Tuesday April 25th 2017

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Leave the addict – Gain back your life

My personal story: Difficulty letting go

When I divorced my husband because of his drug addiction, I thought my life was over. Much like an addict I tried to fill the void in my heart with other things. Work, dating, and crying only helped a little at first but the hole was still there, inside me. I could not describe it to anyone and truly explain the depth of my pain.

I could not live with it anymore and I could not let it go.

It was invisible to others but it was the thorn in my side, the perpetual ache that only I could see and feel. People would ask me how I was doing and I would say I was fine. Those are the lies that the partner of an addict are used to telling. Everything was not fine, it had not been fine for years and it was not fine even though I left.

Things seem worse before they get better

People will tell you that you are better off when you leave an addict but no one tells you that for a while things may seem worse before they get better. When you are in the middle of that situation, you do not feel like things ever will be better.

So, what’s getting in the way of your freedom? We explore more about letting go and issues of control here…from someone who’s been there and back. More from Amanda on losing and letting go. Then, we invite your stories, questions, or sharing in the comments section at the end.

The illusion of control

Let’s be honest. You have become obsessed with the addict and trying to help them control their addiction throughout the relationship. You checked up on them, escorted them to the hospital when they overdosed, checked bank accounts and credit cards to see where their money went, and searched for them when they disappeared to bring them home. You did so many things to try and keep the addict on the right path. If your partner is sick, then it is justifiable for you to try and help them because they are so out of control.

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Just because you leave the addict, the need to control and take care of things does not magically disappear. It’s difficult to stop helping an addict. That control issue is now yours and what you do with it is a choice, not a life sentence. But many times instead of letting go, we continue to try to help and protect because it is the last shred of control we have over our own lives.

Most of us leave because we were unsuccessful in controlling the addict. The only control you ever have over an addict was an illusion. When was the last time an active addict told you something and you actually believed them? When did any of your actions ever change the outcome of an addict’s choice to use drugs?

Control: A way of life

Even after you leave an addict, you may wait around for a text, a phone call, or some sign that the addict is okay and not getting out of control. The worry and the knot in your stomach remain even though the addict is not. You wonder if you made the right choice because without you there, you know the addict is going to completely fall apart. You do not know another way to live because trying to:

  • Manipulate
  • Influence
  • Limit
  • Regulate
  • Handle
  • Manage
  • Restrain

…the situation are the only words in your vocabulary and have been for a long time.

If you leave an addict you are still going to have to deal with the behaviors which were part of your everyday reality.

YOU are out of control

What happens after you leave an addict? When the addict is no longer in your life and you lose the illusion of control, you start to realize how out of control you are. Your emotions, feelings, sense of loss, abandonment, lack of self-love and fear are overwhelming. The person you let down the most is … you.

SUGGESTION #1: Learn about yourself

The most important part of leaving an addict is to learn about you. To learn about you means to give yourself the love and understanding that you once had for the addict and realize that you do not have to hold down the fort anymore. You can learn that you are allowed to be you again.

The transition from crisis mode, caretaker, and responsible party to an independent individual again can be scary. Through living with an addict, the co-addict (a person addicted to an addict) can lose the ability to know how to live without trying to control everything around them. Furthermore, if you do not know who YOU are, then this pattern will repeat in future relationships because the fears that you are not good enough remain. The lack of self-awareness and confidence will attract the wrong person over and over again in your life.

SUGGESTION #2: Relearn how to live

Still, the hardest part of leaving is learning how to live again.

It is imperative that after leaving an addict that a person goes through a period of self-discovery so that they can re-define who they are without the addict. Without this step, the same patterns will continue with the same addict or even in new relationships.

If you do not know who YOU are, your likes and dislikes, what you want from life, and what drives you, then it would be impossible to know where you want to be and what you need to change in order to get there. It is highly improbable that you will be able to make life changes if you do not discover who you are without the addict.

SUGGESTION #3: Test and celebrate your journey

Leaving an addict is a journey that allows you to modify your life and follow a new path. Learning how to live again, achieving self-love, independence, awareness and confidence are the keys to moving on with your life. Once you get your life back and are in a healthier place, you will never second guess the decision you made to leave.

Photo credit: Pexels

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13 Responses to “Leave the addict – Gain back your life
Dana
11:24 pm June 2nd, 2016

After months and months of going back and forth with my addict boyfriend of 9 years, I am happy to say I am finally free of those chains. I have left 3 months ago and I am not looking back! I am trying to rebuild my life now and I am not sorry I left. Amanda for about a year now I have read your book and I keep up with your blogs, I even had a few message conversations with you I want to thank you for all of your words and inspirations!! I had something very tragic happen to me and that is when I realized life is to short to keep living in hell and living in sin. I realized I had NO peace in my life for years. You cant change someone but most of all you cant allow someone to steal not only your possessions but your peace, your self worth. I have been on emotional roller coaster these last few months but I cant honestly say these feelings are nowhere near what I went through in my relationship, so I know I can and will push through. Thank you!

