Spring Fling

Thank GOD.

I was getting so sick of winter I could spit. It’s been in the 60s and 70s all week this week, with tons of sun and even a couple thunderstorms. Spring is here, and I couldn’t be happier.

Of course, as is typical with Chicago’s Spring season, there will be a good number of 40 and 50 degree days to counteract Spring’s arrival, and maybe even another snowstorm. That’s just how things go in the big “Windy” city.

But for right now, I’m enjoying the fact that the air is a little warmer, the sun shines a little longer, and the grass is starting to turn a little greener.

The one thing I don’t like, however… who the fuck told the birds they could start chirping at midnight? Hello? Go to bed for chrissake!

Which is where I am heading right now. With a pillow over my head. Grr.

Roll me down the highway

Easter. Christmas. Thanksgiving. Birthdays.

Family holidays one and all. Time to get together and…

EAT.

I swear I engorge myself with more fatty, delicious, home-cooked treats at these family get-togethers than at any other time of the year.

When Mom and I get together, we are a deadly cooking team. For instance, we prepared three pans of homemade Lasagna for Easter dinner. Three full 9×13 pans. For all of six people.

But we didn’t stop there… Mom had already made our family’s delicious Easter Bread in preparation for the day, but we decided to get even more crafty and found an old recipe we used to make for Potato Tarragon with Sour Cream and Chive Bread. Talk about yummy. 😉 But it was getting late, and we didn’t want to bother with making it so late. So we dusted off Mom’s bread machine and portioned down the recipe for the machine. And it turned out perfectly!!

Yes, we are a bit nuts in the kitchen. And no, folks, we didn’t stop there. Because Easter morning, we had to make Italian Fritatta.

In case you don’t know, Fritatta is a huge omelet with tons and tons of cheese, Italian sausage, and this year, meatballs. DE-LISH-US! It’s the best part about Easter morning.

Now you didn’t think that I was going to talk about all these yummy things without sharing recipes did you? Of course not. What kind of friend would I be? 🙂

I am actually going to work with my mom on producing her own recipe book on CD-ROM. She already has a ton of her favorite recipes typed up and saved on her computer. I’m also thinking of getting a bunch of my Grandma and Nana’s favorite recipes and putting them on the CD as well… Might ask my Aunt too. It’ll be the Aiello Family Recipe CD ROM. Hmmm. I’m really liking this idea. 🙂 So watch your mailboxes, you might be getting a gift this Christmas. 😉

OK no more chatter… Here are some recipes for you to sample.

Easter Bread
8 ¬? -10 C. Flour
1 ¬? C milk
2 pkg. Yeast (4 tsp.)
¬? C water
l ¾ C sugar
¾ C. Butter
1 tbsp. salt
4 eggs

In a large bowl combine 3 C. Flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Blend well. Heat milk, water and butter in pan until warm (120-130 degrees). Butter doesn’t have to melt completely (2-3 minutes in microwave). Add to flour mixture and mix well. Add all eggs and blend on low until well mixed (3 minutes, medium speed). Gradually add flour until dough is firm. Turn out on floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. (5 minutes) Put in greased bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled. Turn out and punch down. Divide into 3 loaves and place in greased pans. Allow to rise again until doubled. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or 325 for 35-40 minutes. Should be golden brown. Cake tester should come out clean.

Baked Italian Easter Frittata
1 pound bulk Italian sausage (can also add small meatballs)
2 dozen eggs
1 pound ricotta cheese
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
¬º-¬? C. Grated Parmesan/Romano cheese
cooking spray
3 tbsp. Oil

Separate sausage into small pieces and fry until brown. Drain grease and set aside. Beat eggs with mixer until foamy. Mix in cheeses. Add cooked sausage. Spray 15x10x2 pan with cooking spray and coat the bottom of the pan with oil. Spread egg mixture in pan and level off. Bake at 350 degrees 45-55 minutes until frittata is set and top is golden brown. Remove from oven, cover with aluminum foil and let stand 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve. Makes 10-12 servings.

