Just over six years ago my life was in complete turmoil. After nearly two decades of trying and failing to save my husband from an addiction to crack cocaine and prescription pain pills, I had reached my own “rock bottom”. When I found myself chasing a drug dealer through my neighborhood streets, I realized just how insane my life had become.
I had come home from work to find my husband, Dean, standing outside of his dealer’s car. I knew it belonged to his dealer because I had seen the car before. I had followed my husband a couple of weeks prior when I had suspected that he was going to get drugs. The old white Cadillac parked outside of my house was the same car I had seen that night. Coming home to discover Dean purchasing drugs right outside of our home was more than I could stand.
As soon as I started to pull up into the driveway the Cadillac sped off. I was too furious to let him get away that easily. I spun my car back around and took off after him. I knew it was crazy, but my anger had the best of me.
As he weaved in and out of the neighborhood streets, I stayed right behind him. He finally pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. I swerved my car up in front of his, blocking him from taking off again. My adrenaline had taken over, and at that moment I felt invincible. I am not a big woman by any means. I am 5’3” and about 120 pounds, but that didn’t keep me from walking right up to the side of his car to confront him.
I proceeded to tell him off in the strongest voice I could force out. I went on to threaten if he ever came around my home or husband again, he’d be sorry. While he acted as though he didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, he promised to stay away.
With that I turned around and got back into my car. As I pulled away, I pushed the gas pedal to the floorboard, causing my tires to spin and kick gravel back up at the Cadillac. For a brief moment I felt powerful. I was proud of myself for standing up to this seemingly tough man.
As I drove back home, though, I realized how reckless my actions really were. I had no way of knowing what the outcome would be of a confrontation like that. At that moment I was able to look at myself clearly.
I was living a constant cycle of arguing and crying, driving around late at night looking for my husband, buying back our belongings from pawn shops, putting myself into dangerous situations, and feeling alone and confused. Every attempt I made to help my husband seemed to fail. Even the drug dealer I confronted sold more drugs to him just a few hours later. Something had to change.
That night I created a plan to gain back control of my life. As much as I wanted my husband to get clean, I finally came to terms with the fact that I couldn’t control his addiction. My plan included exercise to improve my self-esteem, saving money for my future security, and putting a focus on my own emotional strength.
The next day I started to put my plan to work, and it was truly amazing how fast everything began to turn around. For so many years I had blamed my husband for my own unhappiness, but I discovered that my happiness wasn’t about him at all. As I began to work on my own inner strength, I learned to use the tools of affirmations and visualization. These things, more than anything else, made such a huge difference for me.
Amazingly, as I began to make my own improvements, my husband began to make positive changes as well. Eventually, he admitted himself into treatment, and we are now enjoying a healthy marriage (over five years clean and sober). There was a time when I had given up hope on my husband ever getting clean, but now I know that recovery really is possible.
This is the reason I wanted to share my story. I understand how desperate it can feel to love a person struggling with addiction. I am not a counselor or therapist writing from a professional stance. Instead, I write as a wife and mother who struggled to save my family from addiction, and finally found the right source of help.
There is a stigma that surrounds addiction, especially when it involved illegal drugs. It is this stigma that causes loved ones to hide the problem, keep secrets, and isolate themselves. Statistically, one in four people are affected by addiction. It is time for families to shed the shame and reach out for help. I know from my own experience, that there can be life after addiction!
Sometimes you have to push your way past the crowd of fear
in order to reach the front row seats of joy - Lisa Espich
Lisa Espich is the author of Soaring Above Co-Addiction: Helping your loved one get clean, while creating the life of your dreams. After creating her own program for co-addiction recovery, and witnessing the remarkable transformation by her husband, she is now passionate about helping other families to overcome the devastating effects of addiction. For additional resources, information, and a Free Guided Meditation download visit her website at http://www.soaringabovecoaddiction.com