1. Put Your Trust In Your God. The Universe is controlled by a divine power. Put your trust in the power of prayer and listen to the answers. Throughout my marriage, I prayed for the strength to get through some very difficult times. Not being an addict myself, I cannot understand putting a chemical in my body and holding that chemical in a more important place than my family. I just don’t get it but in the end, if your spouse won’t seek professional help for drug and alcohol addictions, it’s probably time to go. I was so frightened, and I felt I had not option but to leave to protect myself (and the children). In the beginning, I was dumb-founded (I still am) that he would choose drugs over us, his family, but THAT WAS his choice. Although I can’t control his choices, I AM affected by his choices, and I CAN control HOW I will react to those choices. So, I pray…a lot.
2. Get Legal Advice – Know that anything a drug addict says, no matter how sincere it seems at face value, is driven by the drugs. Whether the discussion is about the children or money, don’t trust anything an addict says. A professional told me that when you are divorcing a drug addict, you MUST face the fact that a drug addict is having an affair! You (and the children, if there are children) are no longer the primary focus for a spouse with drug/alcohol issues. An affair with the drugs is very difficult for the other spouse to “fight”. (A friend of mine went through a divorce with a partner that was a chronic “cheater”, she felt my situation was easier. Divorcing a drug addict is the same as divorcing a “cheater” – the trust is gone! Once the trust is gone – it’s gone!) So, unfortunately, you must have legal representation, unless the addict is willing to sign everything over and just walk away. If your spouse is willing to “give” you everything, you should still have an attorney and perhaps an accountant review and advise you on any short term, long term and/or tax implications. Check with friends or go online and get referrals from chat rooms, web forums or even Twitter can guide you to websites to help you do some research, but in the end, get professional advice.
3. Get Support from Friends. A divorce is emotionally draining. Typically, your friends and family don’t want to hear it, but it’s really important to have someone that is willing to listen and just offer support. Not guidance, just support.
4. Get Therapy. If you can afford to visit with a therapist, I would highly recommend that you do that. A trained professional can help you understand the inner brain workings of a drug/alcohol addict. AND, whether you want to hear it or not, at some level you have some responsibility in all this. A therapist can help you see the areas where you have to take ownership of this crisis. There are studies out now, that have revealed that people with addictions have a gene that can be identified. You may have to face the fact that, perhaps, you were an “enabler”. Ultimately, though, the responsibility for the addictions rest squarely on the shoulders of the addict. Unless, of course, you were the one that held your spouse down and physically forced the drugs into their body.
5. Blog. If you live in a bubble, where you haven’t access to friends, family and therapists then I would suggest that you blog or at the very least journal. Even if you do have friends and family, these support systems, firstly, get tired of hearing about your indignations and hurts and secondly, your friends and family, unless they have been through it, may not know how to support you. It’s one thing to have friends and family that can support you in a divorce, however, divorcing an addict is NOT like going through a “normal” “irreconcilable differences” divorce. Go online and find others that are fighting the same dragons, find chat rooms and forums that can give you guidance in finding lawyers and therapists etc. in your area of the country. It will give you a chance to rant with someone that understands and you can compare horror stories, that, trust me, may eventually, with time, seem mildly entertaining. Maybe, even funny.
6. Protect your Credit. Any divorce will cause disruptions with your credit score, and especially today with the current economic situation and problems with identity theft, it becomes even more important to protect your identity and your credit score. This is not just directed at outsiders, your spouse might try to hi-jack your identity, not just for their own self-serving practices but, sometimes, as was in my case, an attempt at causing you harm. In a divorce, both parties have the potential (and the motive) to cause harm to the others’ credit. Horror stories abound about credit catastrophes caused by angry spouses – like….. running up credit cards in the other spouse’s name and walking away. Enlist a service, that for a monthly fee, will monitor your credit score and advise you by email, if there are any changes to your credit score.
7. Set Up Your New Separate Identity. If it’s not time right now, it will be soon. So, there’s no time like the present to start using your own name and identity. Start recognizing yourself as YOU. Separate and apart from your identity as a spouse, having others recognize you as a person standing alone will help you feel more empowered. Think about reverting to your single name.
