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I Was Addicted to the Addict
A personal story I spent many years feeling ashamed of...
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It’s my son’s birthday today.
Seventeen years ago, I was in the operating room, lying on my back, staring at the bright light on the ceiling during a c-section. Half a dozen medical staff were all working quietly in unison, and yet I was alone.
My husband had called me the night before and said, “I can’t come home. Ever. I don’t want another baby - I never did.”
And then he hung up. Disconnected. From me and our unborn child.
The next morning, my parents drove me to the hospital. The kind woman at the check-in asked if this was my husband with a confused look on her face.
“No,” I said. “That’s my step-father. My husband is away on business.”
I lied - kind of.
My husband treated his addiction like a full-time job.
While I was the chef, chauffeur, housekeeper, and financial planner for our family of four, soon to be five, he was the CEO and Founder of entertainment. One of the many problems of that self-appointed position was that the only one being “entertained” in our family was himself, and the kind of entertainment he enjoyed involved other women, lots of liquid with high alcohol content, and illegal substances.
And his "job" was always more important than his family.
So there I was, alone in the operating room, trying so hard to feel the joy of seeing my baby for the first time, but also wondering: “Is this another one of his three-day binges? Will he ever come back home? Am I now a single mother of three?”
Addiction has no boundaries or respect. It will steal even the most precious moments from us.
I would love to tell you I remember the moment when the nurse put my newborn in my arms - but I don’t. The next few days were so painful I must have blocked them out. All I can recall is sitting in the hospital room and thinking, “I need to get out of here so I can be home if he returns.”
That is why they call addiction a family disease. Clearly, I was suffering from addiction, too.
I was addicted to the addict.
So once again, I lied - kind of.
I told the hospital staff I needed to check out a day early. “I have a special needs child at home who requires my care,” I said. That part is true, but thankfully, my mother was visiting and offering to help.
Instead of staying in the hospital and allowing myself and my baby to be cared for by loving, trained medical staff, I put myself and my son at risk so I could wait at home just in case my husband decided we were, in fact, worth returning home to.
My friends and family who have never loved someone suffering from addiction will never understand that choice, which is why I kept it a secret.
I felt so ashamed of the woman addiction had turned me into.
That was exactly seventeen years ago. Everything has changed since then.
I found my way out of that marriage, and I found myself again. I decided: No matter how broke, scared, and alone I would be, leaving him was best for me and my children.
I am happy to report that every birthday since, I have been present, joyful, and so grateful for my healthy baby boy.