For me, Valentine’s Day is about so much more than candy hearts and silly cards. This day gives me the opportunity to celebrate someone who is always celebrating me: My loving husband, Mike.
My name is Kari, and I am a person in long term recovery. What that means to me is that for the last 20 years, I have not used drugs or alcohol. I have worked very hard to sustain my recovery. Every year has only gotten better, and I am the happiest I have ever been in my life! I am a responsible, productive member of my community. I am a wife, mother, and grandmother. I am truly blessed with unconditional love and support from family and friends. I am dedicated to making an impact as a Shatterproof ambassador, recovery coach, and medical assistant working in a clinic that offers medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to people with substance use disorders. There are no words that can begin to describe my gratitude. And I know I would not be where I am today without Mike’s incredible support.
I met the love of my life in 2012, and we got married in 2017. My life would not be complete without him. He is the person I could not live without. He is my best friend and biggest cheerleader. He has grown and changed with me, inspiring so many good things in me. And every single day, he supports my recovery in three big ways.
Since the very beginning of our relationship, he has shown a genuine interest in my story of active use and journey toward recovery. Although he is not a person in recovery, he has done everything in his power to understand the consequences of substance use disorder and how it once affected every aspect of my life. When I share with him, he does his very best to relate to my experiences. He has watched countless movies, documentaries, and read numerous articles about substance use disorder and recovery. Without hesitation, he has attended every single recovery walk, rally, speaking engagement, book signing, and conference in our community—I have never had to ask!
He never forgets May 3 (the day I began recovery) or February 4 (the day I quit cigarettes). He celebrates these dates like they’re an even more special kind of Valentine’s Day, making a big deal out of them because he knows how precious and important they are. He has given me chocolates, (my absolute favorite) cards, flowers, balloons, gifts, and taken me out for and special dinners. One year he decorated the house with streamers and party decorations. But what means the most is hearing, “Congratulations, I am proud of you, you are amazing, look at how far you have come.” I cherish those words! I love how he encourages me and keeps me motivated.
I have shared most of the details of what it was like struggling with addiction. I have shared experiences in early recovery. He has always praised my strength, admired my courage, and acknowledged my determination that it took to overcome. He believes I am incredible!
When I started writing this blog post, I asked my husband if he had a Valentine’s Day message for all the other supportive partners out there in the Shatterproof community. He said:
“Always express how much you love your person. Share how grateful you are that they have overcome addiction. Tell them how thankful you are that they have been given another chance at life. They would love to hear how much better your life is because they are in recovery. Life is much too short and should never to be taken for granted. Every moment with them should be savored and treasured!”
Well said, honey.
I plan to spend this Valentine’s Day letting my husband know just how much his love and support means to me. I encourage my fellow recovery warriors to do the same for the people in their lives who support them!