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Letters From Listeners

Life with an Addict

Dr. Laura,
I have been a loyal listener for over 20 years and your wisdom and experience has influenced my decisions and choices. Some choices have been sensible, but many early adult decisions were dumb, misguided and negatively impacted me. As is often said, hindsight is 20/20 and I wish I could have changed the trajectory of my life.
My first serious relationship was with an addict, allegedly in recovery. I believed I could change, fix and make him into the man I KNEW and BELIEVED he could AND SHOULD be! Wow, did I think I was powerful! One year led to two, then three, four and five, until he had lost 100 pounds and gained recovery through AA. I believed he had 'changed' and I felt ready to make a commitment. The emotional roller coaster of our relationship was what I was used to. My alcoholic upbringing had made me an adrenaline addict myself and the chaos felt familiar and safe. I didn't believe I deserved better and was not secure enough with myself to walk away.
One child led to two then three and my role as a stay-at-home mother was my focus and my outlet while my husband struggled with anger, frustration, irritation and just a general lack of intimacy with me. I put blinders on to his defects of character and went to therapy to figure out what was wrong with me. Not a single therapist suggested Al-Anon nor did they suggest I address his non-recovery behavior. I couldn't or didn't want to face the fact my husband was not sober and getting worse. He admitted stealing our children's medication and was active in his eating disorder. His first treatment exasperated his eating disorder and his second treatment was 4 months out of state where we ultimately joined him and I got treatment for co-dependency.  He struggled, misrepresented his recovery and failed to get honest.
We separated in 2010 with the intention of divorcing. I had reached the end of my roller coaster ride and believed that I had to jump off to save myself and my children. While separated, we parented together, supported each other and vowed to be respectful and put our kids first. We switched homes on the weekends so as not to uproot the kids.
My husband died in November of 2012 from the toll the substances took on his body.
I want the next chapter of my life to be about launching my children and getting to know who I am and what I want. I know what I don't want and can't have in my life. I'll let others fix themselves and I'll work on me.

Tags: Addiction, Behavior, Marriage, Mental Health, Personal Responsibility, Values
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