I was honest with Chuck when we first began dating, I told him that I had been an addict, but I’d recovered in treatment. Which, at the time I believed to be true. I expected him to end the relationship right then and there; instead he kissed me and said “I don’t care about your past, as long as you don’t take them anymore, than it’s not stopping me from being with you.”
I remember being so grateful that he had such an accepting heart. I should have run that night. Saved him the heartache. But I never expected for any of this to happen. It wasn’t part of my plan.
I thought that after paying $28,000 for 28 days in rehab after my mom died, surely whatever the hell they did in there had fixed me. I thought that they worked there magic and now I was all better. After all, it had been around 5 months or so since I’d last used, so something must have clicked. But I was wrong. Because here I am staring into the heartbroken eyes of a man who trusted me.
I was incredibly intoxicated, but what I saw through my blurry vision is something I’ll never forget. I watched all the joy immediately drain from Chuck’s face, and the hope disappear from his eyes when I told him. He was crushed.
I followed him with my eyes as he stood up and walked to the foot of the bed. He closed his eyes, knelt down, clasped his hands together. He was praying. This guy’s first reaction was to pray. I wanted to tell him that he was wasting his time, that no one was up there, but I figured now wasn’t a good time. Obviously.
The room was silent as he pleaded with God. I don’t know what he was saying, but even with his eyes closed I could feel the pain behind them. He opened his eyes and looked at me as a single tear streamed down his face.
“Are you done?” he asked sternly.
“Done what? With us?” I replied.
“No… are you done with the f***ing pills?”
“Yes! Yes I’m done. I didn’t mean… I don’t even know what happened. It was happening so fast like I couldn’t control it. I didn’t want to do it I swear to God.”
“Then why the hell did you, Tiffany?”
How can I explain this. There’s no explanation that makes any damn sense.
“I can’t… I don’t know how to explain it. It was like the urge was so overwhelming that I physically could not stop myself from opening the bottle.”
“What bottle? Where the f*** did you get them?”
Shit, I didn’t want to rat my roommate out. I could tell Chuck was getting frustrated and didn’t want him to take his anger out on Blake. It wasn’t Blake’s fault that I was a junkie who couldn’t be trusted.
“Kayla.” I blurted.
“I f***ing knew it. I told you she was bad news. You can’t be around people like that Tiff, it’s too tempting to go back to your old ways.” he said, his expression softening.
I could tell that his current emotion was sympathy — which was good. I really needed to take advantage of this.
“Babe, I know. I should never have invited her over. I just missed her so much. She was my best friend and, I like all the new friends I’m making–your friends, it’s just that I miss the people I grew up with. I miss my mom. I feel like my old life is so far away and I guess I thought…I thought that seeing Kayla might make me feel closer to my mom. I don’t know. I’m so sorry.” I began to cry, I knew that the tears would seal the deal.
“Come here, Babe,” he said pulling me in for a hug. “I’m so sorry about your mom, I can’t imagine how hard that must be. I know that you can overcome this, you will overcome this. And I’ll be right here by your side while you do. I love you.”
I took a deep breath, relieved that he was being so great about this. I really did like him, maybe even loved him. I was grateful that he was able to overlook my flaws and love me despite them.
“So what do I need to do to help you?” he asked, grabbing my hand and placing it between his.
This was a great question. What the hell could he do? The only thing that came to mind was handcuffing me and keeping me in the closet, because apparently I wasn’t able to control myself when left to my own devices.
“I think… I think I need to move in. I need to get away from town, away from the bad influences, that way I won’t be so tempted, ya know?”
What am I saying? What the hell did I just do.
His eyes lit up like a Christmas tree as he reached for the box and handed it over to me. I forced out a smile and grabbed on to it, wondering if it would be inappropriate for me to throw it back at him and run full speed out the door. It was too late, I’d already said the words.
“Before I give this to you,” he said keeping a firm grasp on it, “Promise me that you are done with the pills.” his face was serious again.
I stared into his eyes for a moment. Is this a promise I could keep? He was so amazing, and I really didn’t want to end things with him. He loved me unconditionally and was the best thing that had happened to me in a really long time. I really can’t f*** this up.
I had every intention of keeping that promise. I honestly, truthfully, wholeheartedly did. But addiction is a sneaky b****. It doesn’t care who you’re dating, who you love, if you have kids, a job or goals. It doesn’t care who you were… or who you plan to be. It creeps in when you least expect it, consumes your thoughts and eventually… your life.
