I thought my son would grow up with a father…
I thought my future was set…
I truly believed you’d beat your demons…
I believed that one day we’d look back on this nightmare in disbelief…
But I will be looking back alone.
I am shattered.
I thought my son would grow up with a father…
I thought my future was set…
I truly believed you’d beat your demons…
I believed that one day we’d look back on this nightmare in disbelief…
But I will be looking back alone.
I am shattered.
I don’t matter to you.
I know that.
As far as you’re concerned I’m just some nagging baby mama, always texting him when he’s coming through to see you.
You have no reason to care about me or my life… my hopes, my fears, or my family…
…but here’s what I wish you knew:
First… I understand that he is in control of his decisions. I know that you aren’t the reason he’s using. You’re just the person he gets it from. I get that. I do.
Second, I realize that I don’t know you. Maybe you have family you’re trying to support. Maybe you’re an addict yourself. Maybe you’re just somebody who hasn’t really thought it all through yet. Maybe you’re a cold hearted monster. I don’t know.
Heres what I do know: that I watched the man I love come back from seeing you, lock himself in a room, and die.
Thankfully… THANKFULLY… each time I have been there to call for help and bring him back.
Thankfully I have not lost him yet.
After he’s been with you, I’ve watched his eyes roll back into his head… separate and look different directions… gloss over… and close mid-sentence…
I’ve seen his body collapse… seize… shake… sweat… clench up… and go limp.
And every time he’s stable again… I can’t help but wonder about you. I wonder what you’re doing with the money he gave you… money he stole from me or lied to someone else to get… money he sold my things for… sold our baby’s things for…
I wonder if you know he doesn’t live here anymore… that I had to kick him out because I had to keep my son and myself safe… that his addiction has literally ripped our lives apart…
I wonder if you know that he only came back into town for a night to get some of his clothes… that three fucking seconds after he walked through my door, after weeks of telling me how much he missed me and our son, he was trying to run back out the door to see you.
I wonder if, while he’s standing there shaking and handing you that money, if you ever look into his eyes wonder if he’s going to be okay.
Do you care about him at all?
I wonder if you know what it’s like to watch the person you love turn a deep shade of blue and gasp desperately for air.
Do you know that he said he was just going to take a shower? That if I hadn’t just felt like something was “off,” that I wouldn’t have checked on him at that moment and he would be dead now?
I wonder how you would feel if you watched him have a seizure, turn blue, and fight for air… if you could see me holding his naked body, shaking him, throwing water on his face, screaming and sobbing, yelling at the 9-1-1 dispatcher to tell the paramedics to PLEASE JUST FUCKING HURRY.
How would you feel watching the life leave his eyes… facing the reality that this may be the time he doesn’t come back?
I wonder how you would feel if you could see his 10-month-old son watching the flashing lights and reacting to the paramedics bursting through our door? Watching his fear and confusion… knowing you might be part of the reason he grows up without a daddy… that his mommy might never smile the same way again?
I just wish I understood. Are you desperate for the money? Do you just not care? Do you even realize the extent to which you are playing with people’s lives?
Have you considered that the next time it happens, he may not come back? That the paramedics and police will look through his phone to see who he called last? Where he was? What he was doing? Is it worth the risk to you to have his blood on your hands? For what? Cigarette money? A new pair of shoes?
I wish I could say these things to you… but even if I could, I wouldn’t dare… because you may be dangerous, and I fear for my family’s safety…
That’s what this life does. That’s how it affects people like me who aren’t even in it. I live in fear that you’re going to come looking for him one day because of a debt… that he’s going to die because of something he got from you… that he’ll rob me again so that he can come and see you…
You have no idea the chaos and pain that take place before and after he sees you. All you know is he’s usually good for a few bucks.
Well, drug dealer, he’s not just some nameless junkie to me.
He is a father.
He is someone whose addiction is hurting a lot of people. Someone who will be greatly missed when he’s gone.
And I sincerely hope you don’t have to live with the guilt of helping him destroy himself.
