The other side…
Evenings out with friends were always enjoyable, fun, and filled with laughter. The night might have included our favorite karaoke bar, restaurant, or just a night alone. Wherever we were, alcohol was involved.
As the evenings came to a close, I knew the dark reality would soon set in. The anger and hurt in Bryan’s eyes after everyone was gone was scary. I saw the other side.
I remember nights where I hoped that Bryan would just pass out after we were alone. My wishful thoughts were often overshadowed by the nights of darkness.
The moment I realized that drinking became an issue in our marriage, I tried to control it. I became nothing more than a broken record saying, “you’ve had enough,” only to hear another bottle being opened. My controlling words only fueled the anger deep within Bryan.
He could not see the other side.
The bottles and cans overflowing the trash can should have been enough to wake him. But in reality, it was just masking the hurt inside. The words; “Shayla, if you really knew me…” haunted me. The evening events turned into daytime events. After Bryan attended a Royals day game, I asked him who won. He was so intoxicated, he didn’t know. I wish I could say that this was a rare occurrence. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
I could sense that Bryan’s drinking was starting to spiral out of control. I was losing my grip on trying to control Bryan’s actions. I hated this for Bryan.
I hated to see my husband, my best friend, become a victim to this silent drug.
Even though I lost my grip on control, I never stopped caring or worrying about him. Bryan thought he was invincible. He didn’t need a designated driver. He would often put himself and others in jeopardy because of his continued decisions to drive drunk after hours of drinking. I remember one particular day; I researched the phone number for the Kansas Highway Patrol to report my husband as a drunk driver on the interstate. I was scared that he was going to kill himself or even worse, kill an innocent family. I begged for him to stop driving but once again, it only fueled his anger. I was angry too and wondered why he was throwing his life away in exchange for a temporary escape from reality.
I never made the call and thank goodness he made it home safe.
During sober conversations, I would share my concerns about the drinking. Bryan would tell me that he would try harder to stop. But nothing ever changed. This horrific cycle would continue. My hope was gone.
Being on the other side is a lonely place.
Is this how the rest of our lives are going to be? Will Bryan ever hit rock bottom and get help that he desperately needed? The breakthrough finally happened or so I thought when Bryan agreed to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. I am sure he only went to please me.
My heart and dreams shattered as he left the house to go to the meeting. I was in disbelief that this is what his life; our life, had come to.
He was losing the battle to an addiction that was taking control of his life.
I was so hopeful that this would break the cycle for Bryan. However, he only went once. He never went to another meeting. The cycle would continue.
Some of you reading this can relate to this side of living with someone with an addiction. An addiction that divides a marriage, an addiction that causes deep wounds, an addiction that creates trust issues, and an addiction that destroys a human being.
I stopped counting the times I heard the words, “I will stop,” only to come home to a trash can full of bottles. I felt betrayed, lied to, and crushed over and over again.
Bryan’s drinking addiction killed our marriage. The addiction led to an affair. The addiction broke trust. The addiction was a mask for his deep wounds. The addiction fueled the demons that Bryan was battling.
The night that Bryan told me that he would never drink again, he was severely intoxicated. I was done. I was tired of hearing over and over again that he would stop. I could never trust him again. He could not control himself with one drink. One drink would turn into three. Three drinks would turn into seven. Seven drinks would turn into ten. Ten drinks would turn into a disaster.
One January 30, 2008, looking into the eyes again of my drunken husband, he told me that he surrendered his addiction to Jesus.
I did not believe him because I had heard that statement so many times before. I will stop.
However, something was different this time. Days went by without drinking. Hmmm.
Weeks went by without drinking. Whoa.
Months went by and still no drinking. Shocked.
Social events came and went and still no drinking. Amazed.
A year went by. Sober. Unbelievable.
5 years went by without a drop of alcohol. Loved.
9 years, no drinking. So proud!
Bryan, it has been an incredibly crazy hard road that we have walked. I am more in love with you today than yesterday. You have overcome so much by the power of Jesus and your desire to follow Him inspires me. Our kids will never know the “old Bryan”. They will never have to see their daddy so sad that he would drown himself with the bottle. I do not have to worry anymore about you drinking and driving.
Your decision to surrender your addiction has brought peace, love, honor, and contentment to our marriage.
B, I love you. I’m thankful that we are on the same side.
[photo by: ANDY JANNING]
The first drink was a Coors Light in a dorm room in central Kansas. Nearly 10 years later, the last drink was a margarita on a catamaran boat off the coast of Cozumel.
