How a Loving Wife Supported Her Husband through Addiction — and Found Healing for Herself

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“I really learned that I’m human and people make mistakes. I learned to forgive … I forgave myself for all of the hurting that I caused myself and my family.” – Shawn, Addiction Survivor and Proud Treehouse Grad

 

When we think about people being brought down by addiction, it’s easy to picture only those directly suffering from the disease. But the journey to sobriety is often just as grueling for the people who love them. Although it sometimes feels hopeless to overcome addiction, even with our loved ones by our sides, Ellen and Larry’s inspirational love story proves that we can triumph over even the most daunting of battles — and addiction sufferers and their loved ones can emerge even stronger on the other side.

 

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When Ellen met her husband, Larry, he was the happy, healthy man she’d always dreamed of finding.

 

“My husband and I met in 1978. There were never any signs of addiction when we first met. In fact, both of us would go out and drink socially at parties without any problems. We married a few years later and raised a family together,” she recalled.

 

As it often does, alcohol began controlling Larry’s life — and wreaking havoc on his family members — seemingly out of nowhere.

 

“It wasn’t until about two years ago that he started drinking more and more. It got to the point that he couldn’t stop. It was all night, every night,” Ellen said.

 

She knew his drinking was taking a toll on him when he simply stopped being the man she fell in love with.

 

“He wasn’t contributing to life anymore — or the life that we had built together,” she sighed. “He stopped doing things around the house, he stopped doing things with the kids and the family. He just wanted to stay home all the time. And that meant staying home to drink.”

 

The impact on his family became worse and worse, both physically and emotionally.

 

Ellen said, “My husband’s drinking got so bad he started having health issues. So then, he’d drink to feel better. It led to fights and arguments that we never had before. He’d promise me he’d stop. He’d tell me he’d get help ‘tomorrow.’ But tomorrow never came.”

 

Ellen wanted her love for her husband to conquer all of their hardships, but she knew something had to change — both for Larry’s sake, and that of their family.

 

“I loved him, but I hated what he turned into. I wanted our relationship to work — I wanted our family to work — but his drinking was destroying it.”

 

She added, “I finally put my foot down and told him that he needed to make the choice: vodka or family. I told him there was no more ‘tomorrow’ — that he had to change today. That conversation and that ultimatum was so difficult, because I really didn’t know what he would do. … I stuck to my grounds. And I told him if he went to treatment, I’d still be there when he got back.”

 

Realizing that his issues were greater than they could take on alone, Ellen and Larry contacted an out-of-state treatment facility.

 

“We were scared to death, but we wanted to save the family,” she said.

 

Although their journey of healing had begun, the transition was challenging.

 

“The first few days were really difficult,” Ellen recalled. “I was embarrassed. But then I started to realize that it was a disease.”

 

After several weeks of intense treatment, Larry has remained strong in his sobriety for over a year.

 

“It’s really like a dream come true,” Ellen beamed. “For so long, I was doing everything myself. Now, I have him back to do things together.”

 

While Ellen learned much about the complexities of her husband’s struggles, she also learned a lot about herself:

 

“I learned I didn’t handle it properly. I would scream and yell when I’d get home and see he hadn’t done anything but drink. I would knock the couch over to get him to move. I enabled him instead of helping him by allowing him to lay around and do nothing. I know now that I need to help him in his recovery and sobriety. And I’ve learned that I shouldn’t be so angry.”

 

Addiction tries to shatter the lives of those suffering the disease, but it also has detrimental effects on their loved ones. If you are struggling with an addiction, you must know that there is help for you and your family. Your journey may be filled with obstacles, but according to Ellen, it’s worth every hardship.

 

She said, “I’m still scared when he doesn’t answer the phone when I call. I still worry when I’m not with him. But that being said, I will be there if he falls.”

About The Author

Constance Ray started Recovery Well with the goal of creating a safe place for people to share how addiction has affected them, whether they are combating it themselves or watching someone they care about work to overcome it. The goal is to share stories of hope from survivors who know that the fight against addiction is one worth having, because no matter how it affects you, life can get better.

You can reach Constance Ray at:

recoverywell.org

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