Like Aldo said, “Life is just fantasy”

I find myself wondering how I can love someone so deeply yet have so many conflicting feelings about them.  I don’t know how many times I’ve thought in the last few weeks about my husband.  He comes into my mind frequently.  A song might trigger thoughts about him.  It could be a television show, a book or even a client’s story.  Honestly, although I shame myself when I have these thoughts, sometimes I think about how much I miss him.  I think about how much I love him.  I ask myself why my love wasn’t enough for him, why he had to return to meth after years of sobriety.  I feel sorry for the trouble I’ve caused in his life.  He just got out of jail after 16 days.  The judge released him from his probation in one county on “time served” saying that “the Court has consider that such sentence is consistent with the protection of the public, the gravity of the offense, the rehabilitative needs of the Defendant.”  I know there is a new warrant out for him and a new No Contact Order being filed being filed in the county I moved to so there are new legal troubles on the way.  I want to call and warn him, say I’m sorry, that I just wanted him to leave me alone and he wouldn’t so I told the police everything he’d been saying and doing.  I showed them the texts and the e-mails. I showed them the call logs and voicemails logs that kept piling up, even after I had blocked him from getting through on my phone and my son’s phone.  I told them about the times that I knew he’d entered my house, with me home and when I wasn’t.

Then I remember that love is only one piece of the truth.  Another piece is that I wouldn’t have felt I had to call the police if he would have not come into my house, multiple times, uninvited and after being told, again multiple times, that I didn’t want to talk to him, e-mail him, or see him anymore.  The truth is that way before that if he had he moved out like I asked him to do by the end of the year in 2017, he wouldn’t have been in the house anymore.  He wouldn’t have been around me as his meth use hit a crescendo.  He wouldn’t have threatened to slice my throat open.  I wouldn’t have gone to the police in fear of my life the first place.

Another piece of the truth is that I do feel sad about much that has happened since that night he threatened me.  I  wish that when he completed the substance use Intensive Outpatient Program he would have continued with his aftercare.  I wish he would have stayed away from his brother.  I wish, when his dealer contacted him about some stupid pump for his parent’s pool he had gotten from him, he hadn’t responded to say he’d give him the money he owed him for the pump.  When he told me the dealer contacted him, I told him the dealer was really trying to suck a good customer back into the life.  He didn’t believe me.  He didn’t want me to be right and he had already begun feeling ambivalent about not using.  I lost him again to that hazy little glass pipe.  It makes me so sad.  I can feel the hot salt in rushing onto my eyes right now.  I want my husband back.  I want back the man I fell in love with.  I want that romantic love we had: the hot sex, the hand holding, the playing word games, the rush in my gut when I’d see him watching me, the heat.  I miss that man.

I’m sad that all of that ended up being a fantasy.  I’m sad that man disappeared, only to be seen again on the briefest of occasions.  Instead, I spent the last years of my marriage with a moody, sarcastic, blaming, paranoid man.  And I just kept bloodying my forehead against the wall of disbelief that I’d lost him.

Why do I love this man who was so mean to me?  Who scared me and scarred me?  Why do I love this man who accused me more times than I could even count of one of the most atrocious of marriage sins, being unfaithful?  How can I still feel bad for him after all of that?  Still miss him? Still have part of my mind longing for him?  I wish I had the answer.  I wish I could cut out the offending parts of my brain and heart.  I’m trying to be kind to myself but these conflicting emotions make me mad…at me.

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Pain, pain…go away

You know what people don’t tell you when you are married to a person with an addiction? They don’t tell you how much pain it will cause in your life. No one says, “Hey, you are going to be miserable half the time or more. The times you aren’t miserable, you’ll be cautiously happy at best as you wait for the other shoe to drop and things to go back to the way they were when you were miserable.” No one informs you that most days you are going to wake up, come home, etc. to a person whose demeanor and behavior may not be the same as you last saw them. You never really know which person you are going to get: the person who can be so kind and loving that you never want to leave them or the person who is such an asshole that you wish you never had to see them again. While their addiction may leave them feeling and acting as though they had rapidly cycling Bipolar Disorder, it also leaves you with cycling moods and behaviors. The strange thing about it is that they cannot see that it is their behavior fueling the changes in your behavior. It’s like the internet meme: my attitude is directly affected by your behavior. These attitude changes, by both people, can lead to a stormy life which, by definition, is full of pain.