Tarragon Potato Bread with Sour Cream & Chives
6-6 ¬? C flour
2 pkg. Yeast
1 ¬? C milk
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 can condensed potato soup
¬? C sour cream
¼ C chives
1 tsp dried tarragon

Combine 2 ¬? of flour and yeast in a large mixer bowl. In a saucepan, heat milk, sugar, salt, and butter or margarine until just warm, stirring constantly to melt butter. Add dry ingredients to mixing bowl. Add soup, chives, sour cream, and tarragon. Mix well. Scrape sides frequently. Add remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn out on floured surface. Knead until smooth, 5-8 minutes. Cover and let rise till double. 50-60 minutes. Punch down. Cover. Let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough in half and shape into 2 loaves. Place in 2 greased loaf pans. Let rise till double, about 30 minutes. Bake 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or till bread tests done.

Italian Meatballs
1 Pound Ground Beef
Garlic Powder (1/4 Cup approx… I don’t measure. 🙂
1 egg
Bread Crumbs (1/3 Cup approx.)
Parmesan Cheese (1/2 Cup approx.)
Oregano, Basil, Parsley to taste
Salt, Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together by hand or with mixer. Form meatballs by rolling by hand or scooping with melon baler and fry or bake at 350¬? until browned well.

Tomato sauce (meatless)
Olive Oil
48 oz of Tomato sauce or puree
Garlic Cloves, Oregano, Basil, Parsley, Salt & Pepper

Mince garlic (I usually use about 2 cloves for every 24 ounces of sauce.)
Prepare sauce or puree (open cans and get em ready!)
Heat olive oil in deep pan.
Drop garlic into hot oil. Stir and let it heat well. Lower heat. The garlic will begin to blossom and become pungent. Add oregano and basil to taste. When garlic starts to break down, add sauce to mixture. Heat should be at medium, no higher. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Add more Oregano, Basil and Parsley as needed. Cover and simmer, stirring regularly. Do not let sauce sit too long or it will burn.

Note: if using puree, you may want to add about a can of water for each can used to the mix as it will be very thick. You can add more or less water as necessary to your preferences.

Aiello Family Lasagna
(For one pan of Lasagna)
One box Lasagna Pasta
48 oz. Pasta Sauce
1 lb. Meatballs
1 lb. Italian Sausage (3-4 sausages)
4-5 hard-boiled eggs
16-32 oz Ricotta Cheese
16-32 oz Mozzarella Cheese
Approx. 16 oz. Parmesan or Romano Cheese

Boil pasta until al dente (not soft.)
Peel and slice eggs.
Spray 9 x 13 baking pan.
Add a small amount of sauce to the bottom of the pan.
Layer pasta noodles along bottom of pan. Be sure to overlap as you lay them in.
Add meatballs, sausage, eggs, ricotta cheese to layer.
Add mozzarella cheese last. Use plenty of cheese, as this is your glue to hold the layers together.
Pour about 1 cup of sauce over all ingredients.
Sprinkle with Parmesan or Romano cheese.
Add another layer of pasta.
Repeat process until you reach the top of the pan.
The last pasta layer should be covered with a thin layer of sauce, then sprinkled with Mozzarella and Parmesan/Romano cheese.

Bake in 375¬? oven for 1 hour covered with foil. Remove foil after hour and bake for 15 more minutes or until top is bubbly and crusty.

Remove from oven and let sit for about 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve with leftover sauce and Parmesan/Romano cheese.

Co-Dependency and Me: A Relationship No More. (Conclusion)

Prologue: Thank you to everyone who had such encouraging comments in the last few posts. When I started this blog, I never intended to get so intensely personal… but with things going the way they had (which you will read about in today’s post,) I just had to get it all out of my system. This has been wonderfully powerful and therapeutic thing for me to do, and I appreciate all the friends I have out there who are so helpful.

