My husband has a drug addiction. I thought he was doing fine, but I found out he was stealing pain pills from me and selling them for three months. He blames me for everything. I made him leave. He blames me that he is gone and tells me it’s all my fault.
It’s been a few months now. I have been very depressed. I’m trying to stay busy and move forward. I go from seeing the loving times to being angry and confused. I don’t know how to get through this.
This is a difficult betrayal on so many levels. Not only are you coping with lies, theft, drug abuse and illegal selling of drugs, but you’re also now being blamed for all of it. Anyone in your situation would feel depressed and struggle to move forward. However, you don’t have to stay in that situation, and I’m glad you’re asking for help. Let’s talk about what you can do to heal.
First of all, his addiction and his crimes aren’t your fault. You may know that, but when you’re repeatedly told that you’re to blame by someone who is supposed to love you, even the most rational people begin to question their sanity. It’s not your fault.
One tactic that abusive individuals use to keep themselves out of accountability is called DARVO. It stands for Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim-Offender.
It points to a predictable sequence used by abusers to place the blame on someone else. They first begin by denying they did anything wrong in the first place. Your husband is refusing to acknowledge the seriousness of his wrong behaviors, leaving you to wonder what is right and wrong.
Next, you become the target of the attack. This shows up in criticizing your character, your intentions, your behavior or anything else to put you down. It’s a way to silence you and further distance themselves from any form of accountability. Finally, your husband reverses the order of the victim and the offender. When he tells you that he’s the one suffering because of your choices, he’s now making himself the victim while labeling you as the offender. Clearly, this is backward.
It’s important for you to spot this pattern and not allow it to impact your reality. As soon as he begins to deny the reality of his behavior and then you don’t go along with it, he will escalate to attack you and then make you believe you were the one responsible for all of this pain. It usually happens quickly and is always very disorienting. Once you can see the pattern and know how common it is when there is abuse, addiction, affairs or other betrayals, you can better prepare yourself to respond.
In your quiet moments, you know the truth of what is happening. You know that this is medication that is prescribed to you for your pain management. Your husband stole it from you without your permission, preventing you from using it for your own physical health. Then he illegal sold it to other people, putting himself and your children (if you have children) in a terribly precarious position. You know that nothing will improve for him or this situation if he denies any of this.
Even though you didn’t make these choices and shouldn’t embrace any accountability for his behaviors, you can completely embrace the wise choice you made to have him leave your home. Yes, that was your choice to protect yourself. It was your choice to prevent him from taking more of your medication. It was your choice to create an environment where you will be safe. You chose to protect yourself from any outside dangers related to drug culture. Your choices changed lives for the better.
Don’t let him cause you to believe that just because he’s hurting right now that you made the wrong choice. Again, you’re not the offender. You were put in a situation where you had to protect because he wouldn’t. Your courage and strength will bless you and your family. If you hadn’t made those choices to protect your family, he would have likely continued on and brought more serious consequences to you.
Even though you can work to own your choice to choose safety and peace, you won’t automatically feel peaceful when someone is shouting you down. I recommend you limit contact with him until he can be respectful. Work closely with an attorney to understand your rights with your children and keeping them safe, especially if he’s engaging in illegal activities. This is a time to set conditions where he works to earn the right to be back in your presence.
Make sure you get the support you need from others who understand the mind games associated with addiction and abuse. I recommend you attend a family 12-step support group to help you understand how to stay out of these unhealthy interactions. When you’re repeatedly accused and told things that aren’t true, it can drive you into deeper isolation and shame. You need others to help you see clearly.
It’s normal to question your history when you discover a secret life. You will go through a long sorting process of trying to make sense of your story with him. Even though you weren’t living a lie, it can feel like everything was a lie. However, the truth is that your experiences were pure and based on living one life. Be gentle with yourself and work hard to keep the accountability on him and not blame yourself for not seeing it years ago. He made sure you didn’t see it.
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