Many of you already know that I am a Mormon. It is not something I hide, because my faith is an integral part of who I am. As a blogger I know there is a fine line that we try to adhere to. I don’t wish my blog to become a boring tell-all, rather I like to view it as a community, where by sharing some of our struggles not only do we become stronger, but the lives of others can be blessed and changed. I know mine has been. Recently with my thyroid cancer scare and surgery, I felt broken. I opened up and shared my feelings and explained how the love of others and of a very real Savior helped to heal my brokenness. I’m not perfect, but I don’t have to be. You can check out my post here.
Today I am excited to introduce you to my new BFF, Mandi Gubler. She was voted BHG’s DIY blogger of the year. Her hundreds of thousands of social media followers follow her steady stream of chic DIY home tips. She is a Mormon like me and she felt that in order to be truly authentic, she wanted to share the story of her husband’s decade-long battle with a drug addiction; of her own co-dependency addiction tendencies; and of their shared story of hope, peace, and healing through faith in the ability to change through Jesus Christ’s Atonement.
Plus she just happens to live in Jen’s Guy’s home town, and let me tell you the next time I am there I am totally looking her up! We can hit the rodeo together, because she seems like she would be a good rodeo buddy willing to wear a little rhinestone bling!
I am sharing Mandi’s story here with all of you, because it is powerful. I hope it touches your heart like it did mine.
My husband Courtney and I met in 2001. About 3 months into our relationship Courtney came to me and told me that he was an addict. His parents told him that he needed to come clean with me or they would. I am, at this point in my life completely naive to EVERYTHING like this. I to this day have never smoked or done any type of drug. I didn’t even know what alcohol smelled like. So Court comes to me and says that he is addicted to Loratab. And right then and there I decided I was going to save him. I was going to love him so much that he wouldn’t be able to use any more. I was going to be the reason why he changed. If you have ever dealt with an addict you are familiar with these feelings.
It took me years to learn that I didn’t cause his addiction, I couldn’t control it, and I couldn’t stop it. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Six months after finding this out we were engaged. On December 27, 2002 I found out that I was pregnant with our oldest daughter Ivie. I was overwhelmed to say the least. Courtney was ecstatic. He stopped injecting Oxy Contin and started taking Methadone. We were married on Feb 8, 2003. All of the money that we got from our wedding Courtney used to buy pills. Fairly soon after the wedding he began injecting Oxy Contin again.
I remember one night, he came into our room terrified that he had taken to much. He pulled a syringe out from his pocket that contained salt water. He told me that if his heart stopped I needed to inject him with the salt water to start his heart again. TOTALLY NOT TRUE. Do not take my drug addict husbands advice if you are ever in that situation. I was only 20 years old when all of this was going on. Court was 24.
Our lives were in complete chaos. Here I am young, pregnant, and completely confused, lonely, lost, and guilty that I was not helping him. I was wrapped in my own addiction and didn’t even know it.
On May 7, 2003 I was particularly lost. I had a doctors appointment that day and Court couldn’t come in with me because he was too sick. That night I made him pray with me. It had been so long since I had talked to my Father in Heaven. Would he even listen? I had created so much chaos in my life, He had to hate me. But I still prayed. I made Courtney kneel down with me and prayed with all my heart that He could cure Court’s addiction. I told him how lost and lonely I was, how I couldn’t bring a baby into this crazy life. I plead with him to help Courtney get off of pills. I know that God can work miracles according to our faith and I KNEW that he could heal Court. He did, just not in a way that I could comprehend. Isn’t it funny how that seems to work out?
The very next day Courtney was arrested. He was working at a call center, the owners of the call center were involved in some major illegal activity and the DEA came and raided it. Courtney had a syringe and spoon on him.
Courtney’s uncle was working for Washington County District Attorney Office at the time. We immediately called him to see what was going to happen from here. He told us that if we left him in jail that he would qualify for drug court and upon completion he would have his record wiped clean.
When I told Court the plan he lost it. He told me that he never should have married someone that wasn’t going to help him. He told me that he would never leave me in jail. He terrified me with the worry of something happening to him while he was in there. He told me he missed me and was ready to come home and be a good husband. He told me he would never use again. He told me that he would never talk to me again. He told me he would never call. He told me he was so sorry and he loved me. As you can see Addicts are manipulative, he was telling me everything that I wanted to hear and everything I didn’t want to hear in order to get me to bail him out. I probably would have done it a million times over in my moments of weakness if I had $10,000. That is one of the only times in my life that I am glad I was broke.
Even when you are going through a hard time in your life just know that its PERFECT. It’s perfect, because it is in a series of events that will take you where you eventually need to go. It’s perfect, because You have a loving Heavenly Father that loves you enough to let you learn and grow. We are here to become the best Children Of God that we can be through trial and error and mistakes and heartbreak.It’s how we learn to trust Him, who knows all.
