Last night I got together with a few friends from my alma mater (an all women's college) and we sat around talking about lives, politics, social issues, and of course reminiscing. At some point it came up that I wasn't at a certain event, or had left early, and I felt my stomach do the old familiar drop as I was stung by the memory of why I wasn't there.
It was a reunion event a couple years ago, and I had set out in the early afternoon for festivities, but as the day softly receded into night I began to get anxious about how many hours Roi had been alone so when the festivities were being moved to another venue, I took the opportunity to bow out.
I wanted to stay with my friends, but I couldn't. My head was so tragically wrapped around the addicts in my life. I hadn't always been this way, but as their disease progressed, so did mine. Or rather, in the case of Roi, as my knowledge of the extent of his disease progressed, the more sick I became. And I started missing out on things.
I had to cancel an expense paid trip to take part in a science of mind discussion with the Dalai Lama and a dozen or two major scientists from around the world because Kyd had pulled something that made it impossible for me to go. I missed the wedding of two very dear friends because I was afraid to leave Kyd with anyone, afraid to bring him with me because of how he might act. I missed another wedding a year later for the same reason, and then I missed the wedding of someone else very close to me because I couldn't, just could not bring myself to leave Roi alone for that many hours now that his addiction had come to light.
Roi had given me ample reason to fear leaving him alone. As I uncovered transgression after transgression after transgression there were any number of things he might do with too many hours strung together without supervision. When I would go out with my girlfriends, he would call old girlfriends and lovers. When he went to meetings, he would stop at strip bars on his way home. When he was left alone for a whole day he would spend it cruising Craigslist for erotic dancers and masseurs. When he told me he would be late coming over it was because he was on the phone with a woman. When he would say he was going to bed it was only a half truth; he would get in bed and then surf porn. If I went away for more than a day he would spend that time at beaches or parties or bookstores cruising for opportunities to meet women, but also to just look at them and maybe glimpse a little more than he was intended to.
And if I didn't go away, he did. It seemed there was always a reason he needed to be away, and it was always, always, imperative. He guilted me at every turn. To say no was to be selfish, to deny him. In his mind...in his mind it wasn't, however, selfish to sleep with a woman in Jamaica while I was at home dealing with Kyd's first major legal trouble. It wasn't selfish to have a sexual encounter with a woman in New York while I was by my son's side in the hospital.
I feel sick when I write these things. But mostly now I feel a fierce, concentrated anger that has nowhere to go. So I dance for hours until my legs and neck and back ache with purified pain. I kickbox the shit out of the punching bag in our backyard. I swim until my thighs and arms burn. I hand it over to my therapist in small choking doses. I walk away from Roi and Kyd again and again with a sweeping motion of my arm as though I can wipe away the pain they bring entirely.