Saturday, July 6, 2013

Addiction From a Girlfriend's Perspective: To Stay or Go?

Today I woke up to everything I needed to hear.

In my inbox there was a message from an old friend saying my writing has encouraged him to finally come clean to his girlfriend about his addiction. He told me that the way I've processed things showed that "there's compassion and love for people like me from people like you."

I started to cry. First because I was so proud, and second because I was so happy that even with all the questioning I've done, it's still clear that I love and forgive Blake.

At times I feel like I am betraying him by exposing the things I have, but when I've asked myself "Is this helpful? Would this make Blake proud?" I have always been able to answer yes to both of those questions. Although I'm sure Blake would want everyone to think highly of him and who he was, I hope that finding out about his addiction doesn't change that. If anything, I know he would want his death to act as a way of him helping others, since he was always doing that in life. Without a doubt if he knew that his death could serve as a wake up call to his friends or even strangers, he would want me to share his story and my experience in a heart beat.

The friend that messaged told me that he wanted to tell his girlfriend about his addiction, "in such a way that she'll stay with me and still love me even when knowing me fully. I'm terrified, but I know it's the right thing to do." Although there is no way to guarantee that she won't break up with him, I gave him my best advice:

"Honestly, I would've stayed with Blake had he told me and made it clear that he knew he had a problem and was willing to completely surrender to treatment. When he went to rehab the first time, he came out going to meetings less and less frequently and still drinking alcohol and smoking weed. Although at the time I didn't think that was a big deal, I know now that was a sign of him not taking his addiction seriously."

I truly believe a person can recover from addiction. I know it's possible. However, sobriety cannot be taken lightly. In my very limited experience with the subject, I've come to learn that addiction is a life-long battle and needs to be treated as such. Just because you get clean and finish rehab doesn't mean you're cured.

Does a girlfriend or wife want to spend the rest of her life worrying about a relapse? Never fully trusting her partner? Always looking for warning signs? It's definitely possible I would've signed up for a life like that, but only if I was 100% sure of two things:
1) He knew he had a serious, life-threatening problem
2) He was willing to do everything in his power (including getting help when things were beyond his power) to stay sober for the rest of his life

Love makes you do crazy things that don't make sense to other people, even walking away from someone who you are completely in love with. I know I would've eventually had to make the choice to end our relationship if I was only even 90% sure of the two things.

Unfortunately, neither of the two things fully applied to Blake and that was what killed him. In the end, I never had to decide for myself if I wanted to stay or leave because his mindset and actions made the choice for me.

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