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026 - Christian and Kelle Smith

“Jail was the best 18 months of my life.”

Christian and Kelle Smith join us to talk about addiction recovery in a marriage and the impact that it has on both individuals, the relationship, and the family. They are a powerful example of a partnership in recovery, having boundaries with each other and with the world around you. After 39 years of marriage, and a painful addiction story, they say that while they would not wish there past on their worst enemy, they wouldn’t trade it back. Enjoy.

The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates. They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.

Transcript (no grammar): jail was the best 18 months of my life christian and kelly smith join us to talk about addiction recovery in a marriage and the impact that it has on both individuals the relationship and the family they are a powerful example of a partnership in recovery having boundaries with each other and with the world around you after 39 years of marriage and a painful addiction story they say that while they would not wish their past on their worst enemy they wouldn't trade it back enjoy welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond the self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt neider i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley mangum i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i ask the dumb questions i fill in the gaps the illuminate recovery podcast is brought to you by illuminate billing advocates make billing in collection simple with leader in substance abuse and mental health billing services verification and analysis of benefits pre-authorizations utilization management accurate claim submission and management denial and appeal management and industry-leading reporting improve your practice's cash flow and your ability to help your clients with eliminate billing advocates we are so excited to have christian smith here with us today christian has um definitely he has he has a pretty amazing story of recovery on his own besides he's been in the industry substance abuse and mental health industry for a long time and has a tremendous amount of wisdom christian thanks for being with us today you're welcome it's good to be here um i i'm kind of excited to hear your story because although i hear bits and pieces of stories along the way i have not heard i don't think i've heard your complete story so i'm pretty excited myself and and i'm sure i'll have lots of questions you know we're also here with kurt knighter and uh um and i know kurt he's got good questions too so we're gonna have some fun um let me just let me just ask you first to kind of how did you you know where did you come from how did you get here and what was in between a little bit okay all right i am 60 years old in my 64th year first year born here in utah one raised salt lake went to conway high school i am the fourth child of eight and i think as i share that that i'm not the expert but there's something i'm the middle kid and i'm also in recovery from addictions and i think there must be something to that with regard to family dynamics but anyway uh raised here in utah to a a very active lds family uh mom and dad always held positions of leadership we went to church all all the time we the family dynamic was pretty our communication was style was passive aggressive and i i say that because we we speak spoke then and speak now fluent sarcasm we're excellent that's sarcasm and the experts in the the therapeutic community would go that's not healthy you know and it probably isn't but it work it seems to have worked for most of us every once in a while one of the siblings will get a little sore or sideways because they didn't pick up on the sarcasm and there's a one therapist once told me uh when i spoke some sarcasm in a group setting she cut me off and she said sarcasm the tearing of flesh which i guess its original meaning comes from the tearing of flesh and she said you know christian the problem with sarcasm is there's always a victim and i've thought about that and so i'm a little more conscious about i i don't want to speak sarcasm to really inflict pain on somebody but that was our style and we still speak it now and we didn't raise our voice growing up the only time it was acceptable in our house to raise your voice was if some one of us was playing sport and then if we're playing sport you know we raise our voice or get out of hand and dad's going that's my boy you know but other than that in our regular daily conversation we didn't raise our voice uh it was it was contrary to the spirit and see that's that was sarcasm if you didn't get it that was so growing up didn't have any trauma socioeconomically we were in the middle class dad owned an independent insurance agency that's still in existence today and it didn't we weren't spoiled i didn't have a lot but didn't go without anything of any significance and i had family vacations typically in laguna beach and just life was pretty good no trauma uh there was a couple of events that i recall growing up that that messed with me was discipline wise dad was kind of well he was a little bit of a spanker and when i say that i probably got spanked less than you know six times in my life but i remember those experiences because there was a lot of unintended shame attached to it for example i'd act out or whatever on a sunday and mom would after church mom would say you go to your room until your dad gets home well that could be ours he was the bishop for i think it was that's my brother and i were talking about about 11 years and back in that day that was an all-day deal and so i remember being in the room going just my mind ruminating on on how bad i was and this is going to be painful and the message i received during those disciplinary experiences uh was i'm not lovable you don't love me right now and that mess with me so that bugged me a little bit emotionally that hurt um and then i repeated kindergarten