This essay is about narcotics and other lifesaving therapies.
I dated a functioning cocaine addict once and we almost got married. Al. That was his real name and I’m remembering it now because it is tattooed on my bicep and seven years removed from the relationship, I still don’t regret doing it. He was my blueprint love. My first hit. Loving him was the kind of high addicts spend the rest of their natural lives chasing.
But, I loved him in a time when I was broken, a single mother newly minted, picking up the shattered pieces of my life. He saved me.
I remember running into a college friend when I returned to New York after being away for two years. Marcus, the college friend, hugged me and laid a soft kiss on my cheek before inspecting the twin babies in my stroller.
“Wow. You’re a mom now!” he said. “You’re definitely still beautiful.”
“Is that surprising?” I asked him.
“Not exactly. Just that… you’re slightly tainted. Easy on the eyes, but damaged goods.”
I squinted and let it roll off, but his comments stayed with me, subconsciously. I’m damaged goods. Like the loaf of bread you find at the market with a spot of mold, or the discounted silk blazer that is slightly irregular. I was the one you look at but then put back.
So when I met Al, I was battling a virus I was unaware of. The growth that had buried itself in the recesses of my mind was a story about my life and my worth as a woman. Al was older than me, manly, and he had a warm rustic voice that was comforting. He seemed experienced in the world and that made me feel safe. He pursued my heart, and not my body, and that made me feel seen. We saw each other, and the truth is, we all want to be seen. Not the exterior facade, but the inner workings. We want to be known, accepted, and loved intimately.
To have another see inside of you — your deepest inhibitions, your truths you’ve tried so hard to mask — is unsettling at the start. But, once you step beyond the discomfort of the moment, being seen is the best feeling in the world. To be seen and to be accepted means we no longer have to hide. We no longer have to worry about being found out.