Episode 321 – Be kind to yourself. It’s ok to give yourself as much love as you are giving to someone in active addiction. Give yourself love and grace. It’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok not to have all the answers.
Today’s podcast will be a slight departure from our traditional format. Today we will hear from Aimee, who is the wife of one of our members. Aimee will share from the perspective of what it’s like to live with someone struggling with alcohol addiction.
Aimee is the wife of Kris, one of the members of Café RE. Kris shared his message on episodes 175 and 278. He also does a lot of work for Café RE. Take a listen. Kris stands out by helping others and being of service.
Registration for the Bozeman retreat is open for Café RE members today and will be available for non-members tomorrow. For details, go to:
Odette’s Weekly Message – Finding your better you.
Odette is focusing on loved ones. She is an adult child of an alcoholic. She has experienced her own struggles with addiction and married someone who struggles with addiction.
When Odette’s Dad went into treatment, she was advised by the counselor that the whole family would be impacted. While only one family member has the disease, everyone gets infected at some level.
Being a part of the solution for her Dad was a tough spill to swallow. Odette attended Al-Anon to learn how to take care of herself while her Dad was treating his addiction. Odette remembers how scary some of the meetings were because of the number of broken relationships. Her inclination was to try to fix the problem, but she quickly learned she had to get out of the way and learn to take care of herself. She is still learning to detach with love by setting boundaries.
[10:33] Odette introduces Aimee.
Aimee is 37 and lives in North Dakota with Kris and their two kids. She is a teacher, loves playing piano, singing, and leading worship at her church.
[13:45] Tell us about your journey and how you experienced life with Kris.
Aimee met Kris her freshman year of college and fell in love right away. She was so enthralled with him; everything seemed normal.
Kris was deployed overseas in the military. He would call Aimee and was always drinking when he called home to deal with the stress of deployment. Aimee knew there was a problem. They got married, and when Kris came back from deployment, Aimee got pregnant right away. Kris was deployed again, and Aimee didn’t drink because she was pregnant. Kris came home ten days before Ava was born, and they were two different people because of the time apart. Kris’s drinking continued to escalate. They went through ups and downs, and Aimee thought things were getting better.
Their marriage has been a wild adventure because of moves, career changes, etc. Aimee had a mix of resentment and shame about Kris’ drinking. At the height of his drinking, he would turn things around on her to avoid being attacked. As a couple, they tore each other apart. Aimee tried to protect Kris. She would set the alarm so she could pick up the beer cans before the kids got up in the morning. She lied to her pastor about Kris’ absences and recognized she was compromising her values.
Kris’ emotions were intense and amplified when he was hungover.
[10:15] Did you start second-guessing yourself?
Aimee said she was constantly questioning if she was enough. She took her marriage vows very seriously and started to become a doormat. There was a lot of manipulation. Kris would gaslight Aimee about his drinking, the bank account, and other things. Engaging in church and prayer was instrumental for Aimee. She began to realize that being a martyr or savior wasn’t a safe place to be. She couldn’t compromise her safety. They went on a road trip, and Kris drove drunk for five hours, and Aimee was overwhelmed and exhausted. Prayer helped her resolve that she couldn’t live that way anymore.
[22:57] What did you do when you realized you couldn’t do it anymore?
Aimee said after the road trip, the conversation between them shifted. She begged Kris to get help. He asked her who her lawyer was and said he would never love her enough to quit drinking. It took Aimee a long time to start to forgive him. She didn’t believe him anymore, and it took a long time to rebuild trust.
[24:13] Was church a source of support for you?
Aimee said she couldn’t do it on her own. Her church community never told her what she wanted to hear; they told her what she needed to hear. The church encouraged her to focus on herself and her next steps. It was the first time Aimee looked inside and didn’t focus on Kris.
[26:44] How did you shift from feeling like a victim to looking within?
Aimee said the church worked with both of them separately and helped keep them on the same page. Aimee prayed and meditated a lot. Kris surrendered. They both surrendered at different times. Aimee had to let go of the bitterness. She said she was drinking poison and expecting Kris to get sick. She told Kris she loved him and didn’t know what to do. It was a shift and became a point of empowerment for her to trust others and do work on herself. They went to marriage counseling, and Aimee went to counseling on her own. Aimee did EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) to deal with trauma from her marriage and her past. Aimee has done a lot of work learning how to build relationships, and the experience has been life-changing.
Aimee still has some flashbacks, particularly on road trips. All of their positive interactions slowly replace the negative ones of the past. While it may be a cliché, time does heal
[33:02] Tell me about the dynamics at home? How have the kids responded?
Aimee said they have been very open about their story with the kids. Dinner time is their favorite time now, and it was the worst when Kris was drinking. Their son wrote a book about the adventures of his sober Dad. He even quoted Paul Churchill’s book, “Alcohol is Shit!”. Their son looks forward to hugging his wife now that Kris is demonstrating new behaviors with the family.
Aimee shared that she and Kris have learned emotional and spiritual intimacy as well as physical intimacy. Their conversations are more vulnerable than the physical connection. It has been a lot of hard work, but so worth the effort.
[38:27] How is your experience with Kris in Café RE and other people in sobriety?
Aimee said Kris joined Café Re when they were separated. She said it was hard at first because Kris was being celebrated for all of his sobriety milestones. She was envious of his coins – where was her medal? Aimee has been to a Café RE meet up in Minneapolis, and she prays for all of the people she met. She supports Kris’s model of “leave nobody behind”. She doesn’t mind the interruptions, and she supports his efforts with prayer. Aimee loves how Café RE retreats benefit Kris’ recovery. She always notices a positive difference when she comes home, and she knows that helps their family.
Café RE feels Aimee’s support through the videos she posts when Kris reaches a milestone. Aimee said five years ago, she never would have believed they would be where they are today. She is excited and believes the best is yet to come.
[43:14] Do you drink? Are you a normie?
Aimee hasn’t had a drink in 7-8 years, and she doesn’t miss it at all. She likes tea and doesn’t favor the LaCroix as Kris, and the rest of us do.
[44:06] How were you able to separate that it was not about you?
Aimee said, when she figures it out, she will let us know. Recovery is like peeling back the layers of an onion. She encourages all spouses to be kind to themselves. It’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok not to have all of the answers. Lean in on your Faith, regardless of what you call your Higher Power. You will need it to move through recovery as well.
Odette encourages all family members to check out recommended Al-Anon, Melody Beattie, Smart Recovery for Friends and Family, Pia Melody, and traditional therapy.
By helping yourself, you are better at supporting your loved one.
You are not alone, together is always better!
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