Sometimes I don’t know where to start when it comes to Chris’ story of addiction. How to tell my story in the midst of respecting his is hard. I can tell you what it feels like to be married to an addict. I can tell you what it feels like to think your life is falling apart when you learn everything you knew about your marriage was a lie. I can tell you about touchy subjects and hard conversations and so much hurt.
But I can also tell you about redemption and healing and forgiveness. I can tell you about being made new, about rainbows after thunderstorms, and love after heartbreak.
I just don’t know where to start.
For now, I’ll start with today. July 16, 2015. Today is a big day for Chris because it marks five years of being clean and sober. Five years of waking up each morning purposefully making better choices, being honest when it would be easier to hide, and asking for help when things get to be too much.
When I think about our journey through addiction, the word that immediately comes to mind is forgiveness. Chris asking for my forgiveness. Chris learning to forgive himself. My need for forgiveness from all the hateful, vengeful things I said to him in those first days and weeks.
I had to forgive Chris because I needed it just as much.
For a long time, our marriage felt done. I could not imagine how we could put ourselves back together again. We were Humpty Dumpty and no number of king’s horsemen or king’s men could fix us. We were crumbled and bruised and shattered.
It probably didn’t help that I fought all attempts also. There was a large part of me that did not want to be fixed. I was righteous in my anger and hatred; this was not my fault. My heart had no room for compassion, grace, or mercy.
I can tell you now that as an addict’s wife, my attitude did more damage than good. I reacted the way an addict would expect and this is exactly why he had kept it a secret for so long. He knew me well enough to know what would come next. He was, in a way, preserving our marriage in the only way he knew how. It’s messy and not logical, but it’s the truth.
Stepping outside of that time period, those first chaotic months where nothing made sense, I can say that we would not have made it if we didn’t have people show up when we were completely lost and broken. There is no way that our marriage could have survived on our own accord. It took a village to get us through. Family and friends came alongside us when we couldn’t stand on our own. People loved Chris well when I couldn’t find one ounce of love inside myself. Friends called and texted and showed up even when I told them not to, knowing me well enough to tell me to shut up and open the door. Family took care of Elliott when I was too drained to play with her and give her the attention she deserved.
We were well loved by an army of people.
Five years in, I’ve still not figured out how to write about our addiction story. There are parts that are Chris’ and there are parts that are mine. Our marriage covenant before God says that we are one and so it’s our addiction story now. We’re in this together no matter how painful it was and can still be. I’ve learned a lot in the past five years, but that’s probably the most important: that we’re in this together.
Today, five years after the total destruction of my marriage, my trust, and my security, I want to encourage you to be fully in with someone you love. I don’t know exactly what that will mean for you, but I need you to be in someone’s army today. Pick someone you know who is struggling and love them well for me, will you? You know what your people need. Take care of someone today in a way that only you can do. It’s the best way I can think to celebrate my love’s five years of hard work.
Let’s go out and love others well, guys.