Happy hopping and welcome! My theme for the Challenge is addiction because both my hubby and I are recovering addicts. No worries though. I like to keep things fairly light even when dealing with a heavy topic like this one. Want a glimpse into my world of cocaine addiction? Listen to Metallica’s, Master of Puppets. If that’s too heavy, you can try Staind, It's Been Awhile instead. Much more mellow.
Day four of the Challenge and we’re still rockin’ and rollin’! Let’s do this, party people! Today’s topic is bittersweet for me. I decided to make “D” both Denial and Disclosure because when you go through disclosure, there ain’t no more denying there’s a problem. Had it not been for disclosure, I wouldn't be where I am today, so as painful as it was, I'm grateful it happened. That wasn't always the case though.
Let’s start with my addiction first because I’m holding myself accountable to what I promised to do: Face My Fears. So, I’ll take one of those deep breaths I’m so fond of and share about my denial because I think it may help partners understand an addict’s thinking while they’re in the grips of their disease.
I was a functioning addict. Mostly functioning addict. I started doing coke when I was seventeen and moved out of my house less than a month later. Soon, I was living in what we called a flophouse, but what is now called a trap house, with my dealer. To me, it was a sweet deal. No rent, no utilities, all drugs paid.
I went to college…on most days, and when it looked like I was going to fail, I manipulated my father into having our family doctor write a note for me. Because, you know, migraines caused excessive absences. Not staying up doing an eight ball. Although it does make us great at math. Or it did. I can't solve anything mathmatical these days.
I felt I wasn’t an addict. I went to school after all. The people I encountered at the dealer’s, well they freebased. Not me. I knew it was dangerous and saw people OD countless times. I never did. You can pass that pipe right on down boys and girls, I’ll take the mirror. Pure as the driven snow, as they say. Plus, they got super cranky when it was all out. I got irritable, for sure, but they got vicious. Who wants to party around that nonsense? Not this chick.
I also didn’t boot, which was a way for “them” to get high via injection by tying off and bringing their blood back into the needle. Fun to watch but highly dangerous, so um, no. I’ll take that mirror, pile of blow, and rolled up dollar bill, for $280, Alex.
So, to me and my judging self, those people who wandered in and out of my dealer’s bedroom and stayed for days or got kicked out because they ran out of money, they were the addicts. Not me. I didn’t get kicked out. Sure I got high every day and jonesed like crazy when I didn't get a fix, oh and yeah the dealer had me clean, cook, and run up to the drug paraphernalia store every other day and do some other tasks, but no, I wasn’t an addict because I wasn’t as “bad as they were.” Besides, he had other people do that stuff too so I could get my homework done. Justification at it's finest folks.
When it came to my husband’s addiction, those rose-colored glasses I bought, and yes I really did own a pair (see Ozzy), came in quite handy. I was in such deep denial, it’s amazing he and I didn’t drown in a sea of pornography.
Much like me, he was unable to see that he had a problem. We were both raised in the age of Cinemax. While his home was a bit more conservative than mine, we both had the belief (or at least I thought “we” did), that a little porn in the bedroom was okay. It was just a way to spice things up.
Then I noticed no matter how much spice was being added, it wasn’t getting hot. No sauna. Heck, not even a tepid bath. Yet, it felt like whenever I walked into the bedroom, there he was, looking at pornography.
First came the excuses. “I was looking at it for us.” Then came the lies. “I wasn’t looking at anything.” Then came the secrecy. Up all hours at night, isolating himself on the weekends, until it was bleeding into his time at work too.
For several years, I pleaded with him to stop and he would white-knuckle it. For a short time only to go right back. Then I’d make some kind of a threat and he’d stop again. We were stuck in this unhealthy loop of a mess.
Both of us deep in denial of how bad things in our relationship truly were. It wasn’t only the pornography. It was the communication, the feeling of walking on eggshells, the constant disharmony. We wanted it to end.
I prayed to God every night, “Please God show me what I need to do.” For months and months and months. I felt like I had no answer. I felt so abandoned by a God I loved so much. Then, I changed my prayer. “God, please give me the strength to do whatever I need to do and let me know I’ll be okay no matter what happens.”
God delivered. My first disclosure was an “easy” one. An online affair. We muddled our way through and I knew by the Grace of God that I’d be okay. A woman I met on the Internet suggested that perhaps my hubby was a sex addict. A suggestion I quickly denied, because you know, my husband wasn’t as “bad” as her husband. Sound familiar?
A few months later, my second disclosure happened. The amount of pornography on his computer was jaw-dropping but it paled in comparison to what I would find out in the coming days: adult websites, webcams, dozens of online affairs, and two physical affairs. Um, lady on the Internet, it seems I owe you an apology. (One I was able to give a few years later along with a big thank you!)
Trigger warning over
There was no way either one of us could deny our way out the addiction anymore. If it had a hand, it didn’t slap us in the face, it full on punched us, then threw us on the ground and shook us for good measure. This addiction shall not be ignored, even when the one addicted is trying their best to pretend it's not there, those that love them are feeling the effects.
Allow me a serious side note to partners and addicts:
I was absolutely traumatized by what I was told during disclosure. It caused me betrayal trauma; anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance, anger, triggers. I was one hot mess. For a year and a half. It took counseling, reaching out to others, and hard work for me to put myself back together again. So, if you’re an addict reading this (thank you!), please be gentle with your partner as you disclose and if they ask for it to be done in a professional setting, please give them that courtesy. Partners, I hope that you will give yourself the gift of time to heal. Be patient with yourself. This is some tough stuff to “hurry up and get over”. You’re not alone, so please don’t be afraid to reach out to support groups. S-Anon, COSA, Bloom, are some places you can get started.
Laugh of the day: “I’m even in denial about the fact that I’m in therapy. I’ve just convinced myself there’s a friend that I see once a week, and then I lend her $90 and she never pays me back.” Caroline Rhea
Second Laugh of the day because it was just too funny to pass up when I was doing my search on pictures of trap houses. If you want a good chuckle on how dumb people can be, click on the picture:
Did you ever own Ozzy’s glasses? C’mon, be honest. Do you know anyone in denial? Do you have a joke about d’nile?
To celebrate the A to Z Challenge my self-help book, Steps Along My Shore will be free until midnight tomorrow. Don't miss out on all my dropped words and poor grammar!
I look forward to seeing everyone during the Challenge! Click here to get to the master list sign up sheet. I'll see you all this afternoon