The demise of a relationship and a life and the allure of unhealthy items.
On the news recently, they talked about how high levels of acetaminophen cause liver failure, and if it's combined with other pain killers like Tylenol and codeine, it's worse yet.
Thoughts drift into my head about someone I lived with, who took those kinds of pills. Almost anyone has.
When I first met him he didn't seem like a drug addict and maybe he wasn't fully into it by then. In fact, he seemed like a different person or maybe that was his way of projecting himself as kind, considerate, fun, clean, upstanding citizen and father.
I, being 18 and so young and innocent, knew very little about life and the people in it and the happenings around me. Unlike my childhood, I was sheltered from it during my teen years or simply paid no attention. Drugs I knew about. My teen years were that reminiscent of mini-skirts, tie-dye outfits, white nail polish, and marijuana, although I didn't partake of it or of intimacy with the opposite sex. I knew that some of my friends had at one time or another.
Nothing I had experienced could have prepared me for what experiences I had later on. Some things were so traumatic that I can't even talk about it, at least not now, if ever again, unless it served a purpose. I fell slowly into this complicated mess, and then hard and fast.
But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Instead, we will concentrate on the subject and that is his habit and behavior, and how it affected our relationship. Even now, I have a hard time typing that because the truth is I sometimes wish it never happened, and at the same time, I figure everything that we experience helps us understand more and helps us realize and be who we really are.
He 'd medicated himself for years. Usually it was his back that hurt him. He had something going on with his spine. I'm not quite sure what. There were frequent doctor visits where he was treated to steamy heatpacks and then a full back massage, usually by an attractive woman.
Part of me wondered why he got such special treatment. I don't remember having that done very often. I could have been jealous, except I wasn't. The truth is I didn't care enough about him, I suppose. Little by little he showed me parts of himself that really made me physically and emotionally ill.
There will be some people who disagree with what I've just said because they knew him, but they ...well most of them didn't live with him, and the ones that did could tell their own story. Now whether it paints a better picture of him or not, I'm really not sure. I'd apologize to them except that I can only tell the truth as I experienced it.
Getting back to his habit, he was already familiar with the various pain killers and had prescription drugs issued to him off and on.
I knew he'd been taking them more often and got curious one day and asked how many he was taking. He had two or three Tylenol and Codeine #3 pills in his hand.
My mouth dropped open. "You take that many?" I asked.
"I have to in order to get any relief," he said. He took a swig of his orange juice and swallowed all of the pills at one time.
"How often do you take them?"
"Every 4-5 hours. Why?"
"I'm not sure that's good. Maybe you should talk to the doctor about it, and have your prescription changed...."
"Go to hell!" he nearly spit out.
"Every day I wake up in pain." He pointed his finger at me, his eyes glaring. "You don't know what it's like, and until you do, mind your own ****ing business."
I knew too well the feel of his hand across my face. I backed away, wouldn't even look at him. Not then, lest he go on one of his rampages.
Of course, he'd need more and more of the pills to take the pain away. It didn't improve his mood, but instead made him worse. He wouldn't listen and never did. It would be putting it mildly to say he was irritable.
I knew that he'd convince the doctor to give him more. He'd already been on a list that the doctor kept for those kinds of medicines and their users.
He didn't seek out another doctor until later when this one turned him down. The alternative was surgery. Surgery he didn't want, which would leave him more or less helpless at least for a little while. He didn't want to depend on anyone in that way. .
One day, I had stomach cramps.
"Get ready. We need to go to the store," he'd said.
"I don't want to go," I said. At the time I didn't think about how he was with me 90 percent of the time. He rarely left me alone, unless it was for something he considered urgent. "I'm not feeling well. You go ahead."
He left the room, came back a few minutes later, and held out his hand, which had two pills in it. "Go ahead. Take them. It'll make you feel better," he said.
"No. I'd rather not."
"There's nothing wrong with taking medicine when you need it." He stood there for several minutes, before stepping away. "You deserve to suffer," he said over his shoulder as he plodded away.
"Okay. Maybe just a little won't hurt," I said. "I only want half." He cut it and gave it to me. I swallowed it.
When it finally took effect, the pain had subsided quite a bit, but this medicine had a reverse effect on me. Most people get drowsy. instead it caused me to have more energy. That part was okay, because it enabled me to get a lot of things done. . It got to be where if I had a headache, he'd give me one.
