It's Always Darkest Before the Dawn

Well, it was the final straw. She ended the relationship, he moved out, she was free.

But what now?

Why was it that she felt as though this was the worst decision she could have made?

Her friends urged her to seek help. After all, she had been through hell and talking with someone who was objective was sure to be beneficial.

Her first therapy session was like pulling teeth. The therapist kept dropping accusing words like "codependent" and "trauma." She knew there was nothing wrong with her and hated the idea of someone thinking she wasn't perfect.

"Well it just got to the point where I couldn't take failing him anymore. He didn't want to, he couldn't, get better for me. And it was too sad."

"And why do you think an addict personality, or any personality for that matter, should get better for anyone but themselves?"

"Because that's what it means to love someone."

Her friend suggested she go to Al Anon meetings in order to gain support from those who struggle like she does. She would walk in the room and see sad, hopeless faces, hear sad, hopeless stories, and would tune out. She refused to share, and she always left early. The only thing on her mind was that one day, her boyfriend would put down the needle, and they would live happily ever after. That would show them all that what she went through was not in vain.

She walked back into her apartment after another long meeting, one filled with tears and, from her end, a lack of sympathy. She bought a cheap bottle of wine at the deli across the street and poured a glass while staring into her computer. The backlight shone over her face, highlighting soft lines and grey hairs that had appeared over the year long, anxiety-ridden relationship. Soft lines and grey hairs that she refused to see.

She tried to log in on his Facebook account, but he'd finally changed the password. She wanted some sort of evidence that he had taken her seriously. If she could prove that by taking away her love, he would stop using, then she could relax. She could sit in her hope. But instead, she scrolled through old pictures of them and started to feel sick.

As the night wore on and the bottle of wine became more and more empty, she rationalized reaching out to him. She still loved him, and he knew that, so even though she had cut off communication, a little check in to see how he is doing wouldn't hurt, right?

As soon as she pressed send on her laptop, she felt a ping of anxiety. Her body knew this was a bad idea, but the wine won the argument. Not five minutes later, an email came back. 

He was always good at pouring his heart out. He said all of the right things, and though he never followed through, she was swept off of her feet by his passionate words. Each and every time. 

"I can't live without you. Ever since I've moved out, I've quit using and I just want us to be together and happy again. This girl that I met one day when I was out keeps messaging me but I don't care because all I want is YOU."

A new girl already? How??

She sent back an email with an invitation to call her. Of course, the phone call came right away, and they talked for hours and hours. A few months without being together did nothing to their chemistry. They were right back where they both desperately wanted to be.

Morning came with a wine headache and a new project. She couldn't get this girls name out of her head. It haunted her like a bad dream.

She went into Facebook to try to find who this girl was. She had tons of random pictures from what looked like many different years of her life scrambled about, and her friends and wall were hidden. But it was easy to see all of the trashy things she was commenting on her love's photos. She couldn't stand the thought.

Once she opened the doors of communication again, it was all consuming. She stopped going to those boring meetings, ghosted her therapist, and was glued to her phone. Her life was filled with heart emojis again and everything felt right. Except this dark skanky cloud was hanging in the air. That girl seemed to be everywhere. 

He assured her she had nothing to worry about. He was all hers and she was all he ever needed. And she felt on top of the world to know that. 

He would even send her screen shots of the things this girl was sending to him. He said he wanted there to be nothing between them, and that he was done with lying. She believed every word. It was all she ever wanted. She never even thought to ask why this girl had his number in the first place. 

In a fit of rage that she worked up in her own head, she decided to do some real snooping on this girl. It had been a few weeks since she had spoken to him again and this girl was always a topic of conversation. She had gotten way to close and was not about to threaten the fairytale she had finally accomplished. She looked up those screen shots and saw the number listed at the top. She was going to call this girl and give her a piece of her mind.

She grabbed her phone with shaking hands. She typed in the number with a righteous deliberation and waited for the phone to ring, 

Ring. Ring.

Her heart raced. She had no idea what she was going to say, but she had faith in her anger. She just had to let her know exactly who she was messing with.

Ring. Ring.


The phone slid out of her hands in slow motion and crashed to the floor with a muted thud. Her eyes widened in shock and then fell in despair. Her whole body seemed to be supported by jello. She couldn't feel her legs and fell to her knees in a defeated slump.

"Hello? Hello, who's there??"

She put her head in her hands a cried for all of the red flags she didn't see. For all of the times she was naive and put too much faith in a person who couldn't be trusted. She cried for being an enabler, and she cried for the enabler on the other end of the line.

She reached over to grab her phone and hung up. She knew the voice very well. It was his mother, whom he still lived with. She must have gotten a new cell phone, which is why she didn't recognize the number in the first place.

But how could I have been so stupid?

With a broken spirit, she made the strongest decision that she ever would. That she would free herself from obsession and end it for good. She would eventually become a phoenix out of the ashes, but not before her darkest hour and a lot of hard, hard work.

Published by Shawn Engel


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