Not posted for a while, but its been good to look back at everyone's comments but sad to see so many people effected by the same things.
The help I had from Icarus trust was amazing - phoned me every week at agreed times when it was safe for me to talk. Also since I was last on here, I found a local support service for family members of drug users (out of my area so I felt it was confidential enough - but near enough for me to get to. They were really great - just listened with no judgement). They sent me on a day group work course for 'carers' which helped me learn to look after my own needs better, I also started having some counselling to try and work out why I was still struggling to let go of a relationship that was making me feel so bad.
Iv'e been really lucky having the above and have gradually started to have more confidence to confide in a couple of close friends who I really trust. Being able to finally feel able to be more honest with someone close to me has been a massive relief. I have chosen these friends carefully though as I know many people will judge him and me for choosing to stay with him.
I guess the problem with addictions is that what causes them is so complex and its still so misunderstood that many people in the world want to judge it so negatively. I think this maybe stops people and their families seeking the help they need and being honest? Living a double life and the 'lie', pretending we were ok when we are far from it has been one of the things I have felt hardest. Sometimes I feel like my face would crack with the false smiles I have put on.
Problem is the behaviours that come with addiction - the lying, cheating, stealing, the wrecklessness, the compulsion to use over the consequences to those around it, can make a person seem so dis-likeable and untrustworthy to those who don't know them well (I know many people suffer violence from their loved ones too - I'm lucky iv'e never experienced that from this partner). To those who do know them well, it's so confusing as we love their good parts and crave seeing that person again, but we are constantly hurt by their behaviours so are constantly in conflict as to how to treat them what to do to help them or to protect ourselves.
I didn't really identify as being a 'carer' but guess we kinda are in a way if you accept addiction as a disease where someone loses the ability to control the compulsion to use? I know there are others that have been forced to do much more than myself both practically and financially though. I felt like had I started parenting my partner so I guess it is caring in a way (waking him up for work in a morning, doing all the cooking, cleaning, getting up with his kids when they come to stay while he snores away on his back. I gave up trying to wake him up time and time again as it made me too angry but then doing what I felt like he should be doing made me angry too so it's hard to win). I don't know if me being like this though has done either of us any good. Maybe I'm too soft, I don't know?
If I look at addiction as a disease I feel less angry with my partner but with that in mind am uncertain if I then enable him in some ways which could be feeding the addiction? It would be good to hear from anyone who has struggled with their drug use what is the best thing that helps from their partners or family members? Can you reduce it back to now and again use or do you think you need to try and cut it out completely? What do we do as family members to help? Do we need to be more strict? Do we need to to be more understanding? Is it more about how we learn to communicate with each other? How honest should we be with our kids?
The Carer's course told us not to take responsibility for things which the people we were caring for could do for themselves, I find its hard to know which of these things are always. Its easier to know if someone has a broken leg that they cant walk and might need help with lifting and cooking and stuff but less obvious when a problem is with someones mind or mental health. I do believe my partner has PTSD, he doesn't sleep and has nightmares. He went to the GP for counselling re this but what I don't know is if he was honest about his coke use and how much that was contributing to his symptoms.
I told my partner I needed us to to get coke out of our lives or I would end things with him and I meant it this time. I appreciate however its not going to be that easy for him to just stop but he is pretty negative about using services - he has been through them all in the past and doesn't feel they can teach him any more. I think its his pride as well.
I am taking a good look at myself in terms of what mixed messages I give and trying to be clearer on what I will or won't tolerate. I'm still not 100% clear but am working on it in counselling and I'm getting there. If I didn't have a problem with him using now and again on a night out in the past would I still tolerate it now given how things have got? What would I do if I found him using coke in my house? What would I do if we went on a night out now and he was using, what would I do if I stayed at his and found him using downstairs after I had gone up to bed? I'm still uncertain if my life can improve with him in it and how to contribute to us moving forwards together if that is possible.
Towards the end of last year I started to intentionally distance myself from him and we stayed together and saw each other much less (we don't officially live together and he has always had his own place, so appreciate this was easy for me to do than people who are financially tied). I spent more time with friends and felt less drained and anxious but I still felt sad and still missed him. I hoped if he saw less of me he would miss me too - it didn't always work though and sometimes I didn't hear from him for days which hurt so much and a few times I gave in and would phone him all hysterical. He would seem emotionless and cold and I felt like a stupid child begging and humiliated.
The longest I didn't see him for was 2 weeks. I actually started to get used to the idea of being single and started to feel better in myself and happier again. But we hadn't officially sat down and said we were over and hadn't had that conversation with our kids. That was what I dreaded the most, another family breakup.
He said he didn't want to end things and would do whatever it took. I felt confused about whether he actually loved me or was using me and couldn't cope with being on his own. We agreed to start dating again. But we always had used to go to pubs which was where he always used coke so I found it really hard not to feel anxious and question his every movement and was scared we had nothing to talk about any more. I was scared maybe we never did and it was drinking and drugs scene which had brought us together. Each time he was a few minutes late coming back to my house i would become hysterical and would obsessively phone him and scream at him. He actually took it though mostly and said he understood how his behaviour had impacted on me.
He still hasn't gone for help from any substance use services though.
Weirdly, my partner appears to have stopped using coke since this lock-down - his behaviour is consistent with this (is spending more time with me, is coming to bed almost at same time, hasn't done a disappearing act, is driving less erratic, is helping to cook and go shopping, seems happier, more affectionate). It seems he is more like the person he was when we first got together. I'm trying to enjoy it for what it is now but do feel nervous for the future.
I can't thank the services for families I have used so far, they have really helped me as an individual but what we probably need now is counselling as a couple if we have any hope of long term survival. I haven't found any specialist counselling services online for couples struggling with substance use. Not that we can afford anyway. There seems to be a lack of resources from services to treat the family as a whole.
I have written much more than I intended so sorry if this is a rambling post! Its felt quite good to get it out though.
I hope everyone else on here is able to access any help they need specially under current weird times.