Wednesday, April 17, 2019
What It Was - Chapter 14
I ran my fingers over the side of Jordan’s face.
‘’Jordan, you don’t have to apologize.”
He seemed anxious, but tried to explain, “I thought I’d have some more time. I don’t know why it’s already…” He stopped talking and took some quick breaths.
“What do you mean?”
Jordan’s eyes were nervous, “Like more time before my next…my next hit.”
He shivered and I touched his arm. His skin felt cool as I let my finger run over his arm.
“Do you need to do it now?”
He shrugged his shoulders, “I’ll try to wait.”
I really wanted to get the comforter over him to keep him warm. We were laying on top of it though and Jordan would have to move so I could pull it out from under him.
“Do you want to get under the blanket?”
He wrapped his arms around himself and looked at me from behind his bangs, “I should probably put my jeans back on.”
“Yeah, of course if you want to.”
I grabbed the jeans from where I had put them on the bed and handed them to him. I watched as he pulled his left leg up with his hands and bent it at the knee. He did the same with his right leg and eventually both his legs were basically laying crisscross in front of him. He was quietly tending to this task and I could clearly see he was struggling. I could also see that he was frustrated how his legs didn’t fully cooperate with what he needed them to do. Somewhat hunched over, taking gasping breaths, he roughly pulled his jeans over his trembling feet and legs. I was thinking about offering him help but didn’t. Despite obviously not feeling well, Jordan seemed to have it under control. He leaned back and zipped and buttoned up the fly of his jeans.
As I had watched him handle his feet and his legs, I grasped so much again the reality of the paraplegia. His limbs didn’t have any life, he had to move them around with his hands, position them the way he needed them to, so he could slide his jeans over them. He hadn’t looked at me but had stayed focused on the task. The whole time I noticed his hands were shaking and he seemingly had been rushing to get his jeans back on.
I grabbed his socks and just as he was going to take them from me, I offered, “I can put them on your feet.”
I felt that it would be easier for me to do this, because I saw very clearly that Jordan was shaking a lot and had to hold himself there in the sitting position. He nodded in agreement. I moved my hand to his left leg and gently pulled it straight. His naked foot was twitching and when I slipped his sock over it, I felt it was cold.
“Your feet are ice cold.”
Jordan only nodded, he had his arms wrapped around himself and was leaning on the head board, watching me slip his other sock over his right foot.
I wanted to warm his feet but asked him, “Do you want your braces?”
He shook his head and mumbled, “I don’t need them right now.”
I nodded and while Jordan moved his legs over the side of the bed, I slipped into my joggers and tank top. I had no idea what Jordan was going to do.
My knee scooter was still in the bathroom since earlier Jordan had had me on his lap when we had rolled into the bedroom. The crutches I hadn’t even used yet were in the living room.
As Jordan sat there on the edge of the bed and pulled his wheelchair closer, I reminded him softly, “My scooter is still in the bathroom.”
Jordan looked around to me and replied, “I can get it for you.”
Just then a strong tremor shook his body and he held himself right there on the edge of the bed with his hands by his sides, his back hunched over, and breathing through this, hissing over his lips, “Fuck!”
His legs lay scrambled in front of him. I crawled over to him and he flinched when I softly kissed his shoulder. His skin was cold and damp.
Letting my hand run over his shoulder I stated, “Your body is cold.”
He remarked factually, “My temperature is always whacked out. It fluctuates a lot.”
Even though Jordan was talking to me, I felt that he was not completely present. His body kept trembling and shaking and he was cold to the touch. I scooted myself next to him.
His dark eyes moved into my direction but he was unfocused.
I stated, “I know that you’re not okay right now.”
Jordan’s eyes jumped over my face, I sensed that he thought about his answer.
He replied softly, “I just thought my body would be okay a bit longer.”
I sighed and asked, “But you already need it?”
His eyes were sad, “Soon.”
I didn’t really know what to say but I could sense that Jordan was pre occupied with his situation. I had hoped I would be able to cuddle and lay with him after we had become so close. Jordan’s body though was obviously in an uproar and kept shaking and shivering, craving a certain kind of release.
He was taking quick gasping breaths, swallowed a few times and closed his eyes. He apparently tried to control his breathing but when he looked at me again, his eyes were nervous. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out as a strong tremor shot through him, causing him to tense up for a moment.
