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What Movies Never Told You about Life with an Addict

By Courtney Enlow | Think Pieces | March 20, 2014 | Comments ()


smashed.jpg

Since I was 18 years old, I’ve been in love with exactly one person. That one person happens to be a recovering addict.

There is plenty of support and information for people like me, people who are in relationships with addicts. But so much of it is geared toward those whose partners are actively using and have not yet admitted addiction, or who are being abused by these addicts. The semi-lack of stories for me was always hard. Where do you even begin? So, I decided to begin with me, and whatever minor wisdom I’ve picked up along the way.

They’re stuck at the age they were when they started using. So are you.
From the ages of 18 through 25, I was dating a 17 year old. Not literally. Age-wise, he was perfectly legal. But he was always 17. Because 17 was when he stopped being able to cope without drink and drug and therefore every fight or breakdown was had with an angsty teen. Two angsty teens actually, because I was 18 when this became my normal. When I was 21, I dated someone else for a while. He was a really nice, good guy. And I hope he’s forgotten me completely, because I was completely insane, tainted from all this “normal.” He thought he was seeing a semi-average college girl; what he was really seeing was a raving high school student with hormones set to kill. And I didn’t even know it, because that’s what normal was. That’s what relationships were. That said…

It’s not all screaming and drama.
There were very few actual fights when he was drinking, reserved for special occasions like a freshly drained bank account, maxed out credit card or the night I finally packed up and left, when he punched a hole through the wall of our rented duplex. Those are the moments that stand out, but they’re actually quite rare. Mostly, it’s a profound, deep, crushing numbness. The sadness is a massive, impossible weight on your whole body and you equally love this person and hate him, repelling at the slightest touch. You feel so much that you can’t feel anymore and the numbness, the vacuumed void just aches. But you don’t talk about it. Not always. Mostly, it’s internal, the terribly lonely feeling of feeling everything while feeling nothing.

You might develop PTSD.
For five years, I lived my life in pure terror that my boyfriend/fiancé would go to prison or die. One of the two was going to happen, and I was pretty sure it was the second. When he got help and got clean, I thought everything would be alright. And it was for the most part, mostly for him. I was not anywhere near alright. I had panic attacks almost every day for a year. I have this anxious nervous habit when I would have panic attacks where I scratch my leg over and over again. During the first year post-rehab, I drew blood several times, not even noticing what I was doing, just blindly scratching. I smelled things that weren’t there, I imagined horrific scenarios and they became real. The choking fear, the all-consuming anxiety, it was everything. There was nothing but it and me, not even my partner. And that’s because…

They might get sober. That won’t make you better.
The thing about addiction is that it has contagious comorbidities no one warns you about. I never developed a problem with drinking or drugs—the opposite in fact. Being around him made me never want to feel anything but “normal” ever again and I’ve only actually gotten drunk once by accident since (and I’m still mad at myself about it). No, the disease I caught was different, one of panicky desperate control. And trying to control an addict is like trying to pick up all the sand on a beach with your hands and a mesh sack. Codependence is tricky. It makes you feel as though you only have one problem—this person—and when that person is better, you will be too. But then they get better and you don’t. You’re not fixed. Suddenly you’re the one with the problem, which is shocking after years of believing yourself to be the strong rock. That illusion shatters and you realize you’ve been two crumbly people all this time, and you both have pieces to pick up.

There’s no black and white. Just walking away might not be the answer.
It’s hard to talk about your life when your partner is “in the disease” and actively using. Part of it is because you’re just so emotionally exhausted, talking about it is the last thing you want to do. My best friends in the world didn’t know how bad things were until he went to rehab. I didn’t tell my parents how bad it was until I had to tell them on Christmas morning that he’d driven drunk to their house and was now passed out downstairs on their couch. But the other reason is fear. It’s terrifying to think that people might judge this person in your life. That they might tell you to leave. And you’ve judged this person yourself, and you’ve thought about leaving. But to have other people say it, it’s impossible.

It’s not your fault.
There’s a saying in AlAnon—“I didn’t cause it. I can’t control it. I can’t cure it.” And that was really hard to finally grasp. I was scared for a long time to be honest about how I was feeling because I thought if I made him sad, if I made him feel bad about himself, he’d start drinking again. Of course all that did was turn me into a seething resentment monster. The fact is, it’s not my fault. It’s never been my fault. And I’ve never and will never have any ability to control it. Because, ultimately…

It’s not about you. At all.
For all the ways movies get it wrong, there’s one thing they get very right: relegating the “suffering spouse” to the sidelines.

