How do you manage a history of addiction and a thriving relationship?
Today we’re honoured to introduce you to our sweet friend, Shana. She is bravely sharing her story and tips with us around her 11-and-a-half years sober husband and how they’ve navigated over the years together to create what they call “living the dream with hiccups”.
We’re so inspired by their story and can’t wait to share it with you. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
My name is Shana from Life as Wife and Mom Blog, and the first thing I am is a wife! A support system, a rock, a partner, another half, a team. Together, my husband, JP, and I have built a life together and JP says he is truly living the dream: wife of 4 years, 2 beautiful boys, a house, a white picket fence (yes, we actually have one!) and a couple of Hondas in the driveway. We work hard every day to make our lives together run as smoothly as possible (we’re human and have hiccups along the way!).
But our life as we know today has only been made possible because of a decision JP made 11 and-a-half years ago.
You see, my husband has a history of substance abuse.
And the decision that changed everything? Sobriety.
My amazing partner in crime has 11 and-a-half years of sobriety under his belt.
I have huge admiration for his life altering choice; it is what has allowed our paths to cross. (He would grab tea after a meeting at the Starbucks I worked at!). And although my husband jokes that he has traded one addiction for another, this is referring to his obsession to fishing–the tug is the drug, he’s worked hard to maintain his 11 years (and counting) of sobriety by attending meetings, working his steps and taking one day at a time.
Because of his clean time before we met, I wasn’t there for his early struggles. And before I continue, I think it’s important to recognize that in today’s society, how hard it can be for someone new (or long) in the recovery to even stay clean. Alcohol is acceptable everywhere: family dinners, restaurants, markets now always come with a beer garden or local businesses set up with free samples, you see what I mean right?
But now that he’s got years of sobriety under his belt, and I’ve got his back, what’s really a struggle for us is seeing people alienate him like he has a disease. For example, when people drink around him, like at family gatherings or work events, everyone always apologizes and acts weirdly different than normal. It’s hard to navigate that. He has made the decision for his life, for his reasons and what others do in theirs doesn’t bother him. But this is not the case for the majority of people in recovery.
Over the years, I’ve found a few points I come back to that seem to keep my supportive role on track and I’d like to share them with you.
Living with someone with a past of addiction it is important to remember:
You don’t have control over the push to make a life altering decision, this choice needs to be made when a person is ready. JP had tried quitting 3 times before he was able to get to the point he is now. They have to be willing, and they need to do it for themselves. Their life needs to change course, not yours.
2. Be supportive.
Be there for them.
Attend a meeting on Christmas Eve with them because they need to after a drunken Christmas dinner (this happened–family got a little carried away!). One of my favourite takeaways from meetings is ‘Live for today’, you can only control today. How you behave, the decisions you make. You have no control over what’s going to happen tomorrow. No need trying to change the past either. You can only deal with the now.
They’ll need to vent.
They’ll need someone to listen without judgment. They’ll need to talk about their steps. Or when things get uncomfortable in a place surrounded by using, listen to how the atmosphere is making them feel. Be prepared to leave, no questions asked. This ties back to number two, but it really comes down to listening. I know, this sounds pretty basic but in this day and age, trying to go some place where no one is drinking…is hard. Our society is surrounded by it, making it easy for substance abuse.
Sobriety is a conscious decision to better oneself, make a better life. These 3 tips are a solid part in how I encourage my hubby and how we can all encourage our significant others on their road to recovery.
JP tells me all the time that it only works if you are willing to put in the time, willing to make the change, and willing to work a program and do the steps. He says it’s up to that person to remain sober. (But a support system is helpful, too!)
I am beyond proud to call this man my husband and my partner in this journey together. Check out some resources below to learn more about recovery.
Wow, right? Thank you, Shana for courageously sharing your story with us, we’re honoured to provide a platform to share these REAL-ationships and cheer them along the way.
If you or your relationship has substance abuse or addiction issues, you’re not alone. Here are some resources for you:
Shana is 27 years-old, born and raised on a dairy farm in the Fraser Valley. Here is where she met her husband of almost 4 years and brought into this world 2 beautiful boys. She started a little personal blog to help rediscover who she is as an individual through a creative outlet. There, she shares her adventures in motherhood, path as a partner and passions for photography, fishing and supports small local businesses. Stop by and say hello!
Family Photo by Julie Christine Photography
All other photos by Shana Ethier