Without looking at me he said, “I need to get into my chair.”
Not really thinking about it or planning a smooth transfer, he pushed off the bed and basically fell over onto his wheelchair seat. I was worried for a moment but he caught himself and pushed up to get a sturdy position on the seat.
Not very enthusiastic with both hands under his right knee Jordan lifted his leg and placed his foot onto the foot rest, then did the same with his left leg. Again, he shifted on the seat to get a better position.
I sat on the edge of the bed looking at him, “Is there anything I can do?”
I saw him tense up again with an apparent tremor shooting through him. He had his hands on the push rims of his chair but he just held on to it for a moment, staring at the floor in front of him, and waiting out the tension that travelled through his body. For a moment we just sat there until the tremor had subsided. I wanted to somehow help him but I had no idea how.
Jordan was battling his body in every way and it was a battle I could not help him with. Watching him struggle and in obvious distress made me feel completely helpless. There was nothing I could do for him to make this any easier and I felt more like a nuisance than supportive in this situation. I didn’t want to say anything, I didn’t want to push my assistance onto him, but it was difficult for me to see him in the state he was in. Above all, Jordan seemed in another world with this, far away from me. He was like at the hospital, battling his body, battling the addiction, and not able to focus on anything else besides the drugs his body needed.
As I didn’t have my scooter nor the crutches and I couldn’t walk on my injured foot, I pondered how to get the scooter from the bathroom. I could have crawled over there or maybe hopped on one leg but it was a short distance and I really didn’t think that it was a good idea.
I asked hesitantly, “Jordan?”
Jordan looked up at me and I added shyly, “My scooter is in the bathroom. I know you’re…”
I stopped because I didn’t want to be a bother for him in his current situation.
Jordan glanced at my injured foot and for a moment seemed to remember my situation and injuries and that I wasn’t supposed to put any weight on my foot.
He nodded onto his lap, “Get on.”
I swallowed and nodded obediently. Under Jordan’s watchful eyes, I carefully slid myself over onto his lap. This time sitting on his lap was not out of romance but it seemed merely a task to get me from the bed to the bathroom. Jordan didn’t say anything and holding my legs up and with my arms wrapped around his neck, we rolled over into the bathroom.
Jordan wasn’t showing any emotional sentiments and without any words he got me into the bathroom and even there he didn’t attempt a hug or anything. I sensed he was just ready for me to get off his lap and so, I did just that. I rested my knee on the scooter and stood there in the bathroom.
Jordan spun his wheelchair around and pushed out of the bathroom.
I had no idea what he was doing and for a moment I was worried he was getting ready to leave.
Swallowing the lump in my throat, I called after him, “Jordan, where are you going? You’re not leaving, are you?”
Jordan stopped in his motion and turned to look at me with a slightly surprised expression, “Do you want me to leave?”
Quickly I clarified, “No, of course not. I just didn’t know…”
I stopped again and Jordan explained, “I just need to get my backpack.”
I nodded and watched him roll away. I turned and checked myself in the mirror. I was shocked to see myself; I looked tired and exhausted.
I stood there in the bathroom and thought about this situation. Jordan was occupied with whatever was going to happen and as I waited for him, I couldn’t help feeling very alone. My heart ached at this and I felt so distant from him. Tears were trying to come up in my eyes at Jordan’s behavior but I tried to remind myself that he couldn’t help it and that he didn’t do this on purpose to hurt me.
Not long ago on the bed we had been so close and things had been said. I felt so many things for Jordan. I wanted to be close to him and now he seemed distant and occupied with other things.
I rolled out into the bedroom and sat down on the bed waiting for him. With his backpack on his lap he now came rolling into the bedroom and without even looking at me he kept rolling straight into the bathroom. I was stunned when he actually shut the door behind him.
I sat there and thought for a moment. I felt abandoned and my eyes filled with tears. It was like Jordan had completely forgotten about me. I made my way over to the bathroom and knocked.
Jordan’s voice was low, “What is it?”
“Jordan, are you all right? I’m worried about you.”
He sounded tense, “I’m okay.”
I asked loud enough for him to hear, “So, it’s not a seizure?”
“No. Just leave me alone for a bit.”
Just then I heard a loud crashing sound. I didn’t wait but turned the door knob and pushed open the door, hoping if I just came in, he wouldn’t be angry with me.
