My Struggle With Addiction: Part II: When It Hit It's Peak & I Hit Rock Bottom

After high school, where I was away from all the things and people who made life difficult, you would think things would have got better for me. Yeah, I thought so, too, but I guess we would both be wrong, because things just grew worse and worse.

Warning: Contains Strong language, self harm, and sexual assault. 

After high school I started working. I had a few different jobs, but there was one that significantly impacted my life in a negative way. Since I am one of those people who had to always be doing something, I got myself not one, but two jobs. I thought this would keep my mind off of a lot of things, and it did....until it didn't. 

While I worked morning shift for the popular cinnamon roll place at our mall I decided that wasn't enough for me. It had nothing to do with money, I just wanted -needed- to be busy. Plus, I loved working at the mall. All my friends worked there and even when I was working I got to see and talk to friends. I was a teenage girl. Of course my life revolved around the mall. There was a guy who managed the pretzel shop across the hall who would come get coffee from me at the cinnamon roll shop every morning and we had talked a few times. He seemed nice. So I applied there, too. I spoke with my employer at the cinnamon roll shop just to make sure it was okay for me to work both places, and he said it was fine. Now I wish he would have said no. 

I went in to the pretzel shop for an interview, but was told by the manager that he had decided he was going to hire me the day I asked for an application, but that the interview was just a formality. I thought he was hiring me because I was a good, hard worker, and was dedicated to my job. I thought maybe it was the experience that made me a good candidate for the position, not that rolling out pretzels and throwing them in an oven took much skill, but I was great with customers. This was evidenced by the amount of regular customers that ended up migrating with me when I subsequently left this job and started working at the rival pretzel shop in the same mall. 

I don't even remember how long I worked there, but it couldn't have been more than a few months. Literally every single shift I worked with the manager. I rarely worked with any of the girls, ever. Why? Oh that's an easy one. The manager, who was married at the time, liked me and wanted to spend every single shift I worked with me. He refused to let me work with anyone else, even when I asked to. Not only did he frequently flirt with me, but he would grab or smack my ass, had picked me up and carried me (not a clue why) through an empty mall while we made the nightly deposit, lifted my work shirt to trail an ice cube down my stomach and drop it into my pants, and literally told me that the only reason he hired me was because he thought I was "hot". This probably would have made for an uncomfortable situation, if I somehow hadn't kind of liked him back. We even made out one time in the back room while we were supposed to be working. That's as far as it went though because I wanted nothing to do with a married man no matter how "bad" he swore his marriage was. I even tried to help him mend things with his wife. Of course he was bullshitting me, because let's be real, it's obvious. Although it wasn't all that obvious to a naive virgin that literally just graduated high school and wanted to believe that people weren't shitty. 

During the time that I worked there, I had been hanging out with a few potential boyfriends and took an interest in one of the guys who worked around the corner at the jewelry store. I spent a lot of time with him and he even introduced me to his son, who absolutely loved me. I thought things were going great, until my manger at the pretzel shop stepped in. Apparently they played cards together frequently and one night Greg called me to chat during a break in the game. In the background I could hear my manager of the pretzel shop berating me and making me the laughing stock of the entire room of men. He was saying things like I had been around the football team so much that they retired my jersey and insinuating that I was a huge slut. That hurt really bad. I was still a virgin at this point and the one and only sexual experience I had was being sexually assaulted one year prior. Greg never spoke to me again after that and the next day at work I was told that I was no longer allowed to talk to him as long as I worked at the pretzel shop. My manager once again gave me a bullshit excuse and said that Greg was a drug addict and a thief and it wouldn't look good for our company if I associated with him. He also added that I wouldn't be seeing Greg at the mall anymore, so to forget he existed all together. Since at this point I had left my previous job at the cinnamon roll shop, this was the only job I had until I could find a new one. So I took the bullshit and stuck it out. Greg mysteriously got fired from his job two days later. It doesn't take a genius to figure out who had a hand in that. 

I eventually met a guy at a party and we started dating. The day after we decided to become a couple, he came into the pretzel shop while I was working to pick me up and I introduced him to my manager as my new boyfriend. I have never seen my manager so angry. He didn't speak to me the rest of my shift and that made things awkward. I figured he would get over whatever it was that he hated me for, that I was completely clueless to, but wrong again.

A few days later I had been spending time at my brother's house when I got a phone call from the corporate office. They explained to me that my manager had called to make a complaint that I had been spreading the rumor that we were sleeping together, and since his wife had friends who worked at the mall, he didn't want it getting back to her. More absolute BS. At that time, not a single person, not even my brother, who I spent all my time with and told literally everything to, knew about my manager's conduct with me. I told NO ONE. There was nothing to tell. I wasn't into dating a married man, and I had a boyfriend. I had to give my full account of what happened between us since day one. Upon finding out that my manager had essentially been sexually harassing me in the workplace since the day I started, they asked if I wanted to press charges. I said no, because I thought that was absurd. OMG could I have been any more naive?! Apparently the answer to that is, yes, yes I absolutely could be and I was. 

