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I was working at a hotel and in a torrid, heartbreaking (for me, at least) on-and-off relationship with a guy who was, in the words of Hannah Horvath, "someone who treats my heart like monkey meat."
It consisted of nothing more than me driving an hour out of my way every weekend to have a boozy, emotional roller coaster of a time spent mostly in bed. It was tearing me apart, but I didn't have the self-esteem, wherewithal, or motivation to end it. I felt like I had already given so much of my self-respect away that it was pointless at this stage to put a stop to it. I would cry at random times thinking of Sancho* and how he was treating me so badly. I was seriously a mess. I needed a way out.
It was at the hotel that I met a guy. His name was Jesse*, and I noticed him immediately. I can't say that it was an instant attraction — not because he wasn't extremely handsome, but because my mind was so caught up in Sancho. I didn't look at other guys that way.
He was a new hire, and all of the girls were buzzing about this cute guy who was a major flirt. Jesse had blue eyes and a fit body. He rowed crew. He was sexy. My interest was piqued when I saw his tattoos. Within an hour of speaking with him, I knew he and I were birds of a feather. Just like me, he liked to party and put partying above all other responsibilities.
It was a nice distraction from Sancho to have someone who wanted to flatter me, who was willing to chase me. Pretty soon, Jesse and I started to text; I remember one time lying in Sancho's bed after he had left for work, waking up to a very sweet "good morning" text from Jesse. It was the perfect antidote to how I was feeling at the time, which was used and like trash. Jesse made me feel special, and although my heart still belonged to Sancho, the seed for a salacious affair had already been planted. Plus, Jesse was trouble — my favorite characteristic in a man.
Nothing physical happened for a long time. Not even a kiss. I was still visiting Sancho on the weekends, and my mind often lingered on Jesse. My heart crumbled when I accepted the truth that nothing was going my way with Sancho.
I don't remember quite how it ended with Sancho, but I would say it was him who finally ended things with me; I wasn't anywhere near assertive enough to end anything romantically, despite the fact that I had met somebody else. By October, Jesse and I were "official." But there were blaring red flags that I should have taken heed of immediately.
Very early in on our courtship, I mentioned something about certain aspects of the physical relationship I had with Sancho. Huge mistake. Jesse flipped out. But he had asked me a question about it, and I gave him an honest answer. He then told me that I was different than how he'd thought I was, insinuating that I was dirty. I was shocked at his reaction to an honest answer to a question that he had asked.
There were many similar indications that Jesse was very insecure — different comments and judgments he made regarding my past. He tried to guilt me in such a way that it made me feel bad about myself. However, I pushed these feelings to the side. Who was I to judge insecurity? I was the most insecure of anybody. Jesse didn't try to hide his insecurity, and in an odd way, that made it a little easier to handle.
Jesse also had a drug problem. He liked to do cocaine and pop pills. I had never even seen cocaine before Jesse and I got together. For as much partying as I had done, I was so naïve and uninformed when it came to drugs. My friends drank and went to bars, but I didn't know anybody who did coke.
And yet, despite all of this, our relationship was fun. We were both naturally happy people. He was fun, kind, loving, giving, warm and affectionate. At parties, I would see him do a line here and there, and I knew he took Xanax, but I tried to look at it as nothing more than youthful experimentation. I think he was in the shallow end of the addiction pool, but as our relationship progressed, he waded deeper until he was in over his head. I loved him, though.
We had been together a few months when he got a new roommate: a cocaine dealer. This caused our relationship to shift. Despite his recreational drug use, I used to look forward to going to Jesse's house, eating dinner with him, and then lying in bed together watching a movie — typical relationship stuff. But that came to a screeching halt once the dealer was living there.
All hell broke loose. A cocaine dealer living at that house was like a 24/7 open bar parking itself in the living room of an alcoholic. There was no more "recreational" aspect to the drugs. Any night of the week looked like a scene from The Wolf of Wall Street.
Jesse and I got into a huge fight about this new living arrangement. But despite my misgivings, I didn't end things. I loved him, and he loved me, too. Looking back, it's so pathetic to me how little self-esteem I had; it disgusts me to think I thought so little of myself that I continued on with this relationship that would ultimately bring me so low.
As anyone could guess, a cocaine dealer attracts a pretty nasty crowd. The dealer, Preston*, had a whole bunch of friends who did little more during the day than party and brag to one another about how much money they made dealing and scamming people. They talked openly about their lifestyle like something out of the middle-class version of Scarface. They wouldn't hesitate to steal from you or hurt you to get what they wanted. I resented Jesse for the path he was on, but was right there with him, racing him down the rabbit hole. We fed off of each other's negativity.
Despite all of this, there were very fun, memorable times at that house. From the outside, it just looked like your typical suburban house. When you walked inside, it had a charming living room and a great kitchen. The back room had a pool table. The bedrooms were large, and there were so many windows in that house you didn't need to keep a light on during the day because the sun illuminated everything. I remember one time I got locked in the bathroom and had to call Jesse from inside, and he instructed his friend to break the door down to get me out. We laughed at that for a long time.
But I also remember Preston's birthday. There were naked girls walking around, and everybody was completely obliterated. I saw Preston snort cocaine out of a girl's ass crack on the pool table, and at one point, he got naked and had other people snort cocaine off of his penis. It was such a scene that it even made Jesse uncomfortable. It was that night that the house went from what I might still consider a bachelor pad to a full-on trap house. It was officially a house where people went buy drugs.
Within a month of Preston living there, the energy of the home got so bad you couldn't walk through the front door without feeling an overwhelming sense of dread. Trouble piled up for every person who was in and out of that home. It felt cursed. Preston got arrested for attempting to break into a cop's house, Jesse got fired from his job, my car broke down, and I got a horrible case of head lice. I felt like God was punishing me for surrounding myself with such negativity.
Jesse started to lose his grip on reality, and for as much as I loved him, it was hard not to face the fact that I was losing him to drugs. On Christmas Eve, we fought until the sun came up when he was blacked out on a combination of drugs and alcohol. At one point, he held me down on the bed, refusing to let me leave, accusing me of sleeping with my former boss. But anytime I tried to dump Jesse, he would say all the right things to win me back.
Eventually, though, Jesse just stopped talking to me. There was no big breakup or one event that changed everything. The cat-and-mouse game simply ended. It broke my heart; I loved him so much, despite how fucked up we both were. He was a gentle soul caught in the body and the mind of a drug addict. It tore me up for a very long time.
Appropriately so, once Jesse and I distanced ourselves from one another, our lives both turned around for the better. Jesse went to rehab and got clean. I stopped drinking and learned to become a responsible adult. We were better people away from each other.
I'm not sure what happened to the rest of the people coming and going out of that house. I would like to think that we all grew up, but I know that selling drugs makes dealers an enormous amount of money; it would be hard for anybody to walk away from that lifestyle.
This relationship was just another instance of heartache that could have been prevented had I just used a little common sense. But I don't regret it; as cliché as it sounds, it made me a better person. It gave me the wisdom to avoid getting myself into a similar situation in the future, and I wouldn't change a thing.