So without further ado…

Part VII: The Final Straw

My ex had been through the wringer, but our relationship was over. He had been through treatment many times in his then-36 years, but this would prove to be the most difficult round of treatment he ever had. And he knew it. He had to take it seriously and stick with his program. In fact, his doctors told him as he was detoxing, “If you don’t stay sober this time, you are going to die.” Now if that doesn’t scare someone sober, I don’t know what does. But some people just don’t get it, and I’m not quite sure he gets it… even to this day.

Upon completing the treatment program, my ex moved into a “Safe House” to live in California. The “Safe House” is a closely guarded environment for people just getting out of programs for drugs and/or alcohol. There is nothing allowed in the house– not guests, not alcohol, not anything. One infraction and you’re out. No more second chances. This was a good thing for him, because, as he told me once on the phone before going into this house, he still thought about drinking again… even after all he had already been through. So I couldn’t help but think that this was the best for him.

After I sent my Email to him telling him that I needed time away from him… no calls, no Emails, no IM’s, no contact at all… I was finally allowed to move on with my life. I connected with a new group of friends, and rebuilt my foundations. Sure, there were rough days. I went through many “mix CD’s” of songs that reminded me of him, or that allowed me to wallow in my misery. (One of these was even aptly titled “Songs to miss him by.”)

But my heart healed, and after a while, I could honestly say to myself that I was “over him.”

He made a few visits to the Chicago area within the next couple of years… mainly to see his family, but occasionally he would call and we would meet for dinner or coffee. As time went on, it got easier to do this… without any mixed emotions or hard feelings. I started to realize that I looked at him as a friend, not as a boyfriend. That made getting past the pain much easier.

In July of 2003, I was scheduled to have surgery for my sleep apnea. The recovery would take two weeks, and was going to be painful and intense. The plan was for me to spend a week with my parents, then another week at home before returning to work.

When I told him about my surgery, he offered to stay with me for the second week while I was at home. He had wanted to spend some time in Chicago and see his family, and he could do that while caring for me at the same time. I accepted. I thought it was nice of him to offer, and since he wasn’t working anyway, he had the time to do this.

As the date of my surgery approached, I called him to confirm the plans. He said he would be there on the Monday of my second week. He wished me luck and I said I’d see him then.

The day of the surgery arrived… everything was a success. I stayed with my mom and dad and then returned home.

And I waited.

And waited.

And he never showed up.

I called his cell phone. There was no answer.

I sent him an Email. There was no response.

As the week drew to a close, I still had no idea where he was, or why he wasn’t returning my calls.

I was livid.

If everything had been fine, that would have been one thing. But during that week, I had to rush to the emergency room because of bleeding, and had to call upon other friends to take me there and drive me home. If he had been there like he said he was going to be, this wouldn’t have been a problem.

I decided to let it go. Eventually, he would get in contact with me to let me know what happened. But I didn’t forget that he let me down. There was no excuse for this kind of behavior.

About a month later, I finally heard from him. He apologized for not being there. I asked him what happened.

“Well, I have something to confess…” he started.

“I’m listening.”

“Well… I was there. On Monday. I was in front of your apartment and everything.”

“Really… and why didn’t you come in?” I asked.

“Because I was high.”

“High?” I asked him. “As in on-drugs-high?”

“Yes,” he said. “I had been taking crystal meth, drinking, coke, whatever I could get my hands on.”

If I were in a hurricane, I would have been blown to the ground and covered with palm trees. I could not believe what I was hearing.

“You mean to tell me that instead of helping me out, you went out and got shitfaced and stoned?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Can I ask you one question? What part of “If you don’t stay sober, you are going to DIE” do you NOT understand?”

He didn’t have an answer to that. And I had nothing more to say to him, except that, once again, I didn’t want to hear from him for a while. I was pissed off, disappointed in him, and hurt. And I wanted him to know it.

But that wasn’t the final straw. Not just yet. This was strike one.

A few months later, he called me and said he was definitly moving back to Chicago. The job market in California was just not working for him, and he wanted to be back with his family.

I asked him if this was such a good idea, considering what happened the last time he came back to Chicago. He said he was in a better place this time, and was mentally ready to start looking for jobs.

