Content Warning: addiction, drug abuse, abusive relationships.

When I was in my first year, I was timid and shy. I didn’t really know who I was or where I fit in, but I had many friends always offering to do activities with me. I was enjoying my first year and having a great time. Around mid-November I went to a house party that I would say created a defining moment of my university career. It was a Christmas kegger, ugly Christmas sweaters mandatory. I was going with a close friend and another I had played intramural with. I had a lot to drink, more than I’ve ever had in my life, and was evidently drunk when I got there. I had a blast and met a boy I thought was cute. He was talking to my friend and I, keeping the conversation going. We got to know general facts, like what res we were in and where we were from. We collectively decided to get food, as it was f**king freezing, and not worth being outside much longer. We went to good old Lazy before heading to his room in the brand new Brant building. He was living in the upper year residence, finishing his comp-sci degree. We hung out and chatted before my friend left me alone with him, per my drunk request. I don’t recall this, but he was respectful enough that he didn’t do anything. I woke up with a pounding head in the morning, clothing on and ok. I felt like I had done something reckless, but knowing I was ok made it seem ok to me. I stood up, stating that I needed to go home. He grabbed my hand and asked me for my number, saying he’d text me. I brushed off this comment, but then he kissed me before I left, and I thought maybe he wanted more than a sleepover buddy.

The day went on, and I didn’t hear anything from him. I was still drunk and exhausted so I spent 90% of the day in bed sleeping. A few days later I got a text asking if I wanted to come over and watch a movie. I decided that I did, and replied almost instantaneously “yes.” I went over and we climbed onto his double bed (did I mention I was stuck on a  shitty single bed?), and he wrapped his arms around me and started some dumb comedy. We didn’t do anything. We just talked and I got to know more about him. Words came easy and he seemed to care.

We continued to hang out, go to the gym together, and he would even walk me to class. I met some of his friends, and I brought him up to a few close friends. I’m a very reserved person, so he was a part of my life, but not one I was ready to share as openly as he did.

As the time progressed things went so naturally. I’d sleep over, wear his shirt and fall asleep comfortably. Life was easy and I didn’t think anything was wrong.

We left for the break and talked infrequently. We snapchatted and kept in contact, but because we weren’t dating there was no pressure to really keep each other in the loop. When I came home from the break, things seemed to change. His mannerism had shifted, and what became easy became a battle. No I don’t want to take my shirt off, no I’m not comfortable doing that. Then he would pull out his phone and swipe. He would open Tinder in front of me, commenting on girls who were hot and girls who weren’t. His comments cut me deep, but I thought he cared about me. He would close it and kiss me as I’d sit perplexed and confused. “Well, we aren’t dating so it’s ok” was always my justification.

So, we went on. He showed me music that he liked, and told me about his feelings and dreams. He told me that he liked me.

Then, it got infinitely worse. He had a habit of smoking weed. But what I was unaware of was that he enjoyed experimenting. So, it was weed, then it was cocaine, then it was acid. He’d have people come over, and sell to them in front of me. Worse, he’d leave for an hour when I came over to go sell. He’d show me all the baggies and the scale he used. He’d tell me he was busy and couldn’t hang out. Then he started using. At first I thought he was ok. He’d be a bit high but nothing serious, and we’d watch a movie and sleep. Then I would get calls at 2am. Screaming, crying, yelling. I’d hear his voice shake as he would beg me to come over. That he couldn’t sleep without me. I’d go over. I’d lay there as his heart beat a million miles an hour and I tried to calm him down.

One morning, he called me at 8 am. Crying, screaming, sobbing. He didn’t know where he was and he needed me. When I showed up he was a mess, one sock on the other off. His eyes were bloodshot and he couldn’t even speak. His RA was with him and I told him I would try and get him to calm down. I had to carry him all the way back to his room. My voice shaking, I got him into bed. Then he started screaming, like a three-year-old having a tantrum. He pinned me against the bed and held me there. When I tried to move, he would lose it. I would try to loosen his grip and he would start flipping out. In that moment, I thought he was going to hit me, strangle me or beat me. I felt helpless and destroyed. I couldn’t even form sentences. His RA came back and looked at me, and I closed the door. Speaking to him, I got him to call a drug helpline. I watched as he frantically scrolled through his contacts, screaming at me to leave because I couldn’t help him. I closed the door behind me and ran. I ran tears in my eyes, shaking from his touch. As I made it back to my room I sat down trying to calm myself, finally realizing I had diluted myself and imagination of what was going on, and needed to stop.

I cut contact with him after that moment. I blocked his number and only saw him once after to clarify that we were done. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, because I could see him falling. But, as I walked out that door to a freer self, I felt a release of a heavy weight. I didn’t realize I was in an abusive relationship until my third year here at Queen’s. I didn’t think I was, because we never declared we were together. However, the time and energy I invested in him and that he invested in me was a relationship.

He didn’t break me but he sure as hell put me through the ringer. People often ask me why I am so against drugs and my reason is him. I was in an abusive relationship with an addict and it almost ruined my life. So, I encourage you to know the signs of an abusive relationship or friendship. I encourage you to help friends or loved ones seek addiction help and I hope you are able to walk away like I did before it consumes you.

If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship, get help here:

loveisrespect.org – 1-866-331-9474

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, get help here:

Kingston and Frontenac 24hr Crisis Line: 613-544-4229