Or, I know what you did last Friday.
It has been nearly a week since the events described below happened, but I have spent the past few days completely shell-shocked by them, to the point where I am only just now comfortable talking about them, and even now I'm a nervous wreck.
Tuesday's group was interesting. Since there were three new people we all had to go through introductions again. Through said introductions I learned I was only one of two out of roughly fifteen or so who weren't being forced to attend the class by a probation officer. I already opined on these guys here, where I perhaps uncouthly called them "buttholes". Well I'm in a bit of a mood today after everything that has happened the past few days, so I stand by my somewhat childish insult. There are far unhealthier attitudes than mine flying around about this group, to be sure.
As mentioned, I was only one of two in the class from a psychiatrist's referral rather than legal troubles. The other was a girl named Kara. I met her briefly at last Thursday's meeting, and I learned that, much like myself, she was there to get clean, or at least some facsimile thereof, so she could resume being medicated for bipolar disorder. While I have said a million times I wouldn't wish this hell on anyone, I was thrilled to meet another person who understood first hand what I was going through. Bipolar disorder is painted both by popular culture and by the ignorant alike as something heinous, something that always inevitably results in pandemic tragedy (because we all go on homicidal rampages when in manic mode, see). It's okay, really. I suffer from this affliction and I don't understand it any better than you, but I assure you that my murderous impulses are about as common as my impulse to do the dishes.
Kara and I had this conversation over a brief smoke break, at which point we bonded. She told me she wasn't a fan of booze (so already she is a healthy person for me to have around) but like me she also had a taste for pills, and according to her that was why she was sent to the addicts' program. On Tuesday, however, she painted a far more grim tale.
At every group everyone has the opportunity to speak if they have something pressing and relevant to recovery they need to discuss. Kara chose to tell the story of what happened to her last Friday night. Everyone in the group sat fully riveted to her tale of being held hostage by deranged crack dealers, fearing for her life. She remembered only one detail with perfect clarity; staring at the window in the room where she was held, waiting for headlights to illuminate the smoke-stained window blinds, indicating to her that she was going to be rescued. She was utterly convinced someone was coming to rescue her. That someone never showed up.
That someone was me.
Part of me wants to say I wish I'd never even answered the phone Friday evening, that I wish I hadn't gone to her house. A slightly smaller part of me wishes we hadn't fooled around for two hours in her bedroom, but an even bigger part wishes like hell I had refused when once we were finished she asked me if I'd come with her "to run an errand." I didn't know what the hell kind of errand would bring her to this shitty neighbourhood, but I had a pretty good idea.
Sometimes I hate when I'm right.
I spent the next two hours sitting in a room with no furniture aside from some flimsy folding chairs, watching the dregs of society traipse in and out of the house. Most left proudly holding onto their prize, while others left empty handed for various reasons. This was always unpleasant to witness, but in some strange way I was glad I was able to see this. Perhaps calling myself an addict is a misnomer. Though she sent me to an addictions recovery program, my therapist is fairly convinced that I have merely been self-medicating. The same could not be said for these folks. Perhaps at one time it could, but this was a stage I cannot even fathom reaching. While I can function perfectly well sober, albeit uncomfortably, these people probably couldn't even string that sentence together. I watched a guy completely obliterated, so thoroughly fucked up he couldn't even stand or remember what he had said two seconds prior. Not that anything he was saying was making any damn sense. A woman who would later introduce herself as his wife was becoming furious with him as, much like me, she seemed desperate to get out of this hell. She yelled at him, threatened him, and eventually left without him (thankfully she returned for him after a few minutes). He just didn't give a fuck.
Unfortunately this scenario would repeat itself again when I tried to get Kara to leave. I didn't want to be there, and I didn't want her to be there. I didn't want her touching that shit. I certainly didn't touch it. I've never had any interest in it. It's almost funny how people pick and choose their vices so carefully. But it doesn't matter because I sat right there and let her fucking do it. Maybe I'm a bad friend, who knows. For all my swagger, sometimes I am just convinced no one listens to me. But on the other hand I was afraid of these people and I didn't want to stir up any shit by forcibly dragging her from the house. I leaned over more than once and told her I was ready to leave. She didn't even hear me.
Then the unthinkable happened. Kara and one of the two men who remained in the house at this time went into the other room. I was left with the other guy, who then leaned over to me and said,
"So we all gon' sex now innit we?"
Like the others he made no fucking sense, but I caught the one word that set me off. I fucking lost it. Unfortunately, I have a habit of reacting explosively sometimes when caught off guard. For having an outburst there is probably no worse setting than a house full of fucked up crack fiends, but that didn't stop me.
"What the fuck! No, we're not going to do that. The fuck is wrong with you? We're leaving now."
Of course this set him off, and he proceeded to scream gibberish at me. All the yelling attracted the attention of the others, and Kara and the other guy came running back into the room.
"Christine! What the fuck are you doing? Shut up. Shut up. Shut your fucking mouth."
This further incensed me because she was trying to stifle the only voice of reason in the room. Finally she said to me, "Okay I'm going to sort this out. You wait here." They then disappeared into the back. I waited about ten minutes to cool down before going after them. I knocked on the door, and when no one answered I tried to open it. It was not locked but clearly barricaded somehow as I felt it hit something before someone rushed over to push it shut.
