One of the things I love the most about this interview with Sara is that she’s so relatable. In today’s episode of the Love Over Addiction Podcast, we are going to talk about DUIs and making excuses for our loved one’s drinking. We’re also going to discuss what happens when we feel hopeless and desperate (feelings most of us can relate to), and Sara shares how her husband got help and found sobriety.
As always, there is a ton of great wisdom. So get comfortable, settle in, take a deep breath, and listen to one of our brave sisters.
Michelle: Thank you so much again for agreeing to do this. I am really grateful that you’re willing to share your story.
Sara: Well, I’m grateful to share it because there is hope in all this.
M: I’m really excited to talk about the hope because I think that’s one thing that gets lost. And I know there are going to be a lot of women listening to this that don’t feel any hope at all. I know you, and I can relate to that and relate to them.
S: Absolutely. Yes
M: So let’s start from the beginning.
What I like to ask first is: how did you meet your husband, and when did you start to notice there were signs of alcoholism or red flags?
S: I met my husband in 1999. We’ve been together since then. And I was in my early 20’s so, at that time, people were going out and drinking. I never really noticed there was an issue with his drinking until probably, oh, I would say, 7 years into our relationship. We were not married yet, but I noticed that when he did drink, he became a different person. Not bad, but there were red flags. He would become a person that I really wasn’t that excited about.
But it really became an issue after we were married. Actually, now that I think about it, it was 3 months before we got married; he got a DUI. And I happened to be in the car. It was one of those times that I said to myself, “I’m going to have fun. I’m not going to worry about his drinking. I am going to let loose.” Because you get to the point where you feel like you’re always the stick in the mud or the one that always was cracking down on him.
We were going to a concert. We were both mutually excited about it, and I thought to myself as I was getting into the car that I should probably drive. And I think I even voiced to him, “Should I drive?” But clearly, I should not have been driving. Honestly.
And he said “No, I’m okay. I’m okay to drive.”
And we ended up getting he ended up getting a DUI that night.
So for a while, I felt guilty that I didn’t take over and demand to drive, but like I said before, I shouldn’t have driven. I was not in the best shape either. So that was when…
M: Well, I was just going to say I love that you’re bringing up such an important—you brought up two things that I think are really going to resonate with people listening. The first is this: addiction does a brilliant job of making us feel like we’re nags and we’re no fun. Why can’t we just be more laid back? Why can’t we just have a good time because we’re not drinking at the limit they are, or we’re not comfortable with the amount that they’re drinking? And so…
S: Well you know that it’s wrong. Deep down inside, you know that it’s wrong.
M: Yeah. It goes against your values and your morals, but you compromise, and you allow yourself to be convinced that somehow, someway this is your fault.
Even though you know in your gut. You’re like exactly what you said. It’s not ok. The other thing I love that you pointed out that I think is so wise is if you are going out with him and you know he’s going to drink, unless you want to Uber or Lyft or call a friend, you are going to have to be the one who’s sober to get behind that wheel and demand the keys.
S: Well I turned into that person. I turned into the person that never drinks. I’m always the sober driver.
M: So how did that feel? I turned into that person too. How did that feel for you?
S: Well, honestly, as you grow older, my tolerance went down, and it wasn’t that fun for me. I mean, it’s not that fun to drink like that anymore, and that’s what a normal person realizes as they get older because you can’t recover, and it’s just not that fun. It can feel like you have responsibilities in your life. In all honesty, I took that role on very well. But you do start to get bitter that you always have to be the one that’s in responsible.
M: Yeah, that sucks. What they accuse you of (which is being no fun) is exactly what you turn into, but then you say, “Wait a second. If you were a little bit more—first of all, if you did not have this disease, if you were able to say sober, I wouldn’t have to be this woman that I’ve turned into that’s always the one that’s responsible.”
It’s exhausting. For me, when I stopped drinking—I stopped drinking for over 7 years because I was convinced that if I had a drink, it would send him into relapse. And here’s the deal: it had nothing—I mean, honestly, did that help him get sober? No, not at all. I kept thinking that somehow…
S: It doesn’t matter what you do. They’re going to do what they’re going to do.