Today I celebrate 9 years of being sober. 9 years of victory over something that controlled me for such a long period of time.
I couldn’t see the other side. From my point of view, I was drowning and only hoped that I could make it another day. I knew that I was hurting the one closest to me but I couldn’t stop it. The addiction was too much. I just kept telling myself that I would only have one drink.
I never stopped at just one drink.
I don’t have a problem. This was my response to Shayla every time she would bring up the topic of drinking.
I don’t know why you are so worried. I was a grown man. I could take care of myself and didn’t need someone worrying about me.
All you do is nag and always want to know where I am. I grew tired of lying where I was at and whether or not I had been drinking.
All Shayla wanted to do was love me and I wasn’t letting her. My selfishness and addictive desires built a barrier between the two of us. It was tearing us apart and I felt helpless as the train kept rolling down the tracks towards the dead end. I wanted to stop it but I didn’t know how.
I remember coming home from a day of drinking and the conversation was one we had hundreds of times. Shayla would ask me if I had fun. I would answer with one word; yes. I didn’t want to say much more because my words would become slurred and her disappointment and anger would set in. She asked me a few more questions and the more I talked, the more obvious it was to Shayla just how drunk I really was. She became angry. I became angry…so I left.
I put on a pair of running shoes, without socks, and began running. It was after 11:00 pm on a weekend night so there were a lot of cars on the road. There were no sidewalks where I was running. I had no idea where I was going so I just kept running.
As each car would pass, I thought about jumping into the oncoming traffic to end all of the pain and all of the sorrow.
Shayla didn’t deserve this. She deserved so much more than what I was giving her. I couldn’t see the other side.
[photo by: ANDY JANNING]
The last drink was on January 30, 2008.
I didn’t wake up in the morning wondering if this would be the last day. I didn’t even know if I would be drinking that day. We were on the K-Love Cruise and the day included a snorkeling adventure in Cozumel. To my delight, there was an open bar on the catamaran boat. I took it upon myself to continue to get drinks for us. The reason I did this is because I knew Shayla was counting my drinks. As I went back to get refills, I would take an extra shot of tequila and drink a beer as fast as I could. I would then return to Shayla with two margaritas.
I did this on numerous occasions. I became extremely drunk. I hurt Shayla once again. She was not going join me at the one concert that we had looked forward to the most.
Because I was extremely intoxicated, I leaned against a pillar in the small venue to keep from falling down. As Jeremy sat on a bar stool with nothing but an acoustic guitar, I began to listen, truly listen, to the words of the song, Sweetly Broken.
At the cross You beckon me.
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered.
It was in that moment, that I heard Jesus beckon me. To beckon means to encourage someone to come nearer or to follow. Jesus was begging me to come to Him.
Through all the noise, this is what I heard Jesus say.
“Bryan, you gave your life to me over 15 months ago, but you didn’t surrender THIS to me. Leave your alcohol addiction at the foot of the cross. I will bear your addictions. Surrender and you will be set free.”
I put a stake in the ground and surrendered my addiction to alcohol. I have been 100% sober for 9 years today. Praise Jesus.
Jeremy Riddle, thank you.
I have yet to thank you personally. I hope to someday but for now, maybe you will have an opportunity to read this blog. From the depths of my soul, I thank you for being the conduit that Jesus used to get my attention on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.
I was finally able to see the other side. I saw the hurt that Shayla was living in. I could see her fear every time I would travel and her wondering if I would be drinking while I was away. I also sensed a peace that she was experiencing because she trusted that I was healed from the chains of addiction.
You might be reading this while in the middle of your own addiction. Mine was alcohol. Yours might be illegal drugs. It could be pornography or gambling. You might have a secret addiction to pain killers that started off with a prescription.
I want you to know that there is a way out of the darkness. I have been where you are with nothing but the dark surrounding you.
However, my hope is that this blog be just the smallest hint of light for you. When you are in the dark, all it takes is a little light to give you comfort and direction out of it.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Satan wants to steal your family away from you. He wants to kill you. He wants to destroy you. But Jesus has different plans. For those that put their trust in Him, He will set you free from the chains that have shackled you. He will set you free from the addiction that you have struggled with.
Maybe today is the day that you surrender your life to Jesus.
We share our story with you to give you hope within your own story. You can be victorious over your addiction. You can be healed from the pain and hurt it has caused. But in order to fully let God begin to work in you, you will need to admit that you are sweetly broken and in need of Jesus to be the one that leads you out of the darkness.
Our prayer is that you can see the other side…the beautiful other side.