They had someone cover my shift for the rest of the week while they investigated the situation. They had photocopies of the journal I kept at the time with all the evidence in it. They eventually called me into the shop (while he was working, by the way), and conned me. The head of our store sat there across from me, by myself as they told me I was not permitted anyone with me, and slid a paper across the table at me. He told me all he needed me to do was to sign that sheet of paper and then I could have my final paycheck. I was taken back by him telling me this was my final paycheck. I mean, how am I getting let go when I was the one who was sexually harassed by my manager?? They put me in an uncomfortable situation on purpose and I just wanted out of there, so I signed the paper without reading it and handed it back to him. He proceeded to hand me a check for $400. Now, a smart person would question the entire thing immediately. Once again...naive. I quizzically looked at the amount because I worked a minimum wage job. This pay would have only been for a 10 hour week since my other days got cut due to the investigation. I know I suck at math, but this wasn't adding up. So the head of the store tells me that they gave me some extra money to get me by until I could find another job. 

 *Record Skip*

Hold up. No job in the history of the world fires you and then gives you extra money that you didn't work for, for any reason. 

I left and immediately went to my friend's store to tell him what was going on. I had to get all this stuff I kept a secret off my chest. I had to tell my brother and the rest of my family at that point, too, because how was I going to explain any of this to them?! Every single person I told, said the same thing after reading the copy of the paper I signed. That this company gave me "shut up money" so there wouldn't be a lawsuit. And after reading the paper over and over again, I realized it myself. The paper I signed stated that I accepted the check and offered my resignation in return with the stipulation that I would never speak of the incident to anyone or seek legal action. I am not even slightly kidding. My manager did make a point to come up to me when he saw me a few months later and apologize. Even admitting that he had snapped when I introduced my boyfriend and immediately called the corporate office that same day and lied because he was upset that I had started dating someone. He actually said, out loud, that he wanted at that moment to ruin my life because he was afraid of what would happen if anyone found out what really happened. I forgave him because I'm stupid and I still had believed at this point that sometimes good people do bad things in moments of anger. Ugh. He still turned out to be a terrible human being, but that story doesn't belong in this one. 

Somehow all this triggered something in my parents because they decided to kick me out of the house. My mother said it was because I wasn't trying to find another job, but she saw me leave the house daily in interview clothes, so.... From the day I left that place I had been applying for jobs and had a few interviews. But naturally word had got around about the lies that were told about me by my former manager, and it was difficult getting hired. I had actually heard so many versions of the story that it made my head spin. None of them were true. I had no choice at that point because I had no place to live, no car, no money, and I did get rehired at the rival pretzel shop I had worked at right out of high school, but it was too late by then. I had to call my biological father. I had nowhere else to go and no one to help me. 

Now, this man had not been in my life pretty much the entire time I've been alive except for the few instances when he wanted to put on a show and pretend to actually care about his children. I have horror stories. While I think part of those stories contribute to my downward spiral, I'll leave them for another time. I had to beg the man who was a total stranger to me at this point, to let me live with him until I could  get a car and find a place of my own. This lasted one week. He couldn't handle actually being a father, and made some dumb shit excuse about needing me to move out. Once again, homeless. So I had to move in with my grandparents. During all this I was struggling, a lot. My relationship with my mom was non existent, my boyfriend was verbally abusive to me saying things like "I wish you could look like her" and constantly comparing me to other girls like I wasn't good enough. He was also an alcoholic who would pick up girls at bars and sleep around. I had a situation where my period was really late, so I had to take a pregnancy test. When he found out, he told me that I had better get rid of it or he would push me down the stairs and do whatever it took to take care of the problem. Literally, either I kill that baby, or he was going to kill the baby and me. I don't even want to open that wound again, so I'm just not going to. I just can't. At this point, with everything that had been going on, my brother started giving me Klonopin when we would hang out. And I started to forget about all the bullshit and have fun. Actual fun. Something I hadn't known for such a long time. I also stated drinking a lot more to the point where I would black out. 

My brother warned me about mixing the Klonopin with alcohol. He also warned me not to take more than one. Initially, just like the first time I started popping pills, I didn't take them that often. Only when we hung out. I was drinking a lot though. More than any 98 pound 18 year old should. During this time, I was hanging out with friends and partying every single weekend. I got experimental and started mixing the pills everyone had been giving me with various alcoholic beverages. At this point, I was downing an entire case of beer by myself in addition to hard alcohol straight up. It was a game.  We had competitions every single night for who could drink the most. Almost all the time, I was the winner. That's not a proud moment for me to look back on. One weekend the Marine recruiter that I had become friends with showed up. Long story short, he took advantage of me being too drunk to barely stand, not once, but twice in my friend's bathroom. I mean, someone could have helped me, but no one did. My friend's sister (who I mistakenly also considered a friend) called my boyfriend and told him I had been in the bathroom screwing the Marine that was at least 11 years older than me. All hell broke loose. The worst part about that night wasn't even all that, but was actually the parts that I can't even piece together because I only remember bits and pieces. 

