You came with a warning label that I ignored. It did not say enough. No one told me that my relationship with you would become more important than any other relationship I had, that being with you would quickly become my only goal, that you would become my life. Then again, if someone had told me, I would not have believed them.
You were seductive, hot, the ultimate romantic. I couldn’t breathe when your fingers wrapped themselves around my heart and you whispered sweet nothings into my ear. I was in a different world when I was with you – a world just for the two of us.
My friends warned me about you. I was told stories of what you had done to others. I saw things about you online. Red flag after red flag. I couldn’t count the number of times that I heard the words “be careful”. I ignored it all. How could something that felt so safe be as dangerous as everyone was saying?
I forgot about how cold life can be when I was enveloped in your warmth. I forgot about the pain when your scent flooded my room. I forgot about the relationships before you when you held me in bed.
It wasn’t long before the obsession began. You stalked me. You crawled into my head and fed me thoughts that I eagerly gobbled up: I needed you. You wouldn’t let me go anywhere without you, and I didn’t want to. In the rare moments we were apart, all I could think about was you. I counted down the minutes until we would reunite.
You shielded me from reality. You served as a buffer between me and the world that I was too sensitive to handle. I perceived it as protection from others when you were really just trying to keep me to yourself.
Our once innocent love burst into flames, charring and shriveling in the fire. I could hear you yelling at me even when things were calm. You choked me. You made me see things of your own creation as truth. You stripped the values from my soul like the clothes from my body. Honesty, compassion, dignity, humor, conviction, accountability, freedom – all casualties in the war that we fought every day.
I tried to break up with you. I shook and cried and pushed you away as hard as I could. My mind and body cried out for you so hard that I thought I was being ripped in two. I couldn’t imagine a life without you. I ran back to you and you welcomed me back as passionately as you had first reeled me in.
Almost immediately, you reminded me why I had wanted to leave in the first place. I was angry the way you taught me to be. I tore myself apart in your lap and you urged me further. You no longer comforted me when I cried. We were together, but I felt completely alone.
At the same time that I wished for death as a way to escape you, I wished for life so that we could spend more time together. I woke up in the morning with the sole purpose of being with you, and I went to bed at night praying that I would die in my sleep and never have to see you again.
Then you almost killed me. After a night of fighting with you, I woke up in a crumpled heap on the floor with dried blood caked on my skin. I could barely move. It took every ounce of energy I had to pick myself up and all I could do was reach for where you stood over me.
I told my parents what you were doing to me. They told me that I had to leave you, but I couldn’t – you were my everything. We got sneakier. I lied to them about what I was doing during the day and I locked them out of my room at night so that they wouldn’t catch us together. I knew that staying with you would cost me my life, but I couldn’t let go. I didn’t care. I thought that if I died with you, I would die happy.
My parents caught on to us and took me to a hospital where I was held for months trying to recover from the damage that you had done to my body, mind, and spirit. I didn’t sleep most nights because I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I shook uncontrollably in my stiff hospital bed as my stomach ate away at itself and my chest split open, my heart screaming for the only thing it had been beating for: you.
I told my doctor that all I wanted was to be with you again, and he said that going back to you was suicide. I did not respond, but I knew he was right. If we got back together, either you would kill me or I would kill myself. Survival would not be an option.
I decided during that hospitalization that I was done. I needed you, but the people who actually loved me needed me more. That was over a year ago.
I still think about you. I still miss you. My lips still yearn for your taste. My stomach does somersaults when I go to the places that we went together. I can’t breathe when I smell something that reminds me of you. My chest tightens when I remember what it was like to feel you close to me.
I know that if I want to live, I can never be with you again. I will never feel your peace again. I will never feel your wrath again.
Synthetic marijuana, I will never bow to you again.
I’ve been away for awhile. Not my usual “away” though; I haven’t been in the hospital. I’ve been away from the blogosphere, but I haven’t been completely separated. I’ve been keeping up with others’ posts and checking my dramatically dwindling stats. I’ve been writing more in recent months than I have in a long time, but I haven’t posted anything in over a month, and my last personal entry was at the beginning of February. I don’t have any explanations or excuses for my absence, and I promise that I’ll write an entry soon with all of the important things that went down in the beginning of 2016. Today, however, there is something else on my mind.
It is April 23rd, 2016. For me, that means two things:
1. Yesterday was my step-brother’s birthday.
2. Today marks three and a half years since my best friend’s death.
For my memoir class, I recently wrote a piece that includes both of them, so I figured today would be a good day to share that.
