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Read an Excerpt
HIGHOn Love & Addiction
By April Joy Bowden Jeanie "RAINBOW" Bell
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 April Joy Bowden & Jeanie "RAINBOW" Bell
All right reserved.
Okay, deep breath. Writing this book has kept me filled with so many emotions. I asked myself if I was ready to disclose so much of my personal life not only to my friends and family but to people I worked with and worshipped with. Not to mention, the entire world. The answer was, probably not. But I was so passionate about this project. Every word written was a weight off of my shoulders. It allowed me to soften some of my heart that I had allowed to harden. It allowed me to let people in to a place in my heart that I had previously not allowed anyone to fill. With each segment of my life that I forced myself to relive, I felt empowered.
I have never met anyone who I felt could relate to my situation. I have sat in enough NA meetings where there were no vacant seats to know that somewhere there was someone else who felt my pain and shared a similar story. And maybe, just maybe, they have felt ashamed to talk about it. I was, until now.
It is my desire that this book will touch someone. Maybe an addict will read it during a sober time and realize the pain they are causing a loved one. Maybe it will cause them to decide that the last time they got high was the last time. Maybe it will touch someone in recovery so much that they never relapse. And hopefully it will allow someone who loves an addict to realize that they are not alone. And it's okay to reach deep within and do what needs to be done upon the realization that they've had enough.
Thank you, Jeanie, for allowing me to share your story, my story, our story.
In 1997, I purchased my first home in Petersburg, Virginia. It was a modest two-bedroom two bath house, but it was mine. I liked to get high, but I liked nice things too. My girlfriend and I had two nice cars parked outside the house. We nicely furnished the inside of the house. Not too long after we moved in, she realized that marijuana was not the only drug I used. She was disappointed. I guess she didn't go running because she probably felt stuck. We were already committed to one another, emotionally and financially. So, she stayed. As time went by, we became more and more distant. Eventually, we ended up sleeping in separate rooms. She didn't want to help me because she said that my drug addiction was my problem and that I needed to find the means and a way to help myself. By the winter of 1999, I had practically moved out. I spent more and more time with new friends and a new love interest about thirty miles from home. I was having a great time. The following spring, another relationship came to an end. I met the woman that would become the love of my life at a house party given by an acquaintance. Little did I know that this relationship would lead to one of the biggest turning points of my life.
I was twenty-eight when our eyes met across the dance floor. She wasn't my type, or so I thought. Our usual places were on opposite sides of the club. That is, until one day chance put us in the intimate setting of a gathering at someone's house. My best friend had invited me to the party. I didn't want to go. I had returned only a few hours earlier from a week in New Jersey. Everyone was having a nice time at the party. In the front of the house, people were playing cards and drinking. And in the back of the house, people were smoking marijuana. Although I had previous reservations about going, I was glad I had gone. Our first conversation was very casual. In fact, her best friend was doing most of the talking. At the wee hours in the morning, when we were ready to leave, my best friend and I received escorts to our car. The following night, almost everyone from the party ended up at our usual hangout. We all crowded around a couple of tables, laughing, drinking, and dancing the night away. At 2:00 a.m., when the club closed, no one was ready to go home, so we decided to go to a private club a few miles away that closed at six. Somehow, I was convinced to ride to the other club with her. The group continued the same antics at the private club. At 6:00 a.m., most drove home. I had to go get my car from the first club. When we arrived next to my car, we sat listening to music; neither of us wanting the night to end. She asked for a kiss. I said "No. I don't know you like that." She said, "It's just a kiss." And after about ten more minutes of small talk, I gave in. Jeanie and I shared our first awkward kiss in the parking lot just before sunrise.
We spent hours on the phone. I asked all the preliminary questions I knew to ask from previous relationships. I asked her age. She was ten years my senior. No problem. She didn't look her age. I asked her what type of work she did. She was a cook at an upscale restaurant. Fantastic, I liked to eat. I asked her where she lived. She told me she shared a house with an ex. What could I say to that? My ex and I still shared a residence. I didn't need to ask if she smoked or drank. I had seen her do both at the club.
A week or so after we began our nightly phone conversations, I was pleasantly surprised with a visit at my job. She asked what my plans were for the evening. When I told her I had no plans, she asked if she could come over to cook dinner for me. This was a first. Excited, I accepted the invitation. Knowing the answers to my preliminary dating questions, I figured she was safe. The company, conversation, and dinner were all great. The following weekend, we went separately to the club, but the distance across the dance floor had been closed ... forever.
Preliminary questions didn't stop after the dinner. I wanted to know how many sex partners she had been with. Her number was low. In fact, I was blown away to find out that she didn't lose her virginity until she was twenty-one. I asked about the ex who still lived in the house. She assured me that it was over and that they slept in separate bedrooms. I asked if she used drugs. She said yes. On occasion she smoked marijuana. I thought it strange that a woman almost forty still smoked weed. My friends smoked in college. But most quit upon graduation or upon obtaining full-time employment.
