Can I help relieve your pain?

There are things that happen to us in our lives — things I wish I knew how to handle before they happened to me.

When I was in my 20’s, I knew I would get married, have two kids, live out in the valley where houses were cheaper, and life moved a little slower. I knew I’d have a dog (a Schnauzer, because I’m allergic to everything else!) and I’d make friends with my neighbours, because that’s who I am.

I am a little psychic — these things I knew, and they were true, however, being psychic doesn’t really give you a clue as to what the reality of these images of your future would be like.

I was 29 when I met my husband to be. I had been with another man, who wanted to marry me, but he was far too needy, and smothering. He was an alcoholic, and was so selfish and difficult when he was drinking — he was jealous when I would tell him I had to go home to have dinner with my parents… and I lived at home! I swore I would never end up married to a man like that. I broke up with him. Then I met “Freddie”. (Yes, I changed his name to protect him, although he’s definitely not innocent!)

I met him in a nightclub. That should have been my first clue! However, it was an Irish Pub, and the atmosphere was sooooo much fun – singing and dancing ’til the weee hours. Freddie worked there as the sound man for the band — he seemed to have a respectable job.

We would leave at 2:00 am when the bar closed down and go have something to eat, and get to know each other. He was so charming – an Englishman with a wonderful Yorkshire accent (of course!), he swept me off my feet. We fell in love. And dare I say, love truly is blind.

We did everything together. A year later, we got married, and I got pregnant. Soon after, I went out of town with my Mom for a three week trip to attend my cousin’s wedding. When I returned, I discovered there was $3,000.00 missing from our joint account. When I asked him about it, he couldn’t give me a straight answer. I accused him of being on drugs…. hoping it wasn’t true.

It was. He was a cocaine addict. I had married a cocaine addict!!! How could I not know that? My whole relationship with him flashed before my eyes, and all the little clues (and big ones – remember, love is blind!) came to me in an instant. I never felt so stupid as I did at that moment.

I realized his friend “Ronnie” (Yep, changed that one too.) didn’t really have that many friends, coming and going at all hours — they were coming to his house to buy drugs. And Freddie’s friends who would do anything for him, were actually buying drugs off him! So of course they would offer to buy him drinks and let him stay at their place any time he wanted to.

These were the obvious clues that I was completely oblivious to. The other clues came to light after….

I told Freddie that he would have to get help, or he’d have to leave.  He went to see a doctor about his habit. She booked him into a Rehab facility. He kept putting it off, saying that as long as I was by his side he would be fine, he would stop using.

However, when I went into the hospital to have our baby, I wasn’t by his side.

Our daughter had health problems (that’ll be in another post, along with the other stories about the house in the valley, and the schnauser, etc!) so I was in the hospital longer than I had hoped. While I was in there, he came in one day and told me he had lost his wallet. I immediately burst into tears, knowing that was code for “I spent all our money on drugs!” The nurse walked in at that moment and wrote on my chart “post-partem depression”. But how could she possibly know?

When we came home from the hospital, I scrambled every month to pay our rent. He would go to work, and come home long after he was due home, then go out for “cigarettes”. He kept spending our money on drugs… I kept scraping more together… until one day, he woke up to a radio contest that announced his birthdate – the first caller with that birthdate would win $5000… he couldn’t get through on the phone – he didn’t win – and he started screaming. Woke up the baby… I thought he was having a heart attack or something (I was very naive…). I realized at that moment how out of touch with reality he was and wondered what I was going to do to protect myself and my baby from him.

I waited until he left the house. Then I went to our appartment manager and asked her to help me change the locks on our place. She gave me a new doorknob. When he came home, he found his bags outside the door with a note saying we would talk after he got into Rehab. Within a month he was there.

My daughter and I went to visit him one day to see how he was doing. He seemed to be doing very well. Following all the directions, doing all the right things… but something was bothering me. Something didn’t seem right. Or maybe it seemed too right…

I made an appointment with his doctor and asked her for her opinion – did she think he could recover sufficiently for us to have a happy life together? She answered with a resounding “No.” I definitely had some thinking to do.

Then I found a Narcotics Annonymous group – I went to the meetings. I made friends with a fellow there and asked him to help me. I told him that I needed to protect our daughter, and how it was so hard to tell if he was on drugs — but that I needed to know when he returned if he was using. I asked him to tell me what signs or symptoms I could watch for…

He told me to look in the garbage for small bits of foil – particularly burnt foil. Or burn marks on our spoons. He said to watch the time – everytime he would leave the house, see if he was gone an appropriate amount of time to accomplish whatever errand he had set out for. And to listen to his answers carefully — see if he always told the same story.

When he returned from rehab, I knew within one week that he was already back on the drugs. All the signs were there. Everything I had learned to look for was happening.

I confronted him.

He denied it – but that night when he went to work, he was wearing the oddest assortment of clothing — a bulky sweater with a coat that didn’t really fit over it… and gave me such a big bear hug… I had a very cold feeling…

Later that night I got a phonecall from a stranger telling me he had been given $20 to phone and tell me that my car was parked downtown outside a hotel, that I would have to bring our spare keys to come and get it. Freddie had ditched town with, apparently, all his clothes on his back….

I knew at that moment that I would never see my husband again.

It was hard for a while. The anxiety of raising my darling daughter (11 months old at that time) by myself was only alleviated by the thought of having to raise her with a drug addict in the house. He was gone and I could breathe again… after a while.

I never thought of myself as a particularly strong person, but I learned at that time in my life that I am. I am strong enough to take care of my family by myself. And I did. Maybe now, 20 years later, now that I have come through the other side, maybe my story will help someone else get through their hard times.

Be strong. Life is a miracle. Children are miracles and they deserve our best efforts to keep them safe. Protect them from drug addicts and alcoholics. They are relying on us. Do whatever it takes.

Wishing you health and happiness,


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