Read the first part of Ashleigh’s story here.
“I recently wrote an article about addiction and abuse in the church and in relationships. We could dive into the church more, but I would rather talk about addiction and my experience loving someone with an addiction.
If you are an addict or know someone that is, you know that as time goes on, the addiction will begin to change that person in many ways over time. The shame, the guilt, the need for what they are addicted to becoming their demon. This demon steals almost everything that they use to be.
I have known my husband since I was sixteen years old, and we married in 2016 (I am now 30). For the first three years, he was able to hide his addiction. At times he felt that he was in control of it. But addiction always grows and consumes.
Throughout our relationship, he became disconnected, manipulative to the ones around him, lying became his best friend, and he began walking the line of boundaries, often stumbling into places he knew he should not be as a married man.
If you read my first story, you know a little about heartache, but also about redemption.
I separated from my husband for over six months. I was prepared for a divorce because, after two years of trying to help him work through his demons, matters only seemed to be getting worse. I begged him to be honest if he was struggling; I often cried because I felt unseen by him; he used me to get the spotlight off of him when our problems would become evident to others. We both began just existing, and not living. Video games became a tool for him to cope in our marriage, and I turned to friends, watching movies late at night. We both became numb in our marriage.
I realized that as much as I loved him, I had become his enabler. With everything appearing to be okay, he was able to close his mind off to what was going on behind closed doors and tell himself things were not that bad. But the domino effect had started, and there was no stopping it. I was determined to know the truth of what was going on in my marriage. What I found continued to break me, and I knew that this marriage was no longer healthy, but toxic. I know that as a reader you want to know the details of what was found that I felt was so unhealthy. In my opinion, the details do not matter because each individual and each relationship personally decides what their own boundaries are in a relationship. Each relationship looks different.
Addiction will steal everything from you, but you have the power to take back all that was stolen from you.
After our separation, we lived in two different states, and for a time, we were unable to communicate well. We were both so hurt and angry, but we had two children that we loved more than life itself. It was hard, but we learned to respect each other and to co-parent well. No matter what, we would always be a team. We worked hard to make a life where our kids felt safe, loved, and secure.
A lot happened to my husband over those six months. The separation woke him up, and he could see things that he once didn’t. He was able to see the lack of self-control addiction gave him, the hurtful words and anger that addiction made him feel, the things he was losing because addiction became the other woman in our relationship.
It was said to him that the opposite of addiction was a connection, and the end result of addiction was death if you continued down the path that it led. Again, addiction when fed, will always grow and become something that you are so entangled in you will believe the lie that you can never escape it. You will believe that addiction is just your life and who you are now. Addiction will make you believe that there is no hope and that a life of addiction isn’t that bad anyway. Addiction will destroy relationships, opportunities. Addiction will become your biggest advocate and you will believe that it is the only one that understands you.
I learned that no one can change for someone else; they have to want to change for themselves. I also learned that a person cannot be anything to anyone if they are not the best version of themselves. We both needed healing.
During this time, I worked on healing, and he started counseling and AA meetings for porn and sexual addiction. For a while, I didn’t believe he would ever change, and nothing in me wanted to give him another chance, but I knew I couldn’t let anger be what made my decisions.
I shut the world out and pulled in close mentors that I trusted, the family that I knew were prayer warriors and prayed that God would continue to lead me. Despite the bad advice I received from Christians, I had my own personal relationship with God.
I knew when He told me to leave the relationship, and when He called me back into it. God never stopped loving me, and He never stopped loving my husband. We were both challenged, and putting our relationship back together is work, but our foundation has become one that is firm.
Setting proper boundaries with someone with an addiction is essential, and not everyone will choose to get the help that they need to no longer be bound by addiction, but it is not impossible.
It was not an easy road for my husband, but he became his best advocate. He surrounded himself with great men, solid boundaries, and he was able to help me learn how I could best support him.
I am grateful that today my husband is a recovered addict. Does that mean he will never struggle? No. But he continues to go to therapy, to his meetings, and we all continue to support and love him through recovery.
I would ask that before you comment, ‘A tiger will never change his stripes,’ you keep the door for recovery open.
Every story is different. Mine was filled with lies, emotional abuse, and infidelity. I am thankful that the person I am married to is no longer that man, but I also know that it could have ended very differently.
I know that it is hard to understand a story without full details. Unfortunately, an article will never be able to give you that. But I hope after reading this you find hope if you are loving an addict or are an addict yourself. You always have a choice, and nothing is impossible. Your addiction does not define you, and you are not your addiction.
If you are in a toxic relationship and you know that you need to change, I hope you feel the strength to do so. If you don’t have the support, you have it here, and you are not alone.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ashleigh Denèe. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Ashleigh:
‘I was 6 months pregnant when I said ‘I do.’ I picked a cheap dress, wore borrowed rings, and didn’t have a honeymoon.’: Woman claims wedding was the ‘best day of her life’ because she ‘chose the right man’
‘Where’s my phone?!’ My arms, legs began to shake. I lost my vision. I lay on the bathroom floor, alone, no cellphone.’: Woman says mental illness ‘humbled’ her, reminds us ‘it’s okay to be different’
‘You guys go to the coolest places!’ The comment stopped me in my tracks. I rarely leave the house; I put makeup on once a week, and with 2 toddlers, outings are usually cut short.’: Mom reminds us that ‘no one is living the life they post on social media’
Do you know someone who could benefit from this? SHARE this story on Facebook with family and friends.