Archive for the ‘Addiction’ Category

I should have learned a lesson. I should know by now exactly what he is trying to do. I should be strong enough to say no, to turn him away, to turn away from him and walk away. I shouldn’t want this, want him, but sometimes the heart wants what the mind knows we just don’t need. 

Jay messaged me on Facebook while I was in the city for a few days, telling me to hurry and come home because he was getting lonely. I was heading home that day anyway, and just responded with “lol”. When we got home he called and then came up. The kids were outside and the house was empty. 

Like gravity, we were drawn to each other and to the bed. He had been clean shaven when I had left but his beard had grown back in a little while I was gone. I love his beard. I love how it feels as I touch his face while we kiss. I love how it feels on my skin as he trails kisses over me. We kissed, over and over. We touched. We rediscovered each other in ways we hadn’t in a very long time. We made magic together, the passion we had known long, long ago suddenly reborn if only for a short time. We were, for a couple of hours, Jay and M again. I was his, and he was mine. 

Afterwards we talked. The upcoming move came up and he commented that he would try to visit every second weekend. I asked why so often. 

“Don’t you want me to visit?” He asked. 

“Yes….but not that often.” I wanted him to visit the kids, yes, but the move was, and still is, a fresh start for me. Nothing had changed between us, I continued to explain. What we had just experienced was beautiful and incredible and felt so unbelievably good but it changed nothing. One incredible night together did not, could not, fix the years of turbulent marriage. It didn’t erase the addiction that consumed him. No amount of affection and intimacy could magically change the reality of our situation. 

I should have known what was coming, what he was expecting. He wanted his cake and to eat it too. He has hoped that this would change things between us without him having to make any changes himself. Once again, he was trying to suck me back into this twisted idea of a relationship that he has, where he can keep me at arms length, have me when he wants me, but still continue to live his life the way he wants without any real commitment or change on his part. Little does he realize, I’m not the woman I once was. I’ve changed and he’s played a part in changing me. 

I may not have been strong enough to turn him away but maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t about strength. I had, after all, gotten exactly what I wanted, and while there may have been a time when this would have shaken me to my core and turned my world upside down, it just doesn’t anymore. I was fine before spending the night with him, and I am fine after. Yes, sometimes the heart and the body wants what the mind knows you don’t need, but must we always only choose what we need? Can we sometimes just choose what we want, even in just that moment? I may not have needed that night. I know I don’t need him anymore. But, in that moment I wanted him and for once, I was taking what I wanted, whether it was good for me or not. 

It was one incredible, intimate, heart pounding, amazing night, but, it was just that- one night. It changed nothing and life, for me, will go on just as it did before. There’s no going back- just ahead. 

I’ve been called a lot of things over the course of my life, some good, some bad, some justified while others are not, but an insult that was thrown at me just last night really hit a nerve- coward. More accurately, I was told I exhibited cowardness, which is basically the same as calling me a coward. 

My reaction? I saw red and replied with….

I am NOT a coward. I have more courage and guts than you will ever find in another god damn woman in your life and if you knew me at all you would know that! 

Maybe I took for granted that this person didn’t know all there is to know about me. They probably don’t realize the things I have endured and survived, but they are aware of a great deal of it and when those words popped up on my computer screen, I didn’t care what they did or didn’t know, the anger coursed through me. 

A coward? Bitch please!  This chick is a survivor. 

I’ve survived childhood sexual abuse, and years and years of verbal abuse at the hands of people who I thought loved me. 

I made the decision, as a teenager, to take the long road and keep my baby who would shortly thereafter become the centre of my entire world, and after we were both rejected harshly by his father, together we survived! 

I’ve lived through more than 3 decades of an undiagnosed mental disorder that threatened my sanity time and time again, nearly took my life, and completely fucked with my head, my heart, and my self esteem and I survived! 

I survived a relationship filled with fear and control; being held hostage in my own home, spending days in a bed while pondering how in the hell I was going to escape, looking at the tiny windows in the basement apartment and wondering if I could squeeze through the small space to freedom and safety. I escaped, I survived, I learned to not live in fear anymore and put it behind me. 

I survived more than a decade of loving an addict who repeatedly hurt and betrayed me, destroyed our family and our life together, left me broke and alone over and over, not knowing how the bills would be paid or how I was putting food on the table! Yet, I made it through because that’s what survivors do! 

I’ve been knocked down, physically and emotionally, but got back up!  

I started over, alone and scared, damaged and confused, broken and bruised, and I recreated a life that had been shattered. 

