My blood is boiling and my heart is pounding out of my chest. I am going to try to remain calm so I can get my thoughts out.
I was just about to go to sleep after finishing my last post when I got a message from an acquaintance that I went to school with at USC. I am going to copy the entire conversation because I think I'll lose important details if I try to paraphrase:
Him: Hey I met someone who was friends with Blake, and they said they were really mad that you posted all those things about his heroin problem on Facebook. You totally have a right to grieve, but that is a really private thing that you publicized to thousands of people that didn't know him and now know him as a heroin addict. I really agree with him and felt I should say something.
Me: Well I respect your opinion, but I had full permission and encouragement from his family
Him: You should respect Blake, what would he want?
Me: He would want people to learn from his death. He wouldn't want people to have to hide their addiction because people would judge them for it. He would want people to find strength and get help. He would hope that what happened to him could serve as a lesson to others.
Him: Well I really hope that’s the case
Me: It is. Whoever is "mad at me" probably doesn't know me or Blake that well, so they can be mad at me. That’s fine.
Me: I know what I’m doing is right, so you can be mad at me too. That’s fine as well
Him: I’m sorry but I felt they should of told you
Me: Will you tell me who it was? (no answer for several minutes) I'm glad you at least told me yourself so I have an opportunity to talk to you about why you feel this way, but I think it's really a shame to not tell me who it was so I can have the same opportunity with the person you met. How can any of us grow from this if we say things behind people’s backs instead of confronting them? If that person is so mad at me, then I'd like to give them an opportunity to confront me about it
Him: Because it isn't my place. Just like saying certain things isn't certain peoples rights. You are in a bad place
Me: I am in a bad place?
Him: and you need love and I understand why you are doing those things
Me: I need love?
Him: but you should take that stuff down
Me: I am trying really hard to not judge you for your accusations about me, but how are you so certain you know so much about me, what I'm going through, and why I've chosen to do the things I've done? None of this is because I need love. It's out of love for Blake
Him: Look, it is up to you, but I think I have a very valid point. Goodbye
...And then he blocked me.
Rereading the conversation now that I’m not in the heat of the moment, I realize there are definitely places where I let myself get upset and combative instead of really hearing him out. Although this confrontation would’ve meant a lot more to me coming from a person who is actually friends with Blake and not some random person who barely even knows me, I do see his point. I was very quick to rattle off several reasons why Blake would want me to share about his addiction, but I had to ask myself, is serving as an example to others what Blake would’ve wanted his legacy to be or is that what I want?
The interesting dilemma here is that once a person has passed away, you can no longer ask him what he wants. All I can do is trust that his family and I knew him well enough to know what would make him proud. But this brings up the hardest thing about finding out about Blake's addiction.The terrifying question that I had to ask myself: Did I ever really know Blake at all?
This is a really big point of insecurity for me. With all of the lies and secrets, it's easy to convince myself that everything must have been a lie. But when I look at the way we look at each other in the videos of us, read the heartfelt and romantic messages he wrote me, think back on all of the deep, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional conversations we had, I know without a doubt that our love wasn't a lie. I knew the real Blake Norvell. So what if I didn't know about his drug use? His drug use was his addiction, not who he was as a person. And who he was as a person is COMPLETELY separate from that.
It's very unfortunate that people can't separate the person from the addiction, which ironically, has been a lot easier for me because of the way Blake hid it from me. People like this guy and "Blake's friend" see the addiction side of him being represented and talked about and are blinded by that. Yes, addiction was part of his life- there's no denying that. To deny that and sweep it under the rug would only perpetuate the same stigma that causes addiction to persist and get exponentially worse. I can only imagine that he completely hid his addiction because people view it as a sign of weakness, a flaw of character, a horrific label that makes you lesser. Who would want to come clean and get help if they knew it would be greeted by those kinds of judgements? So yes, addiction was part of Blake, but it was not who he was.
Anyone that knows me or has read anything I've written knows that I have nothing but love, admiration, and respect for Blake. Learning about his addiction hasn't changed my view of him, and it pains me to think that it might have changed others'. I wish with all my heart that that wasn't the case. I wish that people could look at an addict with compassion and see their heart and their struggle and know they are the same person inside, but they just have a disease. Maybe then they'd have a fighting chance of finding the love and acceptance they need to start getting better.
So now that I've had time to cool down and think about his question "What would Blake want?" I have a better answer. The Blake I knew would do anything and everything in his power to help others, even strangers. I know in my heart that if his story could help save even just one person, he would give me his blessing a million times over to share any detail of what happened. He would risk people thinking badly about him if it meant that others could see him, a popular, well-liked, respected person, and know that if he struggled with addiction, maybe it can affect anyone. Blake was generous and truly selfless. He would want people to hear about his addiction and learn from it.