"This Girl Needs Help"

By Leilani Torres 07/17/17

I was hoping for euphoric recall; instead I got something much better.

Abstract painting of half of a woman's face
We think we hide our addictions well, that we are genius ninjas: masters of the stealth.

Contrary to anyone’s suggestion, I contacted Knives. I was feeling lonely and, I’m not going to lie, I missed the tsunami of the “good times” of molly rush and New Year’s Eve romance that was the blur of our relationship.

But something happened in this selfish endeavor of validation that I knew far too well wouldn't satisfy my own self-worth and still being anymore.

During our conversation of “don’t you miss that?” and “remember that time when?” an unintended question popped in my head: What was I like when I was drunk?

“You were funny sometimes, most of the time…but eventually you started drinking more, or you lost the shame you had when we met or whatever it was. You just started getting faded.”

The thing is, I never drank the way I did when we were together. Sure, it started off “meek and nice,” whatever that is, in my blind addict eyes, restricted to parties only and casual nights at the billiards across the street from campus. Slowly, but surely, it escalated to the point where, for the first time, I decided to walk into a room full of other anonymous bingers and 24-7 drinkers.

“You were sketchy, needy, aggressive, loud, annoying, and ultimately dangerous.”

Hearing this made me cringe. Maybe he was biased.

“Sketchy? How? Did you know when I blacked out?” I wondered.

“Yeah, it was easy to tell when you were blacked out. When you wanted to drive drunk, or when you went on rants about how you loved me. You even got really feisty sometimes. You usually just got aggressive. That’s how you were sketchy.”

I can only imagine the disgusting mess that was me going on and on and on, without reprieve, as to how much I loved him with all my might. My stomach churned with shame and embarrassment. I always preferred to look at myself as a girl who kept her cool back then: A girl who wasn’t clingy or needy.

What about violence? I’ve always been a firm believer in peace. Anti-violence is in my soul. I abhorred fights. In school all the kids would storm and cheer towards the entertainment that was someone throwing punches at another and I would walk away from such stupidity. Hurting someone else is appalling. Horrible. Not cool at all.

But blacked out, I was aggressive sometimes? I can’t help but feel absolutely and utterly horrified by the thought, especially towards someone that I was obsessively in love with, which isn’t real love...but still.

Clearly I’ve been in deep, deep denial.

“What did my eyes look like?”

“Like they were on fire.”

“Did my drunkenness embarrass you?”

“Yeah, I had to put you in bed a lot.”

I don’t remember that…

“Oh God, I’m so sorry,” I said.


“Did anybody ever say anything to you about my drinking?”

“Everyone,” he said.

What?! Everyone? I always thought that I was seen as just a crazy college student who drank like everyone else. Leah always had alcohol on top of her fridge in her college apartment. It’s college.

But I didn’t drink like everyone else.

“My roommates from apartment C, the guy who dated Mo, Riz, Darien, Nelson, Sid, the girl we hung out with that lived across from me. Then when I moved to the studio, Kevin was super concerned.”

And he went on and on and on and on about the monsoon of people who recognized me as an addict before I did. During that time, I wobbled around in a constant stupor, unaware of the flocks and flocks of people who all knew when I didn’t. Who all knew when I thought they didn’t know a thing about me.

“They would say that you really drank,” he said.

‘Really’ drank.”

He told me about how he would make excuses for me, ones that he claims to not remember. Or maybe the excuses broke our code of ethics: spreading my dark secrets that I entrusted him with throughout our tumultuous relationship. Or maybe he made up ridiculous stories that would embarrass me. It’s probably for the best that I don’t know.

“’This girl needs mad help,’ they would say.”

How mortifying. Shameful. Humiliating.

“Why didn’t you say something to me?” I asked. Maybe it would’ve saved me sooner?

“To embarrass you and have you drink more? Nah. I just tried to protect you.”

As I lay in my bed I know for a fact that him telling me during that time probably wouldn’t have stopped me. I wasn’t even close to being done with my research of binging, purging, and binging again. What else was he supposed to do? It’s all up to me at the end of the day. 

