Two Simple Lessons When Your Partner Suffers From Addiction
Two Simple Lessons When Your Partner Suffers From Addiction
When I was married to a good man that suffered from addiction, I felt lost. I thought I was going crazy, literally losing my mind. And as I started my own recovery, I discovered little tools and tactics I could use along the way to remind me that I wasn’t crazy. Today, I’ll share two simple lessons I was recently reminded of that will help you too.
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I bought a new home, but it’s not new. It’s actually a hundred years old, and I know that when you buy things that are 100 years old, they’re most likely not in the best condition.
So far we’ve lived here three weeks, and we have leaking in my daughter’s bedroom last night that completely ruined the ceiling. She’s about to come home from camp at college tomorrow.
This is perfect timing.
We have a dryer and washer that were finally hooked up. I put the clothes in the dryer last night and went to go get them out, and they were still wet and realized that there is no gas hookup and I have a gas dryer.
We have no air conditioning on the second floor. And we live in Florida, and it’s the summertime.
We found out this morning that we had rats in the attic. Our exterminator guy came and told us this morning that he found rat poop in the attic.
So it’s going well. We’re completely in love with this house. I am actually in love with this house.
And here’s what I want to share with you: the lessons that I’ve learned during this process.
Lessons always come from times like these, right?
They never come when everything’s fine and great. That’s just not how it works.
Oh, and before we get to the two lessons, one other thing I forgot to tell you: Brian, my husband, thew his back out while trying to get the water out of the attic that was causing the leak and that ruined my daughter’s ceiling. Literally, he could not walk; he could not move. So last night I was rubbing freezy ice or whatever that stuff is on his back.
Are you ready to hear the lessons?
Lesson number one:
I did something that I would’ve never done when I was married to someone suffering from addiction.
I asked for help.
Before I learned and accepted that it’s okay to ask for help, I would have just googled it. Just found a chiropractor on my own and just dealt with it by myself because that’s what I was used to.
If you’re part of the Love Over Addiction program, you know I teach about this in-depth. I sent out a group text, and I said, “Hey, my husband’s in pain. He can not move. Does anyone know of a good chiropractor in the area?”
I wouldn’t want to bother anybody or act like I can’t handle it. Maybe I was afraid I’d appear weak. Like I didn’t have it all together. So I would’ve kept it private.
Asking for help was something I never used to do.
But after all this house stuff, I was kind of at a breaking point last night. So I sent out the group text. And here is the amazing thing: I realized I have terrific friends. I have people in my life that want to help. All I needed to do was ask. I had friends say, “Take my chiropractic appointment – I have an appointment tomorrow at nine.”
I had friends say, “Oh yeah, my husband’s best friend is a chiropractor. We’ve called him, and we’ve contacted him, he’s ready for you tomorrow morning.” And we even had a friend say, “I’ll help. I’ll come over, and my husband will come over and help your husband into the car.”
Made me cry. Weep like a baby. Because when I was married to someone suffering from addiction, I felt so alone. The idea of friends helping was such a foreign concept to me.
And this proves to me people have good hearts.
Now if you’re like I was, and you don’t have any friends right now, I understand. I was like that too.
I had zero friends when I was married to my first husband. Part of the reason was that I was utterly embarrassed by his behavior.
And addiction can make you feel totally isolated and completely lonely. It can be very controlling. It can control you and make you feel guilty for having friends because you’re taking attention away from it.
If you feel don’t have any friends that you can call on, I guarantee you there is a contact in your phone right now of somebody who will be willing to help you if you need help.
There’s people you can call on. You’re not alone.
You may need help looking after your kids so that you can get a break from the chaos that’s going on in your family.
You may want to go have coffee with someone because you need to share your feelings about what’s going on in your relationship.
Now listen, here’s the disclaimer: I tried this several times when I was married to my first husband. I tried reaching out to women, looking for connection and safe space.
Here’s the thing: some women, can’t handle it.
When I was going through my divorce, I tried this with two women. I confided in them separately and said, “Listen, this is the truth. Here’s why I’m actually leaving my husband. This is what’s really been going on in my family that I’ve been keeping from you.”
