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 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.
“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.
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.
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. 🙂