Announcer: Welcome to Addiction and the Family, “Episode 3: Recovery in the time of COVID-19.”
Casey Arrillaga: How has addiction affected your family?
Female Speaker: It robbed me of my father.
Female Speaker: Addiction's affected my family in absolutely every way.
Male Speaker: It has caused a lot of turmoil.
Female Speaker: It goes back to what I understand is at least three generations.
Female Speaker: It robbed my daughter of her mother. It robbed my mother of her daughter.
Female Speaker: Addiction has made our family quite challenging.
Male Speaker: Addiction has affected my family tremendously.
Male Speaker: It's affected my relationship with my sister where I wouldn't – I'd go for months without talking to her. It's a very difficult thing for everybody involved. It doesn't just affect the one individual. It's a disease that affects the whole family.
Male Speaker: Addiction is spread not only genetically through some of my relatives and I assume ancestors.
Female Speaker: It's generational.
Female Speaker: I think of him every day.
Casey Arrillaga: Welcome to Addiction and the Family, a podcast by and for family members of anyone with an addiction. My name is Casey Arrillaga, and I'm a social worker and addiction counselor at both Windmill Wellness Ranch and InMindOut Emotional Wellness Centers in Texas. I've led hundreds of family workshops, but I've also lived the experience of being family to addiction as both a child and adult. My wife, Kira, and I were in our addictions together for over a decade and now have been in recovery together for almost 20 years. Join us as we offer experience, strength, and realistic hope about how you and your family can find recovery together.
Kira Arrillaga: Hi, Kira here. In this episode Casey has an in-depth interview with A.S. Edwards, who is in the process of writing about her experience of finding freedom from a family pattern of addiction. As we’ll hear in the interview, she grew up with a parent who was addicted to alcohol. Then as an adult, she married someone who was addicted to various drugs. In both cases, the addiction was not openly discussed and dishonesty became part of the family pattern of creating a situation that is all too familiar around this disease. Her interview shows how she came to be more honest with herself and thus began her journey to freedom; all this after a quick word from one of our sponsors.
Kira Arrillaga: Welcome back. Now, let’s hear that interview with author A.S. Edwards.
Casey Arrillaga: I am here with author A.S. Edwards. We’re going to be talking a little bit today about some of your history and what has you on a show called Addiction and the Family.
A.S. Edwards: I’m A.S. Edwards. I am an architect, actually, in New York. I’m also a writer. I’m here because I was married to a person with an opioid and alcohol addiction. I wanted to come on and talk about my experience with that.
Casey Arrillaga: Which I very much appreciate. I guess I’ll ask what is some of your personal history with addiction, and did it start with your husband?
A.S. Edwards: It actually didn’t. I do have a personal history with it because when I was ten years old my father passed away. I actually didn’t know at the time that he had struggled with alcohol addiction. I found out a bit later when I was maybe a teenager and my mother told me. He had passed away as a result of that.
It was a complication while we were away on vacation. He had actually fallen and hit his head. I’m familiar with addiction. I think that because I had that experience with a father who was really young, devoted, loving, I didn’t even really see the signs. Granted, I was a kid. I never really associated addiction with a stigma that sometimes is present because I know that it can be present with people that are really just wonderful people. It’s nothing to really shy away from, which is I think part of why I ended up in the relationship I did and really committed to the person I was with.
Casey Arrillaga: When you say that’s one of the reasons that you ended up in the relationship that you were in, what makes you say that?
A.S. Edwards: I was in the relationship from the beginning just because I was really taken with the person I was with. I did come to learn about his addiction about four months into it. I think that where it became complicated over time and other people that didn’t have my experience might have kind of evaluated whether or not it was in their own best interest or my best interest; in this case, I think that I was really feeling as though I wanted this to work out. I wanted it to mean something, especially since in my father’s case, he ended up passing away. I couldn’t really do anything about it. I wanted to be there, and I wanted to make it work, if that makes sense.
Casey Arrillaga: That makes a lot of sense. I think that’s an impulse that has come up for many a family member. Sometimes there can be that thought of I wasn’t able to save this one person that I loved, but maybe I can save this other person instead. I wonder, do you recognize any of that?
A.S. Edwards: Exactly. Yeah, I think what you said is very much what I felt. I’m sure that other people feel that too. That’s what makes it so hard. It becomes so cyclical, I think, in some cases.
