Four months later, Michael phoned. I agreed to meet, hopeful to retrieve my stolen funds. Over Starbucks’ hot chocolates he confessed that "cancer" was a cover-up for a 15-year cocaine addiction that left him high every day since his Bar Mitzvah. He had spent the past 120 days in rehab, fighting his demons and righting his wrongs.
"Please read these," he begged, ramming crinkled pages brimming with apologies, pleas for reconciliation and an infinite number of "I love you" and "Can’t live without you" declarations into my clenched fist.
A schmaltzy poem or Hallmark card is one thing. Receiving a notebook smattered with declarations of love is another. He had me at "You are hurt, confused and scared. So am I. I will tell you everything and show you the real me. No secrets."
He worked out of the apartment selling timeshares to wealthy clients and it was agreed that I would control the money, dispensing him a weekly "allowance" to curb temptation. We dined out, visited museums and strolled in Central Park like the normal couples I hoped we would one day emulate.
He displayed his devotion by branding my name on his bicep and proposing. I flaunted a four-carat Asscher-cut platinum circumference of perfection. Like a Disney princess, I was finally going to get my happy ending.
Despite the tat and promises on paper, his love for cocaine trumped his adulation for me. Drugs—2. Susan—0.
His old vice resurfaced and our battles grew vicious and vulgar. He unleashed hateful, offensive comments and I retaliated, calling him a liar, thief, criminal, and psychopath. We were a far cry from "happily ever after." The Frisky: "I'm Ashamed Of My Stripper Past."
My decision was easy. If Michael couldn’t quit drugs, I would quit the relationship. I’d throw myself the proverbial pity-party and invite all of my favorite food groups—fat, salt, sugar and carbs. In two weeks—maybe three—I would be liberated from his shackles of addiction.