“I quit drinking for you, Sheri! What more do you want from me?” I was hurting so badly from the failure and shame and debilitating depression of alcoholism. I was exerting every morsel of strength that I had to battle the cravings and brain hijacking of addiction to alcohol. I was in the fight of my life. Me. Recovery was all about me. If I was to overcome this demon, I needed my wife’s support, and I wasn’t capable of even contemplating her needs.
I had apologized for my drunken behavior so many times. On the mornings after I over drank, became irrationally angry and said despicable things, I had so often apologized and shown sincere remorse. When I made a commitment to sobriety, I had apologized again. I said I was sorry, and do you know what follows sorrow? Forgiveness. What more could Sheri have possibly needed?
Recovery. She needed recovery from my alcoholism if she ever hoped to get her life back on a healthy track. In our case, we kept the marriage together. But that’s beside the point, really. No matter what Sheri’s ongoing relationship with alcohol and her alcoholic looked like – sobriety, continued drinking, staying in the marriage or divorce – my wife needed to recover from the disease that had crushed her life.
Recovery is not just for the alcoholic. Recovery is a requirement for the people who love the alcoholic, too.
Alcoholism is the disease of lies and deceit. Often, and in our case, the alcoholic’s denials and misleading statements are not just designed to fool the people around him, but they serve to convince him that his drinking isn’t really that bad, either. For a high-functioning alcoholic, to face the truth is to admit the need to stop drinking. And we’ll lie to ourselves for years to avoid that fate. The lies are unavoidable regardless of the justification, and they cause great pain for the people who love the drinker.
Years of lies destroy trust. It is not just a destruction of the trust that the loved one feels specifically for the drinker. Years of lies destroy the loved one’s ability to trust at all. It is as though a vital organ has been removed or a limb has been amputated. Whether the relationship is dissolved in the process or not, the loved one cannot trust again until the damage has been undone through the process of recovery. Recovery is not just about saving marriages. It is about restoring humanity so that healthy relationships become possible again.
Trust is not the only victim of alcoholism. Intimacy, self-esteem, peace of mind and confidence all take a beating in an alcoholic relationship. And I’m not talking about the drinker. I’m talking about the people who love the drinker. Romantic relationships, sibling relationships, parental relationship, children and good friends – the health of any of the people who love alcoholics is at stake. And recovery is both necessary and available.
“What more do you want from me?” I asked. Sheri didn’t know it at the time any more than I did, but my sobriety was absolutely not enough. In fact, in some ways, my sobriety was irrelevant. She needed someone to hear her story and to see her pain. She needed to be understood and nurtured back to health just like any victim of a ravenous, chronic disease. She needed time and space, but also compassion and empathy.
Today we officially announce the launch of our Echoes of Recovery program for the loved ones of alcoholics and heavy drinkers.
If you’ve suffered the devastating pain of abusive drinking from the perspective of the second-hand drinker, we want to hear your story. We want to see you and get to know you. There is no shortage of options for the drinker in your life to find health and recovery. This program is not for the drinker. This program is for you because you deserve to be heard and seen, and you deserve to find healing, too.
We chose the name, Echoes of Recovery, because we’ve heard so many stories of the loved ones of alcoholics, and they all have themes that resonate. In one story, we can hear the echoes of so many other tragic stories of loving an alcoholic. You might think your story is unique. You might have experienced some different twists and turns, but at its core, the insidious disease of alcoholism always works the same. You will find comfort in sharing your story, and hearing the experiences of others who are fighting the same battle for recovery. There is power and healing in the echoes.
If you are trying to save your marriage to someone in sobriety from alcoholism, this program is for you. If alcoholism dissolved your relationship, we want you to join Echoes of Recovery. If your loved one is still drinking and living a life of denial, we need to have your voice as well. Parents, adult children, siblings, cousins, spouses and friends – you are all welcome in Echoes of Recovery. Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate. It does not require a romantic relationship to feel the pain, and we welcome all to feel the relief and empathy of working together to get better.
This is not a twelve step program. We are not staffed with psychologists who will tell you what to do based on research and theory. This is a group of people who have suffered like you, sharing our experiences and learning from each other.
Sheri and I are three years into our recovery from my alcoholism – both as individuals, and in our relationship. We have made great progress through trial and error, but we don’t have all the answers. Echoes of Recovery is as much about Sheri’s continued healing, and the continued rebirth of our relationship, as it is about helping you find the healing you deserve regardless of the status of your relationship with your alcoholic. We are here for each other. There is an unmatched power in connection. We have seen it. We have felt it. Now we want to share it with you.
Echoes of Recovery is a donation-based program supported by our nonprofit, named Stigma. There is no big upfront fee, and there is no long-term commitment required. All we ask is a monthly recurring donation of $25 to help keep our mission to destigmatize alcoholism moving forward. Any time Echoes of Recovery stops feeling like a good fit, you can stop your monthly contributions. No pressure. No manipulation. As the loved one of an alcoholic, you’ve had enough of that to last a lifetime. Echoes of Recovery is about your healing at your pace, and it will only work if you are totally comfortable.
For more information about what you can expect with the Echoes of Recovery program, please click the button below. If you are ready to enroll, this button will start that process for you. This program has been years in development, and we are ready to share and learn with you. Can you hear the echoes?