It all feels like an upside-down fairy tale as I share with you about the year addiction stole Christmas.
In a book for children,Beamer’s World, addiction is personified as a “joker” style villain. Not super scary, he is a creepy and sinister looking man that seems to appear everywhere.
Addiction feels like this, lurking in the corners, just waiting, waiting with all the time in the world. In Beamer’s World, the character shows up not just in troubled times but at happy times, too. “You did a great job! Come on let’s celebrate,” Addiction sneers as he passes the bottle.
Pain, most studies agree that the addict tries to escape some type of pain with mood-altering addictions. Mood-altering choices to avoid painful feelings vary widely from food, drugs, alcohol, work, sex, even reading falls in the addiction category, if used to escape reality.
What about happy? Why pursue the addictive process when happiness surrounds you?
- Prolong the happy feelings
- Bring yourself down to normal
- Feel you don’t deserve to be happy–hide in the addiction
- Need to feel bad to feel good
Grasping at happy moves the addict to more and more use.
How Addiction Stole Christmas
“Happy” feelings abounded the year addiction stole Christmas in the Joyous Family. After attending an office Christmas party where the libations flowed freely and a van taxi sat waiting to take all the revelers home, our world screeched to a halt.
The taxi dropped me off at a good friend’s house to pick up the kids. I walked into the house and began to cry. The van taxi ride home with a bunch of very drunk people scared me.
My good friend’s offered me a bed for the night.
“No, I just need to get the kids home. If I get them and myself to sleep before he (my husband) gets home, it will all be alright,” I said.
I packed up my 3 & 5-year old in the Honda Minivan and drove the 7 miles home to the big house on 20 acres. On the way home, I spotted my husband’s car still parked at the restaurant where he worked.
Good I thought, I’ve got a little while, he will finish-up the party there with his work associates. It may be hours before he gets home.
The past year my husband had taken a job at the local restaurant/bar. That year his drinking increased dramatically in addition to other substance abuse.
His normally nightly routine involved coming home in the wee hours of the morning and sleeping in the downstairs bedroom.
It was only 10:15 PM when I pulled the minivan up to the house and unloaded the kids. Tucking them in quickly, I ran to my room. Bedtime meant the end of this nightmare. I will wake up tomorrow and none of this will matter, everything will be OK.
I could not have been more wrong. My life changed forever after that long night.
Drifting off to sleep I heard my husband arrive. Good, I thought, at least I know he made it home.
Then the bedroom door flew open! Angry and full of accusations my husband burst into the room.
Normally, I engaged in all our battles. Yelling, screaming and accusing right back.
Being Still, Letting God Fight For Me
This time I lay in stillness. I lay reciting the Lord’s Prayer. As I look back, this simple act turned the tide in our marriage.
For over two years, I walked in the morning with the dog while my children and my husband slept. I pleaded with God. When Lord, when will you heal my husband? My boy is 5 years old, when will his Daddy be available.
Frustrated, I often shouted at God. The shouting normally led to a stream of tears followed by my heartfelt fears, worries, self-recriminations, and just plain groaning out to God.
Cleansed for the moment each morning, I walked slowly back to the house to start the day.
The Shift In Our Marriage
As I lay there that night, I finally surrendered to God–all my fight left. My morning prayers lately revolved around my weaknesses. My heart verse during those walks was 2 Chronicles 20:17
You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for Yahweh is with you.
A few months earlier I had called a Christian interventionist, Joe Herzanek. Himself a former addict, he advised me to “raise the bottom”. Joe suggested that I set very serious boundaries. The boundaries included my husband’s forced removal from our house, if he did not seek help immediately.
“God, I am to weak to move myself, you must move me;” I whispered in my morning prayers and at night. A secret code between God and I. I could not bring myself to end yet another marriage, this time with the blessed fruit of two beautiful boys. I waited on my Chronicles 20:17 miracle.
If God wanted the boys and me out of this living situation, He needed to show up and move us.
That night God’s mighty hand crashed to earth in the middle of the big house.
A long, long night with lots of moving around the house trying to escape my husband’s accusations and requests.
Around midnight I found myself hiding in our master bedroom closet. Bravely, I shot off a text to my best girlfriend, “I need help,” it simply said. Another breakthrough for me, stopping all the lying and the secrets and accepting help.
Remember, these kind friends offered safe harbor earlier in the evening that night, but I confidently felt I could handle the situation.
God clearly purposefully put me in a place I could no longer handle. No human help came that night.
My husband fell asleep around 3 am. My youngest boy woke up around 6 am. I slipped out of bed hoping my husband did not notice and went to get the baby.
My chirpy little boy kindled a hope in me. The sun on the rise I started making breakfast.
Accepting My Weakness, Letting Others Help
My husband then appeared, eyes black as coal. The nightmare walked into the daylight. I stopped cooking and called my Al-Anon sponsor who offered to come pick up the children so my husband and I could talk alone.
My husband refused to let the children leave and kept right on talking “at” me clearly still under the influence. My sponsor offered to come sit with the children at our house. I asked my husband, if I could just get on with our day and take the boys to preschool. He disagreed.
At that point, my best friend called frantically. After turning her phone on that morning, my midnight text arrived. Already in her car on her way over she asked, if I still needed help. I simply said yes and hung up the phone.
Upon arrival, my friend tried to speak with my husband who still disagreed with letting the children leave with her or with me. A daughter of a recovering alcoholic, she moved swiftly to gather the boys and tuck them in her car. Looking at me, she said, “you are coming, too.” Jesus appears in many forms–that day he showed up as the strength in my friend.
As my husband continued to protest. My friend called the police while loading the kids and me in the car. God moved in a mighty painful, yet necessary way.
The long night turned into a long day with my husband submitting to being arrested. (In most domestic violence cases one partner is taken to jail. The police officer who was very late on the scene asked my husband, who should go jail. In a pure act of bravery on his part, my husband went with the officer.)
We plunged into the labyrinth of the court system on December 20. At the time, it appeared that the sinister character of addition stole Christmas. The Addiction Character kicked and screamed as God’s hand forced him into the full light of day. Ugly and exposed, addiction was unable to hide from God’s Christmas Gift, the Light. After one last grasp at my husband and our marriage Addiction fled.
Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
What addiction intended for evil, God turned for his good. The year addiction stole Christmas cost him everything. My husband committed his life to sobriety that day and every day since.
Anticipation Of Christmas
The uncertainty about our future lasted for many many more months. Neither my husband or I realized the battle God had won on that cold December night until much later. A numb dull pain laid on my chest that Christmas. I cried out to God and he answered. There was no way that I could have known that that one night of total chaos would lead to the Light being restored to our marriage and family.