My husband’s story as told to me - his wife

I met my husband in the August of 1996. It was a wintery afternoon and I had stopped by my friend's place to drop off some books. My girlfriend had shared little about her siblings -in fact, I didn't know much about her brothers. As my car pulled into the driveway, I couldn't help but notice a young, dishevelled man sitting on the front porch

with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He seemed quite shy but managed to say "hello". I couldn't help but notice that he was quite thin and very pale in colour. As the afternoon continued, he seemed to thaw out a little and became very friendly.

Not wanting to sound snobbish, I didn't really associate with the so-called "rough crowd" but there was something that I liked about this fella. He was down to earth, very unassuming and quite polite.

Several months went by and our paths crossed again. It was Christmas Eve and Tony (not his real name) rang me to wish me a happy Christmas. But this time he decided to reveal a little about his life. He had spent a short while in prison earlier that year. He had struggled with drugs (heroin, pot and speed) for many years and had recently given up heroin. I could hear a genuine sincerity in his voice and maybe a cry for help. I could tell he was in desperate need of good, wholesome friends. He had joined the church that year and was receiving a great deal of encouragement from others. After becoming a Christian in 1996 (after prison) he decided it was time to lead a decent, clean, drug-free life. He was only twenty three years of age and longed for a normal life.

For me, life was different. I was 30 years of age with no history of a drug problem and virtually no understanding of drugs or the drug scene. In my eyes, Tony was the last person I would date or ever become involved with.

Strange though how your life changes and people change. Gradually things got better for Tony, but not without an enormous struggle. We decided to date but it was the most painful time of my life. I had fallen in love with a drug addict!!! Tony struggled with heroin for the next year or two. When he wasn't with me, he was roaming the streets looking for drugs or hiding in places where he was hitting up. I guess you could say, I became a bit of a co-dependant. My life revolved around his and I would accept his apologies after taking the heroin. It was the most painful time of my life. A Christian myself, I prayed earnestly everyday — hoping for a miracle. I cared for Tony deeply and wanted to see him well. In my opinion this is true love — wanting to see another person healed from their addictions. He also struggled with gambling — another way of getting money to buy drugs. I remember one time I didn't hear from him in weeks. Fearing he was laying dead somewhere, I prayed that the Lord would lead me to him. I got in my car and drove down the road. Lo and behold I found him struggling to walk with his drug friends down the road. I stopped the car and told him to get in. "No more", I shouted. "You are never going to take drugs again". I was adamant to save him. I had been attending self-help group meetings and educating myself about drugs and their affects. Research on drugs consumed my life to the point of nearly breakdown. One day I found myself very depressed and very anxious. I had hit rock bottom. I was trying to save this person but suffering myself. Friends and family were concerned for my welfare and told me to "drop this deadbeat", but I knew that I loved him and cared for him deeply. But you cannot save a drug addict. He/she must want to change. Having a relationship with a drug addict or ex-drug addict is one of the hardest things to do. Often our conversations never made sense. You cannot trust them. He was forever lying to me. Trust is often broken.

Something in my wonderful (God given nature) told me to hang in there and persevere with this person. It is amazing how you develop this incredible strength in the midst of a storm. For me this strength was from God — it had to be, for I am a timid, shy, frail person. During the next few months, I was able to help Tony sort out his debts and gradually they were all paid off. I helped him put together a resume, which followed with a very good job.

As time went on, things began to improve. I witnessed a change in Tony. He was trying very hard. Our church prayed for him weekly and encouraged him to continue on. We eventually became engaged and happened — Tony was diagnosed with Hepatitis B. Wow!! Suddenly, our dreams began to corrode. I knew I loved him but feared losing him. I knew it was serious. Tony got infectious Hep B and fell seriously ill. What a perfect test for Love!! I nursed him the next few weeks, cleaning up his vomit, and trying to keep him cool from raging temperatures. He was yellow from head to toe — even his hair and eyeballs were yellow. Even at work, the men teased him. Ironically, he was working in a sewerage plant and they thought he had developed Hep A. For me, it was a terrible time. I knew that I may never be able to have a child with this man. My doctor gave me a Hep B shot. We never engaged in sexual activities so I knew I was not a serious risk, but I wanted to marry him. Amazingly, one month before we were to marry, Tony was cured. Our church had prayed and prayed. Even the doctor was stunned. He had not been put on a course of treatment at all. We were overjoyed.

We had a beautiful wedding day and a wonderful honeymoon. We rented a little flat and began our lives together. But it was not "happily ever after'. I believe an ex-drug addict has to deal with the ghosts of his/her past. He/she has to work through those issues that lead them to drugs; whether it be insecurities, losses, heartaches, grief — whatever. For Tony it was the separation of his parents and the loss of a friend in his childhood. When his school friend had died, Tony felt enormous guilt. Eventually he hung around the wrong crowd and was lead into a world of drugs and crime.

Since then, Tony has accomplished a million things and I am so proud of my husband (eight years later). Tony has been employed for nearly nine years and has moved up the ladder in every position. He has worked as a leading hand, supervisor and now a truck driver (after gaining his MR licence). Tony has worked in a local public school as a scripture teacher and is now involved in prison ministry working one on one with prisoners. He has also enrolled part-time in Bible College to do a Pastoral Care/Counselling course, as his long term goal is to become a Prison Chaplain and help others, particularly those with drug problems. I am so happy for him. He is bright, intelligent, and gifted — discovering that he has an art for painting (art). Tony is a normal, healthy, happy 32 year old man. He looks forward to getting up bright and early in the mornings and his only concern now — is what to have for breakfast. Nine years ago, his concern was for his next hit — and where to get the money for the heroin. Sadly, we haven't been able to have any children, but even through the loss of losing babies (through miscarriage) Tony has learnt to handle grief and pain — without addictions!!! Truly...amazing.

We have two beautiful cats and breed rainbow lorikeets so our hands are often very full. We enjoy our faith very much and the friends we have made through our church. Life is so much better for Tony and for me. Not having to worry about his addictions anymore is a huge sense of relief. Today Tony is my helper. I look to him for support because he has become "so" strong.

People say that I have helped Tony. Yes, that's true but God helped me to help Tony. Love plays a big part. The bible says that "Love is patient, Love is Kind. Love is longsuffering — Love perseveres, it always trusts and it never keeps a record of wrongs."

I thank God for this wonderful man in my life. Miracles do happen and people can change. This is my husband's story but through my eyes.

Thank you