Casey Arrillaga: It certainly does. First, I just want to say I’m really sorry about your father’s passing, especially when you were so young. I’m sure it must have been quite a shock at the time.
A.S. Edwards: Yes, absolutely.
Casey Arrillaga: If I can ask, what were you told about it initially, and how did that come to change later in your life?
A.S. Edwards: I initially was told that he had hit his head, and it was because of a back medication. My mom said that the medication made him dizzy. That actually didn’t end up being true. My mom did just tell me that to not have to mention the fact that there was alcohol involved and that there was an ongoing struggle. She told me maybe when I was a teenager, I think maybe 14 years old. I think she might have told me in the context of family history and that sort of thing. She did tell me that the medication wasn’t actually a thing. It was really just purely alcohol.
Casey Arrillaga: What was it like for you to hear that at the time?
A.S. Edwards: I was confused. When I was initially told that my father had passed, my mom said an accident first. I assumed the car accident. I think that’s what most people assume. Like I said, I was just really confused. I was only ten, and I couldn’t really fathom how it happened, how it made sense.
I think it’s still hard to this day because I remember my father really well. He was always very put together. I don’t really know if maybe things had just escalated especially with us being gone. My mom did know that my father had struggled, and she had asked me through the years to go to therapy. He did, but did hide from her the fact that he had continued to drink during the times that she thought he didn’t. I think that that made it really especially difficult for my mom to properly intervene when she wanted to because she didn’t have the full picture.
Casey Arrillaga: Which is also, of course, very common. I wonder at ten, of course, the whole thing was very confusing. What was it like at 14 to hear that it was actually alcohol?
A.S. Edwards: I definitely felt that it was really jarring for me to know that he struggled with addiction. Prior to that, I really hadn’t had any direct experience with addiction at all. I think that my only kind of idea of it was what might be portrayed in media or TV shows or anything like that, especially with the parent portrayed. You often see someone who is yelling at their kids or kind of not functioning very well. You get the idea of a mean drunk.
I think I didn’t even believe it because I had such a misconception based on not knowing anything. I just felt that he can’t possibly have been an alcoholic. It was a jarring lesson in the fact that addiction manifests in so many different ways. It doesn’t necessarily have to present the way it’s often portrayed, especially in media.
Casey Arrillaga: Absolutely true. That starts to talk about family history. If I can ask, that you’re aware of, was your father the only person in the family that had a struggle with addiction?
A.S. Edwards: I think his father did as well. I’m not sure the full extent of it. He passed away from emphysema. Other than that, I believe it extends into my father’s side of the family a bit.
Casey Arrillaga: Okay. There you are a teenager. Then as you’re moving forward in your life, did you have interactions with other people around addiction that you’re aware of before your husband?
A.S. Edwards: Not that I’m aware of, no. I don’t think so.
Casey Arrillaga: With your husband, if I may ask, how old were you and how old was he when you guys met?
A.S. Edwards: I was 25 and he was 29. We met in New York City. It was actually in June of 2018, so it was really not that long ago. We had gotten married a year-and-a-half in.
Casey Arrillaga: About four months into the marriage or four months into the relationship you started to notice the problems?
A.S. Edwards: It was actually four months into the relationship that I started to notice that he had some problems with different dependencies, actually. The first time that I was really aware of it, it was actually quite sudden. We had gone on a trip over the weekend. I had known that he was a banker. He had Adderall prescription to work the late hours that a banker often does.
His doctor also prescribed him with Xanax and different benzos like that, Klonopin, I believe too, to help him sleep after taking Adderall; obviously, not a great cycle, but not a terribly uncommon one with high-power professionals working late into the night. What had happened was he had this depressive episode one night before work after we had taken this trip just crying. I’d never really seen anything like it, just not even forming words properly, just saying that something was wrong with him. Something was wrong in his head. I was trying to talk him through it.
Eventually, he kind of calmed down, went to bed. By the next day I had gone to work. He said he had gone to work, but he didn’t. I had gotten a call from his friend saying he’s talking about ending his life. We all kind of went over and were with him.
We ended up bringing him to the hospital. His blood alcohol content was through the roof. It was .28. The doctors kept him. He had discussed with his psychiatrist about what the issue was. I’m not really sure if I was being told the full story here.
