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August 21, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Hard Knocks

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His addiction effects me!

Question:

I came from a family of alcoholics and drug users; I fought hard to not let myself get caught in it. Now I find myself married, (for 3 years) to a man who drinks daily, he also had a bad problem with cocaine years ago. Now I find he has slipped again - supposedly just the once. The very same night he slipped I explained, (as I did before we married) that doing drugs was a deal breaker.

Now if he is 30 minutes late my mind races. He is often very late without calling; he says he would rather deal with a lashing when he gets home instead of the phone discussion. I believe he has not been doing drugs and I love him. Should I just start living my own life with new interests to keep me from ruminating over it, or should have an escape plan?

jacks (32 year-old woman) from New York

Answer:

Hi jacks,

The very first thing that I'd advise is that you begin basing every decision you make on your own sense of what is most beneficial to you. Coming from a family background of chemical dependency may be both an asset and a liability in this current life situation. You are probably not likely to be easily hoodwinked or conned. While you may desperately want to believe that your husband is not using, your "gut" will probably be your most reliable informant, so trust your instincts. On the other hand, if your family experience was typical of most families with chemical abuse and dependence, you may not have received much instruction, if any, on the how-to's of accessing, listening to, and following your inner guidance system. There are many impediments to learning this skill in a chemically dependent family. First of all, if parents of caretakers possess this skill, they are often so pre-occupied and distracted by the addiction drama that they do not effectively teach it to their children. Secondly, in order for a child to adapt to the unpredictability and distortion of boundaries that exist in a family of this type, it is perfectly natural, even healthy and self-preserving, to take on psychological defenses that promote having a sensitive external "warning system". This can become a problem for the child later in life when, as an adult, that external warning system is relied upon exclusively to the complete omission of cues based on internal logic and self-promoting coping skills.

The good news is as follows: You can learn these skills. They are entirely teachable with little difficulty to anyone who sincerely desires to learn them. You can learn these skills regardless of the sobriety status of your spouse. You can stay in the marriage and learn them. Conversely, you can leave the relationship and still learn them. The bad news is that your husband may be using and lying to you. Or he may be clean and you are off base (this is possible but not probable). Either way, there is nothing you can do to stop him from using if he wants to do it. However, take heart - if he really sincerely wants to be clean and sober, nothing can make him choose to use.

The healthiest action you could possibly take right now is to make a commitment to yourself to begin scrutinizing yourself. This means noticing your own moods and energy levels, your own wants and needs, your own sense of what is beneficial and detrimental for you, independent of your husband and his behavior. Learn to know yourself. You can do this no matter what actions you take in your marriage. There is nothing more potentially enlightening and clarifying for you than this.

Bottom line - It matters less whether you stay or go than whether you choose to get caught up in the drama of the addictive process or devote your time and energy to developing a relationship with yourself. If you do the latter, the rest will fall into place.

Melanie Fisher, L.S.W

This question was answered by Melanie Fisher, L.S.W, A.C.S.W, she is a licensed social worker and professional psychotherapist in private practice in Pennsylvania. Trained and experienced in clinical social work, she uses the theoretical framework of attachment theory, object relations and ego-psychology. Her specialty areas include mood disorders, family dynamics, relationships and addictions.

For more information visit the site or contact information page on QueenDom.

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