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. 🙂

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

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

See March 16th’s post for the first part of this story…

Part III: The Happy Months

The first few months of my relationship with him were absolutely, positively, the most wonderful months I have ever spent with a guy. We were a true couple. We did everything together… from see movies to go to parties. We cooked together and shopped together. We had a whole schedule worked out where I would spend a night at his place and he would spend the next at mine. Aside from actually living apart, we were as good as married.

Of course, a lot of that stems from the newness of it all. Anytime that I have been in a new relationship, that first few months is just magical, and nothing compares to it. You’re on top of the world and nothing can stop you. It’s like floating on clouds nine, ten and eleven.

He encouraged me to find a new job when I was reaching the end of my rope at Crate & Barrel. He helped me with my resume and pushed me to keep looking for new jobs whenever and wherever I could. When I finally got an interview at my current job, he was so happy for me. I still credit the fact that I have this job to him in some way, because of all of support he gave me.

He even met my parents– something that has never happened with a boyfriend before. And they really liked him a lot. They liked what he brought out of me, and they liked how we related to each other. He came up with me to Wisconsin many times, and would spend time with mom and dad, or go shopping with my mom and sister and I.

For Christmas, we bought each other gifts. I got him something he loved from Crate & Barrel, and a sweater that brought out the blue in his eyes; he got me tickets to The Producers, which was previewing in Chicago the following spring. It was one of the most amazing Christmases ever.

He had two cats that I fell in love with right away… Ricky and Lucy were their names. They were adorable, feisty little critters and they were so much fun to play with. But he talked about getting a third, which I advised against, being that his place was so tiny as it was. But one day, I came over to his place and he was holding in his hands the tiniest white kitten I had ever seen. He was the cutest little thing. And he had such personality! He talked a lot, and so he named him “Screech.” After a couple months, we realized that Screech wasn’t going to survive well with Lucy– she just didn’t like him. One day he came home and found Screech with a scratch across his nose. He called me up and asked if I would take Screech in as my cat… and he has been with me (and Pippin) ever since.

That spring, he joined the Chorus. He sang with us for two shows. It was so great having him there with all of my friends. He even found a few members who were also in “the program” (Alcoholics Anonymous) that he could talk to and relate to when necessary.

It seemed like everything was going incredibly well, and nothing could get in the way of my happiness. I was madly in love. And I was loving it.

But darker times were ahead….

IV: The Beginning Of The End

One day, he called me at work, distraught.

“I have a problem with my landlord,” he said.

“What is it? Did you pay your rent?” I asked.

“Yes, but the check bounced.”

“Oh great… well what does he want you to do?”

“Well… he wants me to move out,” he replied.

“What?? How can he do that?” I asked.

“Well… this isn’t the first time this has happened,” he said, meekly.

“How many times has it happened?” I asked.

“This is the third time in a row,” he responded.

“Why didn’t you tell me this? We could have figured something out. Now you are going to be evicted??” I was shocked that he couldn’t have told me something this serious.

“I didn’t want to trouble you,” he said. “Besides, it’s too late now. I have to be out by next week.”

So that weekend we spent each day cleaning out his apartment. He sold the majority of his furniture, and had a storage company pick up the rest of the stuff he wanted to keep.

And he moved in with me. Cats and all.

He lived with me for a month. And not once during that time did I think that anything was seriously wrong. I was living with my boyfriend. And that was all that mattered to me. I could take care of him, and he could feel safe with me. He still had his job, and he still had a place to call home. Meanwhile, he looked for a new place to live, and eventually found a room to rent from a fellow Chorus member. He moved in, but kept the majority of his stuff in storage until he could afford to get it moved in.

After he moved out of my apartment, I noticed him beginning to grow distant. He claimed that he was just dealing with everything that had been going on, and I believed him. In the course of a few months, he had lost his apartment, moved in with me, and now was living in a new place with hardly any of his possessions. He still had his job, and was now working extra hours (or so I thought) to try to make more money.

It was a lot to deal with.

And then one day, he told me that he had stopped taking his medications for Bipolar disorder. When I asked him why he did that, he said because they made him too crazy and unfocused. His doctor was going to try something new and he had to wean himself off the old medication first before switching to the new one. I really questioned this move, because I had been doing some research on Bipolar disorder since he told me about his having it, and everything I read said that the important thing for people to do is stay regulated with medications. He seemed to be treating this very nonchalantly, and it worried me.

The distance seemed to grow more and more as time went on, and even when we were together, it seemed like I was with a stranger. He talked a lot about being “inside himself” too much, which obviously meant he was dealing with a lot of things inside his head. He never, EVER acted out toward me or did anything to hurt me. He was killing me with the silence, though… and in some ways that hurt even more.

Then September 11, 2001 happened.

He had served in Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s in the Air Force, and he talked about those years as being some of the best years of his life. He was always interested in the military and was proud that he could serve his country. (He showed me a picture of himself from that time in his uniform. Oh. My. God. He was to die for.)

September 11 did something to him that I still can’t explain. The episodes of “being within himself” grew more and more frequent, and our times together grew more and more distant. It’s almost as if something snapped inside of him and couldn’t correct itself. Up until now I brushed these episodes off as him just wanting to be alone, but after a few weeks, I couldn’t deny it anymore. There was something wrong.

I called him from work one day and laid it all on the line.

“I just don’t feel like you’re there anymore. We talk, but you aren’t saying anything. What’s going on?” I asked him.

