The deepest love I've ever felt was the love that kicked my husband out. That was some serious love, friends, because leaving an addict is never an easy thing to do. How many times did I think, "I don't WANT to leave him. He needs me and I need him."? How many times did I almost leave him, just to be won back by perfectly timed words and a great, aching desire to cross the finish line with the only man I had ever loved in this capacity? It's not an easy decision, especially for a codependent, hot mess girl like myself. But I made the decision and I did it out of love. Love for Joe, who didn't need me to enable him anymore. Love for my kids who deserve a healthy childhood, free from the effects of addiction and codependency. Love for myself, which I hadn't experienced in a very long time. Love asked him to leave, even though to the rest of the world it may have looked like anger, or sin, or giving up, or judgement. It was love, friends.
It was the decision that brought peace and that made it worth it. It's been almost two years and looking back on some of the shit filled holes we've been in since then almost overwhelms me. It's been hard. So, so hard. But shit is fertilizer and God has grown me in ways I didn't know I needed. I've changed. I'm not the same codependent, weak-minded, lost woman. I've found myself and the best part is - I'm not who I thought I was. I'm kinder. I'm wiser. I'm gentler. I'm stronger. I'm more resilient. I can do so much more than I ever thought I could. Praise God for shit holes, because that's where I've reconciled with my hardest-to-part-with tendencies. I've met Him in the murk and he's been digging me out ever since.
Joe has been growing too. Because love doesn't drag you out to the wilderness to leave you there. Love lures you away to heal you; to restore you; to call you back to life. Addiction is a beast and it has the power to destroy you. It will distort your filters, your thought processes and your desires. Addiction is a vicious enemy, but addiction can be mastered. I think he's mastering it - but only because doing really hard, deep work and surrendering to a new pattern that doesn't allow for deceit. I think he will always have to give weight to the power it has had over him, and could have over him again. I think he will probably want to throw himself into the arms of sickness again. He might even do it. But what is shifting is what he does with his sickness. He's learning humility, and honesty, and integrity. He's learning to let his anger, isolation, and depression straggle along in the rear, while truth takes its rightful place in his mind. That's a big deal.
Over the past two years I've told myself on repeat, "You will not be the woman who goes back to the unchanged man. You will not." I've told myself, and stepped on my own feet to stop myself. I've messed it all up, and I've started over again. Because I will not be the woman who goes back to the unchanged man. I'm also not the woman who gets to judge any other woman's decision, so don't hear that as condemnation if you've gone back to a man who refuses to budge. You walk your road, sister. My road cannot - CANNOT - be paved with one more second of the dysfunction that had gripped us - both of us. It was just time for me to be done. And I have tread really holy ground in this process. I have sought Jesus with more tears, more surrender and more desperate desire to just do the RIGHT thing than ever before in my life. I have come to know the God who finds a single person laying exhausted, terrified, and DONE IN under a broom tree in the desert; who lets that person rest and then feeds and sustains them before drawing them to a quiet place where a single whisper bolsters their heart to face life again. I've been like Elijah in that desert for a long, long time - toeing the threshold and waiting for the moment of breakthrough. Because there is always breakthrough.
And you know what? Things are shifting. Slowly, softly, unforced and without expectation - things are changing. Love did the hard thing and kept us from striving in a way that was suffocating both of us. Love did that.
We're really trying to talk about the deep things - the things that made us such a mess in the first place; the things that crushed and shattered us. We're trying to sort through the rubble to see if something holy can be rebuilt. We couldn't do that if he was an unchanged man. We couldn't do that if I were an unchanged woman. We couldn't do it if Love hadn't intervened.