I’ve written before about the movie Smashed, how it so perfectly depicted the life of a recovering addict. And as I stated then, the way it most reflected my life is by not including me at all. I’ve existed much of these past 11 years as a peripheral character in my own life, never the center, never the one who matters. And that is a terrible, guilty thing to feel. So you spiral into shame, still resenting the fact that you don’t matter.

And this was my own doing. I tricked myself into thinking that I was the strong one, that I was the solid foundation that could help this other person. And, sometimes quickly and sometimes so slowly, I descended into this feral creature, one crushing under the weight of someone else’s life, someone else’s pain, someone else’s disease about which I could do nothing but feel and not feel.

But, I promise…

It gets better. You get better.
I started writing this three days ago, in a pit. Now, I’m finishing it with sky in sight. Sleep helps. Therapy helps. Talking really helps—to my partner, to my parents, to my boss, who I had to explain why I couldn’t stop crying.

There will still be days where everything is heavy and achy. But then there are days like today. Where there’s sun and tea and happy toddlers and a person you love so much, who has struggled and may continue to struggle, but who for now is on the way back to OK. And everything feels like it will be OK, too.







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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Jiffylush

    I really liked this article, thoughtful and insightful.

    As a person who has been on both sides of this article at varying degrees for a long time I wanted to mention a few things. I was self-medicating without realizing it, so when I got sober everything got a lot worse almost immediately (A LOT). I have a mental health issue so hopefully everyone doesn't have that experience but it might happen for some. Also, defects of character (it's program talk) don't stop when you stop drinking/using. People can still do things that they used to blame on the alcohol/drugs after they get sober. I am referring to things like physical and emotional abuse, infidelity, and even things that seem minor when you are trying to explain it to someone else but don't feel that way when they are happening to you.

    Don't forget to put yourself first, if you aren't taking care of yourself you won't be able to fully care for the other person. Never forget that you can leave, I've heard multiple threats of suicide, saying they are going to go use immediately if you leave. They are going to do what they are going to do and you can't control that. If they want to get clean and sober they can do it on their own without your help, their life isn't actually dependent on you no matter how much they act like it is or how much you feel like it is.

    Last thing, hold on to friends outside of the relationship. People you can go see without the other person. You may need their support in the distant or extremely near future and if you have been neglecting them it can be harder to reach out.

    Again great article, thank you very much.

  • Tadwick

    That was powerful and intense. Thank you for writing the article. I hope your life steadily continues to improve. You're terrific, really.

  • Sara Habein

    We love you, Courtney. Thanks for writing (yet another) great and honest piece.

  • Addy

    Love ya Courtney for your beautifully written articles that illustrate so clearly different parts of life that are so difficult to talk about. Thank you for this article, it allowed me to have a good cry and think on my childhood that was overshadowed by a dad who was an alcoholic. Thankfully things are better for my dad now but there are moments in life that stick with you. So I will be sending happy thoughts your way and a big hug!

  • Kelly G

    I'm so proud of my best friend. <3

  • Jezebeelzebub

    Thanks for writing this. My best friend is an alcoholic and he lived with me for a while. I didn't realize how bad off he was until he moved in... and when I did, our dynamic was similar to what you describe. It didn't have the romantic element, but.. the thing about the sand and the mesh bag feels spot-on. The entire time he lived with me, I ran around cleaning up messes both literal and figurative, being totally afraid he'd go to jail and I wouldn't be able to get him out, apologizing for all manner of shit he pulled, and defending him to people who looked at him like *that* (you know, the pucker-face side-eye) because he is my best friend and an awesome person and I love his punk ass, and it hurt my feelings something awful when people would... you know... be all like THAT to him. He hit rock bottom while living here and I had to tell him he could either get help and live with me, or he had to go. I felt horrible about that. I still do. I was so mad at him for making me do that... I couldn't keep him around, though. My daughter loves him as much as I do, but she was like 8 years old at the time and the kid ain't dumb. I wasn't able to hide his addiction from her and she was seeing way too much fuckery and from someone she idolizes... I mean, i couldn't justify it anymore. When he left... my god, I don't think I slept for 6 months. I didn't hear from him, had no idea where he was or anything. I was worried for his safety, I felt ashamed for not being a good friend and running him off, and I was really, deeply angry at him for "doing this" to me, to us, to himself..

