When My Husband Tested Positive For Drugs
When My Husband Tested Positive For Drugs
When you’re trying to communicate with your loved one, how do you know what to actually say? How do you approach a tough conversation? I use an example from when my ex-husband tested positive for drugs to show you what you should and shouldn’t do the next time you communicate with your loved one suffering from addiction.
Listen to the podcast episode here:
Read the transcript and find more details here:
We are going to get into an excellent tip today about communication, including a personal story that ties nicely with it. It’s actually a really personal story that I haven’t shared before. So if you’re a longtime listener, this is new stuff.
Last week, we talked about the importance of timing. When you are upset or want to talk about an issue with your loved one, you have to time it well, right? You have to do it when they’re sober and when you’re well-rested. And it’s nice to give them a heads up that you are upset, so they have time to adjust and consider your feelings.
This week, we’re going to be talking about the way you communicate. So what do you actually say? And I’m going to be asking you some super simple questions. You can answer them yes or no. And don’t worry. It’s just you and me. So there’s no judgment. The more honest you are with yourself, the faster you will heal.
Before I get into those questions, I’m going to tell you the story I promised. You all know I’m very okay with calling myself out on my previous mistakes with my past marriage. I’m very comfortable doing that. But this (surprise, surprise) is a success story.
This is something I actually nailed.
And I nailed this. And then I thought, “Oh my gosh, I just nailed this. This is fantastic. I had no idea this would actually work.”
And now I’m going to share it with you. My ex-husband went to one of those fancy Malibu rehabs, the ones where all the stars go. Then he came back, and I thought – being the naive person that I was – okay, he’s going to come back and we’re going to live happily ever after. And not to be Debbie Downer here, but that very rarely happens.
The average amount of time it takes for rehab to work is seven visits until they get sober and stay sober. Needless to say, I did not know that fact at the time. So, he came back, and I was so excited. I just had a baby and two other young kids. And I thought this is it. Yay. We did it. We got through addiction; we’re home free. Everything’s going to be fine now.
But I started noticing some odd behaviors about a week after he got home. I recognized that he was going into the bathroom for really long periods of time. And he was leaving the house and taking phone calls in secret.
You know, that feeling where you just feel like something’s off? You don’t have any proof, but you’re nervous. Like intuition is screaming, no, no, no something’s going on. And then you try to talk yourself out of it and convince yourself you’re wrong. That’s how I was feeling.
I thought there’s no freaking way we spent all that money on this rehab, and we’re only back for seven days, and he’s up to no good again. There’s no way, right?
It’s only been a week since rehab, and we’re back to this? No way.
Usually, I would have confronted him and accused him. I would have tried to develop some sort of proof, right? I would have looked through closets or pockets of pants or tracked his phone or all of the above. We tend to do all these very unhealthy habits when we’re out for control. And I wanted control.
But this time, I sat him down on the couch instead. I’ll never forget it. I waited until all the kids were preoccupied, then I sat him down on the couch and sat very close to him. And I said, look at me. I love you with all of my heart and soul, and I want to be with you forever. So I need you to tell me the truth.
I’m going to ask you a question, and if you promise to tell me the truth, I promise you with all of my heart that I will not be mad. I will not be disappointed. I will love you through this. I will stand next to you. I will not be angry, but I need you to tell me the truth because we’ve been through so much together, and I want to see you happy. And I want us to be a family that lives forever and ever together and raises our children together.
I know that you are a good man with so much potential, and I know that you could be successful. So please tell me the truth about the question I’m about to ask you, please.
I beg you do not lie to me.
You are safe. I’m not going to yell. I’m not going to be mad.
And he looked at me and said, okay. And I know he knew, of course, what I was about to ask.
I asked, have you been doing drugs since you’ve been home? And he said, no, I haven’t. And you know what, guys, there was a part of me that was like, okay, I just want to believe that. I just want to go with that because that answer is a lot easier than pushing this. But there was something inside of me that was pushing me to get the truth. I thought to myself: if you want to move forward with this man, you have to have honesty in your relationship.
You don’t necessarily have to have sobriety, but you have to have honesty.
So I said, okay, I’m going to ask you to do me a favor then. And I’m begging you to do this. Please do this for me and do this for our children. Again, I promise you; I’m not going to be mad. And he asked, what do you need me to do? And I said I need you to take a drug test.
He sat there and got real quiet and real still. And I’m sitting there looking at him, thinking, I think there might be a chance. He’s going to say yes. I think I have set the tone with such compassion and such acceptance, which was a technique I’d never used before. And he said, okay, I’ll take one.
So I grabbed my keys, got in my car, and drove to the local CVS. And I got a drug test. And as I was driving back home, I’m thinking, why would he agree to take this? If he wasn’t sober? So it’s got to be all right. It’s got to turn out negative, right? It’s going to turn out negative.
I walked through the door, and he’s still sitting on the couch. He’s not watching TV. He’s not looking at his phone. And he’s just looking out the window. And that’s when I start to think, oh my goodness, maybe this isn’t gonna turn out negative. Maybe he’s in deep thought about what’s about to go down.
I hand him the box, and he goes into the bathroom, and he comes back out with the test. It takes a couple of minutes for the results to come in. I look at it, and it’s positive for multiple drugs, not just one kind.
I look at him, and he looks at me, and I remember my promise.
I remember that I promised I would not get mad. And so I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even come close to getting mad, which is a miracle because I felt like I had been mad at him for his addiction for ten years.
Instead, I looked at him, and I felt sad. And I mourned the hope that rehab worked. It was the greatest reality check ever. For the last 37 days, my expectations had been that he would come home and be sober, and we would live happily ever after.
And that the reality is is that this disease is cunning and this disease is alluring. It seduces the addict in ways that I can’t. And that in my heart of hearts, I do believe he loved me. I do believe that he wanted to stay with his family and with me. I do.
