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Faith is helping us through my husband's addiction

Aimee Jackson is “Not the Perfect Cook.” Retiring at age 31 as a bilingual political consultant, Aimee is now a cookbook author, blogger, recipe developer and inspirational food lover, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband a...

My husband is an addict and our faith is helping us recover

My name is Aimee Fortney. For almost five years, I have been known for being on Nashville’s NBC affiliate three times a week sharing “quick and easy” ways to get your family back to the table. I am known to most as, “Not the Perfect Cook.” I am not going to talk to you about food or television though. I am going to talk about something far more serious.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids, worldwide.” My take on that is, Is that all? I bet that’s just the documented number.

While smiling for the camera and keeping my perspective on being professional, most did not know I was crying on the inside. Constantly worrying about how my husband was and trying desperately to keep our secret; living a lie was the only way I knew how to function.

Our lie was that behind closed doors, I wasn’t, in fact, all smiles. My husband was a drug addict, and every day I feared that day would be his last. For years, my husband was taking pain pills.

I want to preface what you will read today and in the coming weeks with this truth: I love my husband very much. My husband and I sought help. But if you have ever watched a television show or a movie that centers around flashbacks and takes you back to, “what happened,” that is exactly what I will be doing — telling our story in flashbacks and sharing some of the ugliest, most painful times in our marriage. Looking back is never easy, but looking ahead only shows hope. As my childhood pastor, Mack Hannah, always said, “The rearview mirror is small, but the windshield is large.”

I am here to share with you about Christians and addictions.

I am not your traditional Christian girl. I believe drinking wine is a beautiful gift. I believe that we are here to show the love of Jesus, not to judge and condemn others. I believe that the church is a place for broken, wounded sinners, not perfect people filling the pews. I believe we are to share with one another in order to carry each other’s burdens.

Unfortunately, for years I did not take my own advice. I lived with our story, in shame. I told no one. I not only smiled for the camera, but I smiled for friends and family, never daring to expose our ugly truth.

So, I am here today to share our story. My husband is 19 years older than I am. He is pretty beat up, thanks to a very active youth in sports. Football and track made his heart soar, but seared his body. If I could go back to that college stadium and warn him before he runs out onto that football field that he is doing permanent damage, I would. Although I would plea with him to take off his helmet and not play, I doubt he would listen.

We have been together for 18.5 years. In that time, my husband has had a total hip replacement in both hips, a shoulder debridement, a hand surgery, an elbow surgery, back surgery, carpal tunnel surgery and more cortisone injections than I could ever remember. Looking back though, I remember my husband taking pain meds even when he wasn’t in physical pain. He learned to “numb the pain,” with pills. He self-medicated for years before I ever caught on to what he was doing. Years later, in counseling, I would learn that my husband said,“the pills helped the pain, but they also quieted the voices that told me I would never measure up.”

We have wonderful doctors now who are aware of my husband’s addiction, and we treat it — as a team. We had a marriage counselor that I will always credit as being part of God’s grace to help us save our marriage. I am here to share with you the ugly truths of pain pill addiction, as well as the beautiful hope and promise that only comes from God’s grace. In the coming weeks, you will understand why I now smile when I quote John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” You might be quite familiar with that scripture.

Read more about our journey, here.

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