Recovering From Someone Else’s Addiction: Living for You and Finding Beauty Again

October 9, 2020

Have you ever held secrets that weren’t yours? Have you ever hid the evidence of someone else’s wrongdoings? Have you ever covered for someone else’s destruction and chaos? I have. For years, I worked diligently to hide the proof of someone else’s addictions. I worked effortlessly to cover his lies, his failures, and his annihilation. 

In taking a vow, “in sickness and health”, I never imagined the sickness that would find the man I married. The kind of sickness that no one understands, no one truly accepts, and one that everyone works fiercely to avoid and extinguish. Like a fire that suddenly sweeps through a house, quick and mighty, addiction is the same. If it’s not yours, you don’t see it coming. You can’t prepare or plan for it. It simply finds people, stealing the pieces that made them enjoyable, leaving nothing left that’s recognizable. 

Eventually you’re left with nothing but a shell and broken promises. Surrounded by destruction, chaos, and legal matters more complicated than you ever could have imagined. Addiction is a complicated illness. One that silently creeps in abducting the person you know and love, and replacing them with something vile. Something mirroring evil. The harder you stare, the harder it is for you to recognize the person that once filled that same body. 

Eventually you change too, even though you’re not the one with the awful habits and hobbies. 

They lie, and you eventually lie for them too.

They deny, and eventually you deny for them too.

They make excuses, you eventually make excuses for them too. 

They abuse relationships, you simply disappear from yours.

They beg, and steal and cheat, you drop to your knees praying fiercely that things change.

They are in constant withdrawal from the drugs, you’re in constant withdrawal from the life that found you.

There is power in recovery, even in the recovery of surviving someone else’s addiction. 

There is power in taking your life back, even when it wasn’t your choices that contaminated it.

There is power in stopping the cycle, walking away, and demanding a life worth living. 

You are more than the sum of someone else’s mistakes, even if they share the same last name. You are more than the addiction, especially when it was never yours to begin with. You are worthy of a life vacant of addiction, you simply have to demand it and work diligently to create it. 

As hard as you worked to save someone else and to heal someone else, work as diligently to save and heal yourself. You’re worth the hard work too. You’re worth the happiness. You’re worthy of a life that’s filled with purpose. Purpose larger than living for someone else. 

The beauty finds you when you start living for yourself. Start today friends, you won’t regret it. 

xox, Chels

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4 comments so far.

4 responses to “Recovering From Someone Else’s Addiction: Living for You and Finding Beauty Again”

  1. Mickey McNay says:

    WOW! This me now and I needed this soooo much! What a beautiful piece! I will keep trying!

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      There is so much hope, friend! If you would have asked me seven years ago where I’d be or end up, I couldn’t have possibly predicted this beautiful place that I now find myself in. It took courage, bravery, and tackling a lot of my fears, but I did it and you can too. Take care of yourself and surround yourself with people that love you and encourage you in beautiful ways. xox, Chels

  2. Aimee says:

    Wow…. I feel so blessed to have found your blog.

    My stepdad is an addict and has been for many, many years. My mother who just passed from a 2 year battle with cancer January 22nd, and lived this very life for too long. I find comfort that she’s not only out of pain and sickness but this very sad and isolating world of the my stepfathers. She was such a strong woman and I never understood how she could find the courage to leave my father (rightfully so) but stay in this hell with my stepfather….my only conclusion is that she had 2 young children (me and my sister) and left my dad to protect us? We were already away from home by the time by stepdad’s addiction got to the point it is now. I have too been in very those positions with my stepdad myself, but I know not to the extent my very sweet selfless mother did.

    Now that she has passed that burden has been somehow thrust upon me, but I’ve told him point blank I will not be mom and will not enable the chaos. I can’t for the sake of my own well being. Just a short 3 years ago I myself left an abusive, emotionally and physically, marriage that took years and years of courage to finally get to my breaking point of packing a suitcase, grabbing my doggy and leaving and never going back….

    I guess I just feel conflicted, my stepfather was at one time and good man that helped raise us, but I just can’t be a part of this world he’s created. Why do I feel guilty for that?

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Oh, Aimee! I understand all of these conflicted feelings. It took years for me to forgive and move past the destruction caused by my ex-husbands addictions. Now, I’m free from the anger and frustration. I’ve been able to move beyond it all knowing that it’s just as if he’d been possessed by a monster in a movie, addiction has possessed his soul and his choices. It’s transformed him in immeasurable ways. All of this makes things so tricky emotionally. I hate that we share both the heartbreak of losing a mother and also the painful destruction of someone else’s addictions. What I can tell you, is that I’ve found the beauty in all of it. I carry the pain and the heartbreak proudly because I can also carry the love, which is the most powerful of them all.

      You are not alone, friend. xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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