In the episode, I talked with two people that we called Mike and Susanne…those aren’t their real names. They’d been together since they were teenagers and got married 8 years ago.
Mike and Susanne were both addicted to heroin for five years. During that time, they also had three kids.
And then, after several attempts at getting clean, they stopped using with the help of methadone.
When we recorded the interview...they’d been clean for almost a decade.
Anna Sale: Do you ever get urges now?
Mike: Nah. Maybe occasionally, but not - not with any frequency.
Susanne: I don’t. I don’t look back at that time with fondness at all.
AS: Has it been harder to rebuild than you thought it was going to be?
After I interviewed Mike and Suzanne, we found out about pendingcriminal charges against Mike. They weren’t drug charges…but for sexual abuse of a minor. Prosecutors alleged that he touched and sent sexual texts to a pre-teen girl.
In May, Mike plead guilty to one charge that he sent sexual texts to a pre-teen girl.
We reached out to Susanne…
...to ask about what’s happened since we spoke earlier this year.
S: He was initially facing 4 charges and 3 of them were dropped. And now he’s facing a maximum of 18 months in county jail. But they did it because the victim had been suicidal and they were trying to give him a generous enough plea deal so that she didn’t have to testify in front of him.
AS: And what’s the status of your relationship with Mike right now?
S: Um, yeah, we’re not together anymore.
AS: When did that happen?
S: Um, shortly after she tried to commit suicide. It kind of became real, I guess. I was in denial for a really long time. I didn’t want to face the fact that I could be with somebody for that long and go through so much with that person and still not know something that big. But after that, I couldn’t deny how much he must have hurt her, for her to do something like that.
AS: How do you feel about no longer being in a relationship together?
S: Um, I feel terrified. Like very, very, very afraid. I’m not sure how to handle things on my own. I’m not used to sleeping by myself, I’m not used to remembering when to pay the bills – I forget everything. I’ve always had him to fall back on, and I always knew that he understood what I was going through because he was going through the same thing, but now I don’t know anybody that knows what I’m going through. And…I mean, there are groups of people, like groups of women who’ve left abusive husbands and stuff like that but I don’t feel like that’s how our story played out. I feel like I wasn’t abused, but I should have known that I was married to someone that had the ability to abuse somebody.
AS: Does it feel like you’re restarting in a similar way, like when you finally got clean?
S: Yeah, it does. I feel like back at that point where I’m really afraid of what the future holds, like even more than when I was on drugs.
AS: And how are you making it financially?
S: Um, child support. And savings. And 401Ks and retirement funds and, yeah. Like honestly I stopped looking for a job because I’m like incredibly depressed right now, and there are mornings that I wake up and I’m mad that I woke up.
AS: Oh, Susanne.
S: And I know it’s really selfish because I have children still, but there’s a huge part of me that thinks that they’d be better off if they could move on with their lives, and that he could go away and I could go away and they could forget that anything bad ever happened But I know that’s not how it works.
AS: Yeah. You’re their mom. Are you at all afraid that you’ll be enticed to use again?
S: Um actually, like I never ever thought about using until like a month ago, that was the very first time. And there was an evening, I actually like went online and I looked around trying to figure out what neighborhood I’d have to go to. But at the end, I decided that I was just being self destructive and it was pointless. And I would end up hurting more than just myself, and I think that’s who I wanted to hurt. But, my, yeah, my self destruction would have ripples across my entire family.
AS: I have to say hearing, talking to you it sounds like you’re pretty alone right now.
S: I am very alone. I cry myself to sleep every night and sometimes I cry so hard I feel like I can’t breathe.And I don’t want to talk to anybody. Like even if I had the money to go to a counselor, I wouldn’t know what to say.
AS: I find that surprising because you’re so, I feel like you’re so clear about explaining what you’re going through as we talk.
S: I know, it seems easier because I’m not facing you I guess. I don’t know.
AS: Do you feel stronger because you were able to leave the relationship?
S: No. I feel weak that I didn’t leave to begin with. I should have left it a long time ago. I should have left like as soon as I found out. Like I feel like I was really weak because I didn’t do that.
That’s a woman who we’re calling Susanne. At the end of our conversation, I asked her whatshe thought could be helpful for her right now. She said she didn’t know.
But I imagine that in our audience there are other people who have been through similar situations of leaving relationships…feeling guilt for waiting too long…and starting over.
If you have a message for Susanne, send it to us and we’ll pass it on to her. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.