I don’t hate you. I’m not going to lie; a lot of the people who love me do… but I don’t.
I have felt so many emotions since I first found out about your addiction… pain, remorse, regret, fear, terror, sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, brokenness, resentment, anger, and full-blown rage… but never, ever hate.
I have tried to educate myself as best I can about your illness. I have read about the way the brain is literally rewired and the survival hierarchy changes. I understand that you genuinely feel like you are dying and fighting for your survival.
I understand that you still feel love, guilt, and pain, even when you are doing horrible things to the ones you love.
I can only imagine what that must do to you. I understand that the cycle of addiction makes you feel miserable, hopeless, afraid, and alone.
Before you, I thought that drug addicts were just selfish people who wanted to have a good time at the expense of others. How wrong I was. How wrong so many people are.
I would not wish your pain on my worst enemy. I wouldn’t wish it on the most vile, terrible person I know.
I watch you scream, cry, bleed, fade in and out of reality, do things you hate yourself for, and suffer on a daily basis. No one deserves to feel the way you do. Addiction doesn’t just “cloud the mind.” It is an absolute mindfuck. I can see the torture you feel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is unrelenting.
You are battling yourself. You don’t just lie to me and to the other people who want to see you well. You lie to yourself. You hurt yourself. You berate yourself. You hinder yourself. You convince yourself that you are okay… that this is the last time… that everything will be fine once you just do this one last thing… and then you wake up in the morning physically sicker than you can stand to be and emotionally crushed at the reality in which you live…
…and you live in that tortuous cycle day in and day out.
The amount of sadness I feel for you is indescribable.
No matter how many times you tell me that I am heartless… that I don’t love you… that you are going to die and it’s my fault… that I am literally killing you…
…no matter how many times you have lied to me, stolen from me, pawned my things, and shattered my belongings in a fit of panic and rage…
…no matter how many times you have broken my heart… hurt me so deeply I felt as though I would stop breathing from the pain… no matter how absolutely insanely terrible things have been… I have never hated you.
It’s interesting that we are both, now, running purely on survival instincts. You are compelled by your physical need to continue your addiction… your physical and mental belief that you will die if you have to stop… that you won’t make it through the withdrawals… that anyone standing in your way is an enemy who must be moved.
I, on the other hand, am compelled by the need to save myself… to save you… to save our family. I know, with a clear and sober mind, that you will die if I don’t stop enabling you. I know that I will lose my home, my car, and, most devastatingly, myself if I do not walk away from your addiction. I have to survive. I have to save myself. I have to.
And this, for me, is the hardest part of loving an addict. All of the things that a person should do when someone else is hurting or in need – all of the things that are in my nature to do – are absolutely detrimental to our survival. Hearing you call me cold, heartless, hateful, horrible… it is one of the worst feelings I can imagine. My love for you is so deep… so passionate… so raw and so real…
…but day after day I have to argue with you and deny you something your brain is telling you that you literally need in order to live. It is the cruelest type of torture… for you and for me.
So please – please – understand… I do not hate you. I cannot hate you.
It is because I love you that I have to make these choices that feel so cold to you.
All I can do is hope that one day you will find yourself in a place where you are well enough to understand. Until then, I have to live with whatever you throw at me… rage, guilt, threats… and probably even hate.
But I will never hate you.
I just have to run as far as I can from you.
I have a good job. I have a good amount of debt from before I had a good job, but I still make decent money. I should be able to live relatively comfortably…
…but sometimes I go days without eating. Not by choice; but because the addict in my life takes all of my money before I can get my hands on it. I’m lucky I am usually able to pay the bills before he takes it all. Sometimes I’m not.
He even knows that my check clears at 1:30 a.m. and he leaves with my card every payday while I sleep to stop at the ATM. He doesn’t work, mind you. His addiction makes him believe that my money is his money… that he’ll die if he can’t get what he “needs” and that I would be a terrible person to deny him.
