I like this photo quote I found online because when you own your story no matter what it’s content may be you could be helping someone else with the same story line as you. My husband recently celebrated 3 years of sobriety which is an amazing milestone in our lives. Notice I said “Our” because we have been in this together every step of the way. I have noticed that there are some people that talk about it being separate from their spouse or family and I know for us in the beginning when my husband took the wrong path in sobriety it was just about him in a very selfish way. I heard a man once say in a meeting “My sobriety has to be most important and if I get divorced because of it then so be it” and honestly my thoughts are “No wonder it is heading down that path, it’s because she obviously doesn’t feel like she is a part of”! For my husband and I when I was a part from and not a part of that is when we had big problems. The way we do things may not be for everyone but it works for us because people seem to forget that I am recovering too, and in some ways more than my husband!
You see the first 11 months of my husband’s sobriety was HELL! After his DUI the first couple months there was a calm in the house and I think it was because everything was settling and becoming a serious reality for all of us. My husband was going to meetings every day sometimes several a day and so before his drinking was taking him away from home and now it was his sobriety. I didn’t really understand it, I like so many others believed that this was a chance at a new start for us and everything would be wonderful if he just stopped drinking, but it wasn’t that way at all. He was hardly at home and when he was he grew meaner and colder everyday thinking he had all the answers and could help everyone else because he had a few months of sobriety under his belt.
It got so bad that he told me at the ten month mark in his sobriety that he wanted to separate. Then within a month he told me he was unfaithful. All I could think of while laying on the floor with my heart shattered in pieces is “how could he do this to me”? My thoughts went like this…….Why would he do that to me, after all he had put me through for 13 years I deserve this? I have been with him every step of the way and now that he is sober this is what I get? The haunting thoughts went on and on until I thought about going to sleep and never waking up!
Instead something came over me and I chose to forgive him because after all he is my husband and for better or worse I loved him with all my heart and I didn’t want to give up on our “happily ever after” if there was a chance because there is always a chance, right? I changed the way I treated him, it wasn’t met with anger and resentment anymore (which believe me I had good reasons) but it wasn’t who I was, it was who I allowed his alcoholism to make me. Don’t misunderstand me, what my husband did was wrong and it will haunt me for the rest of my life. It is a deep pain that I have learned how to live with. Sometimes it gets the best of me and I become suspicious and untrusting, but I believe that it is my husbands place to make the extra effort to make sure that I know without a doubt he is being honest, and faithful to me. I feel he has no place to get angry with me. Practicing the compassion he has learned and being accountable for the pain he inflicted and understanding the long lasting affects it has on me is when we grow as a couple.
The point I am trying to talk about is feeling like your in someone else’s shadow. As the wife of an alcoholic I sometimes feel like because I have forgiven my husband for all the years of pain I am not suppose to have any emotions about it today. People think that pain is gone because he isn’t drinking. Sometimes when a close friend or family asks how we are doing and at the time if there is an issue going on I may say “things are good but this is happening right now” and what I hear from them is “well at least he isn’t drinking right”? I think to myself, they really have no idea what alcoholism is. Putting down the bottle is just the first step, alcoholism is about working from the inside out and getting in touch with the deep emotional pains that drove you to the bottle in the first place! I have never heard an alcoholic say they had a perfect life. When you start listening to people sharing pieces of their story you hear the emotional demons come out…..everything from abuse in childhood, a lot of I never felt like I fit in, Etc. People who have addictions try and make the pain they feel inside better, they want to numb it and being loaded or drunk means you don’t have to feel in that moment and as soon as you do you start to medicate again, hence the cycle of addiction!
I have been going to meetings with my husband every weekend for the past two years now and sometimes I do feel like a shadow in my husbands sobriety. Some people will walk up and talk to my husband and not even acknowledge that I am right next to him. Others acknowledge that we are a joint effort in my husbands sobriety. I can’t work his program for him but when I see him out of control, or getting full of himself, or he seems to be a little lost I will remind him about the things he has learned in the program. I will say to him that he seems to be straying off his path and not really working his program and although I know his Ego doesn’t like to hear it, he needs to because I know without me he wouldn’t be where he is today. Some days I question within myself if I make a difference in his life. Although I know my place is by my husbands side I sometimes feel out of place, like I am judged by those that believe that I belong in Al-Anon meetings not AA. However what we have gotten out of those meetings as a couple and individuals is priceless! We have people that care about us and genuinely want to know how we are doing. We get invited to do a lot of things with many different people and it is a really great feeling when you feel like you a part of and people understand you do belong.
I don’t credit myself for his sobriety I know that is all him and his hard work to maintain it. But on the days when I am feeling like I am once again standing in the shadows of his alcoholism I replay things I have heard my husband say to me. I hear him say “without you I have no idea where I would be today”. I also replay the way he looked at me the day he found true sobriety. I hear our vow renewals and feel the connection between not only our hearts but our souls. I remember when my husband feels lost he turns to me to help guide him. I know that I can be brutally honest at times and my husband doesn’t always like that, but in his quiet moments when he has time to think he hears me and has time to reflect on it.
So on the days when we are at meetings or I am just feeling like I need the attention and acknowledgment for all I have endured, feeling like that shadow I remember it is my hand he reaches for when he needs comfort. It is our arms wrapped around one another for a comforting embrace of support. We have seen a lot of relationships end in this program. We know not everyone will make it together and that is OK, that means it is how it was supposed to be for them. Sometimes though I can’t help but wonder if they gave up before their miracle happened. Believe me we had every reason to walk away, but Love is a very powerful healing tool and we were blessed enough to pick up all those shattered pieces and create something new and beautiful for us! At the end of the day I am grateful for all the lessons learned and know I am blessed to be the woman that I am today. I quietly and happily stand with my husband and smile because I have learned that to my husband, I am the true hero in his life and stepping aside to let someone else shine and be a shadow isn’t a bad thing when you remember that your shadow is always with you and sometimes your shadow is bigger than you are.
Wishing you Peace & Serenity…………Harmony