Addicted to Love: 38 Special By Tanner Ballengee

* Featured Artwork: By Michelle Nguyen

Addicted to Love: 38 Special

By Tanner Ballengee

“I woke up this morning with a piece of past caught in my throat, and then I choked.”  —From the song “For Want Of” By Rites Of Spring

There was a time where it was all so innocent and lighthearted–when we didn’t know shit about each other except first names and what the other looked like naked and how it felt when our bodies connected. We were giddy and having fun. Before feelings got involved. Before we cared. Before we had all this past behind us and everything became heavy-hearted. I feel like I’ve aged so much since then. Like I’ve aged 10 years in just 2.

I miss it. Even though it kind of sucked, I still had fun. Everything was new and exciting. I was getting wasted and partying so much and sleeping around and didn’t give very many fucks about anything. I was finally living the douche bag lifestyle that I never got a chance to live while I was in college/a long-term relationship with Charlotte. I was finally having fun! Although I did get depressed occasionally because I was still “figuring myself out” and would miss and get bummed about Charlotte from time to time…

But all that changed when I started sleeping with Naomi. I forgot all about Charlotte… Okay that’s a lie but at least I wasn’t sad about it any more. The elation I felt being with Naomi those first few weeks was comparable to how amazing I felt in those first weeks with Charlotte in May of 2012. The moment I knew I loved Naomi was when I left her house one morning smiling and I felt a spontaneous urge to tell my mother about her. I’d rarely talk to my mom back then but I was just so stupidly happy that I felt compelled to call and tell her, “Hey mom, I started seeing a new girl. Her name is Naomi and she’s really great and I’m really happy.” Simple, but scary.

“I may not be a smart man. But I know what love is.”–Forrest Gump

And it is just that: the overwhelming urge to tell your mother. It’s the best fucking feeling in the world. It’s a feeling that captivates you and consumes you and takes away every ache and pain and worry and lifts you higher than ever before. Higher than any drug. Nothing beats it. I truly believe that.

But, with that comparison being made, the comedown and withdrawals of love are worse than any fucking drug. And worse, when you run out of it and you go through those fucking horrible withdrawals and you want just one more hit, you’ll sometimes discover that what you were hooked on, what made you feel so damned good at one point…doesn’t even exist anymore. What a terrible fucking joke! Imagine being heavily dependent on a horribly addictive drug—say heroin for example—but you go clean every once in awhile yet always end up back it. Then one day it’s all gone. Just like that. No more fucking heroin on the entire planet. That’d be a hell of a wake up call. Fuck, man.

You try to find substitutes and some of them work and kind of give you some of the same effects and feelings–enough so to get you through the day or week. Or month or year or lifetime. But no substitute gets you as high as the shit your old plug would give you. So what the hell do you do then? Well, you learn to live without it. You get clean and you cope and you go on living (“Easier said then done” is an understatement). Sometimes you suffer, sure, because there’s so many triggers around you all the time and there’s no avoiding them, and then there’s that fucking devastating day when you see someone with your old dealer for the first time since you got clean. And she’s giving him the good shit—the same stuff she used to give you—and you’re fucking crushed and smothered into little burnt-out ashes like someone stepping on a burnt out Parliament. You were doing so well and now you’re right back to where you fuckin’ started. The fuck you gonna do now?

Nothing. There’s nothing you can do. The shit she’s got is completely different now. It’s not for you—it wasn’t made for you. It ain’t gonna get you high. She’s not holdin’ the old shit anymore. And even if she or he was, you’re gonna get your hopes up by desperately trying to get back together, praying to get a good fix… But you’ll wind up disappointed. Even if you do succeed (and you won’t). No hit is going to get you as high as that very first one that got you hooked. You’ll destroy yourself chasing after that feeling again. You just fucking can’t. You’ll try and try and try and try until one day it’s too much. And you die.

Fuck drugs.


Tanner Ballengee is an artist from Topeka, Kansas, currently residing in Tempe, Arizona. He is a graduate of Washburn University and has been published in Gyroscope Review, Inscape Literary Journal, VLP Magazine, Damfino Press, and South Florida Arts Journal, along with many self-publications. You'll find more of his work here:

The extremely talented color pencil artist began drawing for the first time two years ago. She was going through a difficult period in her life and turned to art to express those feelings. She found solace and comfort in creating portraits. Michelle says they are a self reflection of who she is.

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