We got married at the end of last July. It was small wedding. We wrote our own vows and had a bearded, hippie rabbi officiate it. I wore an Urban Outfitters dress that was under $100 and tucked daisies in my hair. He wore a child’s size extra-large suit jacket from Kohl’s and black jeans. We had mismatched vases from thrift stores on the tables and buffet style food from a local Italian food place.
It was ridiculously simple and obnoxiously precious and was (at least one of) the happiest days of my life.
Many of the guests came up to us afterward to tell us that it was one of the most heartfelt wedding ceremonies they had ever been to. They knew we were going to make it. Now, less a year later, at 23, I’m getting ready to move out and file for divorce.
We didn’t pull a celebrity style impulsive meet-and-marry thing. We’ve know each other since our freshman year of high school. We met at a bus stop and he told me he liked the patch on my backpack. I told him I had a blunt at home so he would think I was cool. (I did not have a blunt at home.)
As time went on, we became fused together as a single angst-y unit and during this pivotal time in adolescence, we sort of sculpted each other. We were both pretty screwed-up kids but we understood each other in a way no one else seemed to. He was with me when my father died, when my grandfather died and we saw each other through numerous hormonal/psychotic breakdowns.
I figured we could weather anything together. Shit, we handled puberty. What we couldn’t handle was a heroin addiction.
The same reckless naiveté that convinced us that getting married at 22 was a sure-fire plan also convinced us that we could begin taking Vicodin, then Norcos, then morphine, then Oxycodone, and then finally heroin daily, and it wouldn’t hook us in and destroy our lives in the way that it did every other addict.
I had really bad menstrual cramps and he had mysterious, Cobain-esque stomach pain. We were just self-medicating, we weren’t addicts. We were strung out from the Oxycodone for several months before we finally took the plunge with heroin.
I remember sitting in a Jack-in-the-Box parking lot next to the motel where our dealer was camped out. My husband was halfway out of the car and before I handed over the $60, I stared up his young, cherubic face, now sweaty and pained.
Frustrated, he said, “What? What’s up? Can I have the money?”
“Listen, we’ve got to stop this,” I said.
This wasn’t a breakthrough, one of us always said this when we hadn’t been high for long enough to start getting withdrawals.
“I know,” he sighed, giving the requisite answer.
“No, I mean it, really. I feel it. I feel like this is slipping away from us. I feel like we have two choices right now. I love you so much and, Jesus, I’m not going anywhere, we’ve got to be together, and I just want things to be good. I mean, there’s no one else I like. I hate everyone else, you’re my only choice. I feel like we are either going to end up being fucking amazing, creative, successful people or we’re going to be like Sid and Nancy. Please don’t make me be Nancy. That would be so awful.”
“I won’t make you be Nancy, baby” he smiled, and then we both laughed. We laughed because we cleared the air.
This was the last time, this was definitely going to be the last time and then tomorrow we’re done. But tonight, thank God, we’re going to get high.
“Now give me the money,” he said and snatched it from my hand and slammed the car door. As our addiction really started to become an issue, my husband began getting too strung out for work and calling in sick became the norm.
After he was eventually fired, I took another job. Before long, I was working 50 hours a week while he stayed home and slept on the couch. I worked as a nanny, and my strange double life as a wholesome, arts-and-crafts-doing, snack-preparing nanny and an irritable junkie began to become harder and harder to uphold.
I was becoming more resentful everyday and our house was slowly starting to look like the kind of house people mainline heroin in. I stopped letting people who weren’t associated with us through drugs come over, because you never know where a hypodermic needle might have been stuck after shooting up, and there were blackened spoons with cotton balls littered everywhere.
Not to mention the fighting. Once we added being strung-out to our already moody pairing, our house became a war zone. I became increasingly more reclusive; he became more distant, leaving the house for hours at a time and never telling me where he was going. Going out for a cigarette and returning three hours later with no explanation, or an explanation that made absolutely no sense. I would be fuming, looking out the window calling his phone again and again while he ignored my calls.
Soon, the only time we got along was when we were doing the only thing we had in common anymore: hunting down and doing heroin.
Strangely enough, the adventures searching for it are some of my only positive memories with him from the last 6 months. Leaving a wedding early after mischievously whispering, “Let’s go get high” or staying up all night with a carload of other junkies trying to score is strangely nostalgic. Those moments became the only moments where we were actually working toward something together.
The act of shooting me up replaced sex; it replaced almost any other form of intimacy. He penetrated a vein and gave me something more powerful than an orgasm. His demeanor and the way he carried himself would change after he shot me up, it gave him a sense of pride in himself that he seemed to get from nowhere else.
For me, it feels as though happiness is finite, you only get so much joy per day. A normal person spreads it out with small moments of enjoyment, but a heroin addict uses it all up in a 5-minute rush, and borrows against the next day. Nothing that feels that good is ever free, and as it took its toll on my body and mind day after day, I couldn’t take it anymore and I got sober.
My husband is not ready. He still does not have a steady job, he still doesn’t help out at the house, and he is still using. We can’t stop treating each other miserably. I love him with all my heart, but living like this makes me feel like cashing in on some instant happiness, and I just can’t do that anymore.