“I’m just really lost inside of myself,” he answered. He said this a lot.

“I know, but you are getting so lost inside of yourself that you’re starting to lose me, and I don’t want that to happen,” I told him.

“I know, I don’t want that to happen either,” he said.

We agreed to meet for dinner downtown near where I work the next night.

And that’s where things started to spin wildly out of control.

Next: Part V: Gone In An Instant; and Part VI: The Official End

Co-Dependency and Me: A Relationship No More.

(A post in multiple parts.)

Part I: Introduction

I want to start this out by explaining a few things.

First, in order to get this whole story out and A) not bore you to tears; B) go on and on forever in one humongous post; and C) help me sort out my thoughts logically and clearly, I am breaking it up in a few parts. And I’m telling you that now so that you don’t yell at me when I say “to be continued” at the end of today’s post. 🙂

I may have mentioned at one time or another that I have had a “temporary roommate” living with me for a while. This temporary roommate was my ex-boyfriend. He and I were together from October of 2000 to just before October of 2001. He was my first-ever relationship that was truly meaningful, and the first that lasted longer than just a few months. He was the first person that I really and truly loved.

He no longer lives with me, and at the present time, I do not know where he is. He still has some things at my apartment, and I am getting calls from friends, potential employers and other people trying to find him, because his cell phone does not seem to be working.

There is an old saying that says “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you.” He has fooled me more than twice. Many more times. I have always given him the benefit of the doubt because I have wanted only the best for him, but I since learned that this is the absolute core of what it means to be co-dependent, and my doing these things for him was just encouraging that behavior to continue. As of yesterday, I have decided that it must stop.

In order to protect his identity, I will merely refer to him as “The Ex,” or “Him,” or “He.” I do not intend to slander his nature in any way by doing this. I need to do this primarily for myself, because the things I have been dealing with in regard to Him have been difficult, troubling, and painful at worst. He has been a part of my life financially, emotionally and spiritually for the last four years.

But this week, I am finally putting a stop to it all. And in this series of posts, I will explain why.

Part II: We Meet

It was a sunny Tuesday in October of 2000. I was working at Crate & Barrel at the time, and had the day off. I spent the day as I often did, chatting on AOL and other various meeting places. He sent me an IM, as he often did, and had been doing for the last couple weeks.

He was an attractive man; a few years older than me, with brown hair and blue eyes. (I am a sucker for blue eyes.) He asked me what I was doing home and I responded that I had the day off. He proposed finally meeting in person, and I accepted.

The meeting was purely sexual. At first. We really didn’t have any other intention but that, yet I always go into such things with an open mind. If the guy is cool, or really nice and talkative, then why shouldn’t there be some good conversation to go along with the sex?

That’s just what happened with him. When I got off the elevator and saw him in person, I instantly was drawn to him. He had a goofy personality that was completely endearing, in addition to a killer smile, and those deep blue eyes that just captured me. I could easily fall for this guy, and I knew it.

We talked a bit and got down to business. It was great… hot, in fact. And when we were done, instead of cleaning up and going home, we talked… and talked… and talked some more. And when we were done talking, we went at it again. And it was just as good as the first time– if not better.

After the second time around, we looked at each other for a long time.

“I like you,” I told him. “You’re much more ‘real’ than most guys I meet.”

He thanked me and said the same about me.

After a few more rounds of chit-chat, we decided to grab lunch. There was a restaurant just down the street from where he lived, so we showered, got dressed, and headed over. We talked about ourselves in greater detail there, and this is where I first learned about his addiction to alcohol.

He had been sober for two years at the time. He had a good job at a law firm and was doing well for the first time in a long time. He had broken up with someone just prior to getting sober. He told me that he wanted to be totally honest with me right up front, and I appreciated that. It kind of endeared me to him. What I didn’t realize was that the sense of endearment I was feeling at the time was also the budding blossom of co-dependency. I had no idea what that term meant then, but I have learned a great deal about it since then.

We had a nice time together that day. It was the start of something surprisingly special. We agreed to get together later in the week for a “real” date, which we did. And from that moment on, we were dating exclusively.

A few weeks into dating, I was looking in his medicine cabinet for something– a toothbrush or a Q-tip or something, who knows. I found a bottle of prescription pills. I didn’t recognize the name– Neurontin. The name alone suggested some type of psychotherapy drug, but, not knowing for sure, I also thought it could have been for HIV or some other sort of problem. Seeing this as a potential problem, I had to ask him about it. He told me that he also suffered from bipolar disorder, and the pills helped keep him regulated.

This bothered me somewhat. Not just because of the disorder, which I thought I could deal with, but because he kept it from me. I told him so, and asked him why he couldn’t have told me that at the outset. He said he wasn’t sure how I would react, so he decided to tell me at a later date.

I told him that I understood, and not to worry. I just wanted him to stay well, and if the pills helped him to do that, then that’s what he needed to do.

So the groundwork was laid for potential destruction in this man I had just met. Bipolar and an addict. At the time, I had no idea what would come of all of this. But I was so blindly in love with this guy that nothing would allow me to see the potential for destruction that lay beneath the surface. I couldn’t imagine him hurting me physically (and for the record, he never did), but I had no idea how much emotional and mental turmoil could be caused by these problems.

But I was going to learn, sooner than I thought.

(Tomorrow.. Part III: The Happy Months, and Part IV: The Beginning of The End)