My late husband, Kerry, grew up with parents that used drugs and alcohol. He would recall times when he would wake up on a Saturday morning surrounded by passed-out, naked people with needles still hanging from their arms.
The two divorced when my husband was little. However, the damage was done as my husband had his first drink at roughly eight years old, given to him by a parent who wanted a subdued child.
Kerry was moved around by his mother and found himself fending for himself for food, and often was his mom’s target when she was going through mental battles.
Both parents eventually became clean. His mother used Xanax to calm her mental state and later shared them with my husband. This all happened while his dad was struggling with alcohol misuse secretly.
My husband started smoking at the age of 14 and began experimenting with pot and acid shortly after. At 21, he had his first 2 DUIs, both of course were “not his fault”. He was first married at 21 and divorced after two years. Both he and his wife drank, and he more than she used pot and most likely heavier drugs.
My husband and I first began dating in high school but split up because he wanted something other than me. He wanted to drink and party and not have to be held accountable. He knew I was not into that lifestyle.
We reunited during his divorce. He had convinced me he had grown up and changed. Three years into our marriage, he began drinking, using, and lying.
I was convinced I was the crazy one, looking for evidence. Our marriage was falling apart. Shortly after our second child was born, he got his third DUI and, soon, his fourth. He tried attending AA but it did not work for him.
My husband then tried counseling but wasn’t honest with the counselor. He was able to manipulate the conversation and learned to say what the counselor was looking for.
Four years later, he again convinced me he was clean, and it was true this time around. He was clean for three wonderful years, and we had our third child.
Shortly after our third child was born, his neck needed surgery. He was given a pain prescription and remained on different pain pills for three years, with no one managing him.
He became addicted and got a third surgery as a reason to get more pills, all while secretly drinking.
He was a software engineer, and after he was laid off, he began at a new technology company, still in the software field.
Only those who would drink with him knew his problem. Only his dealer knew what he used. He managed his addiction in the closet and was successful at work. He could hide his crazy when he wanted to—but I knew.
He could no longer hide it from me and that was killing him. His mind constantly churned as to when he could get his next fix. He indeed couldn’t live with his addiction and most definitely couldn’t live without it.
Eight weeks post-surgery, my husband looked for whatever mind-numbing drug he could find. He took his 30-day supply of prescribed painkillers in only two days. He found fentanyl from a dealer a day or so later. He died on May 27, 2020.
I don’t know if there are words to describe my feelings or emotions. I had three kids that needed a mom more than ever, and I had to hold myself together. We cried, grieved, laughed at memories, and cried some more.
However, there is a side of me that wonders if he was just too tired to keep repeating his negative behavior. Maybe he was too exhausted to fight with himself.
I must give all glory to God for carrying me and my kids through the darkest time of our lives. God gives grace and more grace. He has been our provider through our. I know that my husband was a Christian, not perfect, but still Saved. He is no longer in pain, physically or mentally.
Since my husband passed away, I have started over. I have a new daughter-in-law and a newer granddaughter. My youngest son has graduated high school and my 11-year-old daughter is now in middle school.
It’s not been an easy road. It still has challenges, but I have learned that I’m stronger than I thought. I hope this encourages others to fight and never give up.
It is insane all the things one learns about an addict that others haven’t a clue. It’s amazing that a life of a constant high could be successful.
My husband wasn’t that “bum” you see on the side of the street holding a sign begging for money. He was a street-smart man who wouldn’t let his wife and kids walk in the same path that he experienced as a young boy.
All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
Heather McArthur, 49, is an accounts receivable clerk.
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