I spent over a decade with Chris in a tumultuous and on-and-off relationship. Our addictions were what made it so difficult. However, I don't think I would change the years spent with him at all because I learned so much about myself through our relationship. I doubt that anyone ever knew or will know me like Chris knew me and like I knew him.
Chris' addiction caused him to hurt others emotionally. Chris' addiction caused him to be misunderstood. It caused him pain that was nearly unbearable to him. Addiction caused him to fail and stole his ambitions. Addiction caused him great depression, or perhaps depression caused him great addiction, but whatever the case, he fought an extremely powerful, terrible, deadly combination for a long time. Although he ultimately lost his fight, I would consider every single day that he lived a small victory- and every day that he was sober a great victory. And those negative things that addiction caused and/or created, were not him. Chris never meant to hurt others. Some people do, they have anger and intend to do the hurtful things that they do. However, this was not Chris. Chris loved his family, loved his friends, loved people- in general. He had compassion. He had love in his heart. Sometimes addiction can really make you the opposite of who you really are inside, that was true for me as well. When sober, he was the best guy in the world and I loved him so much. I saw the real him through the symptoms of alcoholism and that kept me loving him and hoping, believing, waiting, praying- for years. When sober, he was the best father to his kids, he was the most loving and supportive partner- the best partner- to me. He had many, many, many friends. I didn't observe it much, just heard his thoughts and feelings, but he loved his mother (SOOOOO much, I think every mother hopes to be loved by their children like her loved her), and assume he was the best son. He was always so hardworking, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone better, there wasn't a lazy bone in his body and he worked harder than anyone around him, even if he didn't have to or no one was looking. He loved hard work and working hard, and I am sure his employers would say he was the best employee.
Chris' addiction lied to him, told him and caused him to believe things that weren't true. Chris' story is an important and compelling example of how powerful addiction can be and how it can destroy the very best people, our very best young people! You don't have to be a bad person or a weak person to find yourself with addiction. You simply have to be a person born with certain genes, or a hurt/hurting person, a depressed person, an anxious/uncomfortable person, socially awkward person, a person that drinks too much and/or for too long (even happily), just about any kind of person. You simply have to be (sometimes randomly) affected. Then addiction takes over. Hopefully, in the future, we will be able to get more people- more of our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, lovers, husbands, wives, friends- back, to take them back from Addiction and its grasp. I pray that someday, no one will have to lose the Christopher Schmidt in their life, recovery will be available/possible for and achieved by everyone!