Just back from spending a weekend at the beach with Emma, Abby and my folks. Still feeling so lucky to have this opportunity to interact with my daughters, after all I’ve been through. Lucky they still want to spend time with me after what I did to them last summer.
It all started at the West End, early last summer, my sister was tending on a Friday night and I was drinking drafts at the bar, high as a kite as usual.
My drug of choice was Adderall, an amphetamine prescribed to me by my psychiatrist, to treat my lingering depression that continued to reach epic proportions.
I had previously gone through nearly every antidepressant over the years I’ve been treated for bipolar disorder. None seemed to do the job. But I didn’t always take them as instructed. In hindsight I had been filled with self-loathing since my divorce and hours’ separation from my daughters, and my escalating drug addiction did not mix well with the pills.
Instead of taking the Adderall by mouth with a drink I had resorted to snorting it. And I was doing this with more pills pills than prescribed, in addition to skipping my daily dose of lithium which catapulted me into hypomania, then into the telltale features of a manic episode.
So sitting at the West End that night I was definitely more gregarious than normal, making friends left and right and trying to determine who I’d be smoking pot with next. In addition to the Adderall, marijuana was my drug of choice to come down from the amphetamine high.
Even when I ran short of Adderall, which I was bound to do every month, I smoked pot many times a day for the perceptual clarity it gave me to go about my business.
It was almost closing time and I was feeling looped. For whatever reason, I asked my sis for a pair of scissors then proceeded to snip up a straw into a bar ashtray. I took the “nicest” straw piece out and pocketed it for later sniffing.
I went home, snorted an Addy and smoked some weed, then decided to drive to another local bar. Amphetamines give me untold energy and even though it was after midnight, I was raring to go.
My sister just happened to be at the late-night bar with her husband, and she was not pleased to see me.
“What are you doing cutting up straws at the bar, Damian? They got you on tape doing that!” She screamed at me. “I could lose my job because of you! Just go home!”
I was so high and out of it, but I started to make my way to my Subaru. My sister followed, then her husband, and he demanded that I let him drive me home. So I did.
Checking my email when I got home around 1 a.m., there was a short message from an old friend, threatening to kill herself. She lived two-plus hours away, but I was far from tired so I packed up a few things and snuck out of my parents’ house through the basement.
I had my CDs playing full blast in my car and was smoking cigarette after cigarette, along with a few stops on the way to smoke some weed. I made it to her block a few hours later and saw the living room light on in her house. So I parked and got out.
My friend opened the door and let me in, her eyes barely open and watery. She said she had run out of Adderall and was feeling depressed. Did I have any?
Of course I had brought my pill bottle. I was feeling magnificent at this point and wanted her to be happy again. So I counted out about 10 Adderalls and gave them to her. She promised to pay me for them at some point, and she popped a couple and within 10 or 15 minutes she was her old self again.
I was a hero! I was a savior! I crushed one up and snorted it as her gift of gab emerged again, and we talked for a bit about how great I was. About how I had saved her life. I was feeling truly angelic by now, so I told her I was leaving to go see Emma and Abby. Nevermind it was 5 in the morning.
So I drove to their house revved up and stoned, trying to think what I would say to them. I hadn’t called the day before to let them know I was coming like I always did. And they are teenagers, they like to sleep in on weekends when they’re not working.
Pulled in to their mom’s driveway sometime around 7 a.m., and my mind was working in some crazy orbit. I honestly don’t remember what I was thinking, but I knocked on the door and when my ex-wife answered, I told her I had stage 4 lung cancer and was dying. Could I see the girls?
I have no idea where this came from, but the drugs obviously played a major part. I love Emma and Abby more than anythig in the world, why would I do this?
But my ex took the news without any sad or surprised expression. Told me the girls were sleeping and she would talk to them later.
I left the house a few minutes later as if I had done nothing wrong. Didn’t question my motives or reasoning at all. Looking back, I was definitely delusional from the Adderall abuse but at the time I thought my actions were completely rational.
I stopped at a local restaurant for some breakfast then proceeded to some unknown hotel an hour away where I was forced to stop because I was puking while sitting in my car. The pills and pot had finally gotten to me, along with the lack of sleep. I got a room and slept away most of the day.
When I woke, I was surprised I hadn’t heard from the girls. Did my ex-wife tell them? I wondered over and over, in between snorting more Addys and firing up a few bowls.
It was close to bedtime for the girls, I was thinking, but I was somehow still living off my “story” and decided to call Abby. I surprised her telling her about the cancer, and she started to cry on the phone. Somehow it seemed to me this was really happening, and I talked to her as if I was truly dying.
It was a terrible conversation, I don’t remember the details, thankfully. I tried to call Emma, too, but she wasn’t answering. I remember texting her about my impending doom but I never heard back from her.
Maybe at some point they had gotten the truth from my dad, I don’t know. But Em and I had tickets to see one of our favorite musicians a few days later and we never made it. I didn’t see the girls for months after this debacle. I was living a drug-addled life at this point, and luckily my ex kept them away from me.
Now I’m 10 months straight and sober. A lot of shameful and humiliating things happened last year, but I’m lucky to be alive after my car accident. Grateful for another chance to be a real father to these singular girls.
They haven’s given up on my. Yet. I had a minute with them alone in the beach house and I profusely apologized to them for what happened last year. I told them I was living a new life and felt so grateful to still have their love.
I got a big hug and kiss from each of them. We had a great weekend together, and our relationship has definitely improved this past year.
I’m finally managing my addiction, but I realize how tenuous things are with my loved ones. I know this is my last chance and I remind myself daily to stay on the right path and steer clear of the people, places and things that have caused me trouble.
Every morning I thank my lucky stars that I’m alive, and say a short, sincere prayer of thanks. I love you Emma and Abby, more than you know.