Three years ago I warned you I would occasionally post about addiction. I have not posted much because what I have been through as the spouse of a former addict is very personal. I am still coming to terms with most of it as I type this. Three years later, yes, and I am still wading through the hole ripped through my life in just seconds when my car slammed into the back of another vehicle. I had no idea my night would get worse. Today is one of those days when I feel compelled to post.
Yesterday, Amy Winehouse died.
Twitter lit up.
Without realization that Amy Winehouse was a person. A friend. Someone’s daughter. She was real. She breathed. Just like you and me.
Was I surprised to hear she had died at a young age?
You play with drugs and as Russell Brand states, there’s always a phone call. There’s the one you hope to get. There’s the one you don’t want to get. But there’s a phone call.
I got the phone call you hope to get the night I wrecked my car.
The one with the addict on the other end admitting that Hell yes, there’s a problem and I want to fix it. Please let me fix it. Stand by me as I fix it.
So I did.
Despite his habit which landed me in jail. Despite the anger which swallowed me whole. Despite knowing I could walk away without judgment.
I stood by his side for three years as he worked to change. As he walked forward without looking back. As he proved time and time again that we, his family, were far more important to him than any substance.
Today, he’s still sober. He is active in his recovery.
In the maelstrom though, I failed to work on myself. Family, spouses, friends… we are all affected. We need support. We need to work on ourselves. We should not put ourselves behind the needs of our loved one with an addiction. WE MATTER in this. In this, I failed. I’m finally working on this part of me now but it’s far too late for me. Don’t let it be for you. If you know an addict, don’t wait for them to get help before YOU get help. Addiction is a pebble in a pond. If you’re there, the ripples will affect you. They’ll toss you about and swirl you around until you can’t tell which way is up. Get help. The stronger you are? The better equipped you are to help the addict in your life. The stronger you are the better off you’ll be if you end up getting the call Amy’s family got yesterday. No, it doesn’t make loss easier. But it makes standing back up after a little easier. Recovery isn’t just for the addict. It’s for the ones who love them too.
Our family joined the local Celebrate Recovery program, based out of Saddleback Church in California. It’s a Christian family oriented program with support for everyone – the addict, spouse, children – it’s a community. It’s not just a meeting. It’s literally a family reaching out to you with open arms. Open arms which won’t judge you even if you relapse. They welcome you right back and start over with you.
I am proud of my former spouse’s accomplishment. 3 years recovered is no small feat – especially with everything we have been through since that horrific night.
I also know he still battles demons. Not as often as he used to, but they’re still there. Recovery from addiction is like remission from cancer. Vigilance is key. You have to check in with yourself. With your support system. You have to be mindful of your life, of the things you let into your life. It’s a daily battle for some.. for most.
But there is always hope.
No matter what, there is always hope.
Never let go of this hope. Even if the hope requires tough love… even if it means walking away… cling to hope.
The moment we let go, we’ve lost the battle too.
And there is nothing more tragic.