which i'm laughing because my birthday is in august and i've found out just a year or so ago it's commonplace to to hold somebody back or start them later so but growing up in my in my teenage years i'm thinking who flunks kindergarten i mean what was i doing wrong you know not didn't take good naps or what who the heck what's going on so they did mess with me a little bit the bright side or the upside of repeating kindergarten was i was a year older in school and i had a tiny bit advantage playing sport because just a year also the bright side was i was the first guy to get my driver's license in high school and you have a lot of friends when you have your driver's license as a freshman real real early so i never experimented i had to take that back in all my life as a teenager i sampled alcohol one time it was a tiny little sample taste of clear alcohol which was probably vodka and i smoked the butt end of a cigarette around age 12 13. and i learned later it was probably truly the butt end of the cigarette but other than that i didn't have any sense of use the the thing that really messed with me a little bit in my life it was a different form of what i now know to be heroin which was girlfriends skirts i was always i always had a girlfriend and i was always pushing the envelope as a teenager you know if she'll let me kiss her well then maybe i can go to second base and then it was just always i always had that attachment so i finished high school and played sport was pretty good athlete uh if any of you that know me or listen to this and some of them would have just laughed that's ridiculous i'm still a very good athlete and the right thing for an lds guy to do after high school go on a mission for the lds church i was called to go to south africa the johannesburg south african mission and i loved it it was probably funner than a mission should be the problem is i didn't learn to adult very good in that mission because it was during apartheid and and we had people that did all of our stuff i didn't i made a bed once in two years one time and that we had helped to do that we had servants to do that didn't wash uh clothes didn't clean the room didn't fix any meals we and so i missed out on some adulting i come home from that mission and i've been riding a gal and i'm still i don't know if you can say horny on this podcast or not yeah say it if you if you have to end it or whatever so i still have that disease of horniness and so the remedy for a return missionary who who has that challenge is get married so seven days after i'm home for my mission i'm engaged to be married whoa seven days like that's kind of that's almost a record it is pretty good isn't it that's good and so we're married and that's when life started to throw me a curve that i hadn't anticipated let me back up for those who might be listening that are latter-day saint folks i received a patriarchal blessing just practicing my mission and i'm i'm pretty cocky at that age i'm thinking this blessing's going to say you know i'm probably going to be an apostle maybe even the prophets sort of thing and instead in the third paragraph it says christian the blessings of the word of wisdom will be made manifest in your life and in helping others to receive the blessings promise they're in i remember getting that and going i have no idea what this is about but they got the wrong guy i don't know what they're talking about and you know fast forward five years and okay maybe maybe the god of my understanding knows his kids and knows their personalities and strengths and weaknesses so kelly and i mary i come from this family where communications style is very passive other than the sport kelly came from a family where their communication style was very assertive and early on i i would define it as yelling you know that somebody would do something silly they would come right out and be assertive and say what the heck are you doing that was just silly didn't matter where you were or who was around they would come at you very assertive so i do silly stuff all the time have done most of my life will probably continue to do kelly communicates harshly like what was that what were you doing and i remember quickly in the relationship going whoa i can't breathe like i don't know how to breathe if we're playing sport i don't care how big you are let's go but here i got this tiny little wife who's coming at me emotionally and i didn't know how to cope with it three years after we're married i'm in a motorcycle accident and many of you will know the rest of the story a broken leg road rash and they sent me home from st mark's hospital with a large bottle of pain pills with perkadan on the bottle label it said take one or two as needed for pain and if i took one or two that physical pain went away but if i took three or four i learned quickly that the emotional pain didn't hurt anymore you could come at me all you wanted and i'm okay i heal from that motorcycle accident stop taking pain pills uh played a lot of sport including lds basketball you can't play mormon basketball without finding yourself in the emergency room and kelly worked in the emergency room still does at that time it was cottonwood emergency hospital they loved kelly and they treated me like family so they would you know say okay it's broken ankle or whatever it was what do you take for pain i remember mis deliberately mispronouncing the name of the of the pain pill that i wanted because heaven forbid they they kind of see me as a drug seeking guy which i was but you know what do you think i think it's called laura something lortap yes there is no a in loritab it's lortab what dose do you think i think it was 75 there is no 75 but there is a 7.5 and there is a 5.0 which is less and heaven forbid they give me that i don't want that won't get me where i need to go so so over the next few years the window between me using pain pills for injury shortened to where i was using pain pills 24 7. during that same first five years it was uncovered i had a bad back i had my l5 s1 had