Friday, May 4, 2012

Closure, maybe?

For many years I felt that DH had a bit of a double life. I've interpreted it more recently as a split personality, because he never followed the patterns I'd expect from someone with a real double life. But his behavior can change so radically at times. And when that other personality comes out, that's when we have our deepest conversations; so it's very frustrating that his "regular" self seems to have little or no memory of what I say to his "other" self. For a long time I assumed he was lying and the lack of memory was his excuse for ignoring me.

This month he is celebrating 6 months in successful treatment. Methadone has many down sides, but it has for the most part kept that "other" personality at bay. On occasion, however, that person I hate still comes out, and in the past I have always believed that was his junkie self.

I didn't come by that conclusion lightly. I can tell you the day it happened. The day I became a controlling wife instead of waiting for him to step up and be a partner. I'm not naturally a leader. I don't want to lead. I wanted to be his helpmeet, in the truest sense of the word. Not a servant helper, but a team member. Yet he seemed to think I had everything under control just fine and he was free to do whatever he wished, as long as he spent his nights with me. I knew he was using drugs from the time he entered college. (Actually it began much earlier, but I didn't know that.) However, I knew nothing about drugs. They were a non-issue in my isolated upbringing. Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, tattoos, piercing; same difference. All things that God told us not to do because our bodies are His temple and we have no right to damage them. I knew they were illegal because he was so sly about obtaining them, but nothing about why or the consequences if he were caught until I began to use the internet later. Besides, it's illegal to drive without a license, too; yet I did that for years because I couldn't get one without a social security number, and my parents didn't want us to have them. (Long story, not for this post.)

Alcohol was my big concern, because my mother's father came from an alcoholic moonshiner family, and there was a long history of violence and abuse there. So I was constantly on him about his drinking. But the drugs I wasn't sure how to handle. I just wouldn't let him smoke in the house. Since he spent most of his spare time either at home, or with his obsessive weirdo friend, who would never have allowed his attention to wander away for long, I knew that he couldn't be cheating on me. At least, not regularly and with the same person. Yet he seemed to be hiding from me constantly. I knew it had something to do with his phone, because he was ALWAYS on it. I never looked at his phone; I felt that was a violation of his privacy, and I was embarrassed to ask. But the knowledge that something was very wrong grew until I couldn't justify not looking.

One day he took a shower and left it on the kitchen counter. I picked it up, feeling like a low dirty rat for snooping, telling myself there was no way he was cheating and what else could I really hope to find? But I had to know.

I was floored by what I saw. He must have had 60+ text messages in the memory, all of them seemingly related to drugs. Buying, selling, meeting, or trading. And that was the day I realized what the word "addiction" really meant. This bad habit of his had engulfed his entire life. I told him what I'd found when he got out, and he immediately erased all the memory and has done so habitually ever since. Of course he claimed I was overreacting, too. But I knew better. And that day I decided that what he actually needed me to be was a guardian. Someone to help him fight this beast by watching and criticizing every move he made. I truly believed that would solve the problem and bring us our "happily ever after."

Of course, I was wrong. My new role did nothing to improve our relationship. But now I had an explanation for this strange behavior I'd never seen in him before. Was my kind, gentle sweetheart acting aggressive and crude? He must be high. Was the hurt and sadness replaced by rage behind those beautiful dark eyes? Was he being pushy and obnoxious instead of withdrawn? Well he must be high. Was he making up ridiculous and far-fetched stories to account for problems or absences? It was definitely drugs. That there might be another explanation never occurred to me.

As I learned more about depression and PTSD, I began to interpret some of it in that light. But there were still things that didn't add up. He's a good liar, but I'm very empathic. And he usually managed to confuse me, but rarely convince me. Mostly I'd just pretend I believed him after a while because I recognized the argument as futile.

Lately I've chalked it up to a split personality. For various reasons I'll go into later, I've been trying to evaluate our relationship at its current level, and the prospect hasn't been encouraging. He's doing all the things I insisted were necessary. He's stayed in the program, he started a real job and has been supporting us at a sustainable level, he's begun interacting with the boys like a parent instead of being that guy on the sofa. He's quit hounding me for sex constantly to the point that I literally can't sleep at night. (Actually, all I really needed for that was to put my foot down firmly, something I never thought was "right" to do as a wife.) He's never been violent towards me, although I've always known he had it in him and could see it at times in his eyes. He always walked away when it got to that point. Deciding we are incompatible after eleven years and three children seems a bit, well, unreasonable.

Still, there was that other person in there who never really interacted with us. Whom, quite frankly, I hated. And I started to seriously wonder if that person was with us for good. Maybe he had other outlets for that raging, cutthroat side of him that I never saw. Maybe the drugs - or, as I later began to understand, the craving - didn't create that person, just made it harder for him to hide. If so, could I learn to live with him? Especially if he kept hiding from me and refusing to be a part of our lives. Do I want him to be part of our lives? The answer is a definite NO. But I can't live with half a person either.

So I have been thinking about a lot of things lately. And the other night, he said we needed to talk about something. I wasn't sure what to expect, but after the boys went to bed I sat with him for a while. It took him a long time to start talking, and when he finally did, it wasn't anything I would have predicted or expected.

Only once before has he told me something I could never tell anyone, even anonymously. And this makes two. Which is hard for me. I have wondered lately if being a counselor is really right for me, since I feel the need to talk about things in order to prevent absorbing the PTSD myself, something I know has happened to me with DH. But this certainly explains a lot that I still didn't understand.

I'm not quite sure where it leaves us, since I suppose bringing together those two people he has tried to be separately will have repercussions. I'm a little bit worried that we may not be able to stay together after all. That he may become more aggressive and belligerent, and I may realize that I can't live with this person I pushed him so hard to reveal. But I've just been watching and waiting and trying to reserve judgment for the past few days, and things seem to be getting better. I would love to believe it will stay that way. That this will be the start of a more complete life together. May God grant it.


  1. Peace and sympathy to you, sister in suffering. Feel free to drop by my blog, or email me.

    My husband suffers from depression and PTSD. Somedays I am not sure we will make it. EMDR is helping tremendously with my husband's PTSD, which I believe is responsible for his apparent dual personality. But every time a new trigger hits, I wonder if we will make it.

    And he doesn't have an addiction to deal with at the same time. That is a lot of problem for a family to get through. *sigh*

    I myself have been in EMDR counseling for a year, after many other years of ACoA and short term CBT therapy sessions now and then. I recommend therapy for YOU. It is a lot to be the sober parent and (not trying to hurt you, but it sounds to me like you are)the victim of domestic abuse. You are also mothering your children, who are living with all this chaos, and the unpredictable emotional abuse of their mother.

    Counseling can help you be strong for yourself and for them. It will help you see other options, from short term DAPP "time outs" to separations as needed. It doesn't need to be all or nothing; live together every hour of every day or divorce.

    Peace and good will to you. I get where you are.