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I have read some stories of people leaving their spouses when they discovered he/she was addicted. Some had children and didn't want their children living in that circumstance. Some have hope that the person they love with get clean and return. I am curious. What gives a non addicted person the strength to leave their addicted loved one? Why do some NOT leave and the situation deteriorates? How often does the non addicted spouse join in with the drug use? Why would someone say, "I will never leave my husband - no matter what!" Is this "normal"? Why would someone refuse to leave an addicted husband "broken" and then becomes broken herself?
Women do not leave when they are not strong enough (on their own) to leave. An abused woman will believe she is worthless and will not have the self esteem to believe she can live on her own. Some women do leave addicted husbands. I did. After one time of standing in a food line with two babies in tow, I decided to go "home" for Christmas, but I KNEW I was not going home for Christmas, I was going home for good. I just left, had mom send me my plane ticket, took the kids, their birth certificates, a few clothes, left everything else behind (oh took my pictures) and went home. I imagine if it was just me, I would have stayed, thinking foolishly that I could somehow help my h/b get well. But addiction does not work that way, no one can help the addict until the addict chooses to get help. Most or some will lose everything before they decide that they need to get clean. Some will die and never try. Some will go to prison, detox and come out and use again. Thing is a loved one cannot help an addict. But a loved one can get sucked into the lies and deceit of the addict. They can believe that he will get better on his own like he says he will. They can believe he will never steal again. They can believe the addiction of the h/b is their fault and stay and try to fix it. Addicts do everything to keep people out of their lives. Even their loved ones can be a reason for them to use. Shame is a reason to use.
If there are two addicted people, then they have to be separated and go on each their own path to recovery, because recovery is about putting self first. Putting self first and healing. People do not recover with an addict in active addiction, the pull of the drugs is far stronger than a simple desire to get better. If one uses, likely both will. Or one will leave and choose to get well. And getting well means, in part, removing oneself from all addicts, surrounding oneself with people in recovery.
Women do not leave because instinctively they want to help make things better, and with most diseases they probably can help, but the opposite is true with addiction.
Look at the stories of abuse out there, how many women go back to the abusive h/b? Many do. Many do and die. Some abuse, like verbal abuse keeps a woman believing she cannot live without her h/b. The h/b will say things to them that estranges them from the entire world, including their own families. Verbal abuse slowly whittles away the spirit of a person. Without their spirit they are stuck in the hopelessness of the world. The hopelessness of the small world their h/b has them live in. Being told every day you are worthless or will not achieve or cannot achieve anything. Being told you are not good enough or strong enough to get by on your own.
We need other answers here besides mine. Will some other women on this site please stand up and explain how hard it is to leave someone who holds you in their very tiny world. Please help explain this. I know you are out there, those of you who have been through abuse, like me, know how hard it is to leave. Someone help me with this. Please. It is hard for others to understand why a woman would stay with an abusive or controlling h/b. This is a good subject and needs to be understood. Addiction is a family disease. Please come forward women and show us how you left. What provoked you? Where did your strength come from. Mine came from anger pure and simple. In put?
I hope this partially answers your question.
You ask about is this 'normal' and the thing is there is not much that is 'normal' about a practicing alcoholic/addicts thinking. It is a disease of perception and I just don't think you are going to find solid answers. In recovery the best thing we can do is share our experiences and while no two will be exactly alike there are many similarities.
There also aren't any set rules in recovery and what works for some might not work for others. I have known many couples in recovery that have stayed together when one or the other started using and things worked out. My husband and I met in AA 22 years ago and he has always told me that the only way he would ever leave me is if I went back out there. He does not consider the pain meds that I take a slip because he has been by my side throughout this whole ordeal and knows exactly what I have been through with this CP. If I were to drink today or take drugs to get high I am sure he would not be around. Those are his boundaries and I respect them but everyone is different and what works for some might not work for others.
Years ago when I went through a 30 day rehab I was concerned about being around alcohol and drugs when I got home and it was agreed if it was a threat to me or a trigger then there would be none allowed. It wasn't a problem at all and I still played on the coed softball and volleyball teams that my (then) husband and I belonged to and of course there was a lot of alcohol and drugs around but it just didn't bother me, in fact I found it boring to go to the pizza parlor after a game and sit for hours while everyone got drunk. We had alcohol, my doc, in the house then and to this day we keep some on hand for guests that drink. What is nice is that we have never had anyone get drunk here and I believe it is because they acknowledge and respect our recovery. So there are many suggestions but each person finds what works for them.
