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Rock bottom became the solid foundation upon which I rebuilt my life after being married to and divorcing a sociopathic addict.

Lately, when I look back over certain events in my life, it’s a lot like watching the same scene from a movie play over and over. You know, the part where the unsuspecting soon-to-be-victim is about to go into the none-too-welcoming basement where the deranged ax-wielding maniac lies in wait. It’s the scene we all watch wondering why she had to go down there in the first place, and why isn’t she concerned by the sudden power outage and strange noises? Why wouldn’t she go get the neighbor she just waved to seconds before, the one who was outside watering the flowers?

We watch clue after clue slip past the victim’s senses while the ominous music plays in the background. By the end of the scene, when she walks into the danger that is more than obvious to everyone watching, we almost feel like she deserved what she got for being so careless and frustratingly naïve. I mean, what was she thinking?

And that is the question that has taken permanent residence in my thoughts since my divorce, what was I thinking?

Taking mini-vacations in between using is the definitive definition of a chronic drug and alcoholic relapser.  My ex-husband is one and “keep coming back” was the constant revolving door into ER’s, psych wards, detox, recovery and transitional housing programs, returning home for the “shame” period and then we are off and running on his next binge, within days or a week. “One is never enough” for him and ‘a thousand” is more in line with his addiction to drugs, alcohol and degradation.  “I’m so sorry” is the quote of the day and “I will never do this again” is a pipe dream.
Add to the mix that he has been playing these “poor me, poor me, pour me another drink” and “hit me with your best shot” for over 40 years (starting at age 12) with family, friends, spouses, children and social service and recovery programs (at last count he had been in 21 recovery programs) and the subsequent nightmares from his consequences for all involved. 

 Throw in medically and psychiatrically diagnosed sociopath, Anti-social Behavior Disorder, Impulse Control Disorder, Bi-polar and severe social functioning ability and I had my own version of “Nightmare on Elm Street” for four years. Wes Craven’s scripts did not hold the horror or suspense element that being married to a sociopathic drug addict and drunk had on my life.

 His 12-step program was the count of the steps he took between the end of my walkway and the door to the front of the house as he banged to let me in after having been out on a week-long binge in drug houses.

 His 12-traditions were the same old steps that he took each and every he began the vicious cycle of binging and it became a joke in my house at the end because I had a written checklist of what to do each time he relapsed: call the police, close the debit cards down and report them stolen (no readily access to cash after being hit with $47,000.00 of funds missing from our accounts for drugs), buy my car back from a dope dealer, pay off the “loans” that dope dealers made him, etc.  It’s just the family tradition!

 Living with a chronic relapser is equivalent of “walking through the valley of death” on a rollercoaster that never stops:  hitting rock bottom was the solid foundation of rebuilding my life and it was not about quitting, it was about knowing when I had had enough.

Profile of a Sociopath

Sociopaths are masters at deception. For instance, he may have lied about his job, finances or family. He probably did not have close ties with too many people, as a sociopath is incapable of feeling shame, guilt or remorse.  

A sociopath has little concern for another person's feelings, desires or needs. His main purpose is to get what he wants, regardless of how it may harm other people. He was probably very charming and charismatic, which is how a sociopath will win over the love and affection of his target -- you. He knew how to play the victim so that nothing was ever his fault and had a way of twisting it around so that you believed that it was somehow your fault.

A sociopath continuously invents outrageous lies about his past experiences and other people. If your ex really is a sociopath, you'll see a history of his fabricated storytelling and wonder to yourself how you could have ever believed some of those absurd lies in the first place.

Sociopathy and Drug/Alcohol Addiction: ASPD and Substance Abuse

According to researchers at Marquette University, fully 90 percent of all people with ASPD do abuse drugs or alcohol. Whether officially diagnosed or not, as many as 40 to 50 percent of all people in substance abuse treatment programs have enough ASPD symptoms to verify an antisocial personality diagnosis. The simultaneous presence of substance abuse and ASPD is known as comorbidity.

This term refers to the presence of two or more health conditions, as well as interactions between those conditions that change or intensify their effects on the body. In the case of drug and alcohol abuse, people who also have antisocial personality disorder tend to start abusing their substance of choice at an earlier age than people who don’t have the disorder. In addition, substance abusers with ASPD develop serious abuse-related problems faster than abusers without ASPD; they also develop more damaging forms of these problems.

The Rollercoaster ride to Hell

Family members follow the same downward spiral as an alcoholic or addict. There are 4 stages of family illness before the family either “bottoms out” or enters recovery. The first stage is the Concern Stage. This is the stage where family members are acting out of a genuine concern. They are only beginning to experience the effects of alcohol and drug abuse by a loved one. Family members at this stage have no idea what they are up against.

The second phase is the Defense Stage. This happens after the “first blockout” where the family members have blocked out the reality of the situation and are going in and out of denial. Addicts and alcoholics often experience “blackouts”, a period of time when they have no memory of events, usually while seriously impaired or during a period of coming off heavy alcohol or drug use.

During this stage, families are preoccupied with the addict’s or alcoholic’s behavior. They protect the addict by lying to other family members, employers, or to others about his behavior. While tolerating the addict’s behavior, they feel increasingly responsible for the family problems. The result is the “blackouts” increase, too. They can’t remember all the negative behavior of the addict and tend to minimize the consequences.

After repeated “blackouts” comes the Adaptation Phase. During this phase, family members try to change their own behavior to adapt to the chemically dependent person’s behavior. This is a critical phase that may cause family members to either become obsessed with the addict, or they may begin to drink or use drugs themselves.

Family members may attempt to become “the perfect person” hoping that will make the addict/alcoholic happy and change his/her ways. It is at this time that family members may begin to feel they are “losing their minds,” become absent minded, feel like failures, and need medical or mental health care. They often give so much to others that they have nothing left to take care of themselves.

Next comes the Exhaustion Phase, when family members defend their use of intoxicant emotions, just like the addict defends his use of drugs or alcohol. They lose their self-worth and experience severe anxiety or depression. All excuses fail and fear rules their lives. They have reached their “bottom.”

Just as when addicts reach their bottom, family members must choose to admit the problem and recover, face insanity or death. They absolutely cannot go on the way things are. When they reach this point, family members must admit their problems and accept help in dealing with them.

On June 20, 2014, I was totally exhausted, hated my ex-husband for his chronic and constant lapses into drugs, alcohol and degradation to support his habit and hit my personal rock bottom. I had been biding my time until our lease on my home was up for renewal and he could not come back into my residence when I called the police.

I went the big “D” route – DIVORCE!  After his 28 relapse (yes, I was an enabler and a co-dependent personality), I had “hit the end” of this rollercoaster ride from Hell and filed for divorce and a Protection from Abuse Order.  By this time, the police were telling me to “get a divorce” or “get a gun.”  Divorce was cheaper.

Now a year later, I am in the process of living my life to its fullest.  I realize that the emotional, mental and physical abuse, wielded like a sword, is a thing of the past and I have a Protection from Abuse Order against my ex-husband, effective until December 31, 2099.  In truth, his addictions, his mental instabilities, and his chronic poor choices in behaviors and actions are his consequences alone and why? – because MY GIVE A DAMN’S BUSTED!




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