The Junky's Wife's reflection on discovering her husband's addiction
Something wasn't right. I couldn't tell you exactly what it was, but it was something. My husband just seemed not to be himself. He was oddly absent, almost as if all the lights had gone out in him.
There were other things, too. We'd been married for less than a year, and our relationship had always been marked by romance. Slowly, I felt my husband receding from me.
He was having a hard time working, too. He'd been faithful to pay his portion of our household expenses, but suddenly, he couldn't make enough money to sustain even a small portion of the bills. At the same time, we'd been hunting for a house.
We'd been splitting rent on a 1-bedroom apartment, but we were ready to start thinking about having children. We had a little puppy, too, and we wanted to give her a backyard so she could run. We'd shopped for a few months, and finally found the perfect little house. It had a huge backyard for our dog, and it had a room upstairs that we knew would be our baby's nursery eventually. It also had a loft space that we could use for a writing and art studio, which was something we'd dreamed of sharing. The price was right…it would be almost double what we were paying in rent, but split between the two of us, we knew we could make it work.
We closed on the house in mid-February. My husband's odd behavior had been going on for a few months, and I'd made up several excuses to explain what was going on with him. He must be depressed. Maybe the pressure of having a wife and talking about children and buying a house was too much for him. Maybe we were moving too fast.
One night after we'd moved into the house, we had a huge fight. My husband had asked me to borrow some money, and I told him that I was concerned because I felt a bit like I was hemorrhaging money in his direction. He'd not been living up to his financial obligations in our marriage, and with the additional expenses of our new mortgage, I was afraid that I wasn't going to be able to make ends meet. I asked him where the money was going, and he blew up at me.
Generally, my husband is a level-headed man, but he really went nuts that evening. He yelled and stormed around the house, and he evaded the questions about money. "Are you accusing me of something?" he kept shouting. I didn't know how to respond.
He left, and I sat on the floor for a few minutes, somewhat stunned in the silence. I didn't understand what was happening.
Our puppy had gotten herself behind our couch, and I realized that she was tearing up a toy she'd dragged back there. I pushed the couch out from the wall to stop her, and something tucked under the couch caught my eye. It was a spoon. It was out of place, and I picked it up. It was burned. I pushed the couch further, and there was a syringe in a plastic bag.
Oh. I thought. It all makes sense now.
I realized that my husband had been using. It made all his behavior make sense, and it gave me a feeling of relief in the moment. It wasn't my fault. It wasn't anything I'd done. It didn't mean that he didn't love me.
I knew that he'd had serious problems with drugs in the past, even though heroin was new, and as a younger woman, I'd experiment with heavy drugs myself. Although I was not naive to the drug world, I was naïve to addiction. When I'd decided that it was time to stop doing drugs, I quit. I put it down, and I never went back. I assumed that my husband would do the same thing. I'd simply explain to him how much his behavior was hurting me, and he'd stop using. He'd get back to work again, and we'd resume our sweet, happy life.
It didn't work that way for my husband, though. He came home later than night, and I held him and told him how much I loved him, but that he couldn't keep using if we were going to stay married. He made all kinds of promises that he couldn't keep, and I made all kinds of promises, ultimatums, and boundaries that I wasn't ready to uphold.
That night began our adventure in addiction, and while it was one of the hardest of my life, I don't regret it. Soon after that night, I found the fellowship of Nar-Anon, where I met true friends, found God, and found the source of strength I would need to be able to be a true support to my husband. A few weeks later, I started my blog, TheJunkysWife.com , in an effort to heal myself through sharing my story and my recovery. Through that blog, I met some of the best people I've ever known – other women struggling with the addictions of their partners and loved ones – and as painful as the last few years have been, I wouldn’t give them up for anything. Eventually, I founded JunkiesWivesClub.com, a network for the family members of addicts and alcoholics, which is a thriving community with over 1,000 members to date.
It's been over 4 years since that night. My husband is approaching 90 days clean, and for the first time, he is recovering in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous with a sponsor. He has completed two stints in rehab in the last few months, and I sincerely hope that he has hit a bottom that hurt him badly enough for this attempt at recovery to stick. He is not perfect, and neither am I, but through sticking closely to the people I've met in recovery and working the 12 steps. with a sponsor in Nar-Anon, I am able to love him well while taking care of myself well. I am going to be ok, no matter what, and I trust that my husband will, too.
Junkyswife is a pseudonym for a loving wife of a recovering heroin addict. During her husband's active addiction, she created her online journal about her relationship struggles and has helped countless others through her inspiring honesty. While Junkyswife.com is still functional, most of JW’s efforts now go into raising awareness and support via her online community, JunkiesWivesClub.com. You can join her here.