He’s sober, now what? My loved one has been sober just shy of 5 years. It was a long journey to sobriety but we have arrived, for today. But, if I allow myself to be really honest, Lance being sober didn’t change everything like I had envisioned all those year.
I spent so many years fully consumed by Lance’s addiction. I was convinced everything changed on the other side of sobriety. I had visions of us dancing over rainbows, surrounded by white puffy clouds, hand in hand walking off into our forever. I was absolutely positive that’s what sobriety would give us.
When he went into treatment I patiently waited for the day I had spent so many years dreaming of. I waited. And then waited some more. Then the glorious day came that he graduated from treatment. I put on my favorite dress ready to walk off into the rainbows with him. Then, as I curled my fingers around his all those memories came flooding back over me like one of those houses you see washed away in a flood in one fluid motion. The moments of despair, the righteous anger, the wound so deep that I had ignored instead of digging out the infection, sterilizing and stitching it up. See, in that same brief moment I fully realized he was given the chance to heal and I was left behind.
Addiction causes trauma. There is no way around it. There are memories that flash through my head like a black and white slide-show of our lives. And the really cruel thing is, he doesn’t even remember most of them because he was high. His sobriety didn’t wash away those memories and it certainly didn’t cure the pain of the gaping wound in me it left behind.
It was a cold, bitter day when I realized I had to do the work too. It felt undignified. Unfair. Like one more sucker punch to the gut that I didn’t deserve from him. It was his problem not mine. Sobriety should change who he is. It should make him a man so strong that he can heal all my wounds. He should prove to me everyday that he isn’t going back. Not to drugs. Not to alcohol. Not to the person he was before. I stood firm and righteous in the rigid stance that he now had to make it all up to me.
He tried. He failed time and time again. He left. I moved on. No matter where I went the memories still haunted me. Then one day I felt brave for a brief moment. Brave enough to turn around and face the moments that shattered me. And I realized if I wanted a life with or without him I needed to do start digging out the wound. It felt so brutally unfair that his addiction won yet again. But, I was desperate and God saw a way.
I fought for my own healing. I found meetings. I found people who had walked it before. I found a really awesome therapist. And the anger started to budge just a little. It took time. A lot of time. It took learning to forgive myself and him. It took realizing even in sobriety he still has character defects and sometimes he will act the same way he did when he was using without the added benefit of drugs. It took me realizing I did not cause it but I certainly had a part.
It’s not fair that we have to yet again do some heavy lifting when it was our loved one’s addiction. But, much to my surprise life isn’t fair. God chose you. He chose you for this journey. He knew that you had the ability to shatter, crawl around in the dark find all the pieces and slowly rebuild.
The best gift Lance’s addiction ever gave me was the ability to love myself. To heal all my wounds I carried like a backpack filled with supplies for 31 years of camping. To put myself back together with my true identity shining so brightly that nothing could ever dull it. I stumble sometimes. Those memories come flooding back but I wave at them as they go by. Knowing that he isn’t perfect, I am not perfect, but without the gift of redemption life wouldn’t be very much fun anyway.
Note: If it’s time for you to start fighting for your own healing, we encourage you to join us for Finding Hope, a support group for people who love addicts. Find out more here: www.FindingHope.Today.