I woke up one morning after a relapse, nothing catastrophic and life altering, just enough to awake all the inner fears. I hoped it was just a small bump, that he isn’t falling backwards. I watched him sleep. I hate that he’s asleep in this moment. I had questions, I needed to hear his voice. My instincts screamed don’t go to work. Lay beside him and let him know he’s okay, that it will be okay. Stay by his side so that he can’t make a bad decision today, it was one night, we are not allowing anymore of these.
Now I always follow my instincts but in this situation, I learned that I can’t. When I first started googling online in all of this I would get so bitter at all the quotes and sayings that refer to the addict’s ability to destroy me and that I should just leave. He’s not just an addict. He is sweet and kind. He’s a loving son, brother and friend. He is the man that I love. So, what do I do? I keep loving him. I am aware that fighting his battle for him won’t help him and could potentially destroy my successful career; I kissed him goodbye. I left him a note reminding him how much he is loved, not to be too hard on himself today and that this journey isn’t perfect and walked out the door to work. It’s not easy and I almost turned around at the first intersection and every one after that. But it is what’s right. I walked in the doors of work, I took a deep breath and focused on my challenges for the day. It doesn’t mean I didn’t think about him all day, send an extra text or two, that he doesn’t cross my mind constantly. It just means that I am going to be the best version of me and my life to be strong for both of us. I am in control of whether “I am saving him, while he’s killing me.” I choose to stay in this relationship and fight through the hard days but I also choose to not be any more of a victim of his disease than I must be. I am constantly working through my thoughts and our journey to determine the things that I can control; my career is one of those.
Compartmentalizing is not a skill that all possess. I do believe, however, it is a survival tool in the world of loving someone with or recovering from an addiction. At times this action feels heartless. How can I act as though all of this isn’t happening and go on with a normal workday or attend a family outing? The how isn’t as easy to answer, that’s a personal approach we must look inward and figure this process out on our own. The why on the other hand is an answer I feel strongly about. In order for any relationship with the potential for co-dependency to work you must be aware of that risk and work diligently to not let it creep in. You must be able to keep your strengths and successes. You may not be able to celebrate them with the same gusto through this struggle but you must do everything you can to keep any normalcy you can. It is important for your own health and well-being and overall for your loved one.
As you seek advice anywhere online remember that each of us are individuals. Our own journey, experiences and choices. I would never convince anyone to stay in a relationship with an addict or recovering addict if it felt wrong to them, I just want to be sure that no one in a tough moment is persuaded to leave because that’s what everything out there seems to encourage. Stay strong, make an extra effort to be self-aware, and talk to someone. There are great groups, therapists and online resources. The act of talking about it allows us to hear our own voice, assess how we are truly feeling and take each day in this fight the way that works for us.
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”