M: It’s so true. It’s so funny how we convince ourselves of all the same things. So let’s go back to your story. That was three weeks before you agreed you were going to get married. He had this DUI; you said you felt guilty, which is a classic feeling.
Tell me what happened after that.
S: Well, I started the enabling behaviors. I think I only told a couple of people about his DUI. I think his sister knew, and my sister knew, and my very best friends knew that he got the DUI.
M: Ok, so why didn’t you tell more people? What feelings were you carrying around about his DUI?
S: Guilt. Guilt that I was in that position, that this guy I was marrying had a DUI, and he was commuting. I lived just north of Denver, and he was commuting down to Denver on a suspended license. I’m just a very honest person in my life. Those are my values, and I felt like I was lying—that I was living a lie. And that was only the beginning of me living a lie until I was able to truly accept that he had a drinking problem. And then I was equally as sick.
M: Okay, so you entered this marriage already feeling guilt for living a lie. I can understand that. I think we all can.
So then talk about that. Talk about how you’re enabling, and talk about—what roles did you start to take in your marriage?
S: Well, I was always the sober one. I would make excuses for his drinking. He hated his job, and he had troubled past, and so I made excuses that if these things would be fixed, then he would stop drinking. And really, I came to realize that it—I mean, through your program, honestly, that It didn’t matter what I did. He was going to choose to drink. So he had to come to terms with living a life that he was happy with for him to ultimately be happy; it had nothing to do with me.
M: How did that make you feel when you came to that realization?
S: Well, it was tough. I was very depressed and hopeless. And I thought about suicide, but I honestly could never come to that. I could never do that, but I did think about it. Like what if I just didn’t wake up? Or what if I wasn’t in this life (which is horrible to think that I was so desperate and hopeless)?
M: Isn’t that the perfect word? That’s the perfect word to describe—desperate. We’re just desperate. Desperate for them to get better, desperate to feel better. Desperate to figure out how to get out of this situation. Not necessarily leave, but oh my gosh, how does this ever get better? How does he get sober, or how do I start to feel better even if he gets sober or not? We are just desperate for that.
S: Right. Yeah. You are.
M: Okay, so you found the program which was great.
How did you find us?
S: Well, so one night we got in an argument, and I was sleeping in the spare bedroom. And I had dabbled with going to Al-Anon, but I struggled to find a meeting that I connected with. So I think I was googling an Al-Anon book, and your your blog came up, and so I started looking into your blog. I noticed you had a program. At that point in time it was the Love over Addiction program. That was your first program, right?
And so I immediately bought it and just devoured into your blog, and it brings me to tears because I really feel like you were the beginning of my recovery, and I just am so appreciative of all the work that you’ve put into it. I know you’re a mom of 6, and you’re a busy woman, and I’m so grateful that you’ve made this your life’s work.
M: Thank you for saying that. You made me cry now which—-but thank you. Thank you.
S: Well, there’s always a first.
M: There is. I feel like this is our purpose—you, me, and all of the women in our group. This sisterhood is just so healing. And you’re right what you said about the hope at the beginning. I can relate to what you said earlier about committing suicide. I used to think—I would literally have my right arm amputated to get him sober and to start to feel better.
So I thought that it had to go to amazing extremes in order to change, and when I figured out that we didn’t have to do that—hat we didn’t have to pay this ultimate sacrifice, we could find hope, and we could find real answers—that changed everything for me. And I realized that’s truly my life’s purpose to say there are real, practical tools that can take our power back. We can become the women that we were meant to be. On who we were married to and what they try to do.
S: And it takes a lot of work.
M: Right. So tell me about that. Let’s talk about that. So you found the program.
What changes did you start to make in your life? How did he react to your changes?
S: I started not paying attention to what he was drinking. He always drank in the garage. And I would go out there and look and measure the bottle and see how much he would drink in the night and count the bottles and stuff like that. So I stopped doing that.
M: Good for you.
S: I think that was the biggest step. And then the hardest thing to do is to detach and set boundaries, so those were the two things that I really struggled with. It wasn’t until I finally said about a year and a half ago—no, it was a year ago. I said, “I have fully accepted that you are not going to stop drinking, and I cannot live with you as a drinker, and so I am choosing—” I had said at that point in time, “I think that we should get divorced.”
