EOTW No.4 – What a Pill


I woke up two days later in Jax’s room, alone and emotionally hung over. I felt like I was waking up from a bad dream except the shock and adrenaline didn’t go away. In fact, they were just getting started. I wasn’t going to relax and settle back into reality. I was already there.

Besides the breakup, and the stint at the Golden Gate Bridge, it had been a very colorful few days.

After begging and begging, I had eventually worn Justine down. She agreed to give it one more chance, stop seeing the rock dude, and go to therapy with me.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, I like to think of myself as an exceptionally talented human being. I had pulled off the impossible. However, I couldn’t let it go at that. I said “ You mean it?” over and over, which may sound cute, and I know it sure felt cute in the moment. The excited boyfriend, overcome with joy, in disbelief, bouncing on the bed.

But after I said it for the twentieth time, something snapped Justine back to reality. I wasn’t cute, I was crazy, and an asshole. I had worn her down again: she no longer meant it.

Yep—Exceptionally talented.

You can imagine what happened next— the usual, i.e., sobbing, pleading, cowering, yadda yadda.

Justine left for her mother’s house at some point, and I found myself sitting in the truck that evening, rocking slightly and listening to static, the official soundtrack of the end of the world. Something about it was soothing; it matched my insides, in the same way dubstep music matched the insanity of my days of addiction and alcoholism.

“Ping!” My phone had a new text message. It was likely one of the friends I’d been talking to, but every time it dinged I thought it was Justine, with a change of heart. She had come to her senses!  I was the world to her!

Rats, foiled again. It was just one of our closest friends, Chelsea, who I hadn’t heard from in months.

“You were right,” her text read.

“I was right about what?” I replied.

“Everything, he’s abusive. Emotionally, physically, I can’t do this anymore. I’m done. I need your help.”

We hadn’t seen Chelsea in months. We met her early on in our polyamory, when we were still dating people together as “Team Justine”.

She is a beautiful, sweet, incredibly intelligent woman, who popped into our lives at the right time.  We loved her, and had developed a really strong connection. We knew her dreams, her fears, her flaws, and knew she was a member of our tribe. When her new boyfriend Jeff came around, and they decided to be monogamous, we were so happy for them.

Jeff seemed like a good catch on paper. He was a passionate animal rights activist and environmentalist, a vegan, marathon running musician. However, it turned out he had several tiny issues. For instance, he decided we could no longer be friends with Chelsea.

Maybe my shadow recognized his at the time, but it was then that I told Chelsea my prediction.

“This man is going to isolate you, control you, and hurt you. Call me when you need me,  I will be there.”

We met down the street from her house, and went over a game plan.

When we got to her house, the move was in full swing. Jeff had thoughtfully brought his new girlfriend, and one of her friends, and they were moving things out into an aged blue station wagon.

He said, “Hey Chelsea,”  like good old neighbor Jeff, then nodded at me and said “Sam.”

Chelsea’s body language showed fear. Without saying anything, she locked herself in her room, leaving me in the common room to watch Jeff and the two girls haul his life away.

An hour later I asked Jeff if he could wrap things up and finish moving another day.

“You have no idea what’s going on Sam. Okay?”

Jeff had no idea what was going on: it would have been so therapeutic to toss him down the stairs. I’ve been to jail once before, so I knew that tonight I probably wasn’t remotely well enough to be in jail.

“Jeff, I’m not here to judge you.”

Shouting came from Chelsea’s room. “WHY ARE YOU BEING NICE TO HIM!”

She then came barreling out of her room, rattling off times he had abused her. I held her back, why he listened stoically, like Dexter Morgan. I could see the two other women had been primed for this, and they smirked too, like “Wow, she really is crazy.”

We went back to her room. I asked if she was wanted to file a police report. She didn’t. So I went back out and helped Jeff bring the last of his things to the station wagon.

I knocked on her bedroom door.

“Hey Chelsea, Jeff is gone.  Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Thank you.”

“Okay, is it alright If I go home now?”


I turned and headed out, but before I could close the door behind me, locking myself out, something made me walk back to her bedroom and knock again.

“Can I come in?”


I walked in. Chelsea was sitting on the floor with her back against the wall, heavy-headed, chin resting on her chest. She looked up at me, with the sweetest smile, doe-eyed and said, “Hi.”

The floor was covered in empty pill bottles, with a few pills of different shapes scattered around.

It took me a second to put it all together, and when it clicked, all I could say was, “You didn’t seriously just do that did you?”  Like, Why would you do this to me? I came to help you. Like be medium helpful.

Drowsy and slurring, she said  “Yeah, I’m sorry. We should probably get me to a hospital.”

So I helped her to her feet, and off we went.


