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My Best Friend Is An Addict

*PLEASE NOTE: Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.

My best friend is an addict. Being a person in recovery myself, this is usually very common. I remember the moment I first met Kaitlyn*. Her infectious laugh caught my attention right away. She was only three years older than me and we connected instantly. She is around the same height as me, standing five feet tall. She has dirty blonde hair as mine is and we both have brown eyes. Kaitlyn popped into my life when I needed a friend the most. I was going through a hard time in a terrible place and there came Kaitlyn to eliminate my loneliness. She has a heart of gold, would give a stranger the shirt off of her back, and has a personality that can brighten up your darkest day. We immediately formed a bond that was irreplaceable, or so I thought.

Kaitlyn and I connected on something very deep; addiction. We were both in recovery when we met and became each other’s cheerleaders. I never considered her a best friend, but instead my sister. I remember when we would record ourselves singing and dancing to music, taking pictures together, asking each other’s opinions on outfits, and most importantly; we were there for each other through thick and thin.

The scary thing about having an addict best friend is that you always have one fear; they relapse. I remember the day Kaitlyn relapsed. My heart felt as if it shattered into a million pieces. The worst part about it was that I knew the exact pain she was going through all too well. She called me one day and I’ll never forget the sound of her voice when she said, “Ally… I relapsed”. My heart filled with anger, disappointment, resentment, and sadness. It was very hard for me to have empathy and sympathy for her, despite knowing how it felt to be in her shoes and my desire to help people suffering with addiction.

After she had told me she relapsed, I warned her what would happen if she continued using. One of the warnings I gave her was that I couldn’t be around her and that our friendship would be ruined. Somewhere deep in my gut I knew this wasn’t going to be a one-time use. Unfortunately, my gut was correct. Kaitlyn continued using.

Anger overflowed me. I took her relapse personal. “Why would she do this to me?”, “How dare she pick that drug over our friendship!”, “I warned her!” were only some of the thoughts that ran through my mind. I yelled at her, I begged her to stop and get help, and I punished her by avoiding her calls and texts. Then I started to blame myself. I thought of all the ways I could have prevented her from using. “If only I…” statements flew through my mind. I also thought that it was my responsibility as a best friend to save her. The bittersweet part of being an addict is that I know I can’t save her, she has to save herself. I was so torn on what “hat” I had to wear. Should I be a best friend and stand by her side? Should I remember my own recovery and run?

There’s two parts to every addict. One part is the addict, the other part is the human. Kaitlyn was becoming “Addict Kaitlyn” and Kaitlyn was slowly fading away. I had to remind myself over and over that this is not Kaitlyn that I’m talking to; it was Addict Kaitlyn. I despise Addict Kaitlyn, but I love Kaitlyn. Addict Kaitlyn wants to destroy the real Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn’s monkey was taking over her. When she would call me explaining how she was going through withdrawal and harming herself in order to obtain drugs, I knew it was Addict Kaitlyn I was speaking to. Kaitlyn would have never done any of those things. Once Addict Kaitlyn takes over, Kaitlyn is gone completely. Occasionally you will see traits of Kaitlyn come out, but Addict Kaitlyn dominates quickly and uses Kaitlyn’s assets and qualities to use to her advantage.

In order to protect my life and my recovery, I had to establish boundaries. I told her that I could only communicate with her via text or phone calls. I couldn’t be around her while she was actively using. Communicating with her was difficult enough. It gave me triggers, cravings, and brought on feelings that are difficult to cope with while in recovery. Unfortunately, Addict Kaitlyn didn’t respect or follow those boundaries. I know Kaitlyn would have, but let’s not forget who’s in control. Since Addict Kaitlyn couldn’t comply with my boundaries, I had to make one of the most difficult decisions that took an immense amount of courage to make. I had to end my relationship with her. Removing myself from her caused so many emotions. I felt pain, anger, frustration, confusion, and most of all; grief. I felt like Kaitlyn died.

Separating myself from Addict Kaitlyn wasn’t intended to hurt Kaitlyn. However, in order to protect Ally from becoming Addict Ally, the separation was mandatory. I had to let go and let God. The “letting God” part came easy for me with the assistance of my faith, prayer, and support system. The “letting go” part was something that I still hold onto, even months after the separation. I was able to empathize with families and loved ones affected by addiction. It was humbling because I was able to understand what my family and friends were going through when I was Addict Ally.

This separation stirred The Monkey a little bit. He started whispering in my ear, “The only way you can help her is if you get high”, “You don’t have to lose her if you get high” and “You know if you play with me you won’t feel pain anymore.” But remember, The Monkey is a liar! The Monkey even had the audacity to remind me of how much pain I caused my family and loved ones. He said to me, “You remember me? You caused all that same pain you are feeling to your mother. You hurt her. You destroyed her. She hates you for that. She will never forgive you for that.” I did cause pain, but remember that The Monkey will trick me into thinking that he can use the truth to form lies. My mother forgave me and she’s not destroyed. Ally-1, Monkey-0.

I had to practice something that everyone in life, person in recovery or not, have difficulty implying; acceptance. I had to accept that Addict Kaitlyn is someone I can’t destroy. I had to accept that it wasn’t my fault that her monkey dominated her. I had to accept and most importantly believe that I am not in control and neither is Kaitlyn. Despite all the pain that Addict Kaitlyn and the termination of the friendship caused; I was proud of myself. I took a huge step in my recovery and well-being by implementing self-care. I established boundaries, I followed through with my boundaries which I struggled with doing for years, and I protected my recovery. I took care of Ally, I protected her. I accomplished multiple methods of self-care. Ally-2, Monkey-0.

I am grateful for the time I spent with Kaitlyn. I am grateful for the laughs, the memories, the photos and videos, and the sisterly bond that was formed. I don’t believe that my connection with Kaitlyn will ever fully diminish because it’s forever planted in my heart. I’m grateful for the lessons that Addict Kaitlyn taught me. I’m grateful that I had the courage to prevent my monkey from awakening. If Kaitlyn were to ever come around me again, I would welcome her with open arms and a loving heart. I will never stop praying for Addict Kaitlyn to leave and for Kaitlyn to come back. I will always remember Kaitlyn as Kaitlyn. I don’t like to think or hear of Addict Kaitlyn. I like to picture the woman with the infectious laugh, warm and kind heart, and personality that I connected so well with. I said “good-bye” to Addict Kaitlyn and said “I hope to see you later” to Kaitlyn.

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