When I stopped doing drugs at the grand, old age of 30, it felt like I had already lived a long, action-packed life. The absence of drugs left a huge void in my life because drugs touch every aspect of everything. They seep down into every nook and cranny until they consume the entire person. I scrambled in many ways to fill that void without even realizing what I was doing. I replaced drugs first by becoming a workaholic (a nice, respectable addiction), but worse, I replaced drugs by having a relationship with someone I later nicknamed "the Anti-Christ".
I think I knew from the start Sal was bad news. At first, it was just a vague, nagging feeling, a twinge tinkling my survival instinct, an ignored hunch. The more I found out about him the less I really knew. The more I found out, the more unsettling the question marks became. Most people starting a relationship open up and bare their souls to each other. With Sal, what information he revealed was selective and seemed more like hearsay than fact. I always wondered if the tidbits he threw my way was done to test the waters to see how much "truth" I could handle and if I could be trusted with that "truth". The drug culture molded a warped sense of who to trust and distorted my sense of loyalty to the point of having no regard for my own or my children's safety. I was a ripe candidate for anything Sal wanted to toss my way.
Right from the start Sal become my new drug of choice. I've always liked bad boys, but Sal wasn't a typical fun-loving, bad boy. He had an air of mystery surrounding him. He was dark and brooding. I jokingly claimed it was because he was Italian and from New York, but that joke stopped being funny over time. I soon stopped asking questions because I sensed the truth might have be something better left unexplored. There was something about him that scared me, yet drew me closer to him. I felt like a moth being drawn to a flame.
Soon after we started living together, I suggested that he move his belongings from the storage unit he had been renting into the two empty rooms I had off my enclosed carport. I couldn't see him continuing to pay for monthly storage when I had plenty of space available. Soon after my suggestion, he began moving all his worldly possessions which had been neatly packed into various size boxes to their new home. Before long he had completely filled one room from floor to ceiling leaving barely enough room to open the door. During one of the many trips to his storage unit, he brought a fabulous sound system inside the house and hooked it up in the living room. I immediately jumped at the chance of listening to some "real' music. I put Dire Straits "Money For Nothing" on and cranked up the volume. The house vibrated with "I want my MTV..." It was then, I realized just how little he and I had in common. He looked positively mortified by my choice of music. I suppose a little country something something would have been more to his liking, but that was never going to happen on my watch. Not in this lifetime!
A few days later the sound system was abruptly removed from the house. Sal announced it was "hot" and that he had been tipped off that the police were on their way to arrest him. I didn't have time to question him. I just lapsed into disbelief as the police served me with a search warrant and they went through my house. Although what they were hoping to find was no longer on the premises, they still arrested Sal. He was brought to Bay County Jail about 30 miles away. If I had been smart, that would have been the end of the story, but for me it was only beginning. For me, I eagerly jumped at the chance to play the dutiful woman whose old man got dragged off to jail. Oh, the tangled webs we weave!
A few days later, I was contacted by family services with a complaint of alleged child abuse. WTF? Child abuse? Seriously? A representative of the State was going to come to my house to question me and investigate the complaint. This whole thing was beginning to feel like a nightmare and as if I was being set up to be railroaded out of town. Instead of waking up and seeing the writing on the walls all around me, the constant upheaval and drama fed a sick need in me. Instead of running for cover, it made me dig my heels in and revive my old "I'll show them" attitude. But what was I really going to show "them" and who was going to be my audience?
When the agent came to my house, I first had to bring her on a tour of each room. I showed her that we had food to eat and where my children slept and played. Special attention was paid to each bedroom. When the agent questioned me about the sleeping arrangements for each of my three children, I began to realize that the complaint had originated from the deputies who had been there a few days earlier. I had been in the process of painting my sons' bedroom at the time, so the room was completely torn apart. I had made them a "bed" on the floor in my room with sleeping bags while the paint dried and the fumes dissipated in their bedroom. I tried to make it fun by pretending we were having a "camp out".
When I realized a faulty judgment had been made by the deputies without ever being questioned, I became furious. Unfortunately, we are often times judged by the company we keep and until we love ourselves and our families enough to step away from harm's way, bad things will keep on happening. Our lives will be in a continual downward spiral. When I could finally speak without totally flipping out, I asked the agent if putting my children to bed in a room with strong paint fumes would have been more acceptable to the deputies. The complaint was found to be unsubstantiated and was dropped immediately, but the memory of feeling violated stuck with me for a long time. Why the same feeling of being violated didn't occur in the early stages of "the Anti-Christ" era still troubles me. I had all the facts staring me in the face and I chose to give my heart to someone who had nothing to give me in return. Like a drug, Sal started with euphoria, but quickly turned into agonizing pain from which there was no escape.