He told me that it was a Xanax issue and too dependent on Xanax for too long a period of time and that it resulted in his wires getting crossed and a depressive episode. He just needed to switch to something slow release and taper off of it. I thought that was actually – that sounded reasonable to me. I’m not a doctor. As it turned out, he wasn’t telling me that the alcohol was clearly an issue at the time.
He would have good ways of kind of explaining that away, the fact that he would get tremors and he would use alcohol to make those side effects go away. As it turned out, he was also using Oxycontin in large quantities. There were a lot of pills happening, benzos and opioids, as well as alcohol. The primary addiction was an opioid addiction, as it turns out.
Casey Arrillaga: What was it like for you to see all of this unfolding?
A.S. Edwards: It was very scary. I hadn’t really experienced anything like it before. I think I was trying to sort of do the best I could with no information and no real knowledge of the situation or try to talk to him and reason with him and sort of comfort him while trying to figure out what was going on. I really just thought maybe he has been depressed this whole time and I didn’t know. Maybe he just needs that addressed.
I was also just obviously frightened because of how destructive that episode turned out to be and could have turned out to be, especially with the types of things he had been saying. I was at work and I had to leave. I actually throughout the course of our relationship, it did happen a few times that I would kind of know something was wrong or I’d be told something was wrong, and I’d have to kind of dart up from work and leave. That was stressful for me too in terms of just my own kind of grounding and my life and my work.
I did have a really good supervisor at the firm I was working at at the time who I was able to tell her what was going on, and she was really helpful to me. I know that a lot of people might not have those types of work relationships. I just can’t imagine how you can even be there for someone if you don’t have support yourself. Do you know what I mean? It just trickles in so many ways. I think it was really hard for me to kind of just stay calm sometimes and stay grounded while he was going through this and I was going through it as a result.
Casey Arrillaga: I think what you’re saying about the support is so incredibly important and something that I fear family members don’t seek enough. Where were you finding support at the time?
A.S. Edwards: Well, I spoke to my family members, my mom and my brother, as well as some of my friends were really wonderful and helpful. I think that as time went on, it became really difficult, the things that were happening in the relationship, the types of behavior he would display towards me and just kind of not following through with things on the most minor level and bad behavior. For example, we went on a trip to Aruba, and he had gotten into the mini bar while I was asleep. I woke up to him in really bad shape and for almost the rest of the trip he was not good at all and couldn’t really function.
He actually had even got so bad that he had drank so much that he broke a vase in the hotel. We had to go to the office. I almost felt like I was a mother of a teenager who was unruly or something because I had to bring him down to the office, and we had to pay for the vase that was broken. I had confided in one of my friends about it, but by that point some of those things – I knew that my mom didn’t like him. I knew that some of my friends didn’t either. I started to as much as I did have that support system and they were all there for me by no fault of their own, I sort of started to limit what I was saying just because I didn’t want to add more fuel to the fire with the people that I was close to judging him. I think that also became pretty isolating, not allowing myself to open up as much.
Casey Arrillaga: It’s been said that addiction is a disease of isolation. This applies for family members as well. I’ve seen the kind of things that you’re saying here play out in a lot of families where people start to pull back somewhat voluntarily. Often they’ll say something similar to what you said. I don’t want other people to judge my loved one. I wonder in there was there any fear of judgment yourself for the choices that you were making?
A.S. Edwards: Yes. I knew how it sounded. I knew that it sounded sort of ridiculous at a certain point that I was staying in this relationship because there were a lot of times that I was really unhappy and really just anxious and stressed. Also, I will add that what was really helpful to me during that time too was my mom had actually helped me find a therapist that I could speak to as things were getting more difficult. I thought that was particularly helpful, and I would certainly recommend that to people that might have a loved one with an addiction. I think it’s only natural to sort of go through that experience of feeling like you’re almost betraying that person by speaking to people that know them and you.
It becomes difficult to have someone that’s closer know everything. It’s a lot easier to open up to someone who – I did kind of – I judged myself a little bit sometimes. I kind of got caught in my own head. I love this person, and I wanted to believe that he was telling me I promise this is under control. I’m doing better. This is just a fluke or a mistake or whatever it might have been at whatever period of time.
If he got too drunk and out of control or if I noticed his behavior seemed strange and I needed to ask have you been using anything, I think that I just really wanted to believe what he told me. I really wanted to push through. I didn’t want to give up, but I still at the same time realize that this doesn’t look good. If I don’t feel comfortable telling my mom or my best friend or my brother, then maybe there isn’t something right here.
