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.
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.
“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.
“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.
This post makes my heart smile.
Less than a year ago we were the ones in the ER talking to Addiction Campuses to seek further help for John’s recovery. Fast forward 10 months and now he is speaking at one of Addiction Campuses’ centers about being in support of a life saving legislation for people struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues alongside Mississippi State Senator David Parker.
I am glad to see people speaking loudly for such a silent epidemic. Sobriety is a beautiful thing.
– Sarah Mabry
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!!
Today I am thankful for all of the encouragement, love, and inspiration I am receiving from the comments people are leaving here on Mabry Living!
The other day I received this comment:
“Back in my journalism days, I met the wife of a recovering meth addict. When he was in the throes of addiction, he would become abusive when she tried to share the Bible with him…but she would write verses behind the pictures hanging on the wall, tape them under table tops and even wrote verses in Sharpie all over his pillow, hidden under the pillowcase. I’ve never forgotten her powerful witness at having the word of God literally blanketing her home. When I met her husband, he had accepted Christ…and refused to trade in his pillow. smile emoticon Cling to those verses, sister!”
Our story doesn’t match this example completely, but hearing how another wife dealt with addiction gave me the inspiration to blanket my home with powerful scripture even it if can’t be seen.
After receiving this comment, I check my email and another friend sent me this bible verse…
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
It only made sense to make this verse part of our home. The kids and I decided that the coffee table was the best place for this verse! It was a family activity although Sawyer (my 17 month old daughter) wasn’t too helpful smile emoticon.
I also created two other pieces (the LOVE sign above and the “M” piece below). I am going to add a wood frame to both. I used the bible verses that people have sent to me inside the “M.” This weekend I will be working on my large statement piece to go above my tv. I am thankful that I can find a little spare time in the middle of chaos to create!
Thanks again to everyone who has been praying and sending positive energy our direction! Feel free to keep sending verses so the kids and I can graffiti our home with uplifting words.
Since birth, my husband had always gone by his middle name, Clint, until a God moment occurred back in 2011 that helped me find forgiveness. In the story I am about to share I will be referring to my husband as “CLINT” for the first part of it. My prayer is that you will witness a story of forgiveness and true love that never gave up in this blog post.
Clint and I knew early on that something wasn’t right in our marriage but we couldn’t put our finger on it. We had seen several marriage counselors and shared openly about our struggles. Topics of drinking, lying, and sneaky behavior were usually the main discussions. To sum up what we got out of years of counseling was, 1. Clint needs to cut back on drinking and tell the truth and 2. I need to work on trust issues. This was common advice for about the first five years of marriage. We would try to better ourselves but the unhealthy life cycle of a hidden addiction kept spinning out of control.
Over the years, the downward spiral of addiction was growing more and more powerful by the day. However, I still didn’t know that it was an addiction we were dealing with in our home. The disease was a well kept secret and I was not aware of it. As far as I knew, my husband was taking the meds the doctors prescribed and occasionally had a drink here and there…nothing to be concerned about. As the years passed by, I felt like I no longer knew the incredible man I married back in 2004, a hardworking driven person with a heart of gold. It was hard for me to understand why he couldn’t just simply get his act together and grow up. We both hit our breaking point in June 2011 and decided to look into a treatment center that specializes in trauma, hoping to find help. Making this decision was extremely scary for both of us. The word “REHAB” seemed so taboo for a preppy family in the suburbs. Our ignorance allowed us to think that only celebrities went to rehab, not ‘normal’ people like the Mabry family.
A week after our major decision, Clint packed his bags and was on a plane to Arizona for a 45 day treatment plan. I packed the rest of the family’s bags and we temporarily moved up to Michigan to stay with my parents. The transition was hard and painful. I was overwhelmed with embarrassment and heartache. There was no time for grieving because I had a 7 month old baby and a 3 year old who needed me at all moments of the day. I was never off duty…even though my mom was a wonderful helper. I felt defeated. Anger, sadness, tiredness, bitterness, and resentment consumed me. I felt little joy. Something had to change, I couldn’t live like this any longer. I was a prisoner of my own grief.
My brother sent me the book, ‘Redeeming Love,’ by Francine Rivers, to my parents home in hopes to lift my spirits…and boy was he right! Every night, I looked forward to crawling into my cozy bed and curling up to read the next chapter. Little did I know how much this book would speak to me!
The story is about a broken relationship and the power of God’s redeeming love and grace. The main character, Angel, faced a lot of trauma in her life. She allowed the traumatic events to define who she was as a person…broken and fearful. She tried to sabotage every good thing that came her way because she didn’t think she was worthy of receiving any form of love. Angel realized that her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than her husband does, God. She eventually recognizes God’s love for her and receives Christ in her heart. She begins to work with other victims of trauma by helping them leave their old ways. On the very last page of book, Angel reveals that her real name is “Sarah” to her husband. “Sarah” is no longer a prisoner of her past sufferings. She is made new. WOW!