* correction to my sentence. I CAN honestly say what I am feeling now is nowhere near the horrible feelings I had and the hell I went through in my relationship.

Brandie
10:54 pm June 6th, 2016

My fiance…the father of my child…the love of my life. I have been with him for over 3 years now. These have been the hardest times of my life, I am 21 years old and can honestly say I have been throw more than I should at my age. When I first met Justice I didnt know he had an issue. I thought he was just a party boy in high school. Things already werent great when I was pregnant…he was never there for me, he was high all the time. He would be so high he couldnt keep his eyes open. He stole money I had been saving for our daughter and spent it on drugs. After I had her things didnt get better, I wasnt staying with him at the time because he wasnt helping me. He would pass out (When I was over there) from being high and I would be there to make sure my daughter got what she needed. I didnt care I loved him so much. I felt like I could make him better and change him..well I thought having a child would change him. I think I was the one who grew up and changed and he stayed stuck in time. I few fights and lies later, I moved to TN with him. He PROMISED me he had a job and a place for us but when I got to TN he had no job and no place to stay. His parents were taking care of us and I looked for a job. He was finally able to find work doing welding…little did I know it wasnt the best place for him. We were in NC doing a job out of town. He came home high and kicked me and my infant SICK daughter out of our hotel room with NOTHING. I sat in the wendys parking lot trying to think of what I should do because I wasnt going back to the room. He walked in the middle of traffic down from our hotel room to wendys because he wanted to beat my head into a wall. My phone was dead, I had no money and no way of getting back home to SC. I begged strangers for money ! It was the lowest I have ever felt in my life. When we got back to TN things got so bad with his verbal and physical abuse I couldnt take it anymore. I packed my daughters and my things and was on the way back to SC before he even got home to notice. Few months later down the road we are still together, with the same issues. I dont understand why it is so hard to walk away, I love him so much and I dont want nothing more than to be with him. I have lost myself so much, I dont know who I am or what I am doing anymore. All I do is worry about him, but then I think about my daughter and if she feels like I am a bad mom for staying as long as I have. I have found needles, drugs, scales & pipes on him. It seems like it has gotten worse and worse everytime I turn around its something new. I want my daughter to have a SOBER father ! I grew up with my dad being a user who abused my mom and its like my father and him are the same person ! I hate that, I hated the way he treated my mom and I know he treats me the same way but I still stay ! I have no friends anymore and I cry alot, I feel empty and unloved and unwanted and I want to be better….just dont know how !

Amanda Andruzzi
12:54 am June 10th, 2016

Dana,
I am so glad the blog and my book helped you. If it does that then I am doing what I set out to do and am so grateful that you were able to leave. You will go through stages of loss, but eventually they will phase out and a new life will emerge. I promise you that and the memories you have of that time will serve as a reminder of how strong you are and how you never want that again in your life and it will make you appreciate what you will have in the future. Please keep me posted.
Amanda

Amanda Andruzzi
9:24 pm June 15th, 2016

Brandie,
It is no secret that we do what we know and recreate our past because it is all we know. You are reliving your past but this time you are trying to correct the things you couldn’t as a child. You cannot change, fix or save him and I need you to hear me when I say that. You can only fend for yourself and your daughter and save yourselves. The only way to do that is to leave and start your live over without him. This cycle will continue and you will be just where your mother was at and the cycle will continue with your own daughter if you don’t break it. You have to be strong enough to let him go for you and for your child. Please keep reading the articles here and my book, Hope Street. I know this will help you and I think you need to see there is hope for you on the other side of this.

Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
View the video book trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

Colleen
10:10 pm July 31st, 2016

I left my addict almost three years ago, and he fell apart. I left him at work one day and threw away his clothes. He ended up homeless in and out of jail. He got a sentence of two years and reached out. 3 years later he was out and sober, but not working his program. His mom died why he was in jail. Around the year anniversary of her death, he relapsed. I almost watched him die, but I called the ER. I knew then he heading down that road. After all the work I had done on myself, I was disappointed I allowed in my life again. I knew what and what I didn’t and it was not him, the addict in him shall I say. The more I was around him this last time, I realized and asked myself what did I see in him. He came crying to me that he needed help, and I was the only one there for him. I took him in stupidly believing him. I just kicked him out, because he started coke, pot, less drinking because it made him too sick every time. I refused to go down that road again of his lies and empty promises or enable him. I more angry at myself for letting him back in. Now that he is gone, I am sad but I am not if that makes sense. I stood up for myself and did not let him break my boundaries. I have not heard from him in 24 hours. Am I worried somewhat, but if he is not worried about me then so be it. I went back because I lived with guilt of leaving him the first time and thought it was my fault he ended up back in jail. I did what I could different this time and realized nothing was ever my fault except allowing him back in and enabling him. He said I can’t believe this is happening and you are kicking me out. Then he said he just messed up the greatest thing that has ever happened to him. When I watched him run in the pouring rain to go see his dealer with a smile on his face, I know that was a lie. Everything an addict says is a lie IMO. I told him I can only love you from afar and hope is all I left for you.

