On Tuesday, Ben Affleck made an announcement which surprised many of his fans: the 44-year-old actor, filmmaker, and father of three had just completed treatment for alcoholism. Though the actor’s history with drinking has been widely reported (and was even rumored to have led to his separation from wife Jennifer Garner in 2015), his recent stint in rehab seems to have happened quietly, without tipping off paparazzi.
“I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
According to his own words, Affleck’s main motivation for getting help — and speaking out about it — was his children:
“I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step.”
His admission, albeit brief, was honest and powerful. And as a parent, I couldn’t help but completely relate. My daughter not only inspires me to be a better mother, she inspires me to be a better woman — stronger, wiser, and certainly more thoughtful. She has made me a more empathetic, more loving, and kinder human being.
What’s more, my daughter’s presence — much like that of Affleck’s own children — has given me the courage to face terrible things. Painful things. Difficult, dark, and once insurmountable things.
One of those things was alcohol addiction.
Not my own addiction, but my husbands; which is to say I was forced to face my role in it.
You see, my husband and I began dating 15 years ago. At the time, life was innocent and ignorant. We were young — oh-so-young — and in love, and carefree, and all of the things that come with it.
In the beginning, booze didn’t play a prominent role in our relationship. We were, after all, still in high school. But things changed when we went to college. When we began working on our own, living on our own, and partying on our own. Make that partying A LOT on our own.
Of course, many young adults drink, especially in excess, during those college years. It’s a time of experimentation and learning and growing and doing so through new experiences. Through mishaps and mistakes.
But many young adults give up the party when they leave college; they trade shots and Solo cups for suits and a 9-to-5. Unfortunately, my husband didn’t. He couldn’t, and shortly after graduation I knew he had a drinking problem.
Of course, I tried to talk to him about it. For 10 years, I monitored his drinking. I tried to control his drinking, and I tried stop his drinking. I vowed (over and over again) that if he didn’t get help, I would leave. But my actions spoke louder than my words, and they were ones of co-dependency and complacency. Instead of stopping him, I would sit beside him and drink myself.
We would continue to live in this sick — and secret — state for 10 years. Ten long years. Until, one night, I finally snapped. I thought about my daughter. Our beautiful, innocent little daughter and I knew I needed to leave. She needed me to leave.
And so, I walked out; and was ready to never look back. But then my husband said seven words he never said before: “I don’t think I can control it. I don’t think I can stop.”
Eventually, he did stop. He threw out the cans, he dumped the bottles, and then he asked for help. And two-and-a-half years ago, that help is what finally led him to get sober. He did the work — the hard and difficult work that Affleck is likely in the midst of now. And he kept going because he knew he didn’t have to take this journey alone. He had me; and he had my daughter.
It’s that same love and support from family and friends — as well as the desire to do better for your children — that seems to be what has kept Ben Affleck going, too.
“I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do,” he continued in his post. “This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”
I’ve seen firsthand just how a strong support network can make all the difference to someone in recovery. Now here’s to hoping Affleck will continue making strides, and taking the rest of those steps.More On