I got paid four days ago. I don’t get paid for another ten days. I am starving. All that’s left in the house is a can of peas. Once I eat that, I will have literally nothing. My fridge and freezer are completely bare. I am currently looking for local food pantries. I don’t know what else to do.
I have taken out loans, piled up credit card debt, and handed over my paychecks, and none of it helped. It only made things worse.
Reading that back over makes me feel like an utter idiot, but the conversation is never as cut and dry as, “Hey, can I have all of your money?” Living with an addict – speaking to an addict – is always a complete mindfuck. They tell you they have money coming in somehow… a job, money owed to them… they’ll be able to pay you right back… that they’re going to get help after this last time… that they have a plan… that this will be the last time they ever ask for help… but it never happens that way.
You keep telling them this is the last time you can “help” them… if you don’t stop giving them money, you will lose your car, your home, etc. And they will say they understand, but the second they know you have a dollar to your name, they will begin scheming. They will work you with all of their might. They will twist the truth in so many directions that you won’t know what’s what anymore.
And once the lying and manipulating stops working – once they realize you’re standing up for yourself and refusing to fall for it – that’s when the threats start… threats of suicide, of destroying your home, of pawning your things. My addict even threatened to put my pets outside (my worst fear is losing them).
You will become a hostage.
And that’s what I am. A hostage. A hostage with a rumbling stomach and a broken heart.
Who am I? I’m someone you might like to talk to while waiting in line at the store. Or maybe not. I don’t know. I do have a pretty severe case of resting bitch face, but it doesn’t seem to stop people from striking up a conversation with me now and again. I’m awkward around people and never initiate conversations myself, but I do think I’m a relatively smart and entertaining conversationalist once I’m forced into it.
I present myself as content, but like many of us there are silent battles taking place inside my hyperactive mind. Mostly I think about injustice. Lately it’s been the injustice in my own life, coming at me like a friend secretly carrying a knife. Mostly I think about the struggles of the people I know, how much I hate for them to hurt, and how I wish I had the money and resources to remedy their pain.
I’ve never done well with pain. As a child I handled internal pain so poorly that I would cut my arms as a way to make sense of it. The first cut happened at age 11 and, I can honestly say that 20 years later, the urge hasn’t gone away. I stop myself now because I recognize the pain it causes others to see me marked up, but there’s still something broken inside of me. I drank too much for a time, but always socially.
Frankly I’m shocked that I didn’t become a drug addict. My need to drown out my pain is overwhelming at times, and I come from addict blood. I was lucky enough to have a family that cared enough to keep me from going off the deep end… not that people who do go off the deep end didn’t have enough love.
I can say that with certainty because I love an addict and have given away parts of my soul in an attempt to save him. There is absolutely no lack of love there. It’s an unhealthy love, but it is love.
I saw a video the other day that talked about how drugs and alcohol can more easily “hijack the survival hierarchy” (make themselves more important than food, water, and sleep) of people under 21 than people over 21. I didn’t smoke, drink, or experiment with any drugs until I was out of high school.
My addict started all of those things at a very young age. Maybe that’s why he went off the deep end and I didn’t. It made me worry that he’s less “fixable” than other addicts. He was clean for a few years before he relapsed. How will I ever know that he can get and stay clean?
Who am I? I’m a woman in love with a man who can’t stop destroying us both. I’m a person who has always given more in relationships than she receives… put up with more from the other person than they would from me… fought harder for them than they would for me… sacrificed my own well-being for the happiness of another.
I am the perfect person for an addict to bring into their lives: passionate, hopeful, and codependent.
When he looks into my eyes and tells me his plans – how it’s ALL going to be better once he can just do this one thing – I have to honestly wonder if he’s lost his mind. Does he not remember the 47 other times we’ve had this exact conversation? Is he unaware of the fact that none of these “future miracles” ever make a bit of difference?
- Get this job
- Get my license
- Get a paycheck
- Get insurance
- Get this medication
- Find a counselor
- Get my tax money
- Get through a few days clean
- Get through this last week
- See our baby born
…then I will be able to stay clean.”
