Recovery: Should I Stay or Go by Erin Hill

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When you’re married to an addict, there’s a school of thought that makes it sound so easy to “just leave”. In my last post here, I discussed why sometimes you can’t just leave. And there are also those who are staunch in their beliefs of “till death do you part”. I have been in both situations. The first addict marriage – I left. The second – I stayed. So I have this point of view that is pretty unique. There is a difficulty in both decisions. Especially when children are involved.

In many of the groups for addict wives, or loving alcoholics/addicts, even when I was in Alanon – one of the first questions was “Do I stay or do I go?” – and I believe that the only one that can make that choice – is YOU. It’s an extremely personal decision and there are tons of variables that no one other than someone in your shoes is privy to. There are well meaning folks that are truly only wanting you to be happy, but they are not understanding of all of the nuances involved in being married to an addict or alcoholic. (And that goes for any addiction – drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc.)

There are a few questions that I’ve come to believe are paramount to making the decision to stay or go.

1)  Are you/your children safe?

Only you can determine what “safe” means. There have been times in the land of “should” that “those people” would have judged what safe meant for me and mine. Please know that those close to you – are saying things out of love and concern. Those in positions of authority (Social Services personnel, etc) may be acting under the expectations of their job, and not necessarily out of malice. However, when you ask ‘what should I do?’ you are deliberately relieving yourself of the responsibility to choose.

2) Are you in a position to leave if you choose that option?

There can be financial, physical, and/or legal obstacles to navigate. You may not be able to afford to leave right away – while I’d like to believe that there are systems and programs available for those who choose to leave, I also know that there are many broken systems. Do your research. Sometimes the programs and systems meant to assist, may not be available or appropriate for your situation.

3) Which choice will be to your benefit?

You may need to make a good ole pros and cons chart to help you decide. Play that “what if” game and feel into each choice – like a choose your own adventure book. Really spend some time with the realities of each choice. Your intuition will assist you here – if you can still hear it. I’ve found that many times we’ve had many ‘red flags’ (our intuition) that we’ve ignored – you may have to apologize and coax her back out. She’s there – I promise. The best choices aren’t always easy or simple.

4) Are you willing to work on YOU?

I’ve done it, and I’ve seen it – we leave one relationship and hop into another – and before we know it, there’s a string of broken promises, hearts, and unfortunately sometimes bones. You have (and need) the ability to work on YOU – I know it’s hard to believe, or admit, but we all bring with us some baggage. If we don’t work on unpacking and sorting through that baggage before we enter another relationship, it’s bound to be an eerily similar situation. Think of it like weeds – if you don’t get to the root of it, they’ll keep coming back.

Finally, do you feel like you can change your mind? (You can.) There are few choices that are final. You can usually choose differently if need be. (Again, if safety is an issue, you need to take that into consideration – if domestic violence is a pattern in your relationship, please consider working with a DV support!) When you feel like you need support, please seek it – find a 12 step group, a friend, your church family, a coach, or online peers.

The MRS (Marriage and Recovery Support) group may be helpful to you – and you can consider this your personal invitation. Search TheMRSGroup on Facebook or click here to join. I’m also organizing in person ‘The MRS’ groups to be held in Easton and Cambridge starting this summer. If you would like more information on those as the details come to fruition, you can sign up for weekly newsletters at www.beautifulmesslife.com

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