A few months into our courtship, I took her to a family function. My older sister looked at her strange. My younger sister pulled me to the side and asked if I was dating a girl. (I wasn't out to my family yet.) And my mom looked at me strange and said, "I hope you're not using drugs."
I've always thought I was a good judge of character. As a child it had been drilled into my head to be careful of the company I kept. I guess there're some things about a person that he or she won't tell you about when you meet.
The woman I was falling for possessed almost all of the qualities I thought I wanted in a mate. She had a good job, owned a home, drove a nice car, had a good upbringing, kept a neat appearance, and treated me like a queen. She also possessed a quality I could have lived without. She had a quality that took me over a year to find out about. She was a drug addict.
Many people date and fall in love with addicts. Some are addicts themselves. Some realize there is a drug problem and immediately end the relationship. This probably would have been the case with me if I had known earlier, before I had fallen head over heels in love. Some people, like me, find out months and years later and can't seem to find a way out. Most people who have an addict in their life have a story to tell. This one is mine.
Soon after we started dating and things began to get serious, I told my ex that he had to move. It wasn't long before we were practically shacking up. Jeanie's car was giving her trouble, so she stayed with me during the week so she could get back and forth to work. Unless we had made plans for the weekend, she would get a ride to her house on Friday evening. I could not have been happier. I was dating the person of my dreams.
We did everything together. We went out dancing, we prepared meals together, we hung out with other couples, and we went to the park. She met my family, and I met her family. Life was great!
It's amazing the things you learn about a person when you cohabitate. I would be in one room while she was in another and overhear her phone conversations. I had gotten the feeling that she wasn't being totally honest with me and had things to hide. One day, I heard her tell her ex she had been staying with a co-worker so she could get to work since her car was down.
At this point, she had not yet invited me to her house. After overhearing that conversation, I decided it was time I found out for myself if the girl was actually an ex. I knew that I had to get into her house, invited or not. One Sunday morning, I decided that day would be the day. I had gone on the computer to print directions to the address I had seen on her driver's license. I worked my five-hour shift, and then I was on my way.
I had taken extra clothes to work because I figured if I found that the girl wasn't really an ex, I needed to look good. I had on a fitted tank top with my good bra and a skirt so short it raised eyebrows of my friends as I left work. When I arrived, the house looked exactly as she had described. The two cars I had seen her drive were both in the driveway. I took a deep breath as I prepared to ring the doorbell. I needed a pep talk from my best friend before getting out of the car, so I called from my cell phone. When I rang the bell, no one answered. This pissed me off because I knew someone was there. I walked back to my car but then decided I hadn't driven this far and didn't look this good for no one to see me. I rang the bell again, and a dark-skinned girl came to the door. I asked her if Jeanie was home. She said yes. Moments later, Jeanie appeared. She looked me up and down. I assumed she liked what she saw. I also assumed she was wondering why I was there. I had my "private eye" on. I looked around the living room. It didn't look lived in. I did notice a picture on a table. The two of them were in the picture with another girl. It didn't look romantic, so I figured it was nothing to worry about. Jeanie invited me to her room. I noticed a small den on the right, a bathroom on the left, and a bedroom with the door half open on the right. The girl who opened the door was sitting on the bed. Jeanie and I went into the bedroom on the left. I gave the room a good look over. Everything in the room looked like it belonged to Jeanie. When I realized there was a bathroom in Jeanie's room, I decided I had to go. I really only wanted to see how many sets of washcloths and towels were in there. Only one set. She had passed my visual home inspection.
I remember sitting in church as a teenager. One Sunday, the pastor said, "You've never been hurt until you've been in love." For years, I held his voice in my head saying these words. Throughout my relationships and breakups, I could agree with that statement any time my heart was broken. I never knew that I would be able to testify just how right the pastor was. That is, until I realized I was in love with an addict.
Our relationship, like any other, had its ups and downs. I started to see more downs when her visits went from every day to very sporadic. When my phone calls began to go unanswered and unreturned, I knew that something just wasn't right. On one visit, I overheard her tell someone, "This is 240." The person on the other end spoke for a minute. Then I heard her say, "I'm on my way." When I asked her where she was going, she said she would be back in an hour. Well, an hour turned into two days. When she returned she gave an excuse about her whereabouts that I didn't believe. I wasn't exactly sure what to think. So I let it go as a one-time thing.
