Material girls in an addiction fuelled world

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I knew Maggie since she was a little adopted baby born on Christmas day. Holding her I felt a sense of peace. All warm and wrapped up like a much loved Christmas present. I wanted to bestow love on her just like her mother and father did, who had patiently waited so long for her to arrive from India.

Clothes on a rackAs we grew we shared many wonderful experiences. We'd go on summer holidays and play and roll in the sand without a care in the world. Our friendship went from strength to strength as we'd walk side by side along the beach or gaze up at the stars, wishing each other all the best in life.

Back in Melbourne we'd hang out at each other's places, making cupcakes, patting the family dog, having a bit of a laugh and always a good time. We did many things together such as swimming, going to the movies, shopping and playing our favourite, game hide and seek.

However little did I know that Maggie was going to seek out drugs during her short life, which really put our friendship to the test. During my late teens and early 20s I had to bear her and her growing addiction. It started with alcohol and marijuana and then moved on to acid and heroin.

I started to fear her. She turned ugly and would beg me for favours and money, just as I was beginning to find my place in the working world. She started doing anything she could to fund her addiction. I became an easy target as she began to attack my closet and wallet.

It was the taking of my clothes that caused me the most despair. The minute my back was turned she'd grab my clothes and put them underneath her clothes or into her backpack. My designer clothes were everything to me. I had worked hard to attain them and now they were all gone.

At first I didn't know what was happening. I thought maybe the cleaning lady was taking my things. Even when my clothes were replaced they soon did a vanishing act once again. Nothing felt safe anymore. I felt violated.

 

"It dawned on me that we were more similar than I'd thought, her addiction to drugs like a strange reflection of my addiction to shopping."

 

My incredibly astute mother was the first to suspect my friend of taking and selling my designer clothes to fund her addiction. After she had put two and two together, my friendship with Maggie began to fall apart.

I began to hate her and wanted nothing to do with her. I remember ringing up her mother one Christmas day and forbidding her to bring Maggie to our house. This caused her poor mother, who had also been targeted, great distress, that they could no longer come to our place as a family.

Although her mother would buy me expensive gifts to try to make up for Maggie's wrongdoing, I still couldn't get over what Maggie had done. I'd shun her at parties, especially gatherings at Christmas which also happened to be her birthday.

Even when she sent me a long heartfelt apology letter years later when she became clean for a while I still couldn't find it in my heart to forgive her. Things were never the same again.

However this year when I found out her soul had left this earth at the tender age of 36 following a fatal overdose it shook me to the core. All of a sudden I began to miss her like a long-lost friend, and wished I'd gone easier on her and had more to do with her during her later life.

It dawned on me that we were more similar than I'd thought, her addiction to drugs like a strange reflection of my addiction to shopping. It also taught me life is far more than just being a material girl like in the Madonna song we used to tune into when we were younger. Each of us, in our own way, succumbed to that hollow view of the world.

 

 

Isabella FelsIsabella Fels is a Melbourne poet and writer. She has been published in various publications including Positive Words, The Big Issue and The Record.

Topic tags: Isabella Fels, drug addiction

 

 

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Existing comments

Lovely to hear from you Isabella, and just before Christmas too. Your story is all about friendship and its moments of inclusion and exclusion. How deeply we feel when a friendship is strained and things can never be quite the same. Don't be too concerned that Maya and yourself were apart - we can love a special friend despite jealousy and strife. As you did with Maya.
Pam | 12 December 2017


Isabella, those people who work in the shops you like are depending on you for their jobs. The things they are selling are mostly made in poor countries, so I like to think of shopping as a form of foreign aid - how could there be too much of it?
Russell | 12 December 2017


thank you Isabella: it took me back to my fraught relationship with a 'bestie' when we were still at school, and how I have struggled with my reactions when I found out how her life went off the rails and affected your health - physical and mental - and that of her own children. I became much more critical of my own envy and then judgment of my friend. perhaps the deepest and hardest part of friendship is to continue to love without judgment including of our younger, sillier selves. I enjoyed this piece.
Moira Rayner | 13 December 2017


Great piece Isabella. Death brings to the forefront what unites us...life what divides us.
Steve Sinn | 13 December 2017


A sad story but look how much you have grown in understanding, love, and forgiveness. May your friend, wherever she is resting now, understand and forgive your feelings.
Peggy Spencer | 13 December 2017


Except Russell, too often these over-priced goods are made in sweat shop conditions in poor countries exploiting impoverished workers. We wouldn't tolerate this here - how is their humanity less in the image of G-D than ours?
hilary | 14 December 2017


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