How did he pass away? It’s a question I have hated answering. Up until now I’ve avoided that question out of fear of being judged. I recently read an inspiring article by Elizabeth Ann titled “Dear Judgy Lady on Facebook”. It bought tears to my eyes and made me look at myself and think, where is my backbone! Elizabeth gave me the courage to face one of my fears, judgement.
Definition of the word Junkie
– A person with a compulsive habit or dependency on something.
The truth is I am a junkie, totally and completely addicted to John and to our love and our life. I had been addicted to him and infatuated with him since I first laid eyes on him at thirteen years old. He was the boy who at thirteen was the handsome, sporty and popular surfer guy. But whose heart was larger than a stereotype so he chose his circle of friends based not on their looks but on how they treated others. He was the boy who always stood up for the underdog, who fought for kindness and simplicity. Who chose not to be a sheep, because he knew he was a wolf. The boy who at thirteen was more of a man than most forty year olds. Who stood his ground on his beliefs always. The boy who was riddled with an anxiety disorder, but masked it perfectly to the world with a front of fearless confidence.
Despite his demons, he was a man I am proud of. He worked as a concreter six days a week in blistering heat despite having herniated disks in his back that caused extreme physical pain. Pain for which he required pain killers, that he tried desperately to abstain from, because yes he was as our perfect society calls it a junkie. To me though, to his family and friends he was so much more.
A man who put myself and his family above his pain and worked harder than any man I’ve known to provide for us. A man who was selfless, passionate, gentle and brave. Who each night would dance with me in the kitchen while cooking dinner together. Who would build forts in the lounge room with the kids rather than sit back relax and watch TV or mindlessly scroll social media. A man who put his all into life and the people he loved.
He was the man who reminded me of what is most important in life, to live in the moment, to walk together on cool winter nights, to see the beauty in nature, to lay in each other’s arms on damp sand just to watch the stars. The man who gave his last $50 and his phone number to a homeless teenager in the street and said “call me and I’ll find you some work” who when I said to him “we needed that money” he looked at me with the softest eyes and said “the kid needs it more”.
The man who would gently brush my forehead every night to put me to sleep and who would pull the covers over my shoulders if they slipped. He was the man who noticed and appreciated every little detail. Who loved me more than life, just as I loved him. The man who tried endlessly to put his demon addiction to bed through any means possible and mostly succeeded despite the world telling him he couldn’t.
To me even his flaws were perfect.
Before he passed away I had been sheltered by him, from the lifestyle associated with drugs. Sheltered because he kept most persons associated with his addiction separate from our life. The only insight I had to it was him and what I saw was heartbreaking. For us and our love, he battled his anxiety and opiate addiction every day for the most part of our life together. He was in the eyes of society clean. Until he lapsed and passed away from an accidental overdose on the pain killer fentanyl patch.
I am no longer angry with him because I know the circumstances that led him to use again, I also know he would have been fighting himself not to use right up unto the second the fentanyl hit his veins. What I am angry at is the people who despite knowing he needed an ambulance refused to call one and instead left him to sleep for over ten hours, leading to his death. It is gross negligence.
I am angry with the doctors who continue to prescribe and make readily available such a dangerous pain medication to people who they know abuse the drug and sell it to support their habit. I am angry at our countries health system who make getting into a drug rehabilitation program so difficult. I am angry at the detectives involved in his case who didn’t care for his life or for the people that should be held responsible for his death. Instead only caring about where and who he may have gotten the drug from. Surprise surprise, you cannot hold the doctor responsible.
I am angry for the way I was immediately stereotyped an addict because I loved and shared my life with an addict. I am angry for the total disregard to a human life because in their eyes his life wasn’t worth them doing their job. After all he wasn’t the late glorified musician PRINCE. No he was just the love of my life, another statistic. I am angry that society fails to look past a stereotype and see that his addiction doesn’t define who he was, it shouldn’t make him an unworthy person. I am angry that it doesn’t matter to them that like millions of other people he celebrated his favourite team winning a football grand final with a victory dance in the lounge room. I am angry that few care that his smile alone lit up the room and lifted the spirits of everyone who knew him.
I am angry at myself for not having the courage to speak openly about this sooner. I am angry at anyone who dares to judge an addict before knowing them personally. They didn’t just wake up one day with the dream “I want to be a junkie, that’s what I’m going to do with my life”.
