Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder how my life would be different if I hadn’t met him that one night-6 long years ago. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it. That one, meaningless decision to ‘go out’ instead of catching up on some homework, suddenly became life changing. Not in that moment itself, but now – after experiencing “life” with him over the last 2 1/2 years. His struggles with addiction took a toll on not only his physical health and our relationship, but on my personal and emotional well-being also. I saw and learned so many things over those years with him that I think will help me for the rest of my life. I’d never loved anyone struggling with addiction, but now I can look back and say- I did love an addict and it was hard, like really hard. There’s no instruction booklet, no magic words to handle these situations or lessen the pain felt by those struggling.
After learning of his struggles, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I saw something more in him that he didn’t yet see in himself. His addiction didn’t define who he was. He was funny, intelligent, caring and adventurous. That’s who he was-not his disease. But as time went on and I continued to support him in working towards recovery, I soon realized that he had to want to do it for himself. At first, I really did think that I could be the one to save him-and was I ever wrong. Eventually everything I had researched on addiction came true. He began lying and stealing from those who loved him. Over our relationship he went to treatment 2, almost 3 times. When I saw him again after each relapse, I didn’t yell at him, shame him, or question him. All I did was let him know that I was still there and his slip didn’t define him. Nobody knew at first because I didn’t know how to tell my friends and family what was going on. I knew they wouldn’t understand. I finally had to let go after awhile, because my presence and being there to catch him each time he fell clearly wasn’t working.
We went through questionable moments, heartaches and sleepless nights, but also had a lot of positive experiences and laughs-we definitely were in love. He always encouraged me to be better, saying I could do anything I set my mind to-and I always tried to do the same for him. So leaving him was difficult to say the least. Words can’t explain what it feels like to know someone you love is struggling and can be so much better than they are at that moment. A person shouldn’t be defined by what they are addicted to.
I will never know what it feels like “physically” to be an addict to drugs or alcohol, but I will constantly try to help people that are. No one is alone.