And I had left earlier in the marriage for like a week and thought that that was going to be him waking up. And this was before I found your program, so when you go through about how you can threaten all you want, and you have to really, truly mean what you say and stand behind your words, that was very eye-opening for me. So about a year ago, I said to him, “I have fully accepted that you do not want to stop drinking. This is the kind of life that you want, but I do not want to be a part of it anymore.” He took me seriously. And at that point in time, he decided to go to rehab a program that he found on his own.
M: Wow. Huge.
S: Actually, it’s interesting because before when we had issues, he found this program before, but he thought that it was too intense for him. He thought that he didn’t have that big of a problem to go to this type of program. So it’s ironic that he said, “I truly want to commit. I truly want to go to this program. I need to nip this in the bud. And I realize that you might still want to leave this marriage, but I just want your support with this decision.” And, of course, I’m like, “I just want you to be happy, so I fully support that.” But I’m not saying our marriage is fixed by any means.
M: Oh my gosh, I have to stop you because I need to recognize something that you did that was phenomenal. I know you probably know this, but I just need to point this out. What you did was textbook perfect. You got busy doing your own program, starting your own recovery, and then you reached a point where you were like, “Okay, I don’t need this, and I’m not calling your bluff. I’m not crying wolf. I really mean this.”
And because you really meant that, and he could sense that this wasn’t just you saying, “I’m going to leave you if you don’t get sober,” really secretly like we all do wanting them to get—like that would be enough to scare him into getting sober. You were coming from a solid place—a place of strength, a place of fortitude, and a place of conviction. You really meant that. And I know that addiction can sense that. It knows what your true intentions are when you state them.
And so the fact that you were able to do that regardless if he got sober or went to rehab or not is absolutely fantastic. I’m so proud of you, and I’m so proud of you for when he promises he’s going to go to rehab, that you’re still in that space of, “Of course I’m going to support you.” But that’s not making any promises. Oh my gosh. Fabulous.
S: Well, like I said, I had you to thank. Honestly. I would not have gotten to that point without you.
M: But you also did the work. That’s the thing. And I just want to stop here and recognize something else. There are lots of women who buy this program that and then put it aside or buy it, listen to half of it, do one worksheet, and set it aside. I’m not sitting there saying that they aren’t going to have their moment where they’ll circle around back to it, but it doesn’t work if you’re not willing to do the—there’s no magic answer. You have to be willing to commit to being uncomfortable and changing your ways. Without that commitment, nothing will change. I can’t do anything. I can’t help anybody. So kudos to you. Seriously.
So tell me what happened. He goes, and he says he found the rehab. Did he go?
S: He went, and he dove in like I’ve never seen him dive in before, and I was just so thankful that he took it so seriously. He really loved how he felt being sober, and he was probably one of the—It was an outpatient program, so he got to be with the people who were there in the inpatient program. I was so thankful that he really dove into it and he really committed to it.
I remember going to their family program, and I was just scared to death about if he relapsed. What would I do? What was going to be my boundary if that happened? And I just would worry about it because, in all actuality, I knew that this wouldn’t be the end. I knew. I was hoping that he would be sober forever and that it would be a realization of his, and one time he’d go to rehab and that would be it, right?
But I knew that he would relapse, and he did a month later. But I’m in a much better spot, and we, as a couple, are in a much better spot. He still drinks, and I have set strict boundaries, and it takes a lot of persistence and a lot of time, but he is accepting those boundaries. And it’s ok if he drinks because I’ve set boundaries. And as long as you stick to your guns, they will ultimately—if they want to be with you, they will accept them. That’s what I’ve found.
M: Okay, I want to talk about these boundaries because I am in love with this. That’s perfect. We all know with boundaries—actually, we all don’t know this. I say that, but boundaries are super confusing to a lot of women. I was very confused about it.
S: It’s hard. It’s very hard. I would say that was the hardest—the detaching and the boundaries is the hardest thing that I had to figure out. And I think that’s the hardest thing to master of all of it.
M: Yeah. And that’s exactly why I wrote the Love Over Boundaries program because I feel like women think boundaries are something you place on other people, and then they expect that person to respect that boundary which is exactly the opposite of what a boundary is.
