In reviewing the first year of my reunion with my daughter’s father, denial, on his part and my own, played a strong part in our involvement. Where denial meets deception and self deception meets denial are tangled places.
Take two people who have been separated for a long time but still have feelings for each other. Make one of those persons a lifetime substance abuser. Make the other person someone who proclaims her dislike for substance abuse.
The substance abuser, out of love, out of wanting a better life, will hide the substance abuse, as he has hid it his entire life from employers and family members. The non substance abuser, if she has a history of relationships with substance abusers, comes with her own complicated inner web of denial and control issue which make her more likely to accept his lies and to fall into a state of denial.
It’s easier for me to look at the situation through the lens of substance abuse than to try and dissect it on a subjective level. I do not believe that he set out to deceive me in a malicious way. Instead, I believe that he never matured; he never developed a sense of right and wrong. He’s spent his entire adult life as an addict and being with addicts. Perhaps when he first told me those huge lies- “I only drink on the weekends” & “I only get high once a year, after my drug test at work”- perhaps he wanted to convince himself that he could cut down on his substance use and/or control it in a way so that I would never find out the truth.Perhaps he even considered trying to quit? I have to give him the benefit of the doubt, and think that he really was sincere, even if he couldn’t carry through.
But as soon as I began unraveling the truth, which was right before Christmas, 2008, any hope of a long term relationship between us was over. That seems to be the time when he began focusing on the other woman. Ironically, I encouraged their friendship, and whether she drew him closer to her in an attempt to ‘steal’ him from me, or whether he was pulling away from me and my questions, “You told me you only drank on the weekends, but whenever I talk to you at night ,you sound drunk. I think you drink every night. Did you lie to me?” as a self defense mechanism– I can never know.
He characterizes this period of time, when I began asking him serious questions about his substance abuse as when, “You started bugging me again just like you did twenty years ago.”
The first night I realized that he’d told me some huge lies, I was at his apartment and I confronted him. In response, he dropped to his knees and promised that he’d never lied to me again, and fool, that I was, I believed him. How could I not believe such sweetness, such earnestness?
I really wish that he’d given me the choice to know who he really was before I entered into a relationship with him. The first time I came down to see him, I was honest with him about some issues which I see a therapist for, and so expected him to return my honestly. I took my integrity and extended it to him. If I was honest, then he would be honest, right ? Wrong. Because he wasn’t an honest person. It was the wrong assumption in the calculation of whether or not to trust him again. Strangely, he was so concerned back then that I would break his heart- that I never considered whether he would break mine.
And his dishonesty is not because he chooses to be dishonest but because he has learned it and because he is an addict. Addicts lie, to deceive themselves and others.
So the bottom line comes down to this- as soon as I realized the truth about his substance abuse, my choices, although I did not know they were choices at the time, were to accept his substance abuse or to question it. Questioning it drove him away, but I don’t think I was capable of not questioning it. Once he lied to me about that, he began lying to me about other things as well. In sorting out the final months of our sleeping together, the number of “Ah-ha” moments I’ve had about realizing what he really meant when he’s said this or that, or where he probably was when he said he was somewhere else, or why he suddenly started asking me what nights I’d be working, well, let’s just say, I have no idea if he was EVER telling me the truth in the six months. And that’s really creepy. It really freaks me out, and I’m mad at myself for not asking questions more clearly or for not insisting that he take a drug test at the beginning.
- Do You Have a Substance Abuse Problem? (everydayhealth.com)
- Overcoming Addiction (psychologytoday.com)
- Drug dependence – All Information (umm.edu)
- The Key To Tackling Substance Abuse And Addiction Among Nurses Is Support Not Punishment (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse: Co-Ocurring Disorders (integratedneuroscience.wordpress.com)
- Cellular-level changes relevant to substance abuse (integratedneuroscience.wordpress.com)
- Enforcing Treatment for Substance Abuse (everydayhealth.com)
- What Is Substance Abuse Rehabilitation? (brainz.org)
- Understanding Addiction (everydayhealth.com)
- When Alcoholism or Drug Abuse Hits Your Family (everydayhealth.com)