the gift of love
We both looked out the car window into the darkness of the park at my new friend, “Eric,” grabbing the top of his head staggering back to the car. I predicted I was going to be $3000 poorer by the looks of things, which I was more than happy to accept at this point. Never in my life did I have to wait on the endless lagging of a drug dealer just to get robbed by them. I guess I should have understood why he only wanted to meet one of us…maybe Eric took it.
Either way, I wasn’t going to do shit about it after the 6-hour mission covering terrain everywhere from Queen Creek to Desert Ridge, Arizona. I was more impressed by the drug dealer to be honest. That takes some balls, lag all day and then rob us at the end…whole new level of shit bag. I looked back at my girlfriend to see her reaction, but she was staring out the window, so I couldn’t see it. I’m sure she was just annoyed at this point.
She didn’t indulge in the Oxycontin.
She didn’t indulge in any of the bullshit I did, quite possibly the most amazing, well-rounded, and caring human being I had ever met. All things being equal, although she took shit from no one, she was an innocent bystander in this whole thing, completely. Matter of fact, I had dragged her out to Arizona with me because I was going to make an honest attempt at cleaning up. I was on a never-ending roller coaster of slamming 20-25 Oxy a day for months and then switching back to suboxone for months and then back again; always convinced that tomorrow would change, somehow, I’d get off of it.
The truth is that the longer it went on the less plausible it seemed and the guiltier I felt. That roller coaster rolled right in to Arizona, full speed with her on for the ride. I felt bad that I had done this again, I felt awful. I had given up everything for it, including her…but she hadn’t given up on me and never did. The purest soul I had ever met and the most empathetic girl I had ever met. She was the ultimate Bonnie if I was Clyde.
Then Eric rambled some explanation…
He barely had enough time to mutter concerns of a concussion and something about a pipe when she turned back from the window and looked at me, concerned, asking what had happened simultaneously. She asked what happened. I thought I had seen this look before, the look of terror, astonishment, and bewilderment. I had taken another hostage and dragged her into my pit perpetuating her unhappiness and squandering her hopes of having the man she loved back.
I had no will to do anything about it in the moment. I really didn’t care anymore. I had more pain and suffering than any amount of money could relieve…trust me, I know this. That $3000 wasn’t a more than a drop in the bucket, plenty of money to go around; but there was absolutely no will to fight back anymore.
Just as I was about to start the car to leave, the overhead light came on.
A set of fiery eyes gazed into my soul, fury that could only be described as wrath in its purest form. I froze, knowing I was going to get it for this one. As I was trying to decide whether she was more upset about the long 6-hour tour of Arizona for my dope or the willing loss of $3000, she quickly opened my center console before I could finish the thought. As she dug through my console I thought about how much I loved her and how much I’d let her down. There’re times you meet someone in your life and they change you, profoundly, and your perception changes with them. The leave a mark and make a point. Just not the one you were expecting.
It would honestly be better if she just left me, but she wouldn’t, and I couldn’t bring myself to do it at the time. I loved her so much, but I was up against a monster that made me hate myself and disallowed me to courage to finish myself out, sometimes because of her. I needed her to hate me, so I could just finish myself off. There was no ending to this turmoil and I was done fighting. So, I started in with the best I could do, an apology. But she wasn’t having it this time.
She had seen and heard enough.
Just as I finished uttering the first two words of my apology I had the wind knocked out of me by the Glock 1911 that was tossed into my lap. I looked down surprised at the impact and first and then, considered how it had gotten there. In a moment that lasted an eternity, I looked up into her eyes. I saw the tears, anger, rage, and fury of a woman that was heartbroken. I looked up confused at what I perceived as fear but was heartbreak at my willingness to accept defeat, to give up, to let myself succumb to the madness.
Her eyes locked with mine.
It was a moment that lingered, frozen in time. I gazed back into hers and watched her thought materialize into silent words that were uttered subliminally, “I’m not giving up on you…not yet…now you better go fucken take care of business.” It was in that moment I realized two things. One, I realized that her love for me had transcended all of the suffering I had because she continued on, fearlessly and unconditionally. Her anger was not directed at me or the addiction, specifically; the wrath she felt coursing through her was at the situation I had put myself in. Second, I realized that I had missed some huge piece of character because this was certainly…unexpected…and out of her character.
This is my account of one of the most incredible people I have ever met in my life, so bear with me while I try to logically explain an emotion. I was a complete nightmare when we met and had nothing to offer besides an ego, some money, and medical volume of psychiatric problems full of insecurity, irrational fear, selfishness, addiction, and an inability to be vulnerable or communicate effectively. She willingly participated in the longest therapy session of my life and progress was made. I began to let go of the control, fear, insecurity, and self-sabotaging behavior I normally operated with and began to exhibit small forms of selfless love from a confidence that I loved her, and control was unnecessary. It was ok to give without reception and to be hopeful instead of hurtful.