It’s basically your reaction to a behavior of somebody else. So it’s like saying, “If you drink, this is what I’m going to do, and this is what I’m not going to do.”
But did you find—because I think this is super common—when you start, I think what makes boundaries so difficult is not only understanding what they are and what healthy boundaries are, but also once you start implementing them, addiction hates boundaries.
S: Oh, absolutely.
M: They will fight tooth and nail because it’s about control.
S: He would say, “Oh, here we go again. You’re not going to discuss something when I’m drinking.” And I was just like, “Well, that’s just the way it is. So either accept it or not.”
M: So that was a healthy boundary for you because you refused to go into discussion.
S: The biggest one was not discussing things when he was drunk because they bring up things, we talk about them, and then they don’t remember what they say. Or they say things really mean, and so that was my biggest struggle was that I’m not going to discuss anything of any sort of importance when you’re drinking.
M: Smart. And what happened?
S: What happened when I did that?
M: I want to know what happened when you started implementing your boundaries.
S: Well, he would make fun of the boundary. He would not respect it. And I just had to keep reinforcing it every single time, and eventually, it got better. Still, to this day he’ll still—we just got in an argument last night. He’ll make a comment about it, or say, “Oh, here we go again. I’m drunk, so you’re not going to talk about it.” Over time, I don’t react to him saying that. I just say, “It is what it is. I am more than happy to discuss this with you tomorrow when you’re sober.” And you just have to stick to your guns.
M: Perfect. Okay, so what were you about to say? What was another boundary?
What’s another boundary that you started implementing? Do you remember now?
S: I told him, “I will never have a drink with you again. We will not go out and have a drink together.” I keep telling him that I don’t like the person he is when he’s drinking. That is not my husband. And so I will not participate in that activity with him.
So whenever we go out or we’re—it’s interesting. He has not fully accepted that he has—well, I think he has fully accepted that he has an alcohol problem, but he has not fully disclosed to people that he has an al—he has not fully accepted it. And that’s what I mean by that because only certain people know that he went to rehab. But ironically, those people that know that he went to rehab, he does not drink around anymore.
M: Yeah. And that’s exactly why he’s not telling everybody. They don’t tell everybody because that means that everybody, anytime he picks up a beer in front of them, they’re going to hold him accountable and judge him. So he’s selecting who it is that he feels safe enough or who he feels he can get away with not drinking around. And that’s why you’re exactly right. It’s not a total healing or acceptance because an alcoholic or addict needs to own that entirely—all of it. With everyone. With every relationship and not drink occasionally here or there depending on who they’re with.
So he got out of outpatient rehab, and he’s actively drinking again. How do you feel about the relationship today—your marriage?
S: It’s funny because just a couple days ago we were making—oh, it was just before we went to church, and he—actually no, I’m sorry, he was actually mowing the lawn. He listens to music when he mows the lawn, and he came in, and he said to me, “God is speaking to me.” And I said, “What do you mean?” He pulled up the music, and it wasn’t Christian music. It was just regular music, but it was the actual music that was being played over google music.
And of course, I didn’t really get what he was talking about, but he felt like God was speaking to him because he will say, “I need to get back into his program.” He needs to get back into going to yoga—he needs to get back into finding a meeting. He’s aware that he has fallen off the wagon. But he looked at me at one point, and he said ,”What if we had given up?” And he was in tears. “What if you would have left me?” And he said to me, “I’m just so thankful that you haven’t given up on me.”
M: How did that make you feel?
S: Oh, I said, “Tom,” you know, Tom’s my husbands name. I said, “It doesn’t matter if we would have. We haven’t. It matters where we are right now.” He’s the most wonderful person. He has the best heart, and he has never cheated on me. He just struggles with alcoholism, and that’s ultimately what has kept me here today. I do know that he loves me, and he does want a good, happy marriage.
M: Do you ever feel like if you look at your life two years from now—five years from now, and he doesn’t get the help that he needs, do you still picture yourself with him?
S: I do because I feel like I have set good boundaries, and I have learned to detach, and I have learned that his drinking has nothing to do with me. It’s his struggle. And I have to say that one interview that you did with your friend that is still with her husband that drinks…Oh my gosh. That was like a light. Yes, that was like a lightbulb that went off. I mean, I felt there could be happiness even if he doesn’t stop drinking. I got a lot out of that interview.
