There are so many difficult things about loving someone who is an addict. There is the lying, the manipulation, the loss of trust and the enabling. Enabler is not a title we strive for in life, and yet most of us have enabling relationships in our lives.
I lived with an addict for 16 years, I contributed to the addiction every single one of those days. People ask me all the time “why did you stay so long and why did you put up with all of the heartache”? My answer is always the same; I loved this person and I clung to who she was under the addiction. Addicts are not bad people, they are good people with a very bad disease. We want so badly for them to “get well” we want so badly for the person who we know and love to come back, so we cling to the hope that if we just give them one more chance this time it will work. It is astonishing how long we will keep giving those chances. We just don’t want to give up on them because this time it just might happen.
Every time they go into rehab we become filled with hope. I remember talking to my partner from rehab and she would sound so clear headed, so well and so much like the person living under the disease. I would be renewed with hope and positivity. She was so convincing. I felt light had come back into our otherwise very dark world. I think deep down inside I knew better than to be so optimistic, I knew better than to relax and think that my constantly knotted stomach would finally ease.
Her story does not have a happy ending. My story does have a happy ending for me. I finally left the relationship and I finally embraced my own recovery. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done short of burying my parents. I left the world of addiction and enabling behind me and I have never looked back. You cannot save them no matter how much you love them, love does not heal addiction. Love does however heal those of us who are enablers, those of us who are suffering from a brokenness that is so painful. I am talking about love of self. Love yourself enough to know when to let go and let the healing for you begin. There is life after living with an addict and I am living proof of that.