Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chapter 23: A Hard Road

Five years had passed since Francis and I rescued Iliana from that... place. It had not been an easy road, and she still wasn't healed from her ordeal. We had both changed as people, so much, during the time when she was missing, that although I was overjoyed to have her back, things weren't the same as they were before we were so cruelly separated. Don't get me wrong, we still loved each other just as much, if not more, due to us needing to put such immense faith in hoping the other was still alive, but we both had deep wounds that needed to be addressed. Even though Iliana had been through much more than I had physically, I had just as many emotional scars as she did.

The first month Iliana was home, she would say names in her sleep, and repeat 'no' a lot. If my arm or leg grazed her while we were sleeping, she would often jump and wake up, which would then cause me to wake up as well. Once she realized it was me, she would curl up in my arms and we would fall back asleep. It led to way too many sleepless nights for the both of us. I was glad that her ordeal hadn't succeeded in making her afraid of me, I think that was my biggest fear, that she would be so scared of people that even I wouldn't be able to touch her. I went so far as to give her space the first night, offering to give her the bed while I slept on the couch so she could get used to being home again, and my heart fluttered when Iliana declined, asking me if she could pass on my offer and sleep in our bed with me.

As the drugs slowly worked their way out of Iliana's system, she went through terrible sessions of withdrawal, some days when the pain was so intense she screamed until she could scream no more. Then after that, she would just pass out from exhaustion. I did all I could with helping her deal with the inevitable sweating that accompanied her withdrawal by putting washcloths on her, and often times I cried because I couldn't bear to see her suffer so much, yet I was in no way going to leave her side. The only other way to make her suffer less, was of course, out of the question, since it involved getting her the heroin her body now craved. I took a long absence of four months from work, and the hospital understood, since they knew the hell I had been through, and I was one of the doctors with seniority. I only went into surgery on cases that no one could do except me. On those days, I called Francis to stay with Iliana, whom I had kept in touch with over the years, and trusted with mine and Iliana's life.

After the physical withdrawal was over, I had to deal with Iliana's irritability and mood swings, caused from her body still wanting drugs. She became depressed when I told her she couldn't have any heroin, and she would freak out until I found something to distract her. I tried to give her hobbies she could do that would hopefully take her mind off the false sense of security the heroin had given her. Two years later, she was doing all right, seeming much better, as she was less angry and depressed. Sadly, I had found out the reason she felt better was that she had found a heroin dealer and she was buying heroin about twice a month. We had an argument about it, and I flushed the drugs, while she beat my chest and cried, eventually letting me hug her until she calmed down, after which she apologized profusely. We went through the stages of withdrawal, yet again, and then she spent about a year and a half in depression because she couldn't convince herself that she was okay without drugs.

Iliana had a period of healing again for a year, until I found out that she had been abusing prescription drugs. I had been back at work for a while now, and Iliana wanted to go with me, saying that even though the hospital was the location she had been kidnapped for the second time, she would feel safer being in the same building as me. I didn't want to doubt that what she said was true, but finding out that she had been getting fake prescriptions and going to the hospital pharmacy to fulfill them, just to get high, made me wonder if that was the only reason she had wanted to go to work with me. I hated that Iliana's drug problem was starting to poison my mind and how I viewed her. That was when I knew I couldn't deal with this by myself anymore, and that I needed help if I was going to try to purge Iliana of her drug habit.

Most of the standalone rehab centers had closed after the apocalypse happened due to lack of business, so I had to put Iliana in the hospital's small rehab wing for recovering drug addicts who had been brought in because they had overdosed. I hated to put Iliana in the very place where she had been stealing prescription drugs, but there was no other place for her to go to get help. In these hard times, I had to make do with what was available. This particular morning, I had been waiting for Iliana to get ready because it was time for me to drop her off at the hospital's rehab center. She had been eager when I suggested rehab, but I could see that it was hard for her, and I hoped that she would really try. I knew that she was constantly at war with herself about what she needed and what she wanted. Iliana came downstairs with a small bag and she appeared to be in a fairly good mood. She had combed her hair and put it in braids, which was more effort than she had put towards taking care of her hair in a long time.

"Gerard, baby? I'm sorry. I shouldn't have started abusing those pills. God, I've been such a wretch to you. You risked your life to save me, and I've done nothing but cause you pain."

