My spouse and I grew up in the same small, suffocating town. We both grew up in families with dysfunctions that were never discussed until decades later.  My dad was a recovering alcoholic & womanizer, and my mother endured. My spouse’s father was an authoritarian & workaholic, and his mother endured.  My spouse and I, and our siblings, absorbed the modeling from our parents. We all muddled through as best we could to find our way.  Partying made us happy. Partying made us fit in. Partying made us forget.  Partying dulled the pain.  We grew up, moved out into the world, and pretended everything was Ok until my spouse and most of my siblings developed addictions.  And that could have been me, but there, for the grace of God, go I.

When we were younger, my spouse and I dated for a couple of years; then I moved out of state for a few years. We reconnected 15 years later while living in the same city in our home state. He was divorced, and I was a single parent of one.  We had fun and began a relationship. My spouse spoke openly about his crack addiction, recovery, AA, good job, and the quest to be a good person. His story was familiar. He was glad to see me as a mother, settled and responsible.  My spouse admitted he smoked a little weed now and then to help his anxiety. I believed him, and so what; weed is harmless. In the beginning, I smoked with him too. Maybe I was naïve, but I was in love. We got married, had a child, and lived our lives. For years, life was good until it wasn’t.  We had a routine, work, school, church, holidays, vacations, family, and friends until our lives slowly unraveled.

My spouse went to AA meetings daily. I asked to attend meetings with him because I wanted to support him, but he got mad, almost hostile. His hard, nasty No was to deter me from asking again, and I never did. AA was his thing, and his alone. He was self-employed and worked from home and in the field.  That was fine until I couldn’t reach him by phone.  He got home and claimed he was working. I worked full-time, and the more my spouse was out and about, the more the family burdens fell on me. I complained, we argued, and then I would forget about it because the bills were getting paid. He joined a gym he attended as faithfully as his AA meetings. I sensed something was wrong… like the gym might be a Jane, and confronted him. He accused me of being insecure. I rambled through his desk, clothes, drawers, nooks, and crannies when he was gone. Nothing. I sneaked his keys and rifled through his car, glove compartment, arm console, under the seats, and trunk. Nothing.  I checked the caller ID for stray numbers, and if I found one, I called it. Nothing. I finally found something in a hard-to-reach small bin–his weed stash and rolling papers: no hard drugs nor phone numbers from women. I didn’t find proof that he was cheating; he was careful. My observation was that my spouse’s big stash of weed is not for someone who smokes now and then; it’s for someone who smokes a lot, like every day, like a habit, like replacing crack with weed.

I thought, Ok, go to your meetings, go to the gym, smoke your weed, even if it is daily, whatever it takes to keep you off the hard drugs. The hard drugs that make you disappear, stay out all night, steal, cheat, end up dead or in jail, and lie.  Oh, the lies……