This isn’t the post I had planned for today, but I felt the need to pause for a moment.
On Tuesday when I shared one of many horrible, ugly fights Chris and I have had in the past few years, it connected with a lot of people. I didn’t know what the response would be, but two very distinct things happened.
One: lots of people whispered me too. I heard it in text messages, emails, Facebook messages, Instagram comments, Instagram messages, and tweets. The realities of marriage–any marriage–are never what you dreamed of as you said I do. They’re harder, messier, more raw, more broken, and–a lot of the times–more defeating. If you’re in a marriage, you know that fight Chris and I had. It is not reserved for the addicted and the alcoholics.
There is power and healing in letting someone into a mess you’re ashamed of. My prayer is if you read that post and felt a sigh of relief because suddenly someone was saying the things you have been afraid to, please don’t go back to being afraid of it. If you’re in a similar place for whatever reason, TALK TO SOMEONE. If you’ve been there and know the hope on the other side, TALK TO SOMEONE WHO ISN’T THERE YET. Let’s help each other out.
When I write scary things on the internet, it’s not to get attention or say look at me! It’s to connect, it’s to learn, and it’s to, hopefully, encourage. But we can’t just let that happen on the internet and be silent in real life. Community on the internet is real and good, but community in real life is the lifeblood of change. If you don’t know where to start, share that post with someone, tell them you felt like you could have written it, and see how they respond. Use my story to make yours easier. Use my story to start some conversations. Use my story as a white flag to the people in your life.
Because if I learned anything, it’s we all want to say me too, we just want someone else to say it first. I went first. Now it’s your turn.
The second very distinct thing that happened is some readers knew immediately what was happening. Unfortunately, they knew this immediately because it is their reality too.
In sharing the confusion I felt and the struggle to figure out what was wrong with me, I wanted to invite the reader into the chaos of feeling things were wrong but not understanding why. I wanted to make you think one thing and then when the reality hit, I needed you to feel a little betrayed and lost. But I didn’t want you to be completely blindsided so there were hints–little pieces–that would make more sense as the posts rolled out.
For the people living in the reality I’m living in, those little warning signs were enough. They didn’t need yesterday’s post to know what was going on. My life was mirroring theirs, not just because they were married and fighting, but because they were married and living with an addict. Some clean and sober, some still struggling through.
The spouses of addicts saw what was going on. My story was too close to theirs.
I was reminded again and again this week that we are not alone, we are more alike than we show, we are all hurting in one way or another, and that addiction is alive and well in our world and it is destroying lives, wounding children, and ruining marriages.
The spouses of addicts messaged and said this is what’s happening at our house too. It made me physically ill, because I was taken back to that moment when all the pieces of my life fell together and apart. I was taken back to the moment I crumbled under the truth of my new reality.
Tuesday was tough in ways I didn’t expect. The weight of broken, struggling marriages. The hurting people saying they feel anxious, chaotic, and uneasy all the time too. The realization that addiction is destroying the lives of people I love.
Writing and praying through this series has taken a really long time. I’ve been living this new reality–that not only is my husband an addict, but he’s also a closeted-alcoholic–for months and I can’t begin to tell you how much time I’ve spent wrestling with what our story would look like on the internet. It’s one of the reasons it’s taken so long to finally publish. I think about my girls reading these stories one day, and I want to make sure I’m doing it right.
I have no idea if I’m doing it right.
The days and weeks after I learned of Chris’ lies and deception, I was very, very quiet. My brain was quiet in a way it hadn’t been in years. Our house was quiet because I didn’t have anything to say to him. Our bedroom was quiet because he wasn’t allowed to sleep there.
He didn’t end up leaving that weekend. Not because I didn’t want him to, but because I could not figure out how to tell my sweet, innocent girls about their daddy. I couldn’t do it.
I begged and pleaded for words, for a way to explain so they would understand why he was leaving. God was silent. I waited and waited. And God was silent and silent and silent.
He was loud in other areas, in other ways, but on this, He did nothing.
So Chris stayed on the couch for weeks. We only interacted when the girls were around and as soon as they were gone, the show was over and I could pretend he didn’t exist again.
That is an exhausting, horrible way to live.
I was writing a little during this time. This post was the first thing I wrote online after May 3rd. Writing without really writing about something is hard, guys. *pats self on back*
In And Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick, she writes, “And such is life. A mixture of sunshine and rain, mountains and valleys, births and deaths. When Job’s wife suggested he curse God and die, he responded with something simple but profound: ‘Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?’ (Job 2:10) It was time to walk in everything God has destined for us, and to do it with guts.
You know how sometimes we convince ourselves we are the only souls to walk the earth who have ever been ___? You fill in the blank. Been cheated on? Been stolen from? Been abused? Lost a child? Personally, I know the drama can escalate when I’m self-focused to the point of believing no one else has ever even had a pimple, much less a bad day. We too often make ourselves the center of the universe. That’s exhausting.”
Even though it feels as though my world is falling apart, the world does not revolve around me. I am not the only one hurting, struggling, brokenhearted.
I guess there is comfort in being very much like everyone else.
This story isn’t done. This series isn’t done. We’ve got a whole other week to go and more things are happening as these are publishing. I said in the beginning I’m inviting you into a current mess, into a breakdown-in-progress. You are seeing a glimpse of the destruction of my marriage. I will share hope, it’s coming, I promise–but it’s never really like you imagine.
Thanks for being here.