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I Fell In Love With A Coke Dealer

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I was visiting my friend Zach one day. The house was empty, whoever had been living there had moved out and Zach was squatting in one of the bedrooms while he repaired some things around the house. I was walking through the house when the door suddenly swung open and a mail courier walked through the door and dumped ten pounds of marijuana on the floor. I stood there, surprised at the absurdity of what I was witnessing. I had never seen this man before and he walked into the house confident in what he was doing. The moment where we initially looked at each other is seared into my mind. He looked at me strangely and I’m sure I looked back with a quizzical look. This man turned out to be Zach’s younger brother, Ben. We introduced ourselves and I thought nothing more of the interaction.

Prior to meeting Ben, my friend mentioned that he had gone to prison for selling drugs and that he was falling back into that lifestyle.

Eventually, my friend invited me to go to his brother’s house so I tagged along. I felt a bit anxious as I normally do whenever meeting new people and going to new places. I had no idea what I was about to walk into. Zach had talked about his brother a few times but I was never too interested in knowing more. Prior to meeting Ben, my friend mentioned that he had gone to prison for selling drugs and that he was falling back into that lifestyle. I either said something to try to empathize with my friend or I called his brother a dumbass, I can’t remember which it was.

The bed was covered in guns.

I followed Zach as he led me into the backyard and into the garage of Ben’s house. My hands were sweating and I was unsure of myself but none of this was new. I’m constantly aware of the anxiety that follows me. I really didn’t expect to see what I saw when I walked into that house. There were two men in the garage and I introduced myself to them. Ben led us to his room upstairs to show us something that immediately reminded me of danger I had faced in the past. The bed was covered in guns. I was pretty comfortable around guns but it quickly became clear that these were the kind of guns that weren’t traceable. Or even remotely legal. All I saw were felony charges spread out in front of me. I could feel the danger just by being in that room but this situation wasn’t completely bizarre to me.

I also made note that he was living with another woman when I had visited and I respected that.

I never could figure out why, but when Ben spoke, I wanted to listen. He could captivate me with the way he could command the attention of the room. He was exceptionally funny and was the only person I had met in a long time that caught my taunting giggles and sly smack talking. I immediately felt fond of him and wanted to be his friend but I didn’t want to be a weirdo. I also made note that he was living with another woman when I had visited and I respected that. I tried to get to know her, I even bought one of her paintings but she remained standoffish.

We quickly started to date each other. He made me feel excited and energetic, or maybe that was the cocaine. One day, I asked Ben to sell me some weed he had in a giant glass jar and we exchanged phone numbers so I could Zelle him some cash. He gave me a generous amount of weed without weighing it. When I got home we started texting each other.

I don’t know what insanity possessed me to go anywhere with this strange man but the next day we went camping and ate shrooms. I had never been camping before but I was open-minded. I was initially wary of this man but part of me trusted him because Zach had never said anything negative about his character and I knew my friend was an amazing person. Part of me knew I was crazy for even thinking about getting into the same car with a felon I didn’t know but I remained compelled. I had my little Kershaw knife clipped to the side of my pocket because I didn’t trust him. He brought along his huge dog who kept trying to push me off my seat.

The ride to the camping spot felt a bit awkward. I didn’t quite know what to say but I chattered away anyway. I didn’t trust this man’s intentions and I had no reason to, I didn’t know him. In my experience with men they tend to be creepy so I was concerned he would try to do something to me. I touched the safely secured knife in my pocket and reminded myself of reality again, I trusted that Zach would never let me meet someone who could hurt me. I rolled a blunt and got it all over myself and Ben’s car but he didn’t seem to mind. If he did, he was very nice about it. He had an easy going attitude but we kept looking at each other strangely. I tried to play it cool and pretend that I couldn’t see him watching me periodically from the corner of my eye. But I stayed aware of how often he would look over at me.

What really got me to fall in love with this man was how genuine he felt and the purity of his soul.

Being with Ben felt like a whirlwind of emotion and excitement. I’d been spoiled all my life but never to this extent. I didn’t expect or ask for anything from him but he was filled with pleasant surprises. Material things are nice but they aren’t everything. What really got me to fall in love with this man was how genuine he felt and the purity of his soul. But who doesn’t want to feel valued and spoiled? Maybe I was falling easily into his trap but at the same time, I didn’t care. In my heart, I believed he wouldn’t let anything happen to me. One week he ordered me a beautiful bouquet of roses from Ecuador, another week it was geometrical canvases painted by a talented artist, and one day he took me to pick up my puppy. He paid for my poodle in cash and I brought him home. I contemplated that maybe my parents had fucked up raising me because all these grand gestures really caught my attention.

