Part 1 is here.
Standing there staring at my reflection I could not look myself in the eye. The only word I know to describe what I felt is beyond. Beyond shame, beyond disappointment, beyond everything. I couldn't cry. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't be. I had been back in Alabama less than 9 months and I had lost all sense of myself.
It was 3 am when I sat back down on the couch and looked honestly at the people in the room. Each of them had lost or suffered something significant for which crystal meth was to blame. One, a job she'd held for 12 years. Another, a spouse and custody of a child. Yet another, everything. The last had been to prison for distribution and would eventually go back.
These were long time friends. People I'd known and cared about for years. Yet in an instant, I was done. I stood up and told them they had to go...that I loved them, but it was over for me.
I suppose they'd heard it before. Had likely even said it themselves. They left one by one saying flippantly "see you tomorrow" or "call me when you need a boost".
I never did.
Instead I stopped answering my phone and my door. I went grocery shopping for the first time in months. I slept for days, waking only to eat and shower and take Chelsea outside. And I dreamt. It was only while asleep that I could face the memories of what the past 6 months of my life had been, and in every waking hour I grew more ashamed. I wanted to bury it, to hide from it, to make believe none of it was true, but I couldn't. I called in to work and spent 2 weeks lying in bed with my pup, running the gamut of emotions and self loathing and searching for a way to forgive myself. I was heartbroken, and my biggest mistake could not be undone.
I had to make some hard decisions, and one of them was quitting the club. Almost everyone I knew was at least a social user, and I didn't know if I could trust myself to be around them. For the first time in my life I was afraid.
I left the night club and accepted a foreman position with a construction contractor on Ft Rucker. I was trying to manage a bunch of men and equipment I knew nothing about and I had no idea what I was doing. But I was doing something...anything...to change what had become of my life. In my free time, I got back into cooking and watched movies or read or went out to play in dart tournaments at various bars with my brother and his girlfriend.
While I'd never thought it possible as I had always valued the time that was mine my own, I found myself struggling to be alone. I started drinking again socially. I was still lost, but it was the lesser of 2 evils.
A little while later I met an army pilot who was a volunteer sherriff's deputy with whom I ended up having exactly 2 things in common: playing darts and drinking. I was trying to piece my life back together and wasn't at all interested in a relationship, so he was safe. We played a lot of darts, and we did a lot of drinking. And then somehow we ended up living together in Tennessee. And then for a while, Texas. After 6 months he proposed. And then again 6 months after that. Then 9/11 happened, and it changed a great many things about our lives. We moved back to Ft Campbell. Shortly after we returned he brought home a marriage license application, and it sat on the kitchen table until it expired 30 days later. I couldn't bring myself to say yes. I liked him a lot, but he didn't have my heart.
One day we were out running errands and he said he needed to swing by the courthouse and drop off a report. Instead he walked me straight to the JP's office so we could just grab another marriage application since we were in the building anyway. While we stood there, a man walking by stopped short and asked "hey, aren't you *****?" They talked for a bit and as it turns out that man was the JP. He asked what we were doing and when told the answer he very conveniently said that he had no appointments that morning and would be more than happy to perform a ceremony right then. I knew I'd been set up, but I had been living so long on autopilot that I couldn't seem to care.
I don't know why I signed the paper or followed them into the room. It was almost like following the steps of someone else's life. I stood there numb, my mind screaming at me to stop, to not say anything, to run away.
Instead I heard my own voice say "okay", and I walked out married.
...to be continued...