Tag Archives | drug addiction

Fade to Black

In the process of packing up the house in anticipation of our move, I’ve unearthed boxes that have been stowed in the

July 1, 1999 blurb in the local paper

July 1, 1999 blurb in the local paper

farthest, darkest corners of the garage.  Boxes that haven’t been opened in more than 17 years.  The boxes contained things that belonged to my first husband – who, as I’ve written before, died of a drug overdose in a stranger’s front yard in June, 1999.  A lot of photos, including his old school photos dating back to early grade school.  Collector coins his dad foisted on him every year for Christmas.  A video tape of his first (and only) skydive.  An old blanket.  Old cards.  Books from his childhood.  Old schoolwork.  His wallet, which was on his person when he died.  Belongings found in his truck after his death.  Our wedding rings.

I boxed this stuff up after he died, and wrote on the boxes: “KELLY’S STUFF – SAVE FOR KEVIN.”  Kevin was two when his dad died, and I believed that it was important to save mementos for Kevin because Kevin would want them someday.  I assumed he would long for some connection to the man who contributed half of his DNA.

The last photo ever taken of Kevin and Kelly.  May, 1999, about a month before he died.

The last photo ever taken of Kevin and Kelly. May, 1999, about a month before he died.

As it turns out, though, Kevin has no interest in any of this stuff.  He has no memories of his biological father, and he mostly feels contempt for him, knowing that he was a wife-beater, a liar, an unapologetic manipulator, alcoholic, and drug addict who couldn’t or wouldn’t get his shit together, even for his baby son.  It’s true that I’m responsible for Kevin’s perception of his father, but it’s all based on pure truth, and if I have any regrets about being brutally honest with Kevin about Kelly, those regrets have only to do with how it has possibly shaped Kevin’s self-perception, and not with anything I may owe to Kelly’s memory.  I didn’t set out to poison Kelly against his dead father, but I always answered his questions with total honesty, and by the time he was an adolescent, he had a pretty clear picture of what life was like for me and for us when Kelly was alive.

After all these years, I still carry around bitterness and pain and anger towards Kelly for everything he did.  I don’t dwell on it, but the hard kernel of it in my heart swells when memories come to the surface.  I struggle to dredge up any happy memories (though I have no doubt there were happy times; it’s just that what good there was was way overshadowed by the ugliness that went on for so many years).

So, I don’t want his old stuff.  Kevin doesn’t want it.  And it occurred to me today as I tossed most of it into our rented dumpster (with the exception of the coins and the books, which are going to Goodwill) that there really isn’t anyone left who cares about these old mementos.  Kelly’s biological mother is long dead, his dad is dead, and his one living brother has made not even the tiniest shred of effort to know or connect with Kevin – his nephew! the one child of his dead brother! – in the more than 17 years since Kelly died (which tells me that he also doesn’t care).  The one living person who might care would be Kelly’s step-mother, but she’s got plenty of mementos already, and anyway, she cut me out of her life years ago.  So into the dumpster Kelly’s stuff went.

Maybe it reveals me as cold.  On some level, it strikes me as sad that a person lived for 33 years and died, and his memory is fading to black.  But mostly, I feel like, well, this is what happens when you live like a son of a bitch, leaving destruction in your wake.


I was inspired recently by this whole Throwback Thursday thing that people do on Facebook and Instagram to pull some old, dusty boxes from the garage and hunt for old photos.  I uncovered stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day in fifteen years – old year books, lots and lots of old photos, mementos (much of which I have no idea now why I ever held onto), and old diaries, both of the handwritten variety, and of the typed variety.  Stuff from as far back as the 1980s.  I’ve skimmed a lot of it, but to read all if it in detail would take weeks, maybe months – and I’m not sure I want to.  But I also know that I can’t part with it, because it’s a record of so many experiences I’ve had that have left so many marks on me and shaped me in so many ways.

This is a brief diary I kept in March, 1999:

Friday, March 12, 1999

Kelly didn’t come home until 10:15.  Missed dinner.  I never bothered paging him. He finally called at 9:40 to say he would be home in 15 minutes. He was drinking. Said he stayed after work with the guys.


Saturday, March 13, 1999

Boxing night. Kelly went somewhere to watch the fight (after having mentioned earlier in the day “let’s do something tonight.”  I don’t know where he went, a bar probably.  I’m pretty sure the fight was over by 10:00 because a friend of Kelly’s called then to see what he had thought of the fight. Kelly didn’t get home until close to 11:00 though.  He was drinking, of course.


