A note from Kelly King: In Kaye Hurta’s continued series on addiction, today’s article focuses on family members affected by addiction. If you are being affected by someone else’s addiction, may I encourage you to seek professional counseling? While you may not feel that you can share your pain with others, seek a professional that will help you take the next steps of healing. Your steps of healing may be the first step of healing for your family member who is caught in addiction.
In a previous article, I introduced you to Jim, a recovered and recovering alcoholic. Please meet his sweet wife, Kathy. Jim and Kathy were both social drinkers. For Kathy it never developed into a problem, but for Jim the outcome was quite different. Jim became an alcoholic.
As Jim’s drinking progressed into an addiction, the problems in their marriage progressed as well. These problems included isolation, lack of communication, and feeling absent from each other. Kathy noticed that Jim had become controlling and angry. To her it seemed as if he was drowning, and she didn’t know how to help him. Her marriage was broken, and she wanted to fix it all. She felt like it was her responsibility to rescue him.
Overwhelmed with her own feelings of shame and embarrassment, Kathy did not feel safe telling their story to anyone else. Part of that was shame and the other part was wanting to protect her husband’s reputation. Unable to bear the weight of it any longer, Kathy began to see a Christian counselor. For the first year, she will tell you she mostly cried during their sessions. There was so much loss to grieve, but also for the first time she felt heard and felt hope.
When Jim saw Kathy reach out for help in counseling, it put a spotlight on their brokenness, and it was the tipping point for him to reach out for help as well. Kathy learned a great deal in over two years with her counselor. Here are the top six lessons she learned:
- She learned she had become co-dependent in how she was relating to her husband.
- She learned how to change her own behavior.
- She learned to how stop battling an addiction that wasn’t hers.
- She learned to set healthy boundaries.
- She learned how to maintain a healthy perspective on life and marriage.
- She learned healthy coping skills.
If you are loving someone with an addiction, it is too heavy for you to carry alone. Please talk to someone. Kathy would tell you that she wishes she had told someone sooner. Her advice to you today would be this: do not keep it a secret; shine a light on the darkness you are living in.
If you are struggling with an addiction to alcohol today, could I ask you to be kind to yourself? Could I ask you to take off the robe of shame you have been wearing and reach out for help? You are a human being, loved by God who is simply drinking a substance that is addictive to human beings. You are not broken beyond repair. You are not alone. Surveys indicate that 80% of Americans drink alcohol, and alcohol is highly addictive. If it has a grip on you, tell someone trusted today. If your addiction is not alcohol but to another destructive substance, behavior, or relationship—the same applies. Please get help; tell someone trusted.
If you are the trusted person to hear this sweet one’s story, I beg you to respond with empathy, grace, and love. Please listen well—without judgment. Please be ready to walk with her for a time and have helpful next steps handy. Please hold her story in confidence as it is hers to tell. Please pray with her and for her as if her life depends on it because I believe it does.
May I pray for you now? Our Father in heaven, if the person reading these words is caught in the trap of addiction, would you please break every chain? Put someone in their mind to call, direct them to a website, and open the door that will lead to freedom. Give them the courage to make the call or take the step. Remind them today that You love them deeply. Set them free. In Your powerful name I ask it, Amen.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.