My story of loving an addict is a long one, one that is filled with sadness, hurt, loneliness, regret, and even some times of joy and happiness. I am telling it, slowly, sharing stories that, even as I recall them, hurt to my very core, but I am not the only one who has been affected by this addiction, who has been hurt and let down by the man whom they loved so much. Two young hearts, those of my boys, the true loves of my life, have also been broken, time and time again. These hurts are the hardest to bear, as I know I could have prevented them so many times. This is where I went wrong, my greatest regret in life. I could have spared them. If only I hadn’t married him, if I hadn’t stayed as long as I had, if I had just packed up and ran so many years ago. But I didn’t and I can’t change that or take back all the years that I wasted, years that weren’t just mine but also theirs. Addiction doesn’t just affect the addict. It affects everyone that loves them, their spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends. Addiction isn’t a solo problem, but a family matter. 

Big K, my oldest son, was just 18 months old when I welcomed Jay back into my life, and into that of my son. The two quickly became friends, soon after father and son, and Little K looked at Jay as any little boy should look at their Dad- with admiration, respect, and innocent love. They adored each other and just a few years later when Big K was 5, Little K was born. Now we were a family, the four of us, and our life was complete. 

Jay’s drinking was present from the very beginning but as the years passed, his addiction to alcohol grew, and the dissapointments and heart breaks began. In the early days the let downs were small- he would promise to be home at a certain time to play with the boys before bed, take them out in the yard, to the park, or for a drive to visit their grandparents but would end up having a few beers with his friends, his promises soon forgotten. The boys would be upset briefly, but quickly get over it, and the broken promises forgotten once their Dad arrived home, still smelling of booze, and gathered them both up into his arms. I often envied their ability to just forgive and forget, but as they grew up this ability slowly died, and they no longer were as quick to forgive, and remembered so much more than even I realized. 

Jay’s drinking would hurt them in so many ways over the years, and our family life was not the fairy tale I had been hoping for. Big K would be the most affected by Jay and his addiction, many a times having his little heart broken, being afraid, dissapointed, and angry. At the age of 9 the first of several incidents would occur that would leave a lasting mark, an irreversible scar, on the heart of my sweet boy. 

We had been living in our home at the time, but were experiencing financial problems, and Jay’s drinking was a large part of our financial strain. We had been arguing for days and things weren’t good in our home. On this particular night Little K was spending the night with my parents, while Big K and I went to a school event with a friend of mine and her son, who was also a friend of Big K’s. We had a fun night, which was much needed after the stress of the week. 

What I didn’t know was that while we were gone, Jay had returned home from a day of drinking, angry at the world, angry at me for reasons unknown. His parents had tried to contact me, to warn me not to go home, because Jay was on a rampage, but were unable to reach me. Big K and I returned home, oblivious, but the moment we entered the house I knew something was wrong. 

The kitchen stove and refrigerator was on it’s side, it’s corners having poked large holes into the drywall. Frames were knocked off the walls, everything on the kitchen table had been swiped off and as we neared Big K’s bedroom we both stopped in our tracks, Big K reaching up to take my hand. His bedroom door was ajar, but had a huge gaping hole in it, where a fist had went through, and on the floor was an orange survival suit, a pair of boots sticking out from the legs of it.  The way it lay there on the floor, still shaped as if someone was still inside it, looked at first like a body lying there on the floor rather than merely an empty suit. It actually took both of us a couple of moments to realize that’s all it was- an empty suit. But in those brief moments fear gripped both of us as we held on tight to each other’s hand. 

As we tiptoed closer to the room, just close enough to see inside, we realized that it had received the most damage. His wall had a couple holes in it, his dresser had been flipped over, the drawers hanging open, some of his clothes falling out, and the contents that rested on top of the furniture thrown around the room. Worst of all, his desk had been flipped over, and his computer, a prized possession of his, lay on the floor destroyed. Asleep on his bed lay Jay, dried blood on his nuckles, the stench of stale beer filling the room. 

