If All Else Fails, Survive

When I imagined being married I never considered something other than a partnership. I didn't realize that marriage could be something other than forever. Not for me.

But when you marry an addict you marry their lies. You marry the loneliness of being forgotten and set aside. You marry their promises and small steps forward. You marry their relapses. You marry the disappointment of having trusted in hope. You marry the selfish. You marry the "revelations" that last for a few weeks, the desperation for them to change. You marry the sins of their bodies and you wear them like scars on your own. You marry their darkness, even as you struggle to glimpse the light. You marry their anger and it becomes your own self-hatred.

I get why women stay. I get that you carry the paradox of loving a man you hate. I get that you can't imagine what to tell your children; how to carry the immense burden of mostly parenting them alone. I get how lonely it is. I get how broken you feel. I get it. I live it.

I know the agony of constantly looking for signs of change. Is it enough? Is it real this time? Please, God, let him CHANGE.

But do they? Will they?

I look at my kids and I am crushed by the things I have to do just to hold it together for them. I carry the almost constant burden of just surviving the complete destruction of losing the man I have loved; of never really even knowing if he loved me back. Because I'm their mom, I am never alone. I am always being touched, questioned, talked to. I am always pretending to laugh at their jokes. I am always just trying to be what they need me to be. And I'm certain that I am just never enough. How could I be?

It isn't fair. It isn't fair that I have given every last spark of my fire to someone who has sucked the oxygen out of the room. It isn't fair that I have struggled to change myself to fit him. It isn't fair that, now, I'm changing again. It isn't fair that I don't fit with him anymore. It isn't fair that I have to defend it.

You know what else? When someone has dug up enough courage to stand up to a near decade of betrayal, abuse, lies, neglect, shame and humiliation - they shouldn't have to defend themselves to a single soul. They shouldn't carry the weight of other broken people's words. They don't need more despair, more hopelessness, more shame.

This whole shitstorm is almost always too much. Addicts don't live all alone in their little bubble. Their actions and choices aren't without a ripple. And, trust me, they are so good at hiding it. They are so good at making everyone else think that they are healthy, humble and strong. Don't think you haven't been fooled, at some point in your life, by an addict. It's what they do. It's how they survive.

And when you marry an addict, you have to survive too. I know women who have lied about the abuse they've suffered, who have minimized or hidden the great depths of their partner's sickness. I know women who have gone home to their addict because it was just too damn hard to fight them. I know them and I don't judge them. I get it. I grieve for them, but I get it. Didn't I do it for years?

It's so hard to see which way to step. It's so hard to know what's authentic and when to stop hanging on. It's so so so hard. I have moments of hope, followed by waves of grief. I have self realizations that fill me with eventual fear because I'm only growing farther and farther away from him. Yet, I'm still spinning in his hands.

I wanted my life to be something else. I wanted to be secure and safe. I wanted peace and faithfulness. I wanted to know that I was living the rest of my life with someone who was capable of truly living. I wanted to raise my children without this kind of sadness. I wanted to give them the kind of childhood that would shape them with joy and comfort. I didn't want this for them. I didn't want it for me either. But we're living it.

I'm just trying to survive it.

*February 2013