Sunday, March 14, 1999

Kelly left the house at about 2:00 saying he was going to the grocery store.  Kevin was down for a nap and we had planned to take him to the park when he woke up.  Kelly did not get home until 9:30 p.m.  Missed dinner.  I paged him at around 6:30 but he never bothered to call me back.  Didn’t have his cell phone on.  When he finally got home, he said he had remembered when he left the house that he needed to go to work to take care of a few things (on a Sunday????).  He said he didn’t know why he didn’t call to let me know.  When he got there, the guys were there so he stayed out drinking with them.  He was very restless and agitated when he got home and I was very upset.  However, within 15 minutes of finally getting home at 9:30, he turned around and left again saying he was going to the store.  He was gone for another hour, out drinking some more.


Monday, March 15, 1999

I got home at about 6:30 after picking Kevin up from Bill & Becky’s.  Kelly was already home.  He no longer seemed sorry for the night before and was defensive instead.  We had another big fight where everything was twisted around and made out to be MY problem.  He didn’t appear to have been drinking when we first got home, but after our fight I think he was sneaking out to the garage.


Tuesday, March 16, 1999

I called Kelly at work to make amends.  He came home after Kevin went to bed, can’t remember exactly what time but it was after 8:00.  He had been drinking, gave me his standard line that he had had just one beer. Which I don’t believe.


Wednesday, March 17, 1999

We talked on the phone in the afternoon and he said he’d be home by 6:00.  He called at 7:30 and said he would be home in 10 minutes and got annoyed and huffy when I told him that I was putting Kevin to bed rather than keeping him up to see his daddy.  Kelly didn’t get home until 7:50 and missed dinner.  He appeared to have been drinking and/or something else.  I’ve noticed over the last few months that sometimes when he comes home he seems agitated, antsy, sketchy.  He claims he doesn’t know what I’m talking about.  He insisted he had not been drinking or anything else tonight but I have absolutely no reason to believe him.  Later when I had gone upstairs to read, I heard him coming and going in and out of the garage and just making a general racket downstairs … typical drinking behavior.


Thursday, March 18, 1999

Talked to Kelly on the phone around 5:00.  He was still at the office and when I called he said he had 2 other calls holding for him and that he was trying to get out of there right away.  He called again at 7:30 and said he would be home in 5 minutes.  I told him I was putting Kevin to bed and he insisted I keep him up so he could put him to bed.  I gave in.  He got home about 15 minutes later and put Kevin to bed.  He had been drinking again.  He said he stopped on the way home for 5 minutes to have one drink.  I told him again that I can’t keep living like this, that Kevin and I deserve more than this and that the only difference I see between continuing on with my life with him like this and being single is that being single would at least give me more options.  I told him that I have needs and desires that aren’t being met, as a wife, a mother, and as a woman.  All he had to say was that yes, we need to work on things.  I implored him to realize that Kevin is going to grow up learning about how relationships work from watching us, and that this isn’t how he should see husbands and wives behave, that he needs to see a cohesive family that cares about each other and does things together. He agreed.  In that spirit, I suggested we have a family date tomorrow night.  I wanted to do something together as a family, so I suggested we go to the Block and walk around, have something to eat, have coffee, ice cream, whatever.  He said “What time do you want me home?”  I said “How about 5:30?  Can you do that?”  He said “I’ll be here.”


Friday, March 19, 1999

I tried not to get my hopes up about our date tonight, but I still felt a little excited, thinking how nice it would be if we could really pull it off.  I got home with Kevin around 5:00.  5:30 came and went.  I paged Kelly.  I finally gave Kevin dinner, but still with the hope that we could still get out for a while together tonight.  Kelly finally called me at 6:10, was very apologetic, said how once again things took place beyond his control, that he had to go drop off some material for a customer, etc. etc.  He said he would be home in 30 minutes.  It took him over an hour to get home, and by that time Kevin (who hadn’t had a nap all day) was tired and cranky.  Kelly gave him a bath and put him to bed.  He had been drinking.  (Side note: earlier in the evening, I had found a beer that was obviously carefully hidden in the fridge behind a loaf of bread, and Kevin had happened upon a day-old cup of leftover beer in the family room left on the floor between the couch and the end table).  I was very angry and hurt and was yelling and crying.  He said that the fact that he had had a drink had nothing to do with why he was late.  As if it even matters.  He doesn’t get it that the fact that he drinks EVERY NIGHT is the issue, that it’s out of control and destroying everything.  He was apologetic at first, insisting that he had wanted to be here and that he was disappointed too that things didn’t work out, but I just got angrier and angrier and it turned into a huge fight with both of us yelling and him calling me a psycho bitch and telling me that I was freaking him out (this is one of his usual ways of twisting it around to make ME the one appear with the problem).  He will not address his drinking, every time I bring it up, he avoids it and says that I am the one with the problem, that I take little things and turn them into huge things, and that his drinking would not be an issue except that I have a problem with it and have turned it into an issue.  I told him that I think we ought to get separated because this just isn’t working out and I can’t live like this and neither can Kevin. He said he couldn’t believe how easily I would throw it all away.  At about 8:15, Kelly left again, saying that he was running to the store for a can of Skoal and would be right back. He was gone almost an hour and when he got back he was noticeably slurring his words and it was clear that he had been drinking even more while he was gone. 


