4 Years Ago: Overdose, Shame and the Blame Game

The photo’s above are all taken during my time with Marcel, I’m not sure if our life was the life that people expect heroin addicts to have. I suppose the stereotype leads people to think that all addicts just sit around doing nothing or they’re out on the rob or trying to blag things. Its true there was a fair amount of blagging and bending of the truth but we also did many things that I still enjoy today. Marcel and I both enjoyed walking and being outdoors. I have such fond memories of us hiking along the coast path with our tent and supplies to camp for the night at Peppercombe beach. We both loved being away from people and whenever we would go on an adventure together there would always be lots of laughs, and my dog Charlie was with us which made the picture complete, it was our bubble and for a long time this bubble sustained us.

It was nice to write about Marcel yesterday, it felt good to share things and it created a process in me, I couldn’t help but consider my feelings around his death, and I’m not sure if I’m holding on to my grief and guilt as a way of holding on to him, am I scared to forgive myself because if I do then that gives me permission to move on fully and I can’t help but wonder if that feels strangely disloyal somehow. I’ve become so accustomed to the way I feel over his death, it’s informed so much of what I’ve done in the last four years. I thought I’d start this blog post by sharing a journal entry from four years ago. When I turned to my journal there was a void, I didn’t write anything from the 19th August – 16th September. This is often the case when something serious happens, when something really gets to me I can’t even write, I know writing will help but at the time I can’t, it asks me to be too still, to think and feel, to truly connect. When in such pain this hard and a period of time is needed before I can commit pen to page.

Friday 16th September 2016 Full Moon tonight, at home in Cornwall.

“Ooh baby baby it’s a wild world” playing on radio, it made me tearful, it made me smile.

I can’t bring myself to write the words, the pause in writing, the gap since my last entry, it was due to something I really didn’t expect but always knew was possible.

Marcel died on Sunday 21st August 2016, the last full moon in fact, he’d used gear, he’d been drinking again so I think it was an accidental overdose but they’re doing an inquest to determine cause, exploring the possibility of suicide. I still can’t believe it, I’m angry at him, I told him to be safe, I warned him the challenge would be on the outside, it’s easy to stay drug free when institutionalised, the real work happens in normal life, I’m so glad I never went to rehab or detox, I’m pleased I did it at home as I know I would’ve been the perfect patient when inside a rehab facility and then I’d have to learn a whole new way once out.

From what I’ve heard, and the rumour mill is strong, he was having quite the time mixing with various people and enjoying freedom again, or knowing Marcel he didn’t know what to do with himself so getting wrecked always appealed. Apparently he’d been doing coke, valium, drinking. I’d been told he went over not long after he got out of prison but there was someone there to help him. He would have had such low tolerance compared to when he went into prison, he was on 80ml Methadone and using a gram of heroin a day on top. It would be the most detoxed from opiates he’d been in years. I didn’t go to see him like he wanted, I said I needed more time and I was quite blunt and cold. I’m filled with so many doubts, questions, guilt and so much love for him, I hope he knows I loved him, I hope he knew I was being firm to be safe and sensible. I had to be cautious for my own recovery, so I was strict and demanded more time to get my resolve and prepare to see him. Now I wish I had met up with him, hugged him for ages, smiled at him and studied his face. But who knows, maybe I was cautious for a good reason, I just wish he was alive to hear it all, I wish I’d explained better to him, I wish I’d taken some time to just talk more on the phone.

I think he did understand even if he didn’t like it, he always said he understood why I moved away and he’s never stopped encouraging me, he wanted me to get well, he believed in me, I wish he’d believed in himself. I did go and say goodbye, I took his parents to the hospital and again to the chapel of rest prior to the funeral. I spoke to him, I kissed his head, I held his hands and wept and sobbed, not just for my loss and pain but for his mum’ and dad’s too. It was heart-breaking to see his mum broken and hopeless, her only son, her only child, it’s just too much, all I could do was hold her, be there and say a few useless words, no words would help really, I said she’s not alone, that we’d get through it one day at a time for now, and we did. I saw them nearly everyday in the run up to the funeral. I helped with all the arrangements, seeing the funeral director, vicar and writing the eulogy, so much that had to be navigated. Also trying to keep his folks distanced from all the Facebook nonsense, people are so cruel and its all gossip, nobody cares when they say stupid comments or rubbish rumours. Some people said that he killed himself because he couldn’t cope without me, that he didn’t like life without me there, he thought I was happy and had moved on, people said I abandoned him. Other rumours are that he killed himself because he got Hepatitis and lots of other weird stuff too, just so insensitive and everyone has an opinion, people like to blame.

He died, he was 29 years old, however it happened it is heartbreakingly sad for him and his folks so I was there for them liked he’d of wanted. Visiting our flat and seeing the bathroom where he died, feeling his energy in the place and all the memories we shared there was intense, the past came alive. I could hear his voice and see us there, it was so intense. My legs went weak as I climbed the old familiar staircase, my whole being was vibrating with an overwhelming anxiety as my cells and self came alive with memories, we shared so much in the flat, it was our home. The journey we went through together was of such magnitude, and our relationship shifted and changed over time, we saw the depths of each other, it was a life that was just ours, no need for others to understand, I don’t think they could. Our own little world, me, Marcel and Charlie our boy. We loved each other so much, even more so as friends, we had a mutual respect, we shared so much, the extremes, total joy and highs and also the darkness and despair. My grief is secret, the loss nobody can really understand, it’s mine and mine alone, it’s unique just like our relationship was. Gosh where is this coming from!

I like to think he’s gone to sea, the funeral was at high tide and I couldn’t help but think off he goes to sea, he’ll be safe there. He loved being at sea. Happy trawling, be free, be at peace. I can’t help but think of all the times he said he didn’t want to grow up, he didn’t want to be responsible, he hated having to tow the line and he was a bit lost at times which led him to drink recklessly, I was always worrying about him, and now theres no need to worry anymore, it’s weird. It’s all so messed up in my head, so many memories playing out, we were a little team for so long, I hope I didn’t let him down. I do feel bad for having to walk my own path and demand more time and space but it was never due to a lack of care or love, I wanted him in the world, I wanted him to be happy and well. I can only hope that he did hold on to what he knew about me and about us, I’ll never know so I can only have faith. I wasn’t expecting this but also knew there was a high chance. Oh Marcel, you silly thing! x

People wanted to blame someone, the bad crowd he got in with, me, being stitched up by the police and going to prison. People questioned why he’d use gear again after getting clean, people questioned why he’d lower himself to hanging about with drinkers and druggies (some are very lovely people if only others would stop judging) All these questions underestimates Marcel, nobody could make him do anything he didn’t want to, he choose his own path and liked to surround himself with people who accepted him and didn’t judge him or demand he be different. These people are more than ‘bag rats’ and scum as some people have put it. All people with their own stories, lives, feelings and hopes. The shame attached to the lifestyle and peoples reactions to people using just pushes them further away. Nobody is to blame, but we all are too. People are not dying from addiction, they are dying from shame and isolation.

Funeral Songs: Jonny Cash- Sunday Morning Comedown, Artic Monkeys- When The Sun Goes Down, Bob Marley – One Love.

I keep hearing Bastilles song – Good Grief on the radio, seems rather fitting, I like singing along with it, I sing to Marcel.

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