When I was married to my ex-husband, I told myself and everyone around me that he was “in recovery” and if I caught him using, it was only slip up. I convinced myself that he was not like other addicts because he was home a lot, worked, was caring and paid the bills.
But you can save yourself a lot of time and energy by breaking out of a similar pattern of denial. Here, we discuss how to face the facts and comes to terms with living with an addict. And we outline the benefits of defining co-addiction and your role in the relationship. Then, we invite you to share your questions and experiences at the end. We try to respond to all comments with a personal reply.
Are you feeling alone?
Because I was unable to define myself as the wife of an addict, I felt like I could connect with no one. When I spoke with friends, or socialized with other couples, I could not relate. No one else had the same complaints, fears, and realities that I was facing on a daily basis. I felt alone in my little world of mistrust, and anger.I had a valid hate for the episodes of drug use I knew were always on the horizon. Because I refused to see my husband for what he was, I lived a life, justifying things to myself, to feel better about our relationship. “So what he came home from work, eyelids drooping, slurred speech…he worked hard, he was probably very tired.”
Break out of denial
Living with a spouse that habitually uses drugs or alcohol cannot be swept under the rug. If you even have to question it, you must seriously consider the possibility that you ARE married to an addict.
Did I marry an addict?
I did a Google search for “my husband is an addict” or “did I marry an addict.” I found a great deal of results. I do not claim to have done an exhaustive search or study, however, what I did find was overwhelming and alarming. I found on the first page of searching, the second page, third page and beyond: chat rooms, discussion forums and comments from spouses telling their stories. The stories were usually similar. They were all wondering the same thing, “Did I marry a drug addict?”
The stories usually started with something like, “We fell in love and I had no idea he/she had a problem because they were so wonderful in the beginning.” This was usually followed by, “Now he/she stays out late, money is missing, I found needles in the garbage, something is not right and I can feel it.” Even with all of the evidence right in front of their eyes and their gut telling them what they already assumed, they had to ask the question in a social context. Their concerns need to be validated by others. Validation from others is the first step in recognizing the reality of your situation.
Am I married to an addict? … the reality
The results of this search suggest that we have difficulty believing the person we love,and are most intimate with, is a drug addict. It can be a very frightening realization to come to.
If you face any of the following issues;
- the need to hide from others issues with your spouse
- know that lies and deceptions stem from the use of drugs or alcohol
- experience isolation and distance from others over your spouse’s behaviors
- feel embarrassed to share problems with your spouse with friends and family
- hurt and anger towards your spouse over their attitude change when actively using
- distrust your spouse
- you questioning your own sanity trying to believe and love your spouse
- your gut is telling you something is wrong when your spouse tells you there isn’t
then you are probably married to an addict.
I can relate…
It is difficult to deal with a problem when you are denying or unaware of what it really is. In my memoir, Hope Street, I struggled with this question for the entire time I was with my ex-husband. I was asking myself, “Should I leave my drug addict husband?” over and over again. The book is a document of the journey that I had to go through to come to a realization which took almost twelve years. With every fiber of my being, I went against my gut instinct to try and believe that my husband was not really an addict. After twelve years, marriage, one child, many broken promises, in the end, he was. He always was.