I Thought I Had Lost Him

We were married in November. By mid- February of the following year, he started the rehab program at Operation Dawn. When people said the first year of marriage would be tough, I never thought this was what they meant. It would have been easy to give up on him and leave because we hadn’t been married long. In my mind, this was not the beginning of a marriage I signed up for. I started doubting and questioning God, asking questions like “how did I not see the signs and red flags sooner?”. I still remember the day we met with 2 of the directors at Operation Dawn Canada in the local church. I cried the entire time because I still couldn’t wrap my head around what happened and what was going to happen the following year.

Let’s take a few steps back. Prior to getting married, we had decided to get a joint bank account. By mid-December, I was noticing some money that had gone missing. This triggered a series of events that eventually led to me eventually finding out everything he had been hiding, including his past and current addiction to drugs. I remember giving him an ultimatum. The choices were simple: going to rehab at Operation Dawn or I would leave him. Since you’re reading this story now, you know that we decided on him attending the year long rehab program at Operation Dawn.

When he first started the program, we were not allowed to see each other for the first 3 months. This was so that he could get used to being in OD, but also for both of us to cope with what would be the next year of our lives. I cried myself to sleep most nights and tried to distract myself with Netflix or Youtube. My emotions were all over the place; being angry and bitter at him, but missing him at the same time. After the first 3 months passed, we were allowed to visit him at the centre. I was very distant when we would visit because I always went in with the mentality that I needed to be tough on him so that he would see how much he hurt me. It was difficult to gauge whether he was truly changing because I only saw a glimpse of what he would do. In my mind, it would have been easy for him to fake the “changes” he was making during the family gatherings OD would have.

A few months later in July-August, we began talking about him potentially going to Taiwan as part of his rehab for 3 months. He ended up going to Taiwan from August to November. I wasn’t sure what to expect from his experience, but I do believe this is where God started changing my husband’s heart and humbling him in a way he had never experienced before. The discipline of the program in Taiwan had him waking up at the break of dawn to read the Bible and dwell in God’s word. He would tell me later on that this time was one of the toughest but also most fruitful times during his year in OD.

Back in Canada, we would have monthly support group meetings with one or two of the directors at Operation Dawn along with both my parents and my husband’s mother. We would talk about how he was doing in the program as well as what we could do to better support him. There were many tears on my part during these meetings. During this time, I found it difficult to talk to many of my own friends because I knew they wouldn’t fully understand. I had convinced myself that my friends had other priorities and started isolating myself. Since the emotions were so raw and the hurt went so deep, it felt easier to not talk about it. By the way, alienating friends is not something I recommend because I ended up feeling more alone and telling myself lies I made up in my head. During this time, I started journaling so that I could express my emotions in a way that was comfortable for me.

When he came back from Taiwan in November, I started acting very cold towards him, knowing that he would be coming out of the program soon in February. In my mind, it was my last chance to give him that extra push to truly change for the long run. Part of me had gotten used to being by myself and doing things my way. I started enjoying the alone time I had. From December to the end of February, my husband and I only saw and talked to each other once. I was convinced this was the best choice, but in reality, this was my avoidance reaction to conflict kicking in. Due to the depth of hurt that my husband caused me, I always told myself not to have high expectations when he came out of rehab. This was my doubt in God manifesting.

In the last few months of my husband’s rehab, I spoke with a couple of the directors that I kept in contact with regularly and they had expressed a few concerns in regards to my husband. This triggered me to be tougher on him as we started talking more about reality with him coming out of Operation Dawn. Operation Dawn directors, along with my personal counsellor, helped me in writing down my boundaries for my husband. We then went through this list with my husband and then the people who would be involved so that boundaries were kept in order to start rebuilding the trust. When the last month came, my doubts began to rise since I knew he would be home soon and I would have to face all the pain every day. Leading up to the day he came out of Operation Dawn, I kept my expectations low so that I would not be disappointed again.

The first couple of months he came out of the program, we were stuck in quarantine together which forced us to figure things out. It was a rough first couple of months because both of us had gotten used to our own way of doing things. Looking back at the time we had in March and April, I’m truly grateful for the time to enjoy with each other. It also gave him a chance to show me how God has changed and is continuing to change him. It’s now been over 7 months since my husband has finished his 1-year program at Operation Dawn. During this time, I’ve seen God change and humble him in a way I never thought was possible 2 years ago. I’ve seen my husband step up and show me his love through his actions by doing housework like cooking and cleaning around our home, which was something he never did at all before he went to Operation Dawn.

I’m not sure why you’re reading this, but know that there is hope because our God has a much bigger plan than all you see right now. It sounded like empty words and cliche phrases, but as much as you may think someone will never change, God has a far greater purpose. I had many people tell me this when my husband was in rehab. In that moment, I couldn’t see further than the pain I was going through at the time. My husband has had several months to show how God has and is continuing to change his heart. As my husband will now say, it’s all about consistency in the long run.

One thing that’s been very encouraging to see is my close family telling me the change they see in my husband. It’s surreal to me that the change that God has done in my husband’s heart has been so evident. I’m so incredibly thankful for my family for walking through the toughest year of my life with me. I’m also thankful for the many directors and volunteers at Operation Dawn who have spent countless hours in prayer and encouragement. These same directors have spent time talking to me even through my tantrums, tears, anger and bitterness. For all this, I am so grateful for the heart of all those who serve or have served at Operation Dawn because their heart to serve Christ is so evident. While I know that this is only the beginning of our story, I am confident that God will continue to work in and through us. He uses our pain to show us how much greater His grace is. I’ve realized that God doesn’t want our perfection, he wants to transform our hearts.

“2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”