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June 1 (39 Days prior to sobriety commitment)

Hello Friend,


I didn’t expect to see you today; it’s been less than a week since we were together, and I’m trying to make better decisions than the one I made then when I skipped a 12 Step meeting to pay you a visit. 


But here I am… I just took the north exit off of Washington Street onto what I thought was 465, but I just realized I’m on Shadeland, and I know you have lots of places here where we could meet, where we have met. Today started with bad expectations; I thought I was going to lose my job. But still, I hadn’t thought much about you because I didn’t have time for your comfort. Now I’ve dodged that bullet and am feeling better than I have in a few days, and there you are calling me to tell you all about it, while not saying a word.


The thought of you has no more entered my mind when less than a block later, I see the familiar neon sign: Open. Massage. 


I can’t get stopped in time, so I start looking for another one — a new one where we haven’t been before. Something makes me think about the date; it’s June 1st. I want to have an easy way to mark my last acting out for when I start collecting sobriety coins, and I have had some thoughts that the first day of the month would work well.


I think about calling my temporary SA sponsor, or one of the other guys in my Step meeting, but I keep looking for another sign. I remember what my counselor said about writing you a letter. I chuckle at the absurdity of it, and I keep looking. 


I’m approaching the area where I know I can find you and the anticipation rises, but for the first time in months — maybe in two years — I make a different decision. I see a safe place to pull over because I don’t know how long I’ll have the desire to say this, but…


…we need to talk.


I have never before asked a friend to go away. Well, at least not counting the three women that you introduced me to over the past couple of years. I’ve hurt people because of you, because of my seemingly unquenchable desire to have you in my life. Because of my need — real or perceived — to be touched, to be loved in ways that are still new to me. But I’m trying to get the courage to ask you to… please leave me alone. I should just walk away. But I can’t find the strength for that, so maybe I can convince you just to leave. 


Oh, and there’s that other woman from years ago — my best friend’s wife — that responded to my marriage’ counseling’ by opening an emotional door of flirtations and expressions and teenage passions with promises of how we could hide from our spouses until after the kids are in college, then we could be together. I didn’t know then that you were part of that; that you had been stalking me and looking for an opening. That you had been living inside me, and I just let you out. It was short-lived, and I was able to confess my behaviors and save my marriage, but damn, it was intense. And I still feel both the thrill of the entanglement and the guilt of what happened to her marriage…wondering if their brokenness that already existed would have been survivable if I’d told you to go to hell back then. 


But I didn’t. I just tucked you back inside where together we imagined life in different circumstances. Harmless fun. Healthy coping. A mere distraction.


And now you’re back. Now you live in my life, taking control of daily thoughts and actions, unlike anything I’ve ever known. And my God, you have been good to me. You’ve taught me to lie with perfection; to hide with such cleverness; to express love with poetic license even after the illusion of love has faded into a puddle on the floor that is barely lust. And yet I still make tracks through what’s left in hopes of revival, making the mess worse while justifying myself with… never mind; it doesn’t matter. It’s wrong. I know it is. Even when I’ve talked about how right this feels, I’ve known it’s wrong. I didn’t care, and I didn’t understand that. I still don’t care as much as I should, and I really don’t understand that. 


The thought of being without you is nearly devastating. It feels more lonely than any reality I’ve ever imagined. I know I can’t just tuck you back inside, that I have to find a way to release you from my mind and my heart and my…loins. I think I could do any one of those three, maybe even any two, but I doubt you would accept that for very long. I doubt that it would be very long before I’m driving north on Shadeland again, looking to spend time with my friend.


In case it is not yet clear, yes, I am taking a step here — an itsy bitsy step, a step away from you. I’m not delusional enough to think this is the formula for being rid of you, and I certainly don’t expect you to respect me or this step. But I’m taking it. 


As I sit here writing this, it is ludicrous how much I want to be rid of you, yet how certain I am that I will again give into you. This lunacy is not me. I’m better than this. Everyone knows I am way better than you. But, maybe I am nothing without you. Maybe I shrivel up and die without you. Literally or figuratively. Is there a difference in these situations? I suspect you know the answer to that; I don’t.


I have this fear that maybe I can find the strength — through my family and friends — to survive you with minimal damage to their lives, but then you will show up again as a consequence. That someone I’ve hurt decides to hurt me back by hurting my family. It’s more than a fear; it’s an expectation. It keeps me asking whether all the work I know it will take to be rid of you is worth it knowing that I’ll be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life for that random email or social media post or knock on my door. Maybe it’s better to just give in to you completely and accept what happens. At least I’ll have my friend, right?


Bullshit. Fucking bullshit.


You’re the one that first gave me the “courage” to write those words and even to say them out loud. Using them doesn’t make all those fears go away, nor does it make them more unlikely. But you know how hard it is even now for me to use language like that, so I hope I have your attention. I hope you’re surprised that I want to tell you to go fuck yourself and leave me alone. 


But you’re probably not surprised because you know that just like I did these things I’ve been doing despite knowing they are wrong, you know that I secretly really like these new words in my vocabulary, because you know me. Too well. You are an enemy that has done his homework. You will use both my strengths and weaknesses against me. And I am afraid — and hoping — that you will. 


But I do want you to leave me, right after the next time. 

–Johnny R

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A Letter to My Addict Friend

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