Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Tall One and the Violet, Part Four (it’s long, but it’s the last part)

Read Part One, Part Two, Part Three

Violet strode out of the church, determined never to speak to the Tall One again. Naturally, then, she answered when he called just a couple of weeks later. He told her that Jezebel had relapsed and was using drugs again. When he first got involved with Jezebel, he assured Violet that if Jezebel relapsed he would break up with her immediately. He didn’t. Violet was disappointed in him but not really surprised.

For the next month or so, the Tall One would call Violet when things got bad (ok, they were always bad, so…worse) with Jezebel. Violet asked God to change her heart where the Tall One was concerned…and He did. It was not easy at first, but she was able to be the Tall One’s friend. She listened, she offered advice, and she verbally whacked him upside the head when he needed it (so, pretty much every time they talked) – although she knew he wouldn’t listen. Time after time, he told her that when some new depth was reached, he would break up with Jezebel. But time after time, they sank to that depth and he stayed with her.

After he’d been involved with Jezebel for about three months, the inevitable happened: he relapsed. It started with alcohol but before long Jezebel dragged him down with her and he eventually became addicted to crack. He never called Violet when he was using or high but always called a few days after to tell her what he had done. She felt like his confessor.

Violet soon recognized that the Tall One was sinking ever deeper into active addiction and it was becoming more difficult for her be his friend. Until now, the situation with the Tall One had not affected Violet’s life outside of her relationship with him. However, one night she shared the latest turn of events with Mary Alice, her BFF, and they got into a horrible argument. Violet realized that the chaos from the Tall One’s life was beginning to seep into her own life and that was not acceptable. She would not tolerate anything that would jeopardize her friendship with Mary Alice. She realized that she needed time to think, to wrap her head around everything, to decide if she could – or wanted to – continue to stay involved in the Tall One's life in any way. Al-Anon had taught her that she could not do anything to stop the Tall One from using and she had to figure out if she could abide the chaos that had become his life. So she told the Tall One that she didn’t want to talk to him or hear from him for 30 days.

He respected her wishes for about ten days. He called late one night and said, “I know it hasn’t been 30 days but I need my friend.” His relationship with Jezebel continued to be more and more chaotic and drug-filled. Violet told the Tall One in no uncertain terms that she wouldn’t have anything to do with him as long as he was using. He became angry and irrational and the call ended badly. Violet thought she might not hear from him again. She believed that she would eventually read his obituary in the newspaper.

Time passed. Violet thought about the Tall One often, but she had let go of all expectations. She was simply concerned for his well-being and prayed that he would find recovery before drugs or the drug world killed him. During this time, she met and became romantically involved with Himself (another sad tale).

One day in early summer, the Tall One called. He said that he had finally ended his relationship with Jezebel, who had again left town to seek treatment. He had lost his job, indirectly because of his drug use, and was unemployed. He checked himself into a local treatment center and stayed for three weeks. When he left treatment, he went straight to his drug dealer to buy crack.

A couple of weeks later, he checked back in to the treatment center but left only a few days later after an altercation with a fellow patient. He drove from the facility to Violet’s apartment because he didn’t have any money or enough gas to drive home.

Violet was in bed reading when her doorbell rang at 11:15 that night. When she looked through the peephole and saw the Tall One standing on the other side of the door, she hesitated to open it. Why was he there so late? Why hadn’t he called first? Was he high? Was he in trouble? She opened the door just enough that she could speak with him. He explained why he was there and, after determining that he was not high, she let him in.

They talked late into the night and the Tall One asked if he could sleep on her couch that night. She reluctantly agreed – and she slept with her bedroom door locked. The next morning, they drove to a gas station and she put $20 worth of gas in his car. As she paid for it, she said to him, “this will never happen again.” He promised it never would…and it never has.

That was a year ago. Since that day, the Tall One has continued to struggle with his addiction and hasn’t managed to string more than 60 clean days together at a time. He found a decent job but the company laid everyone off in January and he has been unemployed since then.

Jezebel resurfaced and called the Tall One – ironically, on Violet’s birthday, exactly a year after the Tall One’s testimony at church. He spoke to her but rejected her suggestion that they meet. He hasn’t heard from Jezebel again.

The Tall One’s life is in ruins. He doesn’t have a car anymore, which makes it difficult to apply for jobs or attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings but he really makes an effort to get rides when he needs them. He and Jezebel sold many of his possessions to get money for drugs, so he doesn’t have much besides a depressing little apartment, a borrowed television, and a cell phone that sometimes he can afford and sometimes he can’t. His past behavior alienated most of his family, including his mother. He tries very hard to maintain a decent relationship with his children but it is difficult under the circumstances. He is looking for a job and trying to repair the relationships he has damaged.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that Violet has struggled with her long distance relationship with Himself over these last months. The Tall One has been a surprisingly positive source of support and encouragement to her. Violet’s relationship with the Tall One has evolved into a loving, extremely candid friendship. She believes that he is a wonderful man with a colossal problem. He knows that she will be there for him as long as he respects the boundaries she set.

None of us knows what the future holds or where our lives will lead us. Neither Violet nor the Tall One would have chosen the paths they have traveled. At this point, those paths still intersect, so as long as their friendship works for both of them they will continue to hang out occasionally, provide emotional support for each other when necessary, and encourage each other as best they can.

As of today, I haven’t heard from the Tall One in six days. When he is ok, he calls just about every day. No contact for this long almost always means he has relapsed again. I am worried about my friend but all I can do is wait and pray that he will call to let me know he is ok.


  1. Oh addiction is SO hard. Is there an Oxford House in your state? it might be something worth looking into. My sister was an addict (meth & crack--she was a drugs girl, never drinks) for over 15 years. She committed to a whole year at an Oxford House which was the only thing to work after several attempts at short-term rehab programs. She's lost it all, including her kids, but after that year at the Oxford House, she is sober going on 5 years now with a f/t job and a savings account!
    I'll pray for your peace, Violet.

  2. keep your distance girl...im glad you locked your door.....dont be an enabler........i dont wnat to have to start a blog that starts....."violet was a sweet girl who was hopelessly devoted to this loser"......compassion?empathy? all well placed is a good thing......

  3. I admire your strength and ability to be a friend to him through this while still doing what's best for yourself by setting boundaries.

    I hope he's okay too.

  4. I'm not going to say "be careful" or any of the other trite, worrisome things that I feel compelled to write that you already know. I think it's great that he has you in his life. For however long that might be. Addictions are horrible and I pray that he's able to overcome his.

  5. Well I WILL say be careful. That he hasn't hurt you physically yet does not preclude the possibility. BE SAFE!

  6. Greenie - thanks for the suggestion. I googled it and there are a number of Oxford Houses in IL. When/if I hear from the Tall One again, I will broach the idea. I am so SO very glad to hear about your sister's recovery!

    Trey - I'm not hopelessly devoted, just trying to be open and understanding. My eyes are open and I know what I can and cannot control. My boundaries are rock solid.

    Ivy - thanks for your concern. I hope I hear from him soon.

    Stephanie - "for however long that may be" is the sad, true part of it. Unfortunately, my friendship with him comes with strings on both sides. I am very clear with him - and maybe even more importantly, with myself - about what it takes to keep me in his life.

    Fannie - thanks, honey, I do appreciate the concern. I have never had a single moment where I have been worried for my safety (I think I'm more likely to hit him than he is to hit me!) but I understand your worry. I promise that I watch out for myself.

  7. Ditto everyone else.

    I have no words of advice, I've been fortunate not to have to deal with addiction in the past. I do know that it's a slippery slope, and you have to be careful not to get sucked into his circling the drain.

    Good luck!