From Tar

Amidst an epidemic, my husband is 540 days clean from heroin.

Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is.

-Marianne Williamson

This morning my husband went somewhere before work to get a space heater for his office. Yes, it’s April, and it’s cold as hell. There’s snow coming tomorrow.

He went to Walmart, despite trying his best to avoid it. He tried Big Lots first but it was closed. So he ended up at Walmart. When he was using, he would take the receipts out of the store’s trashcans so he could return stolen merchandise to get cash to buy heroin. In the saddest scavenger hunt, he cruised the shiny linoleum aisles of the mammoth store and scavenged the stocked shelves, attempting to remain hidden under fluorescent lights as he looked for items on the receipts. One day a manager took the dirty, crumpled receipts and plastic wrapped packages, questioned my husband, and went to the back of the store to check the cameras. Once out of sight, my husband left empty handed, but free. No, that is not true, he was not free, he was a slave to the junk. Avoiding being dope sick is futile, miserable, hard work.

So on this freezing spring morning he returned to that Walmart for the first time since he was dope sick and almost arrested. Tonight while talking about it in bed, he confessed it was emotional, the feelings they come in fast like a tsunami, that he felt nervous going into the store. He also felt guilt, he hadn’t told me he would be going to Walmart. (That’s why I had seven missed calls). He finally concluded that they wouldn’t recognize him, and went inside to buy the space heater.

It’s true, he’s not the same person today. Addiction will do that, morph loved ones into unrecognizable beings. Those were dark times. I remember afternoons then, arriving home to our apartment building on so many morose weekdays. Once I had dodged the potholes and pulled around the corner into the lot, my heart would deflate at first sight of him sitting on the stairs. He would wait for me to get home from work with the car so he could take it to get money and buy dope. His face was so marked up and his skin was pallid and gray. Black hoodie hung off thin body, he appeared dirty and tattered. I thought to myself, “he looks like a junkie.” He was a junkie. Yeah today in Walmart, 540 days sober, in his dress clothes en route to work, they didn’t recognize my husband.

I want to make an important point. Despite this transformation in recovery, my husband’s dark past, his addiction, it is a part of us. It forms the present gestalt that is us. I see him in light and in dark. I espy the junkie, the man, and the recovering addict. I see him in present and in past. I behold all of him and I forgive him. I also forgive myself.

Three weeks ago I found burnt tinfoil and pen tubes in the toolbox we took out of storage. My fingers came out black, my nostrils assaulted by the burnt tar smell of heroin. Those were dark times. I forgive the transgressions.

About two months ago, my husband told me that he considered using the night before flying to rehab in Florida when transitioning from his inpatient program in Massachusetts. That voice in his head whispered to him: “just one last taste”. Even though I know addiction is a devious and cunning beast, I was surprised at this and it scared me. I embrace his humanity, the man and the monster, and I forgive.

The point is, we were born in tar and came up from mud. Witnessed the darkness and now here we are. Yes we fucking know love. Gritty, hard, messy, forever, real, after the darkness, ride or die love.

One more time:

Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is.

-Marianne Williamson

Some pictures from our February trip to the White Mountains in Jackson, New Hampshire:

15 thoughts on “From Tar

  1. Marahu! I missed you while you were on your break (though I was on one much of that time, too). All of this makes SO much sense! Alcohol and drugs are “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” A “rapacious creditor.” When I knew I needed to stop drinking, my consumption dramatically increased. Looking back, I say, “addict.” Anyway, huge congratulations to you and Jim! I am one of those who believes the addiction is always with us; good for him for recognizing and acknowledging the trigger or danger. Stay warm!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve missed reading you. Incredibly effective use of Williamson’s quote- starting and ending with it. Took on a whole new meaning only after reading your words in between. That was really amazing. Love the pics! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. S_MW

    I wish everyone could read your words. I’m genuinely so moved, reading them, for my own personal reasons, but also because you two give hope to anyone who has lived with addiction. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you are here and we can share. There was a time that I could no longer see a chance or hope for recovery, now I want to share this hope and support others. I wish my story can do that. Lots of loving kindness. ❤️💜💙❤️


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