To find someone you love is quite lucky. To find somebody you want to walk down the aisle with and spend the rest of your life with is even better. Marriage has its challenges, ask any of my married friends. The Statistics say that fifty percent of marriages now end in divorce. The reasons are pretty much across the board with the obvious ones being infidelity, finances, and boredom. However there is a hidden reason that marriages can also crumble, one that is a very all too sad and yet very true that many marriages end because of a silent enemy known as addiction.
When somebody has an addiction it doesn’t only destroys the person suffering, but it pretty much annihilates everything else in its environment including friends and family members.
Sit back and think for a minute of a person you love more then anyone else on this earth. Now, picture that same person holding a gun to their head everyday, drinking poison, or walking dangerously on the ledge of some tall building. Now also try to be the one that tries to take the gun away… stop them from drinking that poison… or offering them a hand to get off of that ledge and instead of accepting your help they not only ignore you, but sometimes scream at you to ‘leave them the hell alone”. Imagine doing that everyday… day after day…constantly watching somebody destroy themselves… by their own hands… by their own minds… and then constantly bite the hands that try to feed them.
It’s a sad fact, but addictions, specifically Eating Disorders do this very thing to the people they love all the time. It’s an insidious cycle… and one can get so wrapped up in the mayhem of the whole thing that they sometimes cannot take it anymore. Some leave out of constant frustration, and others may leave because it is too much for them to bear to watch a person they love self-destruct.
Human beings are meant to survive… it’s that fight or flight mechanism that is instilled in all of us. People first and foremost will protect themselves. And when push comes to shove, detaching themselves from the thing that is destroying them most.
Now… why some may ask would somebody do that? Remember those vows of marriage…Sickness and in Health… Til Death do Us Part? You constantly hear of spouses whose significant other is afflicted with something like Cancer, or some other illnesses. Take partners who have returned back from war missing limbs or half of their face… others have had a spouse who has been in terrible accidents leaving them in comas or so crippled that their spouses had to totally and completely care for them 24 hours a day.
So why then does addiction of any type not lead to the same type of loyalty… it should right?
Not so much… and I will tell you why. People, primarily spouses who are dealing with somebody in the throws of an addiction like an Eating Disorder may find themselves falling in to two very scary categories. They are the “Enabler/Codependent” type, or the “Angry policeman”. Both are not productive for either the addict or the other person.
If you become an “Enabler/Codependent” which I have found most spouses find themselves turning into, you are more passive… while the person with the addiction becomes very aggressive. This can be a very harmful dynamic, mainly because the person who is the “Enabler” is so concerned about the person, that they find themselves doing whatever the addict wants… even if it means helping them stay sick. Addicts of any type turn into something else they are not… their disease… and that disease will manipulate, will lie… will do whatever it takes to protect it’s unhealthy habits that have become symptoms of their illness. They will steal candy from a baby if it means getting what they want, and they know they can do it. They prey. They will twist; they will turn the other person inside out in order to get what they want. An addict becomes an expert at this and can squash an enabler like a bug. They no longer see the person… they see someone they can massage so soft that they are putty in their hands. The harmful thing about this is that pretty soon the enabler becomes weak to the disease, and instead of standing firm against it, and taking some affirmative action they become a slave to the other person’s disease.
Now the “Angry Policeman”… that’s what I like to call it, falls into bit of a different category. These types of spouses usually have pretty “aggressive” personality types… so pair that with an “aggressive addict” and it becomes like Full Fledged War!!
The addict suddenly puts up its usual defenses… which causes the not suffering spouse to put up his or her defenses. This creates a lot of friction… the Addict acts out with more bad behavior and the other acts out by almost becoming a parent…yelling… punishing… patrolling… trying to control every little thing the other person does. Well this is like a UFC fight without a Ref… In other words… there will be blood!
The problem with either scenario is that the final outcome is not good. Something that started out Once Upon a time… has slowly but surely become Once upon a Nightmare!!
Yep this Fairytale has somewhere along the way taken quite the wrong turn and what happens is that in either case both parties cannot take it anymore. One or the other eventually leaves… the Addict out of not getting what they want anymore…or the Spouse out of pure frustration of not being able to handle somebody who is so out of control and destructive.
And… The worst possible case scenario God Forbid is that the addict will lose its fight with their illness and their life, leaving the other with so many unanswered pieces and unresolved issues to deal with.
So is there any hope to be found?? YES, YES, YES!! THERE IS ALWAYS, ALWAYS HOPE!!
The key for anybody suffering with a loved one of any kind who is dealing with an addiction is realizing that this is something that is out of you and the person’s suffering hands.
The person suffering is Powerless… the Loved ones in their life are Powerless.
The Power comes from both parties to become…wait for it…..”ASSERTIVE”…and…Wait for it again…”WILLING” to seek some help.
Addictions specifically Eating Disorders are like flying an Airplane…without the proper training, you wouldn’t want to be in charge of the controls.
The cool thing is, is that there are plenty of very qualified “Pilots” to help fly this particular “aircraft”.
There are quite a lot of options and each person’s case is different.
Some people require inpatient hospitalization where as others may need an intensive outpatient program. When the person suffering is willing to accept help… then it’s crucial that they sit down with their loved ones along with Professionals and examine what their options are.
In the case of a spouse this is where that Pilot aka Ref comes into play… someone who won’t take sides…but rather get in the middle so to speak and help sort things out.
There are a wide variety of Specialists out there who not only deal with Addiction, but also in Family and Marriage Counseling as well.
Nobody is to blame here… and it certainly doesn’t mean that it is any body’s fault…what it means that the Person Suffering is merely acting out to whatever he or she has going on inside of them, and that can only be resolved by seeking treatment and examining why they are ill, and the steps its going to take for them to get to a better place.
People who suffer from an Eating Disorder have fallen out of love not with the other person so to speak, but rather with themselves, and that disables them from loving anybody else. Only when a truly person heals can they learn to love themselves again…and get the Love back for the things and others in their lives.
If you are dealing with an Eating Disorder, or have a spouse who is dealing with one, I know of anybody who is, I encourage you to seek some advice on how to get some help.
I also encourage all family members to participate in some sort of family counseling as well as individual if needed to learn how to deal with such a tricky disease.
There are also many groups in the community like AL-ANON or ANAD that offer support for friends and family members dealing with such issues.
It’s a process, but one that will only result in some much needed healing for all involved… and can to lead to a great future and a very “HAPPILY EVER AFTER”