I thought it over long and hard. He had really let me down the last time, and I reminded him of this. But I finally decided to give him one more chance. There was nothing left in terms of my feelings for him, but I still wanted him to succeed.

I let him stay with me. He moved in just before Thanksgiving of 2003.

He had driven here from California in the car he had bought while out there. (I have no idea where he got the money, and I didn’t ask.) The plan was for him to make a few trips between here and California to bring things back. I told him that was fine, but he had to store the majority of his things at either his mom’s or his brother’s… not with me. I couldn’t be responsible for his things should he disappear again.

It was during this stay that I found out that he had dated someone else while living in California. Needless to say, that stung. While I was left here to pick up the pieces of my life while he rebuilt his, he found someone else to cling onto fall for. Worse yet, he would occasionally talk to this guy in the living room while I was in the other room and I could hear him say things that he once said to me. That hurt even more. I began to resent him, and nearly kicked him out. But he didn’t stay for very long. In fact, he stayed with me until just before Christmas, then he left on a train for California to visit and pick up some things.

After a week, I got an Email from him saying that he was in San Francisico. (He had been living in LA, so what he was doing in San Francisco I had no idea.) He said that he liked it there and was going to try to find a job there. (At this point, I was starting to laugh at his delusional ideas. San Francisico? He can’t afford to live in Hicksville, USA, how could he live in San Francisco?)

So I said “Fine, just please let me know if you are not coming back, so I know. And send someone to get your stuff.”

Of course, this never happened. Three months passed before I heard from him again. During that time, I was getting phone calls and letters delivered to my house. The letters were probably debt collectors looking for him, and the calls were from friends and family wondering where he was. I could only say that I didn’t know.

He had also left his car with me. So not only did I have to move my car when street cleaning started, but I also was moving his. Why I just didn’t let the thing collect tickets and get booted and towed, I don’t know… but I’m just too damn nice I guess.

Of course, as it turned out, he had relapsed yet again and went back in for treatment. His ex in California called me and gave me the story.

Eventually he came back to retrieve his things and his car… but at that time I was actually dating someone (who himself turned out to be an asshole, but that’s another story for another post.) He told me he would stop by to pick up his things, but I made sure I was at the other guy’s place when he showed up. In hindsight, that was probably not the smartest idea. I had no idea if he would take anything. I couldn’t trust him. But I didn’t want to see him. I was too angry. So I chose to be elsewhere. Of course he didn’t take anything, but after that, I didn’t see nor hear from him for nearly 8 months.

That was strike two.

The last straw started last year. In about July of 04, he told me that he was completely done with California, and was going to move back home with his mom. He needed to get out of the ‘big cities’ and get back to basics. Plus his mom needed help around the house, and he wanted to rebuild his relationship with her. Meanwhile he was going to look for a job in Chicago.

I thought that was admirable.

So he moved back and for a few months I didn’t hear from him at all, save for an occasional IM on AOL. Then one day in October, he wrote and said he had accepted a temporary position with a company on the south side of Chicago. The position would possibly turn full-time if everything went fine. He was going to start the following Monday.

Of course, he needed a place to stay until he got settled. And once again, I told him that I had reservations, but I would let him do it. He offered to pay me $200 a week. I agreed to that.

But I told him… “If you slip up… just once… you are out. I don’t care what it is. This is your last chance. I won’t put up with it again.”

He agreed, and he moved in that weekend.

For the first couple of months, everything was OK. He went to work, came home, went to meetings a few times a week, and that was it. It was actually kind of nice. We’d talk, watch TV, and he’d sleep on the sofa. It was like having a temporary roommate, which is what I called it.

Then he started breaking out in rashes from some of the medications he was taking (for various things, from liver meds to his bipolar meds.) The rashes were horrible. I felt bad for him, but he still went to work every day and worked through it.

But one week in January 2005, he came down with a terrible inner ear infection. He couldn’t get himself up off the sofa without falling down because he was so dizzy. He missed a week of work.

And they didn’t like that very much, so they let him go.

