The moment I knew I needed to leave.
I had been waiting for this moment for years and years.
Even through all the verbal abuse, the name calling, the shaming, the lying and the manipulation, I still clung to hope. I still loved him, and I loved the idea of our family staying together.
But somewhere deep in the back of my mind, I knew there might come a day when I needed to leave. But my heart wasn’t ready. My mind still had not arrived at the decision that I felt my spirit pushing me towards.
I knew raising my kids in this dysfunction wasn’t okay on any level.
I knew he wasn’t going to get better.
And I knew the harder I was trying to help him, the worse it was getting. I could see this wonderful man literally disappear day by day.
Every month his addiction was worse than the month before. It was a downward spiral.
But I hadn’t yet arrived at the point where leaving was my only option. My back was not up against the wall. I still wanted to wait and exercise all my choices.
And then the moment came. And it was crystal clear. What I wanted to do and what I needed to do finally lined up perfectly. And I had no other choice but to leave. It had become my only option.
Not one of my friends or family knew how bad it really was. I did a wonderful job hiding the truth because I wanted to protect him. I didn’t want anyone judging the man I loved, and I knew if they got a peek into my life, they would tell me to take the kids and leave.
I was a young mom with three kids and no college degree. Our bank account balance was hundreds not thousands of dollars. Most of his paycheck went towards his bad habits.
The odds were against me. On paper, it looked like I was stuck.
But a woman’s courage can be mighty. And there was a part of me that awakened in that moment. I was refusing to listen to the lies of addiction.
I would save my children and save myself. I would fight every moment of every day to protect their childhood.
I realized I could do something. Addiction was lying to me the entire time, trying to make me feel like I was powerless. But I was a powerful woman. And I refused to accept that this disease was going to take us all down.
I was prepared to stay in a shelter if I needed to. I was willing to leave the place my children called home. I would make the sacrifices to start again. It wasn’t too late. I could find love again. Love for myself and love for others. I could make a warm, safe home, even if it wasn’t my dream home.
I was willing to do whatever it took to save my life.
And as soon as I started planning and fighting for my future, everything I needed showed up. I would not quit and I would not back down from this disease. It would no longer bully me.
And after some time, addiction learned I was no longer falling for its tricks. I was a new woman. Rebirthed and shining brightly.
I was armored and so were my children.
So it moved on trying to find a new victim and left us in peace.
And today, over 10 years later, that’s what my children and I have. Peace, honesty, love and safety.
I don’t regret loving someone suffering from addiction, but I also have never regretted leaving, and neither have my children.