Jordan was holding himself with his hands on the sink counter, hunched forward, breathing quickly through some strong tremors.
On the floor next to him I saw my electric toothbrush and his backpack.
I rolled over to him and touched his arm softly, “Jordan, please tell me what’s going on? I’m worried about you. Are you going to be okay?”
He was breathing quickly, his hair was hanging into his face and he looked up at me, stammering, “I’m sorry…I’m sorry I knocked your toothbrush down…”
His face was glistening with sweat.
Nervously I clarified again, “Are you having a seizure?”
He shook his head.
As tears tried to come up, I asked with a trembling voice, “What’s going on with you?”
Jordan gasped, “I just…I just…need to do a hit.”
My naïve-self wanted to be helpful, “What can I do to help?”
Jordan now looked at me surprised, gasping and replying tensely, “Shay…you don’t…don’t need to…help me. Just leave me alone…for a little while.”
“But you’re not feeling well.” I felt very helpless and disconnected from Jordan.
He was dealing with another oncoming tremor racing through his body and he held himself on the counter still, leaning forward with his head hanging. He was taking quick breaths.
I sat down on the scooter and rolled closer to Jordan, touching his shoulder, “Tell me what I can do Jordan.”
Jordan now sat up somewhat, his arms were resting on his lap, and he looked over at me, “Shay…”
I stopped him, “Just tell me what you need.”
He seemed hesitant for a moment but then he said, “The outside zipper…on the…on the side.”
I pulled the heavy backpack over the floor closer to me so I could get to the pocket he pointed at and unzipped the bag. His backpack was dirty and worn, but stuffed full with things.
Jordan sat up and with another tremor he looked up to the ceiling and took quick breaths only through his nose. His knuckles turned white as his hands tightly gripped the push rims of his wheelchair.
I had zipped open the pocket on the back pack and with a trembling hand I pulled out a clear plastic bag. In it were at least twenty small syringes with orange caps. I set the bag on the counter and Jordan looked from the bag to me.
Our eyes met and I asked softly, “What else do you need?”
His legs were shaking constantly now, his socked feet came off the foot rest too. He set them back on it but shortly after, they hopped off again.
He pointed at the pocket, and gasped, “There should be another plastic…plastic…”
His face had turned into an expression of pain and he now wrapped his arms around himself, leaning forward again. I was worried he could fall out of his wheelchair.
I quickly searched for the other plastic bag and found it further on the bottom and pulled it out. It had various items in it.
I set it on the counter next to the other bag. Jordan now sat up in his wheelchair and even though he was still shaking he seemed to be focused momentarily again looking at the bag. Sweat was on his face and his hands were shaking wildly as he clumsily fiddled with the bag.
I felt my heart beat fast but asked, “Is there anything I can do for you Jordan?”
I wanted to be part of this because for some reason I thought my helping Jordan with this would seal the connection we had. I successfully had pushed away in my unconscious mind that this was not a one-time deal, but really an ongoing thing that Jordan dealt with every single day. I thought if I helped him, he would be happy and he would appreciate me even more. I wanted to be part of this because I wanted him to see how tough I was and how I could handle all of it. All of those thoughts were naïve and silly but I had the biggest fear that this would keep disconnecting Jordan and me over and over. I didn’t know how to handle any of it really.
Inside though my heart was racing and I was trying to stop my tears from coming up. I was nervous, I felt alone, and I felt like Jordan was in another world, one that I would probably never fully be part of.
Jordan looked at me from behind his moist bangs, “Shay…you’re not going to stay in here.”
His voice was shaky but he sounded like he meant it.
His dark eyes flickered, “You’re going to leave this bathroom…right now. I don’t want…want you in here.”
Trying to sound determined, I countered, “I can handle it.”
Jordan shook his head and now he sat up some and shook his bangs from his eyes. His face was glistening with sweat and he looked at me serious and dark. His body was shaking, his foot hopped off the foot rest again but he ignored it.
He then said tensely, “Leave this bathroom right now.”
I felt my vision get blurry and debated if I should fight him on this.
“I want to see what you’re doing. I want to stay.”
Jordan turned his eyes from me and hissed through his teeth, “Shay, don’t do this.”