I remember having a fight with my boyfriend's best friend in the middle of the road outside my friend's apartment. I remember my boyfriend's best friend walking me to his car. I remember fading in and out of consciousness. I remember pulling into an alleyway. I remember at one point, someone opening the passenger side door. I remember someone taking my pants off. Then all I remember after that is waking up at my boyfriend's house by myself fully clothed despite the fact that I remember being in an alley completely naked from the waste down the night before. That next morning I only remembered these tiny bits and pieces. The friend of my boyfriend was nowhere to be found, so I still don't know for sure what happened, but I suspect it's something I don't care to remember and I may just be better off not knowing the whole story. 

I had been so beat down at this point. I had started to withdraw and no matter how badly my grandpa tried to make me feel better (even though he didn't know what was going on, just that I was not well mentally), I kept shutting him down. I'll regret every single ounce of that for the rest of my life, because while he got to see me turn my life around, he soon after passed away from a major heart attack, and I was never able to tell him how sorry I was for everything and thank him for taking me. 

I got my own place in November of that year. Just in time for my birthday. So I was living on my own with no one else around when I started getting harassing phone calls from my former friends and for some muffed up reason, the alcoholic idiot I was still dating. They would all hang out together and call me to say really mean things, laugh, and then hang up. I started taking multiple Klonopin a day. Multiple Klonopin at a time. The only thing in my refrigerator was alcohol and some condiments. My cupboards were bare. I wasn't eating except for occasionally I would make a sandwich at work or one of the nice mall maintenance guys would bring me something from Arby's, presumably because they could see that I was wasting away to nothing. I think they felt bad for me, but no one ever asked if I was okay, or tried to talk to me about what was happening to me right in front of them. I had lived in my new place three months and had only bought groceries once. I wasn't even paying my rent. All my money was going to alcohol and pills. I would give my boyfriend (who was just 21 at the time) money to get me a case of beer and then give him extra to get himself some. Our relationship was shit. The only time I saw him was when he wanted sex, and the only time either of us could have sex was if we were both completely drunk and/or high because we actually hated each other. For some really messed up reason, we stayed together because we were both pieces of shit and no one else wanted any part of our demons. 

I started cutting. At first it was just a few mild cuts on my arm here and there, and it was winter, so no one could see them with my long sleeve shirts. On multiple occasions I would pass out in my bathroom covered in blood because I would pop a handful of pills and chug a few beers before retreating to the bathroom to mutilate myself. I specifically made sure I didn't cut very deep and then I nursed those wounds the next day with Neosporin so I wouldn't have scars because I didn't want to have to explain them to anyone. A few times, I would call my former friends or my boyfriend because I was lonely and wanted someone to talk me through all the emotional pain I was going through and my stupid ass kept trying to apologize for shit I didn't even do. I was just tired of being alone and wanted people to talk to. None of them really seemed to care. They wouldn't answer, would hang up on me, or bully me over the phone. 

Gary was my only savior. He had been the only person who was there for me and didn't judge me. He was a friend of my boyfriend's, although I don't know why because they are two completely different people. He rushed to my apartment at 3am one night and found me hysterically crying and pacing back and forth in my living area. I had reached rock bottom and while on the phone with my boyfriend earlier that night crying about how I just needed someone to talk to because I wasn't doing well mentally, he (my boyfriend) had been telling me that I should just go ahead and kill myself. That me ending my own life would be doing everyone in my life a huge favor. I started to believe him. I had no one at this point. No one gave a shit about me. I had no friends anymore, the one person I thought was supposed to care about me, treated me awful, and my family had abandoned me. Even my brother whom I spent so much time with, was forbidden to be around me because I had become a terrible person. I mean, I get it. I truly was. 

Gary saved me that night. I wouldn't be here if he hadn't shown up at my door at 3am.
I don't know how he knew to be there, but this would have been the end of my story if he didn't.

He sat with me and held himself together as I showed him my marks on my arms. I could tell he was breaking right along with me as I unleashed everything that had happened to me in that short two years to bring me to such a dark place. He waited there until morning when he called my parents and told them that I needed help. He went with me to my parent's house and sat there urging me to tell my parents everything and show them my arms. I told them about the cutting, I told them about the drugs and the alcohol, and I told them about my shitty friends and terribly abusive relationship. I never told them the more horrible parts. They never knew about the rapes. They still don't. I guess now they do and that hurts my heart really bad. I never wanted them to know how much pain I was really in. I honestly still don't.  

I moved back in with my parents and started my life all over again, this time with new friends, this time with a new boyfriend who became my wonderful husband, and this time with support from everyone around me, even though I felt like a failure. I felt like such a horrible daughter. For years my parents bragged about how good, honest, and true I was. How smart I was. How I made a personal decision to remain a virgin until I found the right person and had never smoked, drank, or done drugs. I failed them in the worst way those two years. Three if you count when everything started before my last year of high school. I made everything they said a lie. Sure, I was all those things and for most of it, I'm some of those things again. 

So you would think that would be my happy ending, right? Turned my life around with a great man,  clean from drugs, two kiddos, and happy life with loving friends and family. I mean, it is, but some wounds never heal and part III explains exactly why.


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