I was married to a guy who had it all. The whole package.
He could do calculus at the age of 14, stood tall at six foot with broad shoulders and had great blond hair and soft blue eyes. But what I loved most about him wasn’t his looks or his brains – it was his heart. He was kind and thoughtful. When he was seven, he offered the shirt off his back to a homeless man who said he liked it.
But tragic moments stole his light and covered up his innocence with darkness.
And when I found him broken and wounded, I thought I could fix him. He had so much potential – he just needed my tender love and a new beginning.
But my love was not the healing love he needed. It was insecure and needy. It was conditional and occasionally unforgiving. I was not his answer after all. And that single realization took me ten years to figure out.
I, after so much painful effort, could not save the man I loved from the disease of addiction.
And so, I decided to save myself.
I am forever grateful that I was able to find the way towards a joyful family life.
For many years, it was easy to disguise my issues in his addiction. He was the one with the problems, and I was the one with all the answers.
Look at him passed out on the couch while I tuck the kids into bed, do the fourth load of laundry, and apply my moisturizer.
Who’s the one with the issues?
The real answer was both of us.
I was trying to look so put together inside and outside of our house. Most people would say I was falling apart, but I wasn’t. In order to fall apart, you have to once been put together. And I can’t remember a time when I was ever put together.
I was insecure which made me a people pleaser. Insecurity made me smile when I felt like crying and act happy when I was lonely as hell.
I fell for a very sick man not just because of my empathy, but because it was a lot easier to focus on his issues and ignore mine.
I was in love with a good man addicted to drugs, porn, and alcohol, and I had work to do.
When I knew I needed to leave (a decision I explain in the Love Over Addiction program), I finally did the self-work I had been putting off for years.
And it wasn’t about digging into my childhood (I had done enough of that in therapy – thank you). For me, and I think for you too sister, it was all about offering the empathy and compassion that I had been handing out to others…. And offering some of that love for myself.
To learn how to be kind to my heart. To fall in love with me. Just as I am. Not the best version or the happy put together girl I was projecting to the world.
And so I researched (something I am really good at). I stopped reading books about how to cure him. I quit trying to learn about this disease (didn’t I know enough living with it for ten years?), and I read anything I could get my hands on about self-love, discovering my dreams in life (here’s something shocking: they had nothing to do with how to help him), and I went to therapy to learn about me (sometimes multiple times a week).
I had done intensive workshops and therapy in the past, but this, this was my program that I carefully put together. And there was only one rule: Only things that gave me joy were allowed. If it was loving, I was open to it. If it caused me stress or sadness – not interested.
And slowly, over the course of a year, I changed. I transformed. Not into some great superhero but into a happy woman. Someone with genuine joy to offer.
Love. It was filling me up so much I could barely take it. Love for my children who had desperately needed their mom to really see and listen to them but were always left feeling second place to this disease.
No more. This disease was no longer going to rob me and my kids of laughter. I was checked in. Fully present. No longer letting addiction take the wheel of our family destination.
This program I created was exactly what I needed to change my life.
And I made a promise to someone very important that I would spend the rest of my life teaching other women how to find their self-love, happiness, and joy again.