    He's okay, though. He got sober and he's in the program and doing all the stuff, and he has been for about 3 years now. His and my friendship is back up to ramming speed and for that I am so grateful. I am so grateful for him, so grateful that he is okay and that he continues to be okay. I love that little a-hole.

  • Lucia

    Yep, crying. I love you so much, thanks for writing this, I think it could help a lot of people if more stories like yours are told! Already sent it to my mom. All the best to you and your husband (fiance?) and many days of sunshine and happiness! :)

  • DominaNefret

    Ugh, this is going to be hard for me to write, because mostly I just don't talk about it. Or really, I don't talk about it at all.
    Why? Because 99.5% of people who know and meet my father aren't going to have any idea that he is an addict, and I LOVE my father. I don't want people I am close to thinking less of him because I have talked to them about the fact that he is, in fact, an alcoholic.

    Addiction is complicated. Not all addiction presents itself the same way. Not every drunk is going to be a binge drinker, not every alcoholic is going to get angry, not every alcoholic is going to even really have many noticeable signs. Sometimes it is extremely subtle. My dad is a functioning alcoholic. Very functioning. From what I can tell, though I am not sure, and sometimes I am skeptical, he isn't drunk or drinking all day every day. But he does drink every day, and he can't have just one drink. If he opens a bottle of wine, he is going to drink the entire bottle. When I was living with my parents, I would get myself drinks, and keep them in the kitchen. I am not a big drinker. It would take me months to go through a bottle of liquor. Inevitably I would go down to get myself a drink, and the bottle would be empty. Eventually, I started hiding the alcohol I bought myself in my bedroom. He would come in to my bedroom when I wasn't there, search through my stuff, and drink the entire bottle.

    I noticed he had a problem when I was 12 or 13. I'd get upset when we'd go out to eat and he'd have three cocktails and expect to drive us home. I'd refuse to get in the car until he let my mom drive. This made everyone angry, and inevitably was thought of as just me being disrespectful.
    My parents are great people. I love my father intensely. I love my mother intensely. My mom is a very smart woman, who is in general extremely practical, and imbued with a lot of common sense. This is the one thing she has her blinders up for. There has been a pattern over the last 18 years or so where we will talk about my dad's drinking, she will start realizing that I am right, she will go talk to him, and he will convince her that we are blowing things out of proportion and that he doesn't have a problem. I am not allowed to talk to him at all, because he absolutely refuses to listen to me when I bring up his drinking. If I do, all I am doing is being a "disrespectful daughter". I have to bring up my concerns to my mother, and have my mother bring them up to my father.

    In 2010 my younger brother died via accidental gunshot to the head, and my mom's best friends husband died of kidney failure. He was a severe alcoholic that had been hiding it so well for so long that she didn't find out until his body started failing beyond the point where it could be saved.
    These two things, along with talking to her grief counselor, have finally made my mother realize that my dad does actually have a problem. Unfortunately she doesn't yet seem to realize that the solution is to convince him to stop drinking entirely, not to just insist that he only have one drink a day, or to "cut down". Clearly that has never worked.

    I'm really hoping she can get him to see an alcohol counselor. I know that he doesn't even think about how much he has had to drink before getting behind the wheel of a car. I already lost my brother when he was 23, I really don't want to lose my father too. I feel totally powerless.

    Unfortunately, I also hated AlAnon.

    That was kind of cathartic.

  • chanohack

    I'm so sorry. I'm glad you told us.

  • Berry

    My father in law and his wife are both functioning alcoholics. No-one even denies it, I don't think they would even themselves deny it. But no-one sees any reason to do anything about it either. And to be fair, people drink so much in this country that it's sometimes hard to tell what is too much and what is just more or less normal. And at least they don't have any kids living with them anymore... And it's not really any of my business to begin with. I don't even know. I just know that I don't like visiting them anymore, because they will not accept anyone drinking less than them at dinner. And I like my wine and all, but sometimes it's just too much. I don't know.

  • emmalita

    Al Anon is the worst. It's a bunch of people at their craziest. It's kind of like chemo. Sometimes you have to sit through some of it to kill the crazy inside you.

    My dad is also a functioning addict. I get a lot of people who pat me on the head and tell me I'm making a big drama out of nothing. Seethe! Functioning addicts are a whole other breed. The symptoms are more subtle and they rarely hit bottom. I can usually tell if my father has been using by how often he interrupts me. That's hard to explain. Why do you want your father to go to rehab? He keeps interrupting me. (So entitled!) The problem, of course, isn't that he interrupts, it's that he's not really there. If I'm not with him when he's using he doesn't take care of himself. I don't want to be with him all the time, stoned or sober, so I want him to take care of himself. I was so relieved when I described this to the addiction specialist and he nodded.

    You are powerless over you parents. One of the things my dad does well is give me the illusion that I do have power over him. But I don't. And I need to do a better job of remembering I'm the only person over whom I have any control.

  • DominaNefret

    I know that my dad is drunk when he starts sneezing non-stop out of the blue.
    He also starts telling me a lot of jokes and giving me suggestions for these super fun things that I should do. And he hugs me a lot.

    I learned through going to Compassionate Friends meetings that I really don't want to sit around with a bunch of other people commiserating over how our loved ones died. My mom dragged me to the national conference last summer, because she wanted to combine it with our family vacation. It was awful. Every time I got in an elevator some stranger would give me a hug, ask me how my brother died, and proceed to tell me a super sad story about what happened to their loved one. I just wanted to scream and flee. My mom LOVES it.
    I felt the same way going to AlAnon meetings. I soaked in everyone else's misery, and just wanted to scream and flee.

    I think I have gotten more out of these two posts to strangers on the internet, and reading all of these other comments, than I did out of any of the meetings I went to. I just didn't like those people.
    And I am an atheist. I really really really really didn't want to be forced to pray.

  • I went to alanon for a year and had to stop. Not only because "just pray about it" is the opposite of a real solution, but because it's the sick leading the sick and everyone is judging everyone else and telling everyone what they're doing wrong which is the exact behavior that got them there in the first place.

  • DominaNefret

    "The sick leading the sick" is the perfect way to put it.
    I am a very logically minded person. I can't handle things like that.

  • emmalita

    Worst family vacation ever!

    My mom used to invite me to her Co-dependents anonymous meetings "for fun!" Um, no.

  • DominaNefret

    My mom tries to get me to go to Compassionate Friends events "for fun". No. No no no no no.

  • Uriah_Creep

    As much as I love your hilarious articles, Courtney, these are the ones I cherish. The piece you wrote about depression could have been written about me, and this one hits close to home too. My two oldest (step-)brothers were alcoholics for many, many years as I was growing up, and I saw the hurt they caused to nearly everyone they met. But they finally went to rehab and then to AA, and both have been sober for many years now.

    The older brother drove away not only his wife, but his own children while he was drinking, which is very sad because he loves kids. But the younger of the two had a wife like you who loved him too much to let him go, and she helped him get straight and find the road back. And they are about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary (!!) with the entire family, including their children and grandchildren. They are proof positive that a loving couple can recover from addiction through a lot of dedication and hard work.

    So thanks to you, but also a big thanks to your husband, who lets you shine a light on what must be a difficult part of himself for the benefit of others. Big hugs.

  • Kip Hackman

    This. This here, is why I keep coming back to Pajiba, because there are tons of sites that talk about movies and celebrity news and all this other stuff that makes this place so fun, but I keep coming back for the honesty and the courage of the writers and contributors. You folks have shared so much of your lives with us, and not for sympathy, but to help others going through the same struggles. Addiction is not something I ever really encounter, but I still want to thank you Courtney, for sharing, this was a moving piece.

  • amberdragonfly

    Very powerful piece. I lived with an addict, without even realizing it at first. In fact, it wasn't until we decided to have a family, and I had a miscarriage that it became clear to me that he had a problem. By the time I was ready to leave, I was pregnant again, and this time it ended up in a beautiful baby, so I stayed. Until the night I found him urinating on our four month old baby. He left the next day, not by his choice, and honestly, it broke my heart. Cut to eight years later, and he is going through classes and AA because of a DUI, but he's truly sober for the first time in years, and a few days ago he showed up at my door and apologized for what he did to me, to us, and to our family. That hurt, too.

    I've asked myself more than once if I would have left him if I hadn't had this perfect little life to protect, and I'm not even sure I can answer the question. It's a very complicated relationship to be with an addict, for sure.

  • Wigamer

    I am loving you even though I'm reduced to a snotty, snarfling mess right now. My dad was an addict, and though my parents divorced when I was two, I somehow went out and found myself his carbon copy to be my first love. I was nineteen, naive, and believed, once I knew how bad his addiction really was, that I could fix it. I was SO eager to get away from my own myriad of issues and submerge myself in his, because his had a name, a diagnosis, treatment. I got to pretend to be the healthy one, and that pretense just about destroyed both of us. It took me nearly 10 years into my marriage to another man to fully grasp what had happened and why I was a mess.

    Thank you for sharing your story. So much.

  • AmbroseKalifornia

    Courtney, your heart wrenching honesty is absolutely terrifying I hope this is cathartic for you, because I can't even imagine this... sober.

    You're amazing, and eloquent, and wonderful. Have your family hug you for me.

  • Nick Cowling

    Thank god someone else gets it. This sounds like everything I went through with my dad. Thank you it makes it easier to know it wasnt an isolated case :-)

  • N_Wood

    I work in the field of addiction in the health care system, and my heart goes out to the loved ones, who have to deal with all the ups and downs for life and for love, not just for the limited time and capacity I do. Very well written. You are both beautiful people, and I hope you realize that!

  • I couldn't do it. I tried for four years, and in the end, he was the one who left, but I was on the verge of it, so I call that break up even. Recovering my sense of self was hard, and it took a while, but I have never again given it up - not for the man I eventually married nor the children we made - and I never again will, but I'm a harder person for that choice. No one gets out without some kind of scars.

    I hope your mate stays on the path and that you get whatever help you need to be and stay uniquely you.

  • Slim

    Grace and peace, Courtney. Thanks for your beautiful transparency.

  • ljridley

    I’ve existed much of these past 11 years as a peripheral character in my own life, never the center, never the one who matters. And that is a terribly, guilty thing to feel. So you spiral into shame, still resenting the fact that you don’t matter.

    This. A thousand times this. The worst part for me is knowing that this is part of why I am with him: I could never be the one who matters.

  • Sirilicious

    I'll be rooting for that feeling to change because that is heartbreaking.

  • Mrs. Julien

    As much as the internet needs a sarcasm font, although I suspect it would be redundant, what it really needs is a hug font.

    Like everyone, I have issues that I deal with (and don't deal with) and I find the courage and honesty of the writers and commenters here to discuss theirs breathtaking. I am in awe of all of you, of your bravery and your willingness to talk about and expose that which makes you most vulnerable.

  • Frank P. Gengo IV

    It's beautiful how genuine people are here. That's difficult to find in real life, let alone on the internet. You're all fucking great.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Yeah, here's to honest and fear-spiting vulnerability! I feel awkward and embarrassed putting my problems into words under a pseudonym, nevermind so publicly and under my real name.

    You're good people, Enlow. I mean that.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Recently, I've been realising some things about my stuff, or some stuff about my things, I'm not sure which, and I can barely think them, never mind write/talk about them under a pseudonym and definitely not as myself. Kudos to the people who can.

  • It's scary and painful and makes you incredibly vulnerable, but it is also amazingly liberating. I would recommend that folks think very carefully about how and when and where they reveal that much of themselves.

    Conversely, you can write novels and everyone will speculate about your issues without actually bringing them up. At least, that's what I do.

  • You want to be psychologically strip-mined, all you have to do is go into politics and there will be no end of volunteers to expose your every neurosis and condition.

  • Amy Ransom

    Just, thank you. I will be printing this out. It will become dog-eared, creased, wrinkled and tear-stained. I thought it was just me. I'm not so alone right now and that is a great feeling.

  • You are the strongest person, Courtney. I had to cut off from my mother; she's never even met my kids...and still she has the power to destroy me, with just a mention or an innocent question from my daughter.

    I hope there are more good days than bad, and that your husband knows how lucky he is to have you.

  • emilya

    Courtney, thank you so much for sharing your experiences, pain, and wisdom with us. Addiction runs heavy on both sides of my family, and while i tend to be ok, although i definitely would not always say this was true, a lot of other family members aren't so lucky. My 50-something year old cousin lives in an assisted living facility and has the cognitive capacities of an 8 year old due to "wet brain." My brother is one of the smartest people i have ever met, but drugs/alcohol/depression have robbed me of my best friend. The christmas story really hit home with me- my brother tends to disappear around the holidays. I can't count how many times he's gone out to get a card/gift/milk for the next morning and just not come back, phone goes straight to voicemail, and doesn't respond to texts. And it always hurts so far into my heart that there aren't really words for it.

