I met him in 2012. I just fell in love; completely besotted. He is so magnetic and everyone around us seemed to adore him; he’s just one of those people. I was in awe of him. We started dating and it was about 6 months in when I’d heard a few rumblings about him using drugs, but when you work in advertising that’s just sort of what happens, everyone takes coke; you stay up all night doing a pitch and present it the next day, you need to take coke. I’ve never actually used it, I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, so I was naive to this. I had no idea. I just thought this guy was incredible. Everyone else all knew he was a high functioning coke addict and always had been. The problem with addiction is that it only goes three ways; you die, you stay an addict and it gets worse or you recover, there are only 3 options. His addiction just got worse and consumed more and more of him, he kept trying to prove people wrong, do better, do more. As it transpired, he was living about three different lives at the same time and using the drugs was helping him manage the lives he was trying to live. Obviously I didn’t know and nothing could have prepared me for next six years of my life.
We got married in 2015. I knew things were going wrong and we shouldn’t have got married but you know when you are in that spiral of organising a wedding and everyone’s invited and it’s all happening. I thought ‘I’m just going to have to go through with it and whatever is going on we will sort it together because we were in love’. After the wedding, his drug use went off a cliff and who knows why? I’ll never know why but he would start disappearing for two or three days at a time, he wouldn’t show up for work and I’d end up lying to our colleagues. I’d lie to clients and cover for him and it just got progressively worse.
In October 2015, he went into rehab and did 2 weeks. Everyone was meant to do 4, but he’s ‘so clever’ he was going to do it in two; he came out and relapsed immediately. When you are stuck in a cycle of addiction with somebody, you live in anxiety of them using, anxiety of them dying and anxiety of when’s it going to happen again, so you have an ongoing cycle. Everyone around us was seeing me getting more and more controlling of him as I was trying to protect him. In my way, I was trying to keep him safe. So, I would say no to us going out for drinks because alcohol was always a gateway to cocaine and cocaine led to hell. I was then the ‘awful wife’ that was trying to make him so boring and take fun away from him, actually what I was trying to do was save his life.
It just escalated, it got worse and worse and at the end of 2015 I told him he had to go back to rehab. They told me he was going to stay for an extra couple of weeks and I thought that was great because when an addict is in rehab you get relief. I’ve felt throughout the process that rehab is as much for the family as it is for the addict, because it’s the only time where I could actually breathe; I knew he was in a safe, secure environment and couldn’t hurt himself, me or anyone else. They called me up to rehab for a ‘family meeting’, but what they’d actually called me in for, was so he could come true about the affair he was having with a woman in rehab. I sat there and listened to him tell me how he had been going off with this other addict.
When I met him, I knew he was a womaniser, but I thought ‘I can change him’ so I knew it was in him and I guess that was part of the attraction to him at first, the challenge to change him, fix him. I had it in the back of my head that this might be happening because coke is so linked to sex, one comes with the other and I naively thought he’s just an addict, nothing else. I was trying to support my husband through this disease and I thought we were doing it together. When I found out about this woman, I walked out of rehab and said I couldn’t do this. He then stormed out of rehab and used it as an excuse to leave, he told me I had caused him to leave and it was my fault. He then disappeared for ten days. I thought he was dead.
I was at a work event when I got a phone call from him saying he had totalled the car. He was trying to get back to rehab, that he was sorry, he loved me so much and he didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. I ended up calling the rehab and organising for them to go and get him. He didn’t get drug tested at the scene of the crash, so he avoided prison and went back into rehab, but I had to drive to a scrap yard in Essex and bribe the guy behind the counter with £100 to let me in so I could find the coke and keep him out of trouble. It’s insane but I just did it.
I had decided to give him another try over Christmas if he was trying at rehab. In January, I had moved out of our house and he came out of rehab, no one in my life knew any of what had happened, they all thought he was at a fitness retreat. I had no support and no one to talk to. He met me and told me ‘she’s pregnant’.
If you don’t understand addiction, you’ll just think I am just some crazy fool who would stay with him whatever he did, but I am not a stupid girl, I had done my research and he was going through a mental illness and every time I would say anything I was terrified it would trigger something and he would end up dead. He was so on the edge of death the whole time from the amount he was using; he was at £2k per day at one point. He couldn’t function. It was ridiculous.