And both women had no idea what to do with it. They were lost. You see, they were happily married. They had never dealt with addiction, and although they were kind to me, I could tell they were lost. In the middle of our conversations at dinner, I knew that this was probably going to be the last dinner we had together because I was overwhelming them.
Here’s a bonus lesson: Some people won’t be your people.
This seems especially true if you’ve been mutual friends with them throughout the relationship and now you’re separating. They don’t want to choose sides or appear that way.
And some people just don’t want to go that deep with you. They’re surface level people. Some people like to keep it safe and stay in their comfort zone.
So if you go deep and talk about what’s really going on, they’re not interested. And frankly, those aren’t the friends that you need in your life right now.
Let me encourage you here, because if you try to reach out and ask for help, but find one of these surface-y people, please don’t feel defeated. Some people just won’t be able to receive what you’re sharing. And their reactions have everything to do with their comfort levels, and nothing to do you with you.
If you find one of these people, that’s okay. You tried. And now you can try again. Don’t give up.
You try to make more friends. Look for your people.
Your future best friend isn’t going to show up and ring your doorbell and ask if you want to be best friends. That’s just not how it works.
Reaching out to people and making friendships takes work. And it will probably involve some level of rejection.
I’ve been rejected by many people. They think, “Oh, whoa, you’re too much for me.” Or, “You’re too loud for me,” or “You’re too crazy.” “Your sense of humor isn’t like mine.”
And that’s fine. There are women in this community that you know, do that. And that’s fine. We’re not for everyone. And you’re not for everyone.
Not everyone is going to connect with you, and not everyone will want to connect with me either. That’s okay.
The truth is that there are women out there who will be your people, and it does take work to find them.
When I say work, it means making yourself vulnerable and asking for help.
It means letting people in and being willing to be rejected.
Okay, so that’s point number one. In summary:
Lesson 1 Summary: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
And if you feel like you don’t have anyone that you can ask, do the work you have to do to find them.
You guys, the shit is kind of hitting the fan over here. Pardon my language, but it is around here.
I have no washer dryer. I’ve got a roof caving in on my daughter’s bedroom. I’ve got rodents in my attic. Y’all hopefully saw on my stories, and my bathrooms like, this is it. We’re in the war zone here.
Here’s how I’m keeping my head above water (and lesson number two):
Looking at all of the little things to be grateful for.
That’s what I’m choosing to focus on. So I’m not focusing on the rat poop. I’m focusing on the fact that I have a guy coming next week who’s going to set up traps in my attic. And that guy was really nice. He was standing in my kitchen, and we laughed a little, and we joked a little, and he seemed like a lovely fella.
So that’s what I’m going to focus on.
The fact that I have a friend right now who is renting a home and her landlord refuses to fix the leak in her roof. That’s really tragic.
I’m focusing on the fact that I have a great roofer and he’s coming next week. Does it mean that I have to live with the smelly, yucky roof mold? Yes, it does. But guess what? I can close the door to that room and pretend it’s not there until he fixes it.
And I know that the guy that is coming is a good man and he’s going to change it, and I have the finances to fix it. So it’s those things.
I could sit here and literally fall on the floor and melt-down, or I can choose to sit there and say, it’s not put together. We’re going to move very slowly through this.
This isn’t going to happen overnight. Michelle, you’re not gonna fix everything at once.
But slow and steady and grateful wins the race.
One little thing at a time with a grateful heart makes all the difference. Right?
This morning when I was walking in this beautiful neighborhood, with all the trees and houses, I was talking to my dog, Abby. Which I realize may sound strange, but I talk to my dog, so stick with me.
I was talking about my goals for the day. What are the three things I can get done today and be a happy woman? If I get those three things done, then I’m winning. I’m succeeding. I’m doing alright.
And the list was simple:
Call the AC guy, call the ceiling repairman and empty boxes. That’s it. Those are my three things.
So, in summary, the second lesson is to find small things to be grateful for and make very simple, attainable goals for yourself. Okay? You can do that. I know you can.
I hope you found this helpful.
Michelle Anderson has over 10 years of personal experience with loving someone who suffers from addiction. She was married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and pornography. She's used her experience to create powerful resources for women in the same circumstance. Using her own personal experience, combined with years of research and studying, she presents ideas, tips, and tools on how to handle this disease, and take care of yourself, and your family.
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