But as CCR rightly said,”someday never comes.”
So I have to wonder… is it delusion? Does he truly believe the things he says? If you look into his eyes, you would believe he does.
Is it denial? Does he know somewhere in the back of his mind that it won’t happen, but he’s trying to convince us both otherwise?
Or – the scariest thought of all – is it deceit? Is he able to look me in the eyes and promise things that affect my well-being and livelihood knowing full well that they are untrue? Is he just trying to get money, trust, or keep a roof over his head so that he can keep using despite the fact that it is destroying a person he claims to love?
After a while I suppose it doesn’t even matter. His promises are empty and my world is crumbling. What is my obsession with figuring him out?
Here are some miscellaneous excerpts from my diary over the past year or so… they show the absolutely devastating fall from love and joy that I felt because of the impact of my loved one’s drug use.
Before The Drugs:
All I know is that you are, without a doubt, the most beautiful person I have ever known.
If you’ll have me, I promise I will spend every second of my life showing you how much you’re worth.
I love you. I will never take you for granted. I will love you forever.
My inner monologue speaks to me from without. The pitch has dropped, but the content is unchanged. I see my soul in your eyes. I hear my thoughts in your voice.
After The Drugs:
It makes me feel awful having to wonder if you’re being honest with me.
I feel like we’re in *completely* different worlds. I can’t live in that world with you.
I don’t feel like we’re a team right now.
This isn’t what we talked about. This isn’t how you said things would be.
Three days this week I sat at work starving because I don’t have money to get food. I’m pregnant. 😔
I checked my credit score today. It’s the lowest it’s ever been. It used to be good.
I can’t talk to you. I’m walking on eggshells. I’ve never felt so alone.
Every time I try to talk to you about how this is killing us, your response is, “I’m having a bad day,” “I can’t deal with this right now,” “You’re making me hate myself; I want to die.”
Drugs make everyone you care about feel worthless.
I’ve walked miles in the shoes of people who wouldn’t try mine on
I’ve given vials of blood for you, now mine is almost gone
Drugs take away everything good about you. All of it. Everything I love. Everything about you that made me feel loved and safe. When we got together I remember thinking I’d never feel unsafe ever again. Not with you. I was your queen. But now I’m constantly on my toes, watching my back, trying to protect myself from you… from your addiction… just hoping and praying you won’t use up my last fucking pennies this time and leave me to fend for myself.
Your addiction makes me yearn for death. Trying to convince myself you left a long time ago so I can let go. I won’t survive this…
I don’t know what happened to the man I fell in love with. He brought me more joy than I’d ever felt. I have fallen from the top of the highest mountain to the depths of the ocean.
Her beauty is a cruel illusion. She doesn’t love you. She wants everything you have. You climb, crawl, and grovel at her feet. She gives you nothing and takes everything. A few moments of pleasure are exchanged for your soul. Gladly you pay. Willingly you give her what once was mine. I crave it while she squanders it. I watch you slip away. I beg you to stay. In vain I offer love, shelter, comfort, and the promise of a new life. Nothing matters. Everything I have means nothing to you. My light is lost somewhere in the shadow of her deception. My heart breaks. You tell me you’ll come back. I wait. I try to help you break free, but every day you chase her with more intensity. She laughs at you. She watches your life crumble at her expense, but feels no shame. She is free of empathy and full of greed. I love you. She never will. But you’re too immersed in her to care. I see your beauty. She sees nothing. And you see nothing but her. My heart is open. My arms are open. My life is open to you. But none of it matters. I can’t permeate your veins like she does. And so I am nothing.
You will find yourself saying things like, “They HAVE to be telling the truth this time. There’s no WAY someone could be sick enough to hurt me this much… to lie to me again… to hurt our family like that… to break my heart again… to absolutely destroy the spirit of someone they love.”
And every single time you will be shocked at the fact that they DID lie… that they did take from you… that they didn’t follow through with their promises. You won’t be able to believe that someone could do those things to you because you would never do them to someone else. Their actions are unfathomable to you. Of course they are.