Addiction does so much more to cause pain though. It alienates you. It doesn’t just alienate your spouse or significant other. It isolates you also. My adult children didn’t want me in a relationship with this man, my husband, who is not their father and that they watch hurt their mother. They liked him at first, sort of. My youngest daughter had her doubts about our relationship but in many ways that was more about losing some of mom’s attention and feeling left out. She moved past that and eventually even moved in with us along with her boyfriend at the time. But living with us opened a window into our relationship. It was right about the time my husband relapsed after several years of being sober from meth. He became seriously strange when he relapsed. He began not showing up for family events, even my birthday when both of our families were at our home to celebrate it with us. He became suspicious. He had never questioned my faithfulness before. All of the sudden he was convinced that I was sleeping with her boyfriend. I wanted to say, “Where do you get this shit?” I had been a substance use disorder (SUD) therapist for several years at this point but had never lived with anyone using meth so I honestly assumed he was, in fact, Bipolar. That episode of using culminated with his threatening suicide for the first time in our relationship. His family told me, “Oh, he’s done that before.” They described several situations when he had threatened his own life. He had threatened then taken his young son on a camping trip. No one knew where they were or could find them. When they came back, he was completely in shock that his soon to be ex-wife was at her wits end. Apparently she had feared the worst was possible. That he would take their son, kill him, then kill himself. There were other times he had threatened suicide as well but “he was just talking. He didn’t mean it,” his mom told me. Those things seemed to fit with a mental illness so I was prepared to believe my husband needed professional help but at that time, I was convinced it was a psychiatrist, not a SUD therapist. When he told me the truth, that he had relapsed, he promised me to go to a psychiatrist and get back on his anti-depressant and meds for ADHD. He also shared about his molestation by his older brother and his brother’s friend as a child. He shared that both he and his younger siblings had been made to touch one another and the brother’s friend. He told me he had never shared this with anyone outside of his family before. He said he’d not talked about it with his siblings since then either. He said he’d tried to tell his mom once after he was an adult and had moved back in with his parents after his divorce but she either didn’t hear him or choose not to hear him because his perception was that she ignored it. It was never spoken about again. I tried to talk him into going to the hospital that day but he refused. He said he would go see a psychiatrist though. He made me make the appointment with the psychiatrist so he could get stabilized because he had always had his mom or ex-wife take care of those things. Then, the day of the appointment, he refused to go. That was the beginning of his threats of suicide with me.

My oldest daughter lived with us for a while also, while she was pregnant. My oldest daughter is also an addict. True to her history, she lived with me during part of her pregnancy in hopes to remain sober so that this child would not be whisked away by the Department of Human Services (DHS). She understood addiction and was attending NA most of the time she lived with us. He refused to attend with her and began using again while she was living there.  I cannot blame my husband for my daughter’s eventual relapse because only she can take responsibility for that; however, I am certain that living with him, the mayhem he caused in our home and the knowledge that he was using could not have made it any easier for her to remain sober as long as she did.  Unfortunately, she hasn’t been able to make her way out of her most recent relapse of roughly 2 years.  She continues to struggle to keep her head above water and I stopped helping her with her bills early this year.

