On July 16, 2010 I learned I was living with a drug addict.
Funny how learning that made a million little things fall into place. So many parts of my life made sense suddenly, things that never added up, things that always felt off.
But a million other things fell out of place that day as well.
Six years later, some of those pieces never really came back to me. So much of the puzzle that was our life before July 2010 was destroyed forever. But what did come back fit better, felt more right, filled in the cracks and completed things in a new way.
This week’s posts are going to be hard. Some things you read might be hard to swallow. Some things I have to tell you still make my stomach turn. Also, because this is such a private and emotional story, please understand there are parts that won’t ever be shared. Some of it just can’t be. Some of it just shouldn’t be.
I still worry about telling people my husband is a drug addict. He’s a recovering drug addict, but an addict nonetheless. I’m not afraid people will judge me (I don’t care what you think about me. SCREW YOU. Just kidding), but because there is a lot of stigma that comes with the word “addict” and I feel so protective of him. I don’t want to tell people things about Chris that will make them think less of him or question what a great dad and husband he is. I am married to a kind, loving, patient man who loves Jesus and his family very well. But because our world is broken, he also struggles with addiction.
Addiction is ugly. Addiction makes you do ugly things. Addiction makes you think ugly things.
So we’ll have to share some ugly this week. But it ends well, I promise.
Let’s get started:
Is the show Intervention still on TV? I used to watch that show ALL THE TIME. Back in the day when we had cable and I was watching more TV than reading or writing, I would DVR Intervention and watch episode after episode. If you haven’t seen the show, each episode focuses on how addiction is ruining the life of someone and then their family and friends stage an intervention at the end. You’d never know if the addict would take the offer for help because addiction lies and so many addicts don’t know how to say yes to help even if they want it.
So the show would go to commercial as you wondered if they would fly off to the rehab facility and try to get clean and sober. Then the show would end with an update on what has happened to the addict since the show ended.
I was obsessed with these shows. I found them fascinating.
What I find ironically funny and not-funny-at-all is I was living in a house and sleeping in a bed with an addict and I didn’t even know it.
How’s that for a plot twist?
So much of Intervention would be about the lows these people had sank to and how much of their life they had ruined. For us, it was a little different. For one thing, our home life was relatively normal. I knew Chris had smoked pot and done some other drugs before we met. I did not know any of that had continued once we were dating or married. Chris knew how I felt about drug use–I’m not one to mince words or let my opinion not be known–and so he was well aware I wouldn’t have been okay with what he was doing. So he kept it a secret.
Our finances weren’t impacted greatly by his addiction either. Since we’ve been married, I’ve been in charge of the finances and know where all the money is and when it leaves. Chris was supporting his habits with extra spending money he had or through tips he’d earn at work and just not mention. We weren’t ever financially strapped or near financial ruin because of his habits.
These reasons, I think, helped Chris rationalize what he was doing. All his drug use was during work, while he was driving in a car by himself, or when he was at home without me. I’m not his babysitter, and we both like some independence, so it was no big deal to spend time without each other often. That made it very easy for Chris to use drugs daily and have no one notice. During this time, he was also a stay-at-home dad with Ellie. That made things easy too.
Knowing that he did drugs with my daughter at home is something that still destroys me. I’ve forgiven him, but that still smarts a lot if I’m being honest.
There were other little things I didn’t understand were drug-related at the time, but made sense once I learned of his addict: the day he couldn’t stop throwing up and I demanded he go to the ER. He fought me on it, but eventually (because I am very persistent) we went and they were able to get him to stop. Knowing he had taken something that made him that sick and when we went to the hospital, he lied about what was going on, makes things very real for me. He could have died; the doctor could have given him something that reacted badly with what he was on; there are so many things that could have happened that day. But Chris wasn’t going to give up his secret to the doctor or me—he was in too deep.
Another time, our car needed brake fluid and Chris, while on drugs, put power steering fluid in the brake line doing a lot of damage to our car. I was furious and couldn’t understand how he could do something so careless. He was adamant he didn’t do anything wrong and we fought about it.
Now I know he was so out of it, he didn’t even realize what he was doing.
If I was reading this, I would ask how I could live for years like this and not know.
That’s a really good question I don’t have a good answer to. I have no idea. Hindsight shows me all these little clues, but at the time, everything could be explained away by something else.
I remember one time catching Chris in a lie that seemed pointless and dumb. I hate lying. I think it’s weak and lazy. Either live your life in a way you can tell the truth about it or make better choices, but don’t lie. I yelled at him, “If you’re lying about things that don’t matter, what else are you lying about?”
That was a very smart thing to ask. I just didn’t realize how smart at the time.
So I am smart on some things and dumb on others.
When all of Chris’ lies started unraveling, one emotion I had to deal with a lot was how absolutely dumb I felt. I was so naïve, clueless, too trusting. I was blind and, obviously, an idiot.
I had to work my way through those webs of lies for a very long time. What I got at the end was Chris’ addiction has nothing to do with me. Absolutely nothing. This is his thing and projecting it on myself hurts him and me. (This lesson fits anytime someone lies to you and you feel the aftermath of it; if your spouse cheats on you, it has NOTHING to do with you; that was their choice.) Once I removed myself from never-ending cycle of asking “what could I have done differently?” we were able to get down to the business of helping Chris fight his addiction.
That fight is still going strong six years later. Once you’re an addict, you’re always an addict. So welcome to the club, get comfy here. But the exciting part is, you can earn the word “recovering” to add to the title and the freedom that comes with that is better than any high you can buy.