  1. WOW- I have relived several moments reading your blog Sam. Thanks, I guess it was time for me to process some of the shit in my head. Godpseeed

  2. Funny, sad, human. Enjoyed reading it a lot. Thank you for daring to write it and for having such effective communication skills. More, please.

  3. I love your blog, Sam, and though you must be sick of hearing it, I feel like I know and love you through your Mom. I would like to subscribe to your blog, but something is not working for me. My email is [email protected] if you could sign me up somehow. Hang in there!

  4. No words. This is rare for a 63 year old woman with 2 marriages behind me and 33 years of sobriety. As a Mother, my heart hurts for you. As a fellow sojourner in relationship failures, I offer you hope that life will go on and there is new life on the horizon. As difficult as it is, keep writing and acknowledging your grief as it is to you each day with some better days and some worse days. Your candor, honesty and transparency is helping others. Through all of the heartbreaks, my sobriety was the one thing that was constant and valuable to me, if only because I didn’t want to be a perpetual newbie walking in the door adding to my feelings of failure. Some of the best advice I received was simple "Don’t drink even if your ass falls off" My ass is still here. Blessings to you young man. In the midst of your grief there is a miracle waiting for you..don’t give up before the miracle.

  5. I am so sorry for all your pain, but I have to tell you that I so enjoy your writing. You are an amazing storyteller. Thank you for opening the door into your life with your words as the key. I know you’re in pain, but it is so wonderful and genuine that you allow us to laugh at things that I am sure so terribly hurt you. Thank you for such a gift.

  6. You are brave. The vulnerability expressed in your truth is just awesome. I find myself holding my breath, clenched, squinting when I read your story. Your emotions, your anguish, frenetic pace of behavior, compulsions, determination and consequences are more than familiar to me. Your ability to explain all of this, string together words that so eloquently tell the story, is extraordinary. Words I wish I could write but for now Im glad I can read yours. So inspiring.

    With Gratitude,

  7. Oh my god. This post really speaks to me– I have a brother who is now two years sober but who was a really abusive alcoholic when I was in my teens and early twenties, and the line about dubstep is absolutely correct. There’s a kind of chaos to that soundtrack… as for Chelsea, in a really messed up way, it’s good that you had someone to look out for when you were feeling that the world was ending; obviously, she needed someone outside of herself and, in a way, you did, too… sometimes, it’s coming alongside someone else’s trauma that helps us face our own.
    Navigating heartbreak is a bitch. It’s getting hit by a truck. It’s cancer. The only thing that gets you through it is putting one foot in front of the other, and slowly gluing your pieces back together. Love and light to you, Sam. This isn’t gonna be easy, but there’s a chance for it to be good.

  8. You are a good friend – glad you were there – I understand her predicament – her pain – she was trying to obliterate it…

  9. Both of you are all of us. Thank you for writing this out candidly. I feel relieved that I’m not the only one who breaks into smaller, weaker pieces of myself when a relationship, even the ones I don’t want, end. We’re fortunate to have friends to sweep us up.

  10. Thank you for honestly expressing some of the real pain of ending an abusive relationship – when the person who betrayed and shattered your heart casts you as the "crazy" one it is almost worse than the abuse itself. It has been 25 years since I went through an almost exact scenario as Chelsea. I used that experience to motivate myself even deeper into my own healing. I was pregnant with my son when Operating Instructions was published and when I became a single Mom when my son was 3 weeks old I felt like a kindred spirit with you and your mom. My son, too, has grown to be an incredible, caring young man and i’m so delighted to find your blog will subscribe. Keep writing!

  11. Good job…on all fronts. It’s not lost that you are your mother’s son. This is a very good thing. Keep up the good work of being a fine human being. The world needs more like you…especially men like you. Hugs.

  12. You saved a life…you are friends…friends often do this shit to each other…but I like your style…
    you’re having …a life!.. ….a Real life…
    So…I can read your stuff….I’m signing up…..Good one Sam….
    Jo x

  13. Oh. God bless you both. I’m writing from fifty-something, here. Maybe age cures all. Maybe not. Maybe we’re all twenty-something’s in failing bodies who need their friends to help them walk away from the pain. You’re a good boy. I’m sorry for your pain.

  14. Thank God that you were alive and there that day when Chelsea called and needed you. Her story could have taken a very different turn had you not answered her phone call. Your friends need you, Sam. Your son needs you, every day. Your mom needs you in her life. There will come a day when you have a new love and she will need you as well. So don’t lose heart. You are valuable and important and necessary here on this planet.

  15. Amazing journey and writing. We’ve all heard the "ding" from our phone and hoped it was someone changing their minds about us….

  16. I hope there was Happy in your Birthday Sam. You have the gift of writing too. This made me want to read more. Thanks for letting your mom share it. Oh man, I hope you let her!

    That was no small thing you walked backed into – , and the way I see it, no accident. Glad you were there.


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