M: I love that you said that. I’m going to tell her that. That’s actually my best friend from college. And that’s in the Love Over Boundaries program. That’s the bonus section. And I have seen them. I stayed at their home, and they’ve stayed at mine. They don’t live in my state, but I will tell you that they have a beautiful marriage. That man is so fantastic with his children and such a good, loving father and a great businessman.
He runs and is responsible for the entire family business, and she is a stay-at-home mom. She has a separate job on the weekends. But seeing them is very inspirational. I actually have an interview with him that I’m waiting to find an appropriate spot to put it in because they have overcome a lot, and that man is very committed to his family and getting healthy. And I think that’s the difference.
There are some women where it’s absolutely necessary and the right thing to leave. If you are with a man who is verbally abusive, physically abusive, if you cannot get to a place of happiness, or you have a lot of young children who are witnessing the dysfunction—there is a plethora of reasons for why some women—the best thing they can do for themselves is to say goodbye.
But there are also a handful of women like yourself and some other women I’ve interviewed who are extremely comfortable and can very much get to a place of happiness and joy and freedom and purpose and intention still being married to these great men. They’re very satisfied. My best friend, Dana, has no desire to divorce, and she’s not a weak person. It’s not like she says, “Oh, I want to stay because I don’t know how I’d support myself as a single mom.” That is not her—she’s a very strong, determined woman who is financially capable of—she’s a business woman. She can make it on her own with her kids.
Do you feel like you’ve gotten to a place where you can be happy on the weekends where you can not let his drinking affect you or take you down permanently?
S: Well, I would say absolutely, yes. I’m way better, but I still have my moments. I still have bad days where I get sad. I still come home, and when I come home from work, he’s drunk, and I just I’m like, “arrrhhhh!” You know? But overall, I am just so much more hopeful. I’m in such a better place, and I just feel very blessed for everything that I have in my life. And I’m not hopeless anymore or desperate. You know what I mean? I have such a better outlook on everything because I’ve done the work, and I threw myself in it to make myself happier.
M: Love that. I absolutely adore that. And I think you’re so right in the sense that when that desperation is gone, what can replace that is such gratitude. It’s gratitude for where you are, and the man that you love is, like you said earlier, such a good guy. This happens to really wonderful men. It also happens to men that are not so wonderful. But there are a lot of people out there who, when they’re sober, can just be the most fabulous people on earth—the most talented, gifted, warm, loving people.
S: And the thing that hurts the most is that they don’t know that. They don’t believe that they are that good of a person, and so I always try to instill in him how much people love him because it’s true. Everybody loves him, but they don’t love him when he’s drunk. I still try to be supportive.
M: And that’s wonderful because that means that you’ve gotten to a place of not being a doormat, but a forgiving spot which is key because you can’t continue a marriage with somebody and choose to stay but live in resentment all the time. Because that’s hell.
M: Yeah that’s absolute hell. So you have to find a place where you have the compassionate and the empathetic role with the healthy boundaries. That’s like the ultimate perfection of staying with somebody who is still struggling with addiction, I think. And, oh, by the way, when you said earlier about coming home and going like, “argh, not again,” alright, well, I’m remarried to a the most—like I cannot express my love for him. I’m sure it’s similar to the love for your husband where it’s just like to the bones—to the core. I just adore him. And there are still days of sadness, and it doesn’t have anything—he doesn’t have a drinking problem. He has no addiction issues, but no marriage is euphoric, happy, and connected every moment of every day, I don’t think.
S: Oh exactly, yeah. I don’t think either.
M: I was listening to an interview this morning on a podcast of two couples, and they were very much in love. And a part of me was so happy for them, and then another part of me was like—to hear about the moments where it’s just not so wonderful. You know because—
S: There has to be. There has to be, or they just haven’t got to that moment in their marriage. I don’t know.
M: Well they were married for 17 Years. And I’m not trying to be skeptical or negative, I just think it’s unrealistic to have the expectations in a marriage where it’s just all love, all cherishing, and all giving all the time. Ultimately, that’s your goal, but there are some moments where it’s just a rocky road. You have tough months, tough years, and tough days. So that’s part of the course.
