When I was 20-something I met this boy. He was friends with a recent friend of mine - let's call her Witch, yes? It bodes well already! - and a group of us celebrated New Year's at the beach house, including boy's sister and husband. The boy (er, Adam?) and I were instantly attracted to each other, which didn't please Witch at all - not that I, in my eternal innocence and Oh but people are good!, could see it immediately despite several scathing remarks and abundant mentioning of his ex in the months to come. [And by abundant I mean cornucopial, which really makes her a bitch and me a slow, slow grasping twat.]
A few people slept over and on the 1st day of the year it was just him and I, everyone else had left. I remember we spent the next two days fogging up the windows with fag smoke and peppermint tea, and listening to - wow, can't remember the band's name, still happening, you'll see why this is significant - sec - right, listening to Portieshead on repeat and talking, just yapping away from the depths of our falling-in-love souls [Quick cultural reminder, a Portie falling in love = becoming smitten, not love love yet, yes?]. Throughout the two days he barely touched me, we just talked, he smoked a few joints and I basked in the general calmness he induced in me and in his scent (he wore an absolutely yummy perfume that made me want to eat him, just eat him).
Let's talk about drugs, baby. Never did them, never could see the point. Sometimes in a group a joint would be passed round [we don't have weed here so much as those little hash stones, I believe they're called] [I think, again, not the expert.] [Ha!] and I'd try it but once, when the hash was really strong (I'm told), after about two drags I found myself sitting on a bed kicking my legs against it and devouring cookie after cookie for what felt like days and - really? That is a good feeling? So luckily, I could never be arsed and, considering my addictive personality, I was very fortunate. I also didn't think I knew anyone who'd tried hard drugs like coke and heroin but a friend set me right, she said I did know a few people actually, I just didn't know they did them - and blessed be, say I. I don't think I'd have been stupid enough to try them but I feel lucky anyway.
As a matter of fact, you can gauge my general naivité by this little fait divers, once at a party in Germany during the very beginning of my exchange year someone turned to me and asked Want some coke? and I replied No thank you, have drank too much of it as it is, upon which the offerer just stared at me like I'd just sprouted a Victorian and my host brother materialised next to me and let loose with some rather fast and pissy- and dramatic-sounding German at the offender and promptly dragged me away. [My very brill host brother thought nothing of repeatedly breaking bones on his BMX but was otherwise wholesome as fuck and the only thing he'd ever consider OD'ing on would be orange juice.] As a matter of fact, fast forward nearly 2 decades and you could find me being offered 'pollen' while out with my friend Bee one night in the Old Quarter (where the lefties/alternative types go to die). I stared at the bloke, turned to Bee and started saying 'Pol-', as in 'Why the bloody hell would I want to buy POLLEN at 2 in the bloody morning from some mangey person??', and she promptly said 'No thank you!', dragged me away and then collapsed against a wall and gave in to mirth because pollen is, wouldn't you know it, some new type of hash, pulverised hash maybe?, I don't know, I never know, is my point. I really did think flowers before I thought drugs but hey, I like my world better, mine has tea-doilied kittens!
Adam then, I knew Adam had had a minor heroin problem a while ago but was now clean. In my drug-free world, it was past tense. In fact, he told me all about it during those peppermint-filled days and nights, and then he rang his sister and told her he was coming for lunch and bringing his electronic agenda with him [me, I'd already started to remind him of little things he needed to do, like ring someone, his memory was a bit gone - but that heroin thingy had hardly affected him!] so off we went and she was overjoyed when she realised we were on our way to becoming a couple but kept mum, and at some point after we came back he did kiss me. I have this notion that it was wonderful (soft lips plus he's the one with the scar, remember?) but I actually don't really remember it, I don't remember a whole lot from our time together because, about a month and a half into the relationship, he took me away for the weekend to his family's beach house in the South and, over Chinese soup, told me he needed to tell me something, he'd started smoking heroin again but it was all under control. I remember that, and getting up, going to the loo, and sort of vomiting said soup, which I was never able to eat again.
Now, this is where the wrong sort of soap opera begins. I had no drug experience whatsoever, we've established that, but I had some common knowledge, good instincts and eerie antennae. I remember sitting in the car with him (his dad's super fab BMW-whatever), him wearing his RayBan shades and explaining how he was not a drug addict, not really, because a) he'd never shot heroin, good God, he only smoked it! Huge diff! b) he'd never stolen anything and c) he'd remained fully-functioning throughout (about a fortnight later he was fired, which surprised him but not her). Therefore, anyone could see he had no need for NA bcs he was so very different from - well, the riffraff, I suppose. I actually laughed in his face and told him he was off his bloody rocker, a drug addict was a drug addict, fullstop, he wasn't special, he was no different from all the street junkies, he was addicted and in denial. He became extremely angry and told me I was so very wrong, he alone knew what he was talking about but anyway he was going to detox only he needed my help. So off we went to his parents' weekend home on the beach while he attempted to become clean. On his own. I don't remember a lot from that period either. I remember his long motorbike rides, us going to buy whole rice for some ham and rice concoction he felt was crucial and him, stoned out of his mind on hash (and likely heroin as well), sitting cross-legged on the bed looking like something you'd find at the bottom of a pile in a corner of an opium parlour, eyes half-shut, lower lip protruding with joint glued to it, trying to say something that didn't make any sense. It was a nightmare.