I didn’t know what to say really because this was a surreal situation. I would have never in my entire life imagined my paraplegic boyfriend in my bathroom getting ready to shoot up Heroin. If any of my family or friends would even in the slightest find out about this, I was certain I would be reprimanded from every angle. Everyone would try to talk me out of this by every means possible. I had let Jordan come so very close to me and we had said things to each other and I knew at least on my end, I did feel a lot for him but at the same time I was extremely scared.
Now it seemed like all the tender moments from earlier had only been a dream, something I possibly had only imagined. Jordan was different now; he was tense and nervous. His eyes flickered anxiously and shot through the room and his body was shaking and shivering. He wasn’t interested in me at the moment. His priorities had shifted and I was on the very bottom.
But the fact was that this paraplegic man in my bathroom was so much more to me now than just some homeless addict. Everything I had said to him earlier had been true and it’s how I still felt about Jordan.
In a desperate attempt to establish some kind of connection again I softly said, “I love you Jordan.”
His head was hanging, his hands twitched in his lap, his foot was not on the foot rest, and he didn’t look at me. I was waiting and hoping he would say it back to me.
Jordan then glanced up at me, “I love you too and that’s…that’s why I want you to leave this room right now.”
I replied softly, “I’ve never seen this done before.”
He moved his dark eyes all the way up to me, “And there’s no need for you to see it ever.”
“So, you’re always going to hide this from me?”
He looked away again and took a deep breath.
“Jordan, if we’re together now, we’re also together in this. I need to watch so I know what you’re doing and if something goes wrong, I can help you.”
He looked at me with a dark expression, “If something goes wrong, there’s nothing you can do.”
“I can call 911.”
Before Jordan would be out in some alley shooting up, I would rather have him do it in my bathroom so I could be there for him and especially if something would go wrong. I loved Jordan and seeing him in distress and realizing the agony he was in, I knew once again that I would be by his side through this and I would make it my mission to not only love him despite everything he was going through, but I would also make it my mission to try to get him the help that he needed if he wanted it.
I watched as Jordan moved closer to the counter and with trembling fingers, he opened the first plastic bag with the syringes.
He looked back at me, “Shay, I really need you to leave. I won’t let you see this.”
I had never seen anything like it and I was nervous watching Jordan do this but at the same time I was curious to see how he did it.
He pulled out a syringe and set it to the side with shaky hands.
He then opened the other plastic bag and he dumped various items onto the counter.
With a dark expression he glanced at me again, “I mean it Shay. You need to leave. I don’t want you to see it.”
He just sat there now and didn’t move or do anything. For a few moments we sat quietly and I saw Jordan take some quick breaths but he didn’t move except for the constant trembling running through him.
When I didn’t say anything, he looked at me with a weary expression, “I won’t do anything if you’re staying in here.”
I was becoming frustrated with him, “I guess we’ll just sit here then.”
He seemed surprised at my comment and his eyes flickered nervously, but he put the syringe back into the plastic bag and closed it again. He then picked up all the items and dropped them into the second bag.
He looked at me, “Can you push my backpack over here?”
I didn’t move and Jordan then grabbed the two plastic bags and I could see he was tense when he pushed the rims of his wheelchair and rolled over to his backpack. He leaned over to grab it and he stuffed both plastic bags back into the pocket I had just pulled them out from a few minutes ago.
I watched quietly, waiting for him to say something.
He didn’t say anything but instead zipped the pocket and then with gasps he pulled his backpack up on to his lap, then put his hands to the push rims about to wheel out of the bathroom.
I got in front of the door, blocking his way, “What are you doing?”
“I need to get out of here.”
I felt my hands tremble and my heart beat fast, “I’m not letting you go Jordan.”
He bit his lips and took a deep breath without looking at me, then he said lowly, “Don’t do this Shay.”
“I’m not letting you leave my place. You’re staying here and you can shoot up in my clean bathroom and not in some dirty alley where you could get sick.”
He now looked at me and his eyes seemed darker, “I’ve been shooting up in dirty and fucked places for years. It doesn’t matter you know. It doesn’t matter where I do it Shay. My body doesn’t give a fuck where I do it as long as I get the shit into my veins. But I’m not doing it here in front of you. And if you’re insisting on watching I’m leaving. I’m not going to let you watch how I fuck myself up Shay. It’s not going to happen. So, you can either let me get my shit done without you in here or I’m leaving.”
He sounded determined and frustrated at the same time. I could see his hands trembling on the push rims and I could see him take quick breaths.
