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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
Resolving issues from your past that block your future

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Why Did He Leave?

May 2003


I recently received an e-mail from a woman who was terribly distraught. She had been in a long-term relationship with an addict who had AIDS. She had supported him financially, had given up her family and her church to be with this man and help him. He left her, and she could not figure out why.


There may be many reasons why he left her. She may have been making demands that he get healthy, that he stop using and get his life back under control. The last thing an addict wants to hear is that they must give up their drug. They are not capable of doing that if the demand is coming from someone else. Never fall under the delusion that if the addict loves you, he will stop using. An addict cannot truly love until he is clean and sober. Nothing you can do will make an addict cease his drug use. Until an addict is ready, you can beg, scream, and punish, but he is not going to stop.


But I think the more important issue is why this woman chose to be with this man. Why did she allow herself to be so used? Often, the person who is staying with the addict has very low self-esteem. She does not feel that she is worthy of anything better. Quite often she has come from a dysfunctional family. She is used to chaos. She is attracted to what she is comfortable with, no matter how uncomfortable it is.


What I wrote back to her was suggestions of bringing up her self-worth. She needs to take all the energy that she was pouring into him and begin to put it into her. She has a long road back with a great deal of hard work. If she cares for herself the way she did for him, she will make it. I hope so.


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