But it’s hard to play defense against a player you’ve never encountered. Turns out that the x I was trying so desperately to solve in the equation was something utterly out of my control: another person and his secrets. I grew up in a household where one person managed and controlled all the money, and that one person was not even the one making the money. Some stuff becomes hardwired in your brain, even if you know it’s not absolutely correct. This was one of those things.

We didn’t just talk about addiction, of course, because these men, and the other woman and I are more than the product of this disease, which steals from every person with whom it comes in contact. But it was so easy to ask questions, to recall a similar experience, to look at this couple, who in many ways are a mirror of us, and see where we had been, where we are and what damage still lingers. Because believe me, no matter how much better it is, no matter how fabulous it is, in fact, there is lingering damage. Scars heal over time, stop being red and raw, but never go away entirely.