Court went to Horizon House, AA and NA meetings for the next several years. When it was complete his charges were expunged from his record. After this we lived in this hell of uncertainty for a year and a half. I threw myself into selling Mary Kay. My addiction went from my husband to Mary Kay. During this time my poor husband didn’t know how to deal with my complete personality change. I went from being his loving and devoted rock; to never being home, never wanting to be around him and pushing him out of my new life. He began to use again. Neither one wanting to contribute anything to our marriage because we didn’t know if it would survive. There was a trust breech by both parties and we didn’t know how to restore it.
Then another miracle happened. I became pregnant with Dylan. This was it, we had to choose. Make it work or don’t. Like Yoda says “Do, or do not, there is no try” We chose to make it work. We were both ready for a new life and started going to church for the first time in 6 years. We were working with our bishop (an LDS ecclesiastical leader) and making preparations so that we could become ready to go to the Temple. He encouraged us to go the the LDS 12 Step meetings and we did for a while. They were great but Courtney wasn’t ready to be sober. His heart wasn’t pierced. We became lax in our hope for recovery.
In May of 2009 we put an offer on a house and moved out of our little apartment. It’s so amazing to me looking back how easy it is to turn away from God when you feel like you are doing alright.
Over the next year Courtney continued to struggle with his addiction. I had reached the point in mine where I was so exhausted trying to save, control, punish, threaten, cry to, scream at, ignore, yell at, poke, prod, catch him in the act, rationalize, and enable him that I was completely shut down. He was using Lortab and Percocet in huge quantities. I hated being home. Anything he did set me off, and anything that I did set him off. It was volatile.
On July 15, 2010 my beautiful Grandmother passed away. I was in Salt Lake for practically the whole month prior to her death. It was my escape from this life that was swallowing me whole. She was in a medically induced coma for a week, when she came out of it she looked me with love and understanding in her eyes and told me “Mandi, trust the Lord.” She cold not have spoken truer words. I was not trusting Him. I wasn’t even talking to Him.
Courtney came up for her funeral. There were hundreds and hundreds of people that came to her viewing. Her and my Grandpa have blessed so many peoples lives just by the way they live theirs. Their spirits radiate love and acceptance and hope. The love that my Grandparents had shown Courtney when very few had was realized at this moment. They were not judgmental towards him the way that he had been to others. He started to realize there were more important things in life than image and insecurities. His heart of stone was beginning to crack.
A few weeks later he heard Ivie pray. She asked Heavenly Father to make it so that our family wouldn’t be sick anymore. This beautiful daughter of God that he has shared with us had suffered so much. She knew that there was chaos in our home. She also knew that Heavenly Father could heal us. What a simple yet profound prayer. Another crack.
Because of these and a few other circumstances Courtney and I decided to go to an LDS 12 Step meeting again. The Spirit was so strong. We knew that this was where we belonged. We knew that by learning of the Saviors Atonement we could be healed, just like Ivie prayed for.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ has the power to take away ALL things that we are unable or unwilling to bear. I am left with a memory of those moments but I don’t feel pain when I think of them anymore. I am mostly just grateful.
Its impossible for me to explain the change in my husband. Unless you know him personally you just can’t understand the night and day difference. His spirit is no longer dimmed, it shines.
People ask me “Why is it different this time? How do you know that he will stay sober?” The answer is, that I don’t know that he will. I do know, that on his own he can’t; but with Jesus Christ he can do anything. Courtney is no longer the guy I married, he is kind and humble, he is happy and grateful, he is funny and attentive, he is spiritual. He understands his worth as a child of God and that my friends, makes all the difference in the world.
“I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.”2 Nephi 4: 18-20
Are we perfect? Heck no. Do we still have moments where our old habits try and resurface? All the time. But the difference today is that we know in our hearts that Christ can redeem us from all of our weaknesses and sin that hold us back and keep us sick. I have learned that the Atonement is not something that we apply at the end of our lives, in hopes that we will be redeemed. It is meant to be applied minute by minute so that at the end of our lives we know that we did the very best that we could. Even on days when its just getting out of bed. Christ will indefinitely make up the rest for us, he already has. We just need to learn how to ask him.
I hope that by sharing our story you will find hope, hope for the addicts in your life, hope for yourself, hope for a stranger.
When in situations of stress, we wonder if there is any more in us to give. We can be comforted to know that God, who knows our capacity perfectly, placed us here to succeed. No one was foreordained to fail or be wicked. Let us remember that we were measured before and were found equal to our tasks; therefore, let us continue with a more determined discipleship. When we feel overwhelmed, let us recall the assurance that God will not over-program us; He will not press upon us more than we can bear.”
–Neal A. Maxwell