Spouse of recovering addict is brought to tears…for a good reason this time

I will be the first to admit that I, the wife of a recovering alcoholic and addict, have been put in some pretty terrifying situations throughout the years of active addiction in our home. I am extremely grateful to be able to post these photos, which show how God can redeem people who may sometimes seem hopeless after multiple rounds of in and out-patient rehab.

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John is now teaching a Drug-Free Workplace Training for Addiction Campuses to businesses and city employees, like here in Lawrenceburg, TN.

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John took first place in Division D of Toastmasters International public speaking contest with his speech about opioid addiction.

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John had the honor of speaking on a panel Trevecca Nazarene University’s Community Conversation Chapel on the issues of addiction and pornography.

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John spoke at Belmont University on behalf of Addiction Campuses. The biggest honor was dedicating his speech to his brother, Matt.

THIS, this is why John and I decided to be open about the struggles we face in our marriage and family from addiction

A new report finds more dying from drug overdoses than car accidents.

Get help for your addiction now, before it gets worse or it’s too late!

Here’s blog John wrote on the importance of people getting help for their addictions before it’s too late.

Thanksgiving In Treatment: A Major Holiday Away From Family

Nearly one year ago, John graduated from our Texas campus, The Treehouse. This is his first-hand account of spending Thanksgiving at The Treehouse – away from family for the holiday.


Thanksgiving In Treatment: A Major Holiday Away From Family

This time last year, I was receiving treatment at The Treehouse, Addiction Campuses’ facility in Texas – hundreds of miles from my Tennessee home. Being in treatment on Thanksgiving, away from my wife and three kids, was a terrifying thought. But the thought of continuing to spiral out of control in my disease of addiction was equally terrifying.

I have found through personal experience, the absolute best time to go to treatment is right now – whenever ‘now’ is. I learned this through a very painful loss: Several years ago, when my brother was struggling with his own addiction, he didn’t go to treatment ‘right now’. My brother died from addiction on December 6. He did not make it to Christmas that year.

 

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John (right) and his brother, Matt (left).

   “My brother died from addiction on December 6. He did not make it to Christmas that year.”

You may be thinking you will just get through the holidays and get help when things calm down. If you are considering going or sending a loved one to treatment soon, keep reading. This blog could save someone’s life.

For me, when I’m not actively working a recovery program, just the thought of the holidays causes enough angst to want to start using again. When I’m in active addiction during the holidays, I mentally check out and any hope of actually being present around the people I love the most is smashed. I either justify the stress as an excuse to use or I rationalize the celebration and festivities as an excuse to use. Either way, I add chaos to my life and the lives of everyone around me. It is a miserable place to exist. It is lonely, depressing and potentially fatal.

Thankfully, I was not given the choice to stay home for Thanksgiving last year. If it were up to me, I probably would have rationalized that I was not that bad and made excuses not to get the help I desperately needed. My family knew it was a life or death situation and bravely made the decision to put me on a plane to The Treehouse as soon as they saw I needed help. They didn’t want me to die, end up back in the hospital or in any other way ruin the holiday for everyone else. Of course, I was angry about getting sent away. But what I discovered later was that I was really angry at myself and the detrimental choices I made that lead up that point. I could not blame them for only wanting the best for me.

I made some great progress at The Treehouse. But, as Thanksgiving Day approached I hit a low point in my treatment. All of the great memories of holidays past came flooding back. I had countless memories of home cooked meals at my grandparents’ house, playing and watching football with relatives and looking through old photo albums with my cousins. My addictive mind has a great ability to forget all the horrible things I have done and only remembers the good stuff. Conversely, my family primarily recalls the chaos I created in the past and is less apt to remember the positive memories. While at The Treehouse, I was faced with feelings of guilt, shame and remorse. However, I vividly remember the staff telling me and all the clients that the Thanksgiving spread they had planned for us was going to be a memorable one. I figured it was just something they were saying to keep us all from feeling depressed that we were in treatment for such a big holiday. I was not looking forward to it. But sure enough, the loving staff and cooks came through in a huge way.

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Chef Christian Gonzalez features his Thanksgiving spread.

“Being surrounded by others going through the same struggles as me, I felt a part of God’s great plan for my life.”

It wasn’t just the amount of food that was so impressive; it was the quality and care that went into preparing and presenting the meal. It felt like I was diving into a buffet at a country club. Like my family and I would do back home, we prayed over the meal, went back for seconds and thirds, threw the football around outside and watched football on TV. I was able to call home to talk to my wife, kids and parents. I fought back tears after getting off the phone with them, but at least I knew they were safe and everything was okay at home. In fact, things were going more smoothly than if I was there.