You watch these women and judge it from afar and question how they are staying with them. But when you have got someone with a mental illness, it is neigh on impossible to leave. There were times when I didn’t want to leave but when it got to the point that I did desperately want to, you are clawed back in by the addiction because you are terrified about the person you love hurting themselves. There is a story about mental health that isn’t ever told; there is a lot about being aware of depression and anxiety, but no-one ever talks about the partner for that person and what they are going through. It is like being in prison in your own life; you don’t feel like you are allowed to leave, you don’t feel like you are allowed to be upset or have an opinion on it because it’s not happening to you – you are always told it is happening to them.
When he was in rehab, they told him that he had a narcissistic personality disorder and he stormed out. It was like ‘how dare you tell me that’. He absolutely does. Now I am out of it, I look at what he did to me personally and I can hand on heart say I was emotionally abused and bullied for 6 years. You don’t realise it when you are in it. He would threaten physical things, but he was always too clever for that; he was so busy orchestrating how other people see him and his narcissistic view of himself, he would never allow the narrative of his own brand to be seen in any other way than the way he wants, so he wouldn’t allow a black eye or something visible.
2016 was hideous, he continued to have a relationship with this girl, I didn’t know about at the time obviously, he told me he wanted a relationship with me. It went on and on. His using got so bad because of the guilt and the lies I think. He locked himself into our house and had psychotic episode, this went on for ten days solidly and by this time he was injecting instead of snorting, so the effects of the abuse had gone up. I couldn’t get hold of him, I was ready to call the police, I thought he was dead. The house was locked, I was trying to feed the cats through the cat flap. He called me, and I remember the conversation because it still gives me shivers. He said, ‘there are people in the house, children going in and out of the attic’. He told me he had called the police, but they were not interested and that he had taken a hammer to the wall. He had put holes in every wall in our house. He has a collection of Samuraiswords, I was terrified. He sent me a picture and one of the swords was through the ceiling, he was saying he was ‘going to get them’.
Eventually he called the police and they sent a helicopter. There was no-one there, he had driven himself mental. He called me and I wasn’t sure if I could go into the house. How would I go in there and go back to work tomorrow and act normally? No one knew this was going on. In the end he let me in, he told me he had chased away the children from the house and he had caught his foot on a spike on the fence, it had gone into his foot and he’d left it there for a week, he had got sepsis. He was on the floor shaking and saying he thought he needed an ambulance.
The house was a crack den, he’d had people there and there were needles everywhere. I was stepping over needles, blood and sick. He was on the floor having an overdose fit, so I had to call the ambulance.
As soon as you say ‘addiction’, to anybody that hasn’t been through it, they do judge. There is a judgement. People immediately think of homeless people on the street using heroin, but it comes in so many different forms and very little is known about the high functioning addicts that are on their way down. He got diagnosed with Sepsis, he was in hospital for 24 hours and then he was out. I didn’t know what to do with him.
I took him to a hotel and said I’d stay with him, get him back to rehab and get him clean. That night he woke me up at 3am and said he needed to write and he asked me for my laptop from my car. He is a very creative guy, so it wasn’t unusual for him to want to write. I gave him my car keys, so he could get the laptop and instead he stole my car. He crashed it, went back to the house, locked the door, ordered more drugs and went straight back into it.
I decided I would give it one last go and I sat talking to him for an hour and a half through the cat flap. I told him he would die and he needed to come out. He eventually came out and I took him back to the hotel where he told me he was relapsing because he thought he had HIV. He’d been called by someone he had bought needles from and told one of them was dirty and used by someone who is HIV positive. So, we had to go to the sexual health clinic to get him tested and he got put on PEP drugs to try and stop it spreading if he did have it.
For the next two weeks I had to babysit him, hour by hour, to make sure he didn’t go and use and also that he took his PEP drugs. I managed to get him back into rehab, but this time in Thailand; there are some brilliant rehabs there with a different approach to treatment. I organised and paid for the whole thing because after he has used, his brain just goes to mush and he can’t function or process information, so I was covering for him all over the place; writing emails for him, doing his work and the whole time I was trying to maintain my life and communication with my family and my friends, but actually in no way having a relationship with anyone because I was living this massive lie and protecting him at every stage. No one was protecting me.
He came back from Thailand and he had three months clean, which was the nicest part of our entire relationship; three months in six years. I got pregnant. It wasn’t planned but if I’m being honest, I wanted something that was mine and I desperately wanted to give him something to get clean for. I wanted something bigger than me to make a difference, I’d been banging my head against a brick wall for five years. I didn’t know if he would cope with the news, I wanted it to be a celebrated thing, but I didn’t know how he’d react. The other lady had lost her baby, or that’s what I had been told. I still don’t know if that’s the truth.