My oldest son and his fiancée stopped talking to me altogether after they found out that I had been talking to my husband again.  My son couldn’t see that I was not only still in love but I felt that I had to keep my word to myself and my husband.  For my own reasons, I was certain that it was my job, duty, commitment, whatever you want to call it, to give him the opportunity to make things better.  My husband had started attending and intensive outpatient program for substance use.  I felt that, with caution, I had to at least give it one last try.  When my oldest son told me he wouldn’t have anything to do with me anymore and that I couldn’t see his kids any longer, it was like a pairing knife cutting out my heart.  I absolutely adore my grandkids.  I babysat frequently for my son so I spent quite a bit of time with the kids.  My son and his fiancée had been aware of my husband’s use.  His fiancée would ask me if he was using and from that we would discuss where to watch the kids, their place or mine house.  I could not understand what had caused them to treat me as if I was a danger to the kids, as if I had commit the crime.  It broke my heart.  Some of you may be saying to yourself, “How could you have let your broken husband come between you, your son and your grandchildren?”  The simple answer is that I was not going to go from allowing my husband to control me right into letting my son emotionally blackmail me to control me.  I had to process all of this in my own way, on my own time.  And remember, I was still very much in love with this man and had hope in my heart that he would be successful in his recovery program and remain sober… for himself, his kids and for our relationship also.  I wasn’t trying to get myself killed, like my son thought, I was trying to save my grasp on how to be a helping professional while I let go of the hope I had for my husband.  I was trying to balance my public ethics with my personal life.  The chasm between my oldest son and myself has been awful for me because we have been very close.  As it turns out, maybe too close because he thought it was okay to try to force me to bend to his will.  It felt as it he tried to take the role of the parent and force me into the role of the child.  He told me I was not the strong women he grew up with.

The hardest part of this process has been watching the effect it has had on my youngest son.  He’s 9 years old.  He had really become close to my husband within the past year.  The two of them had finally gotten past the “you aren’t my dad” phase to my son really enjoying the time he spent with his step-dad.  My son was devastated when we first split up, after my husband threatened my life.  My son was confused as to how my husband could have treated me in that way and was angry at him…and, he really missed the man he’d grown to love.  I’ve watched my son move from an emotionally immature child to a son who is now beginning to understand how I’ve been affected by this relationship: that I’m always worried that my husband could pop out at any given minute.  I’ve found myself reacting, possibly overreacting, to my son’s emotionality.  When he’s upset, he’s not the kid who goes off and stews about it for a while then gets over it.  Both his biological dad, and my husband when using, have inadvertently taught him to throw tantrums, yell and even threaten.  I finally sat my son down and told him about the emotional abuse I have endured from both his dad, my first husband, and his step-dad.  That’s a messed up talk to have with your 9 year old to have to tell him you put up with that from the two most important men in your adult life.  It’s no wonder he also thought he could talk to me the way he did.  He cried.  He apologized.  He’s been a bit more calm. But he has also just taken a step into an adult world that I was hoping he could avoid for a few more years.  It hurts my heart that I took us both into this relationship that has caused us so much pain.

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I’m not sure if anyone is still out there.

For those of you who have wandered upon my blog and asked yourself why there was no more, I’ll tell you.  It got to the point where it wasn’t really that safe for me to try to post things.  My husband started becoming more paranoid then he had been in the past.  Trying to do anything for myself became problematic.  He would storm in when I was taking a bath and scream at me about everything, and nothing at all.  He had our  bedroom bugged and was convinced I was having sex with other people because I sometimes talked while I slept.  Our dogs slept in the room with me and when they licked themselves, as dogs will, he was certain that was someone making love to me.  He would watch me sleep at night.  He’d go through my things, repeatedly, sure that I was hiding things that would prove my infidelities from him.  He had threatened to kill himself several times.  Finally, he threatened to slit my throat and took away my phone so I couldn’t call for help.  The next day, I did get help.  He had driven me to work and kept my vehicle.  I asked a friend for a ride home but instead of going home, I had her drop me off at my city’s police station.

The thing that I didn’t figure on was that getting help meant more pain.  I lived in my home town and before I’d gone to the police station I called my brother’s friend who was on the local police force.  He chastised me for not having left out the backdoor and gone to the neighbor’s house the night before.  It didn’t matter to him that my husband seemed like he could do anything at the time, it was cold and snowy, my husband had just accused me of having sex with my female boxer and I didn’t think I could leave her there without risking her life, or that my instinct was to remain frozen in my bed an d cry.  It was while talking to him on the phone that I realized I had become what I had not understood until then.  I’d become the abused wife that didn’t leave.  The one who makes excuses for her husband.  The one who swears that isn’t the real him, he’s really a good man under the bullshit.  I had been so manipulated by his lies of loving me that I actually had to go to work, grab a co-worker and tell her the story of what had happened the night before so I could ask her if I was over-reacting or under-reacting. Scott was just the first of many to insinuate that it was my fault that I was with my husband, that I was going through all of the things he’d put me through. I felt victimized by a police officer and a person who had been a friend of the family while I grew up.  He lived across the street from us.

