Saturday, November 16, 2013

Living With An Addict- Part 8

If this is the first time you have visited this page or read this story, you probably want to start at the beginning by clicking here.  This is a true life story.  This was and is my life.  It is a true account about what me and my children went through and continue to go through.  You see, their father, and my ex husband, is an addict. 
It has been since May that I have contributed anything more to this story.  Are you wondering why?  Well, there are reasons, trust me.  But most of all I did not write anything new because I did not feel inspired to do so.  This is a very difficult thing for me to write about, and my mind and emotions need to be in a certain place to write about it.  And for a while there, they just weren’t in that place. 

But here I am, at it again.  There has been a lot that has transpired over the past 6 months, and I have so many things to tell you about that my mind is spinning with possibilities.  Where do I start?  When I last wrote, I told you about the period of time when I was pregnant with my son (who is now 13).  That was the time that things became an obvious problem, and I started having suspicions that something was very wrong. 

I also told you about my ex husband and that he was released from prison in April.  He wanted to be a part of the children’s lives again.  They had not seen him, at that point, in 5 years.  There is a lot that has transpired since then.  And because I know you are on the edge of your seat wondering what happened, let me just tell you up front that it is not good.  My children, mostly my 13 year old son, got hurt, again.  My ex husband is not clean and sober as he was in May.  And so the story does  not have the happy ending that I was praying for.  And I feel like it is all my fault.  And I don’t know where to start with this story, do I go back to where I left off, when I was pregnant?  Or do I tell you first about what happened recently?  Or do I write a little rant about how much I hate drugs and addiction? 

My heart is telling me to do the rant.  Because I need to get it out.  I despise addiction.  My hatred makes me want to scream.  I hate what is happening to this world.  I don’t know about where you live, but where I live drugs is a growing problem, and it seems like an insurmountable problem.  I work in a middle school, and I am seeing more and more children whose parents are either addicted to or dealing drugs.  It is a sad situation.  There is one situation in particular that is going on with a student at my school, who has a parent who is not only addicted to drugs, but selling them too.  I have come home every night and thought of that student.  My heart goes out to this student, and to his/her parent, who is not the one involved with drugs.  Because I have been there.  Right there where that person is right now.  and I know what it feels like. 

What is it that someone goes through when they find out that the person they love is an addict?  I can tell you from first hand experience.  The first response is naivety.  A kind of naivety that comes from the unknown, not having experienced drug addiction before.  At first, you think that if you just kick the person out, and cut them off, that they will straighten up.  They will stop doing what they are doing.  I have seen the face of that person in the mirror.  You think that you can get them to stop. 

But quite simply, it is not that simple.  That person is already addicted.  And addiction is a disease.  After you kick them out, get a protective order against them, and cut them off financially, any sane person would think that is enough to get them to quit.  But they don’t quit, they just get deeper into drugs.  They start resorting to other means to get the money they need.  They think they need the drug to feel normal.  They can’t imagine their life without the drug.  They will give up everything else that ever meant anything to them so that they can get the drug they need to feel normal again.  That becomes the one and only thing that matters to them. 

Then you go through a stage of extreme worry.  Staying up all night long, thinking this is going to be the night that your phone rings, and someone tells you that the person you love is dead, or in prison.  Then you turn to desperation.  You are sleep deprived and miserable.  You can’t eat.  You become obsessed with getting the person off of drugs.  You walk around an empty shell of a person.  You might resort to an intervention.  That is what I did.  I hired a professional, and invited every friend and family member to come.  We got him to the intervention by false means.  The professional assisted us in going around the room and telling him how we felt and what kind of effect his actions were having on us.  And at the end of that, it is your hope that the person will agree to go to a treatment program.  But that never happened for me.  He walked out of that house and straight back to his drug using ways.  My hopes were shattered. 

Then, if that person does have a decent job, the employer might offer that they can keep their job if they go to treatment.  And the person might agree to go to treatment, but many times they don’t stay.  That is what happened in my case.  He stayed in his first treatment program for 3 days, and he walked out.  That is when he was fired. 

Next, the person begins stealing from family and friends, and you.  With no regard to the hardship it might cause to the person they are stealing from.  That happened to me too, on several occasions.  He stole my credit cards, he stole my paycheck out of the bank, he stole items out of the house that he could pawn or sell.  Whatever it took to get the drugs he needed. 

But for years, you keep trying, and you keep having hope that it will change, but it doesn’t.  It only gets worse and worse.  And you keep worrying, and making yourself sick over it.  You become a shell of a person.  You spend more time thinking up ideas for how you can get the person to stop than you do anything else in your life. 