What about the mentor program? Were you thinking about participating in that, or is your plate full with being a critical nurse?
S: No, come to find out I’m actually starting a new job in 2 weeks, and I decided that I’m going to go back to school to become a family nurse practitioner.
M: Oh, wonderful!
S: I’ve always been a mentor at work for people. I’ve always been very approachable and loving and want people to succeed, so I’m very interested in the mentor program.
M: Wonderful. Great. I am so excited about this program. I think it’s going to be awesome. We’re working so hard. I work on weekends, and I was up until 10:30pm working on it. We’ve got about six different people—six different amazing women all working behind the scenes to launch it. But I think it’s going to be really powerful, so definitely stay tuned to the emails, and you’ll see more details within the next couple of months of where we’re hosting the trainings and all that good stuff.
But I think it’s also really interesting that you’re a nurse because it always amazes me how many caregivers are in relationships with men that struggle with this disease. It is always like that. We have tons of nurses in our community. Tons of teachers—lots of teachers which is also a very nurturing and giving profession. Do you see any kind of relation with that at all?
S: I do because actually, I have a good friend, she’s a nurse as well, and her husband struggles with addiction. And I’ve heard stories early in my career about how women or nurses are attracted to police officers and firemen who have issues, so I’m not surprised when—and I do think it’s interesting when you ask in the Facebook group what our jobs are, and there are a lot of people who are in caregiving. There are women in special education and a lot of caregiving people who just attract good people that have issues. You think you can fix them.
M: I was doing a personal coaching call with a woman, and I said it’s like this: if you were a very healthy person who has extremely straightforward boundaries (empathy and compassion probably aren’t her big strengths), and a guy were to show up at her door, and he was 2 hours late and had alcohol on his breath, she would probably look at him and slam the door on his face.
M: But people like you and me—we’re like, “Come on in, let me give you a cup of tea. Tell me why you got into this situation.”
S: And then you fall in love with them.
M: That’s what is attractive about them. They need somebody like us.
It’s really, really funny. But this is where—I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve had to take 40 years to get to this point. But I feel like my empathy and my compassion are my biggest strengths. And that’s something I would never want to take away from me. I don’t look at them as liabilities. Do you feel like that?
S: No. No, I don’t.
M: Look how your empathy has gotten you into this amazing career. You probably wouldn’t have had the career you have if you hadn’t been the mentor you are—if you did not have this amazing, beautiful heart.
S: Right. Absolutely. And I think that’s what they—I mean, just like you’re attracted to certain traits in a man or a woman or whatever. Those people who have addiction problems are attracted to people like us. And that’s why they are attracted to people like us because it feeds the disease. And maybe they can get healed from it, I don’t know. But they are attracted.
M: Yeah, and I think addiction is really smart, and I think addiction can—we walk around with a red x on our back, a little bit like a target, and addiction can sniff that out and go, “Oh, I can actually get away with quite a bit here, can’t I?
And so there’s some sort of role-playing that goes on subconsciously between an addicted person and a woman who is—I don’t like to use the word codependent at all—I just feel like that’s too negative of a word that encompasses so many of our wonderful qualities, but I do think that like we just have to be—but that’s why it’s so important what you’ve done which is your boundary.
There’s no other way that I probably would have arrived at the point where I knew my boundaries, and I knew how to implement them.
And so when I look at my relationship with my work or my kids, I think, “Oh, thank you addiction because you helped me establish those boundaries in other areas of my life.”
S: Yeah. True.
M: I wouldn’t have gotten there without it.
S: Yeah, you’re right. Well just look at all the good that you’ve done for all these women. I mean, that’s what you were meant to do. Could you imagine your life without this?
M: No. No, I couldn’t.
S: It’s beautiful.
M: Thank you. Yeah, really, I couldn’t. I genuinely don’t think I would be interested in anything else. Everyone’s like “You’ve been doing this for 7 years—this one topic. Aren’t you ready to branch out?” And I’m like, “No, I feel like I’m just beginning.”
This is everything. I think about this all day long. And that’s how you know you’ve reached the purpose of your life. It doesn’t feel like work, it feels like something that just gives you a job, and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do with the mentor program is give you all the opportunity to do the same because I think everybody should have the opportunity who have been affected by this disease to help other women.
