Finding Peace & Healing in the Midst of a Loved One’s Alcoholism

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My spouse’s alcoholism was crushing me both emotionally and physically. Our relationship was no longer a real marriage even though we were living together in the same house. My two children were gone and leading full lives far away from our home. For forty years, my husband’s illicit behaviors and manipulations had been well hidden. It wasn’t until after continuous emotional breakdowns that I understood the serious reality of my situation. I didn’t see the devastating cunningness of the disease until I attended meetings in a 12-step program. Through Step One in Al-anon, I learned to navigate the unstable, frequent, and unhealthy situations of my home life. Eventually, the Holy Spirit guided me to leave home and visit my daughter for weeks or months at a time.

Every time I came back home, though, the situation worsened. This suffering was either going to make or break my relationship with God. It forced me to pray harder and go to daily Mass. I started to receive healing through adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The Holy Eucharist powerfully lifted me onto dry ground and onto a bridge.

Could my love for my husband survive despite his love for liquor and marijuana? Through confession, therapy, long hikes, and daily meetings, my inner peace multiplied. My meetings were filled with generous souls who gave me wisdom and hope. Eventually, my husband became very ill. I learned to have mercy on him due to his condition, just as the Lord has mercy on us in our own sinful condition. Still, my anger and pain remained.

Fortunately, I knew it was going to take time. Someone once reminded me of this when they said, “I’ll let time take time.” Our Lord showed me through a personal relationship with Him how much I needed recovery. I found CIR through a church bulletin and began attending virtual meetings. The love from the people in these virtual meetings converted me to be a better person. The women who shared their experiences did so with extraordinary faith, in some cases even after they had lost their sons or daughters to addiction. During CIR meetings, I was given insight into my own attitudes. Through these meetings and the sacraments, the pride, self-reliance, and avoidance within my heart lessened.

A personal bond with Jesus grew once I felt His presence in the turbulent chaos of home life. The crushing truth that my husband was not going to get better was replaced with God’s consolation. God ended the insanity on Labor Day weekend in 2023. I had been away for six weeks and the day after I returned my husband checked himself into the hospital. With calm and peace, I did what I could to deal with this trial. He detoxed at the hospital and embraced sobriety because he knew he would die otherwise. However, he adamantly refused any recovery support or program.

Five months later my spouse was sober and physically better. However, his lifestyle consisted of smoking weed, drinking non-alcoholic drinks, sleeping, and watching TV. It was then that I finally crossed the bridge of surrender. Despite my husband’s unhealthy lifestyle, I made the choice to, in the words of Saint Josemaria, “seek Christ, to find Christ, and to love Christ.”

I realized then that addiction is an acute illness that I can’t cure myself. But I could decide to love my husband with sacramental grace while not losing my dignity. Likewise, Our Lady was also watching over my husband with gentleness. She beckoned me to trust that my husband was in her hands and, therefore, close to Jesus. A new freedom emerged as I chose not to be responsible for my husband’s care. My role was to simply be there for him. Just because he was acutely ill without recovery, didn’t mean that I was.

As Bishop Barron often says in his Sunday sermons, “it never is about me” when it comes to God’s plans. God honored my small efforts with grace. My path of recovery has been to detach with love from my own inner sense of justice related to my husband’s addiction. Thanks be to God, I’m free from anger and have found peace and healing in the midst of my loved one’s alcoholism.

 

M.L.C. is a grateful member of CIR’s Family & Friends recovery groups. She is recovering from the effects of alcoholism and cannabis addiction on her marriage. Other members of her family suffer from addictions, depression, and gender/political ideation.