Looking for our new site? Click here.

  Looking for our new site? Click here.

He’s Sober, Now What?

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.


  1. Lori Stewart on March 10, 2016 at 1:34 am

    Love this Ally! I identify with this so much. I never thought I’d be able to say that the greatest gift of my loved one’s addiction has been learning to love myself. Today I honestly can & am so grateful. Thank you for your transparency & hope.

  2. Dann on March 10, 2016 at 2:17 am

    Great blog!!! Very insightful!!!

  3. Laura Schiavo on March 10, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Thank you Ally for your thoughts on the subject of recovery on the other side of the addict. I remember years ago when I thought “if he would just stop taking drugs and drinking everything would be alright! I mean he and addiction is the problem anyway! When he stops this, straightens up and flies right everything will be back to normal and we can all go about our business being happy again!” NOT!!! But the fact remained, that being left in the wake of someone else going to recovery, was ME and MY issues, which I was actually at the time, SHOCKED existed. I remember feeling ripped off that I needed help as well. I mean that thought was as foreign to me as living in a tent in Alaska! In fact, I I denied the fact that I needed help for a long time. I just remained in my self contained anger tank for years until I couldn’t take myself any longer and HAD to do something about it, much like the addict. I, in fact, was addicted to the drama, the need to help and take care of someone else. Even though I hated the fact that someone I loved was an addict, I was left with nothing to do when they recovered. I soon realized that the addiction was doing something for me that I did not know. I was getting my self worth out of helping someone else, being the rescuer if you will. After all, he needed me! That was important right??? He couldn’t do life without me right??? These are all thoughts that I thought were facts at the time. I did not know that I was wrong. I was shocked and angered to find out that very insulting fact! So I was mad about THAT for a while too. God did have a plan, and thank Him that I was totally sick of myself and had to get help that presented itself as Al-anon. Like I said, I was very insulted at the time, but when I went to meetings and saw other people laughing and telling my story over and over again, I wanted what they had. I knew they knew me. (That kind of scared me a little too truthfully)I was not terminally unique, doomed to a life of anger and guilt. I wanted to laugh again and be happy too . So with the help of Al-anon, I was shown tools and given new habits to replace the same old “old” behaviors. Over time, piece by piece I got my life back. Not because “they got sober” like I thought at first. Because I needed recovery too from this insidious, cunning, baffling and powerful disease of addiction. The part that I played. My days are not always “rainbows,” but life is life and I have an amazingly great life today! I have a new design for living that takes me through all things today. I know where to turn or look for help today and I know what my part was and is. God is in my life today. I choose that. He was always there for me, but I needed to seek Him in order to have that relationship. That is the difference that is the deciding factor of “do I want to live life and life abundantly? Or do I want to let the enemy steal, kill, and destroy my life and everything in it? I am SO extremely grateful for you Ally, Lance, and Hope Is Alive ministries. It is not by mistake that our paths have crossed. By seeking God, ALL things are possible. Having you guys in my life and the life of my family is one of those God blessings. Thank you for allowing God to work through you to help others recover. You are making a HUGE impact on thousands of people. I know, I am one of those people.

  4. Carman on March 10, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for blogging this, Ally. It really spoke to me. I’m on the path to healing myself and this encourages me. I can’t say enough about the Finding Hope classes for loved ones of addicts and alcoholics…truly a lifeline when I needed it.

Leave a Comment