Married to an Addict
JULY 17, 2018
When you love, you walk on water; Just don’t stumble on the waves. We all want to go there something awful, But to stand up takes some grace, ‘Cause oh, we are not as strong as we think we are. ~Rich Mullins
It was Jay’s sponsor who first gave us the probably well-known picture of what we were in for, of how radically different Jay’s addiction recovery would feel for each of us.
He asked Jay to imagine a husband and wife who had ridden out a terrible tornado in a storm cellar, emerging together when the storm finally passed to find everything that they had built together destroyed. Then he said that recovery for a couple was often like the woman looking around tearfully at the damage and wondering how they could ever start over only to find the man smiling, breathing a sigh of relief, and saying, “Whew! I’m glad that’s over!”
The first time I heard someone say, “Most marriages don’t make it through recovery,” I remember slowly taking it in, seeing the hard road in front of me, adding that to the pain from my particular wounds, and calculating (maybe for the first time in my life) that I just wasn’t going to have enough to see us through to the other side.
(It turns out that addicts aren’t the only ones who have to come to terms with being powerless.)
Several years, some new wounds, many scars, and much healing later, I’ve learned some things about being married to an addict. If you are in that group with me, please consider this a reminder and a loving message of solidarity:
“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven –“
A time to hold on with everything in you and a time to let go,
A time to stay up late fasting and praying and a time to let yourself sleep,
A time to respect your spouse by reminding them of all their worthy traits and a time to respect them by telling them that they are better than the way they are acting,
A time to gratefully acknowledge every single bit of progress and a time to stop and lick your wounds for a moment,
A time to protect yourself and a time to be vulnerable,
A time to brace yourself for the hard stuff coming and a time to let yourself hope,
A time to go with the instincts you wish you could ignore and a time to trust in spite of those instincts,
A time to stand up for yourself and a time to offer understanding,
A time to face the past and a time to face the future…
Looking back and acknowledging the truth of these moments is easy for me. Navigating them day by day is so very hard and requires more wisdom than I have – more wisdom than most of the brokenhearted people scarred by someone else’s addiction are even close to possessing.
There is One, however, Whose wisdom has ordered all of life’s seasons, One Who also wears scars for the sake of love, and He is close to the brokenhearted. The only way I have ever scratched the surface of understanding what my relationship requires of me in a given moment is by walking with Him. And may I be honest? I still miss it a lot.
The hope that I have to share with you is that incredibly, in the midst of [both of us!] missing it a lot, in the midst of sometimes very difficult times where the only grace we can find is the grace to get back up again, God has given us so much beauty. Your story is not mine, and to promise you any kind of similarity would be nothing more than trite placating, and that is not why I am writing today. I am writing to tell you that I believe that there is beauty for you, too – beauty that is not found in the success of anyone’s recovery (although we hope for that) but in the One Whose promises you can cling to with no fear of ever being let down.
I believe there is beauty for you that comes as you cling to Jesus, as the wounds that you carry, unseen by so many, are seen by Him and held inside His own.
I believe there is beauty for you because He loves you.
And His love endures forever.
Read more from Jenni Young here