Have you ever loved an addict? A person who loves you more than anything but just lesser than his addiction.
And I know how terrible the disease of addiction can be. It doesn’t affect only the person but also the people around him. If you are married to an addict, not only do you suffer from watching the person you love go down, but also get impacted emotionally and physically.
The person that I loved – lied, cheated, shouted, behaved irrationally, got sick and made unaccepted mistakes for uncountable times. And with each lie, with each irrational action, I was damaged – emotionally and financially.
I don’t know how many times I had this conversation with my husband –
“Can’t you see Kaushal what you’re doing to me, to our marriage, to us?
Why don’t you stop drinking?
If you really loved me, you’d stop drinking.”
But believe me, the same conversation became tougher with each passing day.
Mornings would be the most beautiful time of the whole day. Kaushal would get up sober, apologize for his actions last night and promise me that it would never happen again. He would promise me a beautiful life that day onward because he has quit drinking yesterday.
The whole day I would feel relieved. Hoping that my life is going to change. Hoping that miracle will happen. And then I would be shaken up from my dream by the sound of the alcohol bottle in Kaushal’s hand in the evening.
This would then be followed by screaming, lies and apologies – confirming that we are fighting the lost battle.
And the sad part is that Kaushal & I are not the only ones fighting the battle against alcohol.
Tragically, I have seen dozens of relationships completely deteriorate or dissolve due to the addiction problem of one spouse or the other.
Do you know One Indian dies every 96 minutes due to alcohol consumption?
But what is the scariest thing about addiction?
While addiction is curable and there no shortage of rehabs and other types of supports, it is a disease that lets the addict believe that s/he is perfectly fine. Unlike other diseases, such as cancer that may invoke a patient’s desires to live or his/her survival instincts, victims of addiction lose all their desire to live.
So, Kaushal never knew with each passing minute he was moving towards the dead end. He was in no mood to accept that he needed help or that our marriage needed support.
Is Divorce my only option?
If the addict and spouse don’t get help – the only path left is a downward spiral.
These people either file for divorce or accept to live a painful and broken life. Sadly only a small fraction of people actually get the help they need to recover from addiction. These are the ones that go on to live a happy and fulfilled married life.
Out of the three options, how I decided what to do?
Here are some questions that were shared by my therapist, that helped me to get clarity on what steps I can or should take next. And these steps are true for anyone battling with any sort of addiction.
- Do you agree yourself that your spouse is an addict?
- Have you told your spouse that you believe s/he is an addict?
- Is your life in a chaos and pain because you are living with an addict?
- Have you taken help, for yourself, from an addiction expert?
- The most critical step – Have you taken help, for your spouse, from an addiction expert?
- Have you attended some sort of counseling or therapy sessions together with your spouse? Especially with a therapist who works on addiction and its impact on families?
- Have you experienced serious negative consequences as a result of your spouse’s addiction?
- Did you tell your spouse that you are thinking of divorce unless s/he stops the addiction?
- Are you really willing to get separated?
- Have you tried to stay separate for a small time as a trial?
So, Kaushal and I are still on step 6. We are visiting a therapist who specializes in addictive illness and recovery.
If everything else fails, I may have to look at getting a legal separation or even a divorce.
I still love him. And, I don’t attach his addiction to lack of his character. I attach it to his disease. And I don’t want to leave him when he is battling this disease of addiction. But if I feel that he is not wanting to fight his addiction, or he thinks he is just right the way he is today, I will have no option but to separate from him.
For us, divorce will be very unfortunate. It will be heartbreaking and devastating, but I do understand sometimes is the only choice you have as the non-addict.
But for the time being – We have promised each other that we will fight it together and build a happy future for ourselves.
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