I love an addict and it is a love that is the most painful of my life. I used to be consumed by the anger of it, this love of a person so selfish and irresponsible so self-consumed. I could never wrap my mind around the mind of the addict and it made me so damn mad. I have come to realize over many years of tears and pain that this anger serves no purpose. It does not make me feel better and it does not and will not make him no longer be an addict.
It started as a romantic love. I was head over heels and completely clueless and naive. My protected life in a small town had in no way prepared me to tango with the ugly beast of addiction that rest inside the body of this man I only knew I loved. I didn’t even know the signs at first I just happily fell in love with this smart, funny, kind person. Blinded by love I let myself fall completely. But as time progressed hints became popping up that something wasn’t right. That there was a problem. This person I loved was loving and generous but immature and selfish, irresponsible and reckless. I thought mistakenly that he just needed to grow up. So I patiently waited for that to happen. We became parents and my patience began wearing thin. I became aware that this person who I loved had a problem.
So I switched gears to being supportive. If someone has a problem you get help, right? That made sense to me. But I was still very ill prepared for all that lay before me. I walked through rehab with him(three times) and stuck by him. I thought surely now that we have the tools and knowledge we can beat this beast! I was ready to move forward. The beast had other plans. I began to get angry. We’d done the steps, we knew what we needed to do. This was supposed to be it, but it wasn’t and I’ve come to accept that it never really will be.
Instead of being patient and supportive I tried threats. “Get your shit together or we’re leaving!” “Get sober or you’re losing your family!” Now I was furious, my love was resentment and he was angry and we were stuck going round and round the merry-go-round with the beast. He used my anger and his shame to justify using and around and around we went. I began blaming and judging in my fury. My patience was obliterated by broken promises, lies, betrayal and second hand consequences. My romantic love was decimated. I was so dam MAD! How in the hell did I let myself get to this place? How did I let this happen?? Why couldn’t he for the love of God just STOP?! Why were we not enough??
I became ashamed. Ashamed for making excuses for him. Ashamed for staying with him. Ashamed that I couldn’t fix it. Ashamed that he was an addict. Ashamed that I loved an addict. One night as my beautiful children lay beside me (they slept with me at first so they could hear when daddy would come home and then out of anxiety of him not coming home) I prayed sobbing as quietly as I could that God would give me the strength to leave. I knew I had to. To protect my innocent children and because I didn’t like who I was becoming. I begged God over and over to help me to make this decision every night for weeks. One day I woke up and I was ready. It was single handedly the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. It broke up my family and it broke my heart. I dusted up those pieces of my heart, packed up my kids and our things and didn’t look back. I felt horrible leaving him alone with his monster but I had to do it for my kids and for myself.
I moved away with my kids to a new city, a new job and a new house. It was hard, so hard, but we thrived and made a new home. We were safely removed from the direct repercussions of his beast and we were surviving. I wish I could say this made things easy. It didn’t. I wish I could say that this protected us forever from the ugliness of the beast but I can’t.
The beast of addiction will always and forever be a part of our lives in one way or another because we love an addict. Romantic love perished long ago but was replaced with love at a distance. I love someone who is an addict and I was really embarrassed to admit that for a really long time. But the fact of the matter is that I do love an addict and I shouldn’t be ashamed of that. Although it changes my reactions and emotions regarding certain things it does not change who I am. It does not define who I am and I refuse to let it define our children. They are not the Beast’s children they are mine and their father’s. They are incredible kids despite their father’s addiction and I take great pride in that. I worked damn hard to ensure that.
I believe that the man I fell in love with is still in the shell the monster of addiction has inflicted. Buried deep under all the shame, regret, pain, despair and fear. And I believe he will be free some day although that day may not be here on earth. I am no longer ashamed to say I love an addict and am ready to be free of the judgment and the burden of hiding it. Loving someone who is sick is not something I will apologize for or regret any longer.
Addiction knows no race, no color, no economic status, no religion or sex. It’s hunger is insatiable. It can and will pick without discretion. Heredity plays a huge part in this which is why my children have learned about addiction much sooner and in more detail than I would have wished them to. It may claim you or someone you love so be careful of rocks thrown from glass towers for you never truly know what lies in your future. If it does, take some small comfort in knowing you are not alone. Reach out, get help. Be kind to yourself and as kind as you can be to the addict. Refuse to be a victim to this beast, crawl, scratch and climb out of its clutch if you must. And remember that the person you love is still in there, don’t let the beast take that from you too.
If you are troubled and plagued by this monster in any of its vicious forms, you are in my thoughts and prayers.