"What the fuck is going on in there? I'm ready to leave."
"Go away, Christine."
Now I was pissed all over again. I pounded on the door, told her I was not spending another minute in this godforsaken hellhole and she was to come take me back to my truck immediately. When she refused I tried to bust the door down with my shoulder, which only induced more yelling. After a threat to call the cops (I don't normally threaten such things, but I was desperate at this point) the door was opened, and I was presented with the most vile scene imaginable. This is the only way I know how to describe it:
The two guys were standing there half-naked. Thankfully their t-shirts were long enough to mostly cover them but that didn't change the fact they were still basically fucking naked. Kara, however, was completely nude, kneeling on the floor in the center of the room with her back to me and her head down. The two men are looking at me with the most evil expressions I've ever seen in my life. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a pistol on the bedside table.
I said...something. I don't know what. I just stood there feeling absolutely violated. Somewhere I worked in "come on, we're leaving" and grabbed Kara's shoulder. "Don't you fucking touch me," she barked, and slapped my hand. I grabbed her again, pulling her to her feet and she whirled around and slapped me across the face. "I said fucking leave." I was furious. Leaving was no longer an option, we were going to fucking leave. At this she just told me to go wait outside and she'd be right there.
I was not having this. As much as I didn't want to abandon her, even though she had hit me and condescended to me and, yes, she did deceive me by bringing me to this fucking hellhole in the first place, I had to get out of there. So I walked the ten or so blocks back to her house where my truck was parked. Because I was racked with guilt for leaving her there with those two psychopaths I tried calling her cell phone a few times. The first time she answered with "I will call you in a fucking minute, okay?" The next couple of times it went straight to a recorded message stating the number was not in service.
I didn't know what the hell to do, so I did the only smart thing and drove home, where I boiled myself in the shower with the hottest water I could stand. The stench of that godawful house had embedded itself in my hair and clothes. I then popped a couple sleeping pills, knowing I would never sleep tonight, and crawled into bed. I had nightmares about what I had seen. I feared what news might be waiting for me when I awoke.
I finally did fall asleep and woke around noon to the sound of my cell phone ringing. It was Kara. She was absolutely distraught and apologized profusely. She told me she didn't know what the fuck happened, that that had never happened to her before, etc. So apparently then I must be the catalyst that prompts you to binge your guts out and fuck strange men for crack. Super. That's going in this year's Christmas card. I really didn't want to see her but since I'd left some of my stuff in her car I had no choice. I agreed to meet her at the corner gas near her house since I needed a pack of cigarettes anyway.
When I got there she was in tears, jumped out of the car and threw her arms around me, sobbing on my shoulder, the whole bit. As I always do I exhausted myself trying to figure out what I should be feeling at that time. I settled for "being in absolute shock". I've been in some unspeakably scary situations before and I still don't even know where to begin placing this one on the scale. I told her that and that only made her cry harder. I asked if those guys had hurt her. She said they didn't even touch her, that they merely yelled at her for a few hours in between fits of extreme paranoia in which they were convinced someone was in the bathroom spying on them. But the kicker was this: she told me that the whole time this was going down she just sat there in that filthy little room, staring at the window, waiting to see headlights. She was convinced she would see them eventually.
"I kept myself sane by telling myself over and over, 'Christine's gonna come back for me. She's going to come save me. I know she will.'"
I didn't say a damn word. I just made her promise never to go back to that place. She promised she wouldn't. I made her promise to lay off the crack. She promised she would. I want to believe her.
Speaking of trust issues, I returned home that same day. This agreement was made with one caveat: if anything at all happened to me, no matter how bad, Kendra wants me to talk to her about it immediately. She assured me she is not checking up on me. It is just that the majority of our problems have arisen from the fact that I try to deal with my problems alone because I am too prideful, or too ashamed, to reach out to others. So even though I really didn't want to, I told her this story. Predictably she was shocked and saddened, until she asked what I had been doing at Kara's house prior to the debacle.
"What?! You fucked her? God, Christine."
To say I let my hormones take over would be a glib interpretation of this incident. At any rate, in hindsight it was clearly a bad decision to get caught up with someone who has the same issues as me, regardless of whether sex was involved or not. While it is comforting to talk to and be intimate with someone who experiences and understands firsthand the same difficulties that I do (and therefore is less likely to leave me), unfortunately this works better in theory than practice. Clearly what has happened here is we have effectively compounded each other's problems, due in no small part to the fact that while we do share similar problems, we also have very different ones as well. Friday's incident could very well be chalked up to my lack of knowledge on the nature of crack addicts.
There have been many impressive write-ups on this subject which I perused before writing this, and they all accurately depict what I saw that night. The sudden frightening mood swings, the dual personalities, ones that put those of someone who is bipolar to shame. I witnessed this with Kara that night. She swears she doesn't remember yelling at me, or hitting me, or anything she said to me. But abuse is abuse is abuse. And a bad friend is a bad friend, even if their bad behaviour isn't "their fault." She is not my friend. She is not someone I need in my life right now, and the shittiest part of all is I met her during the course of trying to improve my life. I didn't want to see her on Tuesday, but I had no choice. We did not speak of the incident. And I have to see her at tomorrow's group too. Nothing is easy.
I think for once in my life, I don't want to be someone's hero.