just say, I thought it was a bad omen. So yeah, that’s when I run away crying. I was trying to shake off the embarrassment. Trying and failing. I think Aiden knew that. I think he also knew the very thing (the only thing) that would help make me feel better.
So I’m in the bathroom right next to the kitchen.
Clearly, I needed a second. I needed more than a second. Because honestly, I had no intention of coming back out. I didn’t think I could. I remember saying, I live here now. Anyway, I hear what sounded like footsteps from the hallway leading into the bathroom I was currently standing in. I was literally just staring at myself in the mirror —shaming the reflection staring back at me. That’s when I realize that noise was Aiden, who got up behind me. He said he wanted to check on me.
I mean, I did just shoot a chunk of beef at his mother.
So yeah, I needed to be checked in on. I also needed something to cut the edge. Except, my purse was sitting on the living room sofa, which meant cold water to the face would have to do. I wasn’t about to walk out there and then back in here. Well, a part of me wanted too. Because I didn’t have any pills on me. They were in my bag. But my bag was basically next to the crime scene. And I couldn’t go back. That’s when I hear a knock on the closed bathroom door. I wondered what they were all doing out there.
I should just go, I thought.
Then, I hear Aiden politely ask, “You OK in there, babe?” I was Ok. Yeah. But I was also absolutely mortified. He said not to worry. “Weird shit happens all the time. I can tell they seriously love you. My older sister, who has hated every girl I’ve ever brought home said she got really good vibes from you. And my mom,” he points out. “Yeah,” I whisper from the other side of the door. “I think she may be obsessed with you. You did so good. She wanted to come in here herself.”
But he told her it was probably best that he go.
Partly because of the incoming pick-me-up I was about to receive, which is when Aiden opens the door ever so slightly. “Here you go, babe,” he whispers as he hands me a credit card, a rolled up dollar bill, and my favorite blue little pill. I throw him an air kiss and mouth, thank you. He tells me to take my time. “I’ll let them know you’re washing up and that you’ll be out shortly.” So I shut the door and start my ever so favorite pill crushing routine. Because you need a bunch of “tools” in order to snort these things.
The credit card is to break up the pill.
The rolled bill up gets the powder I just crushed, safely up my nose. So I snort that shit as fast as humanly possible, check myself out in the mirror hanging above the bathroom sink; and finally, make my way back to the dining room where everyone was. I walk in shaking my head, apologizing incessantly. Immediately, his mom embraces me. And right away, I felt a little better. It could have been the 60 milligrams of happiness I just snorted. But it could have also been the fact that I was now in the middle of a group freaking hug.
Because by now, his two sisters joined.
And I’m pretty sure, that was the biggest hug I’d ever received. I was touched. I was also relieved they were being so sweet. And, I wasn’t as embarrassed as I thought I’d be. That’s when his mom says, “As long as you can breathe, as long as you’re OK, we’re OK.” And then, his younger sister, Jamie points out, “This is our first time meeting you, and we already have an inside joke. How many girlfriends can say that?”
Good point, sista. She made a stellar argument.
“Trust me, we’ll be laughing about this in a few days,” Jessica (the older one) interjects. They go back and forth trying to comfort me; when I point out, “I think we can laugh about it right now.” And then, the four of us quite literally laugh out loud. After that, the conversation started really flowing. I was on a roll. In a way that little incident, broke the ice. Plus, it definitely helped that I was currently flooded with an intense rush of euphoria. Because that’s what those pills do.
It can feel as if you can do or say anything.
Think of liquid courage on steroids. Like when I first started using, back in college, I remember thinking that this shit made me work better than Adderall ever could. I remember getting super into whatever I was working on. Whether that be school work or actual work. At the same time, if you’re in a social setting like I currently was, these pills fool you into thinking you’re the best version of yourself. Because when I’d get high, all I wanted to do was talk to the people around me. And man could I listen.
I could talk and listen like superwoman.
I felt invincible. That right there is partly why I loved them so much. I remember bonding with Aiden over this exact thing. Because we’d snort our pills, chain smoke cigs and just talk. Talk about life. Our problems. Hopes. Desires. Everything. I did that every time I got high —at least in the beginning before I built up a pretty big tolerance. What I’m getting at is —opioids, like painkillers and heroin, have chemical structures. These structures mimic natural neurotransmitters found in all of our brains. These drugs literally “fool” our receptors into thinking this is how it’s supposed to be.
