I’m speaking to the person who has an addict in the family; more specifically, the person who has an addict for a husband or wife. Not only am I a meth addict, so is Jack, my husband. Yes, we did it together for about two years before I finally quit, and yes, at that time, we quit together. However, sobriety has been harder for him. It’s important to note that my reason is not necessarily his reason because meth affects the individual in its own way. With that said, please don’t judge him that my pivotal moment was not his pivotal moment, but instead, please try to understand how difficult quitting meth is for EACH person. EACH PERSON HAS TO HAVE HIS/HER OWN REASON FOR QUITTING TO BE SUCCESSFUL.
In this blog, I’ll be telling you about the second time I caught him (I’ll tell you about the first another time) because I believe that this was his first real reason. It became very real for him that he was going to lose EVERYTHING that was important to him and he hadn’t been in that situation before. I think the reason he quit the first time with me was because he felt that it was the right thing to do – a good reason but not a concrete reason. Okay, I’ll tell you about that day.
I had been sober five years, our oldest son was four and I was four months pregnant with our second son. We were going through some big life changes; he had accepted a job about two hours away from where we were living and so it was decided we would move out of the apartment, he would go stay with a uncle/aunt closer to his work and see him on the weekends, and our son and I would move in with one of my friends until my work and school finished that June. Then the plan was for us to find a place and all move back together closer to his work. This separation covered about three months – a manageable time to be apart to make responsible life changing decisions.
However, before we moved from the apartment, Jack and I weren’t getting along very well. In fact, we had some really ugly times – there was NOTHING nice between us. Honestly, I was RELEIVED when this plan formulated and we were going to live separately for a while just to have a break from the stress and the fighting. I was really close to wanting a legal separation from him but then this plan because out next step and I just banked on the fact that we would be a part and then maybe that would fix us. The move was done – all our belongings were in storage, the son and pregnant me moved in with my friend, and he started staying with his uncle/aunt. But instead of the distance doing us some good, nothing was better between us on the weekends.
Now that I look back on our fighting and the other signs that were there, I should have guessed something was up. Our fighting was crazy and irrational (really unfortunate and damaging fight at our son’s fourth birthday part that stands out), he never stayed and slept with me (he would come and visit and then go and stay with his parents), and if I would have paid more attention to our bank account, I would have seen the $80 cash back withdrawals from the nearby 7-Eleven store. Because I wasn’t seeing him very much, I didn’t know to be alarmed at how late he was staying up and then driving to work each day, but I did notice his moments of exhaustion, especially when he was driving to see me. There was always the excuse that driving makes him tired and I bought it. Like I said, I wasn’t around him enough to see the other signs. I just knew that dreaded seeing him and things were no better being apart. In fact, I was dreading moving away and living with him again after the three months ended. It was pretty bad.
One Saturday night, he stayed over with me at my friends’ house. It was weird but we were kinda trying to get along and he just ended up staying the night. The next morning, my friend needed to go to church and came knocking on my door to move his car. He was SOUND asleep and so I jumped up, grabbed his keys, and went outside to move it. I hopped in and stuck the key in – and then something strangely familiar caught my eye. In the door was a wad of paper towel. I knew exactly what it was before I even grabbed it and unwrapped the meth pipe. My heart nearly jumped out and grabbed me by the throat. It was anger that I felt first. We had been going through HELL in our relationship and I knew that the culprit was sitting in my hand. Here we did this arrangement to save money for our next big move and he was spending it on meth. I HAD SOLD MY HORSE FOUR MONTHS PRIOR TO DO THE RIGHT THING FOR OUR FAMILY AND SAVE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE FOR OUR NEXT BIG MOVE. That thought alone almost popped a blood vessel. I’m pregnant. I’m probably not supposed to get this mad.
I wrapped it back up, and with shaky hands, I moved the car. I went back in the house carrying my EVIDENCE and walked right up to him sleeping.
Judging by the look on his face as the sleep quickly left, he knew that he had reached his lowest point. He was going to lose everything. I was a lot calmer when I sarcastically presented him with all the lies that I was sure he was about to tell me – “let me guess, its not yours,” “let me guess, you don’t know how it got there,” “let me guess, you are holding it for someone……” It’s not my first rodeo. THEN with absolutely JOY and EXCITEMENT, I exclaimed that this was just about perfect! This gave me a GOOD REASON to leave him, call this quits, and move back to my home town!! That got me really, genuinely excited about the possibility that this move was going to be a final separation. I told him to go kiss our sleeping son good-bye, kiss the baby inside of me good-bye, and get out!
He was freaking out. Sweating. Begging me to stop and calm down.
I was calm. I was making new plans.
I’m good at starting over. And I’m good at landing on my feet.
He told me he started using again to help him with all the driving he was doing . While living with aunt/uncle, he missed his family, we weren’t there to keep him going, he was lonely, and he didn’t have anything to do. He told me that he just happened to remember a phone number of someone that he use to get it from a long time ago, and that person just happened to have the same number and that’s where he was getting it from. He had started using one time when he came to see his parents a weekend I was gone with our son to see my family out of town. He thought he had it under control.
