Dear friends and family,
You all know Taylor. He needs no introduction. He's been in my life since kindergarten, and he's been my best and dearest friend for ten years.
In middle school, he started smoking and drinking. He was addicted to prescription drugs and had to go to rehab at the age of fifteen. Throughout our adulthood, I tried to reign in his drinking and his pill consumption--when heroin was no longer a problem--but though his use fluxuated sometimes to minimal levels, it never fully abated.
This time last year, at age 23, I received a phone call from him that he was addicted to cocaine, had shot heroin, was using Klonopin and Xanax to off-set the coke, was drinking every day as soon as he woke up, and was still smoking pot. He told me he wanted help, and that if I would pick him up, he would go to rehab, get help, then stay clean and sober at my house until he was stable again.
While at my house, he began to back away from his commitment. I was too afraid to let him; I told him if he didn't get help, I wouldn't be a party to his downfall. He insisted he would go back home alone and get help by himself. When I expressed doubt, he got angry and asked, "So you have no faith in me whatsoever?" I didn't.
I drove him home anyway on December 15th. He pinkie promised me in his driveway that everything would be okay. I held back my tears until I was over the bridge and halfway home. It wasn't until a couple of days later that I actually did break down, clawing at my flesh and tearing out my hair. The doctor prescribed me Xanax. It was ironic, but not in the way that makes you smile wryly in the mirror.
After two and a half months, he was insisting that he was completely sober, except for once when he'd accidentally grabbed someone else's drink at the bar. I had my doubts about his sobriety due to his frequent claims that he was at the bar, but I elected not to pass judgment at that time. After six months, he was admitting to casually drinking a glass of wine every now and then. Now that a full year has passed since his breakdown, his Facebook profile image is of him drinking a shot of liquor, and many of his posts are alcohol-centric. He had asked me if I had any faith in him. Why would I ever say no?
Taylor has a particularly draining habit of realizing, once or twice yearly, that his addiction is beyond his control. He declares that he wants to get sober, and I have always tried to help. Unfortunately, I have always been disappointed. But in this year that we have been apart, I have waited with bated breath for his sudden epiphany, knowing that when it came, he would come to me.
My therapist--assigned to me shortly after I had surgery for a chronic pain disease and before I started a controversial synthetic menopause treatment--does not approve of this line of thought. I hadn't shared it with her until very recently, as I've always wanted to appear level-headed regarding the likelihood of his recovery. She has pointed out that I am not even close to coming to terms with the reality of the situation.
The reality is this: addicts don't usually recover until they are forced to. If Taylor had a car, if he drove and he got a DUI, he might recover. Being forced into classes might do the trick. But Taylor doesn't have a car, and Taylor doesn't drive. Taylor doesn't pay rent. Taylor will have a place to live no matter what his addiction costs him. Taylor has friends who encourage his alcohol abuse. Taylor has no one to hold him accountable for what he does. Taylor has watched a friend die an alcoholic's death, and Taylor has lost me because of his own alcoholism, and neither of these devastating events has put a dent in his resolve to continue drinking.
It will probably be, my therapist has told me, another ten to fifteen years before something happens that is significant enough to cause Taylor to get sober. After only one year of waiting, the prospect of another ten years is heartbreaking for me. It is dismal and agonizing, and I can only make it easier by not being there to see it happen.
Until now, I have kept a line of communication open between Taylor and me. I will be removing it soon enough, and I would encourage my family members to do the same. It can't help anyone to see what is happening in his life, and in fact, it is less than benign; it is painful for me. I have already expressed my disapproval that my family members have been in contact with him, and I will continue to react similarly if contact is not omitted, because I can't keep my strength if my mother is constantly inviting Taylor over for dinner when I am trying hard to forget that he exists.
After nineteen years of friendship, it is obviously not easy for me to do this. In the past year, though, I have learned something very important: I am defined by who and what I love. I am not defined by who or what loves me in return. I am working toward being impartial and not feeling less worthy because of my best friend's disease, and I am putting my love toward efforts that better exemplify the type of person I want to be. And in spite of all this, my greatest effort of all will be staying where I am, and not running back to the person I have loved for most of my lifetime. I wish him every happiness and success, and I hope that one day, we will be reunited on terms much better than these.