I’ve raised two kids on my own, as I struggled with mental illness, after being raised in a broken home where insults were thrown like punches, yet I’ve raised them right. I’ve raised them to be strong and be their own person and every time I look at them I know I did a great job! 

A coward? I’ve never been, nor will I ever be. I’m strong and proud and brave. I’m a fighter! You can knock me down but you can’t keep me there. I always get back up, stronger and better than I was before, because I, my friend, am a fucking survivor and that is what we do! 

  
 

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. 

I was changing the water in the flowers. I noticed some of them were beginning to wither and die, yet some were still vibrant and yellow. As I put them back into the vase I realized the card was still there, tucked in the centre of the arrangement, and I pulled it out…..To my darling wife. The handwriting wasn’t his. I know his handwriting, could imitate it perfectly. It was the handwriting of the florist I assumed, or maybe his mother. He hadn’t even been there when the flowers were purchased, he had been away working, but had gotten his mother to pick them up for me after the operation exactly 2 weeks ago. I tore the card in half and tossed it in the trash. 

At the time the gesture had, I will admit, tugged at my heart strings. When I had been released from the hospital and he had returned home from work, he had come to visit me. I  hugged him, he hugged me back. I told him to hug me tighter, and he squeezed me as tight as he could without hurting me. Part of me had wanted to feel something, a twinge of love for the man I had loved nearly my entire life, but it just wasn’t there. I’ll admit, I was a little dissapointed. The woman who had just underwent emergency surgery desperately wanted the comfort and love of the man that had once been everything in her world. Yet, the wife of the alcoholic, who had spent 10 years living in a lonely, rapidly sinking marriage, knew better. And in the end, she wins every time. 

The flowers sat on my coffee table for the next few days as slowly some of them began to shrivel, droop or fade. They sat there until last night….

I had a bad night, a bad couple of days to be exact. I cried. I was angry. I hurt. My weekend plans with Clarke had gotten messed up because of work and family obligations and I was disappointed. I had battled the demons all day and at 11pm I was a mess. I decided to take a pill, the very one that I so despise and go to bed. Wishing sleep would come quickly, I hid beneath the covers and played music on my iPhone. Music and my moods go hand in hand. I have a playlist for every mood. However, I played neither for some reason. Instead I played the song Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, and double tapped the repeat button to let it play over and over again. It had been our song, Jay’s and mine, since we were kids, young and so in love, before addiction destroyed us. 

I listened to the lyrics word for word, over and over again and let my mind and heart wander aimlessly. I saw him, Jay, the 15 year old talking to me on the phone, playing his favourite Floyd songs for me to hear, the 17 year old sitting next to where I lay on his bed, strumming on his guitar and singing to me….”were just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl”, as I watched him and listened in complete and total awe and admiration, my young heart bubbling over with love for this boy who played guitar and sang to me. I remembered the later teenage years, when things became more complicated, and after a particularly bad fight we had made up and made love on a weight bench in his bedroom as the sound of Pink Floyd filled the room. 

The tears came freely as I remembered and for a brief moment I considered climbing out of my comfortable nest of sadness, getting in my car and driving to him. But I didn’t. Instead I wondered what the hell I was doing! What was I thinking? There was no going back, nor did I want there to be and it hit me then, as hard as the memories had. 

Now he gives me flowers? Now, of all times! Where were the flowers when it mattered, when I was so very in love with him, when I was so devoted and determined to make our marriage work. Where was the loving gesture then? I had loved him so damn much. I would have given anything to know, to feel, the love from him then. I would have given anything for flowers then. In an instant the sadness and memories turned to anger and I sprang to my feet, grabbed the vase from the coffee table, dumped the water into the sink and tore the flowers apart, tossing the pedals and leaves and stems into the trash. 

Fuck you and fuck your flowers. They are too little too late. 

The story of my love for, and life with, an alcoholic is not a pretty one, nor is it one that can be told all at once. This love, this life, saw many chapters. Some happy, more not, some just downright scary. As I tell these stories, memories come flooding back, and I don’t think I realized when I decided to write about this life just how difficult it would be. Therefore, I write in small instalments, a story here and there. This isn’t my life anymore. It’s my past life, one that I am just now learning to put behind me, but the memories, they are still mine, and will always be a part of me. He just can’t be anymore. 