So now we were back to where we were a year ago.. him looking for a job and staying in my house all day long. He had a few interviews, but nothing panned out. So in mid-February he decided to stay with his mom for a while. He packed up most of his things, leaving two bags in my front closet, and took a train to his mom’s house in downstate Illinois.

For the first two weeks, I heard from him fairly regularly. He had taken a job in a factory to help make some money, but was also sending resumes.

The last time I heard from him was in late February. He sent an IM saying he was doing alright and he would try to get back to pick up the last of his things.

Two weeks ago, I got a phone call from his ex in California saying that he had called the ex’s phone, but it was disconnected. He called his mom, and she said that he was in Chicago again.

I told him that I hadn’t seen him, and he wasn’t staying with me.

Then I got a phone call from a company looking for him. Same story– they tried to call his phone but it was disconnected. He had listed my number as a second number, so they were looking for him here.

They were looking to interview him.

I told them I didn’t know where he was.

Then I went into the closet. I saw his bags sitting on my closet floor. Full of his clothes and other personal effects.

And I had reached my limit.

Strike Three. The last straw.

I went to my computer and wrote the following letter.

(Ex’s Name)

I haven’t heard from you in well over a month. Where are you?

I sent you an Email last week because I was getting calls from (Your Ex) and from prospective jobs for you at my apartment. They are not able to reach you anywhere, saying your cell phone is disconnected. (Your Ex) even called your mom and she apparently told him that you were in Chicago. I have told all of these people that I have not seen you since mid February.

I am also getting mail here for you that is addressed to you c/o me.

You have things here at my place. If I don’t hear from you soon, I am going to give them away.

I’m tired, (Ex). I am tired of being patient with you, and tired of wanting you to succeed, only to fall. I am no longer your boyfriend, but I have to tell you that it’s time for me to let go of you once and for all. I’ve felt that this was my ‘duty’ of sorts, after all you have been through, but I have my own life to worry about, and to keep on track. It’s hard enough as it is. I have plenty of issues to deal with myself– from money to sex … to relationships with family, friends and work.

I will always care about you, (Ex), and I will always want the best for you. But I cannot be taken advantage of, on any level, any further. I have my own life to live and I need to live it without the fear that my ex is drinking again or doing drugs somewhere or, worse yet, dead.

I was becoming dependent on you for money just as you were becoming dependent on me for shelter. I don’t know what you were really doing while I was away at work, and frankly I don’t want to know, because I want to believe that you were honestly looking for work and trying to do what you needed to do to succeed. But your track record speaks for itself, and I have to suspect that you have once again failed yourself.

I can not and will not be co-dependent on you as you are co-dependent on me. It will not happen any longer.

I will hold on to your things until I hear from you. I am giving you two weeks to respond. You may call or write, but a solution must be reached. If I do not hear from you after two weeks, I am giving your things to Howard Brown. If you wish to have someone pick them up, please make those arrangements and let me know when to expect someone to get them. I do not want money for storing them. I just want them out of my home.

I’m sorry it has come to this, (Ex). I just can’t do it anymore.

Sincerely,
Rick

And that is where things stand. I have not heard back from him yet. I sent the letter to him on March 16. He has one more week. And on Thursday, March 31, if he has not responded to me, I am giving those things away.

He still has keys to my apartment, so I will have to get locks changed. I’m sure my landlord will appreciate that, but that’s how it has to be.

I will no longer tolerate being taken advantage of. I can’t deal with the co-dependency anymore. I will no longer be an enabler. I have my own life to live, and my own issues to deal with.

And damn it, I want to have a meaningful relationship again… before I turn forty at the very least! I can’t play along with these crazy patterns anymore.

So that is my story. And that’s why I felt compelled to post about it. It’s been a major source of stress in my life for the last five years. And in one week, I will be finished with it once and for all.

Thanks for reading. Starting tomorrow, it’s back to my usual ramblings about cats, chorus, boys and other useless drivel. 🙂

I'll be there in a second (literally!)

I just had two customer service situations that shocked the hell out of me.

