I started smoking weed at 17. For years I was able to smoke here and there or on the weekend, socially.
Around 19 I started a relationship with my eldest daughter's father. As the emotional abuse escalated, my self-worth plummeted but my dope-smoking increased. I was smoking every day after work and a bong was how I would start my weekend.
If I smoked before work it was really hard to get motivated and the days dragged, so I only smoked after work.
After 10 years and a new one and a half-year-old daughter, this relationship ended. I completed some domestic violence groups and felt ready for the world.
What these groups couldn't teach me life experience did. One and a half years later I began a new relationship with a man who I had met through my ex, who contacted me while he was in prison.
I invited him to move into my home within a couple of months. I was confused when I noticed that some of my behaviours were very similar to the abusive behaviours I resented my ex for. I wanted to know where he was, who he was with and when he would be home. I had a large void I needed to be filled with his love.
Although still smoking weed, I swapped the bong for joints and was able to reduce the amount I smoked, until I had a feeling or felt shit, then I would roll another joint. I wasn't enjoying it as much as I used to over ten years ago.
After a few years of this relationship, his mum aged in her early '50s was hospitalised and later diagnosed with korsokoffs psychosis, brain damage from her alcoholism. She lived with her family until she couldn't due to continuing to drink and her behaviour associated with it.
I suggested she stay with me because I had a spare room. Her son, my partner was in prison. She moved in, though still managed to obtain alcohol during the day while I was at work. I was gobsmacked, she didn't know the area and we had her bank card.
After some time, with assistance from Royal District Nurses, she was able to access a day program in an aged care facility. This was a game-changer for her. She was able to stop drinking, although her long-term memory and drinking behaviours stayed.
Within a couple of years, my partner's father passed away unexpectedly. This was the beginning of his ice addiction. He was spending nights away clearing up his dad's estate. I could call him in the middle of the night, he would answer ever so cheerful. I didn't have a clue for around a year or 2 until his addiction escalated. The signs started to show, he lost interest in personal hygiene I found pipes, his teeth started to rot, yet every time I questioned him, he had an answer, a reason.
I was pregnant with his daughter in the midst of this chaos. When I found out I was pregnant I was able to stop smoking weed and haven't smoked since. While on maternity leave I googled a lot about ice addiction. The stories scared me, only 5 % recover. I really didn't know what to do. He still didn't believe there was any problem.
One day while googling, I came across a local Victorian organisation Family Drug Help) who supported people experiencing their loved ones' problematic drug and or alcohol misuse.
This organisation changed my life. This is where my healing journey began. I started with a 6 week ARC program( now called in focus) and accepted their invitation to attend a local support group.
I learned about my part in the chaos, I learned how to better live my life, by learning about what was my responsibilities and what were my partners. I slowly stopped giving money and started handing back to him, what were his responsibilities.
I have made amazing friends and after a couple of years, the facilitator asked me and another member if we would like to facilitate the group. This came at a time where I felt that no one, not even me believed in me.
My partner has attempted rehab twice now. At the time his car was stolen that I paid insurance for, I received the payment and used it as leverage for him to attend rehab, one of those expensive private ones, that sounded like the answer. After 6 weeks he was asked to leave for breaking the rules. Although refunds are not available we have credited that money for another attempt. This came after another stint in prison. This time he was able to complete the program, he wasn't able to maintain his recovery, relapsing again.
It was this rehab that suggested I attend Alanon and my teenage daughter attend al Alateen. This program has allowed me to focus on myself a little more and has changed my life. I love my life today. I am kinder and today I can see inklings of behaviours in myself that I saw in others and wanted.
Today he is in prison again, working with his drug and alcohol counselor, making plans to attend another rehab program upon release.
Today for me i allow myself to not return to that relationship because I don't trust him as a partner and I feel comfortable with that decision.
In the years I haven't smoked weed, I have completed cert 4 and a diploma in my chosen field.
I also understand addiction a lot more. I still feel flabbergasted that it has taken this whole experience to realise I was addicted to weed, that addiction isn't a choice, and that addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful and about co-dependency. It also amazes me the amount of stigma and shame around addiction in our society. It also has me stumped how little knowledge there is in general society about addiction and that people think that jail is a solution.