You’re not an addict.
You will watch the love of your life look you in the eyes with tears in their own, begging for forgiveness and promising that this time things will change… and you will believe them… because you believe in love and you believe that if you just show them what they’re worth, they’ll stop doing this to themselves.
You will be crushed every time you realize that nothing has changed. You will wonder how many times a human heart can possibly break before its owner just falls down dead.
Their lies will intensify. Their games will too. They will become masters at making you believe things, and as often as you call them on their lies, you will also find yourself playing right along.
You will always know, on some level, what’s really happening, but you will join in their manipulations. You will become a liar too; except your lies and manipulations will come in the forms of denial and self-doubt. You will take that precious small voice inside your head and stomp on it until it becomes a whisper… and then you will crush it some more.
You will both dedicate your lives to lying to you. The truth will become so muddy – so absolutely lost – that it will become a foreign, abstract concept that you can no longer even grasp.
You will spend every second of your life trying to decipher the meaning behind the things they do and say. You will listen for slurred speech, watch for changes in their eyes, search the house for drugs, and wonder if they just popped a pimple or if they’ve started picking at their skin again like they do when they’re actively using.
You will hear yourself cry, scream, yell, and act in ways you didn’t even know you were capable of. You will feel as though you are floating above yourself, watching in horror as you throw things, punch walls, slam doors, scream “FUCK YOU,” and behave like an absolute rage-fueled monster. You’ll be so ashamed of yourself that you’ll find yourself apologizing no matter what unspeakable things were done to you before the explosion.
You will become obsessed with their addiction. You will write letters they aren’t well enough to receive. You will spend hours explaining to them why they’re hurting you, only to suffer through the same hurt over and over again. They won’t be able to change any of it. You will scream and cry and beg and push and pull and bend your soul into tightly twisted positions trying with all your might to make them better. But YOU will be the one doing all the work.
You will lose your soul.
They will see how hard you try; how much you desperately want them to get better. You will convince yourself that your love can change their path; that they love you enough to fix this once and for all. All the while they will see your love as nothing but an opportunity. Not because they’re bad people, but because they’re sick. They’re so, so very sick.
But so are you.
Their sickness will no longer be the main problem. Yours will quickly take center stage. Putting a stop to your misery would be as easy as packing a bag and walking out the door, but you will become so invested in their recovery that your own peace and well-being will slip away into obscurity. They will manipulate you with talk of leaving you, of suicide, of dying from their withdrawals, and most of all: their promises. The promises are the worst part. They will play on your hope, your desires, and on your love for them… and you will fall for it every time.
They’re not even necessarily being malicious. Often times they will mean every word they say. They’re just too sick to follow through, despite their best intentions.
You will lie for them. At first you won’t even know you’re lying because you’re simply repeating the promises they made to you. After a while you’ll realize what it really is, but you’ll still tell yourself it’s the truth because the ACTUAL truth hurts too much to face.
After a while longer, the lies won’t even be to protect them, but instead to cover up your own embarrassment. You will feel weak, hopeless, and ashamed. The realization that you have allowed someone to use you, lie to you, put you into debt, and break your heart over and over again will be so shameful you will dare not speak it out loud. You will smile and tell the world that things are fine. Some days you’ll actually believe it.
But until you detach yourself from the nightmare, you will undoubtedly be in the most devastatingly unhealthy relationship of your entire life, and it will never ever be normal. And deep down that crushed, tiny voice will still be saying the same thing: “You’re lying to yourself. It’s not going to get better. Run. Please. You can’t save them. You have to save yourself. You’re not helping them. You’re just hurting yourself.”
One night you will be so hurt, so angry, and so broken by their latest betrayal that you’ll tell them you hate them. You’ll scream it at the top of your lungs while shaking with rage. They will cry and you will feel terrible… because you know you don’t hate them. You hate their addiction. You hate yourself. You hate that you live in a world where something like this exists. You hate people and places and even inanimate objects that don’t even deserve it because you’re just SO broken down that you’re losing your grip on love, hope, sanity, peace, and joy.
