Even when people are firing on all cylinders, relationships can be tricky. When your partner is addicted, they can be impossible.
Addiction takes a relationship into a dangerous territory where clarity turns gray and selfishness rules the day; where individuals disappear and are replaced by need; where spouses are objectified, resented, and manipulated; where wedding vows, conceived to guide people to be the best they can be, are subverted into an evil parody that no one intended.
You may think you know your spouse, partner, child, parent, friend; but, when she is addicted, that person is missing. She’s been taken over, hijacked, commandeered. Addiction has taken possession, hollowed her out, and filled her with need. You may think it looks like your loved one. It’s voice may sound like hers. It may reminisce secret memories you had together, recall passwords, carry distinguishing characteristics she always had; but it’s not really her any more. It’ll fool you. It’s her evil twin.
Your partner doesn’t even need to be intoxicated by his drug to be changed. Addiction changes him completely, sober or not. With all the time it takes to obtain the drug, use the drug, recover from the drug, lie for the drug, regret the drug, crave the drug, and defend the drug; there isn’t any time left. Everything is devoted to the drug. Not only are you forgotten, but he has forgotten himself.
Even if she has years clean and sober, addiction could still be there, undercover, hiding until it’s safe to come out. You won’t know it unless you know the signs. If you don’t know that you are dealing with an impostor, you could be fooled.
You could never let a sip of alcohol pass your lips, never do a drug, never buy a lottery ticket, never buy a thing on credit, never say an angry word, and be chaste and circumspect in all you do; but, because your loved one is enslaved to addiction, so are you.
You could be as sober as a judge, but if you buy the booze, clean up after the booze, justify the booze, or even try not to notice the booze; you’ve done enough. You’ve served the addiction. Not him. You haven’t served your loved one. You’ve empowered the thing that’s overpowering him. What’s more, you’ve abandoned yourself. You’ve taken your needs, much less your partner’s, and put them aside to support the addiction. Addiction has taken you over, also; and you never had to take a drink.
Addiction loves to masquerade as normal, desirable, everyday activities. They are all good things at first. Your partner may have been the life of the party when she was drunk, before she turned into an alcoholic. He may have been hilarious when he was high, before he never left the couch. You might have liked the way she jumped your bones four times a day, but not so much when she signed up for Ashley Madison. He was a take charge guy until it started to look like rage. You had good times when he was winning, then he started chasing. She always complained before she discovered Vicodin. He was sweet so long as he smoked.
At some point, things started to go bad. They went bad long before you said so. You always gave her the benefit of the doubt. You trusted him to take care of himself. Everyone’s got their faults, you reasoned. He overlooked yours, so the least you could do was give her some space. You never liked to fight. It was never a good time to talk about it. It would just make him mad.
Then something happened. Something you could not ignore. She drove drunk and crashed the car,. He didn’t go to work, so he lost his job. You found some pictures of a strange man’s penis. He beat you up. He hocked your retirement. She stole your mother’s pills. He got lung cancer and is about to die.
You recognized the problem then. You knew what you’re dealing with. You’ve got it straight, now. It’s addiction. There’s no two ways about it.
You lost your shit. You let him have it. It all came out. You told her she had to change, see someone, let you check on him, go to a program. She said it was OK. He claimed it would never happen again. She was sorry, she’ll make it right. He wanted another chance.
You didn’t know what to do. Maybe you still don’t know what to do.
Well, here are your options:
1) End the relationship.
2) Pretend everything is OK.
3) Threaten to end the relationship, then pretend everything is OK until you can’t take it anymore, then threaten to end the relationship. Repeat.
4) Work it out.
You want to know more about working it out? Read on