As if you’re supposed to have this flood of euphoria.
As if it’s normal. It’s not. Because they don’t work the same way as a natural neurotransmitter would. The neurons, a specialized cell that transmits nerve impulses end up sending abnormal messages through the brain —and inevitability to the rest of our body. That right there can cause problems for both systems. Because when you don’t do drugs, our internal reward circuit responds to feelings of pleasure by releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that carries signals between brain cells.
Basically, it creates these insane feelings of pleasure.
I can firmly say that back then, the only thing that brought me that type of delight were those damn pills. Because it felt like I couldn’t hold up a conversation if I wasn’t high, which made the rest of our dinner that much better. Because my insides were flooded with dopamine from the pills I just snorted. Because they take control. At the time, it feels good. Really good. Too good. Because this is where that “high” feeling or intense excitement —referred to as euphoria comes in.
And that feeling is dangerous.
Things like going for a walk, having dinner with your boyfriend’s family or laughing with new friends —yeah, that shit won’t do anything. Like even though on the outside, it looked like I was having a nice lowkey time, my brain was hardcore happy. Too happy. Because the human brain is wired to make sure we do certain things necessary to stay alive. Like repeating healthy activities, such as eating and sleeping —by connecting those things with feeling good. Whenever that reward circuit is ignited, the brain notes that something important is happening.
Something important that needs to be remembered.
So it teaches us to do it again and again, without really thinking about it. But because drugs come in and “hijack” that same circuit, people learn to use drugs in that same way. And after repeated drug use, like Aiden and I, the brain starts adjusting to those surges of dopamine. Meaning, you’ll need more of that chemical to make you happy. You’ll need more of that drug to be your best self. At least, that’s what an addict’s brain tells them. Because that’s what mine told me. Because eventually, the natural neurons eventually stop producing dopamine.
Sometimes they’ll just make less.
Regardless, when there’s not enough of that —and because drugs are toxic —the natural neurons die. As a result, the ability to feel any pleasure, the ability to talk and really listen without opioids is significantly reduced. That’s why Aiden and I always felt flat, lifeless, and depressed when we were without. We were quite literally unable to enjoy things that once brought us pleasure. Because now, we needed our drug of choice just to make our dopamine levels normal —or as I like to say, back to zero. Anyway, enough about that.
At this point, we had just finished clearing the table.
My shame had nearly worn off. And now, the four of us were enjoying some dessert —this amazing fresh fruit-chocolate fondue. The night was coming to an end. Turns out, I made such a good first impression that Jackie invited me to spend the night. Aiden said, “I feel like I’m repeating myself a thousand times. But this seriously never happens.” That’s when he knew I was in. However, I wasn’t sure if I was able to accept Jackies gracious offer. I wanted too. Bad. But I hadn’t had a sleepover since returning home.
So I call my mom and ask.
And when I tell her that Amelia (the mom of the girl I was supposedly babysitting) had such a good date, she too was spending the night, Amelia asked if I could too. Like with Abby (the girl I was seemingly watching). And to my surprise, my mom freaking says yes. I thank her a million times over. I tell her I’ll be home in the morning. And that “I love you so much.” And then we hang up. At this point, the two sisters head into their room. They needed to unwind for the evening so they could get ready for bed.
It was actually pretty late.
Jackie says she’s about to do the same. That’s when we say goodnight. That’s also when we move the party into Aiden’s room. Happily, Jackie was pretty liberal about that stuff. She said she didn’t mind if the two of us slept in the same bed. I was really excited. This was our first official sleepover. So for the next nine hours, I could escape. And when you think about it, that’s exactly what addiction is —an escape, which is literally what I was doing. I was trying to run away. I was trying to be numb.
And when I was successful, I was, in fact, escaping.
I was escaping my less than glamours life to feel good and not care. Because I cared too much. And felt all the same. But when you figure out why —like why I felt the need to escape in the first place —well, that’s when you recover. Unfortunately, I didn’t know any of that yet for a very long time. But that’s OK. Because eventually, I figure it out. You can too. I promise you that. Because if I survived that damn dinner, winning over the hearts of my four witnesses, I know for damn sure I can get through anything. I also know you can too.
*names and some details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.