M: It’s so powerful if we all just join hands and then pass it on to four other women, and those four women pass it on.
S: Well, it’s so neat to hear you talk about how once you were able to voice that alcoholism was a problem in your life how freeing that was and how you would say it at the grocery store, and then somebody would pull you aside. And I just laugh because it’s so true that there’s so many women that are holding this in and just struggling. And it doesn’t have to be that way. When I was finally able to voice that I had this in my life, it’s so freeing, and you’re not giving the power to the addiction anymore. And it was so eye-opening for me to hear that from you.
M: Absolutely. I’m going to say this, and I probably will sound weird, but I’ve never told anybody the fact that when I was married to him, or after I left, I’ve never told anyone, and you know—because right now I’ll go to a meeting. I went to my son’s school pool party, and people ask, “What do you do?” And of course, I share with them, and I’ve never had anyone judge me. If they have judged me, I’m so proud that I didn’t even notice it.
I’m so proud of myself for having the courage to share it that their reaction doesn’t even matter to me. And I cannot tell you how many times somebody says, “Well, my brother or my sister or my dad…” and they start to confide in me and start this amazing connection, and you can be there for that person for that moment.
S: Addiction is everywhere, and it’s just sad, that all these people are struggling. And then all the loved ones are struggling just as much. I was just as sick as my alcoholic was.
M: So true. This disease takes us down as well. For every one person who is struggling with addiction, 7 people are affected. So it could be your wife, it could be your children, it could be your employer, it could be your mother, or your dad—whatever. But think about the numbers. So we’re all concerned with the person who is trying to get sober, right? But those 7 people—f you do the math—there’s way more people suffering who love the alcoholic or addict as opposed to just the alcoholics or addicts. We’re like the silent victims. And the thing is—and I don’t mean to interrupt, but I just find it so fascinating—is that we’re the ones that are suffering, and we don’t feel like we can give this a voice unless they give us permission, so we’re all just sitting alone isolated—
S: HIDING. WE’RE HIDING
M: —feeling helpless, feeling ashamed, feeling embarrassed.
S: Yeah. I was very blessed to have—my inlaws knew that my husband was struggling, and my sister in law knew that my husband was struggling, so they would come to me about it. But I never asked them to intervene. And then when you go over that about how—don’t have your family or friends intervene— I already had done that on an unconscious level, but then to hear you actually say that, it reinforced about how I should not because there were plenty of times that I did think about it. But, yet again, I didn’t want them to judge my husband, yet they already knew it was a problem.
That’s how sick I was. They already knew it was a problem, but I never did go there to have them talk to him. They were so good that if I needed them to talk to him—or they would ask me how he was doing, I could be honest with them, and they were very supportive. So I feel very blessed. But I had such a good support system in my life.
M: Yeah that’s huge. And rare.
S: That’s very rare.
M: Particularly with inlaws. Most inlaws are in complete denial.
They don’t want to admit that their siblings or their sons or daughters have issues because they think what you’re saying is that it’s their fault when it absolutely has nothing to do with them, and It’s not their fault at all.
But they’ll defend that to the death sometimes.
S: Right. Right.
M: Yeah. So that’s great that you had that support. Well I am so proud of you. I hope that doesn’t sound condescending, but I really am. I think that you have done amazing work, and I know that this interview is going to help so many women.
S: Well good. I’m glad. And I am proud of myself because I didn’t think I had it in me at that time when I was sick.
M: You didn’t, huh? Well, I knew you had it in you. I did.
S: Well, that’s why I picked your program.
M: Alright, sweetie. Thank you for sharing this hour with me. I really appreciate it.
S: Yes, you are so very welcome. Thank you for everything that you do.
M: You’re welcome, too. Right back at you. I’ll talk to you later.
I love this woman. You can tell she has such a kind and nurturing heart, can’t you? And I love a story with a happy ending. She had a husband who was willing to say, “I need help.” And he was also willing to admit that he needed to get back into a program. Not every man is like that, and I think the big takeaway here is that Sara was willing to do her own work, so she was prepared for anything. I just adore her, and I hope you found her wisdom as inspirational as I did.