Addiction. It’s like a cancer. It eats away at its victim. It takes over their life. An addict’s life is solitary. Isolated. Lonely. They lead an entirely selfish existence. Their ‘need’ comes first, and everyone else around them suffers. To live with an addict in denial, is the hardest life to live.
My abuser was also an addict. He would blame the abuse on his habit, and as his addiction got worse, so did the frequency of abuse. But his addiction was not to blame. When he was sober he was more calculating. More controlled. Pure evil.
The first time I realised there were drugs involved it was about a year in to our relationship. He hadn’t come to bed again and I woke up in the early hours. I touched his side, empty. I threw on my dressing gown and wandered down to the front room. The door was ajar and I peeped in. Three lines of powder lay on the glass coffee table. A rolled up note beside them. I felt stupid. I was so naive. I went back to bed and tried to pretend I hadn’t seen it. As the years wore on, I knew his habit was getting worse. But I didn’t realise to what extent. At first he would manage to get though till the kids had gone to bed, then at about seven pm he would disappear out the back door and about half an hour later he would come back in, sniffing, pupils dilated, chewing his tongue. He’d sit with me on the sofa chain smoking, no eye contact, every 20 minutes or so getting up and disappearing out the back door again. Over time seven pm became six, then five, then four. I went to bed alone every night, I felt so lonely. I was either lonely or being beaten up, rarely anything in between, unless he was trying to make up for being violent. The earlier he started, the longer he stayed up, not coming to bed until the birds were singing. That’s when he wanted me, so he could sleep. My flesh would crawl when he eventually climbed into bed beside me, knowing what he expected. I could smell the powder on his face and hands, taste it on his lips. That’s when I started to think there was more to his habit than sniffing powder.
One day I went to the boiler room which was outside the house. It was where he went and sheltered from the weather and hid from me while he was doing it. I found tiny pieces of screwed up cling film, a tin full of cigarette butts, and cans, lots of drinks cans. Filthy, bent in half, a small collection of tiny holes piercing the middle where each can was folded. As naive as I was about all things drug related I knew what this meant. He was a crack addict.
‘He wakes me up at five. He gets into bed beside me, sniffing, blowing his nose. I can smell it on him. He’s on top of me, I closed my eyes and let it happen. Then he’s finished and rolls away from me and begins snoring immediately. I listen to his loud, throaty gargles, I wish he’d shut up. Maybe stop breathing. I wouldn’t help him. I’d leave him to die. I lay there for about an hour then get up to begin my morning routine. I open the windows along the hallway. It’s a bungalow so the smell permeates the entire house when he smokes indoors. I check the children’s bedrooms as I pass them, little bodies curled up under their duvets, sleeping peacefully. I open the double doors to the front room. The smell hits me. Stale smoke. I almost retch. As usual he’s left his mess for me to clear up. The coffee table is covered in ash, a glass ashtray sits on it overflowing with cigarette butts. DVDs lay scattered on the carpet in front of the TV, buxom girls spread legged stare up at me. I pick them all up and take them into his office. This is where he sits now most nights after I’ve gone to bed. This is where he does his ‘thing’. I clear the cling film wrappers off the desk into the bin. A crushed Coke can at the bottom of the bin tells me it’s been a heavy night.
After I’ve cleaned and disinfected the office and front room I put my coat and shoes on and go to my car. He uses my car to go and get his gear, often sitting and doing lines off the centre console. So many times I’ve gone to take the kids to school and had to quickly clean the dust and tiny lumps of cocaine off the seats and surfaces, them asking what it is and why it smells so funny. I open the car door and I smell it before I see it. It’s everywhere. I clean it as best I can, ready to take the kids in a little while.’
Thats how it was, day in day out. I had to wait till 11 am to wake him. Some days he would wake relatively easily. Others, he would go mad. I remember standing over him one day, about to wake him up. Looking at his face, open mouthed. Black rings round his eyes, white powder clinging to the hairs up his nose. And I thought how much I hated him. I hated him so much. I picked the extra pillow up from beside the bed where he’d discarded it, and I stood there holding it in both hands. I imagined putting it over his face and putting all my weight into it and suffocating him. I thought of how his legs would kick out as he fought for air. In my daydream I was strong. He couldn’t fight me off. I killed him and it felt good.
‘I’m in the kitchen washing up. I’ve just woken him up, I hope he’s going to be in a good mood today. Something tells me he’s not. I continue washing up, listening, waiting for the sound of him coming down the hallway. Then I hear him. He’s on the phone. He’s shouting. Whoever is on the end of the line is a ‘lazy, good for nothing, fucking waste of space’. Oh shit. Now I’m going to get it. He enters the kitchen, still shouting. I try to zone out, try not to listen. I watch the trees outside, imagine the sound of them rustling. He comes and stands beside me. I’m rooted to the spot, hands still in the washing up water, the suds have disappeared, the water stone cold. I’m watching his reflection in the window in front of me. He’s making himself a coffee. I watch the steam from the coffee machine cloud the glass, and I can’t see him any longer. Then he’s shouting again. I sense him move away from me. I exhale and breathe in, I must’ve been holding my breath the entire time. He’s going. Thank god. I pick up the tea towel beside me and dry my pruney fingers. I dry them completely, and put the tea towel down. Hang on, I’m wet! Why am I wet? What is wet? My back! My back is wet! I’m burning! Shit! It hurts, it hurts! Got to get it off! I rip my jumper off quickly and throw myself forward over the sink. I turn the tap on. The freezing cold water feels like needles on my skin as it runs down my back and sides, down my trousers, soaking me through. I look up into the window in front of me and see him place his empty coffee cup on the side and leave the kitchen. I hear the front door slam. I turn off the tap and slide down onto the kitchen floor, dripping wet, shivering, burnt.’
He wasn’t just addicted to cocaine. He was addicted to control. Addicted to inflicting pain. Addicted to power. Addicted to me…