One woman’s story of addiction, recovery and coming back to Christ
Carol was raised in a Christian home but walked away at a young age, which is when she met Barry while he was a successful musician touring across North America. As was common in the musician world, Barry was no stranger to partying, and Carol could party right along with him. When they got married and started expanding their family, Carol knew things needed to change. It was then that they discovered Barry struggled with addiction. “I realized I could quit drinking and he could not,” she says.
As they cycled through a painful journey of his addiction and her codependency, Carol became bitter and unsure of where to turn. “I tried the whole anger thing for a lot of years and it really didn’t get us anywhere,” she explains. “It caused a lot of friction in our marriage and a lot of dysfunction in our family. I became very bitter and I also had jealousy of people around me that looked like their lives were perfect.”
Throughout those challenging years, Carol did all she could to keep both her marriage and her husband from hitting rock bottom, all while raising their children. “I was handling things to the best of my ability, but I felt that there must be something I’m not doing right – and this is the reason that he’s still drinking,” she recalls. “If everything was running smoothly with nothing to upset him, then maybe he would be able to quit.”
This mindset affected the marriage for years, Carol says. She then realized that her efforts were contributing to the problem and creating codependency: “I was not allowing my husband to hit his rock bottom because I was looking after the household and also taking a lot of responsibility for his addiction.”
During Barry’s battle with addiction, Carol worked at an interior design firm with a man who was a Christian. She recalls dreading going on calls with him as he spoke openly about his faith, but it ended up being the thing that brought her back to Christ. “I knew when I reached this lowest of low points in my life that I could go to my coworker, and I did. Through a flood of tears, I gave my life to Jesus. And I couldn’t believe the relief that I felt for the first time in my life.”
Barry received Christ shortly after Carol did. They got involved in a church right away. They also discovered Celebrate Recovery through their church and attended the sessions together. Through this Christ-centred program and by God’s grace, they each learned powerful lessons of humility, community and the hard work of healing. “I realized I was doing my best, but along the way, somewhere, I lost who it was that Christ wanted me to be,” she explains. “I needed to get that back. I needed to figure that out. And so in this community, I found this support. I found a sponsor. I found accountability partners. I found people that I could share with, and they weren’t shocked.”
If Carol could say anything to someone who has a loved one battling addiction, she would encourage them to seek help for themselves as well: “As the person walking alongside them, realize that you need help as well. You need to find tools to cope. You need to be able to cope with the pain and not be an enabler. There are so many resources out there, and we need to seek them out. I’m a big believer in Christian counselling. I am a big believer in support groups like Celebrate Recovery, but find what it is that speaks to you and that you then will gain the strength, the endurance, the wisdom to be able to be on that journey with your loved one.”
If you or a loved one is battling addiction, Focus on the Family Canada is here for you. You can visit our series page on addiction for articles, broadcasts and more about this topic, or download our free PDF booklet on addiction. We are also here for you with prayer and counselling support. Call us Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time to book a free, one-time phone counselling consultation.
We also encourage you to check out programs like Celebrate Recovery and Freedom Session. Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centred 12-step recovery program for those seeking real and lasting freedom from addictive and dysfunctional patterns in their lives. Freedom Session is one of the most effective, encompassing and transferable healing-discipleship ministries available. Many local churches across the country offer these programs.
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