Through my childhood and most of my teen years, I loved Halloween despite writing a couple pages on why I hated it in second grade.
I remember a couple costumes that I wore back in the old days: a cow, Nala from The Lion King, Padmé Amidala from Star Wars multiple times, a ninja, Sarah Palin, Kate Gosselin.
It seemed like the older I got, the better Halloween became. My parents cared less and less about how much candy I ate the night of, costumes got more creative, my dad stopped supervising our candy hunt (he was too unfriendly to hand out candy at the house, so that was my mom’s job), and, come middle school, the parties started. I wasn’t in the right friend group or school district for there to be drugs or alcohol at the parties, but they were always a good opportunity to get attention, and boy, did I like attention.
In 2011, I went to one Halloween party as Paula Deen. My costume was complete with a box of butter (salted, of course). I attended with my four friends, who were dressed as a redneck, a demonic pumpkin man, Dr. Oz, and himself. My best friend, Isaiah, was the pumpkin man. He was a few years younger than everyone at the party and didn’t have many friends there aside from his brother and me, so he crawled through the bushes and the parched corn field and jumped out at people. I eventually gave him my wooden cooking utensils and itchy white wig to add to the fun.
The night before, Isaiah and I had gone on a frantic quest to collect as much candy as we could in the final 30 minutes of Strasburg Borough’s allotted trick-or-treat time. I didn’t have time to get all gussied up in my Paula Deen outfit, so I grabbed a stick horse and a smiley face balloon, buttoned my jacket up over my head, and set out as the headless horseman. Isaiah was a scary pumpkin man of course.
Eight days before Halloween of 2012, Isaiah ended his life at age 14. Parties cancelled. On trick-or-treat night, a time I always spent with Isaiah, one of our friends and I handed out candy on the front porch of my house at my mom’s request. I watched as tiny power rangers and My Little Ponies walked over the sidewalk where I had seen my best friend’s body bag get wheeled into a silent ambulance on a stretcher. They were giggling and happy, blissfully unaware of the devastation that had happened there just days before. Halfway through trick-or-treat, Isaiah’s pregnant older sister and his two year old niece that he adored walked up to the porch. My friend immediately began sobbing and we had to go inside.
The next two Octobers were spent with my vices and filled with self-harm, drugs, and alcohol. I don’t remember them specifically because I was too intoxicated by substances and crushing grief.
This past year, I decided to focus outside of Isaiah and myself. Halloween is my step-brother’s favorite day of the year. He calls it “October happy Halloween stah”. Cory is 24 (as of yesterday), but simultaneous mental retardation and autism leave his functionality fluctuating between preschool and elementary level. He likes skeletons, pumpkins, the color orange, and anything edible, so Halloween is the perfect day for him. As soon as my step-dad told me that Cory had never been trick-or-treating, I knew what I had to do.
My parents took Cory and me to Party City, the Halloween Mecca. Despite whether or not he understood the concept, Cory said that he wanted to dress up as Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, who he calls “Bigger Sauron The King”.
I grabbed a large golden crown off of a shelf and held it up to my second oldest sibling that was twice my size, “Look, Cory, Bigger Sauron The King!”
His eyes got wider than I’ve ever seen them. He slowly took the crown out of my hands, lifted it into the light, and uncharacteristically whispered, “The King!”
Come Halloween night, Cory ceremoniously donned the crown, a cape, a sword, and a shield. My girlfriend dressed up as Rainbow Dash with a full face of blue makeup, my friend pieced together a Mother Earth costume, and I gathered as many Adventure Time accessories as I could and declared myself Jake the Dog. And so, an antagonistic wizard, a magic pony, an earth goddess, and a cartoon dog ventured into the autumn night with the goal of giving Cory a Halloween experience besides watching The Nightmare Before Christmas by himself.
No one expected Cory to make it past a couple of houses, but we went up and down each side of our street. Sure, Cory charged ahead of us on every stretch of sidewalk, sword raised high. Sure, he may have bowled over a toddler or two. Sure, we had to coach him to say “happy Halloween” and “thank you” at every house. And sure, there’s no real way to tell what he thought about the whole ordeal, but I like to tell myself he enjoyed it.
Cory was allowed to have one piece of candy from his Halloween bag before my parents threw it away. He chose a small bag of pretzels.