And they’re both positive.

And they involve the phone company and the cable company.

Are you as shocked as I? Wait, it gets better.

First, as I may have mentioned in a previous post, on Monday, Comcast came to install my new Digital Video Recorder. I asked them to try to schedule it early because I had to get to work. And at 9:30 AM my doorbell rang. Perfect timing.

The installation went fine and within an hour I was playing with my new DVR. Pausing live TV. Setting shows to record. Oprah at 8:00 at night. I love this thing!

So I went to work, full of anticipation for all the shows I could watch when I got home.

But when I got home, I discovered that the cable wasn’t working anymore. It had recorded a few shows, but it quit after around 6:00 and the connection was dead.

A message on my phone said that there was a service disruption in my area, and they would try to restore it as soon as possible. Thank you very much for the notice. At least now I know what’s going on.

I waited through Tuesday to see if it would return, but alas, no luck. So I called Comcast this morning and told them of my situation… they told me the outage in my area that knocked everyone’s service offline had to be manually reset by a service person, and someone could be out to restore my service the next morning. So hopefully by tomorrow morning, things will be back to normal. And she credited my account for the three days I lost.. .which was nice.

So although there was a blip in the service, they were quick, courteous, and responded immediately. I am impressed, Comcast. Thank you. I pay you enough, after all!

At the same time I was on the phone with Comcast, I finally got fed up with the ridiculous amount of static that was on my phone line.

I had been noticing this problem for the last week or so, but it was fairly intermittent, so I figured it was just a temporary problem. But within the last few days, it was steadily getting worse, and more constant.

So I went to SBC’s website and filled out a problem log, stating that there was noise on my line, and sent it off, fully expecting to hear back from them in 2 years a day or two.

Lo and behold, my phone rang within TEN MINUTES of sending the request.

“Hi sir, this is Ralph with SBC… I’m in your neighborhood and will be there in about 5 minutes to check on your problem.”

I was shocked. FIFTEEN MINUTES after sending my request, there was a service man in my apartment checking my line.

TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES after sending my request, he was in my basement, determining the problem.

THIRTY MINUTES after sending my request, he determined that he could solve it without going back into my apartment, so I left for work.

And FORTY MINUTES after sending my request, I got a phone call on my cell phone from the service man telling me that he had fixed the problem and everything was fine.

Now that, my friends, is damn good service.

And to think that five years ago, I was screaming at Ameritech because I had just moved into my apartment and taken the day off waiting for a service person to show up and he never showed.

Funny what a little competition does to one’s customer service level, ain’t it?

Co-Dependency and Me: A Relationship No More. (Continued)

See March 16 and March 17 for the first two parts of this story.

Part V: Gone In an Instant

We met for dinner at a restaurant near where I work. I knew that something bad was coming… I could just feel it. But I was prepared for anything, because at this point, at the very least, SOME form of communication would be better than what I’d been getting. If he could at least be PARTIALLY honest with me, I might better understand what was going on inside his head.

Dinner was fine; surprisingly calm. But once we started talking about the real stuff, it got tense.

He basically told me that he needed to get treatment for his depression. He said he had not been taking medication for the last couple of months, which floored me. I had no idea that he had just stopped– I thought he was starting new meds and was transitioning to them. He also said that he had thought about drinking again, and that could lead to worse things, so before things got out of hand any further, he needed to get help. He was to leave in two days, and had planned to travel via train.

I asked him where he was going, thinking it would be somewhere in Chicago. But he replied that he needed to go to a center in Houston, Texas. He would be gone for 30 days at least.

I told him he needed to do whatever he needed to get better, and was relieved that he finally shared with me what was going on. We finished dinner and went our separate ways for the night. However, after I got home, I thought more about it, and came to another conclusion.

He had to have been drinking as well. There was no other possible reason for all of this to be happening.

The next day, I called him at work and confronted him with this new hypothesis.

“I am going to ask you this, and I want you to be totally honest with me.”

“OK,” he replied.

“You’ve been drinking again haven’t you?” I asked.