One day she had gone to her house to see that her ex had taken most of her belongings and moved out. Her ex had left a letter stating that she was tired of the excuses, tired of the games, and tired of the lies that went along with the addiction. She said that it was too much, and she hoped that one day Jeanie would get herself together. At the end of the letter she told Jeanie to "have a nice life." She was very upset by this action. I was mad that she was mad. I asked her if she had planned for the girl to live there forever. And if she thought it would be okay with me to never spend any time at her house. She said no. I guess she figured she needed to go be sad about it to someone else. She dropped the subject. Since her house was empty now, she figured she would need to spend more time there herself. This meant she would spend less time at my house.
A few weeks later, I called her at work. The person who answered the phone said that she was not there. This struck me as odd because she never missed work. I began to call her on her cell phone about every twenty minutes. I got no answer. After a few hours, either her battery died, or she was tired of hearing it ring and turned it off. The calls were going straight to voice mail.
I went from being worried, to upset, to angry, to pissed the hell off all in a matter of moments. Where could she be? I called her best friend, and she hadn't heard from her. After hours of no contact and no response, I became a person I never wanted to be. I became a snoop. I tried to break into her voice mail. Third time's a charm. I figured it out. There were messages from her job, messages from me, a message from her best friend, and a message from a guy telling "240" to meet him. My initial instinct told me that she was sneaking behind my back with a man. If there is an emotion past furious, that's where I was. Two more days went by. She still hadn't been to work. I still hadn't seen her. And my messages left on her voice mail went unreturned.
The scenario happened quite a few times over the next few months. In between episodes, I was stood up on Valentine's, upset for Thanksgiving, and disappointed for Christmas.
Each time she disappeared, I checked her voice mail, and each time there was a message stranger than the last. For a long time, I was in denial after I figured it wasn't a man she was sneaking out to BE with. It was a man she was sneaking out to buy drugs from.
Christmas came, and I was so excited. I had told everyone that I wasn't buying gifts this year. I opted to be a gift. I purchased a round-trip ticket to Nevada to surprise my dad. He was so excited when he saw me. Everything was going perfect. I was having a ball. That is, until I went three days without hearing from Jeanie. I got on the phone to buy a new ticket so that I could return home a week sooner than I planned. I was mad at myself for allowing her mess to cut my trip short. I was mad when I got on the plane and had the worst seat. I was right next to the bathroom in a chair that didn't recline. I called Jeanie's best friend to pick me up from the airport. I was too ashamed to ask any of my own friends for a ride. I knew I didn't want to answer questions about why I was home so soon.
When I got home, I unloaded the car. I called her phone and got no answer. After the long flight I needed some rest. As soon as my nap was over, I began playing super sleuth. I knew the code to her voice mail, so I checked all the messages. I went to her house to make sure she wasn't there. My detective work didn't stop at her voice mail. I was partially ashamed of myself for snooping, but I went through every bag, every drawer, and every piece of paper in the house. I wanted answers, and I wasn't going to wait for her to resurface to get them. I found old pay stubs, past due bills, and confirmation that I was not the only person hurt by her addiction. I found a letter from an ex-girlfriend. In the letter she said that she was tired of the games, tired of the excuses, and tired of the lies. She said that her addiction was too much and that she hoped that one day she would get herself together. Jeanie tried very hard to keep her house and my house separate. She had never told the ex about me. Jeanie told me she didn't want to hurt her. I insisted that the ex wasn't stupid enough to think she wasn't seeing someone. I was right. She made a reference to me in the letter. "I hope you don't put your new girlfriend through the same shit with your drug use." After a few days, she showed up at my house surprised that I was there. Her head was hung low, and she was so busted.
Excerpted from HIGH by April Joy Bowden Jeanie "RAINBOW" Bell Copyright © 2010 by April Joy Bowden & Jeanie "RAINBOW" Bell. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I read this book I wasn't at all sure what to expect. The story was not anything that could say I knew or understood. I found it to be one filled with Love, Pain, Tears and Joy! These two woman have overcome something that a lot of others have not, and I have to say it made me want to know more about what happened in their lives after the book ended. This book was a personal look into the lives of those affected by addiction.
I definitely found this book difficult to put down. The storyline takes you into the world of a person addicted to drugs and the ones that love the addict. Any reader will be intrigued while reading this book knowing that 2 people have allowed us, the reader, to see what goes on when a person has a chemical addiction and the affect it has on those that love the addicted. Like most addicts, Jeanie thought that she was hiding her drug use from April. As Jeanie's use escalated, April became torn between her love for her and the reality of their situation. Missing money, lies, and empty promises soon gave way to April leaving. A tragedy brought the two back together. Along with Jeanie's struggle to stay "clean and sober" through rehabilitation, the two developed a unique way of handling their problem. I am sure anyone reading their story will give their full attention to it. I highly recommend it. Zandra Barnes AAMBC Reviewer