Amanda Andruzzi
2:27 pm August 8th, 2016

Colleen,
Thank you for sharing your story. You were empowered by leaving the first time but there is always that little heart string that an addict pulls on that sometimes clouds our judgement. Now you know for sure that you are better off without him and your heart will catch up to your head. Just give yourself time.
Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
View the video book trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

Rachel
5:37 pm August 27th, 2016

Where can I get your book? I left my drug addict ex it was difficult and still is. I met someone else who is kind and successful however some days are better than others. I just want to be happy with my children and have a normal happy life. When does the pain go away?

Amanda Andruzzi
2:15 am September 13th, 2016

Rachel,

You can buy it at archwaypublishing.com, on amazon.com or barnes & nobles.
The pain does go away but it is a process, like any form of loss, you have to go through the emotions. You are going to feel sad, guilty, happy, full of regret, angry and feel that throbbing pain in your chest but like anything as time goes on these things go away and the ache becomes less. You have to love and respect yourself and give yourself the time.
Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
View the video book trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

Cj
8:18 pm September 13th, 2016

I’m a 40 yr old man, feels horrible to drop an addicted friend, previous girlfriend. Because she has been doing meth. The ride is over for me but I haven’t felt good about much, letting the family know was the only choice I had, I believe in honesty, I didn’t want to be the only one with her secret. Especially if she had an od. I feel guilty, shitty, never wanted any of this. Now is all I have, and the next now, life is short. I’m hurt either way. No winners. Just want those I love to share a happy healthy life with me. Is that selfish? Any comments, support or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Natalie
6:46 pm September 20th, 2016

I have made the choice to divorce my alcoholic husband. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. He is currently homeless, I believe, but his choices led him to that point. He chose to leave our residence and not come home, he chose to spend money on alcohol and marijuana instead of using it toward a place to live for himself, he is actively drinking now and choosing not to go into a treatment situation. Even after marital counseling and giving him an ultimatum – go to treatment, or I’m done – he is still choosing to spiral out of control and go down a bad path. I’ve stalled and stalled and even after he has ghosted everyone (turning off his phone and ignoring friends/family) I still can’t muster up the courage to say “enough.” Now I feel the stress and what it is doing to my body and my mental health. It is the hardest thing I will ever do because I feel like I am abandoning someone who “needs me.” The truth is that I am a human being too and in this marriage, even when things were “good” I felt very neglected and unloved. I also need love and support and those things are grossly lacking in this partnership. I am afraid to have him served with divorce papers because I don’t know how he’ll react. But I just cannot do this anymore. I have to do something for ME.

Amanda Andruzzi
9:38 pm September 22nd, 2016

CJ,
I am sorry you are losing your friend but I think sharing this with her family was the right thing to do. Now maybe she cannot manipulate them and eventually she might hit rock bottom and reach out for help a lot sooner. When we enable a friend or are around someone who is living that lifestyle it is hard to be around them because it is toxic to us. Just because you can’t be around her while she is getting high does not make you a bad friend. I am sure if she is ready to get clean and is going through recovery, you would be there for her.
Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
View the video book trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

Amanda Andruzzi
9:42 pm September 22nd, 2016

Natalie,
How are you abandoning him when he needs you? You have done all any person can do and you CANNOT make him get sober, you just can’t. He has to want to do it. He has to go down the road and either keep going or hit a point where he realizes that he cannot go on this way and this has nothing to do with you. This disease is very selfish because you literally lose the person you love but they are still physically there just hurting people. You have every right to move on and do you think you should feel bad about moving on and sending divorce papers when he is disappearing and refusing help?
Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
View the video book trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

Bo
10:10 pm February 14th, 2017

I was with an addict for almost two years. I don’t know if anyone can explain why they get so angry and can’t take any personal responsibilities for their actions. Everything is your fault. You are there too much for them and you are not ever there for them. And when you think you moved on and finally accepting that you are not able to do this anymore, they contact you. I am strong enough now to walk away.

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About Amanda Andruzzi

Amanda Andruzzi, MPH, AADP, CHES, is a Certified Health Coach, founder of Symptom-Free Wellness, and the author of Hope Street. Her first book, Hope Street memoir is an inspirational story of one woman's frightening journey of co-addiction that led her to uncover courage, unbelievable strength and overcome great adversity. She resides with her daughter, husband, and two sons in Florida.

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