Casey Arrillaga: For some people that kind of awareness goes off like a light bulb. For a lot of people it’s a long, slow process. It just becomes a tipping point. I wonder, what was that like for you?
A.S. Edwards: I think that it was a pretty long, slow process for me, actually. Basically, the tipping point, I don’t really know that I had one tipping point that made me realize. The most prominent one was basically when the relationship ended. It was actually this April. I think that with the quarantine happening, we had been living in our apartment and New York City. With the advent of coronavirus and all of our offices shutting down, we went out to the suburbs to stay at my mom’s house.
He was kind of deteriorating during that time. I think even up until that point I was still kind of trying to be a go-between with him and my mom. My mom was seeing things that she wasn’t liking. She was mostly trying to stay out of the way, and she wasn’t very vocal about it, certainly not to him. She was to me.
She found him asleep in front of an open refrigerator while he was here. Bottles of wine were missing. He’d fall asleep during the day at all hours and at the dinner table. I’d try to ask him what was going on and try to figure out what to do, and at the same time he’s trying to hide anything that he was doing from my mom so that the situation wouldn’t be any more strained. It was an uncomfortable position to be in.
At the same time, it was a really slow realization for me that this wasn’t good. I think I was still trying to conceal things even with all of us under the same roof. It wasn’t really until he had gotten to a point where he had a psychotic break and he actually started yelling at my mother. He accused her of murdering my father. It was a completely psychotic rant.
He also during this rant threw me into some pieces of furniture. I got some bruises and that sort of thing. That was really the breaking point where I knew that I couldn’t be with him anymore. It was just too damaging to me physically and to my mom emotionally.
She had told me afterwards how even though she knew that he wasn’t in his right mind, she thought it was pretty amazing how he was able to pinpoint what the deepest cut to make. She always felt that maybe if she had done something differently or knew more that she could have saved my dad. She blamed herself. I think that was such a strong moment for both me and my mom when I knew that there was no way that it could continue. I had to kind of get out of the marriage and the relationship.
Kira Arrillaga: After a quick break to hear from one of our sponsors, we’ll hear more of Casey’s interview with author A.S. Edwards.
Kira Arrillaga: Welcome back. Let’s hear the rest of the interview.
Casey Arrillaga: Your mom, of course, is looking from the outside at some version of something she herself has gone through before with your father.
A.S. Edwards: Oh, yeah, exactly. The thing is my mom told me she had gone through it. She was initially very supportive in the beginning of the relationship because she did think your father maybe needed to go to rehab. My husband did go to rehab at one point. I thought that would really help things along.
My father never did. He did go to therapy, but he did need more treatment than what he had. My mom said maybe if your father had gone to rehab, he would still be here. I think that she supported it and believed that my husband could get better. At the end of the day, he functioned a lot better than my husband did.
Their relationship wasn’t in any real turmoil. It wasn’t the same level of upheaval that I think I experienced. She could very easily see where this wasn’t going anywhere good. I think just because my husband wasn’t really committed to recovering, it was so clear that things weren’t going well. He would say they were, make something up.
While he was here I had asked him if he was all right and what we could do to make him feel better while he was falling asleep during strange hours and drinking to excess. He told me that everything was under control. The reason he was acting that way was because his doctor had taken him off of his synthetic opioids. It’s Suboxone used for opioid addiction management, the medication-based treatment. He had told me that his doctor took him off all of those synthetic opioids and that as a result he was experiencing withdrawals, that this would be better for him in the long term.
It turns out that that wasn’t actually true. He was using both his synthetic opioids and buying street drugs as well during that time. He admitted to that afterwards. It should have been clear to me that things weren’t going well, but I chalked it up to not knowing enough and not knowing how it was supposed to present itself, how recovery was supposed to look. I know it’s not always pretty. I think it’s not usually like that.
Casey Arrillaga: I think that’s pretty accurate. It’s not usually like that. Things hit the breaking point. You realized I can’t continue in this relationship. What have you done from that point forward?
A.S. Edwards: Well, the beginning was very jarring immediately afterwards. I think that I sort of struggled to wrap my head around it for a few days. Actually, by maybe three days later I began to write. It was very cathartic for me because I was trying during that time to make sense of everything that happened and the reality that I had lived with my husband and just how it had all sort of fallen apart all at once. I started writing, and I started writing about the experience from beginning to end.
