One of my husband’s songs—the one he wrote for me—came on my iPod today as I was out on my run. I just happened to be contemplating my new mantra ‘do the work’ and that’s when I realized how he is completely where he is today due to the work he did and is doing… and, I couldn’t be more proud.
“He managed to keep the game going and keep his chips flowing at the craps table for a little over an hour. But it only took that one last roll for Luke to bet it all on the point of six; and lose. And then it only took a couple seconds to talk himself into winning his money back as he glanced down towards the poker tables, Well that’s crap. Damnit! I was up almost $500 too. Well, still got a little more than fifty in cash stuffed in my pocket. I’ll make it all back playing some poker. I can’t lose; I will not survive another loss.”
This is an excerpt from It Doesn’t Have to be That Way. It’s also a night in the life of Rick, the gambling addict.
For many years, I watched the love of my life and best friend fall into a very deep, dark habit of destructive behaviors and a compulsive gambling addiction. During the early years I struggled along with him. I couldn’t understand at all (and nor could he). I was angry and lost and caught up in all that he was doing to ME. But what was really going on was he was doing it all to himself.
My husband was full of rage, frustration and confusion but he fought that ugliness with everything in him. He found that rage and anger to be a sign of weakness. He was charming, fun-loving, the life-of-the-party guy that made friends with everyone. Any chance of exposing that rage would expose the real Rick and that was never going to happen, not if he had anything to do with it. Hence the life of addiction and compulsive destruction; his way of pushing it all down, way down.
This lifestyle ultimately led to our divorce; well, I guess I should say that it was the one ‘so-in-our-face’ thing, that it was THE reason for our divorce. The divorce sealed the deal.
Rick was, and is, this seriously talented man. He’s a musician, performer, athlete, salesman, writer, competitor, teacher, encourager and so much more. He’s able to pick up or learn things so much quicker than anyone I’ve ever known. But when you’re living a life of destruction, believing you don’t deserve good or for things to ever work out, you can’t fulfill your talents. You can’t live up to your true means. YOU are you’re own worst enemy – in every sense of the word. You become the master enabler of self-sabotage.
Because of that belief, and that lie, that he told himself for so long that he didn’t deserve me or didn’t deserve a committed relationship or stability or you name it, he acted out destructively as a subconscious means to cut off relationships before the other party made the decision to cut it off.
But during our divorce, Rick recognized his ways of destruction and ultimately what it all led to. his addiction was causing more grief and abandonment than any one person could ever do to him. And so he chose to do the work.
He sought wise counsel and more importantly, attended counseling for years and ultimately faced the ugly destructive stuff; the stuff none of us ever wants to face or believe is really there. And he didn’t give up; even all those times when he really just wanted that quick fix.
The work has been significantly hard and sometimes painful, in fact down right gut wrenching and heartbreaking at times. I know because I was there with him. Those counseling sessions just plain sucked on more occasions than either of us care to admit. But because Rick was able to work through all of that and face his ugly destructive means of living and come to terms with the root causes behind all of it, he was and is able to do the work to move towards the very things (his passions) he had hoped for and dreamed of for his life.
First and foremost, his marriage and family. We continued the hard work of overcoming addiction and divorce and rebuilt a life on reconciliation and growth. Our marriage and friendship today is a fortress that I’m (we’re) quite confident nothing could ever take down.
With our relationship as a foundation, Rick ultimately was able to pursue his music again, something he had lost all hope in as if he didn’t deserve to live out his gifts and talents. He was back behind the drum kit, he was singing again and he even dabbled in writing music.
Rick put an acoustic trio together where he sang along with the other two who played guitar. He booked the gigs, he promoted them, he led the others to grow and improve. Eventually this rubbed off on himself and he decided to learn guitar.
While Rick picks up things very quickly, there’s no doubt that he accomplished the feat of teaching himself guitar because he had and is still willing to do the work – which again is partly made up of growing more and more confident in our marriage, knowing that I was not going anywhere and that I will always be his greatest fan.
He did the work.
He branched off and became a solo act. He did the work and he went out and promoted himself and booked gigs on his own, he maintained a schedule, he had my support, I was by his side the entire time.
Then he went on to do the work to write his music and record his CD and do HIS thing. Not something that someone told him he had to do or that he should believe in or he should love or he should just have to accept, this was HIS; every bit of if was his and he was able to do that because he did the work. And, he created something as beautiful as this, a song that will always speak volumes to me. “He can be miles away, but I’m with him.” And, no matter where that is, I am so very proud to have seen all that the work he has done in his life but more so to be on the reciprocating end of the rewards that have come from that very work.
We will probably always wonder what it is that we’re supposed to do when we grow up but thanks to all of that work, Rick (and I) knows more now today than ever who he is as an man, who he is as a husband, who he is as a father, a friend, a musician, you name it, and how to never allow self-sabotage or lies get in the way of who you are and what you are meant to do in life.