The Other Side of Addiction:The Suffering Observer.

Most of my blogs about addiction and alcoholism are centered on me, a standard addict’s perspective. I thought that it would be good to give my experiences of the other side of the coin, loving someone who was an active addict.

I’d been in women only treatment centers for over a year when I moved into a dry house. Despite this residence being run by a support team and counsellors, I still had a greater degree of control over my life. I actually had a key to my own door and a reasonable amount of freedom, a huge change from the year prior.

My third day ‘out’ I did a main share at a local NA meeting where I was very honest; giving details of my work as a prostitute and graphic details of the drugs I had used.

A memorable share to various men at the meeting, one of whom approached me at the end, and charmed away my fear to the point we ended up in a year long relationship.

John was the same age as me and had been in rehab several times.

He was originally based in London where his habit had been fed by scripts from dodgy doctors and reliant on an income provided by his girlfriend, who was on the game.

When his girlfriend had a child, they both cleaned up, separating when John started taking drugs again.

He had been clean for a year or so when I first met him, but never really built any life away from using.

He worked for his brother (also a recovering addict) selling jewellery on a street stall at which he made a very good living.

Aside from work and meetings, he didn’t do much with his life.

He never managed to create an existence without drugs. His house was empty of personal objects, music or books. John didn’t have friends, only girlfriends, and apart from NA related activities and seeing his brother and his family, he didn’t socialise.

His family were middle class and John had been educated at private schools but never had any ambition or goals.

John’s parents had separated when he was very young. His father was a doctor, a bully and a misogynist. His mother a chain smoking neurotic.

John had a slight build. 5 foot 8’’ and around ten stone, with shaggy hair cut Keith Richards’ style. He always wore a lot of silver jewellery, Levi’s, and Chelsea boots.

He was intelligent, dry, funny, and incredibly insecure. Image was paramount to him; he had real problems with my own rebellion against ‘scrubbing up’, after years of using my looks and sexuality to survive.

We went on holiday to Tunisia once and he wanted to lie by the pool working on a status tan, whilst I was itching to explore. He constantly alluded to some female residents at the hotel who had silicone implants, and wardrobes of bikinis with matching heels. I had a classic black one piece that inflated when I went into the pool, and released large amounts of water when I emerged.

Eventually I left him, wanting more out of life and a relationship. I realised that he was controlling, constantly put me down, basically wanting a companion that he could use drugs with.

John kept in contact with me, perhaps a little too much on occasion, saying that he would win me back. I must admit that my stomach always flipped when I saw him.

He disappeared for a while, and then turned up at my work to walk me home and once again my heart fluttered and I thought that maybe it could work…then I noticed he was limping.

Now John was like me; having devastated his veins years before, he relied on the veins in his groin to inject in.

When I saw him limping, I just knew…

The phone calls from him intensified and I started feeling that at night (I lived alone at that point) I was being watched.

 I woke about four one morning with that same being watched feeling, opened my front door and saw John scrambling around in the bushes, dropping syringes and pills.

Soon after this I started seeing someone new, a gentle and affirming man, who thought I was wonderful. He was leaving my house one evening when John and his brother (who was also using drugs again) tried to run him down in a car.

That was when I called the police (no small thing for someone who had lived under the ethos of never narking or informing, considering the police to be the enemy) and John was court ordered to have no contact with me.

John’s brother died first.

A drug bender with his wife had left him paralysed from the waist down, lying in his own shit but still injecting, before he was taken to a hospital where he died several days later.

John lasted another six months.

His mother would often call me and ask me to visit him, as she hadn’t heard from him and wanted to check that he was still alive.

Every now and then I would see the inner John, the man I loved and the first person that I had sex with straight, but that would disappear and I would see instead the emaciated, twitching itching, nodding-off reality.

He moved to live closer to his mother. Some months later, on his birthday, I received a letter from him. He said that he was clean, looking good, and that he was going to come and get me, his ‘Skippy’ back.

That night his mother called me to say that he had been found dead in a public toilet.


About charlottejane2002

Author of 'P is for Prostitution', 'The Bloody Sacrifice' and co-editor of 'A Contemporary Western Book of the Dead' which are all published by Mandrake of Oxford. Italian publisher Roberto Migliussi has recently released 'The Sky is a Gateway, Not a Ceiling', a book of Charlotte's collected essays printed alongside images of his own art work. Charlotte is also an artist who creates spiritually directed art works from road kill and found objects. She has had her written work printed in anthologies and various magazines and on line publications and has given presentations at many events and institutions including Edinburgh University and Brooklyn's 'Museum of Morbid Anatomy'. Her art work has been exhibited widely including at London's Chelsea Gallery and The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, and is soon to be shown in New York.
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