But I also think my ex-husband couldn’t accept the love that we were offering him. I loved him hard very, very much. And I know my children did too. And I think there was some part of him that loved me for loving him that way, but also could never accept my love because he felt so undeserving.
And so addiction kept me at arm’s length. It kept his kids at arm’s length. It kept him from wanting to believe that he was deserving of success. It was a way to sabotage anything good that came his way because I don’t think he felt good about himself. And I don’t think he believed he felt good. He deserved to be happy.
Sometimes compassion and love and tenderness can get you exactly the answers that you’re looking for.
I wasn’t a bully. I didn’t strong-arm him into telling me the truth or taking that test. I didn’t manipulate him. I didn’t guilt him or threaten him with divorce in order for him to pee in a cup. I just asked. And I think when you come from a place of gentleness and kindness, all of a sudden the defenses come down and you’re dealing with a person who’s willing to be more vulnerable.
I think the reason he didn’t tell me no is that it was an old pattern to lie to me. That’s what he’d been doing for years and years. And also, I think it was too difficult of a question for him to admit with words. So he admitted it in another way. Right?
And it’s sad because he never did get sober. And eventually, I did leave, though not with anger. I didn’t slam the door and take the kids and leave. I left with compassion and the same love and the same kindness that I had on that day when he tested positive.
I left because I knew I had to for my children, for their health, and for my survival.
But I left with sadness, and I left with no regrets. I don’t regret marrying him. Not only because I got three kids, but because addiction was the greatest teacher of my life. It was truly the most wonderful healing opportunity I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t take a day or an hour back, not one second, because I soaked up every lesson that I possibly could.
And then, I applied those same lessons to my second marriage and to everything I am today. And that’s the thing for you all, too. You’re just like me. We’re in this together.
This is your greatest opportunity to learn the hardest, most difficult lessons possible.
But they’re the lessons that are going to change you. They’re the lessons that are going to make all of the difference, and not everyone gets these lessons. Some people just live charmed lives and don’t have the opportunity to grow like you are being asked to grow.
And that is my story about communication for today. Now I told you that I would be asking you some questions, remember, and I’m going to get to that right now.
When you are thinking about communicating with your loved ones, I want you to think about all the times you’ve previously communicated with them. And I want you to be honest with me because I love you. And because there’s no judgment at all in this community. And because you know that if you answer unfavorably to these questions, that all of us have too.
I’m going to ask you some yes or no questions, and you gotta be honest. Okay. So here we go. Yes or no question number one: When you are communicating with your loved one, and you are upset with them about their addiction, do you involve other people’s opinions about them?
For example, do you say that your best friend said that you were acting really ridiculous at the party when you were drinking? Do you do that? Do you use other people’s opinions to validate your own opinion when you’re dealing with your loved one’s addiction?
Yes or no. Okay. Next question: Do you make threats? Do you say do this, or else you do that? What about this? Do you interrupt? Like when they’ve said something that triggers you or pushes your buttons, do you interrupt or make comments when the other person is talking under your breath? Yeah?
I’m raising my hand too. Don’t worry.
Another one: when you’re trying to communicate about your feelings, and you’re feeling upset, do you throw out the D-word divorce? Oh my gosh. I was so guilty of this. Do you threaten to get divorced? Are you strong-arming them? Are you playing the D-word card in the heat of the argument? Right. Okay.
What about this? Do you use any of the following tactics?
Do you see you swearing? Do you use character assassination? Do you use contempt, contemptuous words? Do you use sarcasm? What about taunting? Do you taunt them? Right.
Obviously, if you can answer yes to one or any of these y’all know, we might need to reconsider our communication tactics. And next week, I’m going to cover how to do that.
But this week, it’s just about taking personal inventory. It’s just saying, hey, I’m going to own my own stuff right now. And yes, I may be able to relate to one or all of the above things you just mentioned because this disease makes me crazy. I get it, trust me, but we might want to consider some other tactics. And next week, I’m going to talk about ways you can replace those negative behaviors that I just mentioned with healthier ones.
But all I want you to do in the next seven days until the next podcast comes out is if you do get into an argument with your loved one, just take inventory and see if you fell for any of these bad traps. Okay?
And remember that compassion that I was talking about, that I had for my ex-husband in that moment. I want you to use that for yourself too. That is the most important thing.
You can not offer compassion to your loved one if you don’t offer it to yourself.
You are in an incredibly difficult, painful situation that most of your friends and relatives don’t have any idea how to handle or relate. You live an incredibly difficult life when you love someone struggling. The addiction is high stress, high trauma.
It’s high chaos. So it’s okay for you not to have it all together and deal with every situation perfectly. What’s not okay is if you don’t offer yourself compassion and be gentle.
If you do not understand that you absolutely have control in this situation, you do a hundred percent. You guys, that whole thing where it says, you know, we are powerless over this disease? That’s ridiculous. Of course, we have control.
Are you telling me I just have to sit back and let this disease take over my life? And there’s nothing I can do about it? No, it’s ridiculous.
This is something you can do about it. What I’m teaching you every week, our tools that can help you stay in control of this situation. You control yourself, you control your reactions, and you control how you communicate.
You’ve got control, and you’re doing a great job. Keep learning, and keep trying. And don’t forget to offer yourself tons of love and compassion, because I am proud of you. I am so proud of you for managing this and wanting to learn more. You’ll get this. I promise you. And it will be okay.
Michelle Anderson has over 10 years of personal experience with loving someone who suffers from addiction. She was married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and pornography. She's used her experience to create powerful resources for women in the same circumstance. Using her own personal experience, combined with years of research and studying, she presents ideas, tips, and tools on how to handle this disease, and take care of yourself, and your family.
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