It didn’t stop there.  The police officer I met at the police station was a bit more professional toward me; however, he asked me repeatedly if I wanted to press charges.  I thought to myself that if I hadn’t wanted to press charges, why would I have gone to the police station to report what happened?  After taking my statement, he asked if I wanted a No Contact Order for myself and my son.  I told him I did.  Apparently, he forgot to tell the judge who wrote the warrant for my husband because after my mother-in-law paid $2,000 to bail him out, within 2 hours of being arrested, there was still no protective order.  I had to pursue that with the county attorney’s office on my own.  I stayed with the friend who had dropped me off at the police station and her husband for just over a week before I was able to go back to my own home and change the locks and the garage code to keep him out of the house.

His mother, the one who told me I was a second daughter to her and that she loved me every time I saw her or talked to her, yelled at me for having her son arrested.  “He doesn’t deserve to be in jail!” she screamed through the phone that night.  I told her if he didn’t deserve to be in jail, there wouldn’t be laws to protect me from this kind of threat and abuse.  She didn’t know that he had confessed to the police officer.  The officer seemed confused when he told me by phone that his story had been pretty much the same as my statement except he’d said he didn’t mean it when he came toward me and told me he’d slit my throat.  His mom is the same woman who I’d been telling the intimate details of our marriage like how he would pace the house all night, waking me repeatedly to accuse me of adultery so I could not understand how she could defend him when she hadn’t in the past.  But as I was told later, “a wife doesn’t do that to a husband.”  I wonder now if she is aware that an abused woman is more likely to be killed by her abuser when she is leaving him?  That was why I was so scared by his threat.  I was leaving him, moving out of our house and buying a house for myself and my son in a city about 40 minutes away.  I didn’t know what he may do.

I didn’t really want him in jail myself, still don’t truth be told, and I hate myself for feeling that way. I wanted him to get sober from methamphetamines.   I wanted him to get help to deal with his childhood traumas.  I still believed that if he got help, I might get the man I married back.  There is a part of me that wants all of that healing for him and more.  I just won’t be there to see the results, if it ever happens.  I’m eight months out from that night.   I and had to change the locks for the second time in a year.  I am sleeping in my own bed tonight for the first time since waking up and finding him standing over me five weeks ago.  I locked myself into my house and into my bedroom.  I know sleep will elude me tonight.

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My own therapist! WTH?

So, I have a therapist myself.  This is relatively new to me.  I mean I’ve had a therapist in the past but the first time I had walked in knowing what I was going to do already and thinking, rather full of myself if I do say so, that I was just going in for some support while I made it through the tough time of actually taking the steps of asking for a divorce from my first husband.  The second time I tried to go to I’ve been to a couples therapist, three times, and all three times I really felt we were going so the therapist could tell my partner what they needed to change because of course, I’m great.  This is the first time I’ve found a therapist I feel has some gravitas and can stand up to me.  I searched for her.  I combed over lists of therapists and their vitaes.  Originally, she was to be for both my husband and I as a couples’ therapist but he is not working on his sobriety and she told him we couldn’t go back as a couple until he was in treatment or sober so I decided to go without him.  And, I didn’t tell him I’m going without him.

I had my first session this week and I came prepared.  I went in with my goal written down and the commitments I’ve made that support that goal.  I’m going to list them for you because I think they help explain the purpose of this blog, too.  My goal was to get help figuring out how to stay sane while keeping my commitments to my self, my family and my husband.  And yes, my commitments come in that order.  My kids were here first and although my marriage may take precedence over my commitment to my adult children in some ways, it certainly doesn’t take precedence over my commitment to my youngest child, who is 8, or even my adult children in other ways because two of the three have my beautiful grandchildren.  Of course, I have to come first because if I’m not taking care of me, how could I possibly take care of any of the others.  I wouldn’t have anything left to give.

