A lot of people you meet in recovery who have been sober for awhile will tell you that they woudn’t change what they’ve been through, because it’s given them their testimony. And that testimony can truly make the difference in a newly sober person’s life. To hear from someone who has walked the same steps and made it out and now rejoices in their past addiction. It’s hope. Hope that can’t come from someone who’s never been in the darkness they walked in.
I’m one of the few who
doesn’t say that has a caveat to that. Am I grateful for the testimony my husband and I now have? More grateful than I could ever express. Do I believe God is using this to bring hope to other wives of alcoholics? Absolutely. Would I change being able to share my story with other women? I would.
I have three beautiful, amazing, broken daughters. Broken because of the parents they were born to. Broken because of the years and years of alcoholism…and all of the affects. The changes that dealing with an alcoholic husband created in my behavior. The emotional damage caused to my girls every time his drinking became more than I could bear. The instability resulting from me making him leave, then letting him come back…over and over and over. The manipulative, deceitful behaviors they witnessed on a daily basis (an alcoholics best friend is the lie his wife believes) . The hiding and covering up I did for him. And the accusing and shaming I did to him.
The lack of security…Emotional. Financial. Relational. My need to fix. My compulsion to protect them until I couldn’t. Until I was too tired. Trying to hide reality from them…when they saw it all along, but somehow sensed I wasn’t strong enough to handle knowing they knew. My denial. My lack of understanding of what this was doing to them.
My inability to look in to the future and see the damage I was doing to their future. Their future relationships. Their self-worth. Their ability to trust. To communicate. To form healthy relationships.
I can say, yes, I am thankful for my story. I am thankful for the places it has brought me, the lifelong friends it has given me and the testimony to share with women who are still in their struggle.
But would I change it if I could? I have to say yes. Because these beautiful girls were gifts to me from God. Gifts that I needed to care for, protect and raise in a safe home. I failed at that. For our oldest, she lived with this for the first 16 years of her life.
Yes, they are living in a safe home now. One with joy and honesty and respect and love. Yes, my husband and I have a good marriage and are living our amends to each other and them every day, Yes, things are better.
But no matter how much change and work and forgiveness and love has gone in to the past year…I still have three beautiful, amazing, broken girls.
And I would change that. For them. Because as hard as being married to an alcoholic is, I had a choice. I could – and did – make him leave when it was too much for me.
But being the child of an alcoholic…it’s a pain I don’t know. A brokenness I cannot mend. It will require a lifetime of healing. They didn’t have a choice. They were given to me to protect. I didn’t. For a lot of years, I didn’t do the most important thing a mother should do.
I’m not saying I should have left him. I don’t think that is the answer. But I should have done more. Or done things differently. Behaved differently. I don’t know what it looks like really. All I know is their brokenness is a result of it.
Our children are a reflection of the choices their parents made. Their behaviors mimic ours. Just because we stopped living that way…it doesn’t magically make our kids forget that this is how we do life.
I can’t fix them. I can hold their hands…when they let me. I can counsel them…when they listen. I can live my amends to them everyday…whether they’re watching or not. I can pray for them…even when they have turned away from me. I can show them how I’m working on me…but I must let them work on themselves…in their own time…in their own way.
Sometimes while watching their life spiral out of control. Unable to stop it. It’s a struggle not to let the guilt overwhelm me. People not in recovery may say I should feel guilty. Don’t worry. I do. But feeling guilty doesn’t change anything. If anything, it inhibits my ability to help them.
I could blame all of their bad behavior on myself and let them off the hook. But would that help them? Or hurt them more? If I take the blame, let them say all of their mistakes are because of their anger at me and hold them to no accountability…no consequences…Who does that serve?
I am broken for them. But I can’t fix them. I can’t even really help them until they are willing to work on their issues…their anger…their hurt…their feelings of betrayal…and so many other things I don’t even understand.
And I don’t deny my part in causing them. In causing this…
Collateral Damage: Unintended damage.
Collateral Damage: My three beautiful, amazing, broken daughters.