And then I suddenly felt very alone. I knew that there was no reason for me to deal with this by myself and I was going to need support. So, I called his parents. I told them that I had caught him doing drugs again and that I was done. They were on their way to a funeral but they were going to talk to him when they got back that night. They were NOT happy.
And then I called my dad – my dear wonderful dad who had brought me down the first time on his bedroom floor (Read about coming down on dad’s floor). I knew that I was boarder-line not thinking straight and I needed his voice of reason. I called him. I remember hearing his voice asking me right away what was wrong. Then I started to cry. He immediately told me to stop, I need to get myself together and not be so upset because of the baby. He reminded me that Jack is a really good guy but meth addiction is ugly. He told me that just because I was able to quit and was strong enough to stay away didn’t mean that Jack was able to do so. Meth does not want to let go! There is a fight if you want to get away from that addiction. Then he asked to speak to Jack. Jack took the phone and went outside.
It felt like a long time before Jack came and brought me the phone – my dad wanted to talk to me again. I quickly explained that I was ready to pack up and come home – that I was done, I had done this too many times before, I wasn’t going to live my life like this, I wasn’t going to raise my kids around an addict.
My dad quickly cut in. The last thing that Jack wanted to do was lose us, he was willing to do whatever it takes to keep us, and he won’t use anymore. I scoffed at all those points. If he didn’t want to lose us, why would he use again? I had already given him his ‘last chance’ about two years before and the last time I caught him. I pointed out to dad that one way for an addict to stay clean is TO LOSE EVERYTHING and maybe that’s what he needed. And about using again, I laughed and said he shouldn’t have used in the beginning.
My dear dad… he has a very sweet, calm voice reminded me again that meth is the devil and one of the hardest things to get rid of. He told me not to leave – to stay and give Jack another chance.
Jack confirmed what dad had told me. By this point I was exhausted, bitter, and ready to start packing. I told him that staying with him just felt like I was enabling him and that is where the fine line is when you are with an addict – if you stay, you become an enabler. I told him that I didn’t want/didn’t have time to be checking on him every minute – this can CONSUME you; always checking his phone, always checking the bank account, always wanting to know where he is, always needing to know every detail of every second of his life and not because you love him and care. It starts a sick battle in your head, and I didn’t want to do that. I told him that it would be a lot easier just to walk away. It would be a lot less stressful. He continued to beg and promise.
That evening when his parents got home, they called him over to the house. I didn’t go. I was still trying to decide what I was going to do. When he came back later, he told me that they were giving him one more chance – but if he ever did it again, they would turn their backs on him and not help him anymore.
Not knowing then what the right decision would be for me, I agreed that I would give him one more chance.
Why was I so angry when I found out? Because I thought that meth was FINALLY out of my life and I could move on! I am so done with meth and here it is back in my life and totally affecting me again – and tearing apart a relationship that I really want! Furthermore, I was dealing with all the pain from all the meth fighting and when you are trying to rationalize the fight and why the issue was an issue and it doesn’t make sense, to know its because meth is involved is infuriating. Another reason was I had already given him another ‘chance’ after I had caught him before and this made me feel like I had no choice but to follow through on my threat.
What should have I done differently? I wish I had spent more time in prayer while it was going down. I wish I had let God handle it or at least guide it. I wonder if it would have saved some pain, maybe I could have been more understanding, maybe……
What part am I glad about? I’m very glad I didn’t try to deal with it alone. Look, if you’re dealing with an addict who is damaging your life, why protect them by dealing with it alone?!? Telling people close that could be objective and wanted our best interested really helped the situation. If I had done it my way, I would have left him but with the support of my dad and his parents, I felt like I could stay but I had support. Does that make any sense?
I don’t know if there is perfect way of dealing with catching an addict. This was my story. I know I felt like I walked into a tornado of emotions and it’s pretty hard to think clearly when you are dealing with that.
But this is what I know:
- God wants us to do our best to stay committed to our marriages. Don’t bale until you give Him a chance to put you back together. We are still working on this.
- Being a meth addict doesn’t make you a bad person – it just makes you a sick person.
- Use empathy rather than sympathy.
- Be careful with enabling. It’s okay to call the police and let them come down in jail. It might be the end of all ends.
- Use the resources available for support if you don’t have family support.
- YOU DON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT ALONE.
I leave you with a final text. It’s important for the reconciliation process because I’m thinking that if you are reading this, understanding this situation, you’ve caught your addict, you’ve got some negative feelings like I did. I’m sure you could be dealing with some anger too. So, consider this text found in Colossians 3:13, “Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
My recommended reading for this post is a book called “Why Don’t They Just Quit?” by Joe Herzanek. This book covers a lot of the questions that a family needs while dealing with an addict in their life. One of the reviews that caught my eye stated: * . . . stayed up late last night reading various parts of it; inspiring! This book is for people like me; someone with chemically addicted people in their life. * If you, or someone you know and love, are living in the tornado of addiction, finding it spinning you around with your loved one, then this book can be one of the most clear/helpful guides in understanding how to navigate through the confusion, drama and pain that is associated with addiction in a family. Passionate, humble, full of wisdom . . . a must read for the addicted and those who care about them. –Donna Schwartz, MFT, CAC III Valley Hope Treatment Services in Colorado, former Family Program Therapist of Parker Valley Hope Treatment Center. Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment.