Betrayal is a powerful word. It has weight to it, real weight and devastating effect when you’re on the receiving end of the dishonesty it describes. If you’re the wife of a using addict or drinking alcoholic then I don’t have to tell you how it feels to be betrayed. You know this already and it’s more likely that you’ve become familiar with the stab of hurt and the hot rage of betrayal. You may also be on the verge of making some really big decisions about your future. Before you do so, let me tell you my story. You should be aware that I’ve changed the names, but every other aspect remains exactly as it happened.
Our Marriage Was Great Until It Wasn’t
The intoxicating thing about addicts is this. They’re exciting, they’re passionate and they’re super fun to be around. Patrick was all of these things and more. We met when I was 26 years old and he quickly became my rock. I knew he was fresh in recovery from his drug addiction but I didn’t care, I used to pride myself on not being judgmental. He was so honest about his past it was impossible to hold it against him when I could see the efforts he was making to live life differently.
We were best friends and after some time dating we moved in together and I became the stepmother of his children. I remember he worked so hard at everything, for a long time, he was a brilliant parent, a loving partner and a committed employee with a straight job in real estate. After four years together I started to talk about marriage, it seemed the next logical step. I had finished studying and could finally work, the kids were old enough to understand what was happening and it just felt right. So when he asked me, I said yes, married him and wore my diamonds proudly, so grateful I’d finally met ‘the one’.
He Became Distant And I Became Suspicious
I’m not sure of the exact day I knew something was seriously wrong, but in the third year of our marriage I began to get suspicious. I didn’t think he’d gone back to using methamphetamine. I actually thought he was having an affair. He was working more than ever and having bursts of rage, he looked unhappy almost every day and he never wanted to spend time with me. It was awful. At the time I remember blaming myself, I had a back injury which had put a lot of financial pressure on us, so naturally I felt I wasn’t able to protest his long hours at the office. After all, he was working for us and we were building a better life. The sad thing was his absence become normal and I was getting lonelier every day.
Eventually the day came when he couldn’t hide it any more. It was a Sunday morning, and Patrick was preparing for auctions he needed to attend that day. He was in the bathroom for a long time then was struggling to iron his shirt when it all hit him at once. He dropped to the floor and started sobbing. I was shocked and worried but as I tried to comfort him he only became more agitated. He was scratching furiously at his skin, insisting that he’d been bitten by something and rolling around, thrashing in pain.
From Crisis Came A Revelation
In the midst of this crisis I did what I could. I draped him in cold wet towels to soothe the burning sensation and I closed doors in an attempt to shield his youngest from the disturbing sight of his father howling like a madman on the floor. I knew this wasn’t just about his skin, it was clearly a mental health issue but I thought at the time that all I had to do was remain calm to get us through this. I bundled up the little boy and strapped him in the front seat of my car he was scared and so was I. But Patrick was on another planet. He lay in the back seat of my car, crying and tearing at his skin while I drove us to the emergency room.
On arrival the doctor took one look at him and asked if he’d been taking methamphetamine. Of course Patrick denied it, but when asked to show his arms I could see they were dotted with track marks. I was astounded and ashamed. I had been lied to, for months! I looked at this man that I loved as he lay pale and shaking, then I walked out of the hospital with the child in my arms. I needed some time and space to process and my stepson needed to be with his real mum.
The Blame Game
The weeks and months that followed were some of the most painful of my adult life. Piece by piece the truth began to emerge. There was money involved and years of dishonesty. He hadn’t been faithful and he’d put me at risk. The worst thing for me was the lies. I had built him up to be something he wasn’t and he had completely demolished the ‘house of cards’ I didn’t even know I was living in.
The sense of betrayal I felt was terrible, the tears were endless. I was angry and sad, I was scared and I was confused. For a while I blamed myself and the financial pressure I had subjected him to by studying. Then I blamed his old friends, I thought they were the ones that had talked him into it. Eventually I blamed him. I felt every emotion in the spectrum from hate and fury to despair.
Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
For me there was only one option. For you it may be very different so don’t rush the decision. I’m happy now, but sometimes I wonder if I should have stayed, and what life would be like if I had. Truthfully, most days I am so grateful I didn’t. You see Patrick didn’t stop using drugs. He rode that train until the wheels fell off completely and he ended up without a home, living in his car. Watching this decline from afar was painful enough, I can’t imagine going along for the ride as he disintegrated materially, spiritually and emotionally. He turned from the man I loved – a worthy, responsible member of society – into a junkie, scamming people and living what I can only imagine is a miserable existence.
But the truth is not as one sided as this. Some husbands do stop. I know this because I’ve seen it happen. Once I left my marriage I devoted myself to my personal recovery journey in Al Anon and along the way I met many women who had been in the same situation as me. I talked to them and listened to what they did when their lives fell apart. I heard stories of hope and forgiveness, I also got to meet some of the husbands they spoke of. I saw with my own eyes what’s possible if an addict or alcoholic is willing to seek help and I came to the conclusion that it can be done. It didn’t happen for Patrick, but recovery is possible. Change does happen if the addict is willing.
So if you’re in a situation where the one you love is suffering from addiction don’t give up hope yet. You can find help for them and yourself in a 12 step fellowship in your town, or you can enquire about a live in rehabilitation program like the ones Seasons offers. What happened to me is just one story and I hope with all my heart that yours ends very differently.