Tuesday, January 29

In Deference to Others: Fantasy and Reality Collide

It was 2 a.m. when I heard the first slamming door. A wild thrashing of a door more-like. Someone, somewhere in the house was having trouble completely closing their room, so instead of leaving it open a crack, they were smashing the solid-oak construction into the already battered frame. I awoke with a groan, rolled over in bed, stared up at my ceiling and said one word:


It was Monday night. I had to be awake for work in four and-a-half hours. Thoughts of what I would do to our third roommate and his boyfriend swam through my sleep-slowed mind. Images of flying fists, teeth being knocked loose, blood spattering against beige-painted walls. I reached lazily for my cell phone, arm flopping over the edge of the bed to grab it, and sent a text message to my best friend down the hall.

"Either kill them, make them leave, or shut them up... NOW"

I proceeded to roll over, and forget the entire event. Figuring the people who didn't have to wake themselves up in a few hours could handle sorting out their situation. Until, that is, when everyone woke up Tuesday. Waking usually occurring sometime between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. for the under-employed fools who inhabit the other two rooms down the hall from mine.

Sitting at my desk at work, my cellphone began to ding incessently... the distinct singular doorbell tone I use for text messages indicating someone on the other end was sending quite a mouthful. I flipped it open to find a nearly-full inbox, my best-friend having sent a quick summary of what had happened as I drifted in and out of conciousness after the first commotion the night before. Apparently our third roommate had gone out with his boyfriend (manager at an underwhelming bar/grill in downtown Cleveland) after work, gotten incredibly drunk, taken an indeterminant amount of cocaine, returned to our house, drank half a case of my homebrewed beer, trashed our kitchen making "breakfast" and then proceeded to strip down to their underwear and toss clothes over the entire first-floor. The door-slamming had apparently occured near the end of this distressing scene, long after my best friend had become embroiled in an emotionally charged discussion with the two late-arrivals over their disregard for the sleeping housemates.

What soon followed was another text message, this one from our third roommate in response to a text I had sent at 7 a.m. as I was getting ready for work. Mine read:

"I'm not interested in cleaning up after you OR your boyfriend. The only time I get to enjoy the house is before 7am, and after 6pm. I would appreciate if it was left as spotless by all as it is by myself. Also, please don't slam your door in the middle of the night, it woke me up."

His read:

"Do you want me to move out of the house?"

My reply:

"We'll talk about last night later, John just told me what went down."

Apparently my best friend had walked into all-out war between the two Monday-night party monsters. He asked them what was happening, and launched a heated fight over whatever it is that coked-out flamers take issue with at 2 a.m. on a Monday.

The two of us exchanged texts the rest of the work day. Something needed to be done immediately or our house of dreams would topple. The promises we had all made to each other, to be civilized, clean, respectful, drug-free, and driven were not holding. Obviously there was no accountability, no one taking score or even taking notice of what was being allowed to transpire.

I steeled myself for change once again, ran a quick budget in my head to make sure I could swing at least a few months rent on my own, and did the only thing I knew to do - I wrote a letter. My letter had to contain everything I had hoped to come out of our new home, and it must contain every observation I had made since moving in. The letter had to be honest, heartfelt in a way I had yet to ever truly express, and stern in the consequences of dismissal. Here is what I hand-delivered that evening:

You know so much about the world, and so much about people that I am always amazed at the varied conversations we can have. The fact that you are so willing to learn, and willing to give of yourself to others puts you far ahead of the majority of human beings I have ever met, anywhere in the entire world. Getting to know you in fits-and-spurts over the past year (since that crazy night you were next to me on the barstool at the Hawk) has really been awesome. You’re unlike anyone I’ve ever known, completely unique in the world. And that’s why I need you to take everything I’m about to say in this letter with the full knowledge that I’ve committed to making our home a place that all of us can be completely comfortable in, so we can live our lives to the fullest and grow beyond where we are starting from now.

