Alcoholism and drug addiction are terrible diseases—they are a lot like Alzheimer’s or dementia in that the person you love is still there physically but totally changed mentally in so many ways. As I understand it, alcoholism and addiction don’t change the core beliefs or values of a person, but they drastically change the behavior of a person.
In Ellie’s case, they made one of the fundamentally most honest people I know lie about a person she loves and has known all of her life. It has made her throw out two decades of love, devotion, caring and friendship—all for the drugs and alcohol her addictions require. Her addictions made her push away the one person that paid enough attention to see what she was doing to herself and cared enough about her to try and get her help.
Last June 22, I asked her to marry me and for a week, things were wonderful. We talked about all the subjects that two people planning a future together might discuss:
- What she wanted to name our first two children—Cadence and Kelley were her choices;
- The fact that she adored Asians with freckles—likely what our children would be given her freckled fair Irish complexion and my Korean ethnicity;
- Where we would get married—her family’s parish church was the only choice;
- When we would get married—waiting until she graduated from college was what we agreed on;
- My converting to Catholicism because I felt it was the right thing to do knowing how important religion was to the devout Catholic woman I love;
- How the custom platinum claddagh band that I was designing for her with a heart-cut diamond would replace her engagement ring when we got married;
- How her engagement ring, a traditional gold claddagh ring would be held for our first daughter after we got married;
- And so much more…
Unfortunately, it was a year ago today I confronted her about her drinking, not knowing she was an alcoholic like her father and older brother. I also did not know that she was also a drug addict. Her addictions had started at the end of last May and had been growing for a month when I confronted her about her drinking. We haven’t spoken since.
I think Ellie’s basic core of honesty is why we haven’t spoken since. I think it is because she needs to be able to tell herself that she has not lied to me that she has refused to speak to me on the few occasions we have seen each other in this past year. I think she needs to be able to say to herself that she hasn’t broken faith with me or my trust in her—that she can tell herself this because she has never lied to me directly. It is warped logic, but similar enough to some of the things she did when she was younger that it would make sense to her.
No one in Ellie’s family knew about her problems with alcohol or drugs. No one in her family was paying enough attention to see what Ellie was doing. Her parents were too busy paying attention to her little sister and her brother can’t see it because of his denial of his own addictions. It took me almost a month to figure out what was going on, and I am one of the people she has been closest to for years.
One of the terrifying things for me is Ellie knows my twin was killed by a drunk driver, but she doesn’t seem to realize what that means and she has been driving drunk and/or high regularly for much of the last year. She was in a car accident in early January and it is likely that she was high or drunk by her own admission at the time. She was very lucky that no one else was involved in the accident as far as I can tell; that she was not badly injured; and that her car was not badly enough damaged to require the police be involved.
Though Ellie hasn’t spoken to me about the accident, I was able to piece together what likely happened because I was the person who her parents asked to help walk her through registering, insuring and getting her first car inspected last summer. I know that her insurance policy had a car rental rider on it and that her car being repaired after an accident is the only way she could be driving a rental car given her situation.
I know that she did more than $500 of damage to her car, since that was her deductible and less than $1500 since that is the value of her car. It likely happened late at night on her way home from drinking or doing drugs, she she admits to being drunk or high most of that week. If the accident had happened during the day, there probably would have been witnesses and the police would likely have been called.
I asked her mother about the circumstances of the accident, but received no reply. Ellie’s mother is terrified of her husband, who is an alcoholic in denial as well as a bully, a coward and very emotionally abusive towards both Ellie and her mother. He is also very violent and angry. I know because I confronted him about his own problems with alcohol in the process of trying to get Ellie help. Of course, I have known that Ellie’s father has been an alcoholic for the all of 30 years I have known her parents.
Ellie’s mother was the one who asked me to show her the evidence that I had compiled about Ellie’s problems with drugs and alcohol last August. She never saw the information as Ellie’s father destroyed it with such violence she has been too terrified to try and help Ellie. Does she really think that I would make up something like this about her daughter—a person I have loved and cared about for twenty years?
Ironically, Ellie’s mother was also the one who asked me to counsel and advise her son, Ellie’s older brother, when he flunked out of Bentley College three years ago because of his problems with alcohol, drugs and chronic depression. Does she really think that I would be less responsible in my care for her daughter—the woman I want to marry and spend the rest of my life with? Does she really think that it is so impossible that another of her children could be an alcoholic and drug addict, especially considering addiction and alcoholism run in both her family and her husband’s family very strongly.
In many ways, what I have been trying to do is keep the promise I made to Ellie’s parents a little over eight years ago, when they basically decided to check out of Ellie and her brother’s lives. I promised I would watch over them, protect them, guide them and be their friend. I did this because I loved them and have cared about them all of their lives.
That promise is one reason why I was asked to teach Ellie and her brother to drive. It was why I was asked to counsel Ellie about nutrition when she became a vegetarian eight years ago. That trust is why Ellie’s mother trusted me to speak with her son about his problems with drugs, alcohol and depression. It is why I have spoken to Ellie’s little sister about several things. Keeping that promise is how Ellie and I became such close friends.
