Living Your Own Life

It takes so much energy to be married to an addict.  So much of it involves worry: is he lying to me again, is he acting out again, am I doing enough to get him to stop (you CAN’T stop him so stop trying), how will this influence the kids, should we get divorced, should we see a counselor, what will happen if….  Often, the wives of addicts feel like they have no control over their own lives, because all of their thoughts and worries revolve around him and how his actions will affect their lives.  She winds up feeling very unempowered.

One of the first steps a woman can take, no matter the reason she is feeling unempowered, is to start intentionally living the life she wants to live, no matter whether those around her are ready to live it with her.

For example, my husband worked Saturdays for 15 years.  He had a great job that allowed me to be a stay at home Mom to our three children.  But I missed so many opportunities because he couldn’t come with us.  Street fairs, birthday parties, museums, and other events would go unattended because I wanted to go as a family, and he couldn’t go with us.  If it was that important, sometimes I’d ask my Dad to come with us, but it just wasn’t the same.  I was really living a life waiting for something to happen.

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Finally I decided to just go without him.  I realized how much I was missing out on waiting.  I picked a Saturday and decided to go hiking.  I found a very easy paved trail that ended at a waterfall.  It was a little scary to pack up my kids and drive up a mountain road in a minivan by myself, not to mention keeping an eye on three young children as we walked up the side of a mountain.  But I did it.  And it felt AWESOME!

And I have not slowed down since then.  We bought passes for the Los Angeles Zoo and go often.  We went to a insect fair at a local museum.  (Ew!)  (But cool!)  We’ve traipsed around California visiting friends and family and monuments and museums and all kinds of awesome things that I wouldn’t have ever done before.

About 4 months ago, my husband’s schedule changed and he got Saturdays off.  I had already established a pattern of spending time making memories with one another that was easy to carry on now instead of struggling to establish new patterns.  Me taking control and living the life I desired has blessed my family immensely.

What are you NOT doing because you’re waiting for an external circumstance to be ideal?  What step can you take to live it?  Have you always wanted to go back to school and study something dear to your heart?  Do it!  Are you Christian and skimp on scripture reading or family prayers because your husband, the patriarch, doesn’t initiate it?  Well, you initiate it!  You can still bless your children!  Have you dreamed about having a beautiful yard or garden but feel like you can’t do it without him?  Yes you can! Check out some gardening books from the library and get to it!

What can I do to support you?  Reach out to me on my contact page.  I can help you set goals and provide accountability to make sure you’re living the life you dream.

Grieving

14 1/2 years ago, my husband and I welcomed our first child, an adorable little girl.  About 5 weeks later, she was hospitalized and subsequently diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that eventually cut her life short.  She passed away when she was 3 years old.

She had a medical specialist whose office we frequented.  Employed in this office was a social worker.  I remember the first time at the office talking with the social worker Susan as we held our newly diagnosed daughter in our arms.  Susan said that we will go through a grieving process.  I guess I looked at her funny because she went on to explain.  Grieving is often thought of a process when someone dies.  Though our daughter had not died, most parents have dreams and expectations of bringing home a healthy baby.  They think about starting their first foods, and helping them learn to walk, and the first day of school, and all kinds of other kid things.

Our daughter’s life was going to be very different than what we expected.  She wasn’t going to eat.  I would have to learn how to insert an NG tube, the tube that goes from the nose into the stomach for special medical formula.  I would have to learn to care for a g-tube, the tube that goes straight into her stomach for feeding.  I was going to have to give injections.  We would have hospital stays.  All of her motor skills would be delayed.  As would her speech and other areas.  She would probably have to be in Special Ed classes.  The reality we were facing was nothing like what we expected.  And so the little girl we dreamed about was going to have to be grieved while we dealt with the little girl we were given instead.

What does this have to do with being the wife of an addict?  Follow me here.  Many little girls grow up dreaming about what it would like to be married.  Their husband would be a good, honorable man.  He was going to adore her, respect her, and lead their family with love and righteousness.  Any realistic girl will realize he will also have flaws, and there would be moments where she will want to ring his neck, but he would be a hard worker, fun, and most of the other qualities that she desired in a husband.  But most of all, he would be faithful.

When a woman finds out her husband is looking at pornography or indulging in some other kind of sexual addiction, it can feel like the rug is pulled out from under them.  Those dreams they have of the ideal good and honorable man disappear in a poof and are replaced by disappointment, pain, and often a complete blank of what the future may hold.  And in the same way I had to grieve the loss of my daughter, these women have to grieve the loss of their husbands.  Even though they are often still there in their lives, when those dreams are shattered, there must be a grieving process as a new dream and a new life come into play.

If this is your situation, allow yourself that process.  Be angry.  Be sad.  Allow yourself the time to adjust to what your new reality may be.  Like my daughter, sometimes that reality isn’t bad, it’s just different.  But whatever reality that is, allow yourself the time and the grief needed to adjust.

Lessons learned on the freeway

 

I had one of those cool “ah-ha” moments last week. I was on the freeway, in the carpool lane, going a sensible speed to stay a safe distance behind the cars in front of me and keeping with the flow of traffic. There was a guy that stayed on my tail, dangerously close, for like, 10 miles. I could see him in my rear view mirror and could tell he was angry at me.

I didn’t get it. It was an open carpool lane, meaning that he could get out and get back in any time he wanted. And there was no traffic. Nobody was in his way. Why was he letting one self-righteous person in the carpool lane keep him from doing what he wanted to do? From what he thought was necessary for him to be happy?

So often in life we let others dictate our happiness. We sit there and let others lack of action limit our action. We get at angry at them for slowing us down, when all we have to do is change lanes to go as fast as we want.

There’s so much power in doing what you know is right for you. The blessings that come from following God’s plan for you, and from living to the fullness of our capacities are wonderful. It is empowering to live the life that you want to live.

I know; easier said than done, right?  Depending on close this person is to us, it can seem impossible.  When a parent, spouse, sibling, or another person in authority in our life is the one slowing us down, it will probably be hard to say, “Thank you for opinion, but I know that this is the right choice for me, and the plan that will bring me happiness and fulfill my purpose” and then drive by with a goofy grin on our faces as they look at us, stunned.

So, how do you do it? Well, that’s where life gets tricky.  It takes confidence in yourself and in your plan to tell someone you love “I’m doing it my way.”  Need help?  That’s where I come in.  As your coach, I can guide you in developing a plan that will help you change lanes out from behind whomever is slowing you down.  Go to my Contact page and let me know how I can help you.