Love and Meth This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 17, 2014
I guess when you trust someone with your whole heart, you’ll believe anything they tell you, no matter how dumb their excuse is or how much evidence is right in front of you. When he’d go days without eating and said it was because of his depression medication, I believed it. The scratches on his arm were healing bug bites or eczema. The pipe was just for marijuana. I knew they were all lies, didn’t I? I’d been around enough meth to know what was going on.

It’s been almost a year, but I can still feel the pain and regret. Why couldn’t I save him? I can still taste the glass pipe on his lips. I can still hear his screams when he saw creatures that no one else could. I can still feel the tears on my skin – his and mine.

I knew he was a little damaged right from the start. I just didn’t know how damaged. He smoked a lot of pot and was addicted to nicotine, but never in a million years could I have imagined him turning into the monster he did. He wasn’t a bad person; he just wasn’t a lucky person.

Although he had his demons, there were parts of him that saved me from my own demons when I was too weak to fight them off myself. He’d stay on the phone with me or hold me tightly on nights when I was falling apart. He was my best friend. And maybe that’s why we worked well at first. We both had demons, and we saved each other. For a while.

That summer started out innocently enough – at least, we were as innocent as two rebellious teenagers in love can be. Mostly we talked. He was my neighbor, so at night we’d meet at the park, or he’d come to my first-floor bedroom window. Sometimes we’d drink, and usually we’d smoke a whole pack of Marlboros. We’d talk about our parents, and our fathers leaving when we were young. For two months, everything was right. And when I think of him, that’s how I want to remember him: smiling, hugging me, telling me he loved me.

Slowly, though, something changed. Sometimes he’d visit a friend and we’d go one or two weeks without talking. He’d shut off his phone, shut out the world. Trying to talk to him was unbearable; he’d never reply. Sometimes he’d be shaky, and sometimes he’d freak out. Some nights, when I’d get too close, he’d jump up and start screaming and throwing things. After a while, I learned to stop expecting him to show up when he said he would. I was a voice on the phone he never answered anymore.

This continued for months. I never cried. I blamed myself for what he was doing. I thought crying was letting him down, because he was the one with the problems, not me. Right? He was the one who should have been crying. Now, looking back, I see how disgusting it was that he would try to blame me. He was the one putting meth in his pipe. He was the one hitting me and screaming at me.

“If you weren’t nagging me all the time to be better, I wouldn’t have to do this. I wouldn’t be depressed. I don’t know what you want from me. I’m never good enough for you.” I still remember where I was and what I was doing when he said this. I hung up the phone, then wished I had said what I was thinking: You’re always good enough for me. All I want is for you to come home.

The pain became unbearable, but I still continued to smile. I’m not sure if anyone knew how much it hurt me. If they asked, I’d say, “I don’t care. I don’t give a damn about him anymore.” But every night, I wanted to run to his house and see if he was there. I wanted to hold him one more time. But of course he was never home. He was gone, without a good-bye or a backward glance.

Eventually, the pain began to heal. I met someone, but had doubts about him. Would he end up like my ex? He was a rebel too, but there was something different about him. I could sense that he wouldn’t leave me for his demons, and he was trustworthy. He told the truth, and to this day, always does.

My ex-boyfriend is long gone. Although I still think of him and sometimes miss him terribly, I keep my distance. We’ve made small talk on Facebook a few times, but that’s the closest I’ve ever let myself get.

He’s better now. He got the help he needed, but he’s still dangerous to me. One word, and I could fall for him all over again. And maybe I’m dangerous for him too. Maybe he really didn’t think he was good enough for me. Maybe being around me would make him turn back to drugs.

The day I decided to move on was the day I fell in love again. Guilt no longer controls me, and the pain is just a memory. His face, his smile, his smell, his voice – it has all just faded away.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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