I think I knew my husband had a problem soon after meeting him. It would take me three years to realize he had a substance use disorder.
By then, the patterns, the chaos, the unhealthy behaviors, the dysfunction was our "normal". We were trapped in an abyss. There were a thousand bottoms. No, there was no bottom. The pain of loving someone with addiction was unbearable, gut-wrenching, soul-destroying.
Yet, I prayed for a miracle. I was there when he entered his first in-patient treatment. I was there when he got arrested. I was there for his second in-patient treatment. I was there when he got a DWI. I was at court. I was there for all the out-patient treatments, the relapse treatment, the third in-patient treatment, the periods of sobriety in between, the AA, NA, Al-Anon, and Nar-Anon meetings.
I was there for the suicide threats.
I was there, watching, as he fought to stay sober and then spiraled out-of-control, relapse after relapse. I was there when he got sober after a car accident and stayed sober for almost 3 years.
I was there when meth snatched him out of my arms and turned him into a paranoid, hallucinating skeleton. I was there when he clawed to get his life back.
I was even there to watch the miracle. Throughout his periods of sobriety, his faith, his recovery, and his self-worth began to grow. He stopped lying. He stopped manipulating. He started making amends and promptly admitting when he was wrong. He slowly, over time, with much practice, got better.
Not perfectly. Not quickly. But the thing is, it's a miracle because HE'S STILL HERE. Living another 24 hours. Sober.
And I'm still here, loving him, and working my own program.
Addiction has taught me that I need to focus on myself. Work on me. Find joy within. Pray. Trust God. Admit that I am powerless over this cunning disease and that all I have to do to get better is turn my will and life over to God.
And ask for help.
Today I live one day at a time. I express gratitude when I get up in the morning and I thank God for another day, another chance to do better, another opportunity to live with purpose and let my voice be heard.
Don't be silent anymore. It's time to #celebraterecovery. Join me.
To the Suffering Wife of Someone with addiction:
I know the soles of your feet are sore from walking on eggshells.
I know you have kept quiet for too long and you have every reason to scream from the mountaintops.
You are tired of trying. Trying to keep it all together. Keep finances afloat. Keep the kids quiet. Keep the secrets from coming out. Keep your husband from losing his job. Again. Keep the beers hidden and the liquor poured out. Keep the nightmares away. Keep the insanity at bay.
After all, he is the sun. Isn't he? Doesn't he keep you all orbiting around him? It is his moods that matter. His anger that is justified. His depression that needs liquid remedy. His mania that needs to be managed. His opinion that overrides everyone else's. His logic that is law.
He keeps you small, insignificant. He controls you. He rules you.
Relationships with family and friends are strained because you feel compelled to lie. Compelled to cancel social engagements. Compelled to polish the cracking facade so no one knows how rotted your foundation is.
No one could possibly understand. Right?
He yells. He hurts you. He begs for forgiveness. He lies. He lies to you, to everyone, to himself. He doesn't know the meaning of honesty. He doesn't have a shred of integrity.
Sometimes, when he's sober, you get a glimpse of the man he once was, or could be. Instead of filling you with hope, this fills you with despair. Because you don't dare to imagine him being this way all the time. You don't dare to hope that he could be "normal".
I know you have lost yourself in him, in this disease, in this chaos. I know you have given everything up for him. Your morals, your boundaries, your passions, your serenity, your dreams.
You feel that if anyone knew what went on behind closed doors, they would shun you. They wouldn't let their kids come over to your house. They would ask you, "Why stay?"
You wouldn't know how to answer. "I love him" seems like a silly response because really, what is there to love? An illusion? A fantasy of how things could be?
Who would stay for that?
This is me. This is my story as much as it is yours.
I want to tell you and tell myself that when things seem impossible, God can do the impossible. You never have to lose hope. It is possible to heal, to find peace, to live in dignity, to forgive him and yourself.
There is a world of support out there, if you seek it.
There is a tribe of women who have gone through exactly this. And let me tell you something. They got you. They will wrap their arms around you and love you unconditionally until you can love yourself again.
There is no need to suffer alone.