My eyes were filling with tears and even though I was surprised at his tone I also understood him to an extent.
He then added, “So let me go if you can’t understand this.”
I stood in front of the door still and he was right there waiting for me to get out of the way. I felt a tear run down my cheek. I knew for sure I didn’t want him to leave.
Trying to contain my tears and with a trembling voice I asked him, “How will you be after you shoot up?”
Jordan now looked directly at me and he shook his head in despair.
I added, “I want you to stay Jordan and I’ll leave you alone in here for as long as it takes and if that’s what you want. I don’t want you to leave though. Please don’t leave.”
He bit his lips and nodded now, letting his head hang.
His voice was now softer, “Please Shay, I need you to understand. I don’t want you to see it and I’m not doing this because I’m trying to be an ass. I’ve nothing to give you but myself but this part about myself I cannot and will not share with you. It’s my hell and I will not pull you into it. I’m doing this because I love you.”
Tears were slowly running over my face and I nodded, “Okay.”
He seemed relieved and I repeated my question, “How will you be after you’re done?”
He swallowed, “It’ll take me about twenty minutes and once I’m done it takes a few minutes to travel through my body and I’ll be high but I won’t be in pain anymore. I’ll come out to you.”
“Are you in pain right now?”
“I’m always in pain, Shay.”
He looked at me with a weary expression and now set the backpack down again, “Come here.”
He gestured onto his lap. Right away he wrapped his arms around me and I held myself with my arms around his neck. We looked at each other and I tried to not cry anymore.
He said softly, “I hate so much to see you cry. I’m so sorry Shay.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“It is completely my fault. I would feel so much shame if I would have to do this in front of you. I hope you can understand. Maybe one day I’ll let you see but not yet. I just can’t Shay. I’m always in pain and this is the only thing that keeps me somewhat pain free or at least my pain low for a few hours anyways. I tried to wait as long as I could, but my last hit was early this morning. I was hoping I would have longer but my body never fails to let me feel every nerve ending with sensation and every muscle and bone when the stuff wears off. It’s not good, I know that, but this has been my life for so long, I don’t know any different anymore. I know it’s new to you and even to me to have someone actually in my life. I don’t know how to deal with this addiction and you being in my life now. I guess we’ll figure it out eventually. Just know that you mean so much to me and I love you. No one has ever loved me and I’ve never loved anyone before. I don’t want to hurt you Shay, but it feels so wrong to be doing this here in your apartment.”
A few more tears were escaping from my eyes.
Jordan wiped them away with his finger, “And it hurts me so much to see you cry Shay.”
I nestled my head in between his neck and his shoulder and mumbled, “I love you Jordan and I don’t want to see you in pain either. But I’m worried about you when you do this.”
“I’ve been doing it for a long time, I know what I’m doing. Don’t worry okay. Just let me get it done and then we’ll be together again the rest of the night.”
I nodded in his embrace, “Okay.”
He now took my face in his hands and pulled it up so he could look at me. He then gently kissed me on the forehead.
I looked at him with tears in my eyes and he said, “It’ll be okay.”
It seemed wrong that Jordan was the one telling me that it would be okay. But I was exhausted from all the worrying and the things I felt, so I could only nod in defeat.
He pushed my hair behind my ears and his eyes were on me, “I’ll be out in a little bit.”
Before I left Jordan in the bathroom by himself, I pulled his backpack over toward the sink and counter and pulled his supplies back out of the pocket and set it all on the counter again. Jordan had pushed himself up to the counter again and I then walked to the door. At the door I looked at him once more and he met my eyes, then I walked out. I tried to not think about what he was going to do in there.
In an attempt to distract myself I made my way to the kitchen to see what I could actually make us to eat later. I had some text messages from my friend, from my cousin who was disappointed that I couldn’t make it to the party, and also my brother had checked in with me again. I replied to everyone and let them know I was okay and just trying to get better.
My foot hurt still and from all the crying and worrying I had a headache. While my boyfriend was shooting up in the bathroom to ease his pain, I took a prescription pain pill. I sat down on the couch in the living room and elevated my swollen foot. Sitting there on the couch it hit me again and I started crying but tried to be quiet so Jordan wouldn’t hear any of it. I still couldn’t believe this was actually happening. I felt so helpless and so alone, my heart was hurting and I tried very hard to be strong for Jordan. I felt I was in over my head but there was no way back for me anymore.