8. Take Your Time. Decisions made now, while not set in stone, are important and will have an impact. Whether you decide to move to a new home or city, whether you choose one lawyer over another. All these decisions are important. So make your choices wisely and be informed as best you can. Take advice from any and all sources you can, but remember you are the one that has to live with the long term impact of the choices. So make your choices and decisions wisely!
9. Don’t Take Advice from Friends. All that being said, in number 8, recognize that you shouldn’t take advice from friends as “set in stone”. Take the input, weigh in out, balance it with information from searching the internet but just know that friends are biased. Unless your friends are trained professionals, and even then, while their input may be heartfelt, it might be totally wrong for your situation and they could be biased. Take all the input and apply what works to your individual situation.
10. Insurances. Make sure all your insurances are up to date. Medical, vehicle, home, life. In my situation, for whatever reason (I surmise his processes were clouded by the drug/alcohol usage), the car insurance didn’t get paid and we were driving for months with no car insurance. In my state, that’s illegal and it was reported to the state and that opened another can of worms, which caused further damage to my credit score. So take responsibility and make sure ALL your insurances are current.
11. Your Finances. Your finances are a very crucial part of a divorce. If at all possible, I would suggest that you should, unfortunately, preplan by tucking some money aside, before the divorce, in the event that things turn ugly. You will, at least, have access to SOME money to see you through some difficult roads ahead. Money in should always be more than money out, but particularly important during a divorce. Work diligently towards keeping credit cards in order. Continue, if at all possible, to add to your savings plan every month.. You really should be aware of tax ramifications and the long term impact – things that your lawyer may not have expertise in. Work with an accountant or a divorce planning financial expert. Hindsight is always 20/20 is how the saying goes and in looking back I realize that during my marriage, we lived off of one salary and banked the other. While in the marriage, I thought that was a great idea. Now though, when he closed the bank accounts and took all the money, I realize that wasn’t such a good idea. Get an accountant.
12. Look After Yourself. The road ahead will be taxing and probably difficult, depending on how much of a time/emotional investment you made into your marriage. Take the time to relax, do whatever it is that brings some “you” time. Go for walks, play cards, ride horses, yoga, read, play the piano, it’s important to find time to experience the things that bring you stress relief. Stress can be difficult to manage at any time in your life, but particularly during a divorce. The point is that a divorce CAN consume you, IF you let it. So, take the time to take time for you. Make sure you still get your hair done, your nails, pamper yourself and just know, that no matter what someone else may be telling you – you are worth it. Looking after yourself reinforces your energy levels, your resolve and your determination.
In the beginning of the end, (or the end of the beginning), I watched “Diary of a Mad Black Woman, I watched, “Enough”, I watched, “Sleeping with the Enemy” and while I recognized parts of each of those movies in my marriage, more than anything I recognized that the common element is a certain “system” of emotions that run amuck. First comes the rush of fear, then indignation, then anger, then, fear again. More indignation, anger and then acceptance and resolution. Through it all, runs the desire to “hate” – eventually you come the resolution that these negative emotions fuel more of the same – through the Law of Attraction – so it’s healthier (not easier – but healthier) to let it go. The Law of Attraction is very clear, whatever you focus on – whatever you think about you will bring more of into your life. Anger, brings more anger, conversely peace will bring more peace.
Drug and alcohol addicts don’t do drugs and alcohol because of something you have done, they do drugs and alcohol because of something going on in their own reality. I used to get upset every time I opened an email offering to supply me with drugs without a prescription – somehow I was able to easily hit the delete button. I can’t say the same thing for everyone – otherwise these websites would not survive. You give yourself too much credit if you think that you had anything to do with turning your spouse into an addict. At some level, even the addict can’t control the behavior. Hopefully, at some point, the addict will realize and reach out for the professional help that will help them heal.
Another tidbit that I will impart, I have been told by the drug addiction doctors that the drug addict will tell you that they have recovered. This was certainly the case in my personal story. Most drugs cannot be controlled by the addict going “cold turkey” on their own. Usually, these drugs have to be “de-toxed” out of the body using other drugs and a course of therapy and these things cannot be done on an out-patient basis. Once an addict has “recovered”, that person’s life will, forever, be “in recovery”. Whatever the addiction gambling, drinking, drugs, on and on the list goes…… once the addiction has been “conquered”, it will always be a challenge AND one addiction can be replaced for another! It’s really important that addiction issues be dealt with by a licensed professional, under controlled settings.