I don’t want to leave my husband but he’s given up on our child! What should I do?
My husband has resigned himself to the fact that our daughter is not going to recover. He is very depressed and keeps telling me that I need to accept the fact that she is going to die. She was always a “daddy’s girl” and I know this is hard for him, but I can’t understand why he has given up on her. I love my husband, but I’m thinking of leaving him because I cannot be around him when he talks like this.
I know this may not be comforting to hear, but it’s not unusual for loved ones to “prepare for the worst” by prematurely grieving a loved one who is still alive. The problem with this approach is twofold: First, we lose the opportunities, even if they are few and far between, to love our children while they are still here. Second, our loved ones can feel that we have “given up” on them when they need us to believe in them until they can believe in themselves.
I suspect your husband is trying to brace himself for the worst possible scenario. It’s not a lack of love; instead, it’s fear and loss of control that is causing him to do this. Can you convince him to get some help for himself? A therapist who deals with loss and grief might be able to help, and so might a recovery coach who has experience working with people who have gone through this. In the paperback version of my book, If You Love Me: A Mother’s Journey Through Her Daughter’s Addiction and Recovery, I tell my story and the stories of many others whom no one expected to make it, yet with enough support, love, and luck, they have been successful in their recovery.
Many family meetings bring in people in recovery to speak to the group. Reach out to one such group, ask if they have plans to have a recovering person speak at an upcoming meeting, and bring your husband. Hearing someone who has found their way to recovery can be inspiring as well as comforting—even some of the worst stories have happy endings. Encourage your husband to get help for his depression as well. Too often, we hold all our emotions in, and the anger at the situation comes out as depression.
Keep in mind that your husband is, most likely, handling this as best he can. Unfortunately, he might not be a very good support system for you right now, so you may need to find support elsewhere. Attend support groups yourself and surround yourself with people who will help you remain hopeful. This experience is extremely traumatic, so find activities like meditation, yoga, or journaling to release some of your emotions and calm yourself.
Try to find some time for the two of you to be together and not discuss your daughter. Do something together that reminds you of why you love each other. I can hear that you don’t want to leave him, so hopefully you can find a way back to each other.
Disclaimer: The above advice is not meant to be construed as medical or legal advice. If you need professional medical, psychological, or legal advice, please contact a doctor, lawyer, or medical center.
Maureen Cavanagh is a peer recovery coach and interventionist who works with families and loved ones supporting a person struggling with a substance use disorder on their own recovery. She is the founder of Magnolia New Beginnings and Magnolia Recovery and Consulting, and the author of If You Love Me: A Mother’s Journey Through Her Daughter’s Addiction and Recovery, published by Henry Holt/Macmillan. You can learn more about her at www.maureencavanagh.net
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