numb. Authenticity and vulnerability are two people holding hands with anxiety driven doubt and sweaty palms. High school is difficult. High school is difficult not because of the academics. High school is difficult because of the constant change that occurs in bodies and brains. High school is difficult because of the search for authenticity in a hub of unoriginality. My quest for friends was always rooted in doubt and false belonging. When I did find a rare connection it would dissipate within weeks. This taught me to rely on myself and trust few, qualities that I am grateful for. However, when we met, it was different. I felt the instant joy and sense of pride in sharing a connection with such a unique human being. I had never laughed so hard until I met you. We listened to bullshit indie music in your car filled with ash and crushed doobies. It was senior year, a time for experimentation and testing limits I wasn’t sure existed. You were receiving scholarships for your talent and I was applying to schools. I looked up to you, I guess that’s why when I watched the needle stab into your vein I didn’t feel shame. It wasn’t the first time I’ve experienced drugs and I wasn’t one to stop you from doing anything.
release. The way you sunk into your chair and sighed with comfort changed from monthly to daily. “The ability to feel connected is why we are here.” -The Power of Vulnerability Ted Talk. I guess your way of feeling connected was slightly unconventional. The letters kept coming, all trying to get your attention and recruit your talent. But you were not to be bothered. We were not to be bothered. I should have said something, but we were young, and everything was going to be fine. “It’s not a fucking problem” you would tell me after I came back from the bathroom to find my wallet moved slightly with my ten dollar bill missing. The fact I used to call you my brother started to sicken me. You depended on me for your use, not my love. I would never know if you leaving to pick up food would be the last time I would see you. Your presence in my life was slowly destroying me. I found, through this, that it is impossible to love an addict. An addict will let go of your hand and let you fall in exchange for a hit. This was all getting old but I loved you and I couldn’t let you walk alone.
joy. It wasn’t much like the movies. I picked you up from the hospital because you had no family left in Colorado. We didn’t speak on the way home. You did not have any sense of love or belonging. With your life almost being taken I felt mine slipping away. Agreeing to check-in to the clinic in California was the strongest thing you ever did for me. My true risk was cutting you out of my life. I couldn’t say goodbye to you. I had nothing to say. It is impossible to love an addict. We have not spoken in two years. At times I felt selfish. It was my fault, right? Could I have stopped it from the beginning? I felt my most vulnerable when I cut you out. People would ask about you. I was always your best friend. Sometimes I Google your name to hear about a relapse gone wrong. The choice to cut you out was necessary for achieving my sense of love and belonging which stems from inside and does not rely on others. I read books, I got outside, I made friends, I shared stories. The risk of letting you go resulted in a reward much greater. I still struggle with the idea of selfishness but there are times where a difficult decision needs to be made to improve the quality of your life. I know that you will understand this when we meet again. Brothers.