The betrayal of addiction in relationships
First published in P.S. I Love You, a Medium.com publication on December 23rd, 2019.
Thank you for reaching out and letting me know you are doing well. I appreciate your apology.
When I read your message, pain erupted through me. What happened between us in the past was heartbreaking for me.
It has been 8 years since we have had contact.
After we split, it took me months to find myself again. My sense of loss was overwhelming.
Eventually, out of the blue, I heard a clear voice in my head.
“She cannot honor you.”
That message allowed me to deeply sigh, to release the breath that I had been holding. That is when the confusion cleared, and I began to let go.
How had this chapter started? Maybe in graduate school, when you were competing with other women? I didn’t understand why you flirted with their husbands and boyfriends. I didn’t understand why you felt they were threatened by you. I was puzzled but I accepted your feelings.
We used to stay up for hours at night, discussing psychology and healing. Our mental connection was wonderous.
You were sober then. But shortly after we graduated, you began questioning sobriety. You talked about wanting to have a drink on occasion. Somehow, I didn’t see you falling off the wagon. I believed you would be okay. And it seemed you were for a while — at least on the outside.
Several years later, after you told me about walking out into the ocean, and not wanting to turn around and come back, I realized you were suicidal. I didn’t know why you were struggling. I didn’t know what your job entailed, how it was soul-sucking, and required dishonesty and manipulation, but money was your god at that time.
I didn’t know why your employment ended or how you lost your condo. I didn’t know about the cocaine, the party life you had been living. I didn’t realize all of these disasters were coming out of a life being mismanaged, abused.
I invited you to live with me for a while so you could get back on your feet.
I saw the part of you that was spiritual, the part that loved animals. I saw the part that was intelligent and deep. But weird things began to occur: stories, behaviors, events. They snuck up slowly. Nothing so big that I saw a red flag. It was more like the water getting incrementally hotter, until the frog, who could have jumped out earlier, dies.
Your behavior was confusing to me, and at times not okay.
There was the time you said to me about my partner, “I could have had him.” What did you mean? Did you mean that he would have picked you over me, had you wanted him? Did you mean that you were more special than I? Were you jealous of me? Regardless, that sentence dropped like a stone to the pit of my stomach. I didn’t say anything at the time. I didn’t know what to say.
I want you to know, you could not have had him. He did not want you. My relationship with this man was not about your will, or your ability to manipulate. It was not about your delusion that you were sexier than I. This was not about ‘catching’ a man. This was about a deep love between me and another being, which we have nurtured and enabled to bloom.
After you hit bottom, after the loss of everything you had, after the rehab, I believed you when told me you were clean, that you had stopped drinking. I never imagined that you would begin again, that you would start to talk about AA as if it was the enemy. Because I believed you were committed to health, I allowed you to convince me to sign a lease for you so you could have a place to live. I didn’t want to do it, but I wanted to support your brand new sobriety, and I didn’t know how to say no.
I set it up so that I was protected. The lease was month to month. The security deposit would go to me first, not you. I foresaw no problems.
Shortly after you moved in, you quit the 12-step program and began drinking again, breaking rules, acting belligerent. Neighbors were complaining, and the landlady wanted you out. You eventually left.
I dealt with the fallout and used the security deposit to pay for damages. You were furious and couldn’t believe that I chose to honor my word instead of taking care of you. You wanted that money and had no interest in making things right.
I apologized to the landlady. It was embarrassing, humbling to see how I had fallen into co-dependency with someone who had been teetering and was now entirely out of control.
How did I fall so far off track? How did you sway me so?
Your addiction was ugly, and I did not fully comprehend it. I saw the beauty of your soul, and I loved you.
After the apartment situation, I told you that we had to talk. That we needed to work out what had happened. You said, “No, I am not going to discuss this.” I said, “Then we are through.” That was the end. You walked away. You had no intention of looking inside or being accountable. I had no intention of being there for someone who could not look at themselves or work out a real relationship.
I learned something from that. It was a lesson I had learned before, but one I had to learn again. The power of addiction snuffs out love. And love you, I did. I had helped you time and time again. Out of love. But the love I had for you was stronger than the love I had for myself.
I’ve changed a lot in these past 8 years. I no longer need or desire a connection with you. I no longer wish to be friends with people who shed their inappropriate behavior on others with no regard. I no longer want to be considered the Robin to your Batman.
You say you are sober and on a joyous path. I am truly happy for you. But so much of what happened was not and is still not okay for me — and still feels ugly. I do not know what you have and have not resolved in your life. I do not know where your beliefs are still crooked and self-serving. I have been left with no trust of you.
I realize that I do not have a need or desire to reconnect or move back into a friendship with you. I have no interest in being pulled in again. Too much has happened between us. And I do not wish to be in a co-dependent relationship — which clearly was the case for me.
I am not the person I use to be. I am glad to be free, to be entirely on my feet, and to have found my wholeness and completeness.
May you also find yours.
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