It's been about a month since Neil and I broke anonymity about his addiction and our path to finding recovery. Two things have overwhelmed me: first, the amount of love and support we've received. We've had so many people reach out and tell us how much they appreciated our story of addiction recovery, it resonated with them, they sent it to a friend, and that they love us (and Neil) even more than before. For that we are both deeply grateful. We have truly felt the love.
The other thing I've been overwhelmed by is the amount of women who've written me some variation of an email or private message telling me that she's struggling with the same situation, married to an addict, feeling totally alone, many haven't told a soul and are carrying the burden silently and alone, and many have asked for specifics on what to do next.
I really am trying to reach back out to each person individually, but the number of emails and DMs is in the hundreds … around 700 or so. I only share that so that if I haven't responded, you know it's not because I'm trying to ignore you but I'm slowly doing my best to get back to everyone! And also to share that clearly, you and I are not alone.
So tonight I'm putting together some helpful tips about finding the right meeting and a few resources that really gave me hope, and continue to strengthen me, during this journey.
Which meeting should I go to?
You can find your nearest ARP meeting here, but please don't feel like you HAVE to go to the meeting you live closest to. If you feel more comfortable attending a meeting 20 or 30 minutes away, please by all means do that! I understand what it's like to be afraid to bump into someone from your local congregation at a 12-step meeting, or even have someone see you enter the building for ARP and ask why you're there. I worried about this at first but quickly found that if we saw anyone we knew, it was like “oh hey, you too? Me too.” If you see someone at the meeting, it's because they're struggling just like you or your family member.
General vs. separate:
There are many ARP meetings available in most areas – general addiction, drug addiction, pornography for men only, support for women only, etc. Neil and I both tried meetings that were separate, and general addiction meetings together, and we both agree that the most helpful format we've found is attending general ARP together. There's something magically healing about hearing from people on the OTHER side of addiction to whom you aren't emotionally attached. I couldn't help but feel love and compassion for other addicts opening up about their struggles in a general ARP meeting, and likewise, Neil started to hear other wives with broken hearts share their raw feelings.
Something about that format helps both the addict and the spouse develop an even deeper compassion and understanding for what the other is facing. It's also incredibly inspiring to see other couples growing and going from a total wreck to strong and secure and made whole through the atonement of Jesus Christ. You can't help but feel hope being surrounded by those kinds of miracles more and more as you keep attending.
If you're still freaked out by what attending an ARP meeting might be like, I have something that might really help.
The Next Step Podcast:
This podcast is ran by Brad and Jay, two guys who we know from a local ARP meeting. I've listened to just about every episode of this podcast and it has given me SO MUCH HOPE hearing the in-depth stories of other addicts and how they've found true recovery from attending ARP, working the steps, and really thoroughly using the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Each episode Brad and Jay shoot the breeze about surfing, news, then they play a recording of Jay's share for the week, and then they dive into an interview part called “ask the addict” which is my favorite part. But if you've never been to a meeting, in Jay's weekly share you can hear kind of what you could expect from an ARP meeting.
Neil and I have both been on their podcast – I was a few months ago and Neil was just 2 weeks ago. Here are our episodes, and a few others you might really like to start out with:
Corrine's interview on The Next Step Podcast episode 3.10
Neil's interview on The Next Step Podcast episode 4.8
Brad speaks to Leading LDS about “good, better, best” of ARP meetings episode 4.3
WSA National Surf Champion Jeff Jessee on The Next Step Podcast episode 2.6 – one of Neil's favorites!
Mike's interview on The Next Step Pocast episode 1.5 – this episode helped me finally do my 4th step inventory, and have the guts to do step 5!
Nate's interview on The Next Step Podcast episode 2.3 – one of the most powerful stories and a miracle Neil and I have witnessed
Lexy's interview on The Next Step Podcast episode 1.6 – Lexy was one of the biggest inspirations to me of hope and loving support as a spouse, and I have learned so much from her. And EVERYONE loves Lexy 🙂
ARP Family and Spouse Support Guide
To anyone who's struggling as the spouse of an addict, and especially to anyone who is brand new to all of this and was just blindsided or, as I like to say, hit by a bus, of addiction or relapse, this is a REALLY good place to start. The family and spouse support guide helps you to feel of God's love and have a bit of immediate peace and comfort.
Although I believe very strongly in spouses and family members – when they're ready – working the original 12 steps of ARP to completely and fully utilize the atonement, I think the Family and Spouse Support Guide is an amazing place to begin, especially when those feelings of being hurt and betrayed are really raw.
Also, like I said before, what has worked best for us is attending general addiction ARP meetings together. Sadly, in my experience, I've mostly felt like meetings that are only for wives of addicts can tend to be pretty negative. I can only speak from my own experience, and I do know of some women here locally who really love the wives support meeting. But I felt like when I attended wives support meetings, I often left feeling worse than I came, because it's just really hard to not have those negative feelings and experiences that are being shared snowball into a storm of bad feelings and commiserating. I have found that general addiction ARP meetings are filled with hope and solution, and even the times when someone comes in totally broken and angry (like I was at first), it's offset by the hope and strength of the majority of others who have found solution and the miracle of the atonement of Jesus Christ in the 12-steps of recovery.
Codependent No More by Melody Beattie – I mentioned this book in our original post about addiction recovery but it's one of the MOST helpful things I've read on codependency and about addiction in general. If you've lived in the endless worry and obsession of “how in the world can I help this person stop and what should I be doing?” or even “I feel like I'm going crazy trying to control this” then you NEED to read this book – it will change your life!
The Book of Mormon – I know I've talked about how much I love this book before, but nothing has brought me peace like reading this book every single day. It sometimes was my only solace in the crazy and I firmly believe that God led us to solutions in recovery because we were reading this book daily. It's my superpower in life, the thing that allows me to have the clearest connection with my Heavenly Father by reading it each day and learning from the stories of the believers of this book, many of whom overcame serious sins and addictions. One of my favorite stories is of Alma the Younger who was one of the vilest of sinners, who turned his life around and then spent the rest of his life teaching others how to do the same (step 12) and serving God. Receive a free copy here.
The ARP manual: you can download a free copy here or access it on the gospel library app, but I strongly strongly suggest using a paper copy and writing down the answers (not just thinking about them, I tried that and it didn't work ha!). It can be purchased here for $1. Working the steps in this manual, and attending a weekly ARP meeting, changed Neil's life and mine forever.
I hope these resources and tips on finding the right meeting help some of you find the hope and healing you're looking for.
I KNOW solution exists, miracles have not ceased just because Jesus doesn't walk among us today. He is alive and I know He loves us and that His atonement can make anything complete, if we will come unto Him.
I left you with a thought last time that many people wrote and said resonated with them, that I believe Heavenly Father wouldn't give this challenge to so many of His children without also providing a solution. I know that for myself because I've seen the miracle occur in our home, the complete change of heart, not in just Neil's but in mine as well.
Since I was a teenager, this has been and still is one of my favorite quotations ever: “Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us.” – Ezra Taft Benson.
I know our Heavenly Father loves EACH of us, individually, is aware of our struggles, and wants us to find peace and ultimately return to live with Him someday. He's rooting for you, and I'm rooting for you.
If you're new here, read part 1 of our real life love story of finding hope and recovery from addiction here.