There was a time, before we were married, when my husband was an experimentalist. He wasn't experimenting with science. He was experimenting with alcohol. My husband and I knew each other back then. We were friends and attended the same school. I always thought he was cute but questioned why someone with his potential would "walk the line," potentially throwing his life away to drinking (and who knows what else) instead of working toward success.
Every weekend, my husband would spend his time with his "buddies" getting wasted. He doesn't remember much about that time. In fact, he says there were many instances when he would wake up and have no idea how he got where he was. He doesn't even remember who he drank with half of the time. All he knows is that he drank, and he enjoyed the feeling of forgetting everything going on in his life while he was drunk.
During that time, I was engaged in my studies. I was trying to do everything right and live a life that would make me and my family proud. I never would have thought that I would end up marrying the "drinking boy."
After a time of drinking with buddies and hiding drinks from his family, my husband had a moment when he knew things needed to change. He is one of the lucky ones who was able to quit and get himself away from his addiction before it completely overtook his life.
It has been more than 8 years since my husband has taken a sip of alcohol, but his decisions from so many years ago play a huge part in our lives today. Here are just a few reasons why I am grateful my husband went through that trying time and why his experience has greatly affected our family.
The temptation is gone
My husband has been in many situations, whether at work or school, where peers or co-workers have asked him to go and enjoy a few drinks with them. My husband is a very social guy and loves spending time with others, but he also knows his limits. Since my husband went through that dark time in his life, he understands that just one drink could send him spiraling downward. He sees what alcohol can do to a person, and he doesn't have any desire to go there again. The temptation is gone. He can say "no" to a night out because he sees what a danger it is.
He can teach our children
The world is a terrifying and scary place. There are many temptations and trials our children will face that we never even had to worry about when we were young. I had strong friends and was a bit of a "goody-good" growing up which was a huge blessing in my life. Unfortunately, this also made me pretty naive when it comes to drugs and alcohol. My husband, on the other hand, is able to pick up on warning signs. He can sense when something is wrong. He can see the red flags that show someone is sneaking around to hide drinks or a hangover because he used to do those things too.
My husband will also be able to sit down with my children and tell them why they shouldn't drink (or even take a sip of alcohol) because he has been where that leads. He has already paid the consequences. I can tell my children the facts, but he can share personal experiences.
Never give up on people
I have learned to never give up on people, no matter what their addictions may be. When I knew my husband as a drinker, I never would have envisioned the life he now lives. I could not be more proud of who he has become and the type of person he is. I feel lucky each and every day that I have him in my life. Never, ever give up on people. Offer the support they need as they try to overcome challenges. You never know their hearts. You never know what their backgrounds are or what is going on in their minds. It is definitely not our place to judge.
My husband looks back on his days as an alcoholic with some regrets. However, moving past that time in his life and learning to overcome an addiction has taught him valuable life lessons and has helped him become the man he is today. For that, I will always be grateful.
Courtnie Erickson is a Utah State University graduate and a technology guru.