We got married on a whim, Jay and I. We were living together, Big K (my oldest son) was 7 and Little K (our son together) was almost 2. Marriage just seemed like the next step. It was my idea. Out of the blue I suggested we get married. It was early January, shortly after the new year, and we were hanging out in our basement, him drinking, after the kids had went to bed. He agreed. We were married on Valentines Day the following month, a small affair with immediate family only. I borrowed a wedding dress, the church wasn’t decorated, and the place where the “reception” was held was a small private dining room in a local restaurant. I didn’t get to shop for wedding dresses, select bridesmaids, decorate, or any of the thousands of tasks involved in planning a wedding. Yes, I asked for it. This was my idea. I didn’t realize at the time how much I would regret it later. 

Deep down I knew then that I was making a mistake. I knew, somewhere in my subconscious that I would live to regret it, but a huge part of me hoped that he would change, that marriage would settle him down, that becoming a “real family” would make him realize what he had, make him grow up. It didn’t. If anything the new concept of family and responsibility just fueled his addiction. 

Just a few days after our wedding he decided he wanted to go back to our hometown for the weekend to hang out with his buddies. We argued. I didn’t want to go home for the weekend, we couldn’t afford it even if I had  wanted to. Finally I caved, allowing him to go, but not making the trip myself. I had planned to run errands that day, including paying our electric bill in town, but since he was heading out anyway, he offered to do it. I handed him the 200 dollars to pay the bill, warning him that we were already behind and to not pay a cent less than what I had given him. He assured me he would, told me to stop being silly and just trust him. 

Trust. Anyone who has ever loved an addict of any kind knows, trust is not in their vocabulary. 

He went back home for the weekend. For some reason I had a nagging feeling about the electric bill. I got that often…a sixth sense when it came to him. It would happen many times over the years, this particular incident being the first. When I couldn’t take the nagging suspicion any longer I called to check the balance of our bill and it was, as I suspected, higher than it should have been. Just half of the money had been paid on the bill, the other half going into his pocket to support his drinking habit over the weekend. I was furious! I tried calling him but couldn’t find him. I tried several more times over the weekend, finally reaching him on Sunday. Once confronted he became angry and defensive. Somehow it was me who was in the wrong. Me who had fucked up. Me who was to blame. Maybe I was, maybe it was my fault. After all, what had I been thinking to give him the money in the first place? 

I’ll tell you what I had been thinking. I was thinking I could trust my husband;  the man, and in this particular case I use that term very lightly, who was the head of our home, of our family. I was thinking that he wouldn’t do this to us, to himself, that he would never put our family in this situation. And what a situation he had put us in. I spent the next 2 days on the telephone with the electric company trying to persuade them to not disconnect our services while he stayed drinking with his friends for another 2 days, finally arriving home on Tuesday. 

What a great first week of marriage right! Our first breakup occurred just 3 months later. 

My “sixth sense” was alive and active for the remainder of our turbulent marriage, I often felt things that I couldn’t explain sometimes. I just knew something was wrong, or something had happened. I couldn’t explain how, I just did! 

One other particular incident stands out very clear in my mind. We were then living in an apartment back in our hometown. Things had been rocky from the get go, but we were going through a particularly rough patch. He went out one night, drinking as per usual, but ended up at the bar which is something he seldom ever did. Usually his drinking took place at one of his buddies places. The entire night that he was out, while I stayed home with the kids as I always did, I had a bad feeling, a knot in the pit of my stomach and a nagging tug at my heart. Something was wrong. I knew it because I felt it. I am sure many sceptics are rolling their eyes at the very mention of some sort of premonition, but that is exactly what it was. 

He didn’t come home that night. I watched the minutes, and then hours, pass on the clock as I waited. This, of course, reinforced my nagging suspicions. The next morning he called me from his parents house, his voice a little nervous and apprehensive. There is was. Confirmation. I would learn later that day that he had been with another woman at the bar. The first of several times he would cheat on me.  

While this sixth sense was often a blessing, it was as much a curse. I often wondered did I want to know. Would I have been better off not knowing when he had cheated, lied, stolen money from my wallet or our kids piggy banks, blown our rent money or the countless other betrayals that he would bestow on me over the years. They say what the heart doesn’t know it can’t feel. How very true. But I did know and it did hurt, time and time and time again. 

The story of my life with, and love of, a man who life was consumed with an alcohol addiction is a long and complex one. It can’t simply be told in one story. It is a hard story for me to tell, as the scars of this relationship have yet to heal and I am not sure they ever will. Our story began in a previous post Loving an Addict: In the Beginning and will span over many posts in a Loving an Addict series. Not all of these stories are pretty, as addiction never is. But if one person reads them and realizes they are not alone, and that there is a way out, then all the hurt that is recalled in these stories have been worth it. 