One thing I noticed was that I had a re-occurring reaction to it when the medicine wore off. It felt like my stomach was tied in knots, and so I was reluctant to use them. I have a healthy fear of being addicted to anything anyway. I got to where I'd not tell him if I was in pain and chose to suffer in silence.
Later that week, I got a tickle in my throat. I coughed to get rid of it.
He looked at me. "You can stop now," he said.
I was feverish. I could barely speak. I left the livingroom and sat in the bedroom. When I thought I had things under control I came back, yet couldn't supress another cough. It seemed like the more I tried not to cough, the more I did.
Then he'd stare at me again. "You son of a b*tch b*stard. Every damn time the program gets intereresting you start coughing."
"I can't help it. I'm sorry. I'm sick," I said, my voice broken up and raspy.
"No. You're not. You're doing that on purpose. Now, knock it the hell off."
"Honest to god. I'm sick," I managed to say. Of course, I couldn't stop it or convince him. He really thought I was just being annoying.
"You're not sick. You're faking it."
I looked at him through glittery eyes. I wondered how he could accuse me of faking. I'd have been angry but I didn't have the energy. My eyes didn't mist over until I looked away. I didn't want him to see how weak I felt and that he'd hurt me once again.
This experience was one of the straws that broke the camel's back. Here I was sick and there he was more interested in his tv show.
It wasn't just that he was preoccupied and I needed any of his attention. I never asked for it. I could easily have lived without it.
He'd called me a liar. It just confirmed that he was not my friend at all. He was self centered, while playing it out like he was helpful, considerate, and sociable. It was all about him and his wants and he didn't care who he destroyed to get it. He was a tyrant, and I was his favorite target. Why he did this I wasn't sure, but I suspected that he felt I deserved it. Surely he didn't just enjoy making others feel useless and small.
He was not anyone worth my love, yet he was posed as friend and love. At least, I could have walked away from my worst enemy, but this? No I survived a living hell. Yes, you read right. He was a husband who I married by default.
"How could this be?" you might ask. "There's no such thing."
Trust me, it happens and soon you can't find your way out of it. My mind was tortured between feeling like the lowest life form and wishing for death, to being angry and wanting revenge, and then having to let it go and find love in my heart again.
It's a very long and tangled web of a story. Not anything I can go into right now. Not anything I wish to dwell on anyway. I will tell you this much. It has to do with a loss of love and self-esteem,and people do the dumbest things under duress.
Still, marriage is suppose to be sacred. Later I found out how sacred it was to him, since he'd not divorced his other wife after many years, but at the time I didn't know and was duty bound to be a decent although reluctant wife. Maybe I wasn't such a good wife ever...or even a good person, because I didn't stop him from abusing himself.
I knew where my loyalties were, yet they were loyalties of the heart, and love everlasting.
Still, isn't that what a decent person does, rather than watch someone destroy themself, encourage them to seek help? If my friends are on a diet, I wouldn't encourage them to eat things which are unhealthy. At the same time, it's their life.
So why do I feel like I have not only let him down, but others...his friends and family that loved him and accepted him regardless of his actions.
Am I responsible for not only what I do, but what others do? Am I responsible for helping them make bad choices and become less healthy? At the same time, I am not them, so this "alternative" method is their choice. The consequences are also theirs too.
Maybe all I can do is share with them my perspective. If they don't want to listen or use my advice, then I have said and done enough.
I stayed with him, especially after his illness became evident. At the time, I didn't know how serious it was. I couldn't desert him now if I had thoughts of that, and yes I did have those thoughts so many times before.
I felt such sorrow because there was nothing I could do if I wanted to. I hate that feeling of helplessness. He was helpless and this was a human being and was special to someone,and to several someones.
Needless to say, he died of pancreatic cancer, which had started in his liver.
I'm pretty sure that although he didn't overdose, his bouts of drinking on the holidays, combined with the medications he'd kept taking, altered his insides and caused a fatal disease.
If I could have laid down and died then I would have, but I had a son to think about and love. It is for those others that I would weep and sometimes still do.
Note: If you liked this, you might want to read my other one, which includes a response to a review I received "Life is like a Canvas." [13+].