When your spouse is addicted to drugs or alcohol, life can be a living nightmare. So, what are the signs that you’re ready for action? And what hope can you take in the meantime.
An article and insight that you can relate to – from someone who’s been there. Then, we invite your questions, feedback, or ask that you share more about your situation in the comments section at the end. In fact, we try to respond to all comments personally and promptly.
Why is Daddy always sleeping?
“Mommy, why does Daddy sleep all of the time? Why can’t we wake him up?”
Those were the words of my four year old daughter which opened my eyes. If I did not leave my cocaine, crack, pain pill, benzodiazepine, alcohol, marijuana, and opiate-addicted husband and father of my child, our future was going to be grim. It was not the verbal or emotional abuse, the lies, the manipulation, the cheating, or the financial loss that occurred for years which fueled me leave my husband, it was the thought of my daughter having a junkie around as her father and her primary example of what a man should be like.
A lot of co-addicts (the loved ones of an addict) do not end up leaving for themselves alone… but rather for the situation the addict has put them in with their family and children. Life and finances become too chaotic and unmanageable to continue to ignore. Check out my article, “8 signs of a co-addict” to assess your own situation.
Acknowledging the signs: 4 signals of change
When all of the praying, hoping, crying, pleading and support have little or no effect on the addict’s condition, a co-addict comes to a point where they see how life is passing them by. For every co-addict the time to let go of an addict is different. The following are indications you are getting ready to make a change;
1. Observing the normalcy of other families.
When you start longing to have a normal life and watch friends and family members live happily, you start to imagine what life would be like if the addict was not in it. You envy and may become sad watching other families be happy together.
2. Seeking attention and support outside of the home.
When you start doing things that take you outside of the situation in your home; such as joining support groups, opening up to people about your life and struggles or having coffee with understanding friends, you are becoming aware that you need help.
3. Fantasizing about meeting a new spouse.
You start to yearn for a partner that can contribute to raising your family. The qualities that may have attracted you to the addict are no longer appealing. You desire someone more consistent, reliable, down-to-earth, and someone you would value as a friend. You look at a partner as someone that can take care of you, not just the other way around. When you fantasize about meeting someone else you are emotionally turning a corner.
4. Seeing your spouse or partner hurt your family.
When someone is hurting you, you may be able to make excuses for their behavior. When an addict is negatively affecting or abusing your family, friends and/and your children it is more difficult to rationalize or ignore it. It is the revolting feeling you get when your children are hurt by their own parent which fuels you to realize that something has to change. Through your children, sometimes you may be able to see more unequivocally how the addict is negatively affecting your life and the future of your family. You may be ready to stop helping an addict and start helping your family.
Emotionally detachment is the key
When you start to become less interested in saving the addict and more interested in saving the people that are drowning because of the addict, you are doing what is referred to as emotionally detaching. Emotional detachment does not mean that you lose all of your love for the addict, instantly become emotionally healthy, or even physically leave the addict. To emotionally detach means that you are starting to become less invested and affected by an addict’s addiction and behavior. You can even live with the addict but start to move on in your mind.
The fear of not leaving replaces the fear of leaving
The number one reason we do not leave an addict is all the fears we have about what might happen if we do leave. At some point, a co-addict begins to transition and begin to fear what will happen if they do not leave the addict. “What will your life be like in 5, 10, or 15 years if you continue on this path?” are the thoughts a co-addict starts to entertain. Most co-addicts do not like the answer to that question, so they search for answers.
Emotional detachment is the first step in your own healing and recovery. If you can identify your own behaviors and reactions changing you may be ready to emotionally detach from the active addict. This is a good sign that you may be ready to let go. This is an important stage which will enable you to work on your personal and family’s recovery and allow the healing process to begin.