Despite the fact that I had been experimenting with drugs for a while, that time in my life was merely the very, very, very beginning of the bitter end.

“You were trying to protect me?”

The words slipped out of my typing thumbs into the text message.

It’s funny how self-centered my thinking can be when I look back at the relationship. The first time I really got clean and truly dove into my recovery with the awareness I had at the time, I discovered my part in our partnership. Overall, I still viewed him as the scum of the earth. But, protect me?

“I loved you. I really did.”

He cared a lot more than I ever thought he did. No wonder he would always get so frustrated with me and angry and annoyed by me. I was drunk all the time.

Like, all the time.

But I had to ask him something else.

“Did you notice when it started to increase? Like a particular moment when you were like, holy shit, this chick’s an alcoholic?”

I saw the ellipses change tones over and over again as he typed away in the iPhone messenger. I lay there. In the dark. Heart racing. Teary eyed. Why was I crying?

Why was this so relieving?

“When you blew your money on drugs and started bringing bottles of wine to my fucking apartment. Goddammit Nels.”

And there it was: a memory pushed behind the archive that is the hidden past life of my subconscious rushing into view.

“We got into a fight.”

I remember.

“And you told me you went to buy some pills.”

That was the beginning of my Roxy love affair that I embarked on behind his back. I cheated on him with a blue pill.

“And you blew your paycheck on them.”

The first week I found my drug of choice, I blew all of my money.

“You looked like shit, some of the time. It was kind of hot, I don’t know why; kind of fucked up that I’m saying that. I guess I wasn’t putting the dots together, but for some time, I noticed you were pale and you had lost some weight and, honestly I was turned on by it.”

I fucking hate men. Well, I don’t, but I do.

I don’t know.

“And you shivered every fucking night, and you sweated and were cold. I had to either wrap your body up or get the blanket off of you, get you some liquids.”

So he really did love me to some extent. We were both sick in our own ways, but I had no idea that he did any of this or that I was even experiencing all of those things to begin with. I still would never be around him today, person-to-person, but hearing this is surprisingly calming down the blazing fire of hate that I’ve had for him for the past two years.

But I guess my hate for him does come from the fact that I actually did love him, doesn’t it? It’s actually about time that I admit it to myself.

“One time, I went to get you a Gatorade and I shoved it down your throat, basically. You were in and out and wouldn’t drink it. I just thought you were really sleepy.”

Funny, I always thought I hid my heroin addiction from him rather fucking well, but that’s what all addicts think. That we are genius ninjas: masters of the stealth. He thought I was hung over, but really I was withdrawing on alcohol, on blues, on drugs.

I always felt abandoned by him. When he didn’t stay with me during the abortion like he promised. When he immediately left the state without saying a word, directly after the pain that was our bundle of cells falling out of me. I hated him for leaving the scar behind my lip when he punched me in the face.

We were both so fucked.

I comforted him many nights when he was homesick. I listened as he described his turmoil of a childhood. He told me secret after secret after undying secret and I held his hand through it all.

He told me I did.

There were countless nights that he sobbed in my tight embrace, missing his dead father.

Little to my knowledge, he held me too as I shivered—pale, thin, malnourished from the addiction, withdrawal, and dope sickness that was my betrayal.

“Thank you for all of that,” I honestly told him. “For trying to protect me, taking care of me blacked out, and when I was asleep at night. I probably would have died if you hadn’t stuck by me.”

And that was the God’s honest truth.

“I loved you,” he told me. “And I did what I had to do.”

I came to him selfishly because I was feeling empty that night, but what I got was closure. What I got was the reality that yes, we were horrible for each other, but I was just as much of an insensitive, self-centered asshole as he was when he laid his hands on me. In fact, I think I may have been worse.

That night for the first time since that bond was diminished; for the first time since I tried to get clean--and fell on my face, got up, fell again, and stood up again--I saw Knives not as a knife but as a human being, just like me.

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