“Yes, I have,” he replied.

After taking a deep breath, I asked him, “And for how long?”

“Since about the time I moved out of my apartment,” he answered.

Suddenly, everything made perfect sense. The giving up of his meds, the lack of communication, the inability to control is finances, the lack of affection, the distance, the “being lost inside himself,” the dodgy answers to my questions… it all equaled him wanting to go back to the bottle. He found a way to do it and did it, and did it for a very long time… all without my ever knowing.

Alcoholics such as he are very good at disguising the fact that they are drinking. They can operate just as well as a sober person because they are skilled at covering up their problem. The timespan from the start of his relapse to the time where he made the decision to get help was approximately 8 months.

Eight months in which I never saw the signs.

Eight months in which I had no clue what was going on.

And in one instant, it all changed. Where at one moment, I thought everything would be OK, suddenly I wasn’t so sure anymore.

He left the next day. I drove him to the train station and saw him off. I did my best not to cry until we said goodbye. And as I turned away and looked back one more time, He mouthed the words “I love you” and boarded the train.

Part VI: The Official End

Thirty days turned into 60 days, which turned into 120 days. He left in October, just before our one-year anniversary. He did not come back to Chicago until the following February.

We talked on the phone many times at first. He would be delirious during the detox process and tell me that I was the “light of his life,” which of course only endeared me to him even more. I sent him cards and letters and tried to encourage him as much as I could. It was the hardest time of my life.

After the initial 30-day detox, he had to transfer to a treatment center. He didn’t want to stay in Houston, so we tried to get him admitted to a gay center in Chicago. I made phone calls and got all of his insurance information on hand and tried to admit him as much as I could… but nothing panned out. Finally, they transferred him to a unit in California. I asked him why he was going all the way to California and he answered “I chose it.” This crushed me even further.

In the meantime, I was spiraling out of control myself. After being so used to intimacy and the closeness of a boyfriend, I suddenly was left on my own. I turned to the Internet and many, many partners for sexual contact. I didn’t seem to care, because I was hurting, and nothing made any sense anyway.

I finally made the decision to join Al-Anon, which is the version of Alcoholics Anonymous that is designed for the friends, family members and people who care about persons with addictions. It was a scary time for me, because I had always been one that didn’t believe in joining support groups to get help… but after my first meeting, I knew I had made the right choice. I found warm and supportive people who listened to me, and let me express my situation without any fear.

The meetings gave me the courage and the understanding to know why he was doing things to himself; why he chose to drink instead of being sober, and why he made the decisions he made. It helped me to cope with myself, and to realize that I was OK, and it was OK for me to BE OK.

He finally came back to Chicago in February of 2002. By that time, he had decided to remain in California to complete his treatment. He still had a lot of things stored at my house, and also had things at our friends’ place where he was living up until he left. We moved the stuff out from our friend’s house and moved everything out from my storage. Unfortunately, he lost the majority of his belongings that were in storage from when he moved out of his own apartment. He ended up defaulting on the bill, and never claimed his things, so they sold them all. A very painful lesson learned, but one that he seemed to have learned before.

I was also still caring for his cats (I had four cats in my house for 5 months. It was long enough.) And upon this decision being made, I told him I would adopt them out. They found a wonderfully loving home in one of the members of the chorus, whose partner had recently passed away.

After he returned to California and his things were moved out of my life, I decided it was time for me to move on as well. I sent him a letter, saying that I did not want to hear from him for a while. It was time for me to finally heal, and for me to get on with my life. I still loved him and still cared about him, but I needed to care about myself as well, because up until that point, I was not doing such a great job of that.

So my first true relationship was officially over, and I was once again single. It felt strange. I didn’t know how to be in a social setting anymore. I was too used to being with someone all the time. I forgot how to flirt with guys. I forgot how to have fun on my own.

It took me quite a while to get over him, but I did. The daily thoughts about him turned into every other day, then a few times a week, and then, hardly at all.

But he would be back… And more than once.

Up next… Part VII: The Final Straw