To the Woman Whose Partner Has Just Entered Recovery

Hello, sweet one.

I heard today was a big day — i.e. it was THE day. The first day of a new chapter in your life (and your family’s) — and I wanted to check in on you. I wanted to ask, how are you?

Of course, I know that sounds a little strange. I know the rest of the world is asking plenty of questions right now. They want to know how your partner is doing. They’re asking about his health; they want to know his state of mind. And make no mistake, they should be. Admitting you have a drinking problem, or a drug problem, is a pretty big deal. Admitting you are powerless against it, and are willing to seek help, is huge. It’s a monumental step.

But I want to talk to you. I want to know how you’re doing. Because I know all too well that addiction isn’t just one person’s disease; it’s a family’s disease. And the pain runs deep.

You may be feeling many things today — you may feel thankful or uneasy; you may be grateful, resentful, overwhelmed, or relieved. But I want you to know that whatever you’re feeling right now is valid. All of it is okay; all of it is normal.

I know because I was in your shoes, not too long ago.

For 10 long years, my husband struggled with his own alcoholism. And while many things happened during that time which hurt us and nearly broke us, I welcomed his sobriety with open arms. I celebrated alongside him, and on September 7, 2014, I took a breath for the first time in a very long time.

I fought through the waves and rip tide and came up for air.

Less than week into his sobriety, I was flailing. The weight of the past came crashing down upon me, and I felt trapped …
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But everything changed in a short few hours — everything changed in a few short days — because with his recovery came the sobering reality that the days, weeks, and months that followed would be painful, too.

In order for us both to heal, I needed to forgive him; and I was not quite ready to forgive. There were things that had been said, and things that had been done, that I just couldn’t come to terms with.

And so, less than week into his sobriety, I was flailing. The weight of the past came crashing down upon me, and I felt trapped under the wreckage of memories I wanted to forget.

But slowly, and surely, things did get better. He got help. I got help. And 1,045 days ago (and counting) we started our journey. Hand in hand, step by step, we shifted through the shit and “recovered” together.

But this isn’t about me. That’s not why I’m telling you this. It’s about you. It is about your Day 1. It’s about believing there is a light at the end of all this darkness.

So tell me, how are you?

You — the person who has lived in the center of a tornado for far too long. How the hell are you?

Maybe you don’t have an answer for me; at least not yet. But I am going to keep poking. I am going to keep asking. Because I want you to get used to hearing it.

I want you to get used to thinking about you — because, if you are anything like me, you probably haven’t thought about you in a very long time.

You probably haven’t heard this question in a very long time.

But it’s okay to think about yourself. To love yourself, and to focus on you.

That’s part of your recovery, too.

So while you may feel lost today — more lost than ever before — I want you to remember that you are stronger than you know. You’ve proven it already.

Keep checking in with yourself. Keep honoring yourself. And keep listening to yourself when you think you may need help.

You have lived in the shadows for far too long; it’s time to step into the light.

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