Before I married my husband, I never saw him drunk. We married when I was 23 and he was 21 and just about to graduate from Denison University. When we were dating, Steve had shared that although he had started drinking and using drugs when he was 13, he never wanted to be like his own alcoholic father.
During the second year of our marriage, Steve started coming home from work and giving me a glassy-eyed, hollow stare that pierced my soul. I would ask him what was wrong but he would just stare at me. I wanted to help him but I had no idea what to do, because I didn’t know what was wrong.
In the third year of our marriage, I started coming home from work and finding Steve passed out on the dining room floor. This became a regular occurrence. I would move out of the house for a while and live with friends and then go back home. I was so naive and I kept thinking, If I just love him enough, he will stop drinking.
After having two children, Steve did stop drinking for seven years, with two slips. After that, he began to drink again. I’d be standing in a snowstorm at the train station waiting for him to pick me up from work, and he’d be passed out at home, or he’d show up drunk at our son’s Boy Scout meetings. He would say things to our son and daughter that were emotionally scarring. He repeatedly said he wouldn’t drink and he repeatedly broke that promise. I was exhausted and emotionally drained.
Steve functioned for a long time. However, addiction is a progressive disease, and when left untreated, much like any other disease, it is debilitating. He went from being a successful vice president who traveled the world to eventually living out of his car.
After 34 years of marriage, we divorced six years ago. Our family still deals with the consequences of addiction and we grieve for what could have been for our family. We grieve the loss of a husband and father who could not stay sober.
My story is not uncommon. One out of three families are impacted by a loved one’s addiction – it touches the lives of all family members and it’s important for everyone to seek help. Al-Anon and Alateen provide support for family members, and school counselors and physicians are there to help direct you. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
It takes time and commitment to heal from the effects of addiction. If you are living with someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is so important that you take care of yourself. They may not get better but you can recover and heal.
This article was written by Terry Budlong, MCCA Director of Prevention Services and Co–Chair for STMAD. The goal of prevention services in Danbury is to help keep youth safe through education. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit standtogetherdanbury.org. Follow us on face book at facebook.com/STMAD.Danbury or on Instagram @stmaddanbury.