  • Rebecca Hachmyer

    Hugs to you.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I want to give you a standing ovation, a hug, and a Medal of Honor. Wow, Courtney.

  • buell

    Thank you for these words. My father was an abusive addict and mom, well, she just kinda checked out and handed over all household/sibling responsibilities to me at a very young age. This changed who I was and would be to the point that I suffer with a debilitating panic/anxiety disorder with bouts of agoraphobia. I was raised in fear and turmoil and now it is inside me as my own personal jailer.

  • Wigamer

    Rough stuff, that. Hope you're able to keep moving past it.

  • <3

  • BWeaves

    Courtney. Thank you for sharing this. I've never been around an addict, so I really don't know what it is like. My heart goes out to you.

    Can you and other commenters here please enlighten me about something? I hope I don't word this wrong. I understand when the addict is your parent or sibling, and you love them unconditionally and have to deal with them.

    Can you tell my why you stay with a lover when they are an addict? To me, it would be a deal breaker, like smoking or uncleanliness. What made you fall in love? Why don't you leave? I'm not judging, so I hope my wording doesn't sound bad. I would honestly like to know.

    Update: Thank you all for sharing this information with me. I really had no idea. I'm just speechless. Thank you.

  • Wednesday

    I stayed with my ex-husband for three years after he transitioned from social drinker to alcoholic. Why did I stay? I stayed because by that point, we'd been married for 14 years and had a school-age child. It takes awhile to figure out that although he had demonstrated the capacity to live as a responsible adult, that the likelihood of him becoming that responsible adult ever again was slim-to-none. You just want to believe the person you knew could return, you want it so much. So you bet on potential instead of reality.

    I have no doubt he wanted to get sober. He couldn't, not for any significant length of time. In the end he had to go because the thought of my daughter growing up with an alcoholic parent in her daily life terrified me more than the thought of her growing up without a father at all. I saw how he transferred his demands of caretaking (after I started pulling away) from me to her...and she was a young child at that point.

    It killed him. He died of liver failure not quite two years ago. It took eight years total, and he was 46 years old.

    For the record, I don't think everyone in a relationship with an addict is automatically codependent. In long-term partnerships, there's a lot of practical entanglement to deal with before you pull the plug, a lot of sunk-costs to consider, not just the emotional price you pay. While you're in the middle of it, you don't have the perspective to see that things have incrementally gotten so bad that they seem intolerable from the outside. But you have to take a long hard look at yourself to understand why you stayed.

  • emmalita

    I asked my mom the same question once. She said it was because she had no understanding of addiction or what it really meant until she was married with 12 yr old kid. And then a friend took her to a workshop on alcoholism and she started crying because suddenly everything made sense.

  • For me, I was never abused, physically or otherwise. He has never been a danger to anyone but himself. But when he went to rehab, I did call things off and for the first time ever he said "I just want you to be happy and if you can't with me I understand." And I guess I knew everything would be OK. Years ago? The answer was probably because I was weak and young. Now it's because I understand he's sick and when he's doing what he needs to be well, I can't imagine anyone else but him in my life. Like I said, there's no black and white. I do know if our child was ever in danger, there would be no choice.

  • buell

    I asked my mother why she stayed with our dad and her answer was that back then (late 1960's) there weren't any shelters or help for families like us.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Honest questions should never be frowned upon on this site.

  • e jerry powell

    Courtney, join me in a cuppa tea.

  • Alex Kuhn

    Thank you. I really needed this today. I dropped my husband off at rehab at 11 pm last night. After 4 years of back and forth, good weeks and bad weeks, successes and failures.... This is basically our last ditch effort at saving what's left of our lives (if there's anything salvageable)

    Sometimes I feel weak or like a stereotype for not walking away ages ago.

    The things we do for love, eh?

  • Uriah_Creep

    Best of luck, Alex.

  • fartygirl

    Thank you Courtney <3

  • Michelle

    Courtney, just to echo what everyone else is saying: I don't know how you do it. I don't know how you can be strong enough to share these things with all of us and how you continue to be strong for your family every day. Even on the days when it feels like it'll never be quite right.

    I grew up with an addict mom and that shaped a lot of how I interact with people and how I lived my life in general. I'm currently in the middle of a divorce and quite unexpectedly (srsly, you have no idea) ended up involved with a man I've known for about 8 years and have been friends with for several years. He's an alcoholic. He's been going through some tremendously tough times that have admittedly made me wonder why I'm doing this to myself - but of course I know, because I'm in love with him - and I actually came back here a few times to read what you had written and it really did help. I'm sorry that you had to go through it first, and longer, but I hope there's some comfort in the fact that what you're sharing does have an impact and is helping other people.