From my experience there are many forms of abuse in relationships and the emotional abuse that I experienced in both my marraiges was something that I needed at the time. Sounds crazy but it is true and I believe that is why you see women and men get out of one abusive relationship only to turn around and get in another one. This is getting into some very complicated areas of codependency and what I can share from my experience is that it took me years to even recognize my part in these relationships. And my part was....I would walk away feeling better after some verbal abuse because it was familiar and that which is familiar is comfortable. So it is my belief that when a person is in an abusive relationship that it fills a need within them, at least that is what I have experienced and what I have seen countless other women go through over the years.
I had to stop looking at the other person and work on me in order to learn how to not be a victim. It was only when I started doing that I could recognize my part and change me. Three years c&s I gave my husband my rings and told him I was done working on the relationship by myself and unless he was willing to get some counseling with me I wouldn't stay in the relationship. This man loved me and I knew it and I knew he would do just about anything to save our marriage. The thing he couldn't do was look at himself and his adult/child issues having been raised in an alcoholic home.
Just some of what I have experienced in these areas...
The Ego Seeks The Destination
The Soul Seeks The Journey
I left my husband. I still don't really know how I had the strength to do it. At the time I did not even know he was an addict, or really understand addiction itself. I sure do now... Anyway, my daughter was 8 months old at the time and I had found drugs (pot and pills w/ straws, residue, etc etc) in our home four times. I left for two nights to a hotel with my daughter, returned home for one night and found more drugs. I packed up enough stuff to get by and left while he was at work. Cowardly maybe, but I had to get my daughter out of that house. The thought of her being exposed to something like that infuriated me to no end. I flushed the drugs and left the empty baggies and bottles on the counter.
I believed in my heart of hearts that he would realize what the drugs had cost him and would straighten up. Ha. I believed I would be back in a matter of days, if not hours to a husband full of remorse and regret. Ha. I had no idea how deep his addiction ran. Now it's been over a year and a half and things have only gotten worse. He has been arrested twice and failed to appear for court, so law enforcement is apparently hunting him down. They try to get info from me, but I have none to give. He is barely a part of my life now...and I thank my higher power every day for that. He has still not reached his bottom and I doubt at this point, he ever will.
I think I left because MY life became unmanagable. He was aggressive and mean. He was rarely around and when he was, my needs did not matter at all. I was constantly confused and wondering why the relationship was so hard - all the time. Nothing was simple, or blissful anymore. Everything was deflected back onto me. There was no peace in my home. I had no idea why. I had no idea about his constant opiate use. Now I recognize that all the deflection was so he could preserve his opportunities to use. He was willing to allow me to feel crazy (literally he would tell me I was seeing things and that I was crazy when I confronted him). All so he could use.
Truthfully, I want him to be better. Though he has broken our marriage in every way possible, I want him to get better. I want us to get better. What keeps me away is the fact my daughter deserves better than a life with drugs and she deserves to have me at my best, which did not exist in our home with my husband.
It has been painful. So damn painful. Every step of the way. Everytime I had hope, then had it shattered. My feelings have not changed for him. The truth is, the him I married does not exist right now. Not while he is still using and not getting treatment. Promises have been broken over and over and over again. Each time my heart breaks a little more. I keep waiting to wake up one day and be over him. To not want him again. I now realize that that may never happen but each time he disappoints me, I get a little stronger, through the pain, and detach myself from his grip. I finally recognize that my heart will always want what it can't have and the gumption to keep pushing on comes from a place of being fed up. Realizing it's not going to change until he wants it to, and even then, I'm not sure I could forgive him. I would always be waiting for the other shoe to drop and that is not what would be best for him either, if he ever gets into recovery.
It sounds like I have given up on him. I try to hold out hope for him, for my daughter's sake, but I was driving myself nuts with trying to solve the issue. His issue. I cannot do it for him and I no longer WANT to do it for him. That's been the biggest shift. Al-anon or Nar-anon helped me a lot in the beginning. I don't attend anymore cuz of scheduling reasons. My therapist helps me the most now. I suggest anyone in my position, seek counseling. I get affirmation of my choices and understanding of his, which only serves me in positive ways to have compassion for him for my daughter's sake.
Good luck and know that it is possible to do what's best for you. I am not an advocate for leaving necessarily, but in my life, it was the only option I had/have. Each situation is different and each person is different. We all have the same basic primal needs, but no one can determine what your decision should be but you.
I would rather be alone in my house than alone with another in my house.
Acceptance is best for that which is out of your control, simply accept it is out of your control.
