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  • She sat across the table, paleness shoving the freckles into prominence. Slight smudges rested beneath her alert yet furtive eyes. Straight back, folded hands, set mouth attempted to tell a story of strength and resilience. But the details and the unspoken words told a different story.

    Brown hair pulled back into a pony tail with bangs nearly to eyelash level, was meant to appear neatly and conservatively styled to meet with the boss. The details painted a different story. Flecks of dandruff, dull just slightly oily traces of unwashed hair appeared upon detail-oriented observation. The folded hands began to move slowly, the fingers lacing and unlacing. Little girl fingers, thin, small, nails tiny and un-manicured were grimy. Her face was stoic and set, determined not to give any of the true story away. She knew inside the reason for the meeting but hoped, like many addicts that she had hidden it well and made no mistakes, that the addiction was controlled and invisible at work. That lack of personal care is an early symptom that the substance has grasped the throttle of self-control from its victim. Acquiring the substance and getting lost in it as it dulls the inner pain takes up the time one needs for personal hygiene. An edge of defiance suggesting that there is no connection between the after hours recreation and work, that the boss is in the wrong and can't possibly know the secret seeps from the words heavily couched and those unsaid. Eyes shifting, moving up when measuring a question with a veiled response, no one wanting to be specific about the real issue, the real problem, what we all knew and refused to say. If the real issue were said aloud, it would be given power and truth as it was spoken. Someone would need to command responsibility for the menace. No one was ready for that.

    A desire and offer of help, of ways to find help and carefully coded "I know what you did" were met with "This is my business and here is the line between my personal life and work life." Denial? Coaching by a pusher or lawyer or police? A darker harder truth to cover? A different reason to avoid the huge elephant sitting between them? It was hard to tell. A user avoiding the reality, deflecting the truth and the consequences of the act, the acceptance of responsibility even for the safety of self. A beginning drug dabbler's definitive steps into true addiction, chronicled in the details.
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