Unexpected addictions

Joey Garcia

Since my husband and I separated two years ago, many bad things have been said and done. Although I did not want to separate, my life is now calm, my serious health issues have improved, and I am thinking about my future in a positive way. Now he says he can’t live without me and will follow me until I give in. The stress is back, and so are the health problems. I don’t want to be cruel or get mean and call the law, but he makes me very anxious. I never know where or what time he will turn up. He talks to anyone who shows the least interest in me. I feel as if I am being selfish and disloyal, but all I want is for us to feel good about our lives. How can I get him to leave me alone and get on with his life without either moving away or getting mean?

I am alarmed by your willingness to equate taking care of yourself with being selfish, mean and disloyal. Stalking is a crime. The best way to get your husband to leave you alone and get on with his life is to consult an attorney about filing for a divorce and securing a restraining order. See a counselor at Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE) so you can build the backbone needed to maintain healthy boundaries.

Counseling will help you detox from your addiction: trying to manage his needs and feelings. Remember, you cannot control whether he feels good about his life. You cannot control when he chooses to stop obsessing over you. You only have power over your responses to the thoughts or feelings that arise in you and the choices you make regarding situations that occur around you. Trying to get him to change only distracts you from committing to your new life. Of course, he suffers from an addiction, too. He believes that he can’t live without you. Be assured that this is a sign of obsessive control, not love.

My husband is in jail. He is an alcoholic and has been depressed since childhood. I don’t know how to help him.

I attended a workshop recently where I heard the story of a man who had been sober for five years. He attended a support group daily and followed its principles but had not touched the deep pain of the physical and emotional abuse he suffered in childhood. Plagued by bouts of severe depression, he began seeing a spiritual director (a form of religious counseling). The director noticed that the man met every crisis with the same question: “What’s wrong with me?” The man would ride this question into a profound depression. The director gently suggested that the man was addicted to the wrong question. If he was ever to become truly emotionally, mentally and spiritually sober, he must surrender that question. Of course, releasing the wrong question is scary because an entire ego-self has formed around the belief of being damaged. In the process of this surrender, the ego symbolically dies, initiating radical change in the individual. People will use the fear of losing the parts of their life that they like or feel indebted to as a reason to avoid change. For some, a 360-degree turn is more frightening than a life companioned by alcoholism or depression.

Depression and chemical abuse are sometimes diseases and sometimes symptoms of addiction to the wrong question. The best way to help your husband is to find a therapist trained in Jungian psychology or a spiritual director who can accompany him on the journey to recover his true self. Be certain to secure support for yourself, too.

Meditation of the week
“We turn not older with years, but newer every day,” wrote Emily Dickinson. Are your eyes young enough to see your enemies with love?

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