He stopped fertility treatment a couple weeks ago, saying that I am putting too much pressure on him and that we shouldn’t bring another baby into this situation.  He is right about that.  What kills me is that he is creating the situation in the first place.  So he has made things unbearable, and has chosen to take away from me the one thing that means the most to me in the world – to have a family, more children.  I hate him for that.


Saturday, March 20, 1999

Kevin had a birthday party to go to today.  Kelly and I were going to take him.  I awoke at 6:30 this morning as Kelly was getting dressed to leave.  He said he had to go to work to move some material that had been left out in the rain.  I reminded him about the birthday party.  He said he would be here to go.  I ended up taking Kevin by myself because Kelly never showed up.  It’s 4:20 p.m. now and he still isn’t home, although he called at 3:30, returning the page I had left for him and hour and a half before that, and said that he had to drive out to Riverside unexpectedly and that he’d be home in an hour.  I left the house with Kevin around 5:00 (Kelly still wasn’t home) and went over to Bill & Becky’s.  I got home at 8:30 and put Kevin to bed.  Kelly was home.  I don’t think he had started drinking yet but was treating me like someone who had done something wrong, saying that my leaving for the evening was playing tit for tat.


Sunday, March 21, 1999

I woke up at 4 this morning and realized that Kelly was still downstairs, all the lights were on, the TV was on.  I went down and he was drunk again.  I spent the next couple of hours tossing and turning in the spare room.  When I got up this morning, I started searching for his stash, as I know he sneaks out to the garage to drink.  In the backyard I found a trash can separate from where all our usual garbage goes and in it were dozens of empty beer cans and bottles (most of them extra large), as well as 2 empty 5ths of Jack Daniels.  I searched the garage and finally found inside his Defenders video game an empty bottle of Jack Daniels, a porno video and a stack of at least a dozen dirty magazines.  I took everything upstairs and dumped it on the bed where he was sleeping and told him to leave. He says he is not going anywhere.  Naturally, it’s all been turned around to be my fault, my problem. He followed me downstairs and out into the backyard and hurled the magazines, the video AND the glass bottle of JD at me.  We had it out again later, with me crying and both of us yelling and Kelly basically refusing to be held accountable for anything.  He finally said “Fine, I won’t drink and I’ll come home at 6 every night.”  But he said it like he was going to prove me wrong, prove that I can never be satisfied with anything no matter how he is.  In spite of that I actually was stupid enough to have a glimmer of hope that he would try at least on a temporary basis, but before the evening was out, he was drinking again.


Monday, March 22, 1999

Kelly was home before me.  It seems like for some unknown reason, he is usually able to be home at a decent hour on Mondays, the night I pick Kevin up from his parents’ house.  And he almost always calls over there under the pretext of checking up on me (he rarely calls me other nights, nights when he is late, even when I page him).  I think in reality, he calls over there for two reasons: (1) to let it be known to his parents that he gets home at a decent time, and (2) because he feels threatened on some level that I am over there.  Anyhow, I got home with Kevin between 6:30 and 7:00 I guess, and Kelly was already home.  I don’t think he was drinking last night, although I asked him point blank if he was going to be drinking and he said “Just for that, for asking, yeah, I think I will.”

What an asshole.  I fucking hate him.


