Prime Example of a Classic Enabler - New Discovery

by Miss Classic
(Louisiana)

I'm not really sure when it "hit" me that I was an enabler, people had been telling me that virtually all my life. I never read about it or completely understood it. I knew that I had problems with my husband and teenagers, and I had been on the brink of insanity. Was it then? A time when I literally walked 4 other people through their daily lives as if they couldn't do anything for themselves? Was it when I was growing up with an alcoholic parent? Or was it when I "snapped", and took back control of my life.

My married life began at the age of 18, a surefire way to get out of the "house". It didn't matter that he drank all the time and had abandonment issues of his own. It didn't matter that his addict Mother gave him away and he would blame me for 30 years. It didn't matter that he would verbally and mentally abuse me day in and day out for a very, very long time .....I was getting married and that was that.

Nine years into the marriage I was so screwed up. I had endured my husband leaving with very young teenage girls, not coming home at night and never speaking to me. He would not leave, even after my thousandth begging attempt. "That was HIS house and HE wasn't going anywhere and HE was going to do what HE wanted to do whenever HE wanted to do it. And boy did he. He literally did anything he wanted, with not a care in the world about his wife, his kids or even himself. Ignoring my attempts to get him into AA, the alcoholism was soon coupled with an addiction to crack.

Eight years of crack addiction and I never knew or thought a thing about drugs. He hid it well, until he started sleeping over at his friend's house (drinking buddy) every Friday night. His excuse was that he could get as drunk as he wanted and not have to worry about a DWI. No going out to eat, no plans for ANY weekend. No special treatment for birthdays, Mother's Day, Christmas ........nothing. The man hated me and I truly believe that I hated him.

After 20 years of straightening out our credit and working very hard, we moved in our freshly built home. Somehow it would be different, like every other time we'd moved. A little better for a little while, then the same old stuff. The drugs were getting worse. The man had never missed a day of work at all in 26 years, and was the first one there every morning. His Friday guy's night out was turning into Mondays and Wednesdays too. I had had enough. I told him I wanted out. The look on his face was priceless. He didn't believe in life insurance. It was a horrible fight every time I'd insist on having life insurance and he would have to pee in a bottle. He would cuss me for buying life insurance.

"You still have insurance on me?" He asked. "A hundred thousand, why?" I replied. "Something's wrong with me. I think I'm bad sick." "Well, what is it? What's going on?" I was trying to act as if I believed him....he had been bleeding from the rectum for four months and never mentioned it. He was afraid the doctors would link it to the drugs (which they later did) so he just didn't say anything. I made an emergency appointment at the Gastroentology Clinic for the next morning.

I waited for 3 hours, after them telling me he'd be out in 40 minutes. Finally they called me in to talk. "Your husband has cancer. It's bad, most probably stage four. At this point, we don't know anything more than the fact that this is a very large tumor in his colon, and it is growing at a very fast rate. We will send a biopsy to M.D. Anderson in Houston to find out what type cell it is, but right now we've made an appointment for a full body scan. We're afraid it may have spread. He will have to have surgery. A colostomy for sure. Come back Monday and we'll know more." We both sat in shock, my head was reeling with thoughts of cancer. His brother had just died of cancer at age 45. Now this. He was 45. How could I leave now? Would I have to take care of him forever? I couldn't possibly forsake him now, this was horrible at best. What was I to tell our kids?

To shorten that story up a little, he was the product of a miracle, and was blessed with an eliostomy, which was temporary. I'm going to spare you the bouts with chemo and radiation, all the while he never missed work, not even one day. Was this a sign that we would be ok? Were we hitting rock bottom? We had filed bankruptcy and signed the papers with the attorney 30 minutes prior to finding out about the cancer. He was warned that if he continued to drink and do crack that the eliostomy would become a permanent colostomy and he would probably die.

Drinking alcohol while healing from major intestinal surgery is lethal. He didn't stop, he was grossed out by the "thing" (what he called the eliostomy) and scared. The drugs got worse. The ninety day temporary eliostomy was in its 8th month. Still drinking, still leaving for 4-5 days at a time, I was not sleeping, couldn't breathe right, and my nerves were shot. I couldn't handle this "marriage" one more single minute.

Finally, after mourning and crying for months and grieving over a failed marriage of 27 years, I did it. And it was EASY. He was outside working on his speed boat and I walked out with a notebook and a pen. "Can I talk to you a minute please?" He turned around, knowing damn well that I meant business because that man had NEVER talked to me about anything that was bothering me since I was a teenager.

He agreed and followed me into the house, where he took a seat in his worn out recliner that nobody else was allowed to sit in. "I made a list of every tangible item in this house, and you and I are going to through the house again and mark beside each item what you are going to keep and what I will keep." He agreed, and we did and there were no unkind words and we were both very generous with each other and then and there the divorce was imminent. He moved out three days later, still wearing the "thing". I had never felt more guilty or relieved in my life.

He sat out at his trailer by the pond every day and wished and prayed that we would get back together. He wondered about his own mortality and took time to forgive himself. During this time I was dancing with a singles group, taking lessons and going out with friends. I NEVER cried the first time ... EVER. I accompanied him to have the "thing" reversed, all went well and he was home in two days. Cancer free, "thing" free. "Me" free. I left.

He did come (as I knew he would) three months later and ask my forgiveness for the horrors of living with him, for hurting me on a daily basis and for making my life a living hell. I accepted his apology, with this reply. "I didn't have to stay, Brian. I don't know why I did, but I made the conscious choice to stay every time. I knew it would get worse and even then I stayed. I allowed you to do this to me, and it's not all your fault. This marriage was never meant to be. Neither of us has had a happy life and now we can find someone that meets our needs. Just because a marriage breaks up, doesn't mean that it's any one person's fault. It's nobody's fault. It just didn't work. I hope we'll always be friends."

I have been divorced for 6 years now, and Brian is cancer free. He is supposed to have a cat scan done every six months but he has not had them done. He has remarried to another alcoholic and they do drugs and drink every day.

I am still dancing and have a wonderful boyfriend. I go to therapy for my codependency and being an enabler, and am learning how to not be that way. Little by Little.

God Bless all of you, and I hope we all find what it is we so desperately seek.

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Dec 24, 2010
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Thanks Ms Classic!
by: Don

Wow, thanks so much for sharing your experience, strength and hope... There is such a need for HOPE when it comes to recovery from these places we find ourselves in -- what a great gift to give others who read this!! Thanks again and keep coming back!!

Don Carter

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