When I was 16, I was just getting out of a horrible relationship, and I guess you could say I did the typical thing a young, self-conscious girl would do: I rebounded.
Dating someone new seemed like a good way to show I’d moved on.
There was a guy a grade ahead of me who must’ve failed math a lot or something because for the second year in a row, he was in my math class.
He expressed interest in me many times and had become pretty persistent.
After I ended my messy relationship, he asked me out.
However, at the time, he had a girlfriend. (This really should have been my first hint to steer clear.)
But instead, I politely declined and told him I don’t get involved with another person’s boyfriend.
He promptly broke up with her.
At that point, I was a virgin who never partied, always got good grades and followed all the rules.
He was basically the opposite, but I was intrigued.
I was really upfront about the fact I had no interest in the type of relationship he was used to.
I was clear I wouldn’t be changing anytime soon, and he accepted it and said he would never pressure me to be someone I wasn’t.
I thought I had hit the dating jackpot.
Every other guy I’d been with had been pushy about my “good girl” behavior.
I had even been cheated on before because I refused to “have fun” (some other guy’s terms).
My happiness was temporary, and it didn’t take long to learn who he really was.
In fact, over the course of our short, but stressful relationship, he threw me in a shark tank of emotions.
We were only together for about a month, but I’d never been so let down by anyone before.
Days into our relationship, he told me he had previously been addicted to oxycodone.
He told me it was all in the past and that he didn’t use the pills anymore.
I believed him.
He never mentioned any other drug use, so I foolishly believed he was staying out of trouble.
Within a week, however, he started acting odd and admitted to me he had a relapse.
He said he flushed all the drugs he had and promised it wouldn’t happen again.
At the time, I was extremely naïve, and I believed he held all the control over his actions and could just stop.
I knew nothing about addiction.
I never knew anyone who did drugs like that, and I couldn't understand the ups and downs.
It didn’t make sense how he could “love me,” be extremely caring to me one minute and then show up at my work with his friends and act like he never knew me.
When things were going well, they were great.
But when things were bad, it was confusing and horrible.
There was even a time where he got paranoid and told me he would hit me if I ever discussed this one particular topic.
I had never mentioned anything pertaining to what he was talking about, and I was just so scared that all I could mumble out was, “OK.”
I asked no questions.
He got caught cheating soon after admitting about the relapse.
My friends would tell me they saw him with other girls, and when I’d confront him, he’d deny it.
He’d call my friends liars and get upset with me for believing them.
I don’t know if it was fear or just desperation to make things work, but I always ended up apologizing to him.
Eventually, I gathered up the courage, and I told him things had to change.
He had to change.
He told me he was making plans to “hang out” with an ex-girlfriend.
I told him I didn’t think it was a good idea because it just seemed abnormal.
I was really honest with him. I told him it was just weird, and I didn’t like it.
I knew she still liked him, and given his track record, it was a recipe for disaster.
I told him I just didn’t want him to see her because I was afraid.
He lashed out at me for my distrust, but I held my ground for once.
I said I couldn’t tolerate anymore lies and certainly any more cheating.
I told him how it made me look stupid, and it wasn’t fair to me.
He replied that he’d “try not to cheat.”
I ended things for good right then and there.
It took me a while, but eventually I figured out that he was an addict, plain and simple.
He was addicted to drugs, and his behaviors were a reflection of that.
It made our relationship both unhealthy and impossible.
I know that I understand nothing about what it’s really like to support someone with an addiction.
I barely scratched the surface, truthfully.
I don’t know how it could possibly feel to love an addict because this addict refused to be loved.
I can say this, though: My relationship with an addict felt like a trap.
I escaped one bad relationship only to run into another. It felt like desperation and failure.
I’ve always been an extremely devoted person when it comes to relationships.
I wanted things to work and be good so badly that I allowed him to walk all over me.
I don’t know what connected someone like him to me in the first place.
I’d like to believe he saw me as a good influence, and he thought I could help him.
Maybe he thought I could make him better.
But I know deep down that he was more interested in the challenge of a “good girl.”
He knew that my innocence would make me dumb enough to miss his downfalls and let him get away with things.
We don’t talk much, but I hope he’s doing well. I hope he’s turned things around for himself.
My advice to those who are battling with how to care for people with addiction is to be open with them.
Voice your concerns, and offer to help them by seeking assistance for them.
If you need it, get help for yourself, too.
Whether it's counseling, support groups or just a friend who will listen, you deserve to have your emotional needs met, too.
There is no shame in needing help.
Perhaps most importantly, and most upsettingly, you have to realize and accept that sometimes your presence does more harm than good for both you and the person you care for.
Know when to let go for the sake of everyone’s best interests.
Stay strong, and know you’re not alone.