“Hello everyone, I’m Tiffany, and I’m the new shift leader. I just transferred here from Santiago store and I look forward to working with all of you.” I said to my new employees.
They smiled and looked around at each other, confused by my presence. This was a last minute decision, and none of them expected it. They all stared at me for a moment and I felt awkward, unsure of what to say next. “You’re free to go.” I said and they immediately scattered like roaches, desperate to get away from the weird morning meeting.
It had been 2 weeks since I’d moved in with Chuck and decided to transfer stores. This one was much closer to my house and I liked the idea of starting fresh.
“Hi, I’m Kendra.” a blonde-haired, obviously pregnant girl said sticking out her hand for me to shake. “Nice to meet you, I’m Tiffany.” She must have noticed I was staring at her belly, because she gently placed her hand over her belly button and rubbed it in a circular motion. “There’s two of them in there.” she said smiling.
“Holy s**t! Congratulations! I’m pretty impressed that you are still working.” I said.
“I know, it’s hard. I don’t have a choice though. My boyfriend left before we found out I was pregnant and has been MIA ever since.” she said sadly, looking down at the ground.
“Well please let me know if there’s anything I can do to make your life easier. I can only imagine how hard it must be to run around while pregnant, especially with two!” I smiled.
“Thank you so much, I will.” she grabbed a tray and headed out to the dining room.
It felt really good to be in a new place. New scenery, new faces and a new start. Chuck and I hadn’t spoken about my relapse since the night of the party, it was as if nothing ever happened.
My first night at the restaurant had gone fairly smooth–apart from a few drink spills and one customer growing enraged at the sight of her tiny baked potato. Nothing I couldn’t handle.
I began checking the servers out at the end of their shifts, taking their money and receipts. One by one they left for the night until it was only Kendra, David (the cook) and I. Kendra waddled in with one hand on her back and a pained look on her face. She let out a loud sigh as her and her twins plopped down in the empty seat at my desk.
“You okay?” I asked as I reached over to take her receipts.
“Yep, fine. My feet are as big as balloons, I can feel it. I can’t wait to go home and soak in a warm bath.” she said, stretching her legs out straight in front of her.
“Mmm I bet, that sounds really good actually.” A warm bath, I might have to take one myself after I get off. Chuck is at work so I have the house to myself.
“Well it was nice working with you, Tiffany. Happy to have a new face in here. The other manager is a real a**hole. Anyway I’m gonna take a piss then head to the bus stop. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She said, struggling to stand up. I jumped up and reached for her arm to help pull her up.
“What do you mean bus stop?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah I don’t have a license. So I take the bus. It’s no big deal, been doin it for years.” she replied as she strained to bend down for her purse on the ground.
“Hold on,” I said reaching down and grabbing it for her. “Wait!” she exclaimed as I grabbed one of the straps on her bag. As I pulled it up the weight of the contents caused the purse to turn sideways, spilling most of it’s contents onto the floor. Coins began clinking against the ground and her lip gloss and pens rolled in different directions. ” Oh my gosh, I am so sor–” I started to say, but stopped short when I noticed her expression. She was frozen in place with a look of horror on her face. I stared at her confused, then looked back down at the floor. I hadn’t noticed it before.
I looked back at her in shock, unsure of what to say as she dropped to her knees and frantically began shoving the items back into the bag. It was too late. I’d already seen it.
“Listen…” she began. I held up my hand to stop her. “Please,” she continued, “I really can’t lose this job…” she pleaded. “I know this looks bad but–”
“Stop. Just stop.” I said. Sitting back into my chair and thinking for a moment. So many things flashed across my mind. I had so many choices in this moment and didn’t know what the hell to do. This girl was pregnant. I just started here. What the f***.
I stood up, walked past her to make sure the restaurant was empty and shut all the lights off. “Dave, you’re good to go.” I yelled over my shoulder at the cook as I stepped back into my office and shut the door.
“Please, are you gonna fire–”
“Shut the f*** up for a second!” I snapped, hurrying to type in the totals for the day. I logged off the computer and grabbed the deposit bag and my keys.
As I pulled the office door open I turned around to face her with my hand still on the knob.
“You aren’t taking the bus. I’m giving you are ride home… and your gonna give me 5 of those Roxy’s…” I turned off the light and headed toward the parking lot…