In the throes of grief

In November my wife left. A few days later I realized she had become addicted to prescription medication. I reached out to her, to her friends, to her family. I tried to get her to see and admit her addiction. As I would soon learn in Narcotics Anonymous, there was nothing I could do to help her. I practiced the program. I let go. I took care of me. I kept an open line of communication with her.

I shared with her that right now she needed a friend and I would be that to her. It was awful knowing she was taking the pills. I was scared for her but there was nothing I could do.

She left the state as many addicts do in the hope of a geographic cure. Later, she would tell me that she wanted to tell me "I'm an addict. Will you help me?" but she was too scared. I stayed in touch with her every day that she was in this new state. I took care of me. I took up running, ran my business, went out with friends. Still, she was always in the front of my mind and heart. I just wanted her home.

Six weeks later she called me and said "I'm an addict. I need help. Can I come home?" Of course, I said. I was scared for her, for what the addiction had done to her, for what she would have to go through to get clean and sober. I was scared for me. Could I do it? Could I live with a recovering addict, the mood swings, the distancing, the total focus on self? I decided I could.

I gave up my once or twice a month social drink, dove into my Nar-Anon program. She would go to her meetings, I would go to mine. We began focusing on the house again, taking care of projects that got lost and left behind in her addiction and in my reaction to her addiction.

I went to every chip meeting with her. We agreed to get to know each other again. We would take it slowly.

She would have days where she would withdraw emotionally. I didn't take those personally. I didn't have expectations or demands. I knew her first year would be difficult.

However, as we approached six months I could feel us slowly becoming roommates. The relationship offered me little. I paid her way. We spent some time together but mostly I still maintained my own separate life. She also seemed to be struggling more with doing life sober.

I went on a trip in the summer. When I came home she said she had bad news for me. She was living with me. She wanted an apartment on her own. I said ok. I asked what she was running from. Eventually she broke down into tears and said she was scared, anxious, she wasn't sure if she was in love with me any longer. I told her I knew and I didn't think I was in love with her the way I once had been. I said I felt that marriage goes through these stages and we had been through quite an ordeal this past year. We agreed to see a marriage counselor, once a month. Nothing too heavy, just new tools to rebuild our marriage.

In between we had great days. Day trips to the river. Hiking. Walking. Movies. Though it was uncomfortable because we were on new ground I felt we were slowly and steadily rebuilding trust.

I went on a trip a month later. When I returned she said she wasn't in love with me any longer and could never imagine being so again. I couldn't talk her through it this time. While I believe she is fighting through sobriety, mental health issues, and anxiety, what could I say?

She has been gone now for just shy of a month and I regret not fighting for our marriage. I wish I would have said, "Okay, no pressure. Let's take it a day at a time." All my friends were worried that I wasn't getting my needs met. They're all happy things have resolved and keep telling me I'll meet someone wonderful.

It is Labor Day weekend and I am alone on my deck while all my friends who are happy about this divorce are off with their spouses, having glorious weekends.

I feel I will regret this forever. Is this the grief talking or have I just lost the one person I love most in this world?

Comments for In the throes of grief

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Nov 03, 2009
Speak what you feel
by: Anonymous

You've been through a lot. I feel for you and I really admire the commitment you showed to your wife. It must be very hard to know you've "done the right things" and it still isn't a guarantee of love. But, you can still say what you feel, even if you're unsure of it, say you're unsure. If she can't hear it, at least you've said it and can slowly start to think about moving on. I hope you can be as kind and patient with yourself as you were and are with your wife.

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