Somewhere along the way, I began to really examine this “illness” of being codependent. It sounds suspiciously like a person who loved another person to me. Not a weakness. A wound.
Last week I received a particularly hard Postcard from Hell from a young woman in Australia. She is just starting out on this particularly hellish journey, and her emails made me outright cry like a child. I won’t put her story on here without her permission, but I do want to put some advice for the other fresh recruits who are in pain over losing someone they love to meth. This is the email I sent her, and I hope it will help anyone who might find it. On the other side of anything this painful, you can’t help but gain a little wisdom, and I gained plenty, unfortunately.
I just finished reading your story, and whoa! Do you and I have some things in common!!
First, let me say that I live in the middle of nowhere with elderly relatives, and I don’t have the internet out there….yet. So, don’t feel like just because I’m not quick to respond that I have forgotten you. I haven’t. I feel like a few minutes on the internet at work for personal stuff is okay, but your problem isn’t a quick fix.
I wish I could say the pain is going to lessen soon, but I’m not going to lie to you. When I went through this, I felt like time
had decided to cruelly stop right in the worst part of my entire life and just left me there. I was embarrassed I couldn’t control my emotions; I was humiliated by being so easily fooled. After all, I was always considered to be so smart, and here I was, acting like an irrational idiot, begging this man doing horrible things to me, to our kids, to our friends, to come back to me. I hated how I kept finding excuses to spend time with him, even when each and every single moment spent with him was like hand-fulls of salt poured into fresh, bleeding wounds. My friends were supportive…at first. But soon, I could see in their faces the same look you see in a cornered animal. They were sick of hearing about this agony, and even though I was sick of talking about it, too, I couldn’t stop myself. I felt weak around my kids; I felt needy and pathetic around my husband; and I felt like a plain loser around my friends. Any of this sound familiar? 🙂
I know you found Satan’s Favorite Drug
, but did you also read The Devil Made Him Do It
? I wrote the first one about two months after I left Chef, and the other one I wrote last year. There is a very big difference in my perspective, given the little amount of time and healing that has taken place.
So. Let’s start cleaning wounds, shall we?
1. You are not pathetic because you are finding all of this unbearable. You keep looking to him to revert back to the guy
you loved. You have given him your heart, and just because all of this stuff has happened, doesn’t mean you can just take your heart right back. You can’t. We give our hearts away, and there is no Indian-Giving when it comes to truly loving another person. You still love him. Love endures all. It never fails. And it never truly dies, either. Accept that you loved him so much that it is literally making you feel crazy with pain. That is no poor reflection on you at all. It shows only the depth of loving him, and it was DEEP.
2. Cut yourself a huge break about being codependent. I had a hard time with this one because I’m also a person who has to struggle with pride, and I thought I was “better” than this. Uh. No. I had lived my entire adult life with this man, and I didn’t know how to live without him. I used every reason in the book to just be in his moody, mean, twitchy, tweaker presence. We’d fight, of course. I would cry. I’d drive home, weeping the whole way, plus enjoying the added feeling of hating my own weak guts. Somewhere along the way, I began to really examine this “illness” of being codependent. It sounds suspiciously like a person who loved another person to me. Not a weakness. A wound.
3. You aren’t going to change him. Sadly, the promises he made, the truths you believed in your most intimate moments,
the dreams you guys had built together — they are all things of the past. It doesn’t mean he didn’t mean them when he said them, or that he didn’t truly want that life with you. It just means that he became sick, and that illness unfortunately has changed the way his mind works now. Very rarely do any of these people ever become the person they once were before. In fact, I can’t say I’ve heard of even once case of them being able to just go back to their lives, happy, trusted, and merely scratched by this kind of problem. There are no magic words that can make any of what has been done okay, excusable, understandable, or ignorable. You will eventually have to come to terms with a death. It’s the worst kind because his body is still here, haunting you. But your husband died when he became addicted to this drug, and only time is going to be able to help that kind of deep grief to heal. I’m so sorry to tell you this. But the sooner you begin to separate who he was from who he is, the easier all of this will begin to get.
4. Right now, you have GOT to spend time doing stuff. You need to set for yourself some kind of different routine so that
your mind can begin to heal. Don’t drive by places that remind you of what you just lost. Cut ties with mutual friends. Don’t call his mother, and unfriend him on your Facebook page. It is time to begin your own life, and as big a fan as I am of loving one another, I do not believe any one person is so magnificent and special that they are owed a sacrifice of another person’s own well-being. You had a man you loved, and who loved you. When he stopped being that man, he stopped deserving you. Tell yourself that a lot. Your sacrifice of happiness for him, while the stuff the greatest Hollywood tragedy stories are made of, have the disappointing reality of being completely unappreciated by him, as well as anyone else around. Don’t bother. Enjoy your life. You only get one.
I think this is a good place to stop. I want you to read this stuff, see what parts you can stand to try, what parts you can’t yet, and then write me back in a week and tell me how you did. I don’t care if you fell on your face on every single account. This isn’t a test you can pass or fail. It is an effort to teach you how to not drown in the pain, and it takes time. Lots and lots of time. You are a brave woman. Truly loving another person is the most courageous thing we can possibly do in our lives. It leaves us exposed and vulnerable, our hearts in the hands of people who are flawed.
I hope to hear from you soon, my sister. You can make it through this. I promise, it won’t always hurt so much.