Thursday, October 31, 2013

Drugs, Addiction and the Hard Facts of Life

My first friend when we moved to the burbs in 4th grade was a boy, and he was my best friend in middle school.  In 8th grade he became my "boyfriend."  Thru high school we kept in touch but were not close.  He went to drinking parties and I was "straight edged."  I wished that he would change and by day we were still friends and I'd try to convince him that drinking wasn't worth his time.  He was my junior prom date and he found great humor in my plan to take the "green limo" the city bus.  He wore his chorus tux and I wore a dress from my grandmothers closet.  He knew how to have fun.  Graduation practice I didn't see him.  I went to his house to tell him that if I was walking- he was too.  He told me he thought it was stupid and wasn't walking.  Turns out he lied- he couldn't walk he didn't graduate.  Freshman year of college every time I'd see him I'd get on him for getting his GED.  He worked odd jobs and at one point we both worked in the mall.  Our social lives were different and he kept me at a distance.

Sophomore year of college I got a call from him asking me to pick him up at a random location in the inner city.  I did it.  He jumped into my car, we drove away and I wanted an explanation.  He was in a half way house because his parents had him committed due to his risk to himself and his addiction.  He was in and out of half way houses, AA and NA.  I never asked him what narcotics he used - I just didn't want to know.  He fell in and out with his parents who were functioning alcoholics, though I always wondered if that was it.  He came to Easter dinner with me one year because he was on the fritz with his parents.  Last I talked to him I finally nagged him enough to get his GED.  He was working for his parents (who also could have used AA) which made me question how wise he was to work there- but I didn't say anything.  It seemed like he finally had pulled himself out of it.

He then was absent from my life- no more random phone calls.  I knew what it meant and I didn't reach out.  I thought of him often.  I thought of him the most as I watched baby girl withdrawal.  I thought of him when I saw J.  J's quick flashy smile and fast talking were all too familiar.  My older sister had random sightings of him around town but no phone calls to me told me everything I already knew- he relapsed because he knew better not to call me when he was actively using.

Tonight I was on the computer to check our bank account status as the mortgage is auto deducted today.  I took a quick peek at facebook and saw his name.  I saw a picture of a familiar candle.  The candle of an obit.  My dear friend Max finally found peace the obit says.  I hope this is true.

Addiction took from me a good friend a long time ago.  I've mourned his loss many times over as I got my hopes up he could overcome it only to have my hopes dashed.  He was exhausting to be friends with yet his charisma and that boy I became friends with was always there.  I loved who I knew he could be and hated who he was.  His charming smile could get him thru any situation.  His ability to be deceptive was hard to not take personally- it was an unfortunate symptom of his addiction.

I dont know the specifics of his death and dont feel like I need to as I already feel like I know.  I refused to call addiction a disease for Max and I did the same for D and J.  Depression and PTSD are medical diagnosis- addiction is the attempt to self medicate.  They all made a series of unfortunate choices which lead them to be overtaken by a chemical dependency.  This obit makes me wonder when I'll read D or J's.

Max was a dear friend who could always make me smile.  He also was a friend who provided me lessons I wish I had never learned.  It took me a while to learn that I couldn't save him though I was always there to encourage him.  I had to learn to tell him not to call unless he was clean and sober.  Our lives took two very different paths and his path ended abruptly and too soon.

I'm going to miss you Max.  In your absence I always wished for another random phone call to hear an update.  Times between calls became longer and longer, but I never changed my phone # because I wanted you to be able to call when you were ready.

What I'd give for one more of those hugs.

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