Ironically, Angel changed her name to Sarah (my name) but that has nothing to do with the impact this story had on my own life. I, too, was a prisoner of my own brokenness caused by my reoccurring trauma due to my husband’s disease. I needed to be freed from the hold it had on my healing but I wasn’t sure how to go about forgiving Clint. How was I supposed to forgive someone who has cause me so much pain yet is someone I love? After much thought, I decided that forgiveness doesn’t excuse his behavior BUT forgiveness does prevent his behavior from destroying my heart.
The name change that occurred at the end of the book really had an impact on me. In fact, it was the key that was about to unlock my bondage to my hurting past. As I closed the book after concluding the final chapter, I decided that from this point forward I was going to call my husband, “JOHN,” his legal first name…which happens to mean, “God is gracious.” Making this name change allowed me to separate my husband from his traumas, addictions, and his past…which I now refer to as “CLINT.” Please understand that I know I am married to both, John and Clint. I can’t have one without the other unfortunately. If that was an option, “Clint” would have been kicked to the curb a LONG time ago and John and I would live happily ever after. However, life isn’t always that simple!
Every day I make the choice to forgive the addiction for all the pain and hurt it has caused me. It is so freeing! The power of forgiveness is the biggest gift I can give to myself. It might seem drastic to go as far as changing my husband’s name, however, I believe that we serve a mighty God who can redeem, renew, and heal with his all-consuming love, grace, and mercy. How awesome is that?!?
***While he was at treatment in Arizona in 2011, a counselor who had seen “Clint” daily for the past 30 days greeted him one day with, “Why, Hello, John Mabry!” even though for the past month he had been calling my husband, Clint. It caught John off guard. The counselor told John he should consider going by his first name, John, instead of ‘Clint’ because John Mabry is a nice strong sounding name. A few days later over a quick phone call (which are very limited when one is in treatment), I too informed John that I was going to call him by his legal first name from that day forward in hope to work on my healing. I had no idea that his counselor said the same thing a few days prior! So as of 2011, John has made the choice to have everyone refer to him by his first name, the man God created him to be.
I saw this poem and wanted to share to help people who aren’t familiar with addiction understand it better. It’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad life threatening disease.We fought the addiction battle silently for years. I had trouble with accepting addiction as a disease at first but the more I was around it I made terms with the disease concept. My thought is that if my husband had another disease everyone from my church, neighborhood, and friend circles would be standing right by my side and helping us during this battle (which they have been fabulous at doing!). So, I decided to treat Addiction like any other disease and be vocal about it. It has been very healing for me and I pray that it is reaching others in similar situations that are fighting a battle silently. Today wasn’t the easiest day for me but I am focusing on my blessings to see me through it. I have a very good life when I put things in perspective. I am choosing to see my cup half full.
“I destroy homes, tear families apart – take your children, and that’s just the start.
I’m more costly than diamonds, more costly than gold – the sorrow I bring is a sight to behold.
And if you need me, remember I’m easily found.
I live all around you, in schools and in town.
I live with the rich, I live with the poor, I live down the street, and maybe next door.
My power is awesome – try me you’ll see.
But if you do, you may never break free.
Just try me once and I might let you go, but try me twice, and I’ll own your soul.
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie.
You’ll do what you have to just to get high.
The crimes you’ll commit, for my narcotic charms, will be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in your arms.
You’ll lie to your mother; you’ll steal from your dad.
When you see their tears, you should feel sad.
But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised.
I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways.
I take kids from parents, and parents from kids, I turn people from God, and separate from friends.
I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride, I’ll be with you always, right by your side.
You’ll give up everything – your family, your home, your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone.
I’ll take and I’ll take, till you have nothing more to give.
When I’m finished with you you’ll be lucky to live.
If you try me be warned this is no game.
If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane.
I’ll ravish your body, I’ll control your mind.
I’ll own you completely; your soul will be mine.
The nightmares I’ll give you while lying in bed.
The voices you’ll hear from inside your head.
The sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see.
I want you to know, these are all gifts from me.
But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart, that you are mine, and we shall not part.
You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do.
But you came to me, not I to you.
You knew this would happen.
Many times you were told, but you challenged my power, and chose to be bold.
You could have said no, and just walked away.
If you could live that day over, now what would you say?
I’ll be your master; you will be my slave.
I’ll even go with you, when you go to your grave.
Now that you have met me, what will you do?
Will you try me or not?
Its all up to you.
I can bring you more misery than words can tell.
Come take my hand, let me lead you to hell.”