Page 1 of 3I have only been in love – truly, deeply in love – twice in my life. So I can be extremely tenacious when the inevitable challenges to relationship arise. I don't give up easily. I don't walk away at the first sign of trouble.
When I was much younger, I hoped that the intensity of my love would fix things . Somehow, if I loved hard enough, things would get better. Over time, I learned that love is not enough. I had to change many of my relationship patterns in order to give that love a fighting chance.
So I read a lot of self-help books, took communication classes, joined many groups and got into therapy. I was on my way to becoming a relationship expert! Of course it was the real life, in the trenches, experience that taught me the most.
And one thing I had to learn over and over and over again for decades and in a myriad of ways, is that I cannot control my loved ones' addictions.
I met the man who would become my first husband when I was just twenty-two. His name was Adrian and he was thirteen years older than I and already had two ex-wives and a child by each. I was just out of college and devolving into my addiction to alcohol. He was newly released from a two-year prison term for dealing cocaine.
We partied all the time and at first it was a lot of fun. But of course, all too soon we were selling coke to our friends, keeping guns in our apartment and drawing the drapes during the day. Cocaine psychosis was having its way with us. And in addition to being paranoid, we were becoming volatile. Our arguments led to injuries such as black eyes and even a stab wound but we were still in love.
Fortunately, as emergency personnel and law enforcement became increasingly involved in our lives, we were required to attend 12 step meetings. It didn't slow Adrian down much but I began reading the Big Book of AA and eventually some of its message got through my inebriated brain.
The day I got clean and sober was nothing short of miraculous for me. I had what many refer to as a spiritual awakening as I got on my hands and knees in prayer. What had been a death wish moments before was suddenly transformed into an earnest desire to live.
Of course, I wanted my man to get clean and sober too. I still loved him after all we had been through. And I worried that he might die if he didn't change.
He was desperately in love with me and wanted to follow me wherever I went. He tried the 12 step program but usually wound up doing coke in the bathroom during the meetings. He found a sponsor and tried to work the steps. But soon enough Adrian succeeded in pulling his sponsor with over ten years of sobriety back into a cocaine addiction. Adrian sold his sponsor more coke than he could afford, so he took his furniture and Harley Davidson in trade.