  • Michelle

    The timing of this is incredible.. my boyfriend had been sober for five days, and started to feel like he couldn't deal without drinking tonight, and was texting whilst I was at a work event. I couldn't leave and I shouldn't HAVE to leave, so I didn't. God, I felt awful about it because I felt like I failed him, but... this isn't my struggle. All I can do is be there for him. Thank you again, Courtney.

  • emmalita

    Well, that was just so accurate it hurts. I just got my dad started in an out patient program and then I laid down to die (not literally, but it felt like it). It's so much easier to focus on his problems than my own, even when I know that not taking care of myself is bad for both of us. Even though I know I'm not alone and I'm in a group with other adult children of addicts, reading this helps in a way I can't even explain.

  • Berry

    Hey you! Happy to see you around: sorry to hear about your dad. All the best to you both.

  • I'm glad you're back. It's always nice to have someone around who thinks I'm funny, besides me. ;)

  • emmalita

    That did make me laugh. :)

  • Mrs. Julien

    We really missed you.

  • emmalita

    I missed you all a lot.

  • PDamian

    I missed you more. Glad you're well.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Hey, you're back! We missed you.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Welcome back, Emm!! It just hasn't been the same without you.

  • emmalita

    Thanks, I've missed you all too.

  • llp

    I am sorry you have been having this hard time. I didn't realize what was going on.

  • emmalita

    I can't talk about it in places where I use my real name. I don't want to deal with the family politics.

  • llp

    I bet. At first I tweeted something, and then I took my head out of my ass and deleted it right away. I am sorry.

    I hope everything goes ok.

  • emmalita

    No worries. The great thing about having been here before is that I know it isn't the end of the world. Time is a flat circle, etc. #Science

  • Blake Shrapnel

    ...

  • lowercase_ryan

    my heart goes out to you.

  • I have a been a lurker since 2005/2006. I just want to say this is the first post that has made me want to comment. I have been dealing with a similar situation for many years. We met when we were 23 and even though five years has passed, we are both still those 23 year old just out of college kids.

    It took me two years to realize I was dating an addict.

    It took me a year to stop hating myself or blaming myself for what he did when I wasn't around.

    It took me another year to completely self-destruct due to what was going on, and, in turn, get left in a very abrupt way due to my stalking, resentment and mistrust.

    It has taken another year for us to mend our relationship and just now begin to even be a semblance of an adult relationship.

    I was the opposite of you. I was in, certain ways, an enabler. I can drink and get drunk and not have any urge for booze. I could casually try recreational mind-enhancers without ever needing to touch them again (or think about them).

    I didn't realize that he couldn't for two years, and when I first did, I didn't think it should stop me. So we imploded. And, then, we tried to grow up.

    I'm still dating a college kid, at times. He has fallen off the wagon more than he has managed to stay on. However, there is no person I'd rather be with than this man when he is sober. He is funny and comforting and talented and smart. He is worthy of too many "and's" in a sentence.

    Thanks, Courtney. This post puts into words what I can never explain to anyone.

  • DominaNefret

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Rebecca Hachmyer

    However, there is no person I'd rather be with than this man when he is sober.

    Yep.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I would like to offer you a sincere hug and I hope you will continue to comment.

  • becks2point0

    You're such a strong person and I'm always in awe of your ability to share these painful parts of your life with us. It's brave to be so honest and vulnerable.

    Thank you for giving insight into such a difficult situation and for whatever alchemy you do to turn a lot of pain into so much humour for us on a daily basis.

  • As someone raised by addicts, I feel nothing but the utmost respect for you. You are courageous and beautiful and stronger than you admit. I loved every word of this and here's hoping the sky remains for both of you.

  • lowercase_ryan

    <3

  • What he said. <3

  • good god, the people that i hurt, staying 18 all those years. my heart hurts.

    thank you for writing this, courtney. it's good to be reminded of where i was and what i did to the one person i've ever truly loved. i'll never understand why she took me back. she shouldn't have - but i'll never put her through that again, either. reading things like this help make sure of that.

  • narfna

    Thank you for this. And I'm just going to leave this smiley face here for you :)

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