Until one day, probably years later, you finally come to the realization that there is nothing you can do for this person.  Hopefully you finally decide to move on with your life without them.  I remember the day I figured out that he was either going to die or go to prison.  But either way, I had to move on and put him in the past.  I had to start living my life again, and being a mother.  After years of praying about it, I finally knew that my only choice was to let him go.  And accept the fact that there was nothing anyone in the world could do for him.  No one can help a drug addict unless that drug addict is willing to help him or her self.  If there is one thing you take from this, please let it be that last sentence.  Let me rewrite it.  There is nothing anyone in this world can do to help a drug addict unless said addict wants the help.  NOTHING!  That is a hard pill to swallow.  But if you are currently going through what I went through, please know this to be true.  Understand that you are powerless, because you truly are. 

And so it was.  He ended up going to jail several times, and then to prison.  Now I am skipping ahead in the story to today.  After being in prison for two years, my ex husband was released.  And after probably 6 months of conversations with him, I was convinced that prison was the end of his drug abuse.  He convinced me that he was a changed man.  That all he wanted in life was to reconnect with his family and live a better life.  I took my time.  I prayed about it.  I talked to my pastor about it.  And I truly felt that God came to me one day during church and told me it was time to forgive. 

So that is what I tried to do.  I told him that as long as he would do what was right, I would help him be a part of his children’s lives again.  I started by talking to each of my kids individually about it.  My 17 year old daughter was adamant that she wanted no part of him.  She said she did not care about him, did not love him, and did not need him in her life.  She said that there was nothing I could ever do or say to change that.  But my 13 year old son was a different story.  He had longed to have his father in his life for all of his 13 years, and so he decided to let him back in. 

So they started a relationship.  They began the process of getting to know each other.  Which by the way, they had never done, ever.  And my son seemed really happy to be spending time with his father.  I had many conversations with him, and I continued to be convinced that he was on the right track, and that drugs were now in his past.  I truly believed it.  That is, until I didn’t.  One day a few weeks ago, he was supposed to pick my son up for a weekend visit.  I had talked to him just the day before and the plans were set.  Only, he didn’t show up.  And he didn’t answer his phone or his text messages.  And no one has seen or heard from him since then.  It took me about a half an hour to know that he was back into his addiction. 

When you have been through it multiple times, you learn the pattern of abuse.  It becomes extremely easy to figure out.  And when I figured it out, there was not a shadow of doubt in my mind that I was right.  And I was.  This has not been confirmed to this day, but he has disappeared from our lives again, and there can be no other reason.  And he broke my son’s heart.  My son, who opened his heart to his father after all of these years.  And the hatred I feel in my heart for him is back with a vengeance, because he hurt my baby. 

And now, I can say that I am done.  There will be  no more chances.  No more conversations.  No more of him in my life, or the lives of my children, ever again.  Of course, I can’t say that for my children really, because they will be adults one day and they will make their own decisions.  But how many times do you keep letting the same person hurt you?  How many times?  If it weren’t for my children, I would have never let him back in.  But I thought I was doing the right thing.  I knew that my son needed to try to build a relationship with his father. 

Am I a bad mother for encouraging this?  I don’t know the answer to this question.  I am haunted by it.  All I know is that I was trying to do the right thing.  But I realized something about my ex husband this time around.  I realized that he truly does not know what it takes to love someone more than he loves himself.  But really, he just doesn’t love himself at all.  Or anyone else.  He will go back to prison, if he doesn’t die first.  And to be honest, either way is fine for me, because at least the hurt that he has caused to everyone who has cared about him will end.  Does that sound cruel?  Well if it does, I am here to tell you that it comes to that.  You reach a point where you just need it to end, because it tears the entire family apart.  That person becomes the center of everything else.  And it ruins the family.  And at some point, in order for the family to maintain it’s sanity, they have to move on. 

Harsh?  Maybe if you have never experienced what I am writing about first hand.  But if you have walked a mile in  my shoes, or the shoes of my children, or the shoes of his mother or father or brother, you would not think so any more.  You would understand what I am talking about.  And you would agree.  Is all of this to say that a drug addict can never recover and stay sober?  I guess some people are able to do that.  I even know a few.  And I applaud them and respect them.  But for the vast majority, that is not the case.  Those are just the cold hard facts.  If you don’t believe me, do some research about the statistics of serious drug addicts who are able to overcome their addiction.  They are very low. 

Next time, I will go back in time to the period after my son was born, which is where I left off in part 5 of my story, and we’ll take it from there.  It is my hope that if you are reading this, for whatever reason, that you get something out of it.  Whatever it is that you need to get.  If you are an addict yourself, read my words and know that you are doing this exact same thing to your own family.  If you are like me, then know that you will experience all of this, if you haven’t already. 

Drug addiction should not be a secret.  It should not be a topic that we hide away and don’t expose.  It is not something that a family needs to be ashamed about.  It is something that we need to discuss.  That is my belief.  You can’t deal with it alone.  You need help in dealing with it.  One of my ways of healing is to write about it.  That is my choice.  It helps me.  And after what I have been through, I have every right to make that choice. 

Thank you for reading my story.