We sailed on happily together enjoying life and with each other’s company. When you learn to love someone beyond the void they fill with a desire you long for, then you understand the truth in the feeling. It is the most selfless form of selfishness to give without the need of reciprocation, knowing that it makes you feel good to be the person they deserve; and I became that because she loved me patiently while I evolved. I became vulnerable, empathetic, and certain with my feelings.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
I relapsed and she saw the madness…the unstoppable amplification of the guilt and shame growing in a man that truly loved her; professing his honest conviction to stop followed by failure, time and time again. Each failure magnifying that guilt and shame and squandering hope. Not her hope, but his hope. Then, eventually the will to persist was consumed by absolute hopelessness and the soul sickness of self-hatred and failure became too much. I knew it would take me and I welcomed it, unable to create the will necessary to stop and unwilling to perpetuate the broken heart of someone I loved so much. There was not one ounce of fight left in me and I gave up.
The opening story is true in its occurrence but not necessarily in significance. When I first examined it in the moment, I concluded that I had either miscalculated the identity of the woman I was with or she had miscalculated my commitment to the violence of tat lifestyle. Both were wrong. That soul sickness had taken hold, uninhibited, and without further struggle. When she threw that gun in my lap, it wasn’t intended to express her contempt toward me.
It was an agonizing plea for me to fight back.
It was when her heart finally broke, accepting she could not love me enough to get me to love myself or to see what she saw. When she insinuated that I take a stand, shooting it out in Central Phoenix in a park at 2 a.m., was not what she meant. She simply wanted me to wake up. The wrath she felt was from the disregard of my own safety and self-preservation, not her own. The despair she felt was from my inability to love myself when she loved me unconditionally. The romance ended, and we parted ways. She was out of harm’s way, so I launched on a suicide mission that began with self-pity and remorse for what I had lost.
When all the dust settled, all that remained was the shell of a human being…but remained nevertheless. Surviving the savagery and ravenousness of the self-hatred that grew from my remorse and increased as newer and more shameful events passed. Why had I had survived when others had died for far less? There was no accounting for why someone lives without the desire, or why someone dies without the intent. I was given two alternatives I was equally displease with. “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
I had a special disdain for the second option on account of my continued existence. Then there was option 1, sounding as equally futile as option 2. Yet, with two options and one off the table, the only path was forward…necessitating that I then pay it forward to stay on the path. Paying it forward began in an effort to help me by helping them.
If you do bad, you are bad.
My definition of “helping” has changed just about as drastically as my perception of love did. The reason people fail to get better is an inability to see themselves or others as anything other than worse. We live in a world that puts labels on what’s bad and what’s good. James is a drug addict, bad. Cindy is a slut, bad. Tommy is gay, bad, inferior, less than. This will continue, and nothing will change until people understand that what James, Tommy, and Cindy do or say is none of your fucking business just as much as it’s not their fucking business what you think about them.
The ultimate goal was to help people, that’s what I was told at least. While I still believe this, the way in which I am most helpful to others has changed too. It’s unconditional love I can give freely to someone who has none for themselves, the person like me. It’s the person like me, the one that feels less than, that I can give more too. It’s the love someone must take from me, so they can learn to give it away. It’s not giving back because I want to feel better or need to, just to make them feel better. It’s simply giving it because I can and internalize the significance it could have on them, someone like me. I’m blessed with an abundance of something I have been overpaid on. It’s the love I can share with the man that hates himself. It’s the love I can provide to someone like me…until they can love themselves. That’s the unassuming paradox of love, the more I give the more I possess.
Life changes when you give your perception some room to work. It’s like aimlessly stumbling on pieces to a puzzle. We acquire them, disregarding the moment as random until a fateful moment of confusion becomes conclusion. Where once we were lost, purpose is found. The pieces begin to form a picture, an idea. This idea is love and although it is partially finished, more will be revealed as we continue on with a greater sense of purpose.
If love is intended only to be received, then it is most certainly, misperceived.
Sometimes you meet someone in your life that makes such a profound impact on you, that you couldn’t possibly repay it. A debt that could never be paid because it wasn’t meant to be, it was given out of complete love, a gift only given to help establish your own self-worth so you could give it back to the world. When it’s given by someone with such an incredible heart, that they can’t help but share it. Sometimes, the leave you with a piece you would’ve never found, transforming a one random puzzle of who you were into the masterpiece of art you are now.