Today is our 5th wedding anniversary. It is sure to be our best yet – though I can’t say years prior give much to live up to. I can remember buying an anniversary card for Chris two years ago and I left it in the drawer because I was having trouble finding honest, loving, words to write. Last year on our anniversary Chris was away in rehab. So yeah, we could sit on the couch and eat pizza with the kids and we’d be leading the charge for the best anniversary celebration yet.
Instead we got some sitters lined up. This morning I didn’t realize the forecast was for a COMPLETE wash out. We had gotten a sitter so that Chris could help me with pictures first thing in the morning. Due to the rain we went to an underpass and a covered bus stop on the Hartford line. At the bus stop someone was smoking weed just a few feet away – so Chris risked his sobriety for a contact high on my behalf
Really though, it was comically so unglamorous but we had so much fun and made the most of it. Our relationship is more about laughing than romancing anyway.
Supporting Chris as he has worked and reworked the 12 steps of sobriety has helped me too! So much of the 12 step program is simple tasks to consciously perform each day which will help one make good decisions and be a good person. In other words, Chris needs to be a good person to stay sober. Aren’t these things we all need in our daily lives? Here are some the the key points that stand out to me:
- Gratitude: It was weighing on me very heavily being married to someone who was not loving me back. I was so happy in so many facets of my life but I had always made family a priority and mine was so strained. When God answered my prayers and got Chris well, my hopelessness lifted. Every single day, no matter how many times my kids woke me up at night or how rainy the weather is, I wake up grateful for a loving husband and father. Gratitude can be found everywhere. I wish I didn’t have cellulite but I am glad I have long legs. I’d love to have second floor laundry but I am so glad I don’t have to drive dirty clothes to a laundromat. Being grateful is a choice along with being happy. I am only a victim of my circumstances if I allow myself to be. So many people have said how sorry they feel for me to have struggled through years of Chris’ addiction. I think the past can sound worse than it was. I did not spend every second of my days thinking how lonely my marriage was or how scared I was for my kids to inherit my husband’s lying. I was a mom, loving her son, friends and family, and focused on getting through the day. Certainly times were hard but so can be said for anyone’s worst days. I am grateful for where we are now, so if the hard days of lying and loneliness are what it took then it was worth it.
- Faith: Trusting in God is the greatest comfort during life’s biggest struggles. This experience definitely deepened my faith. In the dark days it’s hard to see why I am going through something so painful. When I trust in God I find hope and realize someday I’ll likely reflect back and see why I needed to go through hard times to get somewhere else. My family is better than ever. I never would have imagined 2 years ago I would be proud of my husband or hoping my sons would want to be like him when they grew up. The road I walked was well worth the trouble of the journey to get here.
- Forgiveness: Resentments are a large part of the 12 steps. Resentments generally reflect back on one’s own insecurities. I love the quote “anger is like swallowing a poison and expecting the other person to die”. Forgiving someone frees me of those negative emotions and I am the only one who can control how I feel. If someone is making me feel sad or upset try to realize why and what I did in the situation. I can only control my own thoughts and actions. When I feel someone has wronged me, I try to hold myself accountable too. I ask myself “how was I selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and fearful?”. How easy it is so blame others until we turn the mirror on ourselves.
- Self reflection: I strive to be honest with others about my shortcomings and wrongdoings. I feel it’s best to be quick to apologize and do so sincerely. We all make mistakes. I know I have lost my temper with my 3 year old or forgotten a friend’s birthday and while I could make excuses, a sincere apology means much more. My 3 year old was acting like an a$$hole but he is still learning to control his emotions (and so am I) and I cannot expect him to learn to control himself if I am becoming short tempered with him. So when I make the mistake and slip, I explain I was wrong and will try to do better in the future. In turn, I ask the same respect from him.
- Moderation: My own drinking was not that of an addict but was not at a level I should have been proud of. Life at home could be quite depressing when Mac went to bed. When my marriage was feeling empty I would put my son to bed and meet up with friends for drinks several nights a week. This kept me out of the house and occupied from the loneliness that existed at home. In therapy our counselor would suggest Chris take me out more to remedy this but it never happened. So several nights a week I was spending hours having drinks with friends. I drank more than I do now and never had anyone to be accountable to at home. I could get up and take care of my son with a mild hangover and Chris had no leg to stand on to suggest I might be more responsible. Now I go out once a week with friends and cut myself off at 2 drinks (most every time) because I want to feel good for my days alongside my family.