How I accepted that my love couldn't save my husband from addiction
“Don’t get above your raising” is a phrase my husband heard during much of his life. Most of us want better for our children: a better life than what we had, better opportunities than those we sought and a life filled with fewer problems and struggles than we endured. For years, my husband replayed those words over and over, “Don’t get above your raising.”
After 13 years of hearing this, I finally said to him, “Maybe it’s best if you do.”
I had a phrase I shared on my blog about my husband’s way of thinking. He was told, “I love you, but if you do this, you don’t love me.”
This was foreign to me. Love should not come with caveats. Love should be unconditional. As a matter of fact, real love is unconditional. My husband tried to soothe the void in his life with women and drugs. It took years of counseling to uncover what I had always suspected. My husband missed out on being loved, but my love alone couldn’t save him.
Addiction is crippling — the lying, the hiding, the denial. After the pills (or drugs) are gone, the sickness sets in, and it gets real ugly, real fast. My husband’s body is destroyed from football and track. Every single day, the pain can be quite crippling. Unfortunately, his emotional pain was just as crippling for years, before we sought help.
What I learned during our battle with addiction is to fight for my marriage, not against my husband. As I shared in one of my videos, the healing process is a daily battle. You cannot battle addiction alone. In fact, addicts who attend meetings know that step one of the 12 steps is admitting that “we are powerless over our addiction — that our lives had become unmanageable.”
This step is vital to surviving. We are powerless over our addiction. For our marriage, this step proved to be what saved us.
We were powerless over the struggle. But as the Apostle Paul pointed out, when we are weak, that is when God’s power in us is strong. “But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'”
"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9-11
I could love my husband with all of my might, but it would not be enough to save him. I could pick up the pieces and nurse him through the withdrawals, but it would not be enough. He had to come to the conclusion on his own that he was powerless over the addiction. He was powerless over the longing he had for love and acceptance as a child. He had to replace that void from the lack of love and acceptance he felt with something, but women and drugs were not the answers.
The void could only be filled with the grace and love from Jesus. Addiction does not discriminate. Perhaps you or someone close to you has also struggled.
You cannot fight addiction alone. Focus on the who (Jesus) instead of the why. That puts our eyes on the problem solver, rather than the problem. When I wrote my devotional, Immeasurably More: 30 Days to Choosing Joy, one of the images I tried to paint is that Jesus is our shame remover. Our past mistakes do not have to consume our hearts and minds with shame. We are promised hope when we walk with the Lord. That hope comes with the knowledge that we are never alone, and we do not have to live with shame.
Jesus is our shame remover. No sin is too great to exclude you from God’s forgiveness. You can stop beating yourself up. You can look at the shame you feel as a stain on a piece of clothing, removed with stain remover. Your shame is the stain, and Jesus is the remover. Just as a dirty piece of clothing is treated with stain remover, Jesus is our shame remover.
My love alone couldn’t save him, but the love of Jesus saved us both, and our marriage. You can read more about when we were separated but kept fighting.