In my quest to find out the truth and circumstances around Johns death I took it upon myself to befriend the addicts who he had associated with. The police gave me no answers, respect or closure. But these people who were strangers to me did and they wanted nothing in return. They gave me comfort and understanding, strangers who sat with me in silence while I cried. They invited me to their homes and shared the darkest parts of their lives with me. I felt no judgement from the people who I in the past had judged to easily.
Regardless of what judgemental society may think, I have never felt the need to use drugs. And I never will, because I have experienced and witnessed firsthand the destruction they bring. I despise drugs, they destroyed and took from me the person I love most in this world. However I will never despise people who have been cursed with addiction.
Despite being nick named “Straighty Kaiti” by the kind and compassionate people I sometimes still associate with. I am a junkie, because as John always said “everyone in the world has an addiction” and mine was him.
It is my hope that this blog post helps anyone else who has felt the same way as I did. That felt too afraid to speak because society can be cruel.
Elizabeth’s inspiring letter is below. Thank you x
““Dear Judgy Lady on Facebook,
I read the article you shared on Narcan. Your opinion and commentary made my pulse pound and my face flush. I was angry, but after a few minutes passed I didn’t want to punch you in the face anymore. My heart softened towards you, because I know you just don’t get it. You are so lucky and I am envious of that. I wish more than anything else that I didn’t get it either. I never wanted to and as much as I think you suck for saying what you did, I hope you never have to.
You see, I know something you don’t know. I have lived it, walked it and most importantly survived it, while you sit on the other end of a computer content in your ignorance. I hear that it is bliss.
I made a decision early on in life not to use drugs or alcohol. It wasn’t because I was a saint, it was because I was scared of it. Not having my wits about me at all times terrified me, so I abstained. I left parties early, I just said no. That old Dare pledge may have been one of the only things I have ever truly followed through with in my life. Well, the second…
I have always wanted the same thing we all want ” True love” The heart racing, soul fucking stuff that roll of the eye inducing movies are made out of.
Lucky for me, I found it and I cherished it, I protected it, I stood by it through thick and thin. It was mine and I was never letting go no matter the cost. Unlucky for me, I lost the human form of the person it was attached to. It went defunct in a rundown apartment five minutes from my house, surrounded by people who did not give a shit about that love. I lost the most precious person to me other than my children without a “goodbye” or a last “I love you”. I lost the keeper of my secrets, my duet partner, the finisher of my sentences and the other half of my heart. I lost my financial stability, my security blanket, my hope, my sanity, my will to live, my plus one and my emergency contact… I lost my home with Narcan a truck door open away.
I get it, you think it was his “choice”. You think he didn’t love me or anyone else enough. You think he was selfish, stupid and weak. You think he didn’t deserve your tax dollars even though he worked harder than anyone I have ever known in my life. If I told you how wrong you are, you probably will not be convinced. He is the face of a million “junkies” to you.
You might not care that he poured ketchup all over his fries and ate them with a fork or that he always gave money to the homeless. That he smelled like wood chips, soap and just the tiniest hint of a hotel swimming pool or that he could draw a blue print with his eyes closed. You won’t be moved to hear that he loved my feet, put my coat on me on our first date and ended every text with “I love you more than all the stars in the sky”, but all of these things mattered to ME. You are basing his worth on an image you have in your head.
It just feels so important to me that you know this; there are good and bad drug addicts, just like there are good and bad NON drug addicts. He would never judge you for being such an asshole. If I had gone to him all fired up and read to him what you wrote, he would chuckle and tell me to calm down. He was a better person than you or I combined.
My question to you is simply, what about me? Do I deserve your sympathy and your compassion? Is my pain any less because the person I loved was a heroin addict? Do I deserve to suffer for loving someone you don’t deem worthy? Did he for making one poor choice that led him down the road to hell? Do the obese deserve insulin or a defibrillator? Do smokers deserve chemotherapy? Where does it stop when we start making these kind of calls?
Still, I know I probably haven’t changed your mind. It seems pretty set, all I can ask is that you honor my pain, just like I would honor yours if your husband dropped dead because he ate a good too many cheeseburgers. I ask that you do because we are all human and we are all in this together.
“The Junkies Wife”