by Garrett Carlson
Your mind reads like chalkboard covered in scattered numerals; a quixotic collection of the best laid plans scrawled across your window sill. You tell me you need me. You tell me that I am the only one that understands you. You tell me so many different stories over and over and over and over again that now when you call, I put you on speaker phone. I have begun working on my own problems instead of trying to help save you from yourself. I have made my decision. I’m letting go.
My phone rang and in simplistic terms you told me what your future plans were. Mere months after leaving the rehabilitation center for the third time, you wished to tell me a secret. I obliged with the idea that you were finally making the strides necessary to fulfill the potential that everyone once saw in you. Instead you began connecting the dots of a narrative; bridging two souls and countries together in a needle addled rendezvous that will be legally bound in two months. And with that revelation, I lose interest quicker than the time it takes for the powder to reach your neurons.
Images of two lives being shared through vices line your Facebook walls. Alcohol? Check. Marijuana? Check. The hard stuff you swore to me that you had left behind? Check. A police lineup would eventually reveal all of the usual suspects, including your new girlfriend/fiancé/wife/dealer/user. I’d like to believe the spots on your shelf where you once proudly placed your sobriety tokens are now as empty as the holes in your arms.
You’d slither from addiction to addiction moving to whichever new substance was going to make your body feel numb. If anyone who cared about you was in your way, you’d just unhinge your jaw and swallow them whole. At some point you should have recognized that if you tried to eat enough people, there’d be no one left in your desert.
Those first few months clean and sober, you were the person I always believed you could be. You started taking classes again in college, you were working, you were doing things to make a difference in your own life. I remember the moment I told you that “I was proud of you,” and how you told me how much that meant to you. At that exact moment in time, I meant it. I knew that if you put your heart to it, you could wipe the slate clean, sweep up the mess you made. I believed you were strong.
Over time though things changed. The phone calls became less frequent and the resentment towards your family grew deeper. I wanted to tell you that you weren’t thinking clearly, but little did I know addiction firmly sunk his teeth deep into your veins, and this time, he wasn’t going to let go.
When you called me, I heard it in your voice: the temperament of your tone, the shakiness of your syntax, you were high. The same high as you were when you crashed your car and got your first DUI. The same high as you were when you ran away from home and I was left 4 states away to worry with your family about where you were. In some sense, we should have just poached the different water laden alleyways nearby to find you. Your phone kept breaking up and you continued rambling on about your love. She was from Vancouver, and in a month, you were going to marry her. Together, you two were going to live a life of ecstasy. More than likely to be manufactured by your local dealer.
When everyone gave up on you, I kept my fingers crossed. I answered every text message, every phone call, and every letter with an optimistic embrace because I thought that was what could save you. When you were drowning, I wanted to be there with the life preserver to help you. I’ve come to realize that at some point, I just needed to let you sink to the bottom. While you’re floating perilously through the sea, you can splash, you can make waves, none of it matters because my boat won’t come to tow you to shore. I won’t be there in the water anymore to help you, the searchlight has forever gone dark, I am no longer dragging the lake. Enough holes have been punched in my pontoon without your syringes aiding in the effort.
I guess it could be said that we are both addicts. You are forever addicted to drugs, to the little white pills that make you forget about all of the people in your life who once gave a damn. I am an empathetic addict; just as dangerous because I believe that I am the one who is supposed to save our friendship, and in many ways, save your life.
But that’s enough. I hope you get used to my voicemail. I hope you get used to unanswered text messages. I hope you get used to the fact that you broke the one person who believed in you. It’s over; I’m finally going cold turkey.