In an effort to reduce the stigma of mental health and addiction awareness, I have decided to share my story. I hope you find it helpful. I have recently attended a seminar where I felt encouraged to step out of my comfort zone and share my story. My experience with addiction has been a painful one. One I do not wish on anyone. It has taken me a few times to sit down and start writing. I am sure you have been there. You say to yourself, I am ready over and over, and I am going to do it, but you find, it is just too hard to resurface the painful memories. Well, I have been there, too. I have pushed it off as long as I could, but ultimately, I knew, I wanted to share it with you, with the hopes that it will help YOU to hear that you are not alone.
The turmoil of addiction not only destroys the addict- the person in active addiction- but the family who is desperately trying to save the life of the person they once knew; the person whose life has been overtaken by the power of addiction; the person who is not ready to say they have had enough; the person YOU HOPE is going to choose their family over the drugs. As I was desperately trying to ‘fix’ his addiction; hoping that one day it was going to go away; I lost MYSELF in the process. I lost my self-esteem, my confidence, my desire to be around other people, my everything I once knew about myself. I was fixated on the wrong thing. I thought I could save us from the power of addiction. My person chose to continue using drugs despite multiple attempts at recovery and multiple long-term rehab stays.I had two babies to take care of at the time and a husband who was ‘dying’ in front of me. I have become a person I did not want to be. I have become someone I did not want my children to grow up around. I knew I needed to make a change. It was extremely difficult to push through those times when my person was begging me to give him another chance, that he has learned his lesson and that things would change. The constant lies and promises and the threats- I won’t forget. The anxiety of the unknown. The constant googling… in desperation to find answers… Those are the invisible scars that won’t go away. “I promise; I love you; I would never do anything to hurt you again”. Then, he turns around and goes out and uses again like those words meant nothing. Ultimatums; threats of separation; separation, and even divorce and losing custody of his children were not enough for my person to admit to himself that he was an addict; that he had a problem which was bigger than him. AND that is where I think the healing kept bumping into the wall. HE was not able to admit to himself that he had a problem. He said it sometimes, but did not believe it himself. I went along with this theory for a while; a while too long; I hung onto Hope. BUT not until I realized that I was POWERLESS over his addiction, I was able to make a change. I stepped off the train or the ‘dark horse’ as he called it, and fought for the well-being of my children and decided to find myself again. My children were able to visit with their father in supervised visits; not even that was bad enough for him to admit that he had a problem. The visits faded out and ultimately stopped. My children have not seen their biological father in 18 months.
AS sad as it sounds, our family is a lot healthier today. I have rebuilt myself with a great support system of friends, coworkers, workplace and family. I was able to re-build my self-esteem and the fears of the unknown have faded over time. My children have a great new male role model in their lives whom they know as their daddy. Perhaps you are reading this today and say to yourself, I can relate. Perhaps, you are struggling with how to get off this ‘crazy train’ of uncertainty. Perhaps you say, I am not strong enough; nobody will want me with two small kids; how am I going to survive in this world? ‘This is all I know and I am scared.’
Please, do yourself a favor IF your person is an addict and has had multiple chances to make a change and heal, but was not able to remain clean and sober, take on the offers of your relatives and friends who are there to help you through this transition. Do yourself a favor and find a counselor or a support group of people who really get it and can guide you through. I did. And I am eternally grateful for that today.