I thought I could fix him.
I remember thinking on so many occasions when my husband was in active addition that if he loved me he’d quit using, or if he really loved our family than the wouldn’t steal from the kids, or pawn things, or do any of the other maddening things that one does while using. I truly thought it was because of me – in a way. Like I wasn’t good enough or like it was my fault. If I was a better wife, or if I loved him more, then he would quit using or drinking. (Thank goodness for the 3 C’s, amiright?!)
For a long time even after he got clean and sober, I would throw it in his face, those things he did in active addiction, and remind him of all that he did (or didn’t) do when he was using. One day he said “You didn’t have to stay. You chose to”.
In Alanon they say there are no victims, only volunteers.
Those were hard words to hear.
There were many reasons why I stayed. One: because I wanted to – I really truly loved him and wanted to be with him, but the real honest truth was I didn’t leave because I was scared. I didn’t want to be alone. I thought for sure that with enough love I could fix him, or help him love himself as much as I loved him. Looking back, I had a lot of arrogance to think I could fix it all, or that my love would be enough to make everything alright. That was really ballsy.
I took on responsibility to fix it, but I didn’t cause it.
It wasn’t until I heard his (whole) story for the first time – really heard it- at his first anniversary that I found the empathy. I was like – there is no F-ing wonder why you were drinking and smoking crack!!
Now, I’ve heard a LOT of stories in my years of working with and addicts and their wives/families. When you hear the trauma, and the pain and the fear, and the abandonment that so many are going through, it’s really not hard to see why they’re drinking, or using drugs, or loving someone who drinks/uses drugs. There’s a hole that we’re trying to fill. There’s pain that we’re all trying to heal.
I was trying fill my “not good enough” space with someone who would keep me distracted from doing MY work (and then didn’t have time or energy to look at my own shit). I know my fellow codependents will relate! As long as I could keep the focus on him – what he was doing or not doing, what trouble he was in, what wasn’t getting paid, etc… That kept me from having the time or bandwidth to look at my shit.
And I had a whole lot of shit to look at.
As much as we want to feel loved, we love someone who’s so NOT able to love us in return…
Take a moment and look back at your life up until now. What’s something that keeps coming up? One thing for me was getting ‘bored’ with ‘good guys’. By doing my work, I was able to determine that it was because on some level I didn’t feel I deserved a ‘good guy’. And I kept letting the good ones go, and the bad ones in.
Luckily my bad boy has turned into a wonderful husband <3
The thing is – when you acknowledge the patterns, and see that you’re doing (insert pattern here), and make an active decision to change it the next time it comes up – YOU BREAK THAT PATTERN.
Even if it’s ½ of a baby step, it counts. When you start unpacking your shit, and changing the way you show up in your relationship the dynamics HAVE to change.