Living With an Addict: The Lying, the Manipulation, the Heartache
It’s 6:09 am; I’m sitting in the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, mentally prepping myself to board the plane back to home. This has been an emotionally exhausting trip filled with crying, uncomfortable conversations, and happy moments as well. Part of me is like…Yes! You get to go back to a routine filled with no surprises and no fear. The other (louder) part of me is clinging on to my uncomfortable JetBlue chair for dear life, screaming to not make her go. She wants to stay; she wants to see her fiancé again.
But, it’s back to the world I go. Back to my job, back to my dog, back to my apartment and cooking and cleaning and doing all the things I have to do to survive. My fiancé will be fine; he’s in a rehab center full of people (residents and employees alike) that so clearly love him. He will be fine; I need to take the next couple of weeks and focus on myself.
By far the hardest part of this trip was experiencing and speaking with an honest fiancé, for the first time in my relationship with him.
It makes no sense.
Why would interacting with an honest person be hard?
Because, Reader. When you’ve been lied to repeatedly–when you’ve accepted certain falsities as absolute truths, finally surrendering to the idea that you know…maybe he’s telling the truth this time, maybe you should allow yourself to finally believe him–and that false reality gets swept away in a dimly lit room in a rehab center with a sobbing, remorseful, painful confession to the truth, it reminds you how deep in your loved one’s life addiction has its creepy tentacles.
It’s hard. Because it reminds you that no matter how much your addict loves you, no matter how much your alcoholic would never intentionally hurt you–he did. My fiancé didn’t lie to me because he knew it would hurt me, and was being vengeful or sadistic. My fiancé didn’t spin tale after tale after tale and go to great lengths to cover up his drug use, his binge drinking, because he wanted to get me. My fiancé lied because that’s what addicts do: they lie. Addiction pulls a curtain over the eyes; it shuts off empathy. It severs all ties with emotionally connecting with people, because if you connect emotionally and you feel the hurt you’re inflicting and you feel the sadness and self-hate you’re trying so desperately hard to cover up with all the pills and the booze…your addiction begins to lose.
And so…my fiancé’s addiction told him “lie”. Because lying prevents you from feeling, and telling the truth endangers your disease.
Don’t tell your future wife you’re intoxicated, a whole bottle of vodka poured down the hatch, as she gets in the car with you in the driver’s seat to ride out on one of the most dangerous freeways in the southern US; she will get angry with you for drinking. She doesn’t need to know. You’ll be fine.
Don’t tell your soon-to-be-fiancé you’ve been drinking this morning, and that you snuck off to drink this afternoon when she was getting ready for you to take her out to the dinner during which you’re going to propose and ask for her to dedicate the rest of her life to being with you. If she knows you’ve been drinking, if she knows what we have going on…she’s going to throw the ring back in your face. Don’t tell her. You’ll be alone for the rest of your life. Do you really want to be alone? Then don’t tell her.
Don’t tell your fiancé the reason why you refuse to engage in intimacy with her–the reason you leave her alone for 5, 6, 7, 8 nights in a row to hug a pillow and wonder what she’s doing wrong–don’t tell her it’s because you’re popping six adderall and going off to watch pornography instead. You resent her, your fiancé; she’s repulsive to you, someone who is too good for you when you’re with me. Someone who doesn’t understand. Someone you’ve put on a pedestal, someone so far out of your reach now you have no connection with her. Just keep her at fingertips length–close enough for when you need her, far enough to have no clue what’s going on. Far enough to hurt her self-esteem, to have her question what she’s doing wrong; when she’s criticizing herself she can’t criticzie you…Don’t tell her about us. Don’t tell her you’ve lost all connection with her, because of me. She doesn’t need to know. She will take me away. And you can’t lose me.
Don’t tell anyone about us.
For the last two days my fiancé did, what I will now call, a “Lie Dump”, where he tried his hardest to remember every lie he’s told me (ha) since I’ve known him, and he just…dumped them all one me. In the most sincere move to be “reborn” as an honest person, my fiancé–with the encouragement and supervision of his residential therapist–wrote down every lie he could recall, and through the unintelligible sobs and the snot all over his deep red face and the cupped hands over his eyes and the convulsing shoulders and ribcage, he laid them out for me.
It really, really, really sucked.
But I just listened. I cried, because the emotion in the room was overwhelming, and because it hurt to have truths I had known deep down in my heart unveiled for the first time, finally aired out. I cried, but my fiancé grieved. I’ve never seen my fiancé sob like that before: not when he cut his mother out of his life, not when he was turned down for a “dream” job or when he found out his grandfather’s heart was giving out, not when he admitted out loud he was an addict and alcoholic–I’ve never seen that kind of pain, that kind of suffering in him before. It was horrible. But it was cleansing–for him, and for me–because he was feeling. Later that day, my fiancé told me he was positive I would walk out the door and never look back after his confession. But, he knew he had to be honest, not just for me, but more for his recovery. Addiction thrives on lying; addiction cannot actively live in an honest human being.
Most people would look at the lies my fiancé confessed–almost all revolving around drinking or drugs, in some degree–and would say…What the hell are you doing, why wouldn’t you just leave him? Because. I have to believe–and I do believe–that my fiancé showing courage and bravery for the first time in his life by being honest when he risked losing everything…that means recovery. It means he’s on the right path, and I have to stick through until he proves otherwise.
I feel like yesterday was the first time in a year and a half that I’ve seen my fiancé. The stranger that I’ve been living with–the sometimes unfeeling, manipulative, hot-and-cold stranger–has looked/spoke/talked/kissed/hugged/fought like my fiance, but his spirit, his personality, he had been replaced with The Active Addict.
I never want to see that person again.
I had forgotten what my fiancé looked like. What being with my fiancé felt like.
And now that I know, now that I remember–I will force myself to always remember–I will not allow the Other Person to creep back in my life again. I cannot control his appearance, I cannot prevent that from happening. However, I have to believe that my fiancé’s fight to be an honest, God-loving, strong human being will be all the armor he needs to protect himself from that Other Person ever coming back. I can pray, and pray, and pray more for God to give me the strength to recognize that Other Person when he starts snaking his way back in my life, and the clarity of mind to not take it personally if it does happen. I also can pray many times over that God continues working these miracles in my fiancé’s life–my fiancé, being honest, pulling the dark entangled web of lies out from the depths of his being and laying the shame and the selfishness out for me to see and understand–that is a miracle.
Addicts are liars.
The addicts we love–the person you’re thinking about as you read this blog–they are not their addiction. They are not the lies and the hurts and the pain they have inflicted. That is not them. You cannot take it personally. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the inner torment they are dealing with on a daily basis.
Pray, pray, and pray again.
Today is a new day. Today is a new battle.
We are going to be ok.