Iliana's voice caught in her throat, and I felt the sincerity of her words. I was happy to see she was lucid today, in the right state of mind, especially since I had to take her to rehab. I went over to her and hugged her, comforting her as best I could, then giving her a small, soft kiss on her lips. I was always sad when I kissed her because all of her drug use had made her once luscious lips chapped and dry, and it seemed like no amount of Chapstick could make it better.

"Honey... Iliana, you know I love you, and I forgive you, of course, for starting those prescription drugs. I wish that you hadn't, but I know that you aren't always yourself. I do thank you for taking this step in your healing. I wish I could keep taking care of you myself, but we've been doing this for so long and I don't feel like it has been as effective as I would have liked it to be."

"Thank you, for being so incredibly patient with me. I love you for that."

I kissed Iliana once more and picked up her bag, asking her if she was ready to go, and she nodded, intertwining her fingers into mine as we walked out the front door, hopefully to our new beginning.


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    1. Apparently you are not the only one, which is funny because in my head she just packed some clothes and toiletries for her stay at rehab. XD

  2. "from that... place." Ahhh I see Gerard still can't come to grips with what his wife was involved in after 5 years...Damn.

    He really loves her if he could deal with all of that...I don't know if I would've kept hanging around that long, I probably would've thrown in the towel after I found out she was doing heroin again and pretty much lying for 2 years. But I guess love is patient and love is kind....Kinder and more patient than I would be lol.

    Prescription drugs are still just as bad as street drugs...It's such a shame Iliana got introduced to that lifestyle and she really didn't even want to be a part of it. Drugs don't just destroy the person abusing them, they destroy the people that love them too...It's really sad.

    I'm wondering what the hell was in that bag and what's behind the door...It's been 5 years, things had to have changed by now...But for better or worse....Hmmm >:D

    "and it seemed like no amount of Chapstick could make it better." I know this wasn't a laughing matter but for some reason I luaghed when I read that part about her dry lips...Omg girl, honey & sugar...Moisturize those friggin lips lmao.

  3. Oh and pics 2-7 ...What program did you use to edit those...Gimp?

    1. What Gerard saw in the brothel, that guy basically having his way with his wife, all the bruises she had, the track marks, and all the emotional damage that's been done to her, I don't know if he'll ever be over that. It doesn't help that she has essentially become a drug addict.

      The love they had is true, and now it's being tried. Gerard has always loved her, and she didn't ask to be kidnapped, turned into a sex slave, and unwillingly turned into a junkie. That part, the fact that all the shit that happened to her was not of her own doing, is what helps him stay with her. It is true, that it is starting to become Iliana's fault as the time goes on, which is why Gerard knows that he can't do this alone anymore. In this case, he is taking his marriage vows very seriously.

      Prescription drugs are almost worse because they're legal, so it's much easier to get them without people getting suspicious of you. Sadly, Iliana is a victim of the cruelty this society has to offer. Luckily she has Gerard, or she would for sure fall apart and become just another statistic.

      Her bag has some clothes for when she stays at rehab, and some personal effects like a picture of Gerard. She'll probably still see him every day since she'll be in the hospital when he goes to work, but his picture will help her sleep. Her going to rehab is the first time since she's come home that she will be away from Gerard at night. We'll find out in Francis' chapter how much the world has changed in the past five years.

      LOL, honey and sugar are rare items in the apocalyptic world, and definitely Chapstick is rare.

      Those pictures - I used Picmonkey. But I do have Gimp for all other things, like creating banners, and putting things on billboards or tv/computer screens.

  4. Ugh.. I can't imagine how hard that must be, getting used to a bed that you were used to before but had been cruelly ripped away from. Her nightmares must be bad, but it must feel so good to wake up and see her husband lying next to her.
    Aww, it's cool that Gerard and Francis are still friends, too, and they are still able to help one another out. That must be super helpful, especially with what Gerard and Iliana are going through.
    I can understand Iliana's need to abuse drugs, it's really hard to wean yourself off, but she didn't even have an opportunity to wean, it was just completely ripped away from her and she was forced cold turkey. Of course, it sucks that she felt like she needed to do that, but I can understand why. I really hope things get better with her and she doesn't relapse, all the progress so far would just be a waste. >_<
    And it's been 5 years, so I'm eager to see what the outside world looks like now :O

