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“I just gave my son £3,000 to pay off his drug dealer” isn’t really the kind of thing you expect your boyfriend’s mum to drop on you over a cup of tea. But it happened to me, and I’m glad it did because it made me do something about the biggest problem in my life.
I’d always known Jack was a fan of cocaine, but I never realised that he’d gone beyond fandom to addiction. Probably because I was too busy either being pregnant or looking after our two young children throughout most of our relationship.
Yeah, I noticed he liked to stay up all night and sniff a lot. Then there were the times he’d garble his way through a kid’s party or hug his mates a little too aggressively while sweating profusely. Oh, and the fact that he never had any money, lied about the fact that he never had any money and came with a shedload of debts.
OK, it was staring me right in the face. When we’d been together for about three years I found out he’d spent his entire month’s wages in three days – and not on shoes. When I confronted him about it, he was surprisingly honest and told me he’d been stressed at work, been hitting the coke too hard and run up a debt.
That’s the kind of thing you’d always think would make you leave someone. I didn’t. I gently suggested he go to counselling. He did. So I thought the problem was solved.
Turned out I was ignoring the signs, probably on purpose, and just working around it. But I loved him, I loved our two little girls even more and I was just too tired from the night feeds to do anything about that big old white powdery elephant in the room.
If anything, the fact that he wasn’t measuring up made me take on every single responsibility we had from paying the bills to never expecting him to look after our children. I so badly wanted to prove we were a normal family, just like all our friends.
But that day his mum dropped the bombshell was the day I realised I had to do something. I knew Jack had got himself into a mess and I suspected he might have borrowed money off his parents and at least had the decency to lie about why.
The mess was bigger than I’d imagined. So bad, in fact, that he’d told his mum the truth. Looking back, I think she was just waiting for me to ask her about it and seemed relieved to tell me.
Of course, I don’t think for one moment there’s any truth in the story that a drug dealer would give someone three grand’s worth of credit just for being a good customer, but it was clear there was something big going on. So I staged an intervention. At least I think I did. I’ve only really read about them on TMZ and I would have thought they’d be more glamorous and tragic than this one.
The moment Jack walked in the door I ordered him to sit down and tell his mum, dad and me just how bad things were. I cranked up Mr Tumble in the lounge so our little girls wouldn’t hear any of this, obvs.
I’m glad I did, because what he told us was horrific. He’d been an addict for ten years. He’d never gone more than three weeks without coke. He’d stolen, sold, begged and borrowed for his habit. Not just ridiculo-payday loans, but he’d even asked my friends for money. His mum and dad had been giving him handouts for years. Yeah, thanks for that.
Worse still, he seemed to operate on a completely different moral code to the rest of us. Some of the lies he told were hateful, like the time he pawned his mum’s ring and when she found out it was missing he told her he’d taken it to the jewellers so they could design a similar engagement ring for me. Clever, really. It’s a lie so personal that it guaranteed she wouldn’t tell me because she didn’t want to spoil the “surprise”.
It wasn’t a pretty scene: him, his mum, his dad and me all crying around the kitchen table. His mum seemed to think it would be OK for him to carry on living with us, go back to work and get some more counselling. But something in me snapped. I knew if I took him back he’d carry on and there’s no way that was happening in our family home.
So I called up a private psychiatric hospital and booked him in for assessment that day. They agreed to admit him immediately and work on his addiction as well as problems with alcohol and gambling. Yeah, the revelations just keep coming.
We went home to collect his things, have one last takeaway together and talk. It was the saddest thing I’d ever done, knowing that when he left it’d just be me and those textbook adorable children trying to get on with life.
I couldn’t believe how he could get himself into such a mess and do something that would mean he couldn’t see our baby’s face every day.
He told me that he’d been living his life in 24-hour chunks and all he could think of was how to get his next fix, wait until he was alone and then get on with it. I suppose it made sense – he did have a habit of putting Newsnight on to bore me into going to bed and I’d wake up at 4am to find him still wandering around downstairs.
Yesterday, his parents picked him up and took him to the hospital, where he starts four weeks of rehab. He can't have any contact with the outside world for seven days. I actually felt relieved to see him go, but now I’m swinging between anger, sadness and wondering what he’s doing.
I’m angry that he’s put us in this situation. I’m angry that he’s missing his baby’s first steps. I’m angry that just a year ago we were crying with happiness in the delivery room with our new baby and life seemed amazing, like the kind of thing you see on smug people’s Facebook updates.
Writing this has made me feel sick and reading it back even sicker. And if I was you reading this, I’d only have three words of advice for the writer: Ditch the loser. What do you think?
Do you have an It Happened To Me story that you’d like to share? Please email Rebecca@xojane.com