I fought back the tears as I lead my son from the room, through the mess Jay had made of our home. Why that room? Why my son’s room? I could only imagine what was going through my sons young, innocent mind, how much hurt he was feeling, fear he had felt as he saw the suit lying on his floor. As we reached the living room a knock came on the door and when I answered it I found my friend standing there, the one I had been with earlier. 

“Do you have a can of milk I could borrow?” She asked. I gave her a puzzled look before realizing why she was actually there. 

“It’s okay.’ I whispered. ‘He’s asleep.” She came inside for a minute as I tried to gather my thoughts, and then we left, my holding on to my sons little hand, as we followed her to her car and she drove us to my mothers with nothing more than my sons book bag and the clothes we had on. 

I left him that night. I went back to our home the next day and packed up my kids clothes, toys and other personal belongings as well as my own and we moved back in with my parents. I left him and for the next couple of months I felt as if a weight had been lifted. I missed him, but I didn’t miss the stress of his drinking.  

The thing anyone who loves an addict wants to hear in the early days, when there is still some shred of hope, is I’ll change, I’ll quit, I’ll do better. In the early days you believe it. So when he came crawling back, pledging his love for me and the boys, telling me he would change, promising he would do better, be better, that he would give up his bad habits, I believed every word of it and welcomed him back into my life with open arms. We moved back into our home with him shortly thereafter. In the beginning, the honeymoon phase, everything was wonderful and myself and my sons quickly fell back into our family life, only for things to return to the norm, Jay returning to his old ways, just a few weeks later. 

One of my greatest regrets in life was going back then, and the many times I would do the very same thing over the years. Eventually I would leave for good, but not for a very long time and not before irreparable damage had been done. If I could change it I would, if I could go back and do it all over again, I would have done so many things differently. That’s the thing with mistakes and bad decisions, we often don’t see them until it’s too late. 

I may not be able to erase the permanent scars my children carry as a result of living with an alcoholic for most of their young lives, but what I can do is assure them that those days are over, that life behind us. There is no more going back. 

  1. hbhatnagar says:

    I can imagine the hurt and the pain and the regret. We don’t control the universe though, and we aren’t seers into the future. We try our best and our children see it, for the most part. I wish you wouldn’t blame yourself for trying with your alcoholic ex, we all are wishful thinkers at times. If you hadn’t tried, you might have lived with the regret of not having done that, Hove back to him and given your kids a father while they were growing up….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dani says:

    Such a heart breaking read. My mother was with an alcoholic for a few years when I was young. He used to beat her and I remember whenever we went out, if we were late home there was this fear of what state we would find him and the house in. From a child’s point of view, I never blamed my mother. When he wasn’t drunk he was sweet and charming and great with us children. Like you, she had never experienced addiction and believed him when he promised to change. It isn’t your fault ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Writingofpassage says:

      Thank you so much Dani. I am sorry that you had to live through this as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dani says:

        Yes it was horrific. But it made me, my mum and my sister very close knit. It made us a stronger family because we knew she always did everything with our best interest at heart. She stayed because she wanted a father for us. Like you she realised the damage outweighed the benefit. But mother’s are only humans too 🙂 I hope you and your sons are living a happy life now. They just be proud of having such strong mum. xx

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It is tortuous what our loved ones can do to our hearts and our mental state.

    After living in a completely unacceptable, abnormal situation for so long, we get desensitized to just how abnormal it is.

    We welcome any normal moments from the person and perceive those moments as wonderful and above normal.

    Our entire frame of reference for looking at their behaviour becomes tilted as we develop our own mental illness issues that occur from living with a person that is so mentally tormented.

    It is hard not to go back to them, because you miss the person that they should be and that we so desperately keep clinging to.

    The mental damage can be severe to us. The guilt of subjecting our children to it, leaves us with toxic shame. I have been there and I still feel shame, especially for subjecting my children to a very ill person for too long.

    Blessings for healing and peace.
    we are only human and we tried to follow our hearts

    Liked by 1 person

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