Commitments:

  • My safety / 8 year old’s safety / (and later, after thinking about it, I added) my husband’s safety
  • My marriage – although we are married by common law in our state so we had no ceremony and took no vows, we view ourselves as married for 2 of the 4 years we’ve been together.  My adult kids, and maybe his kids too, see our marriage as invalid, only boyfriend and girlfriend which is hurtful to both of us.  However, we feel we are committed through good and bad.  This is a double-edged sword, as all married couples know.  I wonder if my younger daughter especially holds on to the thought that we are just girlfriend and boyfriend thinking I should be able to walk away easier then?
  • My personal values: Acceptance, Belonging, Caring, Commitment/Loyalty, Emotional Strength, Family, Relationships, Integrity, Forgiveness, Responsibility, Sexuality, Hope
  • My ethics: I believe that all people, including people with mental health and substance use disorders – including me, have intrinsic value and are worthy of love, effort and hope.  I believe that they can learn to manage their diseases and that with the support and connections of other significant people in their lives their success rates increase dramatically.

Therefore, the rub for me, and the reason I began this blog, is to figure out how to walk my own talk.  My ethics are the professional values on which I base my work as a substance use disorder therapist.  I do truly believe that all people have value.  I might get frustrated and vent about a particular person or client but my general attitude is let’s look at this from their perspective.  Let’s try to see it from a different point of view and see if we feel differently about it.  I try to give thought to the other person’s thoughts and feelings, even if I disagree, because they are what is driving that person’s actions.  If I can understand what’s going on in their head, maybe I can help them see it a different way and change their behaviors to something that will be more healthy and helpful and maybe even more hopeful for them.  But, that work is really based on the connection they allow me to build with them.  If it weren’t for the personal connection I build with them, they would not trust me enough to take the chance to view things differently.  Change is hard.  Why go there if you don’t have a reason, like someone you like and trust encouraging you to go there?  It’s the support that makes it possible.

So, I could walk away from my drug addicted husband.  That would be the easiest way to solve the problem.  Not that it would be easy at all.  My love for him is more fierce, more dynamic than the romantic love I’ve felt for any person in my life before.  The sexual connection we have is unexplainable and ridiculous, even before he relapsed so don’t think it’s just his meth use. It isn’t.  My kids, although they want me safe and happy, do like him.  My youngest loves him and cries when we argue because it makes him scared I’ll divorce this husband like I divorced his dad, except he knows he gets to see his dad because he’s his dad.  He doesn’t know if he’d get to see his step-dad if we divorced so it’s even scarier.  My grandkids call him grandpa.  We own vehicles together.  There are some issues….but still, it would be easier to walk away then to stay and deal with the verbal abuse when he is paranoid and hasn’t slept except for a few hours in a couple of days.

But to walk away would mean breaking my own ethical code.  My co-workers who are also substance use disorder therapists and know what is going on in my life, bless them because they are just worrying about their friend, ask how long I am going to do this.  My answer is “Until I get my husband back.”

My therapist says that doesn’t work.  My own therapist!  WTH?  She says I am enabling my husband by not setting limits.  Hey lady!  I’ve tried setting limits.  I kicked him out for 3 weeks once and he was sober for about 4 1/2 months until he was triggered by depression.  Then it got BAD and he moved a homeless guy, a person we knew from high school not a stranger, into our basement until I said he has to go.  They used all of the time together.  I’ve tried kicking him out since.  He won’t go.  He and I rent and we are both on the lease.  To get him out, I have to talk to the landlord about having him removed from the lease.  What reason would I give for that?  He does meth?  And what about if he does get sober?  Is the landlord going to allow him to move back in?  I don’t think so.  If I evict him through the court for having drugs in the home, my ex-husband could find the court records and take me to court for custody.  Nope, not doing that.  My only option is to leave MY home, move out.  It’s not like I haven’t thought about this.  Really, does anyone think I haven’t considered leaving? Or making him leave?  Really?  Jesus, you try getting woken up every 35-45 minutes at night being accused of screwing someone IN THE BED YOU SHARE WITH HIM.  I’ll be trying to ignore him while he’ll be searching the closest, under the bed, even lifting the mattress because I might be hiding someone from him.   (Please recall that integrity and honest were on my list of values.)  Those are the times that I want to leave him.  And those are the times that he needs me to stay the most.