Tuesday, March 23, 1999

Kelly got home a little after 7.  I had made dinner and Kevin and I had already eaten.  I left Kevin with Kelly and told him I was going to Ross to buy shoes.  He got all huffy, wanted to know what I was really up to, blah blah blah.  I ended up going to the craft store as well and he called me on my cell phone 3 times to check up on me in the hour I was gone.  I think he has a hell of a lot of nerve to act suspicious of me.  When I got home he reeked of JD and was obviously well on his way to being drunk.  I was furious that he can’t even restrain himself when I leave him responsible for Kevin.  I broke down and was sobbing and bawling about everything, about how it’s all going down the toilet and I feel desperate and broken and I begged him – literally – to go to marriage counseling with me.  He finally agreed.  I should know better than to have a meaningful conversation with a drunk, but I couldn’t help myself and plan to hold him to his word (whatever that’s worth, not much it appears lately). 


I asked him if he remembered being in the hospital when I was in labor, watching Kevin come out into the world, and all the hopes and dreams we had for the life we were going to make together.  He went off on this long emotional drunken tangent about how Kevin almost died when he was born (he needed a little coaxing to start breathing, but I don’t think he actually almost died), how I had no idea what was going on because I had just delivered and then went off into la la land, but how he watched Kevin turn purple and thought he was a gonner and how that traumatized him and that was a defining moment for him.  He is so full of shit.  First of all, I was completely aware of all that was going on after Kevin was born, but leave it to Kelly to know better than me what I was feeling and seeing and perceiving.  Second of all, if that was such a defining moment for him, how did it change him?  It certainly hasn’t made him any less selfish or more committed to his family and responsibilities.  He insinuated that his experience with that was just as profound, if not more so, than what I went through, growing a baby in me for 9 months and then pushing him out into the world.  He hasn’t a clue.  Again, I should know better than to have a meaningful conversation with a drunk.


Wednesday, March 24, 1999

Kelly was obviously hung over this morning and wasn’t able to drag himself out of bed until around 9, and that was only after his pager had gone off several times.  He was real nice when he got up though, went out and got me coffee at Starbucks and even kissed me goodbye (can’t remember the last time that happened) and said he would be home early.  He did get home around 6.


After Kevin went to bed I went downstairs and Kelly was out in the backyard filling up the dogs water bucket and as soon as I opened the door to go out I smelled JD.  He swears he hasn’t been drinking tonight though.  I just know he lies a lot – he lies about everything, all the time.  I went up to take a shower and when I was done I went downstairs and discovered him in the garage dialing the phone, and when I opened the door, he looked like a deer caught in headlights.  He made some lame excuse for making his call out there, but I think he was looking to score something.  I hit redial on the phone and he was apparently calling his pager.  I hate being so suspicious of him, but he has completely ruined any trust or faith ever had in him. 


I did contact a therapist today, a guy Sue and Laura have raved about.  I made an appointment for us for April 15.  Wish it was sooner, but there’s a lot going on between now and then – we have to go up north to spread Dad’s ashes on his birthday – and that’s the soonest it would work.  I haven’t consulted Kelly about it.  If I bring it up this far in advance, he will have plenty of opportunity to get out of it.  Not that he won’t anyway.   I am just going to bring it up a few days beforehand and remind him that he agreed to go.  I can’t do any more than that, either he will go or he won’t.  I see several possible scenarios.  Either he will change his mind about going, or I will make an appointment and he will run so late that he won’t make the appointment, or he will go and deem the therapist an idiot as soon as things are brought out that Kelly doesn’t want to deal with.  Of course, my hope is that Kelly and I will both go with open hearts and open minds and we will resolve our issues in time and live happily ever after.  Pathetic, huh?

This was about three months before he died.  Between the end of this particular diary and the day he died three months later, things got worse and worse: he was in a car accident (his fault – which I was sued for after he died); he finally admitted to me that he was using cocaine (as well as drinking excessively); I took Kevin and left him and was gone for about a week; he talked me into going back; things continued to spin out of control; he disappeared overnight with Kevin while he was on a binge; I took Kevin and left again, for good, filed for divorce, and got a restraining order against him.

Reading this was surreal.  When I think back to that time of my life – to my first marriage – I feel a great sense of remove, distance from it.  Not detached, really, but as if it was a movie I saw about somebody else’s life that can stir up emotions in me.  But reading this – it brought so much of it back to the surface – the terrible fear and anxiety and distrust I lived with day in and day out, how I could barely eat or sleep (I went down to 105 pounds by the time I filed for divorce – skin and bones), how my stomach was in knots all the fucking time and I felt like I might die from it.  I was in survival mode for so long, I didn’t even know what actual living felt like.

I felt raw when I finished reading it.  And I realized that I still carry around an incredible amount of pain and anger.  I’ve never really gotten over it.

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