One Text Is Too Many and a Thousand Are Never Enough
I use people like drugs.
Illustrations by Joel Benjamin
I'm trying to quit getting high on people. It's really fucking hard. I'm a romantic and an addict. I crave eros, fantasy, and intrigue. I'm wired for longing. But I keep getting really sick. Longing-sick.
When you keep getting sick, you start to get tired of it. Eventually, you might be like: This isn't working. I'm done.I want to be OK. But it's taking me a lot of failed attempts to make any progress.
Also, getting clean off of people isn't the same as getting sober off of alcohol and drugs. As an alcoholic, there are very clear boundaries as to what I don't do. I can't text alcohol. Dealers don't send nudes. What's more, alcohol and drugs are pervasive in America, but people are even more pervasive. People are everywhere. Hot people. You can abstain from alcohol and drugs. You can't abstain from people.
I think everyone is entitled to love, even those of us seeking to quit getting high on people. But this column isn't about love. This is about using people as drugs. It took me a while, but I'm beginning to get the difference. Now, when I become romantically obsessed with a person without really knowing them (or ever having met them) that signals danger for me. It's a red alert. If I feel those first fantastical pangs, I disengage.
It's sad to disengage. It's not poetic or musical. It's not what art tells me is valuable (at least the art I like). I want love at first sight to be real. But I fall in love at first sight every day. Also, love at first sext. There will never be enough sexts to sate my longing. The higher I get, the worse the comedown is.
Recently I blocked the most intense drug-people in my phone. It's been hard to do this, especially with one particular drug-person who always treated me with kindness and respect.
With this drug-person, there was genuine love there. I would say we were both in love but also got fucked up on each other. So I suffered a lot, in spite of the love, because you can't make a drug-person not be a drug-person no matter how wonderful they are. What fed the drugginess was that distance, and other factors, assured we would never be able to really be together. Neither of us were really available. So we were in a constant state of longing—of almost touching—like Keats's Ode On a Grecian Urn but with iPhones.
The truth is, distance and unavailability—flecked with shortlived, gorgeous, IRL binges—were what made the drug-person so intoxicating. I wanted more of the drug-person than could ever be available. When I didn't get a text, I was, as junkies say, sick. When I received a text it made me well. But it only made me well until the next text I sent. Then I was waiting for him. I was sick again.
If I could be eternally and omnipotently texted, I might not have had to quit the drug-person. But no one can text you infinitely. So every day became a cycle of getting high and getting well. The only solution, as I saw it, was to quit the drug-person entirely.
I tried quitting the drug-person multiple times. But every time, I kept going back for one more taste. If I didn't go back for more, the drug-person would text me. And when the drug-person texted me I had to text back. I didn't want to "hurt him."
Was I really afraid of hurting him? I don't know. Maybe I was afraid of what he would think of me if I ignored him, that I was a "bitch" and not wonderful. Maybe I was just afraid of cutting off my supply.
Eventually, the pain of waiting for texts from the drug-person outweighed the highs. I said my final goodbye. I blocked him on my phone.
I then went through a period of grieving much deeper than I ever went through in quitting the drug-person before. I cried about deaths that happened 15 years ago. I cried about having to grow up. (FYI: It's probably never really about the person you think you're obsessed with.It's about old pain.)
A few weeks ago, I found myself doing really well, better than all of the times I've quit him before. When I dreamt of him, the dreams were no longer full of lust and ache. Even in my dreams I knew that we weren't right for each other. I dreamt that I flew over his apartment building in a helicopter. The building looked beautiful and he called to me to come in through the roof. But I didn't go. It's as if even my subconscious version of him was ruined. I felt glad it was ruined. I felt strong and free.
Then, the drug-person got in touch again, twice. Perhaps he sensed that I had healed and he didn't want to be forgotten. Perhaps he didn't want me to feel like I'd been forgotten. No one wants to be forgotten.
First he commented on one of my FB posts. In the past, whenever he used to do this it would get me high. But this time, when I saw the comment I was like fuck. I felt doom. Should I "like" it? If I didn't "like" it I would appear coldhearted. But if I liked it, I'd be breaking my rule of no contact and also potentially encouraging him to contact me again. I didn't "like" it. I felt good.
A few days later, he sent me a series of messages on FB. I didn't know what to do, so I decided that I would just ignore the messages and let them sit there forever.
This was supposed to be a column about not checking the messages. But I am a human being, so obviously that didn't work out.
I didn't check the messages for two days. Then, I went down the rabbit hole of my compulsion into a gorgeous, grammatically-hellacious cascade of his drunken messages.
He said: its incribly hard not to harass you i love you still obsivously
He said: i still visit your shit to sniff and i love the semlaall...in the romandic way of the beauy adnd the best...
He said: god i already regret this communication...howefver i must say that i huhhhh...the longer the type the lobgner i realize my mistake...i love u so much...i love ur life...i am crying...you are th e best human....im sorry im in marrakech....i am very drunk in morroccoan country...
It was then I realized that he too is probably an addict of some sort. Anyone who can meet my level of intensity can't be totally normal.
He said: ugh,,, i have failed u my queen. oh i only mean to communicate that u are the best one and anything else i wish i would be vaporized for...no need to respond please...u are the only 1
Then he said: Please ignore me, I just want to leave you alone. Really sorry :/
This was supposed to be a column about how I ignored him. But I am a human being, so obviously that didn't work out.
I said: please do not throw words like this at me drunk, because i am a very sensitive human being with real feelings and am not an object (which is hypocritical because i guess i treated you like an object in some ways)
I said: it is very easy to tell me you love me when it is over and you are thousands of miles away in a foreign country
I said: could you love me at your front door?
I said: i don't think you could.
I didn't think he could. And even if he said he could it wouldn't mean he could. It wouldn't mean I could. But of course I wanted him to say he could, whether or not either of us could.
He said: i don't know what i could do which is probably a bad sign but i do miss you.
I told him never to contact me again in any form.
Then there was a moment's pause as I thought about what I had done. Never again in any form. I wasn't just flushing one baggie of the drug, I was extinguishing it from my existence.
I said: lol sorry it had to end like this
I said: say goodbye to me please lol
I don't know why I kept saying lol. I was crying.
He said: I'm dead now forever you can block me
He said: I thought I was better than drink idiocy but turns out I'm a piece of shit. oh fuck it shut up myself. bye
It was the least satisfying ending ever. Now I want to contact him and be like just one more thing! I want to give it the perfect ending. But there will never be a perfect ending. The perfect ending is a romantic ending and thus is not an ending. The perfect ending will only feed the compulsion. So I am keeping the imperfect ending and pretending it is perfect.
But now I am sick again. I have holes in my brain where I want to hide from life. The holes are filled with voices that tell me we were nirvana, over and over. The voices seem like truth to me, because I am an addict and I want being high to be the truth. I don't know if I will ever fill the holes. But I am trying really hard not to enter them again.
So Sad Today is a never-ending existential crisis played out in 140 characters or less. Its anonymous author has struggled with consciousness since long before the creation of the Twitter feed in 2012, and has finally decided the time has come to project her anxieties on a larger screen, in the form of a biweekly column on this website.