Addiction takes more than it will every give. Addiction affects not only the addict, but those who are related to him or her- whether it be a family member, spouse, significant other, child or friend. It strips away any chance of a life of joy, peace, and awareness. The addict’s drug use causes broken trust, confusion, health risks, emotional and/or physical abuse, lies, secrets, lost time, money wasted on drugs and more.
My relationship with a drug addict
I was in an eight year relationship with a drug addict. When we met, he had been clean and sober for three years. He had been in the recovery community for 15 years, but had one relapse.
My husband and I separated and two months later I met Larry. He seemed completely different from my emotionally abusive husband. He seemed like your basic all American guy: he had three kids who he absolutely adored, he was kind, funny, loyal and ran a small business. He volunteered for his kids’ school and sports events, small business functions and recovery events. Everyone seemed to like him.
We had a wonderful relationship. We loved spending time together, went on trips and were just really enjoying life. We had the occasional argument, but we were always able to talk things out. I introduced him to my family who instantly liked him, (although it took my kids sometime to come around). I thought I had finally met my “soul mate.”
Spoiler alert: Although the relationship seemed wonderful it wasn’t likely that I would have the great fortune to encounter the “perfect guy” after coming out of 25 years of an emotionally abusive marriage.
When his addiction started to escalate
Larry seemed completely different from my husband – at first. However, as more time passed, his addiction started to escalate. He became controlling, manipulative, accusatory, and uninvolved with both me and his life in general. He did a stellar job of keeping his addiction hidden – he frequently accused me of causing all the problems in the relationship whenever I confronted him on anything.
When you’re in a relationship with an addict, he or she will use many tools to manipulate you, and that’s what was happening to me. Sometimes I would get a glimpse of the old him: the funny, charming, attentive guy I’d met, but it wouldn’t last long. All of that great energy started to dwindle, consumed by his drug use.
Every once in a while Larry would come clean and admit using drugs, he would apologize profusely and swear he’d never use again. I believed him – and I read somewhere that we trust addicts, even when they lie, because there was a time when they were trustworthy.
Even though he said he had “cleaned up” the relationship got more and more dysfunctional. Our arguments got worse and worse. Our breakups were more frequent and lasted longer. I continued to blame myself for our problems as his erratic, addictive behaviors escalated. That wonderful, fun relationship had turned into one of resentment, fear, isolation, rejection and boredom. Addiction takes more than it will every give.
The end of our relationship
After one of our breakups I hadn’t heard from him in a while so I called him. He informed me he had found a new girlfriend – one he could “be himself” with, someone who didn’t mind his drug use. I couldn’t compete with that – I adamantly opposed his drug use. It changed him, and destroyed the relationship, as I had experienced for the last six to seven years.
I didn’t want a relationship with a “drug” anyway. According to his logic, he was “the same guy.” He was in denial – fooling himself and leaving wreckage everywhere -especially in our relationship. He bragged a lot about how he hadn’t drank in 20 years, but he was not sober. Larry’s obituary stated he’d been a sober member of AA for 26 years. He fooled a lot of people.
The breakup turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I developed better relationships with my kids; started going out with old friends, cared for my aging parents, hired a professional life coach, travelled, picked up playing the piano again and started this blog. I did (and am doing) all the things I love to do and that I had formerly sacrificed to dysfunctional relationships. I became grateful that he had ended the relationship – I felt free for the first time in my life and was able to focus on myself and my own personal growth.
The breakup devastated me, but I decided to move forward bravely.
The unexpected phone call
On July 4, I received an unexpected phone call from someone I knew when Larry and I were dating. Larry had been assaulted, brutally murdered. drug into a vacant house, and his body was set on fire. He certainly didn’t deserve such a horrific death. The news filled me with pain and grief, thinking of how he must have suffered and the devastating impact to his family, friends, and business associates.
I live in a decent neighborhood, so I was shocked when I heard he was murdered less than a mile from my house. My question is, what was he doing 10 miles from his own home, at 9 or 10 at night, in a somewhat risky part of my neighborhood? And the brutality of it all? During his “recovery periods” he told me he had bought hard drugs off the street. I’m very sure his murder was drug related.
I don’t know what kind of trouble Larry had gotten into, but it seems his addiction put him in a dangerous situation that resulted in his brutal death.
Addiction robs us of awareness, healing and growth
I refer to in a prior blog to the importance of awareness and paying attention. Addiction to anything robs you of that beautiful opportunity to pause, step back, view your life and start to heal and grow. Addiction causes addicts to do crazy like things when when they’re high, submitting themselves to grave health risks and even death from overdose. It also causes addicts to put ourselves in dangerous situations, dealing with dangerous drug dealers, and in Larry’s case, put him in the wrong place, at the wrong time with the wrong people.
My heart grieves for him – he was only in his mid-fifties. He will never see his kids’ futures: graduations, marriages, maybe even grandchildren. Nor will he get to enjoy his retirement – his dream was to buy an RV and travel the world. He will never get to see how life evolves for his siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews. His life was blotted out most likely by drug addiction and all that is inherent in that life choice. I’m angry with him as well. So many people, his ex-wife, me, his family, and his friends told him to stay clean, but he choose not to.
If you suffer from the chaos of life with an addict, or if you’re an addict yourself, please get some help.
If you suffer from life with an addict, or if you’re an addict yourself, please get some help. First talk to a doctor so they can assess your best medical/recovery options. Most insurance plans cover all or a partial amount for recovery programs. You can also talk to a pastor, priest or therapist. You can visit a local Alcoholic Anonymous Meeting, Smart Recovery, and/or check out the CDC’s Alcohol Program. Additionally, the internet has many online programs, facebook communities and books.
This was a very upsetting situation for me despite the difficulties of the relationship, In my next blog, I will share what I’m doing to heal and grow after this tragedy.
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