If you’ve ever been in this position, you know how difficult this can feel. You’ve tried giving your best to your partner but at the end of the day, after trying to navigate the incredibly difficult task of encouraging sobriety (even though it may have been at the expense of your time, happiness, and well-being), you still weren’t enough.
Sometimes our partners can and do get sober, and we beam at the role we’ve played in their recovery. Other times, they don’t. Sure, addiction is a lifelong condition, but wellness for an addict (or anyone that struggles with mental illness) is having fewer episodes (or relapses) over time that last with less intensity. What if this doesn’t happen?
The worst case possible happened in my relationship. Not only did I try hanging in there for months while my ex “attempted” to quit meth…he also cheated on me in the process. The most frustrating feeling was the dynamic that played out…Instead of seeing that someone believed in him and wanted the best for his health, he felt hostile…Even though he had come to ME confessing that he was addicted and needing help! Basically, he was unwilling to do much of the work that his healing process would have entailed. I tried being reasonable by acknowledging everyone had their own healing process, but he wasn’t taking advantage of ANY of the resources at his disposal. He was not consistent with his support groups, medication his psychiatrist prescribed him, or scheduling private therapy sessions. Our relationship just became….strained. He later admitted he regretted telling me he was addicted to meth, because in truth, he hadn’t been ready to quit. In fact, his “confession” about using occurred on a particular afternoon where he was really high.
This situation is so tragic that it’s almost comical. Regardless, because he continued using multiple times a day, I felt…completely invaluable to him, and without checking myself, I dealt with severe depression for months afterward.
Since he had cheated while under the influence and probably as a result of what we were going through in our relationship, essentially, he had decided that between me and drugs, meth was something he couldn’t live without. Not me. I was…disposable. Compared to meth.
A cynic at heart, I knew I’d never win this war against his first love (drugs). If I would have known he were using when I first got with him, I wouldn’t have moved in with him.
I get a little sad because I know of couples in which one person struggled with an addiction…yet, with the help of their partner, they got better. Sometimes I stay up nights wondering what I could have done differently. I’ve picked my actions apart and dissected them, hoping to get some insight so that this particular DEEP pain never strikes me again.
After all that’s happened, here’s some advice I’d have for those who are in my position:
1. If you don’t see your partner making significant efforts to help THEMSELVES and it’s occurring at the expense of YOUR well-being, get out as soon as you can. If it’s meant to be, you can always reconnect in the future. But pulling out of the relationship because your partner isn’t carrying their weight is only fair. You know in your heart you can only help them so much with their recovery…but if they aren’t willing to help themselves, you need to move on for YOUR sake. Don’t let curiosity or false hope let you cling on, because a depression that only gets darker awaits you on the other side.
2. Even if you made some “mistakes” on your partner’s journey to recovery, the choice to continue using drugs was up to THEM, not you. Don’t beat yourself up because of what you could have done. You aren’t a trained drug counselor, and even if you were, it would have been impossible to be “objective” in this position because your feelings were involved. Don’t beat yourself up.
3. Be proud of yourself. If you survived being with a drug addict that never quit, here are some things you can be proud of:
the fact that you never got addicted to drugs with them, the fact that you got out of this situation ALIVE, and the fact that you’re a compassionate person who likely tried their best.
The good news is that any relationship after this painful one may feel a whole lot LESS stressful, assuming that you pursue one with a more emotionally healthy individual.