I ended up writing a book. I’m really happy that I did that because I think that it was not only helpful for me to gain perspective and understand what the experience was that I went through and kind of see the full picture in a way while I was so immersed in it, I also think that it could potentially help other people that are going through it or have gone through it to be able to read about my experience in that sort of format. I think that was probably the most helpful thing I did immediately afterwards. After I got that first draft done, I was able to sort of refocus on other things in my life like finishing my architectural licensure exams and move forward. I think that was really helpful for me to kind of understand and get some closure from myself.
Casey Arrillaga: What are some things that you saw or learned about your journey as you were writing?
A.S. Edwards: I learned I was putting myself into various moments throughout the journey that was our relationship. I knew that things were bad a lot of times. I just kind of told myself to keep hanging on. I think that I sort of blocked out previous experiences as I was living in each sequential one, if that makes sense. I actually realized this as I was writing about one moment that I fully forgot that something bad had happened a week before it.
I sort of had to recalibrate. I was like I actually think I live that way. I sugarcoated certain aspects of our relationship just so that I could continue and move forward. I sort of blocked out some of the bad memories. They weren’t fully out of my mind. I remember now. Things like that, I looked backwards with rose-colored glasses, and I did it just so that I could stay and not give up on him.
Casey Arrillaga: I was struck when you said the way things fell apart so suddenly, but you’ve been describing something sort of building or if you want to say maybe crumbling slowly almost from the beginning.
A.S. Edwards: I think that I might still have something in my head that’s hardwired to do that. It’s so funny you noticed that. Things were definitely crumbling. I think that part of that also might be the magnitude of what had happened in that moment. I hadn’t experienced anything quite like that even though things were crumbling. You’re right. I think that I tended to – and even now – I sort of tried so hard to see the good parts of everything, that I didn’t really have a clear picture of how things actually were.
Casey Arrillaga: I like what you just said there about trying so hard to see the good parts. I think sometimes we have the idea that if we acknowledge the bad parts, if you will, if we acknowledge the things that are so uncomfortable, that that will somehow negate the good parts. I wonder if it would be possible to see it all as one picture, that all of those things can be true at the same time.
A.S. Edwards: Yes. I think that that’s a really good point. I think that figuring out there can absolutely be good parts and wonderful things that are occurring while a lot of troubling things are happening too. I guess if one outweighs the other and if the troubling things are acceptable things, the way things were going, I think that they weren’t being fixed and they were only escalating. I think that my own idea of how things were was kind of skewed. I was trying very hard to push through.
I think that I had made up my mind to do so because I loved him. I believed in him. He had a lot of really wonderful qualities. The fact that he wasn’t ready to accept what he needed to do to recover, it made it so that for me, at least, I just couldn’t stay in that relationship and have it be healthy for me. I couldn’t do it for him. He had to be ready himself before I could be happy in the relationship.
Casey Arrillaga: You certainly don’t have to give any specific detail on this, but do you know where he is now and how he’s been doing since then?
A.S. Edwards: A little bit. He went home to his parents. He was there for about a month before he finally went to rehab again. We haven’t been in a lot of communication as of late. I’m not really sure how it’s going.
I think it seems as though it could have been helpful, but I’m not quite sure that a lot has changed. I hope it does, but I can’t be the one to be there for that anymore. It is really sad, but I just know that for me to continue to really be involved because all the history we have, I think it’s just too painful. I hope that this experience did prove to be a wakeup call, but I’m not quite sure if it was.
Casey Arrillaga: How about your own recovery from your experiences since that time? What’s that been like?
A.S. Edwards: It’s been kind of slow. I think that the writing was really the most helpful thing for me. I continue to speak to my therapist, who is wonderful. Stepping away from the relationship while also getting a better understanding of what it is I went through through writing, I think that that was very helpful to me. I think the hardest part, actually, was making the decision that he and I couldn’t really communicate so much anymore. I think that I was still so invested.
