Why am I sharing these most unflattering photos of us with you all?? We wanted to bring an awareness as to what alcoholism can look like on the inside and the affects it can have on people. My husband supports me 100% on this blog. (Video to come in the near future.) The photo of my husband is when he fell to the floor and passed out because he was so intoxicated, that was 2 months prior to him getting a DUI and getting sober. I learned through my therapist that many spouses can & do suffer from a form of PTSD (myself included) when they are with an alcoholic/addict. I never gave this much thought until recently because let’s face it I have never been in combat so it didn’t make much sense to me. I am telling you though there are severe emotional & physical things that do happen when your with someone with any addiction problem. One of the things it says about PTSD symptoms is “uncontrollable, intrusive memory”. So a memory can come in when it is not welcomed or wanted and it is very disturbing for a few reasons. (1) You can feel like you have no conscious control and it can make you feel very fearful and or crazy. (2) Unwanted mental experience, like actually having flashbacks of images that were never seen before and it becomes as vivid as reality, it can be frightening and actually seem like reality.
The sadness you see on my face in these photos are not just from when he was actively drinking they are also in sobriety. Although it is rare these days it isn’t daily like when he was drinking. The affects of alcoholism are not talked about enough! Just because the drinking has stopped that doesn’t mean life is fantastic. We feel it is so important to be real and honest because everything is not always perfect when you are in recovery. That does not mean we are not happy, we are deeply in love with one another, we are the happiest we have ever been in our lives but we do have struggles occasionally.
Sometimes it is easier to revert back to old behaviors instead of using the new tools and practicing new behaviors. As the wife of an alcoholic I can tell you that there are triggers that can once in a while send me into an emotional tail spin if my husband reacts negatively. An example of that would be let’s say I come to him and say “Honey I am having a bad day, I am feeling triggered, my mind is going a million miles with all these crazy thoughts”. If his reaction was one of understanding, compassion & love then it helps to alleviate these irrational thoughts conjured up from past wrong doings and it can quickly dissipate. However, if it is met with defensiveness because of his own unresolved guilt then he can lash out at me angrily, and at times be verbally mean which then sends my emotions into a complete train wreck and I am now feeling utterly alone. Do not underestimate the healing power of love & support they are strong tools in helping you achieve that trust and healing you and your spouse both need. We also need to help ourselves, whether it be with a therapist or Al-Anon it is important to take care of you.
What my husband & I have found is this………Although your spouses concerns, fears, & emotions may not be something you totally understand or know where it comes from if you pay attention you can tell that what they are feeling is real for them and it can be very painful and damaging. Alcoholics have to remember that they are not the only ones in recovery your spouses are also recovering and some have suffered a lot more emotional trauma than the alcoholic themselves. When you have lived with lies, abuse, manipulation, abandonment, betrayal, ETC. it takes a very long time to heal & some never do. Forgiving someone is not about forgetting it is about moving forward past the everyday pain and finding a balance. You do heal, it does get easier. Trust can be rebuilt.
An alcoholic will always be an alcoholic and they will be in recovery for the rest of their lives. When they stay close to their program and practice the steps and talk to other alcoholics and talk with their sponsors, their behaviors, their ways of thinking start to change and they become new and healthy ways of living. The miracles that we have witnessed in our own lives and the lives of others because of the AA program has been miraculous! It doesn’t mean that we don’t have struggles, it means that we learn and grow from our mistakes together. It helps us become stronger! It means we support one another in our journey. It means we get to share our story with others and help them. It means that we have the wisdom to guide us through a storm and to not run when it rains but rather grab that umbrella for protection and be grateful when the sun shines once again but the best part is to learn how to see the sun through the clouds!
Addiction in any form is not easy especially for the spouses and loved ones but there is always hope, strength, and experience to hold on to. There is forgiveness, kindness, compassion, understanding & Love. My husband and I had to learn that we could walk away before we could stay. For my husband and I there was no me without him and no him without me. Together we have rebuilt our life, our marriage, & our family which is now based on honesty, trust, compassion, love, understanding & devotion! There is a saying in AA “it is progress not perfection”!
We will probably work on healing and triggers for the rest of our lives but we get to do it together because we found a way to make it work. What has worked for us may not work for others but one thing is for sure we went from having nothing to being blessed with everything and none of it has a price tag! It all comes from Love, honor, respect, and you have to have a deep devotion to not only your life together but also to your sobriety to be a better person than you were the day before and do all you can to make that difference! We are proof that true Love does exist, you don’t have to walk away. We fall down we help each other up and we learn how to not repeat the same mistakes. You forgive quickly and not hold a grudge. Reach out for help be active in each others recovery it opens a whole new life that is just waiting for you to enjoy, life is offering you a second chance we hope you take that first step!
Wishing you Peace & Serenity………Harmony