So I’m hoping today will be the beginning of the end. If this weren’t real life, I would have enough cash to wake up and decide I was going to leave him today. I would pack my bags, hire movers to ship my stuff, buy a ticket and go right back to where I just came from, San Diego, the place where this all began. But it is real life, and real life with an addict means credit card debt, past due bills, medical bills, owed money to the IRS, and negative cash in my bank account. All I have is a pathetic amount of money in a retirement fund. So since this is real life this reinvention will not happen in one day, it will take time and planning, and a lot of strength. Right now he is on our futon sleeping. He has been there for the past two days. First the marks started appearing on his face, then the hyperactive behaviors, the sleepless nights, the ATM withdrawals, the lies about the ATM withdrawals, and now this, a bunch of Seroquel and a blob on the futon couch in the living room of our open concept renovated mill loft style apartment. At least our last place was a townhouse, and we had a second bedroom where he could go and not be in the middle of everything. There is no escape in the very popular open concept living space. Here he’s just a stagnant reminder of his addiction and failed recovery. The feelings change pretty rapidly:
Piece of #@$ can’t even stay clean without the naltrexone for one day to get the Vivitrol shot, hasn’t worked steadily or kept a job in over a year, no driver’s license, warrant in— probably a warrant in —, returning things at Wal-Mart, lying, stealing, manipulating, no car, no future liar. Get off MY couch and out of MY apartment that I work and pay for!!!!
FEAR AND QUESTIONING
Fear of change. Actually intense trepidation is more like it. How do I even begin to get a divorce? How do I leave my job? What will happen to him if I leave him? Will he die? Will he end up in a homeless shelter? Will I ever be ready to meet anyone else? Will I ever have a baby? Will I ever regain my confidence? Can I be alone? Do I take my cats too?
COMPASSION AND LOVE
If I don’t worry and care for him, no one will. This is a disease, he’s a good person, and this is not his fault. He can’t recover without me. He’s an amazing man when he’s sober. Things could be the way they used to be if he just stopped using. He is in pain and I can’t leave him. He’s my soul mate.
FRUSTRATION (mixed in with sarcasm)
If we were rich, I would put him in the best self-pay 90+ day treatment program in the United States where he would have a holistic recovery approach and he would eat organic food, do yoga, get cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR therapy, have 1:1 talk therapy daily, swim in a pool, acupuncture, acupressure, biofeedback, daily exercise, relapse prevention, and have a view of the ocean.
SELF PITY (I hate this one!)
Why do I have to go through this? Why can’t I have a normal husband and family-life like my friends on Facebook do? I spent thousands of dollars on recovery and still nothing has worked out. It’s not fair that I have to carry this burden. (Stomp and whine)
I am married to a stranger who has been hijacked by heroin and opioids. Not telling others due to shame and for fear of judgment. Making excuses for him to our family when we miss events and wanting to go these events so much because I am lonely. Excessive time on the computer alone researching and googling rehabs, treatment programs, medication assisted programs. Entering keywords like: “married to addict, opiate addiction, when to leave an addict”. Talking to my dog, because it feels like there is no one else. So much time alone while he is gone, high, or sick worrying and crying. Grateful when he’s alive.
I am enabling his behavior and if I don’t leave him, nothing will ever change. This situation is toxic for both of us. It is time for us to separate. Leaving is how I love myself and maybe save him and if I can’t save him, I have to save myself.
Now I know you are probably thinking what is wrong with you??? Kids? Nope! Financially dependent? Not at all. Been married for 10 plus years? No, almost 2 years. The obvious conclusion: leave him! I even feel ashamed because it should be easier. I should let go of my attachment to him, to material things, and just pack a bag and go. But it’s not that easy for me, at least not right now. I know that my self-esteem is gone and I am not even sure who I am anymore. I have been lost. So I am on this journey, to rediscover myself, and to end this marriage to an addict. Now that I have decided that, what’s next???
I did some research about who I am in this relationship and the dynamics of loving an addict. This is what I learned:
- I am codependent. This can be considered a disorder in which I have become a part of the addictive or dysfunctional behavior. In this sense, I am also sick. My life is centered on my management of and preoccupation with the addict, my husband.
- I am in a state of denial. I believe the problem exists outside of me because it is my husband who suffers from addiction, not me. “If he stops using, everything will be okay.” I deny the painful reality of his problem in a desperate attempt at self-preservation. “It’s not that bad, the people on Intervention are worse”. Of course this is not the case, because his addiction affects every aspect of my life. In fact, my husband’s sobriety (or failed sobriety) is the precipice in which my delicate happiness hangs in the balance, ready to fall into an abyss at any moment. There’s the denial talking: I am writing from the abyss and my choices are my own. The denial that I have a problem: I am codependent, his addiction is a living hell, and I enable my husband.
- The only recovery from this codependency is detachment. Detachment is a cognitive separation from my addict husband and his addictive behaviors. I have to say, psychologists, it doesn’t just feel cognitive. Detachment feels spiritual, and I feel it physically in my body. I imagine it as a gaping hole, a lump in my throat, hot tears in my eyes, a gnawing in my guts, a hole in my heart. But back to my research: I must completely detach and accept that I cannot control my husband’s behavior.
So I took the first step today, I got up and went to the gym. This is a big deal, because yesterday I spent the day in bed binge watching HBO series with my dog, feeling depressed, and hoping my husband would get up this weekend from his state of withdrawals. But today I went to the gym, I reached out to a friend, I told her the painful truth that I am so ashamed of, and I started planning. These are the things that I will need to do in this reinvention:
- Acts of self-love: exercise, yoga, reading, healthy eating
- Go to an Al-anon or Nar-anon group
- Get into therapy
- More yoga
- Something spiritual: meditation, writing
- Start working on my book again
- Connect with others
- Build a deeper understanding of myself
Now these are the actions I will need to take to get my life back:
- I need to leave my husband and everything that goes with that.
I visualize what this means: I want to end up back in San Diego, where I was when I met him, in my best friends second bedroom with the sun on my face and the ocean mere blocks away.