So you know how they offer those addicted to heroin methadone as a transition off the drug? How many recovering alcoholics guzzle coffee, how there are meat substitutes for those exploring a vegetarian diet? Or how they have nicotine patches and gum for those quitting smoking? Well I found a flavour. He had never met either of us before, a stranger. I felt a draw to him, and knew exactly what it was. The methadone to my heroin. Rene was my addiction, my passion, my love, my purpose. He was my whole world and when I was forced to quit cold turkey I craved him so bad and then, a substitution. The thing that could curb the cravings. I crave Rene all the time. Like an addict to their drug of choice. I see reminders of him everywhere, in everything I do, it can consume me. I haven't taken as much as a Tylenol, maybe an extra glass of wine or two but nothing else. There is nothing for this withdrawal, there is nothing to take the edge off, or is there?

I knew what I wanted from him, I also know that with every maintenance program  there are side effects. Some say the side effects of the weaning drug can be worse than the original addiction. Adding more complexity to the issues. Of course, I believe that to be true, but like many addicts I’m not sure I cared.  However, my substitute of choice, a stand up guy who did care. So I sit in all the realness. Push through the crazy intensity and the profound emptiness, no distractions. In the long run this is healthier, this is the way to do it. I already knew that and who knows if I would have gone through with anything. Still,  in the moments of highs that make my body shake from the energy in me that's so intense it is almost too much to stand I forget that a substitution will only mask the pain. In the moments of loss so deep I feel lifeless, I beg for something to make it go away. But then I get moments of clarity. I am a soldier and I can go through this full on. Feeling it all; gritting my teeth and letting it pass through me.  No softening the blow. In time I will be different. In years like any other recovering addict I won’t count the weeks, but the months, and then eventually the years.

There are moments when it would be easier to substitute than deal with the loss. He's gone, sometimes way too much for me to be with. But I know  I will learn to be complete on my own, and only in that moment when I no longer reach for Rene or the substitute of the day can I really be anyone's equal. Only then can I be in a relationship that is built in health instead of the wound. Only then will I be free.

For now I ask for the strength to get through each day with as much grace as possible.