He then decided it wasn't working and asked me if we could go to my parents' beach house and try it there, surely the change of scenery...? I said yes,because I could not yet say no but I knew it was escalating fast and he'd not be able to do it alone. Again, I don't remember much except for the pain and the anguish and oh, the emotional blackmail. I'd agreed but on the condition that he never smoked anywhere in the building and he'd said alright. Drug users are so excellent with the truth, don't you find? One day I went down to the cafe, he'd said he just needed to use the loo and would join me and after 10 minutes he showed up looking - well, looking like he'd just smoked loads of heroine, I suppose, so I went up to the flat and smelt nothing but the garage, oh the garage! I'd never smelt it before but it was bitter and alien and utterly revolting and I was fuming when I got back to our table and told him that if he ever thus further soiled my life I'd throw him out, to which he replied he had nowhere to go and to which I replied oh poor little upper class druggy boy, that was his problem and drug addicts too have choices to make and then he started the old I'm not a drug addict, not really, bcs... I left him talking to himself.
I was naive but not stupid and I knew I desperately needed help so I started going to FA meetings. Those I remember well, the utter surreal feeling of actually being in an FA meeting and when had my life become a drug-infested hell, my life. Those meetings saved me, absolutely saved me. He'd eventually been forced to tell his parents and had booked a detox session in a clinic up North. No pain, just unconsciousness while the drugs did their thing and cleaned him up. Actually infuriated me, how easy it was for him, I felt he needed to suffer for it. Like we had, like I certainly had.
I remember him asking me to drive him to - well, picture a really dangerous ghetto the police are afraid of entering full of drug dealers and whores and what have you, this was the place he wanted me to drive him to so he could go buy some sweet heroin. I wouldn't have to come all the way in, do you see, I could stay on the outskirts. I was so hurt that he'd even ask me (very reasonable, since drug addicts always have one's welfare in mind and are generally selfless) but told him he could drive himself, there was no fucking way I'd ever drive someone to buy drugs, was he mental, and he replied he could have an accident on his motorbike because he was feeling oh so weak, and I said that's what happens when you're a drug addict so buck the fuck up. He did drive there a few times and I always said a quick prayer, not for him actually but for everyone else on the road. Today he admits it is unbelievably lucky that he didn't kill anyone bcs he'd just fly there, drugged out of his little mind. And the morning before we left for the detox centre I made him clean up the loo from top to bottom, bathtub included, because he'd go to his parents' afterwards and I wanted - well, I wanted my home clean and cleansed. He protested he was too feeble, I told him unless the bathtub ended up sparkling he could hitchike there. He did do it, albeit slowly as all fuck. I think by that time we bloody well hated each other a bit too.
I also remember the detox session, him lying unconscious in a hospital bed - wearing a diaper, for fuck's sake - with machines beeping all around us. I just sat there watching him, thinking about how much I did not want the life I had, and how much I could actually not have the life I had because I had a choice, we always do. It was hard going through all that without having my parents find out (to this day they have no idea) and generally protecting his reputation but I had hopes that things would become normal after the detox and they didn't, of course they didn't. He was in bad shape, mentally and physically, and the last thing he needed was a girlfriend. I certainly didn't want a boyfriend like that and there was too much resentment on both sides and eventually - finally! - we broke up. As I remember it, the whole experience was horrendously traumatising but it was over sort of fast.
Like I said, the meetings saved me then and I'll be forever grateful. Sometimes I sobbed so hard I thought I'd puke, sometimes I felt my own story paled in comparison to others' and, always, they helped me realise that, unknowingly, I'd hit upon the right attitude, i.e. make him work, don't give in to the manipulation. In fact, many of people there couldn't believe it, they said it'd taken them years to get to that point and I was so young. Well, young but also part Goth bitch, I don't think I was particularly wise for drug-savvy I was not, I was simply lucky in that liers piss me off, whiners piss me off, manipulators piss me off - a lying, whining, manipulating drug-addicted boyfriend pissed me off so much I had no trouble going for the jugular. I will if threatened anyway plus it also afforded me some measure of control in my life, which I - accurately - felt I had little of at the time. I couldn't make him not do drugs but I could minimise its impact on my life and actually salvage my self-respect.
And I realise I wrote loads already and haven't even explained why Witch was a Bitch (involves her making Adam think I was orgy-prone long before he and I even met, if it helps) and I never got to the good bit, the one that happened this summer and makes me laugh whenever I think about it bcs of how oddly satisfying and liberating it was, but I have written too much as it is so I suppose I'll have to whip up a Part II at some point.