The Collateral Damage From “I’m Fine”

Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on

It has been years now since I removed myself from a toxic relationship with an addict who chose to stay addicted to alcohol and drugs. He chose his lifestyle over everything else, including me. Only now, with the lens of hindsight can I see what I ignored and chose not to see.

I was fooling myself that everything was ok, I was not fine.

I explained his behavior as something it wasn’t when he did something embarrassing or rude in public or in front of family. “Oh, it’s ok sir. He’s passed out with his face in his spaghetti in the middle of a restaurant because he didn’t sleep last night.” oh, thank you, but I’m fine.

When I would hear words come out of his mouth that I knew were a lie, I would explain it away. “So this guy makes moonshine and sells it out of his family business. Yeah, to certain people not to the public. No No, I don’t have a way to make it. It isn’t me.” I said ok, that makes sense. He doesn’t own a whiskey still, so I’m fine.

When his child came home crying from riding in the car with him all bruised up because her father slammed on brakes and slung her into the floorboards and her shoulder hit into the dash. “Some idiot pulled out in front of me. She is fine. It was nothing.” Sure she’s fine, that’s not spilled beer I smelled on her. I am fine too.

When I realized it had been years since he had touched me in an intimate way, I explained to myself it was the normal loss of desire that happens in long term relationships. Or maybe it was my fault because I was so overweight that he was not attracted to me anymore. It wasn’t that the pills he was popping, the other drugs and booze he digested every day causing him to have no physical response to me. I can live without affection. I’m fine.

I had convinced myself that I could not control what another adult did and because of that, I was fine. I lived as if the names he called me did not hurt. I lived as if being alone all of the time was normal. I lived like everything he did, did not affect me in any way. I hid what was really going on from family, coworkers, and friends. I lived as if that life was as good as it was going to get. I was not worth better anyway. I was old, overweight and had no reason to live differently. If I ignored it, it did not happen. I detached. I was fine.

I was not fine.

The truth is I knew it was bad while I ignored it. I kept the status quo. I shielded my children, family, coworkers from his addiction as best I could. I didn’t tell them what was happening. When one morning, before dawn in one of his delusional states, he decided to extricate me and my belongings from his life, I did not fight. I finally decided I did deserve better. By then the damage was done, it was too late. My kids did not believe me when I told them it was bad. “Everything was fine. It had to have been something you did, Mom.” I was anxiety filled, mentally numb, and physically exhausted. Picture a person with nowhere to go and nothing to lose, I was her. I had two choices. Lay down and die or make a new life my way.

Today, I am still not fine. I am better than fine.

I live my life honestly. I live an authentic life. I have a life I like living. I am truly loved. I make no excuses for my actions or anyone else’s. There is some residual damage from my ignoring the past truth. I have strained relationships with some people who I care about a lot and truly love. Others I have lost incompletely. I did not let that stop me from moving forward past just fine.

Do not ignore what is not right. Do not convince yourself that the actions of others do not affect you.

Speak up for yourself. Protect yourself.

You are worth so much more than just fine.

Believe in your own strength and value.

~Lori O’Gara

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