Cocaine: The Big Lie. I’d heard the slogan in D.A.R.E. classes when I was in high school, but until I was married to someone who was addicted to cocaine I’d never really given any thought to its meaning. Through my marriage, though, I learned that cocaine, the liar, doesn’t have to be snorted or otherwise ingested to affect you, the people you love or your future.
Though I divorced the man who was addicted to cocaine 20 years ago, I still live with the ramifications of being married to him. My life is a constant battle to overcome scars that will never heal. I never experienced the fleeting pleasure of doing cocaine, but my children and I have been given a life sentence, in a way, because cocaine chose us through my ex.
When I found the tiny vials of white powder hidden in my home, I thought they contained baby powder. When we took the long way home, making stops on inner-city streets that prompted me to lock the car door, I believed it was because there was an accident on the highway. When there was no money for rent or bills, I believed it was because the paycheck got lost in the mail. When I was eight months pregnant and pushed out of the car because I responded the “wrong” way to a question he asked, I believed it was because he was stressed out. When we moved 2000 miles away, isolating me from family and friends because that’s where my husband found a job, I believed him, not realizing this is what abusers so often do. When my son had bruises on his back and my husband told me he fell off the bed, I believed him. But it was all a lie. The Big Lie.
Regardless of education, many of us aren’t so smart when it comes to falling in love. I found this out the hard way, living with a man enthralled by a drug means you may be constantly walking on eggshells, saying little, because if you react the wrong way you will be kicked or punched or locked out of the house.
‘His Lies Became My Lies’
I hated him, but mostly I hated myself for staying. His lies became my lies. I trusted no one, since I believed that no one could help me. Then eventually I found that this was the case: No one wanted to help me. They were all tired of hearing the stories and I was tired of being told to “just leave.” I did leave him, in fact, but he came for us. I had him arrested; he was back the next day. I got restraining orders; the orders ran out. He had a gun, he had knives and he had the white powder. He shot my cat, he beat and neglected my children while I was working and when I came home from work he had his hand out waiting for the money I’d earned in tips. When he got it, he went out all night, then came back and slept all day. The nights were my breaks. If he returned and wanted to have sex, I gave in, knowing that otherwise I’d be thrown out into the cold in just my nightgown.
The only way to battle a liar is to call his bluff. I was lucky; he had crushed most of my spirit, but a fragment of my broken soul remained. I decided to gamble my life to be free. I was lucky because my liar was, ultimately, a coward.
For years after that, I slept with a bat next to my bed, and whenever I talked to a man I expected him to blow up at me at any minute. I will never fully regain my confidence and self-esteem because I still don’t really blame the liar: I blame myself. And I still love the man the liar took over. Like me, my husband was destined to be a lifelong victim.
He’s clean now, but the temptation of the temporary high is always there. My “drug” is addictive, unhealthy relationships. Five years after ending my marriage to the cocaine addict, I married a man who was patient and kind and never lost his temper, but his addiction was pornography, and that marriage ended, too. Now I’m afraid to love or trust another and it is my head that rules now, no longer my heart.