In retrospect, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be with a genuinely caring group of people last Thanksgiving. There have been times at family gatherings where I felt alone and separated when in active addiction. Last year, being surrounded by others going through the same struggles as me, I felt a part of God’s great plan for my life. For being away from my home and family on such a big day of the year, I couldn’t have been in a better place. It was nice to see how much care and precision went into every detail of that day for all of us. The staff at Addiction Campuses definitely exceeded my expectations.

“Recovery is the best gift I’ve ever given and received.”

If you or someone you love is considering putting treatment off until after the holidays, I encourage you to get help while you can. My brother did not get the help he needed several years ago and passed away between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We would give anything to have him with us today. Do not keep putting treatment off. This year, give yourself and your family the gift of sobriety. Recovery is the best gift I’ve ever given and received.

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John and his wife and their three children.

 

Today Is Going To Be A Good Day!

I make the choice every morning to see the positives and seek joy. Before my feet hit the floor I tell myself, “Today is going to be a GOOD day!”

I haven’t always taken this approach in the past. It’s easy to have a negative attitude and be consumed with self pity, anger, resentment, bitterness, and fear. Let me just tell you, it makes for a much more painful life process!

The other day I talked to John (my husband) for the first time since he left to seek help. Communication is very limited and I never know when I can expect a call. When we do talk we have to keep the conversations to a minimum because other patients are waiting to use the phone. My phone started ringing as I was wrapping up the kids dinner one evening. I didn’t recognize the number but I answered it in case it was an employee from the treatment facility calling to give me information. I assumed it wasn’t John because I was told he would not have access to a phone for the first week of his stay.So while loading the dish washer, I answered the phone. Much to my surprise was John’s voice on the other end. My heart wasn’t prepared to hear his voice yet as I thought he would be calling the next night. I was caught off guard. The conversation was awkward. It was sad and it was painful to hear my kids talk to their daddy over the phone. After about five minutes, we hung up the phone and I sneaked into my daughter’s nursery and cried. I wanted to be angry. I wanted to be mad. I wanted to be bitter. It’s a slippery slope to the “why me??” self pity mindset and in that quiet moment I reminded myself that I made the choice to seek joy regardless of the circumstances.

I am choosing to trust that God will take these broken pieces and make something beautiful. Our worlds not falling apart, its falling into place. In a way, I am very excited to see what God has hiding behind the curtain for the rest of my life!

Now I challenge you to go out and have a GOOD day!!

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People with chronic pain are just lazy complainers

Have you ever felt like the struggles you’re going through are so unique that no one would understand you, even if you tried to explain them? And even if you could explain them, you don’t want to because it might make you seem weak, like you’re a complainer and not a fighter. I often feel like this with my chronic pain, but it’s not something I talk about much. Since my car accident, it has been difficult not to let my struggle become my identity, as I did for so long.

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When my severed nerve flairs up at night, I get an ingrown hair or a blister forms on my residual limb from my lower leg amputation my first reaction is to ignore and conceal the issue. All that does is cause more problems. So what happens when you actually let people know what’s going on with you? You might be surprised by people’s reactions.

Like many who battle with chronic pain and chronic illnesses, I attempt to minimize it to be seen as “normal.” I don’t want to be perceived as a complainer or lazy so I keep much of my pain to myself. When a particularly painful ingrown hair formed on my amputated limb recently I felt overwhelmed and depressed to the point of not wanting to get out of bed. Instead of keeping it to myself I opened up to Sarah to let her know about it.

Surprisingly, she didn’t roll her eyes in judgement or imply that I was worthless like my mind told me she would. Instead, she exercised compassion and patience and served as a voice of reason. See, I still wanted to ignore the problem and go workout. I mean, how can someone call an amputee who’s working out lazy, right? When the infected ingrown hair was causing me as much pain as it was, working out on it would have been just plain stupid. So not only did Sarah suggest that I not go workout, she encouraged me to take it extra easy that day and to keep my leg off as much as possible so that I didn’t continue to aggravate it. I experienced such mental and emotional relief to be validated and supported for being in pain. The hardest part was admitting to myself and someone else what I was going through at that particular moment.

When you’re dealing with any kind of chronic physical, mental or emotional issue you can’t merely stop fighting. Life is going to happen around you whether you like it or not. What this recent experience reminded me is that sometimes continuing to keep fighting means to surrender and ask for help or to simply let someone know what you’re struggling with. I strive not to let my chronic pain identify me as a victim or a complainer, but many days it’s just too overwhelming. Maybe the good side of it is that it allows me to identify as being a normal human being and, that possibly, I have been sent along this path to help someone else who is hurting. If this is you…KEEP FIGHTING!