There is an uncomfortable conversation that no one wants to have with the girlfriends of addicts. For those of us who are married, we know that although it is the same painful experience the reality is that there is a different relationship dynamic. We fear for our fellow sisters in Christ and mourn for the years of pain they could experience. In an attempt to be polite, spare feelings and not offend anyone, we do not say what we know:
It's going to hurt.
Because I like to tell the truth (my husband hates my bluntness but I respect people who are honest) I'm going to just come out and say it in the most loving way I possibly can.
We all know that when we are in love with someone our judgement gets clouded. More than that, we are extremely vulnerable to having our hearts broken. Heartbreak isn't always a bad thing! My first, real heartbreak was agony but I learned a lot about respecting myself through it and what kind of man I wanted to have in my life. There is a change that happens after our first love lets us down. I would like to think that it isn't that we become cynical but that we get wiser.
In marriage, there is also a "wising-up" that happens over the years. It's hard to explain why it's so different from being a live-in girlfriend but for some reason- it really is! I have done both (yes, I have a colourful, sinful past) so I am speaking out of experience. It has to be something to do with the level of commitment and how difficult it is to separate from that person from therein.
Which brings me back to girlfriends. The kind of commitment it takes to stay with an addict is the kind of commitment that has life-long consequences. I'm not against supporting people we care about but when it comes to supporting someone we care about and are in love with- we're putting our hearts at great risk.
It's the kind of risk I feel women should only take when the man has committed himself to us in such a way that he has committed for life (or at least, legally bound to be committed to!). Jesus told us to love people but He also told us to protect our hearts.
This is a letter from my journal that I wrote in prayer to a young girl I met once in a rehab family program in New Jersey while I was visiting my husband. She was SO sweet. I bit my tongue the whole time we chatted because all I wanted to do was shout, "Please! You're so lovely! Let him go!" but I knew better. She wouldn't have listened to me regardless of what I said. This boy was her first love. And guaranteed, he would be her first heartbreak.
He drank and smoked pot. They had broken up a few times. One of those times, he got involved with a girl who did heroin and that was about where the end began. They were not together at the time but it was obvious she still had that candle "lit" in her heart. Out of love, she wanted to support him which I wholeheartedly respect. However, I also know that a woman in love with an addict is not the best person to support them.
So I went home and prayed for her because it was all I could do.
If you're dating an addict, please know that I say all these things because I truly love you and want you to be happy. It's not about your choices, it takes a compassionate heart to support someone on this journey. If anything, it makes me love you all the more! Which is why I so desperately don't want you to ever sit where I am.
What I want for you is a man who will respect you, who treats you as if you are precious, who puts your needs first, who adores you, who supports you, who challenges you to be better. The kind of man that future children, should there be any, would look up to and say, "I always knew I could count on my dad. He was always there for me. He never missed a baseball game or school play and boy- did he ever love my mom. That's the kind of marriage I want".
It's what you deserve.
The Grey Diaries | Thursday, February 4, 2015-
For the young girl I met during family visits to my husband in rehab~
“I hate glitter,” you said, “It always gets stuck under my nails”.
You told me you were there to see your friend. When you told me his story my heart broke for you. You said he was only your friend but you drove for hours to see him and went to two different restaurants just to find his favourite sandwich.
You said he keeps getting mixed up with the wrong girls. Heroin addicts. You said his Mom searched far and wide for you because you were the only girl he was asking for. My mind was frantically racing, burning to give you warning, to tell you to RUN back out the door and take your sandwich with you... but in my heart God whispered, "Proceed with caution".
Dear sweet girl, you said you were a teacher. You have dedicated your life to helping precious, little people grow and thrive. I know you want to try but the truth is, you can't help him. Not from this position.
I can see that you’re in love with him but it's also important you respect yourself. Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do is to walk away and allow his addiction to be his problem. Your support for him is important but I promise you, you can’t fix him.
I remember your friend from the session we had as a group. He talked a lot. He was as charismatic as he was angry. I would bet his looks won you over years before the drugs took his life. I would also bet, that the man you sat beside is not the same boy you once loved.
Dear unfortunate girl, I know the pain of heartbreak. It will hurt to let him go but it will hurt less than a lifetime of being in love with an addict.
He will hurt you.
He won’t take care of you the way you deserve to be taken care of.
He won’t support you the way you deserve to be supported.
He just can't be that person, right now. (<- the RIGHT NOW part is important, it doesn't mean EVER)
And if you love him as much as I suspect you do, being his support person plays dangerous games with your heart- leaving it vulnerable, always holding out for hope.
I understand you're struggling with insecurity, you referenced your weight three times during our short conversation. You said it was because your mother told you that you’re fat. Well, what your mother said was mean. You’re not fat, you’re beautiful. You’re also important, friendly and kind-hearted. You made me feel happy to have met you.
I wish you confidence. I wish you strength. I pray that you will look in the mirror today and see yourself through God’s eyes. I pray you have a cautionary dream and take heed to the warning.
Be careful as you support him. Remember, if he has not promised his life to you, no vows, no public declaration of commitment, love yourself enough to not willingly bleed more than you will glitter.