Dear Wife of An Addict,
Did you just lose another battle? One more push for change to control the use/abuse of a substance/lifestyle. You timed it perfectly, your argument for stopping the behavior was well thought out and rational. Anyone could see that his behavior was/is killing the family and himself. Why won’t he listen to you, the therapist, close friends or co-workers? You are sure there is a person in there; the person you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with is in there somewhere. How do you force him to stop mood altering and come out of hiding and be the man he was created to be for the kids, for you, for himself. Why doesn’t he want freedom from his addiction? Why does he want to stay trapped?
Can’t he see he is hurting you, the kids, himself? Does he just not care?
Oh, precious wife, you have struggled to hold the family together, to keep the bills paid, maybe even to keep him sober enough to go to work or function in society so no one will know. What will the kids think? What will your parents think? What will the school, your church, your closest girlfriends believe about you, if they ever find out about his addiction/lifestyle?
Exhaustion is a numbing friend sometimes.
It keeps you from thinking or fighting or even living. Life now is just about doing. Making sure everyone is fed, social obligations are kept but not too close. You are trying to keep the peace and hide the resentment. Working, working, working to hold everything together in the hopes that somehow things will work out.
Sweet wife, sometimes, you allow yourself to daydream about how it could have been. Maybe you knew about the addiction/lifestyle when you married; maybe you even participated, maybe he lied, maybe he changed after you were married, had kids, moved or lost yet another job. Whatever happened you never excepted to be living your life alone in a marriage. The all-encompassing “IT” (drugs, alcohol, depression, work, exercise, hobbies, food, pron, digital use) keeps him at such a distance that you might as well be having dinner with a stranger. Even when you lose it and rage at him about his behavior he ignores you and proceeds to mood alter more. Scary daydreams also enter your thoughts; what if, he joined the military and just never came home; what if a car just happened to hit him head-on; what if he anciently shot himself while cleaning his guns. What if you just packed everything up and left?
Dear, Dear Wife of an Addict,
depression, hopelessness, fear, rage, and anger seem to spin in your head like the clothes bouncing against each other in the dryer. Just like a dried old blood stain, no matter how hard you scrub, the stain is just too deep for you to release. My friend, my sister, you were never meant to release the pain that drove your man to this lifestyle of addicted behavior. His bondage is not your bondage. There is hope.
You did not cause it. You can not control it and worst of all you can’t cure it.
Oh, my friend, is that not the worst news yet. No matter what plan you have. What you dream up. Who you get involved to help, what consequence you devise, what treatment programs you pay for him to attend, you can’t transform another person. It is not in your control. I know, I know, hopelessness is now your best friend and despair drops by for a good cry about every other day. Like a deflated balloon you just keep doing, doing, doing.
Standing with you in the midst of this swirling mess of a marriage are other precious wives of other addicts. The best thing I can tell you in this letter is you are not ALONE. Myself and many other women have stood where you stand. You do have choices, there is support and most of all there is hope for you, for your husband, for your marriage.
No situation is completely hopeless; no unhappiness is to great to be lessened.
Beloved wife of an addict, I cannot tell you THE answer. I can tell you some answers, some choices, options, and stories of hope. I can tell you that life can be lived again even after you choose to marry an addict. Will he choose to change, to let God transform him into the man he is divinely designed to be? I do not know. Can you choose this for yourself, whether his addiction/lifestyle continues or not? Yes. I did. You can too. Nothing makes me different from you other than I have chosen to seek help and health for myself. I chose daily to stop living as the wife of an addict and to live as a daughter of the most High King.
Sounds impossible? It seemed that way at first. At first, the swamp of despair and depression overtake any thoughts of freedom. Hold on to this, beloved wife.
You are not alone. There is hope. You read this today– choose to read one page of hope.
Choose to reach out just a little and get a list of resources for yourself. You, beloved wife, can’t fix him, but you can choose to transform yourself–slowly, gently and with help and support of loving communities and the God of the Universe. Freedom looks different for all of us. Take some time and explore what it might mean for you.
Hope Deferred Makes the Heart Sick, But a longing fulfilled is the Tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
Take heart there is help and a way out. One reference that I used early on is the Why Don’t They Just Quit by Joe Herzanek. This wonderful husband and wife team run Changing Lives Foundation with a Facebook group that you can drop in on at any time. Many have walked this journey. You are not alone. Take a small step to reduce the overwhelm and bring joy back into your life.
Definition of Codependent Basic definition of the way a codependent may feel or look.
Recovery Resources Page Lots and Lots of places to look for help for you.
Recovery from Codependent Behavior Creating ways to heal yourself.
http://www.al-anon.org/ Group for friends and family of alcoholics and addicts