Addiction. Ugh. I hate this topic, and yet it's something that I am passionate to talk about. Have I ever been addicted to something in a life threatening way? Maybe. My addiction to my alcoholic husband may not have ended my life, but it definitely dashed my hopes, destroyed my dreams, and changed me in ways that I can never get back.
I still, look at the bottles of alcohol in the fridge and take a mental note of how much in there. Want proof? About 6 months ago, I went into the garage fridge to get a soda. I do this, about 5-10 times of day, depending on the day. We keep the soda and the alcohol in the garage. I went in there, and not even realizing that I was looking, the Captain Morgan bottle looked lower. I could not remember having looked at it when I was in there two hours earlier, but I knew it was lower. Panic spread over me. That sinking feeling in my chest- the cold in my upper arms- the tightening of my throat. I started at it for a few minutes, and then I closed the fridge.
I went to the office and asked SR. Did you have a drink today? He pointed at his glass. Right in front of him.
"Yes I poured this an hour ago."
So even now, it effects me. It is still in my nature to pick up a glass and smell or taste it. This is one of the reasons I am actually GLAD that SR drinks from the can because random glasses laying around will cause me panic. An empty glass where there should not be one? Like the bathroom- can stop me cold.
I bring this up because I saw a video this morning that I've seen before. Actor Matthew Perry suffered from the same thing my late husband did. Alcoholism that turned to pancreatitis that turned to addiction to pain pills. At the end of season 5, Chandler is heavier than he was at the beginning of season 6. In season 6 he is very thin, and you can almost hear it in his voice- that narcotic slur. It's slight, but I recognized it immediately. In this video, he is talking to someone who is basically saying that addiction is a choice. That the "supposedly addicted person" could have decided to not drink again. Just made that choice.
I know that some people can. Some people can see that there is a problem in their behavior and just stop. It happens. For the millions of people it doesn't happen for, I don't believe they can just decide and stop.
I believe that addiction is a disease. It's an insanity. How do I know? Because I lived it. I watched it. I buried it.
There were many things I didn't know about my husband. Many secrets, many things I choose not to see. I admit that I was not always helpful. I was enabling, I was manipulative, I was mean. I admit that. However, I KNEW my husband. I knew that he loved me, and he loved our children. I also eventually knew that love wasn't enough and I had to chose me and the children over him. I may never EVER get over the fact that I could not love him enough to make him better, to make him "decide" to stop. It's so much easier to blame myself- I still do it often.
Did he choose to be an addict? No. He chose to take the first drink. The first pill. The first, whatever. He chose that. He chose to not seek the help that was offered to him again and again. He didn't choose to be addicted. He didn't choose to be broken. Sure, the argument can, and has and will continue to be made that his choice not to take help WAS his choice to continue his behavior. The argument can be made that each time he got "clean," he choose to drink or drug again.
This is where, for me, I do and have to believe in the insanity of addiction. True to life insanity. If I believe he loved me, which I do- and if I believe he loved our kids, which I do- then I have to believe that NO SANE PERSON would choose to put our family through what we went through. He wasn't a sociopath. He wasn't cold, or apathetic. He was one of the most empathetic loving people I have ever known. He was the guy who gave strangers rides on hot days. He was the guy who sat with a dog who had been hit by a car and talked to it while it died. He was the guy who, when we were still living together and the guy I had been seeing (yes he knew about it) broke up with me, came into the bathroom, saw me lying on the floor crying, came in, picked me up and carried me to bed- even though it broke his heart to do so.
He didn't choose to have a disease that tore his family apart. He didn't choose to behave in the activity that would leave his kids without a father. I will never believe that. I can't. I support those who struggle with this disease. I applaud the efforts and the work they do to help themselves and others. I am always encouraged when I see people post about how many days, months or years they have been sober. My heart breaks for those who fall off the wagon. My heart aches, a deep hard, crushing ache, for those loved ones who can do nothing but worry, and cry, and sometimes leave. I empathize with those who scream, bully and manipulate their addict in an attempt to sober them up.
I really do. I believe that addiction is NOT a choice. I believe that no sane person would put their family through hell. I believe that he could have been saved, but he was too far gone. There was too much against him mentally and physically. I believe that his passing, while tragic, was a bittersweet blessing.
Some days I am still angry at him, but I will never believe that he chose to be an addict.