I had my baby boy. I believe my husband tried to get clean. He was such a good payer that the dealers would drop drugs in our post box and on his car wheels, even when he was clean, and the temptation was always too much for him. He would scream at me for trying to protect him; I went from being his angel to his devil and he accused me of trying to change him. Every morning I would wake up and not know who was next to me, he would range from telling me I was ‘his angel’ and I’d ‘saved his live’ to threatening to floor me.
After having our baby everything changed; at seven months pregnant I had a panic attack and I passed out because he had shut himself in the front room and he was using. I was terrified I would have the baby and he just wouldn’t even be there. He opened the door and stepped over me to go to a crack den. He stayed there for ten days and at no point asked if I was alive, if I was ok, if the baby was ok? I just didn’t know what to do, I was completely trapped. I couldn’t tell my parents this was going on because they’d never understand, and I’d have a conflict between my parents and my husband.
When the baby was born, he managed to stay clean for two weeks. I was in bed feeding and he walked out and stayed away for a week. This has happened every two weeks since the baby was born. He’s never had more than an hour with him, he’s never looked after him on his own for more than 20 minutes.
We moved away in a last-ditch attempt to help him; we were putting distance between him and temptation. It didn’t work, it never works, and I can tell everybody that now, but at the time I thought maybe it would work for us. In November 2017 he relapsed and he left needles and cocaine on the floor and our baby was crawling across the landing. It was at that moment that I knew I was done. I realised he could have done anything to me and I never would have left, but that one thing that put our son in danger meant I left, and I’ve never gone back.
We are now in a horrendous situation where he is doing four or five weeks clean, then he relapses. I have stopped access to our child because I can’t trust him to turn up, he doesn’t respond to mediation, he doesn’t respond to anything to do with the divorce and he frequently disappears. On the days that he is clean, he is begging to have access to his son and my heart is breaking; I know there is a man in there somewhere who desperately wants to be a dad, but most of me is screaming do not let him in that life because he will use him like he has used me, he will be unreliable, inconsistent, he won’t show up and he will ruin my child. 50% of children who grow up with addicts become addicts and I will not risk that on my son.
So, I am fighting and he will blame me for making his illness worse no doubt. Since separating I have found out about nine affairs, some with men, some with women, that I had no idea about. His ex-girlfriend and he were together for a year and a half after we started dating. They were living together and I didn’t know. I was so protective of him and his addiction, desperately trying to help him, I now know his life was causing the addiction to get worse.
I thought he was a good kind man with a horrendous illness; what I have learnt is that you can be as ill as you like but you can still be a bastard. I couldn’t find any support, I went to Families Anonymous, run by an amazing couple who are parents of heroin addicts. They ran this group and no-one showed up for three years, they went every week just in case someone turned up and one day I did. It helped me but with parents the love is unconditional, it’s a different attachment, I didn’t have to love him, I had chosen to be there and chosen to support him – it’s very different. I also went to a rehab for families for a week and met other people going through the same thing. I learnt about the science of the addiction and what you can and cannot do, also what you should and shouldn’t cope with. The thing I learnt from that is that I was enabling him to get worse because I covered for him. A lot of them had money issues, struggling for money and stealing from parents to use. He always earned enough to cover his addiction; it wasn’t a problem financially. Although now he says he is going bankrupt and left me with a house I can’t afford. I think in the time I’ve known about him, he’s spent a million pounds on coke.
I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, so I’ve said he can’t contact me, because there will always be a part of me that desperately loves him and desperately wants to save him. I adored him. He knows how to push my buttons; he is an incredibly manipulative and clever guy.
We are not divorced yet, but I am trying to get a divorce. How will I trust anyone ever again? All my friends and family now know and I am in counselling. He put me in so much physical danger and had nine affairs that I know of. He was a prolific cheater and I think every time he was using he was cheating, whether it be with guys or girls, escorts, it was constant, and he was using needles and then coming home and having sex with me. I was in so much danger. I’ve confronted him with that and he acts like I’ve stabbed him; he believes in his nobility as a human, he believes that he is a good man who is ill.
What I want to say people is; no matter how ill someone is, you don’t have to get abused because of it. I thought my health and feelings meant less than his because I wasn’t ill and he was, so I stayed, and I always put it down to the addiction and I protected him, I never told anybody. I lied so well, for so long, to so many people, so when you leave someone like that, no-one believes you. Don’t feel ashamed for trying to take care of yourself. I have been terrified to put myself first because I thought he was going to kill himself, but actually the truth is, I could never affect positive or negative outcomes of what he would do.