My addiction was in full swing, and I was so good at hiding it.
Life wasn’t ideal, but it was certainly much better. That is, until about five years ago. On his way home from work, Jerry fell asleep at the wheel. He crashed head-on into a guardrail. Medics said his death was instant.
Jerry wasn’t perfect, but I loved him dearly. His death devastated me. Over the next year, I lived off of his life insurance and spent a good percentage of it on Xanax. I didn’t want to feel anything anymore. I just wanted to drift away, so that is what I did. I even stopped eating. Xanax was for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Three years after Jerry’s death, I was at my lowest point. Refusing to take care of myself. My hair was outgrown and dirty. My clothes were ill-fitted as I gained weight, and I’m sure my hygiene could have been better.
I did need to eat, however, so I went out for light shopping. I was fully stocked on Xanax, so I didn’t need to find my dealer this week. Instead, I walked like a zombie throughout the store, putting random items in the cart. I guess I was zoned out because I didn’t see anyone in front of me, but I bumped my vehicle into a tall man. He reminded me of a lumberjack with his stature and flannel shirt.
I apologized. “Oh, it’s okay. I felt as if my ankles could use a good whack anyway.” He smiled this warm smile. I wanted to smile back, but I hadn’t looked in the mirror in years. Maybe my teeth looked awful. I let my head fall and smiled slightly. “You alright there, ” he asked.
Every since Jerry died, no one cared to bother to ask me how I felt. Not his parents or his sister. No one. I didn’t know how to react to his question and kindness. I began to cry.
“Hey, hey, ” the man said, moving in to hug me. He gently wrapped his arms around me. He smelled like fresh pine. Maybe he really was a lumberjack. “It’s going to be okay,” he said. It was a sweet sentiment, but things haven’t been okay in a while. I didn’t expect that to change anytime soon.
“Hey, listen, if you want to talk, I’m here…I’m Rich by the way.” I looked up confused. He laughed a full hearty laugh. “No, I mean I’m Richard. My name is Richard.” His face was flushed with embarrassment. It was adorable.
“Tiffany.” I held out my hand, and he shook it.
We stood in that spot for nearly an hour talking about life. He was from Chicago but moved to Fullerton for a construction gig. He was a foreman who enjoyed working with wood. His baby sister suffered from opioid addiction, and ever since then, he’s been volunteering in a rehab support group.
I was hesitant to tell him about me, but there was this air of trust about him. As I was standing there contemplating if and how I was going to say to him, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a card. It was for the rehab facility. “You don’t have to say anything, ” he said. “You’re a beautiful woman, I hope you don’t mind me saying, but I know a troubled soul when I see one.” I smiled and took the card. I told him I’d see him there.
That’s when my recovery officially began, and while I couldn’t have known, I had just met my future.