My marriage started out as most do -- full of hope and promises of a joy-filled life. Unfortunately, it did not head down that happy path. Like many marriages that end in divorce, there were many factors that contributed to its demise.
Shortly after the wedding bells rang, our relationship started changing. My ex has quite the temper, and I didn't handle it very well. When he got angry, I got quiet. I buried my emotions within me.
What I know today is that when you stuff your emotions deep inside, you will compensate for that somehow. Humans are meant to feel. When you don't allow yourself to feel naturally, the emotion will come out sideways -- most commonly in the form of anger. But it manifests itself in other ways as well.
Excessive eating, depression, shopping sprees, health issues or addiction are fairly common for those stifling their emotions. For me, I drank. Over time, my drinking progressed into heavy drinking and then at some point, I crossed the line into alcoholism.
I want to make clear that I do not blame my ex or my marriage for my becoming an alcoholic. It was my choice and my choice alone how I decided to deal with my life issues. I chose to drink rather than dealing with them.
We both had our own way of dealing with the chasm that was growing in our marriage; it was not a happy home life. However, it was important to us to show others that we had a happy marriage. We wore a mask of having all the external trapping of a happy family. We had the mommy van, big house, a child, nice vacations and did all the things that happy couples do.
Then came the day when I hit my emotional bottom and I made the decision to stop drinking. My ex was thrilled for the first few weeks.
Having alcohol in our marriage was like a three-legged stool. There was me, my ex and the alcohol and our relationship had grown around it. My ex became more controlling of various aspects of our life over time because frankly, I couldn't deal with it and really didn't care. As long as I had alcohol, I was able to drown out the pain.
When the alcohol was removed, our stool toppled over. As my recovery progressed, our marital issues become front and center in our lives. Without alcohol in my life, I had to deal with those issues and it was painful. It was painful because I was not used to feeling or standing up for myself and my beliefs. It was painful because I was ashamed of the shambles of my life.
We went to counseling, and overtime it became apparent that the chasm between my ex and I couldn't be closed. It was in our best interest to end our 13-year marriage.
I can honestly tell you that recovering from divorce and an addiction concurrently is not easy -- both are a struggle on their own. Rediscovering one's self is difficult; having to take an honest look at your life as it lays broken around you is not joyous. But it's not insurmountable. Day by day, I did what I needed to do. It was the most painful experiences I have ever gone through, but it is also one of the most amazing experiences I have gone through.
Through rebuilding my life, I discovered my talents and strengths. I've learned the difference between embracing life and enduring life. In short, I learned who Debbi was and I learned to love that woman.
Through sharing my painful journey, I've been able to help women pul themselves up through the wreckage of their lives and into joyous new beginnings. It is certainly not the life I had imagined for myself on my wedding day. But it is a life I love today.