I met her when she was in bad shape. Living in a spare bedroom of a disaster of an older woman, after she fled her abusive husband. She was a stripper, and I was a lonely man. To me, her body was perfect, irresistible, but it wasn’t just her body I wanted. The night I met her, we talked for hours. It wasn’t just a pay your money, that was fun, and let’s be done with it type of thing. We connected, and I wanted her soul. We began seeing each other outside of the strip club, and she told me her past and struggles (sexual abuse as a child), and I told her of my bouts with depression. We became close, and “dated” in a way, but it was like dating in your freshman year in high school. We held hands, we went out to eat and went shopping together. I spoiled her. It was never sexual. I wanted it to be, but I waited for her to be ready for that. I felt she was too fragile to push the matter.
Money became involved. I wanted to improve her situation, so she could go back to school and do whatever she wanted to do. I had the resources to do it, so I helped her out financially, then helped her out some more, then more. There was always more that she needed. Something was wrong. I broke off our romantic relationship, but I couldn’t leave her. A few weeks passed, and I found out from her mom that she was an addict. I had been enabling. I was devastated. I’ve never hated myself more than that moment, dry-heaving over my toilet out of remorse.
I still loved her, so I decided to stay and try to be a positive influence for her, to help her get clean, maybe to atone for my sins, I don’t know. She was my whole life. I worked so she could live, and after work I spent much of my time with her, or doing things for her. I became distant with all my friends; video games were my escape when it was too much to deal with. It was a long, hard, often miserable road. I can’t even bear to think of some of it, but there were good moments too. She got clean for a while, landed a job, and they were even grooming her for a promotion, and she started to see some worth in herself. I was so proud of her.
She never had an interest in anything more than friendship, very close friendship, with me again, but she found other lovers. Mostly deadbeats who couldn’t or wouldn’t take care of her, and she was in no condition to take care of herself, so she lived with me while she was with them. I wanted to respect her romantic decisions, but it was miserable.
I started to resent her, and while I tried to hide it, she could see something was wrong. I was worried I would become the villain, so I wanted to extract myself from the situation gracefully, but the opportunity didn’t present itself. Without me, she had nowhere to go. She would be on the streets. I couldn’t allow that. Finally, she met a decent guy, a real gentleman, who treated her well and wanted to make a life with her. He was a recovering addict too, so they understood each other and felt safe talking to each other. She seemed happy, really happy, and she didn’t need a drug to make it happen anymore. Finally, I could pass the baton and try to move on.
They made plans to move in together. I made plans to move back home to be closer to my sisters and parents. She got pregnant. He relapsed and died. It had been 6 years since I met her. My life had been on pause for her for that entire time. I couldn’t bear the thought of being the de-facto father for her daughter and my life being on pause indefinitely if I had no intimacy with her. I kept to my plans to go home, but I decided to send her and her sister money so they could afford to live together. She was hurt; it was terrible timing for me to leave given her situation, but she respected it, even if she didn’t quite understand it. Shortly after her daughter was born, I left.
Things seemed to be going ok for a while, but then she got in a fight with her sister and they parted ways. Her financial needs increased, but it wasn’t exorbitant, she was on her own with a young daughter, it made sense that she would need more. I wasn’t making as much money so I struggled to support both of us, and started digging myself into a financial hole. She didn’t seem to be doing well emotionally or physically. I did what I could from where I was, but I wasn’t there for her like I was before, the distance made it impossible. I wasn’t the always-present rock for her to go to like I had been all those years.
Then I got the call from her sister. She was dead. She had relapsed and had medical complications associated with her previous drug use. I don’t know which killed her. I suspect the relapse was a way to deal with the physical pain she was in from the medical complications. She got money from someone else as well as me, so I couldn’t tell how much money she was spending, so it didn’t raise red flags for me. I had known her for 7 years.
It’s been almost a year. I’m still in financial ruin. In debt with family, with my bank, with the IRS. I don’t know how or if I’ll dig myself out. I have only 2 friends, a happily married couple that I’ve known since high school. They live fairly far away, so I see them maybe twice a year. I don’t know how to make friends anymore; I’m not sure I want to make friends anymore. A coworker, who knows I’m lonely, but has no idea what I’ve been through, suggested that I give dating a try, and offered to help me make a dating profile or maybe get her circle of friends involved, and do some matchmaking if a female friend of a friend was also looking for someone. I don’t want to be alone, but the thought of romance, or even a casual hookup (where I know my feelings will get involved) made me feel physically ill. I’m terrified of it, and it’s hard to imagine anything worse. Pondering this, I thought of the pain of having the skin burned off my arm; even this seems preferable to me than a romantic relationship. I had no idea I was that messed up until she suggested dating.
After yet another financial setback, I’m thinking that maybe I should turn off the lights and let the curtain fall on this tragedy, so here I am. I’m fairly certain I’m emotionally broken in ways that can’t be fixed. I have no purpose, no desires for my own future. My time off work is filled with nothing, just watching some entertainment, video games, and dicking around on the internet. It doesn’t make me happy, but it makes the time pass more quickly. I don’t regret the time spent; nothing else feels like it would be better. Keeping my head above water financially is exhausting and stressful, and I’m tired.
It’s been 31 years, and I think I blew my shot at a good life. Even if I got my finances in order (realistically, sometime in my mid-30s), I would still be an emotional trainwreck, broken from my past. I’ve seen it in other people; at my age, this stuff doesn’t heal. Why keep going? Does the world really need another depressed zombie listlessly plodding through life? I don’t want to hurt my family, so right now, that’s keeping me alive, but I’m not sure how long that’s going to be enough.
Please, don’t ever wind up like me.