Trying to love an addict–”I couldn’t be his savior”
Our story started early. It was sweet, passionate, and romantic. At just 16 and 17 years old, we were simply two teenagers experiencing love for the first time. Experiencing life and the freedoms that come from growing up a little bit at a time. It started slowly, then all at once it was everything we had ever wanted. We were certain that it was all we would ever want; all we would ever need. Today, the man whom still makes me catch my breath daily has been the one taking my breath away for the last 14 years. Most of those breath-stealing moments have been from joy and admiration, however, we walked through a season where the wind was knocked out of my lungs for a very different reason.
Just months after Aaron declared his love for me and his plans to marry me when we “grew up,” he was introduced to the enticing draw of drugs and alcohol. He had friends who partied on the weekends, got high to relax through the week, and yet still appeared to have it all together the rest of the time. These friends didn’t appear as the ones your parents and loved ones warn you about. They were friends from sports, friends from good families, and friends who made the honor roll. They were just normal people and it made their habits seem normal too. Aaron has told me that once he experienced his first high he knew that he wanted to feel that way as often as possible. It went from “just trying something out,” into a desperate need quickly. It rolled into a desire that wouldn’t be ignored. It led to doing whatever it took to feel that high, and for Aaron that was dealing drugs to the other kids at school. Before we had our 1 year anniversary of dating, Aaron was a drug-dealing, drug-addict and I had no idea what had changed him.
We didn’t attend the same school. All of Aaron’s friends, the parties and drugs were one part of his life, and he kept me, church, and his family in another world. I remember recognizing little things such as:
- he wasn’t where he said he would be
- he didn’t always keep his story straight
- he was defensive and quick to deflect
- quick to get angry
But I had given my heart to this boy and I decided to ignore the things I saw or quickly gave up after a question or two. If questioning his actions meant risking to lose him, I wasn’t willing to take that risk. If digging deeper into my suspicions meant exposing something that my parents would be upset about or that my friends would disapprove of, I wasn’t going to go there. What he thought of me, what everyone thought about me – that’s what I cared about most.
“For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” – Luke 8:17
Well, sin has a way of always coming to the surface. There are points of my teenage years burned into my brain because sins were exposed. This was when everyone I knew found out I was having sex, Aaron finally confessed to using and selling drugs, friends gossiped about us, and life at home was unstable. These may be little marks in a line of wonderful memories, but they make an impression just the same. Aaron’s confession came at a point where the lying had become too much for him to keep up. Every carefully crafted story came crashing down all around Aaron as his secrets unraveled. He finally told his parents and me what really had been going on in his life. In my naivety, I thought “well, he loves me so I know he’ll quit.”
Loving me was not enough. And I learned it’s not to supposed to be! I couldn’t be his savior, nor was that ever my responsibility. I wish I could say I figured all of this out quickly, but that’s not the case. It took years and the Lord’s teachings and moving for me to understand my real roll in Aaron’s life.
The next several years were filled with ups and downs. As we grew up we would shift between Aaron hiding his habits to me joining in on them. The only constant thing was that I felt like I would die without him. I thought if I just tried hard enough, loved him well enough, begged him desperately enough that he would stop and put an end to this part of his life.
When the desperate begging and loving didn’t work, I decided to try to accept it and be okay with his decisions. After all, at this point, I had started partaking in the partying habits, too. Who was I to judge? Even though I hated the feeling of being high, but I’d take a hit and drink all night anyway, too. All my new “grown-up” work friends were doing the same thing as well. What would they think of me if I acted cool about it in front of them, but then didn’t join in or got upset if Aaron did? To not be liked, to be looked down on, to be pushed away, or to have someone change their mind about me was the absolute worse thing that I could imagine.
In the midst of all of this, at just 20 and 21 years old, Aaron and I got married. We were still babies, but we knew that we were committed to each other forever. To be honest, I thought that marriage would be the key to change. I thought that somehow coming home from the honeymoon would make us magically transform into responsible people. It did not.
Our marriage pushed us to try and look like the couple we wanted to be. We started attending church more regularly and we even joined a newlywed’s small group. What started out as trying to just look good became, for me, a call back to my first love – Jesus. I didn’t change overnight, but my attitudes and desires slowly transformed. Aaron didn’t get there quite that fast.
In my own desire to assimilate into my new world at my job, I had inadvertently re-introduced Aaron to the drugs he had once tried to get away from, and now he was in as deep as ever. For the first time, I began to realize that I was helpless in helping to change the man I loved. All I could do was meet with the Lord, and pray and beg Him to move heaven and earth to save my husband from his addiction. I would come home and find Aaron high, I would find stashes hidden in cupboards, I would smell it on his clothes or in his hair. No amount of crying or nagging ever made a difference. But prayer? Prayer does incredible things! As I began to let go of control and hand it over to God, He began to change my husband.
The Rediscovery and Recovery
When we found out we were pregnant with our first child, a precious little girl, God helped my man see what kind of life we were on track to have; versus what kind of life we could have if we were living for God together. We both decided to seek the Lord, we surrounded ourselves with Christian friends. We quit going to our normal bars and stopped hanging out with friends who got high and drunk. We still loved them we just knew we couldn’t go out with them anymore. We started to admit and confess to other believers how we had been living. As God transformed our lives, we gained the confidence to share what he had done and continues to do for us daily.
Fast forward several years filled with a lot more learning and growing, we now have the immense privilege to serve in recovery ministry in the country of St. Kitts. God is redeeming our past mistakes and making something beautiful grow out of what used to be an ugly mess. In the verse John 10, John reminds us that while Satan wants to destroy us, God wants to give us full and abundant lives! I did a lot of things wrong while trying to love an addict. It’s my prayer that this story is a chance to help talk through those mistakes, and to point us back to how God calls us to love Him first. Let these words spark a path to allow Him to bring change for us and those we love.
S2L Recovery in Middle Tennessee
This was another incredible story of God’s redemption and it belongs to my brother-in-law Adam Comer and his wife Katie Comer. Adam is now the pastor and CEO of S2L Recovery, a recovery lodge for men in Murfreesboro, TN. If you know a man who is ready to start his journey of recovery, please check out S2L Recovery. God has been moving at S2L and just this last month they were privileged to baptize 8 men who have committed themselves to Christ! We thank God all the time for what S2L did for Adam, and for what God is doing through Adam’s obedience now