I had done a Zoom call with him and his psychiatrist that helped him pick out a rehab facility afterwards. I was really involved, but even then he told me something about how his parents weren’t going to help him with the cost of rehab. His parents do have some money, so I was surprised by that. He said all sorts of things about that and how he wasn’t going to be able to afford it. I was really confused and I was upset about it. I was thinking why – because they do have a lot of money. I was thinking why are they not helping him with this. As it turns out, I ended up just asking his mother if that was the case and it wasn’t the case at all. He told me that and it wasn’t true. She was stunned. She said, “We’ve been trying to get him to go somewhere and he said we weren’t going to pay for it?” It was just I don’t think that his mind was all there still and I think it was so damaging to me at that point, too. I was upset by some of the things that he was saying. I would try to make sense of them but then have to realize there wasn’t much sense to be made. I think that was really the hardest part of my recovery was having to make that decision to not really communicate anymore because I wanted to be there but it was just so complicated.
Casey Arrillaga: I’m really glad that you’re continuing to get support for yourself. I wonder, if you don’t mind my asking, have you explored any of the family recovery fellowships?
A.S. Edwards: I have thought about it. I haven’t now but I think it might be a good idea.
Casey Arrillaga: It’s something that we find really helpful for families, so as a professional who works in the field, it’s something I talk about a lot. I’d encourage you to maybe look into – any of them can be helpful, whether it’s SMART Recovery family and friends or Al Anon or Families Anonymous, or Adult Children of Alcoholics, which you also qualify for.
A.S. Edwards: Yeah, I had thought about it while I was in the relationship, certainly. I didn’t end up doing it I guess just because there’s a lot going on. I was doing therapy but I think that that would have been particularly helpful. I guess even now, even though I’m not in the situation anymore, do you find that people often join or stay in if they, for example, are with a partner who had an addiction and the relationship ended?
Casey Arrillaga: Very much so, yeah. In fact, a couple of my favorite people in one of the recovery fellowships are people who actually went through a lifetime of recovery with their spouse. They got in their own recovery from addiction while their spouse was getting their recovery from, whether it’s chemical addiction or whatever addiction it is. Then their spouse passed away of natural causes, 20, 30 years sober, and initially, I would ask myself, well, why do they keep going? What they would say is they get so much benefit from the fellowship, and especially considering, as you said, these family patterns reverberate. In my professional life and my personal life, I’ve run into people who will say I married three alcoholics in a row. At first, I would think, wow, that’s quite a coincidence, but of course, it’s not.
Unless we resolve some of these issues that we carry within ourselves from our childhood and adulthood experiences, often what our mind seems to do is want to resolve them by trying one more time and will recreate family pattern situations over and over again without realizing it until maybe we learn or heal or grow in the way that we do so we don’t have to repeat that again. It would certainly be that benefit but also having grown up with some other things, although from what you said, it wasn’t such a bad version, as things go. I wonder how your mom feels about that, but for you as a child, it was not that bad. Nonetheless, it seems certainly to have had a pretty big impact on your life. I would say that there definitely is benefit for going, even if you’re not in a relationship right now with somebody who’s struggling with those issues.
A.S. Edwards: Yeah, that certainly seems like it would apply to me, definitely. That’s a great suggestion. I’ll definitely look into that. Thank you for telling me about that.
Casey Arrillaga: You bet. Before we close up, I’m going to ask if you were going to, whether it was writing a note or a letter or if you had the opportunity to go back and talk to your ten-year-old self after your dad passed away, what would you want to tell her?
A.S. Edwards: I had really forced myself to bottle it up a little bit when I was a kid. I think that I allowed myself to be upset for a certain period of time, maybe up until the funeral and a little after. I do remember I would get pretty sad at certain points early on. I remember that as time went by, I would try to shove down those emotions. I don’t think that that was good for me. I think it was partially just because, I mean, I was a kid but I have this really prominent memory. I was just starting sixth grade. It was a school I had been to since I was three. It was an all-girls school. I knew everybody. It was a small school. A lot of my classmates had been to the funeral and stuff. He had died at the end of August so school started not much later actually. I remember that the teacher had us all stand in a circle. It was a Catholic school. They said pray for my dad. I remember that I could just feel everyone’s eyes were on me and I didn’t want to cry. I think I am now. I think that I would have told myself not to be afraid to let it out sometimes because I think that as a result, I bottled it up a lot longer than I might have otherwise. I think that’s what I would tell myself. I’d tell myself to let myself feel what I was going through.
Casey Arrillaga: If I can ask, you did reference it and I feel like I can hear some of it just over the phone. What kind of emotions are coming up for you when you’re looking back at that now?
