Life with an addict – we’re not over it

234567890-Note:  This post has been sitting ready in my draft folder for 3 weeks.  Although Steve has repeatedly given me the go ahead, I have procrastinated.  From the outset we have been open about addiction, but it’s harder to do that when the days are messy and ugly.  This post takes an honest look at exactly how messy things can get.  If we are authentic about the good days, then we owe it to our readers to do the same with the bad.  If you haven’t already read my 5 part series about addiction you may want to.  For those who know us (or are related to us), we are fine; still fighting and clawing our way along the too steep path, and still thankful to be on the journey together.  ~Holly

Still a long way to go.

Still a long way to go.

It has been here for weeks. Its roots probably go back to February. How can something that can’t be named cause so much angst?

Restlessness, suspicion, and indignation!

I have had a general nose-out-of-joint feeling shadowing my every step. I have nursed it, fed it, and allowed it to grow; resulting in my choosing to play the victim and I’ve felt justified in doing so.

But I have been wronged! I thought we were past this madness. We have lived in recovery for over 10 years and it’s not my problem.

From the beginning, we have been embarrass-your-family open about Steve’s struggle with addiction. We are like poster children for how to do it right. We don’t profess perfection, but we have stayed together. We have fought, clawed and scrapped our way through to preserve our marriage. Bearing the scars of addiction and co-addiction, our family has survived and even at times thrived.

Steve and I regularly speak about our journey and how we each played a part. Our marriage is healthy and we are closer than we ever have been. So we are over it, right? Please God, tell me we are over it! I thought so, but I was wrong.


February hit us and threatened to leave me down for the count. An innocent question at the beginning of a 12 hour journey was met with an answer I didn’t expect. I sat shocked, speechless, praying I wouldn’t cry on the plane. Truth is I cried most of the trip home – a gut-wrenching, sobbing, mourning cry.

I felt so betrayed.  But why?  I’ve been on this journey long enough to know that Steve’s actions aren’t about me.  I didn’t cause them or ask for them.  But they rocked me to my core.

This was not supposed to happen again. We are supposed to be past this. And why does it have to cause a palpable ache?  It’s not my problem.

Or is it?

At the core… no, it’s not my problem. But I am not an island of me. Better or worse, good or bad, what Steve or I do drastically affects the other.  If I’m in this for the long haul then I will have deal with it.

But I want to whine and cry, and feel sorry for myself! It’s been 10 years. TEN YEARS! When do I get to hurt him? Why do I keep doing the right thing? When do I get to misbehave? When will it be over?

However, I finally come to terms with the fact that it won’t, and it’s simply naive to think it will be. Steve can live in sober recovery from now until the day he dies and that won’t change the fact that I am married to an addict. I didn’t think I expected him never to slip but my reaction revealed the truth – I thought we were finished actively dealing with addiction.

It also revealed that I still have my own work to do. Bad attitudes, unrealistic expectations, & bitterness – these are a good place for me to start. And then there’s forgiveness. I can cling to my right to be angry or I can choose to forgive.

Forgive because Steve does the same thing for me every day.

But what I do isn’t betraying trust.  What I do doesn’t flirt with unfaithfulness.

And then I realize as I write this that I want to categorize wrong.  I want to say that his wrong is worse than mine.  That’s the acceptable social trend; women marginalizing men’s suffering rendering themselves superior victim status.  I want to pretend that the way he hurts me is more painful than how I hurt him.

But it is, isn’t it?  Forgive or be bitter?  If I forgive again, am I enabling?  I battle this line of thinking everyday!

Forgive?  Forgive!

I forgive because I value a relationship more than being right; and because I am so very aware of my own imperfections, imperfections that are just as damaging even if I don’t want to admit it.  I will take my advice and choose to forgive once again and remember that we will never be over it.  Never!


  1. Anne Bailey

    July 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Been there, done that, although different addiction. Couldn’t handle it with your grace and I know I would never live like that–or allow my children to live in that–again. But I love you both and wish you the wisdom and the strength to do what is best for your family. God bless you through this struggle.

    • Holly Holladay

      July 2, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to read, Anne. Addiction, no matter what kind, is beyond difficult to navigate. Thankfully, we as individuals can make the decisions we feel are best for our families at the time. It’s never easy, though, is it? Steve and I are very aware that people who don’t know the details of our story could assume things have happened that haven’t. We know that when I write this honestly, people are likely to read through the lens of their own experience. But it’s a risk we are willing to take to facilitate open dialogue about a subject that is cloaked in secrecy. Thanks again for the read. 🙂

  2. Janet McCord

    July 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Believe me, I know what your kind of pain feels like but oh, my goodness, I’m so proud of you for taking a step back and recognizing this for what it is. I know this kind of insight and strength is hard-fought and comes with lots of scars. I am so amazed that you have the ability to be so open and honest and I know God has blessed you and will bless you and you will touch so many people–more than you already have. I know it’s an awful hard road to walk sometimes and forgiveness isn’t easy. Just know that you are loved and I continue to pray for you.

    • Holly Holladay

      July 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      Thank you Janet! I appreciate your kind words. No, it’s never easy, but it’s worth it. 🙂

  3. Janie

    July 25, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Ok seriously…how are you able to get inside my head and have my exact thoughts!??! I don’t know how many times I’ve thought that i was completely justified to nurse and feed and allow the hurt feelings in my heart to grow! That’s exactly what I do, and that wonderful picture you painted, i believe will help me to attempt to begin “starving” those emotions. Thanks so much for your honest assessments. Really enjoyed hearing you two in Murray a few months ago.

    • Holly Holladay

      July 25, 2013 at 10:55 am

      So glad that you can identify with my shortcomings. It makes me feel more human. 🙂 We enjoyed out time in Murray very much! Thanks for stopping by to read. 🙂

  4. Doc Arnett

    July 16, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Anyone who loves an addict will always share the chains of addiction. Those who choose to stop loving often lose even more than they imagine. Other than those few who are genuinely and permanently delivered from their addiction, all live in recovery. I pray God’s strength and grace for both of you and remind you that we are all addicted… until we are set free from the prison of this flesh. And I applaud your mutual honesty!


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