    1. Iliana is feeling a mix of comfort and fear. She loves that she's finally home and safe, but her nightmares keep her mind a prisoner. Over the five years, her nightmares have gotten better, they're not as frequent anymore, and knowing Gerard is there once she opens her eyes is definitely helping her.
      Yeah! Gerard gained a great friend from Francis out of Iliana being kidnapped, so at least there's one good thing that came out of it.
      Pretty much, you described Iliana's situation really well. :D Getting yourself sober after having hard drugs through your system is always a difficult process. It takes a lot of willpower and strength to do it completely. Iliana's not as strong as she could be, which is why she's having trouble backtracking. She's fighting with herself because she doesn't want to be a bitch to Gerard and keep taking drugs, but her body is betraying her. That depression too, from being off the drugs, really is what sends her back for more. If she can free her mind and convince her brain she doesn't need drugs, that's when she'll finally get sober.
      Eeeee! Haha, I'm excited to show what's happened to the world in five years. Appearance wise, like environmental wise, it'll probably look pretty similar, since I'm playing in the same world I was in before, but law and order wise... that's a whole other story. >:D We'll find out more of all of those changes in Francis' chapter. XD
      Glad you're excited for more! Thanks for reading! :)

  5. Such an aptly named chapter: a hard road indeed. God I feel for Gerard so damn much. He’s spent all this time looking for his wife only to get back someone who has changed so significantly that she’s almost an entirely different person. Of course, Iliana is still in there somewhere I think, but she is currently plagued by the demons that haunt her and these demons cause her so much pain that she looks to outside sources such as drugs to quiet them. And, of course, the fact that her brain has been rewired to think that it needs this shit does nothing to help her either.

    On that note, I feel for both of them. It’s clear that they’re both struggling to do their best, but unfortunately in this case their best isn’t quite enough, so they’ve had to take this next step to help them through it all. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that though and I truly hope that this will be what finally frees Iliana from the grasps of her addiction and brings her back into Gerard’s patient and loving arms. Not that they’ll ever be the same people they were before all this mess happened, but at least they’ll be able to move forward together and stick by one another in the trying days to come.

    Here’s to staying hopeful….Come on Iliana, you can beat this! <3

    Also hey look, I'm all caught up here too! Hehe. It's been one heckuva journey so far. I look forward to seeing where it goes from here :)

    1. Aww thank you. Yeah, Gerard was somewhat prepared for what state Iliana would be in from physically looking at her the night he rescued her, but emotionally and mentally, she's a whole other story. You're right, she is in there, she still loves Gerard just as much, if not more than she did before she was kidnapped, and she's definitely not seeking out drugs to be mean to him. Her body is literally a prisoner to the addiction because at the chemical level, her body thinks she can't function without drugs, and so it tells her mind that she should be sad when she has no drugs. Iliana is very lucky that she has Gerard there who is patient, and doesn't just keep telling her she's hopeless or anything like that. He only gets upset when she lies to fuel her drug habit, which is understandable. He's usually more mad at the situation than he is at her because being a doctor, he knows very well that a lot of Iliana's problem is her body craving drugs, not that she actually wants to keep doing this.

      Also luckily for them, Gerard is a doctor, and he knows when he needs help with medical stuff. Hopefully in rehab, Iliana can be in an environment where she's busy doing other things so that her body can go back to normal. Hobbies before hadn't helped her while she was at home, but maybe being in the rehab center will help her brain find the will it needs to quit giving into her body's signals. Only time will tell if she gets better with rehab. Iliana had grown a little bit stronger as a person before Leo forced heroin on her, so maybe she can find that strength again.

      LOL, Iliana appreciates your support.

      Yay for catching up, LOL. I'm glad to have you as a reader, and thanks for leaving me all these wonderful comments. :)

  6. Oh, poor Gerard and Iliana! I like how you showed that even though they managed to escape from that hell hole, there were still miles to go for recovery.

    Are they going to be moving into one of those "new" homes the city constructed?

    1. Aww, thank you, I wanted to create a realistic picture of how drug abuse can affect not only the person who took the drugs, but those around them. It takes time, and it's difficult, sometimes I think people just think it's so easy, but it's really not. Here's hoping rehab helps.

      Umm... as of now I have no plans for these two to move into the new creepy houses. LOL.