“The positive cannot exist without the negative.” ~Alan Watts
My heart was empty. It had never felt that empty before. Sometimes I felt a gap gnawing at my chest making everything around me feel like half of a whole. I felt like a piece of me had died.
I painted my childhood bedroom grey that summer, picking out the color carefully after taping paint samples on the wall and pondering them for hours.
The old color gave me a headache; it glowed neon green and looked dirty now from years of feet on the walls. Hidden above the moldings, I found pencil drawings from when I was younger. Quotes and such that had meaning to me at one time, but now the point was lost.
These distractions were welcomed. They shifted my eyes from all the stuff I’d crammed in my parents’ dining room: a pile of boxes, a desk, a lamp, and some pictures that I had framed from old magazines I found at flea markets with him. This was all that was left of that life that I ended abruptly one night in April.
He was passed out drunk on the living room floor and I was alone. I had been for a while. So why was I waiting, hoping he’d wake up and be with me? Hoping to see a glimpse of that person that wasn’t consumed by the addiction.
That person was gone and that part of me, gone with it. I made extra noise packing my bag that night so that I would wake him. Tired and groggy, he got up and stood near the stove, squinting at me. Then crossing his arms, he turned away to stare out the window.
He was angry that I woke him. Never wake a sleeping drunk. They won’t care (even if they really do care). I don’t know why I woke him. I wanted to sling my bag over my shoulder and slam the door behind me, and I wanted him to see me do it. He threw his hands up at me—“Just go.” And he went back to the floor. Don’t wake a drunk and expect them to care.
The tears came out heavy as soon as my car door closed. I’m surprised I could drive through it. After eight years I was back at my parents’ house. Even if I knew deep down this was the best decision for me, it felt like defeat.
I had trouble doing even the smallest of tasks. I moped around in my bathrobe smoking cigarettes and lying on the brown leather couch for hours. Skipping meals and flipping through meaningless TV channels. It affected my work as well. I started taking more days off and I couldn’t focus. I had a plan to move forward, but the pain had rendered me paralyzed.
The thing about losing your best friend is that your best friend is not there to help you through it.
After I left, pieces of his old self started to appear to me in sober mid-day conversations. He didn’t ask me to come back, he knew I wouldn’t. And I knew not to be tempted by this side of him while the alcoholic still lurked around his mind.
The transformation into addict was so quick. Around year four we were both drowning in this addiction and consumed by it. Sometimes I wonder how it had even started. It was as though I woke up suddenly from a nightmare. I knew something had to change.
He had alcoholism in his family and had avoided it for years, and still it had come to this. I quit drinking around our sixth year. After two years of sober vs. drunk rivalry, he finally told me the truth. He would never quit.
It was like being stabbed in the chest; I couldn’t breathe.
After you leave alcohol behind, you realize how meaningless it is. In my eyes, he was choosing a stupid bottle over me. My self-esteem started to plummet rapidly.
I felt for a long time I was a broken person incapable of being fixed. But no one is broken forever. We are all capable of healing and moving forward into better phases of our lives.
This will be the hardest decision you ever half to make, to stay or go. When you are in love and have invested your time in someone, when you start to contemplate a different life, your emotions will be like a cruel game of tug of war.
You will start by downplaying how bad the problem is. If you are covering or…