The Guilt of Leaving an Addict

Like so many fans of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I was deeply saddened by his death. This guy was simply one of the best actors of our time and I loved everything he did on screen. So much has been written of him since his death by heroin last Sunday, but little has been written about the woman he shared his life with and who was the mother of his three young children. I think of him, but I think of her more because she is what is left behind in the vortex of addiction that was his life. I don’t know Mimi O’Donnell but I wish that I did so that I could send her a note of support. A note from one woman who once loved an addict to another. From a woman who decided to leave because the pain and suffering of living with an addict was just too much and I, like Mimi had had enough. I would tell her not to feel guilty which is much easier said than done, but the fact of the matter is you only have two options with an addict. Option one, you stay and continue enabling and living in hell. Option two, you leave because you love yourself and in her case your children, more than you love your life with an addict. Even more difficult in this case was the fact that Mr. Hoffman had been sober for over 20 years. By now the knot that lives in the stomach of us enablers had probably subsided for her. She was able to breath and feel good about their life together and perhaps even let her guard down a bit. Then the unthinkable happens, he falls off the wagon and the peace called sobriety they once had is now back to the constant turmoil of addiction. It is a horrible place to be. I would also tell Ms. O’Donnell that she did the brave thing, the hard thing, the thing that none of us want to do. She left him. It was the right thing to do and it took guts and immense courage. Those of us who have walked in these shoes know this; the pain will become more manageable and over time we get to a place of peace again. None of us are equipped to fight this formidable demon called addiction, it is like fighting a war with no weapons, it cannot be won. All we can do is let go and hope that the addict we love finds their way to treatment and gets the support they need. In the mean time we do the brave thing, the hard thing, the thing that gives us anguish. We leave. You did the right thing Ms. O’Donnell and  although your grief and agony now is deep and cutting and you carry a heavy burden of guilt, you will be ok. It will take time and much support for your family, but you will be ok.

I wish you and your children peace and healing.Image

One thought on “The Guilt of Leaving an Addict

  1. Extremely well written, and so very meaningful to anyone who has ever been in the position of loving/being addicted to and addict. In my case, it was it was 6 months of heaven and two and a half years of hell. When I finally got the nerve/courage to leave, my parting words were, “I am leaving you, not because I don’t love you, but because I do love you, and it is too painful to stay.” Leaving was the hardest, best thing I’ve ever done for myself. My prayers and positive wishes to Mimi O’Donnell, and to anyone who loves, or has ever fallen in love with an addict.

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