Interesting, isn’t it? We call someone shooting crack a ‘junkie’, while we offer the gentler ‘active addict’ to someone snorting cocaine (secretly, they think; not so secretly, in reality) from their kitchens in million-dollar condominiums. Except the cocaine addict is just a junkie, aren’t they? A junkie with money as insulation, and nothing more.
Fun Fact: Not all children who experience childhood trauma grow up to be junkies. But most junkies have experienced childhood trauma. Sometimes, addictive behavior manifests as a result of emptiness, and most often, a failure to connect. This is why drug recovery must have two phases – first, it’s treatment of the physical addiction, which is the easy part. Second is the treatment of the underlying trauma giving rise to addiction. The latter is the challenge, and without it, people will always fall back.
For a while, I read extensively about addiction. Every single book and article I could get my hands on, I devoured. Near the end of this deep-dive, I began reading Al-Anon literature but had to stop because it was making me sick to see how active junkies either destroyed almost every honest relationship around them, or stuck only to people who didn’t care enough to demand they seek help.
I knew someone once, an active addict. I would hear him snorting cocaine while we were on Skype, though I never told him I could hear. Until today, he is unaware that I could hear.
The first time it happened, I became paralyzed by total fear, which led me to shut my mouth. Then it happened again. And again and again; each time, my mind came up with a million excuses. It’s the flu! It’s a sinus infection! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s just speedy nose blowing!
Wait and see, I told myself. Don’t judge, rather make 70 excuses for him, I told myself; ‘show me’, I prayed nightly. Show me ya Allah if I am wrong; show me, if I am right.
Then one day, after he had spent a short period with a cesspool (like, literal human garbage, the lowest common denominations, none of whom would ever be welcome at my table. Compared to their years long ‘friendship’, it took me an actual minute to confirm everything. If they cared at all – truly had love for this man – they would have intervened long long long ago. But they are enablers, most certainly with their own faeces of an existence with which to contend, and snort up their own noses) of ‘friends’, he showed up with an abscess in his nose and tried to sell it as something which happened because he fell and hit his face. Typing that out stops my heart still. I stood listening to him tell this lie, and quietly, only me, I could hear my heart tremor. But I was suddenly scared of him and so didn’t react. I didn’t know how he might respond, because he had repeatedly told me of his volatility.
I was scared. Physically and emotionally, I could not guess how he might behave toward me, this man who said he was in love with me. Can you imagine?! He never picked up on this. (But perhaps he would have noticed my unusual quiet, and general lack of excitement; but actually, he turned out to be quite selfish, so probably not.)
I had surface awareness, but had never suspected the depth of things which I was suddenly facing. He wasn’t ready to get clean, was all I could think. I am alone in this, and here by myself, was my second thought. Third, I was hit with a reality bigger than myself and his addictions – he has an important weekend ahead, and a young heart is at risk if he doesn’t show up, or if he shows up full of anger. Under absolutely no circumstance was I prepared to harm that particular young heart, because I was already aware of how much damage he had inflicted upon it. I decided to hold my peace and wait, while my brain mapped out how and when I would raise it. A full plan, mapped out in minutes.
But God had other plans, as He does. He stepped in and sliced me from him completely.
I have no news of him so cannot say where he stands at present; I only have God’s voice, and He tells me that he has not changed. In fact, that he has gotten worse. (Don’t ever forget that our gut is one of God’s voices.)
I think about him with pity. He is far from people who would stand vigil for his recovery. He is alone (and lonely), surrounded by ‘friends’ that are low hanging fruit, and no one knows this better than he. He used to always tell me he would protect me; I understand now that it was from both his own lifestyle and that of these people. Like the cesspool I mention above, people who enable and who turn a blind eye. Either because they themselves are junkies and/or alcoholics, or because they don’t give enough of a shit about him. People who will take him only deeper into his addictions. People who fed the addictions, because there is a benefit to them when he pays for everything. Seared into my brain is when he once said that his ‘friends’ were only there because he had money. How fucking awful. At end of day, all these people care for is when he, the life of the party, can only be the life of the party when high and drunk, and so he picks up all the bills. It is as heartbreaking as it sounds, and I was the anomaly in the circle. I would have taken him as a poor man. More important however, is that I would have stood as wall between him and these vultures. No question. He knew it, and he always will. Because he knows they are not cut from the same cloth as I. Not even close.
I did not stick around to play the heroine, because I know enough about addiction to know that I can’t save someone who isn’t ready to save themselves. I know enough to have chosen self-care and self-respect, because an active addict will always choose to run back to their next high, before they run to you. And this is exactly what he did; he left me and then his daughters (on Eid. On Eid. On Eid. Ya Raabi, he left them on Eid) to run back to the cesspool.
And please don’t misunderstand me. I did not leave him because he was an addict (and an alcoholic***), though this was the only reason I cited when explaining why I needed to leave him. The other reasons – in fact the more important reasons – for which I absolutely had to extract?
1: He is, to his core, a liar. And he lies about everything. The saddest part of this is that he thinks he is smart enough to not be caught. Let me assure you – he was never, nor will he ever be, smart enough.
2. There is a rot inside of him I have never come across in any other human.
3. Things I found out during a period when he went dark, a period which fucking near killed me (and led my mother to make da3awaat against him unlike anything I had ever heard before or since). All things of which he is unaware that I am aware. And he will remain so, always. Ultimately here, he forgot one of the most important Truths of our deen – that Allah does not provide sutur for those undeserving and guilty. Instead, He uncovers so that the innocent may become aware, and may guard themselves.
I never mentioned anything but the addictions because – from where I stood – there was nothing that could be said to remedy the situation, most definitely nothing to salvage. Nothing. And I don’t do drawn-out endings.
All of my pain after I left had nothing to do with the loss of him. In fact, I have never been happier about leaving a man. My sadness had to do with me – how deeply I had loved the wrong man. How deeply I had allowed myself to become entangled with such rot. That written, alhamduliLah for everything, and that this sadness is no more. This too, as all things, has gone.
***I believe that alcohol is actually his main addiction, though likely he toggles. The depression caused by alcohol needs to be smudged by cocaine. Rarely does one addiction only ever stand alone, which is your second tragic Fun Fact of this piece. Truth told, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was addicted to anything he can get his hands on. Literally anything, and this might extend to the bodies of women.
He is in God’s hands, leaving mine to tend to myself instead. AlhamduliLah.
Today, I am grateful for:
1. Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous.
2. Addicts who have made the choice to recover. You are fucking superstars. SUPER-STARS.
3. Kufta mashwyah, which we are eating tonight, in the middle of the Arabian Desert.