The Hurricane and the Honeymoon
When you love someone with an addiction, life often feels like you cycle between a hurricane and a honeymoon.
I grew up on Long Island, about an hour outside New York City. It was usually a very pleasant and seasonably predictable place to live. That being said, some of my most memorable moments growing up are relative to the hurricanes that came through and wrecked our lives for a short time. Even though they were brief, they felt catastrophic when they happened. In particular, I can still remember the details of preparing for and experiencing Hurricane Gloria in 1985.
Life was good. It was the time of year when summer transitions to fall on Long Island, leaves turn colors, we look forward to Halloween. But then, seemingly all of a sudden, we were taping our windows closed, filling up the cars with gas, buying up all the cereal and Spaghetti-Os we could to prepare for the turmoil ahead.
The storm hit! We braced ourselves and hoped for the best. Gloria was a terrible one — we were left without power for about two weeks and there was a tremendous amount of damage to areas of Long Island.
In the end, we were fortunate. Our house was still standing and once the power came on our lives really just went back to normal. We went right back into our honeymoon experience where life was pleasant and relatively predictable.
The damage from hurricanes varies from minimal to catastrophic. Certainly the range in between is vast, and relative to one’s previous storm experience. That is exactly how it can feel to love someone with an addiction.
I’ve been working as a therapist who specializes in addictions for most of my career. Loving someone with an addiction also hits close to home for me as I have a dear family member who continues to cycle through hurricanes herself. The countless stories I’ve heard from clients, either as the partners of the addicts or the person causing the storm, mirror the honeymoon-hurricane cycle.
People who love an addict will say there are times in the relationship that are “really nice” and their partner is “exactly as they were when we first got together,” but inevitably, the storm comes in. It may be in the form of them just being unreliable or flaking out on plans because they are already imbibing or otherwise using.