A.S. Edwards: I guess it’s hard to explain but I feel as though I’m living it again almost. I guess that it’s still really hard. I wish I had let myself be more sad then. I think that – I don’t know. I just know that for so many years, I could talk about it without ever choking up. I disassociated from what had happened and from what I had gone through. I think that I shoved it all down into a place where it stayed inside of me but it was almost like a timebomb almost. It wasn’t going to stay down forever, the pain of it. I think that now I can feel it more and I can feel the pain of it still. It is really hard to lose parents as a kid. I was close with my dad. It’s just a timebomb, if that makes sense. I feel like I’m living it sometimes if I talk about it.
Casey Arrillaga: It almost sounds like, in a way, what happened with your husband maybe has helped you get in touch with what happened to you as a child, and in an odd sort of way, maybe a gift in that way.
A.S. Edwards: I think you might be right about that. I like to think of it that way. I think that it is healthy to get in touch, especially since I hadn’t, I think maybe in a way that needed to happen in some form or another. I think you may be right.
Casey Arrillaga: I wonder, I’m going to ask a different time period. If you could go back and talk to yourself at the beginning of your relationship with your husband, what would you say to that young woman?
A.S. Edwards: I think that in some way it was important for me, like you said, to have maybe gone through that, to understand what I’d experienced as a child, but I don’t think that in the end the prolonged nature of everything that occurred was very helpful to me, of course. I think I would tell myself to talk to people close to me and that if there comes a time where I feel that I can’t anymore and I can’t tell them what’s truly going on, that that’s the time to really reevaluate and step back and to not be afraid of giving up and don’t think that if I needed to leave the relationship for my own good and for my own health that I shouldn’t think of myself as a bad person or a person who gives up and I shouldn’t assume that making this work would resolve my experience as a kid. I don’t know if I would have listened to myself telling myself that because I think the nature of this, I think that I was really determined. I don’t know who I would have listened to but I think that I would urge myself at the very least to not judge myself for doing what’s best for me and to make sure that I felt comfortable confiding in people because that’s a really good indicator of when something is wrong and when you’re actually doing yourself an even greater disservice by isolating yourself.
Casey Arrillaga: Thank you very much. I’m about to ask one more thing because you said, “I don’t know who I would have listened to.” This is one of the things that’s so powerful about recovery fellowships is sometimes the one person we might listen to is someone else who’s been through it. I wonder, before we close up, is there anything that you would want to say to somebody who might be out there listening to this podcast who might be in the middle of it right now. What would you want to say to them?
A.S. Edwards: I would want to say to them that if their partner isn’t ready to recover, if they’re not getting better and they’re not telling the truth and you might be trying your hardest to make things work, you can’t do it by yourself. You can’t be the one to change someone else’s behavior if they’re not ready to change it themselves. I think that’s the most important thing and not to think that that’s a failing on your part. It’s just that you can’t control someone else. If they are ready to recover and they’re working towards it, then that’s great and maybe that’s good. If they’re not and if they’re relapsing and lying and that sort of thing, then it’s not something that you can control, it’s something that they have to take control of.
Casey Arrillaga: Beautifully said. I hope when you release your book that it’s able to reach a lot of people who can benefit from that message. Do you have a title that you’re working with yet?
A.S. Edwards: The working title is 300 Milligrams and it’s because, after my husband had left the house and gone back to his parents, his mother had asked me if I knew that he was buying 300 milligrams of OxyContin off the streets every day, which he apparently admitted that to his mom. That’s the working title. It’s because that, I think, is indicative of the magnitude of what was going on under the surface.
Casey Arrillaga: If people are interested in your book or want to learn how to get it when the time comes, how would they reach out to you?
A.S. Edwards: I have a website right now. It’s asedwardsauthor.com. I’m also in social media, Twitter, Instagram, the same handle, A.S. Edwards Author. I’ll definitely be posting updates where the book is concerned.
Casey Arrillaga: Fantastic. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk today. It was really great to talk with you, get to know you a little bit. Thank you so much for sharing your story.
A.S. Edwards: Thank you so much for having me. It was really great to be here.
Kira Arrillaga: That concludes Casey’s interview with author A.S. Edwards, who is working on her memoir of finding freedom from a family pattern of denial around addiction.
Casey Arrillaga: Thanks for being with us through another episode of Addiction and the Family. As they say in many recovery meetings, take what you liked and leave the rest. Go out and explore the possibilities for recovery in your life and give your loved ones the space and dignity to make their own choices.
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