An Open Letter To The Friends I’ve Lost In Recovery

Timothy Paul Smith / Unsplash

Getting clean is a messy business. It’s a situation in which it is impossible to understand unless you’ve been through it. It’s terrifying, painful, and extremely lonely. What your physical body goes through and the thoughts that haunt your mind are not widely spoken about; partially due to the stigma attached to addiction and partially due to the voluntary seclusion you submit yourself to. The mental and physical pain your body undergoes is immeasurable. Without the help of professionals or a structured program, the experience is an unknown abyss of pain and despair.

I just celebrated my four-year anniversary of sobriety from hard drugs. It’s something that is difficult to write openly about and even more difficult to speak out loud. The moment I was faced with the need to become clean, I was laying in a hospital bed, suffering from the single most traumatic experience of my existence. I was sexually assaulted by my drug dealer. Absolutely no one can prepare you for the pain that I experienced that night and the on going agony that ensued in that hospital bed; waiting for hours in the emergency room to be seen, reliving everything that happened…the shame of filing the police report and the humiliation during the administration of the rape kit, only to be told by your SANE doctor that you were raped. The confirmation of the events by the doctors that it had happened, while you knew it all along, pierces you in a way that just cannot be described. I knew then that I had to change my life. I had to pick up the pieces of my broken life and attempt to rebuild. Part of the rebuilding process that no one really talks about is the separation from your past life and the separation from those who used with you: your friends.

This is my open letter to the friends I lost while I was getting clean.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that during my recovery, I lost you. I’m so sorry that we built our friendship before we built our relationship with drugs. If I could go back in time, and say no, knowing that would preserve our friendship, I would. Our friendship was special and rare, but it would be a disservice to not acknowledge that our drug use laid the foundation for our friendship. I feel saddened to admit that without our paired drug abuse, we may not have developed such a close friendship. The line became blurred with you and our habits. You were one of the greatest friends I have ever had but at some point, the strength of our friendship moved from our love between each other to our love with each other and our substances.

I still think about you every day. I wonder how you’re doing. I think about whether you’ve become clean as well and my heart aches for the pain you endured going through that process. I can still hear your laugh when I think about you; I picture your smile in my head after I said something silly or stupid. I think about all the wonderful times we had together and the secrets we shared with one another. I miss the warmth of your friendship. I still go through the pictures we took together and reminiscence on the beautiful relationship we had.

I’m sorry that I could no longer be the friend I once was when I became clean. It’s overwhelmingly difficult, near impossible, to stay strong from drugs when the ones you love are around you and using. I’m sorry that we could not see eye to eye on that fact. I didn’t mean to destroy our friendship. It’s just something I knew that I could not keep myself around and still stay clean. I had to put myself above our friendship and while that may sound like a terrible thing to admit, I had to be selfish in that aspect. I had to consider my well-being and I could not put myself in a dangerous environment where I would be drawn to use again.

I still miss you every day. I’m not sorry for being clean and I will never apologize for my sobriety, but I am sorry that I lost you in the process.

I hope that you are doing well, and I wish you all of the happiness that the world has to offer. TC mark

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