When Jay returned home, shortly after that first night, he came to meet my son at my moms house where we were living. I’ll never forget the feeling that swept over me as I watched him approach my toddler who was trotting out of the hallway from his room with a baby bottle caught between his teeth, a huge grin across his face. 

“Hey little buddy.” Jay said as he reached out his arms and my son willingly climbed into them. Little buddy. He would call him that for years to come, and still does on the rare occasion that they talk. 

From that day on we slowly became a family and it seemed that finally the stars were aligning. Jay and I were together again, he wanted to be with me and be a father to my son. We were going to be a family. 

Things started out okay. We got our own place, a small, 2 bedroom basement apartment, and we were going through the motions of a normal, functional family. We cooked together, Jay spent time with Big K, taking him for walks in the yard and playing with him, we visited family and friends, Big K becoming a welcomed addition to Jay’s family, his parents quickly becoming grandparents. Everyone doted on my son. He was cheerful, loveable, and simply adorable. Jay, Big K, and I were falling comfortably into a routine. 

During those early days Jay’s drinking was under control for the most part. He did drink too much from time to time, usually when he was with his friends, but he would always come home to us at the end of the night, crawl into bed next to me, and wake with a hangover the next day. Many years later I would miss those hangover days where him and I would cuddle together with Big K and eat junk food and spend the entire day relaxing. But it wasn’t just those lazy days together that made me miss the hangovers. What I missed the most was these hangovers kept him sober for at least a couple of days. 

We had been in our own place for a few months when things began to change. Jay began drinking more often and hiding it from me with lies. So many lies. I didn’t drive at the time and  Jay was my means of transportation. Our apartment was a fair distance away from town and too long of a walk in the hot summer months. Big K and I began spending day after day at home alone in that little apartment while Jay was running off and drinking with his friends. After 3-4 days he would wander home, smelly and sick, having not showered the entire time he was gone, and barely eaten. Most times he would tell me where he had been, other times he wouldn’t. The worst was not knowing, spending days at home having no idea where he was, what he was doing, who he was with, or more important, if he was okay. It was during this particular period in our lives, in that very same apartment, when violence was born from Jay’s addition. 

It was a hot July day and there was a festival happening in town. Jay and I had planned to take Big K to the kids day activities during the day and then go to the outdoor dance together that night. Jay bailed on Big K and I at the last minute to go drink with some of his buddies. Big K and I got ready to go anyways, and a mutual male friend of ours tagged along too. I spent the day at the festival with my son and got a pretty sizeable sunburn on my chest, and cleavage. That evening Jay arrived home, already pretty intoxicated but wanting to go to the dance together that night and I agreed. I didn’t get upset because he had let us down that day. I never got upset with him. I was just thankful for the time he did spend with us. 

That night we went to the dance as planned, both drinking, and walked home together at around 2 am. I dressed in a satin shorts and tank top sleep set and climbed into bed, moving inside for Jay to sleep outside, while he was in the bathroom. I was settled comfortably in bed when he came back into the room…

And hell broke loose. 

Suddenly he began yelling at me, furious that our friend had hung out with me that day, that I had worn a tank top (despite the more than 30 degrees of heat). Apparently I had been flaunting my breasts in the top for our friend, and every man at the festival to see. In one swift movement he was gripping my hair in his hand and pulling me from the bed, then ripped the straps off of my top, before throwing me to the floor, where I landed against the wall, shocked and terrified, and knocked senseless when, seconds later, he was once again gripping my hair as he pounded my head into the wall, going through the drywall. He screamed at me as I lay there, crumpled like a paper doll, dazed and shaking, the tears falling without my even realizing. The sound of our landlord pounding on the door ended the screaming. Jay told him everything was fine, and then, without a word he ran, out of the room and out of the apartment. 

Head throbbing and the tears coming in broken sobs and heart wrenching cries, I climbed back into bed, praying for the first time that he wouldn’t return. But he did, an hour or so later, but he didn’t come back into the bedroom. He spent the night on the sofa and the next morning nothing was said as we prepared to go to his parents home for dinner. The entire day was silent for both of us. Later that night, when all 3 of us were at home and Big K was settled into bed for the night, I lay on the sofa watching television. After a few minutes Jay lay on the floor in front of me, fixated on the tv at first, but eventually reaching up for my hand as he broke down into tears, apologizing again and again. My heart, the very one that he had broken just hours before, ached for him. 

I forgave him. I always forgave him. Years would be pass and although the abuse and violence was not a regular part of our lives, it did surface several more times. Always when he was drunk, usually after drinking the harder booze, and always in a jealous rage. Alcohol and his addiction to it had already become, in those early days, the monster in our home.