• Katie Marie Strong

We're All Alone Together.

Updated: Sep 13, 2019

By Brittany Kish

Aug. 6th, 2019//by Brittany Kish//Photo by JLW Documentary//

You know what wasn’t in my “privileged white female from suburbia” life plan… seeing my longest childhood friend and first love shoot opiates into his arm for the first time. Watching him fall into a deep addiction and spending two years in an extremely toxic relationship. And you know what else, it happened anyway.

Now I need you to understand this part before you continue. THERE IS NO JUDGMENT HERE! If you’re about to have an opinion other than the open mindedness to learn from hardship, I need you to stop now. This is a story and one that isn’t entirely mine. This is my experience and the lessons I learned from loving someone through addiction. These are my takeaways after choosing to spend too much time in an extremely unhealthy relationship. I believe that we all have our vices and drug addiction and codependency are easy ones to pick on, especially from the outside. None of this makes anyone a bad person and it sure as hell doesn’t define who we truly are. Love is the moral of the story so let’s lead with it.

I was 18 and every bit of naive that comes with youth, first loves and experimenting with drugs. He asked me to be there the first time, to watch as another person tied a tourniquet around his arm and well... even then I understood that once someone made the decision to do something like that, disapproval wasn’t going to change their mind. So I said yes. I sat in the backseat of a car in front of his parents' house and I watched. I suppose it was the only way I felt like I could support him at the time. I guess I trusted his judgment and his strength to think it wouldn’t turn into a problem or maybe I was just too stoned to understand what in the fuck was actually going on. I should have left then, but instead that was just the beginning.

What followed seems so unreal now that I am looking back. I have seen people win this fight, lose this fight, and continue to fight. And I feel so deeply for every single one of them. Just like them, I became someone entirely different from the person I truly am.

I have been grabbed by the throat during arguments. I have hit someone over the head with a hard object. I have broken countless things in rage... including my own body from tripping while running after someone on the street screaming at them. That's not truly me, but I have been that person. I was addicted to the relationship and hiding it became easy. Just as hiding a drug addiction because easy for him.

I was gaslighted time and time again to think that I was “the crazy one” for being upset after incidents like finding used needles in my car and parents basement. I believed the constant lie of “I’m not high” even though I sat next to him as he nodded in and out of consciousness at family functions. I was almost killed more than once because he nodded out at the wheel while driving and still got into vehicles with him. He told me once that he forgot almost an entire week. The same week he took me home and texted me right after asking where I went because he didn't remember driving me there. It was the same week I found him passed out between his legs. It took me minutes to wake him, I was sure that he had OD’d and the truth is I was prepared for that outcome. He had the luxury of forgetting all of this. But don't worry, my memory of it is strong enough for the both of us.

The worst part was the pain of witnessing someone I love and someone who I was was so deeply tied to steal, lie, disappear and suffer through something that no one had any control over. The delusion of drug addiction is one of the most intense things I have ever seen and experienced. He truly believed he was in control and that none of this was a problem. It makes me so sure that addiction isn't anyones fault. It is a sickness that runs so deep and roots so firm in trauma that you cannot blame anyone for it.

To know that a part of me chose to let these things happen in my life can be gut wrenching. I chose to stay, to be abused and to abuse because of my own codependency. I was more afraid to believe myself, trust myself, stand up for myself and love myself than I was of him or what was happening. He didn't do any of this to me, I did it to myself all while he was dealing with his own demons. We both had addictions, they just looked really different.

One thing I know for sure is that there is no room in this life for guilt or shame if we want to grow. These emotions are absolutely evil and I am still shedding layers upon layers of them. Knowing that makes me the strong badass woman I am. Remembering that these things don’t define me and how I handle them keeps me moving forward. So no matter what you’ve been through, fuck shame and fuck the guilt. You are too god damn good for it.Also love is actually blind. When you’re more invested in a relationship over invested in your own well being, you will indeed convince yourself that the situation your in is normal when IT’S NOT! Healthy relationships are a very real thing so don’t let your codependency convince you otherwise. You don’t need anyone, even if you love them and they love you, it’s not always enough. Relationships may take work sometimes, but not constantly over and over and over again. It should be good (and I mean really fucking good) 80% of the time, so check yourself. I didn’t really understand this one until I found it and you best bet I will never forget it.

It’s not your job to fix people. Helping others doesn’t mean that you have to be in the trenches with them. More often than not helping others means helping yourself and holding space for others in pain. In this case it meant getting the fuck out of a bad situation and letting someone figure it out on their own. As they say on the airplanes “put on your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others”. If we don’t do this then no one stands a chance.

Mainly what I want to share is that shit happens and it’s okay. It doesn’t matter what side of the story you’re on, this is true for everyone. Nothing lasts forever and even the hardest lessons are worth it in the end. I have so much gratitude for the worst parts of my life because the best parts have always followed. 

Be patient, trust yourself, and love yourself. You’re much too important to let your past decide your future. What you’re going through is something others are going through in some form, which means we all get an incredible opportunity to help each other. I would not be where I am without this story and I hope that sharing this story does some good. The duality of life if so incredibly beautiful and this is just me choosing to see that beauty and share it.




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