A good friend in program wrote to say that I can have compassion for my husband's serious illness, without having to be a human sacrifice. I hadn't realised until it was put to me in exactly those terms, that this is what I've been feeling, that he is expecting me to sacrifice my hard-won freedom and serenity, in order to go back and look after him.
He has strong support from his AA friends, so he is not alone, they are taking good care of him. I can feel for his strtuggle, but I don't have to give up what I've worked so hard to gain since leaving the marriage, simply because he wants me to do so.
He has the ultimate manipulation tool - he's seriously ill. There's nothing I could do to improve his health, or change his situation, I'd simply be dragged back down into the dark place I was in when I made the decision to leave. Also, I don't trust him, because of all the lying. I have the right to say "No" even in the face of his attempts to manipulate me. I have the right to decide that my life is of value, and doesn't need to be put on hold to nurse a man who seems unable to see me as anything other than a resource for his use.
I deserve happiness. I deserve peace, and to love and be loved. Only I can give myself freedom. That's what I did 7 months ago when I walked away from a 17 year marriage that had become increasingly empty and depressing - I gave myself freedom. Iturned it over to my Higher Power, trusted that I would be cared for, and I have been, in amazing ways.