Forgive self and then others.
Know that if you are not well then you can help no one.
Know that each journey to heal is individual.
Know that true love is someone who makes you love yourself more.
Control what lies within your control and let go, Let God with all the rest.
Have faith, but hope is only hope, faith is more durable.
Stand tall, put your shoulders back, and feel your own inner strength.
Love with all you have but do not give away your spirit for anyone.
Choose your own road to heal.
Choose to be an instrument of God's will.
why my wife hasn't left me...she is religious -she knows there is God-, knows me completely, knew my troubles before so she knew what she was getting into anf finally, I think she has a lot of hope in me and sees me trying and working on this problem all the time. She also understands my life cicrcumstances 'out there' which would probably send any sane man down to the abyss but so far we hold on and throw back the back steps and make our unremarkable way forwards by little step by little step.
I think a spouse leaving an addict would be the worst possible solution unless you have fallen out of love and want to divorce and cut absolutely.
jdude- right you are. Thank you for making that point. I found myself overwhelmed with sadness and anger while I was writing my last reply and your point should be highlighted. What is so scary to me is how far down he has already gone and so far there are no signs of him heading back up..... not now anyway. I pray, from a distance.
I am alone now. But I am far less lonely. The loneliness that comes with loving and living with an addict not interested in recovery or awareness of their illness, is harder than facing the day alone...
Absolutely correct Krissy.
Precipice, this was not meant as an attack on the stability that keeps you sane in your marriage.
Your wife is awesome, but please know that she is affected by your addiction, and there is no way she cannot be. Don't start the guilt/blame/shame thing, just realize this and accept it. And know what she does for you is HUGE. And be grateful for that. You once said you have trouble being grateful, you just showed me one HUGE thing to be grateful for.
As she helps you with your pain, as you grow more into communication and less about what satisfies you (ie the drugs) your marriage will blossom again. Be gentle and know she needs help with this too.
My most recent read is RECLAIM YOUR FAMILY FROM ADDICTION. Effects on communication in a family with an addict
Conversations shift from dialogue to monologue.
Communication shifts from what is wrong to who is wrong
Addiction distorts communication and becomes a defense mechanism to protect the addictive process.
The addict emotionally creates distance from the family (whether he is living there or not)
Addiction disrupts rituals, routines, values and beliefs that support the family (i.e. do you eat together every night, go to bed together at the same time, go out together, make love together, go to Church together, walk together?)
Co-addicts (as those who live with and help support the addict) pursue and monitor the addict in an attempt to reconnect him/her to the family.
The family begins the process of negative adaptation.
General feelings of anxiety increase
The family wants to trust the addict, but trust is constantly being eroded.
Understand that what we are discussing here is not what you are addressing. Your wife cannot wish your addiction away. Only you hold the key to your healing.
The addict essentially exits pain, anger, frustration, shame and guilt by using drugs. The more the addict does this the more ingrained the pattern becomes, the pattern becomes his way of life. Changing that pattern of life that you are in mandates that you change everything you once knew. Because everything you once knew was based on escaping life. To come back to life is hard, it is change, it means changing things and accepting responsibility for your actions.
Being mentally healthy is to move beyond your exit doors, to voluntarily close them, and to have the courage to stay with your own experience.
When we become mindful, we stop being so self-absorbed and stuck; we begin to live beyond just avoiding our own sense of fear, anger, compulsion, and sadness; we stop exiting and begin staying.
I have abused myself to the point where my life has negatively affected those who loved me. And I have also been on the other end of addiction, married an addict, dated and lived with an addict, my son is an addict.
In the position of co-addiction, when I was trying to fix the addict, which was impossible for me to do, this is how I felt:
If out of self protection I moved away from the addict, I felt guilty; and, if out of love I moved toward the addict I felt scared.
So sometimes hon, it just helps for you to see what it is that others feel, not just what it is that you feel.
Do you realize every time I pass a homeless person I say a little prayer in my head for them. Because I am so so aware of how easily one can get homeless, how easy it is to lose everything including the roof over your head. Many people I know will say, "They are homeless, they ought to get a f'ing job!" Who are they to judge a person they do not even know? Are they so much better than the homeless man? Do they know or care why he became homeless? No. They judge them. Who are we to judge, unless we have walked in their shoes my friend? So for one moment today, may you walk in your wife's shoes.
Information in this forum is not monitored or provided by a medical professional. The information reflects member opinions only. Do not act on advice from these forums without first consulting a qualified medical professional. All content is copyrighted and protected by Aelius Group.