I think if something drastic happens to Ellie—like her ending up in the hospital, in jail or flunking out of the college she is currently at—I think that Ellie’s mother might find the courage and strength to try and help Ellie as she did her son three years ago. I think that Ellie’s mother would ask me for help if that happens because her last text message to me was “Dan, I know you will always be there for us.”
Everything I warned Ellie’s mother and Ellie about has come to pass thus far. Ellie did so poorly last fall that she nearly lost her scholarship—the scholarship which she needs to attend the college she has chosen for herself.
I know that as of earlier this year Ellie was still reading what I write—which belies the things she has been saying for the last year. If she didn’t love me or care about me, why would she still be taking my advice and responding to the things I have written on this blog? But, I don’t know if Ellie is still reading this blog or the other things I have written. Earlier this year, she cut all indirect contact with me.
I fear that Ellie will have to hit the nasty, hard, and dangerous rock bottom that most alcoholics and drug addicts have to hit before she realizes she has a problem with drugs and alcohol. I hope that in the process she does not injure or kill anyone—especially herself—or end up doing something that she will regret for the rest of her life. I hope she does not destroy the bright and amazing future full of hopes, dreams and goals that she and I had often talked about in our all night talks of the past.
I hope she finally remembers who she truly is—the loving, compassionate, smart, beautiful, strong, funny, sweet, devout, stubborn and feisty Irish lass that I love and adore. I hope she reads this and sees that I still love her and want to marry her. I pray that God gives her the strength, the courage and most of all the will to fight her addictions before they completely destroy the woman I love. I pray for her daily, as I have for much of the past year.
Earlier this year, I walked away from the woman I have known and loved for over 20 years only because I think that the woman I love has become a casualty of her addictions. I think she has lost herself to her addictions and the inner demons of self-doubt and insecurity that have allowed her addictions to thrive.
If she should realize that she has a problem with drugs and alcohol, and she should want my love, support and presence in her life again–walking beside her on her long road to recovery—I will do as I have promised her and her mother so many times. But—unlike before I walked away—Ellie will have to show me that she is once again the woman I love—the woman that loves me and whispered “Sarangheyo” to me so many times last June.
Ellie will have to show me that she loves me once again and is as committed to having me in her life as I have been to her this past year. She will have to make a place for me beside her and show that she will fight to keep me there—I will not settle for being on the edges of her life again. She will have to show me that she values our friendship—our relationship—and is committed to working at it as I have done. She will have to tell the truth about us and what we really have been to each other—what we mean to each other. And finally, she will have to make amends for the lies and damage her addictions have caused.
I will not say that this will be easy—fixing the wreckage of her life that the addictions have caused will not be easy—but if she truly loves me, she will be able to do it. The woman I love is strong enough and stubborn enough to do anything she sets her mind to, and she is smart enough and honest enough to see the truth of this.
If she needs help doing all this—and is truly trying—she should know she should ask me for my help. If she is truly committed to me and trying to accomplish all this—I will help her. We have always been so much greater together than we could ever be apart because we have always loved each other and supported each other.
I do not know who the drug-addicted alcoholic that has been occupying her physical shell is—nor do I care too know her. I have no commitment to the drug-addicted alcoholic that prostituted herself for drugs and alcohol—she is not the woman I love. She is not Ellie—the woman that loves me.
It is Ellie’s decision now—it is now up to her.
Until she decides that she wants to be more than the drug-addicted alcoholic no one can help her. Until she decides she wants to be the person God meant her to be she will remain a pale shadow of her true self. Until she asks for help no one can help her. Until she decides that she is worth loving and loves herself she can not truly love anyone or accept anyone’s love for her—not even mine.
Regardless of what Ellie chooses to do with her life, her addictions and herself—I hope that she will remember that I love her. I truly hope Ellie realizes what her addictions are doing to her—that she chooses to fight them before they destroy her health, her body, her mind and her future. I hope she chooses to come back to the man she loves and that loves her, so we can start our future together.
May God watch over my beloved Ellie. God bless her and protect her, even from herself. May God grant her the strength, courage, and will to fight her illness and return to being her true self. May God grant her the wisdom to see the truth—both about her illness and about us.
P.S.—I really hate it…I really feel like I HAVE FAILED THE WOMAN I LOVE. I feel like I have abandoned her and broken faith and trust with her—though I know she is the one who did that. I feel like I should have done more. I feel like if I had loved her more perfectly or more strongly she would have gotten better… that I failed her like I failed Gee and Shelley before her. Most of all—I hate myself for not being able to save Ellie—the woman I am sure Gee asked me to seek out 11 years ago.
It really is all up to her now… I’m letting go and letting God handle this and I pray for my beautiful Irish rose Ellie. I would ask that all of my blog readers pray for the amazing woman I love and for her to return to being who she was meant to be.