Why do I make you what I want you to be? Loving an addict — the repercussions
It started in 2013 when I realised that I was totally rubbish at hiring people.
It became a bit of an inside joke that I could be a founder of organisations but be totally terrible at hiring the right people. I was officially banned.
It was rarely the individual hire’s fault. I hired them because they were ace at what we needed them to do; but almost every flipping time I over-promoted them — often against their own wishes, or even realisation — to doing jobs they were not cut out for, trained for or even particularly interested in.
Just because those people became more important to me, and so in order to recognise their emotional value, I decided to do so by promoting them in work - because that was my life - out of their own comfort zones, and often into conflict.
What crazy sack of rubbish is that? But I don’t think I am alone… nor is it limited to work.
Since I *finally* left my ex-husband I have married and divorced again. Had another child. Had full on relationships with people. People I have loved, but as I loved them more, so I started to encourage them into being people they were not. I would push them into striving to be better versions of who they actually were.
Not because I wanted them to be different. I just wanted them to keep going, to not stay as they were. Movement always guaranteed safety.
But they were who they were. And I loved the people they were when I met them and got to know them. In the end I would break whatever we had, because I would relentlessly love a person they were not.
I made them push their boundaries, tested their limitations so that I would know. So that I would know what shaped them. And I only ever played at the edges of them, like that weird winter olympics game with the brushes and ice, and a massive disc.
Because with an addict you never know what shapes them. But you have to know. And if you love them. You want to know. But ultimately… yes… you know how this goes (what rhymes with “know”? you have to let them go).
And if an addict is your first love — this *will* affect every emotional decision you make for the rest of your life. Because you know there is a person there, inside… chasing you and begging you to make them better. To not leave them. But only an addict does this.
Loving an addict changes everything
Rob, my first love, was an addict. He was addicted to hard drugs before I met him. Clean for a few years when I met him — and a beautiful, deep and open soul. I too was a freshly minted 19/20 year old and firm believer in love.
We met when we were both so open and clean and vulnerable, to each other.
Over the years his addiction to hard drugs became an addiction to booze. It was a slow descent but a determined one.
I remember the day it happened.
It was in Alice Springs, where we were working for a few months, it was his birthday and I had made him a cake, a card and picked some flowers to put in our tiny home. We did not have much at all, but I remember him coming back from work and being almost moved to tears and declaring it the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER… as only one can in your early 20s!
It was the last time we were to have that.
I also remember that his friend had come up from Melbourne and invited him out to his rented flat on the other side of Alice. We went, as loved up as any young couple can be, and it started well. But this friend was not a friend, this friend was a *friend*. A drug friend… from *those* days.
We sat chatting for a while then his mate said that he was going to go and (obviously) do something in the bathroom. I was totally terrified, for Rob, for us, also because I totally hate vomit to the point of phobia, and I could hear this retching.
I ran out, again as only a 20 something year old can do, full of flight and vigour and I was gone.
Rob ran after me, begged me… properly begged me to stay with him. I know I was determined not to go back, Rob was stuck — he had to stay, he couldn’t *not* stay.
I ran. Literally ran. I slammed out of there.
He turned back and I remember my fear and fury. Also I remember his desperation… that I stay, and I didn’t. He begged me.
He vanished for days and I remember only knowing that he had been home because I could smell bourbon when I got back from work. I looked for him but I was so angry, so flipping angry. I am still angry.
But I also remember his desperation for me to stay, to help him. But I could not bear those retching sounds from the bathroom whilst we sat there pretending all was normal.
That day was at least 23 years ago.
But I remember it. I remember it because I think now, if I did not leave you, if I stayed… would you still be alive? Would I be making better hiring decisions? Would I not need to be being a rubbish girlfriend? Because I would still be married to you?
He did not take drugs that day. Nor the days after. He never took drugs again after he cleaned himself up and before I met him. But alcohol became his salve. He drank for days after that birthday meeting. A far more dangerous drug.
I could never drink as long as we were together. I do now.
I know if I had stayed that day I would have saved him. I know it was his first temptation with drugs ever since he cleaned up his act. But I walked/actively ran away and only alcohol stayed to soothe him.
My obituary for Rob is here