Should I leave and never come back?
I am a 42-year-old alcoholic and drug addict.
I have been in active addiction for my entire adult life. I have been actually making an honest effort to quit for two years(not continuously, of course, because I never make it more than a few months without using). I went to a 90-day inpatient treatment center two years ago and participated diligently in an AA homegroup after treatment for 18 months. I've also tried individual counselling.
My wife of 17 years is a saint. After my most recent relapse(I cringe to even use the word "relapse" because I've never been able to stay sober long enough to really have a relapse), she insisted on a six-month separation.
She still allows me to be a part of our three children's daily lives(as long as I appear to be sober).
I've been sleeping in my car because we don't have enough combined income to support two households. I have a job, and I deposit 80% of every paycheck into my wife's account.
I'm stuck: I see no available treatment options that offer any real chance of successs, and I'm still paying off the $20000 bill from the last treatment center. I'm beginning to wonder if the kindest thing I could do for my friends and loved ones is to leave and never come back. At least I could spare them front-row seats at the miseryfest that is surely coming.
The damage done to my wife is beyond repair, so my primary concern is the children. If I can't stay sober for more than a few months at a time, are they better off with me in their lives, or should I let them go and hope my wife finds a better man to raise them?
Call me -
Your wife doesn't need a "better man." She does need, however, a break.
That's why she is taking six months away from you, and has arranged for you to keep in constant touch with your children.
I'm impressed with the fact that you are still earning money during this difficult time - and that you give your family most of it. What impresses me also is that, even with only twenty percent of your income, you still have income to pay down your medical expenses -
Benjamin, Benjamin, Benjamin - - - you must know by now that, by sleeping in your car, you have indeed hit the bottom. Your addiction is successfully taking away your life.
In your letter to me, you ask if it is wise (or okay) to hand it over without a fight.
If your darling wife is willing to give you this six-month opportunity, grab it. Take hold, Ben. Get clean, sober, and stay that way for these six months.
If that means living out of your car - so be it.
If that means only visits with the kids, and demonstrations of your best behavior - yes! Do it!
Ben- - You're not "stuck." You need, however, a hero.
Be one. Be a hero for yourself and your children.
Stop the former life. Begin a new life.
Every religious tradition talks about death before resurrection; failing before succeeding. You say you've been a addict all your life. I doubt that.
This all began somewhere - - and now that you carry this disease, you alone must manage it. You alone can end the pain it causes everyone else.
Don't give in - don't back off - don't hand your life over to your addiction.
Fight the good fight. Be thankful for this chance. Grab it - make it worth your sacrifice and the suffering of your children and partner.
Let me know how things progress -
Presbyterian pastor, broadcast commentator, playwright and great friend.