This man was covered in more red flags than I could count but as the meme goes, it looked like a carnival to me. He still lived with his ex-girlfriend and her kids, he was a felon, he had just lost his job at the courier service because of his alcoholism, he was a cocaine dealer with tons of different drugs that were easily accessible and he handled illegal firearms. Logically, this was far from the ideal situation I had imagined for myself but he was persistently charming, he listened to my leftist theory and he never tried to change my beliefs albeit he would help me look at them from a different point of view.

He might’ve been covered in red flags but he was always soft and kind when he spoke to me. We didn’t argue over what was right or wrong, we respected each other’s views on life even if we were compelled to challenge those perspectives. This relationship taught me many things. It expanded my worldview. I started to respect differences I didn’t think I could validate before. I knew I could be a bit extreme with the theories I agreed with and this relationship helped me notice where I didn’t agree with my own theory thus balancing out what was rational and what was too idealistic.

The availability of cocaine seemed endless.

The availability of cocaine seemed endless. This is how I ended up using cocaine for three months straight until I finally stopped. Having been addicted to heroin and meth before, I drastically underestimated what cocaine could do to me. I didn’t consider it as “hard” of a drug as the ones I’d been addicted to but I quickly learned I was wrong. I couldn’t figure out how to get away from doing coke without getting away from him. I had grown to love Ben but I knew being near him was damaging my health so I checked into a treatment center to get a grip on myself and my sobriety. I swore to myself I wouldn’t make the same mistakes again. I would give up coke like I gave up heroin and meth because the damage it had done was severe. I lost 30 pounds within three months. The drugs combined with my eating disorder made it apparent that I wasn’t okay.

The fire inside me could never be quelled. I knew I deserved to be sober and I would do anything to achieve the mental wellness I had worked so hard to acquire. Ben stayed supportive of me entering treatment and quitting cocaine. Our relationship had suddenly started to get rocky as I became more unstable. It seemed like our happy days were behind us and our arguing seemed incessant. I knew I needed to do something drastic, so I did. Quitting cocaine seemed difficult at first but it got easier after a couple days. I knew I had to say goodbye to cocaine and I could never use it again. At first this realization bummed me out but what did I get out of it anyways? I knew this would only lead me to worse things and eventually, it did. My resolve never changed and I held onto the idea that “my high is my sobriety” as 347aidan’s song “MEMORIES!” goes.

I fell in love with a coke dealer and I really don’t regret any of it.

Today I find myself sober again. I won’t let what I’ve gone through those months be in vain. I learned some very important lessons through relapsing on cocaine and other drugs, I realized how much I love being in a sober state of mind. Mind you, I don’t subscribe to the “abstinence only” approach either. I think we need to adopt a harm reduction mindset to really be of service to people in need. The abstinence only approach leaves a lot of people on the wayside and it proves to not be as effective as maintenance therapy. We shouldn’t exclude someone from getting help because of how they chose to cope with their lives and circumstances. For myself, being “sober” looks like using marijuana and psychedelics in a balanced way and taking my prescribed medication. Early in my sobriety I found a lot of success while being prescribed Suboxone. So fuck what your local Alcoholic’s Anonymous group says but read The Big Book anyways. Take what applies to you and leave the rest.

I fell in love with a coke dealer and I really don’t regret any of it. He gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams and he believed in me. He would give me books on neuroscience or books about god because he knew I was having a difficult time finding my own spirituality. He never tried to convince me of anything, he just held my hand while I searched for my own answers. For obvious reasons it didn’t work out, but I’ll always love Ben. I’m glad to be away from him and those bricks of cocaine. I’m never going back to that. I just want to be healthy again and I’ll do anything to preserve that. I’m glad I could be brave enough to tackle my new addiction even if it meant letting him go.

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Valeria Castaneda

Valeria Castaneda

Valeria Castaneda is a 26 year old San Jose native that loves to write, learn about neuroscience, and play with her puppy. If you’re interested in her daily happenings you can follow her on Instagram.

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