Question: My man and I are constantly fighting. He’s a drug addict and he says I’m a nag. We’re 36 now, behaviors I thought would change after college haven’t and I don’t see an end here. But I don’t know who I am without him. And I don’t know who will look after him if I leave. I love him but I also know how unhealthy this is. What do I do? I know how annoying I can be, and he loves me anyway. Why can’t I figure out how to love all of him?
Answer: Loving an addict has to be one of the most difficult intimate relationships to have. Women are natural caregivers and most of us thrive at being one. At our core, humans love to feel like they are making a difference. Unfortunately for some women, this deep need to be needed can attract people who are toxic and not best for our higher self.
You fell in love in college. I went to college and I know firsthand that we all did a lot of things that are no longer acceptable as fully functioning adults. I tried a lot of drugs. Some were fun, some were not. But all belonged to an era meant for experimentation and God protecting children and fools…
For a moment, let’s leave the idea that it’s drugs. Let’s think about things that were acceptable in college. At 36 years old, what if it was, “My boyfriend still pees in the corner of his room when he’s drunk?” OR “My boyfriend still lives in a 2 bedroom, with 6 guys, using coffee filters as toilet paper?” At 36 these things are ridiculous. But because they are SO obviously dumb it’s easy to say, with confidence, that you would never continue to date this man.
When dating a drug addict, there is SO much tied into it. Most addicts become addicts to numb some internal pain. And because you are his woman, you probably know what all those tiny childhood triggers are and so you empathize. Dating an addict means the “highs” are amazing. He loves you, and dotes on you, and when high as kite probably rants and raves of his love for you. And when he’s crashing or, attempting, to withdraw it’s a nightmare and you love being the one to ease his pain. I can guarantee that after one of these lows he holds you tight and tells you how much he loves you for sticking by him. He tells you how great of a woman you are and, through no fault of your own, you are completely hooked back in.
You are NOT a nag and you are NOT annoying. What you are is a woman who has moments of clarity. And in those moments you call him on his shit and, as an addict, he is completely unable to see how it is HE that is the root of the problem.
An addict will always blame others. YOU are the one ruining his high, his good time, his ability to ignore his own faults…
Loving him is right. Getting him the help and support he needs is right. I won’t tell you to leave him, that’s a choice you have to make here. Many people recover from addiction and go on to lead perfectly healthy sober lives, and many people don’t. What I WILL tell you is, YES your relationship is toxic.… But YOU have done nothing wrong. You are only guilty of thinking you are all he needs. He needs rehabilitation. And you need to love yourself a little more. Get him in a program and then get yourself in one…Caregivers needs support too. The rest will fall into place… He will either stick with it or he won’t. He’s either going to spend his life in recovery or drag you down into his mess, but hopefully you will come to the realization quickly that loving yourself best is the answer to everything. That’s the only way to survive honey.