You have a serious problem with drugs and alcohol, a problem that adversely affects every situation and relationship (business, family and otherwise) in your life right now. Your situation is not made any easier by the fact that you also have AADD (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder) which I’ve taken some time today to read a bit about. Your behavior towards myself and John, the two people who’ve opened their lives to you with the hope that all three of us can better ourselves and make it further in the world together, has been flaky, inconsistent and at times downright disrespectful. Your actions and reactions with your boyfriend, your ex-wife and your son are colored by these same inconsistencies – the consequences of which are manifested in the arguments, the ill-will and, if the pattern continues, in the future feelings of your son.

John and I had a conversation the other day, and he slipped and told me he had done coke over the weekend… I asked him who he’d done it with and was surprised to hear it was you and your boyfriend. I was even more surprised that you were doing it in our driveway. Alas, I was not surprised that you had lied to me about doing it.

And you have lied, several times, to me, to John and to yourself. This is what troubles me most. Because you obviously feel as if you must hide your behavior, which is beyond the point of mere partying, it’s beyond even the openness of someone who maintains an addiction because they think they need it to have energy or fun times. The lying and the hiding mean that you are ashamed of what you’ve done and what you are doing.

I am ashamed that I haven’t spoken up sooner, that I may have allowed you to drift without letting you know that I care and that I’ve fought my own battles with drugs and alcohol… beyond the ones you’ve been witness to. I’m ashamed that I’ve presented a stern, seemingly unyielding face to you and to our house rules. I’m most ashamed though, that I’ve let myself be lied to, promised to, convinced even, that you are invested in our house, the relationship you and I share, the values I’m seeking to uphold and the healthy lifestyle I’ve been building for myself. I don’t think you understand the weight of my convictions and commitments to John, and my own self. It’s impossible for you to know of the years of recovery from my demons- psychological, substance & self-imposed. But I cannot, and will not, travel down any path that puts at risk my own wellness, the lives of my friends and the company they keep.

I thrive on consistency and stability, of knowing things will be the way I need them to be – I face nearly insurmountable anxiety every single day of my life over even the most trivial details – but I’ve learned methods to control my mental state and make commitments that stand the weathering of time and all the tests that come along with it. And in order for you to be a part of my life, and a part of John’s, I need nothing less than an absolute commitment from you to end your drug usage, forever, and learn to control your drinking.

You have far too much to lose, a beautiful son who needs you all-day, every-day to be his Dad… a business that has shown immense success before, in which people rave of your talents and call you the best… and most importantly a future where you can be who you are, and who you’ve always been – a strong, driven and free individual, willing to truly invest in the things this life has to offer that are worth it. You are worth it, and I’m willing to work just as hard as I have with- and for- John, as for you, to make sure you can once again reach the heights of all you can achieve.

But I cannot accept anything but the absolute truth from you, nothing but a firm commitment, an investment in seeking treatment for your ADD and any of the other issues, emotional or otherwise, that a professional would be equipped to help you understand. You are strong enough to survive anything, I believe in you, and I want to stand by your side in building yourself a new success story. But I’m not willing to watch you flounder, cannot stand idly by while you risk your health, both mental and physical, and risk the future you have with your amazing son.

I need to know, by tomorrow (Wednesday 1/16) morning whether you are prepared to accept the responsibility for the things that you say and do, whether you are prepared to try a new course, one free of the distortions caused by drugs, and to step into a future where tomorrow may be unknown, but the people by your side are guaranteed. That’s what I offered to John, and I make the same deal to you. I want our house to be full of the love that it has shown so many amazing glimpses of… of the passion for creativity and light that has been evidenced. But I’m afraid it will never reach those goals if all of us are not working together, fully invested.

If you cannot offer me what I ask of you, we will need to reevaluate our living situation. I want you to know that I send this letter in complete confidence and confidentiality. I’ve reserved only one copy, and I’ve addressed it to your ex-wife. If the situation cannot be rectified I wish only her to know the full truth of what you inspired within me, and what you chose to walk away from. I dearly hope I do not have to send it.


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