The past couple of days I've been meditating on Addiction. Sounds strange, I know.
Brian and I had more in common these past few years than I realized.
Whether your addiction is to drugs/substance, a person or a relationship... It is still an addiction.
My addiction was thinking I could change the unchangeable. I was addicted to an illusion. A situation that had no hope. But me, being the stubborn, trusting person I was, I thought I could make a difference.
The first question I get from many people, as do other Survivors, is "Why did you stay?". Well, the answer isn't so simple as, "I stayed b/c..." There are many reasons DV victims stay in their situation. No matter what reason one gives, the bottom line is fear. Fear of not being able to make it on one's own. Fear of what their partner may do if they try to leave. Fear of the repercussions if they do leave. Fear of what the future holds.
Personally, my addiction was thinking I could change him. I stayed b/c I thought if I could just love harder, work harder, give more and he would change. He would see the problem and make a genuine effort to fix it. Alas, that was not the case.
It is easy to get addicted to the high of intermittent approval. Little gestures of "appreciation," like token gifts, a kiss from nowhere, a smile, a 'good' day. But those are simply methods to keep you in the situation. The bottom line is, the relationship is an illusion based on control and manipulation.
I've oftentimes wanted so strongly to believe that he meant it when he said he loved me. But you don't destroy, lie to or cheat on those you love.
An apt Johnny Depp quote comes to mind,
"If you love two people at the same time, choose the second. Because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn't have fallen for the second."
In my case (I found out -- er, it was confirmed after the fact), there was a second, third, fourth, fifth, and on and on... There were more women than I had imagined. And sadly, few knew about the others. And the ones who DID know didn't care b/c of all the lies and stories they'd been told. I was the stalker. I was the one who couldn't let go. And I'm sure the same was said of the countless others who had been left in the dark thinking they were the only one and who had acted accordingly.
But as I said in my previous post, when everything is held together with lies, it falls apart at the seams VERY quickly.
Like Brian, I had an addiction. I was addicted to the illusion, or ideal -- if you will, of who I thought he was and what I thought we had. But when the mask dropped, I realized it wasn't real. And when it all came undone, he accused ME of being the toxic one. The cheater. The liar. The thief. Blah blah blah... I knew then it was time to go.
It is easy to get caught up. The adage that addiction is rooted in pain is TRUE. Realizing everything was a lie shook me to my core. It was like my heart had been ripped from my chest and stomped on before my eyes.
But once you realize you have a problem (not to sound cliche) it is essential to come to terms with it and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I refused to stay in a violent situation that was detrimental to my well-being. And as much as it hurt, I fought through the second thoughts, the temptation to make contact. And with time, all those urges faded. And the pain I'd endured the previous 2+ years began to ease.
As I sit here today, the pain is STILL real. It still aches from time to time. I still mourn. But I know that onward and upward is the only way to go.
I know Brian went through similar trials. Wanting to quit. Wanting to get sober. But the temptation to return to old habits was too great. Especially, when everywhere he turned he saw things through the haze of his addiction.
Sadly, the difference is obvious. I escaped, am still dealing with, and am actively using my experience to help make positive change for others struggling with the same demons I battled while in my situation. Brian's killed him. As much as I hate to say it, I fear that had I not gotten out when I did, mine would have killed me, too.
Last fall, I began working with the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It took me a couple of years to work up the courage to admit the reality of what I had been through and to realize it was NOT my fault. I have since worked with other organizations, speaking and writing articles about my experience. Doing my best to try and educate women AND men about DV.
Time DOES heal. But I would be lying if I said that there aren't times when revisiting those wounds doesn't trigger me. Each and every day, I still do battle with PTSD and anxiety... All of which is rooted in the trauma I endured.
Grieving is a process, as we all know. There are stages. And YES I have gone through the anger stage while processing Brian's death. While processing the situation I left. A part of me is mad as hell about Brian's death. Livid about the hell I endured. Just PISSED all around about ALL of it.
It took many months of therapy to help me process what I'd been through. And I learned that anger is healthy. You have to feel your anger. You have to process it. And you have to let it go. That doesn't mean it won't raise its ugly head (oftentimes at the most inopportune moments), but you learn to cope in a healthy way.
Each day I take a few minutes to meditate on and send positive vibes out to those who are struggling in a DV relationship. To those struggling with addiction. To those who are suffering. I also do the same for my former abuser. Like Brian, he struggled with his own addictions... And there were many.
I pray that one day those who are struggling find the strength to face down their demons. To have the wherewithal and clarity to say, "I need help," and MEAN IT. And to have the support system that is so essential to recovery. Uttering the words, "I need help" is one thing. You have to mean it and follow through. Otherwise, it's just words. And you MUST follow through with action. Otherwise, it is meaningless.
Judging someone on their past actions is wrong. We ALL make mistakes. Holding said actions against them isn't any better. AGAIN, we ALL make mistakes. BUT when those actions CONTINUE to repeat themselves (especially when veiled in lies) it is time to step away because the person has made a conscious DECISION. And when it becomes toxic to you and your well-being you need to separate yourself. Toxicity of that nature is like fleas... The fuckers jump. And whether you like it or not, you WILL begin to suffer alongside the person who is making the CHOICE to continue down a bad road.
As the Buddha once said,
"If you find no one to support you on the spiritual path, walk alone. There is no companionship with the immature."
I wish there had been some way that I could have had the opportunity to use what I have learned thus far to help save Brian. But, he made the choices he made for a reason. I wish he had been able to separate himself from his drug buddies... The same ones who left him ALONE to die b/c they were selfish chicken shit cowards. (Yeah, there's anger in that comment. And YES it is intentional.)
My mantra lately: Brian is finally at Peace. I keep reminding myself. He's feeling no pain. His struggle is over. He IS with me. He's in my heart. His addiction may have won, but it's now up to me to carry on and make sure he didn't die in vain.
"And when I'm gone just carry on don't mourn...
... just know that,
...I'm lookin' down on you smilin',
And I didn't feel a thing so baby, don't feel no pain, just smile back..."
~~ Eminem "When I'm Gone"
In Peace and Love,