I am a wife to an addict.
I can easily say the past 7 1/2 months have been the hardest, most hurtful, emotional and trying times of my life. It has also been the sweetest time in my life as I have come to know my Savior, watched my marriage actually become stronger and as I have learned a lot about myself and how trials make me a better person.
When this all began I would have never thought I would say that. In fact, I wondered if I would ever be happy again. The questions that were very common for me were: will my marriage last? Do I even love him? Does he even love me and if so how much? Do I really matter? How much of my marriage has been real and genuine and how much has been a deceit, a lie, a cover up? Do I really know my husband? What kind of person is he? Is he even the man I thought I married? What will this mean for my kids and our family? How will I ever move past this? How do I forgive and not hold resentment? How do I get these thoughts out of my mind? How will I ever trust my husband again? How will my life ever resemble the peace and happiness I once had? Do I have to suffer the rest of my life with this issue shadowing everything else? . . .
When I caught my husband in his addiction the shock and horror was beyond description. As the reality hit me and I realized how many lies I had been told and how completely I had been deceived I was angry beyond what words can explain. The shock was indescribable. I was so confused I didn’t even feel capable of making every day decisions. The emotional pain was so intense I felt it physically. Until now I had no idea emotional pain could literally cause physical pain.
I was fortunate enough to be able to meet with my bishop the night after I caught my husband. He recommended I attend the 12 step program for loved ones in addiction. I went because I didn’t know what else to do. All I knew was I needed a miracle and this seemed like the best chance at the moment. I attended the 12 step meeting the very next night.
I walked into that room an emotional mess and sobbed the entire time. I was received with loving arms, hugs and words of understanding and encouragement. This room had women in it that had experienced the exact same thing I was experiencing and were finding healing and were full of love and compassion for me. I normally hate showing emotion in front of others and in fact don’t express my feelings well even with family members. But at this group I was able to open up and really find healing and not be judged by anyone there.
I quickly learned what the 12 step group was all about and embraced it whole-heartedly. I can promise you it has changed my life and I am extremely grateful that of all the trials in the world my trial happens to be one that took me to a step by step guide book how to cope with it, deal with and be a better person because of it.
Step 1, 2 and 3 taught me that I cannot control my husband’s addiction and if I try to, my life will become unmanageable. (Which it had; my thoughts were always focused on what my husband was doing, what he was thinking, what his desires were, and this exhausted me emotionally; it took me away from living a normal life and I was not as good of a mom and in reality, I was driving myself and my husband crazy and it was doing nothing but harm; no good was coming from it because I cannot control any of it anyway).
Step 2 and 3 taught me that the Savior CAN help my husband, He CAN help me and He WILL help both of us if I humble myself, submit myself to Him, let go of my emotions and give them to Him. If I but open the door and allow my Savior in He is there. In fact, He suffered the atonement for me and knows exactly how to help me and my husband. The next several steps helped me recognize my own weaknesses. After all, how can I remove the mote in my husband’s eye if I still have a beam in my own?
In all honesty, in the beginning, I didn’t think I had problems. My husband was the one with problems, he was the one who screwed everything up, he was the one who needed help. But I quickly realized I was wrong. My sins may not have been the same magnitude as his but I learned I have a lot of things I needed to fix too. Once I humbled myself enough to see my own shortcomings and stop focusing on my husband’s, amazing changes started taking place in my life and I took control of my life.
I have realized I was “going through the motions” of living the gospel. I now search the scriptures, I find answers in them, I survive on prayer whereas before they were repetitive or insincere. I now have a testimony of priesthood blessing (I have had my share of them the last several months). My testimony of the power of the temple has grown. To put it all in a nutshell I truly am beginning to understand for the first time what the gospel is all about and have a testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ. I am building a relationship with him, I have experienced the atonement and the healing it has brought me and the peace I have felt.
I needed this trial to really get my life where it needed to me. The ironic thing is I thought my life was on track and thought I was doing everything I should be doing but I have learned otherwise. So I am grateful for the progress, the strength, the testimony I have gotten through this trial that would not have been achieved without it. My husband and I have seen each other at our worst and in a weird way that has brought us together – there is nothing left to hide. As we have both worked through the 12 step program we have shared with each other the things we have learned, and how our hearts are affected. We have set goals as a couple so we can strengthen our marriage and survive this trial. As we have worked through this trial together my husband has been incredibly supportive of my and my erratic behavior that at times has been very hostile but he was patient with me.
We are now closer emotionally and spiritually than we have ever been. It’s like falling in love all over again. We open up and share our feelings like we never have before. As I look back and think I thought our marriage was good before but in reality it was only mediocre compared to where it is now and I would not trade how wonderful it is now. It has come at a great expense but one which I would pay again! I must add that trust is still broken and in pieces and it will take time to mend that but even with that conflict we are stronger than before. (Again, a statement I would never have expected myself to say because I have always been a firm believer that without trust you have nothing, if trust is gone it can’t be a happy marriage)
Another blessing that has come through this trial is I was called as the facilitator for the women’s 12 step support group and I am strengthened immensity by being able to serve others in their healing journey as well.