Susan is sharing her progress through recovery with us this year.
Recently I watched a CNN special on addiction. It was very well done! At the end of the special they opened it up to questions from the audience. A family member of an addict asked what you should do first if you find you have an addicted loved one. Their answer was “Don’t try to go it alone.”
Going it alone was my first instinct. “I don’t want anyone to know.” “What impact will this have on my family?” “What will my children think of their father?” “What will people think of me?” All scary questions and thoughts, but none of which ended up being negative.
People knew that something awful was going on. I completely dropped out of life. I lost weight at an alarming rate, 9 pounds in 9 days. Family and friends wanted to help, but didn’t know what was going on or how to help. Allowing others in, as I chose to and who I chose to, was very key in the beginning of my recovery.
We told the kids right away. I learned in a seminar that “In the absence of information we tell ourselves a story.” And that is what was happening. My children tried to fill in the blanks with a story they were telling themselves, they thought I was dying, had some sort of terminal illness and they were responding to that. Telling them what it really was gave them something real to deal with and start to heal. When we try to deal with the imaginary, no progress happens. Our counselor told us that “The higher the level of accountability, the higher the rate of recovery.” Jeff became accountable to me and to our kids right in the beginning. Also our children experienced a level of trust that we were being honest with them, no matter what the subject was.
Jeff gave me permission to seek support from my closest friends, which I did. The “What will people think of me?” was being put to the test here. I received love, comfort, support, help, no judgment. People that really love us, will love us through the worst, too. I had wanted to keep this secret, not letting anyone know, relying only on the Lord. Now, I could not have progressed in any way without the Lord’s help, but I go back to the inspired words of Spencer W. Kimball: “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” As we allow these other people to meet our needs we are blessed in our recoveries.
As I have progressed in my recovery I have been blessed to meet others that are on the same journey. Support groups are an absolute must! I see the difference clearly when I have not been working my program or attending the meetings. Often it is life blood for me and my recovery. It is so easy to be pulled back down into the pit of doubt and despair. As the spouse of an addict, the worry of him returning to his addiction is a daily thing. It was all in secret before; if I can’t see it now, is it back in secret again? A need that I have from my husband is constant validation of where he is in his recovery. In turn this helps raise his level of accountability and rate of recovery.
Our hands are the Lord’s hands. At times our hands are giving and other times they are receiving. Receiving is harder for me and is something I continue to learn through this process. Attending support groups is both giving and receiving. Echoing the answer that was given in the CNN special of “Don’t try to go it alone” I add to that the second thing would be to go to support groups! These are rooms of recovery filled with hands of hope.
Please reach out, there is always a hand somewhere reaching back. I will be forever grateful for the hands that reached back for me.