Okay, so my therapist is right in a way.  She and I got to a place we could agree.  I had already put a boundary in place that if he woke me up at night, I would take my go bag and stay the night at a friend’s.  I would come back the next day after work or whatever, if it was the weekend, and we would try again.  She was happy about that.  She asked what about if my son was with us?  (I share custody with my ex.)  I told her I have a go bag for him also but usually my husband doesn’t act as badly when my son is home as he does when it’s just the two of us.

However, the therapist and I agree that because I make more money and take care of most of the bill, I do enable him financially.  We agreed I would complete a monthly budget then tell my husband how much money I expect him to contribute toward our combined bills, knowing I may need to negotiate.  We will also likely need to renegotiate when he goes on layoff and is on unemployment. Then, although he told both the therapist and me that he would go to treatment, he did not do it.  There is a valid reason that is work related but it is not valid when one considers the general picture of how long we have been living with this monkey on our backs.  And I for one do not give a damn how much more money his boss puts in his pockets, especially when my husband is not being compensated appropriately and is working his ass off for that man, which is one of the reasons he feels like he has to use this damned drug in the first place.  So, the other area is securing a commitment to treatment for the time when my husband goes on lay-off.

There you go.  Three boundaries: Don’t wake me up in the middle of the night raging or I leave for the night.  Here’s what you need to contribute from each check toward our monthly bills.  Once you go on lay-off, you go to treatment or I move out.  Shit!  This is going to be hard!

 

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My Double Life isn’t about me being a spy, a government informant or a good girl by day and a bad girl by night (sorry to those of you with fetishes.) My Double Life is about my work life and my personal life. My Double Life is about being a substance use disorder therapist for the past seven years and the wife and ex-wife of people who use substances in unhealthy ways. I plan to share my story, the nitty, gritty details. My story is just that, mine. It’s not meant to represent anyone else and it’s not to be taken as a roadmap for anyone else to follow. My journey has been and remains difficult. But it’s my choice to take the journey I’m on. So please respect that dear reader. Together, maybe we can learn about this disease that tears down strong people, rips families apart and hurts the fabric of our communities: addiction.

Some days I wish I had made different choices.  I wish I had chosen not to stay with my husband because staying in this marriage is painful at times.  Some nights I cry myself to sleep.  And, it isn’t a soft, mewling cry.  It’s a sobbing cry.  The kind where the snot runs down your face and you’ve cried so hard that any mascara you had on is long gone by the time the crying is done.  That choice to remain in this marriage is made every day, sometimes several times a day.

The thing is that because I do what I do for a living I truly believe that no one makes it out of the depths of addiction without having connections to others, deep and meaningful connections to others.  People who succeed at overcoming their addictions have the kind of connections that provide support and unconditional, nonjudgmental personal regard.  Do I believe I have to be my husband’s connection?  No, not necessarily.  But I do want to be one of those people for him.  When he is sober, we are crazy in love.  It’s not like we don’t have problems, of course we do.  We just have so much going for us.  When he’s sober, the benefits of being his wife far outweigh the costs.  Yet, how many wives have a safety plan for their husbands and for their families?  When my husband is using, a safety plan is a very real part of my life.  Without connections, he may not be here now.  I have a difficult time putting the cost of my tears before the cost of his life.

In the upcoming entries, I plan to share with you more of my thoughts and feelings about addiction.  I plan to share with you some of the current research on addiction.  I also plan to share with you what some of our days look like, good and bad.  I know there are other people like me out there who are living double lives.

 

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