By Teniesha Williams
Living with a loved one who struggles with the disease of addiction is heartbreaking. Dreams you once shared become lost, plans you once made become forgotten, and the person you once knew seems to be misplaced or hiding. So many have and continue to experience this trial. Valiant soldiers fall to their spiritual death leaving questions for those who love them most. Loving someone in this battle is difficult, not just because of the daily struggle with what is true, but the need you have to stay connected to heaven more than ever.
I was married for the first time at the ripe age of 35 in June of 2013, to my childhood friend. A golden hearted, pure, kind, and passionate soul who had been in successful recovery for four years. The future felt bright and our love burned brighter, but after only one month of marriage, my husband relapsed.
The most important lesson that lay before me, was to learn how powerless I was in fighting this battle he was facing and that the greatest gift I would give to him and myself was the freedom of Christ’s power to forgive and embrace both of us. This experience has taught me more than I would ever have imagined. It brought me closer to Christ and the miracle of His compassion and my own rebirth of joy after heartache.
Through this, I found 4 ways to help find the Savior and yourself when you are living in someone else’s shadow of addiction:
LEARN ABOUT AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CHURCH’S 12 STEP ADDICTION RECOVERY SUPPORT PROGRAM.
Throughout the three years of my marriage, I tried to be faithful in attending this Recovery Support Group. It was here that I found personal reassurance that I was not alone and there were others just like me striving to find hope in their own darkness of disappointment and misunderstanding. Being able to talk openly with others facing similar issues brought hope for the light to return or feel that He never left. This group focuses on a life in Christ, which was a centering ground for me on days of doubt.
FIND WAYS TO LIVE YOUR PASSIONS, EVEN IN THE PAIN.
Something that I didn’t realize until retrospect was how important my own hobbies or life passions were to my mental and emotional well-being. We discovered I was pregnant in August of 2013 and this was when he began his first attempt to detox. This was a very dark time in our house and I was filled with anger, heartbreak, and resentment trying to understand why he would turn back to something that had already kept him imprisoned for so long.
Isolation and depression are common when we love someone with this disease. When someone is active in their addiction, they will withdraw from the people and passions they love the most. Being so close to this situation can also cause the support system at home to suffer in some of the same ways. I isolated myself from the things I loved the most.
I was born to move, dance, and teach the rhythm I had to others. My husband was my biggest fan in all that I loved to do, but I allowed myself to crawl into a hole, away from some of the things that could have brought me more joy in my sadness.
Take time to write down two passions you have and connect them to a positive emotion they bring.
- Dancing= joy and confidence
- Art=release and peace
OPEN UP TO TRUSTED FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
Because of some of the codependent repercussions that can occur in this kind of situation, our need for connection is that much more important. Sometimes even the closest of family and friends don’t feel as comfortable as you would have assumed. Having one or two friends or neighbors that you can express your feelings to in a safe space of non-judgment may make all the difference whether you keep yourself blocked from receiving peace from above.
NEVER STOP DOING THE EVERYDAY THINGS TO KEEP GOD IN YOUR LIFE.
President Nelson gave us a wonderful reminder at the October Conference of 2020 about how Captain Moroni prepared his people in three essential ways to stand against their opposing forces. One of those ways is to “Never Stop Preparing”. The everyday basics that we know by heart will continue to be the greatest foundation we can build ourselves back up on when we fall to doubt, discouragement and disappointment. Sincere scripture study, honest and open prayer, and our love for God and all our brothers and sisters will keep us capable of receiving light when darkness comes.