I desperately wish I didn’t know what it was like to love someone with an active drug addiction. But the fact of the matter is that I do.
I know what it’s like to be overwrought with fear and hopelessness, to fall asleep terrified of their future, to wake up and not be able to think of anything else. To wonder where they are, to think of them when it’s snowing out and desperately hope they’re sleeping somewhere warm and safe.
Then there’s the all-consuming reality of one of your most cherished people being an addict. You think about them constantly, you wonder where they are, if they’re using, if they’re safe, if they’re alive. You pray that if something awful happened that their partner would find out and have the bravery to tell you. Your loved one’s addiction seeps into your own soul and clouds how you move through the world.
And it’s soul crushingly terrifying. It’s bleak. It’s the quiet terror that every time you see your loved one it’s going to be the last time. It’s seeing them wear a sweatshirt in 90° F degree weather to hide some combination of track marks and how skinny they’ve gotten.
It’s being in the car and noticing that your once strong beloved’s thighs are roughly as big as your very average sized calves and not letting them see that your heart is breaking as you remember the time they maneuvered your stupid, huge couch into your little walk-up apartment. Sure, they were as angry as you’d ever seen them while they were doing it, and they needed help, but they got it done.
Then there’s the agony of loneliness that seeps into everything you do that they’re not a part of. Not being able to tell them when your grandma dies because they’re in rehab, not getting to tell them about your day, good, bad or mundane. Not telling them about why you liked the books more than the movies, no matter how incredible casting was.
But you take a deep breath and go on with your day. You wander through life. You hope they’re okay. You hope they’re trying to gain long-term sobriety. You know that as long as they’re alive, there’s hope. You just continue to love them and hope they’ll be okay, that you’ll get to see them healthy again.
While you’re doing all of this, you can’t forget to take care of yourself.
Form good habits. Tend to other relationships. Learn new things. Set boundaries. Eat well, and sleep the best you can. Remember their addiction is about them, not you.
It just might be okay.
Don’t give up hope, but don’t relinquish your sense of self. And keep going. Day by day, moment by moment.
Andrea Johnson is an addiction recovery supporter and blogger who can be found at surprisinginglyeffindomestic.com.
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