You will wake up every morning and tell yourself that THIS is the last time they break a promise to you. You’ll pump yourself up. You’ll practice every word. You’ll be SO ready to tell them off… but then you’ll go home and they will find a way to make you sacrifice your peace for them. Again. And you will let them.
You’ll post pictures of yourselves on Facebook, trying so hard to appear happy. You’ll convince everyone but yourself that your life is normal… but you will have no memory of normal… no understanding of it at all.
You will cry. A lot. Even if you weren’t a crier before. You will cry. You will lose all respect for yourself. You’ll sink hopelessly into depression, but you’ll be completely oblivious to it because it has simply become your normal. You will begin to retreat far into yourself. You’ll find yourself sitting alone in the dark on a regular basis staring at your phone or just off into nothingness. You’ll hear yourself casually make normal conversation with someone who hurts you daily. You’ll resent them, love them, abhor them, and fear for them all in the same second. You will hate yourself for letting your life become what it is.
You will build up the courage to tell them how they make you feel, and they will throw your feelings right back in your face. To the addict, nothing is worse than being sick. Their thought patterns have literally been changed and their brains have been rewired by the drug and the insanity of the disease. You will talk yourself blue in the face, but nothing will change.
You know they’re sick, but you’ll always take it personally. Instead of understanding that they CAN’T care enough to change, you will start to believe they simply don’t care enough… because you don’t deserve it… because you aren’t worth it… because you aren’t good enough… because you don’t make them happy enough… because you didn’t try hard enough… because you aren’t perfect… and you’ll start to accept the horrible things that happen to you every day. Apathy will take over completely.
And even on those rare days when you see things for what they are, you will be too afraid to leave. They will have their grip on you so tightly – their hands so deep in your world – that you can’t just leave. They will threaten you with all the ways your life will be worse if you leave, and you will accept it. And again you will hate yourself. You will feel trapped… bullied… afraid… hopeless… weak… dead inside. Utterly dead.
What you won’t realize is that you’re not speaking to the intense, strong-willed person you see in front of you. The person spewing those threats in your face is terrified, broken, and weak. You are their only means of continuing their addiction and – no matter how much they love you – they will say what they have to, to keep you around. If you walk out the door, so does their money, their transportation, the roof over their head – whatever it is you’re enabling them with – and, most importantly, their high. They will do and say anything they possibly can not to lose that. Your feelings, your relationships, your mental health, your heart… nothing will matter more than their ability to keep using. Nothing.
You will have good days. You’ll start to notice that those good days line up with the days you give them money. Suddenly they’re kind and helpful around the house. Suddenly they’re positive and pleasant. But the bad days will become more and more unbearable and you will find yourself being thrust around on a rickety roller coaster with no seat belt. Every night when you go to bed, you will feel as if you just spent the day fighting for your life. And truthfully, you have.
You will no longer have a decent grip on reality. You’ll hear people talk about their loved ones and the arguments they have, and you will laugh under your breath, longing for arguments like theirs. You’ll wish you could argue about where to go have dinner or who’s turn it is to do the dishes. Most days you just wish you had enough money to eat… to not have to lie about why you can’t go out to lunch with friends or meet up for drinks after work.
You will start to fantasize about running away… even if the home you live in is in your name and you pay all the bills. You’ll truly consider leaving it all behind just to escape the misery.
You will fight with your loved ones. They will become obsessed with your situation too – out of love and fear for your well-being. You will fight with them. You will fight FOR the addict and then go home and fight WITH the addict. The addict will become all you think about; all you speak about… the only thing on your mind every moment you’re awake.
You will sit helplessly as you watch your heart break, your hopes crumble, your finances shatter, your relationships wither, and your self-esteem abandon you completely.
You will die inside. You will love them. You will hate them. And eventually, you will realize you’ve lost them… but only after you’ve completely lost yourself.