AnneRussell feels foolish even pretending to celebrate Valentine’s day with her husband this year. The children are choosing to spend less and less time with their dad, and she continues to be there for them more and more. The strain of this responsibility becomes a burden that she struggles to bear alone.
Ok, so Valentine’s Day is coming up and I am feeling so angry and sad I don’t want to celebrate. We have been together for 29 years and I don’t think I have ever wanted to celebrate less than I do this year. I avoid him on my birthday, which is next month, so I should be ok then, but Valentine’s Day feels so foolish to me this year. I don’t even want to be in the same room with him at all.
Also, my kids want to be around him less and less and are talking to me more and more. I finally have spoken to his mother and my mom and dad know about the problem but I feel like I shouldn’t share too much with the kids. I have found people to drive my kids everywhere they need to be safely and I try to be available for them whenever they need me to. I listen to them and commiserate with what they are feeling but I am trying not to share my own sorrow and difficulty too much as I think they shouldn’t be worried about me. Grrrr this is so hard.
Holidays are hard. Expectations go up, and the let downs are bigger. To the degree you can, keep up the CRAFT principles and see if you can let the holiday go by without major expectations. There will be better Valentine’s days to come, when you husband is ready to address his substance use and at least some of those first steps have been taken. For today, Valentine’s is skippable. I am sorry.
This holds for all holidays. When there are big family holidays like Thanksgiving, go through some scenarios before the day. How might it go if your Loved One uses? What about if they’re not using that day? How can the disruption be minimized if (s)he does use? Do you tell your family ahead of time what you would like them to do if your husband is disruptive or using? Planning out some options like this can help us feel a little less derailed in the moment.
I hope you plan a wonderful day on your birthday with friends, massage, and a nice meal… celebrate it however you want to. Happy Birthday! This is a day to honor yourself no matter what. You need this. Let yourself carry this sentiment into other days as well.
You are trying to hold everything together. As you say it is hard, especially feeling that you have to keep your own suffering to yourself. This must be so awfully tiring. Your children are affected by the family dynamics that include addiction, and they are naturally seeking out your support more and more. But you can’t handle this all on your own.
Here is one example of a program that helps kids understand and process addiction in the home. https://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/treatment/family-children/childrens-program
In Massachusetts, I suggest you reach out to Institute for Health and Recovery. http://www.healthrecovery.org/ They are a nationally recognized agency that works with families. Located in Cambridge, they may have programs and ideas of who could help facilitate an age-appropriate discussion for your kids. They offer support for Trauma in general and recognize addiction within that category. Here is the link for the resources they offer for Trauma and Crisis Response: https://www.healthrecovery.org/page/crisis-response
With external support systems like this, you can at least share some of the burdens you have been bearing alone. The relief of being able to connect with this sort of expertise, for whatever you are facing, is invaluable.
You are on this site, looking for help. This is a positive sign – you know you need support. You have such a weight to carry. I hope we are helping. Please keep letting us know how we can best support you. There is a whole community here. We are all here for you.