Falling to the bottom of someone else’s priorities. Coming last in line, after all the things that provide the instant gratification, the hit, the high.
When addiction consumes someone you care about, when it’s raging out of control — it doesn’t matter how supportive you are, or faithful, or encouraging, or forgiving — deep down, there’s this suffocating sense that no matter what the options, if given the choice they will choose their addiction over you. Every time.
Something about your powerlessness to change their reality is enough to suck the air out of your lungs. It can crush your sense of value and shatter your identity even when you know who you are and you’re confident that you’re valuable. You can’t stop it from battering you over and over again, like a tank into the walls protecting your heart.
In the early years, I wondered if his addiction was my fault. Why couldn’t he choose me instead? When it came down to it, why did other naked women always win?
Hundreds of hours of counseling, reading, and wrestling with God on my knees later — I finally accepted that it had nothing to do with me. None of it meant I wasn’t enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Willing enough. Vulnerable enough. Anything else enough. Addiction isn’t about the spouse, it’s about the addict — but that truth is a cactus pill.
I often had to remind myself that the cultivated incapacity to stay faithful started long before I entered the picture, and it was rooted in things that happened long before I was in his life. It was the result of a lifetime of choosing what felt easy and fun, instead of what was right.
I was enough.
Just not for him.
Not next to his addiction.
Which still left me feeling bereft. And bitter.
For more years, I wrestled with releasing those emotions.
If I’m enough, then why can’t you choose me?
For myriad reasons, it didn’t turn out that way. Ultimately, he chose himself… his pleasure… his addiction. The women who could never love him back, won out over his family and his marriage. He left. My children and I started life over from scratch.
The last two years have given me a ringside seat, observing God’s ability to bring beauty from ashes and rebuild the foundation those years of emotional abandonment and abuse eroded away. I’ve seen how the journey toward redemption brings healing and growth and faith. How learning to live with one face is an evolutionary experience.
Sometimes, I daydream what it would feel like to know I was chosen. To know someone chooses to love me and my children, only just less than they love God. That, out of all the families in the world, they choose us to fill their heart.
Sometimes I think about that, when I lie awake in the wee hours, long before my babies stumble in for their pre-sunrise snuggles.
And then, one recent wakeful morning around 4 am, something dawned on me in a whole new way.
I AM ALREADY CHOSEN.
That’s what Jesus means when he calls me His bride. When He says He loves me enough to die to keep me safe. When He offered Himself in my place — He is the lover, the husband, my hero in a hostage crisis pleading “don’t hurt her, take ME instead!”
Jesus chooses me.
He wants me.
- I’ve been tossed aside by the human who vowed to love and protect and cherish…
- I’ve felt abandoned by choices of the one person in the world I should have been able to rely on…
- my dreams have been broken by the man who promised to hold me forever…
- I’ve swallowed my anguish as silent tears drip over the sleeping heads of my innocent children…
Jesus still chooses me.
Enough to leave his Home for me.
Enough to live on Earth for me.
Enough to die alone for me.
I am not abandoned.
I am not forsaken.
I am chosen.
YOU are chosen.
Because He is enough.
And that is enough.
(And now I’m crying, but that’s okay.)
Reprinted with permission from Sarah’s blog. You can purchase Sarah’s book here: ONE FACE: Shed the Mask, Own Your Values, and Lead Wisely.