Shame. To be ashamed.
How many people’s lives have been ruined because of shame? Because the fear of being shamed or of having to name your shame or the curse of bringing shame to yourself, your family, your… keeps you silent and trapped. That’s addiction. At least that has been our experience with addiction.
How could a highly intelligent, affable, tender-hearted, inquisitive, happy go lucky Irishman fall down the hole of addiction so profoundly that at 47 years old, he literally stared death in the face before turning his life around?
How could a feisty, articulate, challenging, fierce advocate for those she loves wife watch this happen and not find (not even consider) the resources available outside the four walls of their home to get help?
Dr Marry’s addiction to alcohol came upon us so gradually that I suppose we were a bit like a frog in a pot of water–by the time the frog realizes it is being boiled alive, it’s too late to do anything about it. For us, the pot was almost at full boil before anything changed, and even then, it didn’t change because of us. Dr Marry’s body made one last plea to save his life and our marriage, and that was what it took for us to jump out of, maybe get pushed out of, the boiling water.
And that’s what shame seems to do. It seems to make it feel better to boil alive than admit there’s a problem or ask for help.
If any part of this story resonates with you, don’t let shame be the reason you don’t get help. Don’t let your fear of judgement keep you from seeking resources or reaching out for assistance.
Will people judge you? Very probably.
Will you feel shame–either as the addict or the spouse/parent/child/friend? Yes.
To that I simply say, “So what?”
Until you overcome your fear of shame and judgement, you will be trapped in the darkest of places, and the light at the end of the tunnel will be so far away that it will be all but absent.
I implore you to not stay there. At least not for the reasons of shame and judgement.
At the end of the day, who cares what other people think of you? Really, who cares? What matters far more is what you think of yourself. What your spouse thinks of you. What your children think of you.
Dr Marry and I are not likely candidates for this journey, at least not on paper. But guess what? We are absolutely as likely to have taken this path as any single other couple on the planet because we are human beings, and regardless our blessings, our gifts, our privileges, we suffered the same fear of shame as anyone else. And Dr Marry was truly gripped in a vice of addiction that we could not unscrew alone.
So, for us, the point of this public airing of our private affairs was to attempt to shed light on something deemed so shameful that it is often whispered about, reported in social circles and bandied over by the water cooler. Addiction. Shame. Judgement.
Dr Marry is an alcoholic. I am married to an alcoholic. We both felt insurmountable shame well before February 1, 2017. We were both judged–sometimes harshly, sometimes fairly. We both judged ourselves and each other.
But guess what? Dr Marry is an alcoholic enjoying sobriety, and that is who I am so proud to be married to. And I don’t give a damn about the shame and the judgement anymore. Because life it too short to live in misery, sadness and despair to avoid admitting your shame and incurring the judgement of others.
Rise up. Admit your faults and failures. Overcome your shame. And live. LIVE. Dr Marry and I are proof that there is an abundant life on the other side of shame. We believe in you. You can do it.