spondylolisthesis spondylosis degenerative disc disease stuff like that that it hurt i don't know exactly how much hurt because i was over medicated but i know there was some pain there but i could go into any emergency room and give them a song and dance like i fell off a horse which i did i didn't even own a horse but i gave that and they would take an x-ray and i knew when they see the x-ray they would go oh brother you got a bad back you need to see a specialist what do you take for pain and we repeat this for years it's getting worse and worse kelly's realizing my wife's realizing it but but she's not she's not confronting it it was funny that in our regular communication you know she'll come at me pretty harshly but during that time period she didn't know how to cope with it so it was just let's pretend it's not there for a long long time um during that time i'm working in the hospitals teaching thoracic surgeons and cardiovascular surgeons how to implant mechanical heart valves and cardiovascular grafts properly so that there's no blood loss and that job entire and tell me to travel a lot and my first experience drinking was in kansas city where i was at a training conference and and after that first night we met for dinner as a group and they they said you i saw you from salt lake are you mormon and i remember saying yeah i am but quickly said i'm not a good one which was a lie one of my other weaknesses that i had and continue to struggle with is i want everybody to like me i can't like me if you don't like me and so i didn't want them to judge me so i said yeah but i'm not a good one so after dinner they went over to the piano bar and and they started drinking this so i'm going to try this and my first experience drinking alcohol was drinking barleys and james wine coolers and i my well i woke up early in the morning in the hallway of the hotel i was staying at i had drank until i blacked out that was my first experience so from then on i've got opiates that that i'm addicted to and now i've found alcohol opiates that's a great combination because i don't have to feel any of the the pains or the feelings of less than and not enough and it's progressively getting worse i've i did a few treatment stance with some programs locally mainly because my wife wanted me to and my fam my kids and my mom and dad and siblings said this would be a good idea um so i went through the motions only to go back and continue the behavior i was doing in 2004 i had back surgery that fixed the back problem they fused cage and screwed l5 s1 and and i remember that night in the hospital i went into that surgery with two fears one was what i've had buddies that had similar surgeries and it got worse and the other fear was what if it gets better and that night i remember laying the hospital going it was sore but it was a different pain it wasn't the pain that radiated down the leg it was the pain of a bunch of surgeons just beating me up for a few hours and as fate would have it that pain went away and 2004 was the last time i'd used pain pills but i hadn't dealt with this emotional pain at all and so i just switched from that addiction and the experts call that cross addiction i went from opiates and alcohol to gambling and then started gambling with alcohol bad combination i'm a pretty good gambler sober but you get me a little tipsy and i do stupid stuff and what happened then is we start going through lots and lots of money and kelly which we would try to curtail my spending by taking me off of the checking and the savings account i would have to go to kelly if i needed some money and that would didn't work out because we would just pick fights i would pick a fight the best offense for me as a or the best defense for me is a good offense so i'd say kelly you know i need 50 bucks or whatever she'd say what's it for and i'd get in her face and you know tell her it was for gas or whatever some nonsensical thing and uh and then rather than have the fight she would just relinquish and give me the money and then we would go our separate ways but so it's getting bad and then in 2000 early in 2006 i i steal some money from my son my second son we have four children and it was a significant amount of money from his account and uh i lose that all gambling i dropped the wendover i gambled all the way last for a day and a half i come back on a sunday afternoon i pull up into the garage and my wife's standing outside their entry door to the house from the garage and i don't know if they teach this when you're growing up as a woman in school but she had her hands on her hips and it was the sign of oh crap and that's this there's going to be trouble and there should have been but i'm i'm just in denial so i get out of the car and uh i walked past her and i said hey i don't want to fight with you i'm just going to take a few things and go stay in my mom and dad's house they were out of the country on a mission at the time and i remember she said why don't you just take it all i'm done i don't want anything more to do with you and i i bring that up because that was i believe in the recovery process there are catalytic events that take place that help folks like me look to change and my brother scott and i have talked a lot about the price of change is the cost of pain or maybe it's the cost of pain is the price of change but what that catalog event that day did was cause me pain and i obviously wouldn't change right then but it was the beginning it was a catalytic event so i go to live in mom and dad's basement apartment alone they're out of the country and it was in the worst neighborhood in the planet for a guy like me the neighbor to the east with no fences in north salt lake was a guy named robert d hills the neighbor to the west was a guy named david bednar and so there i am now i'm caught up in a tennis shame and uh and don't know how to cope with it and i'm introduced while i'm not living in that apartment i'm introduced to a new drug um the one that would just bring me to my knees it was crack cocaine and i remember that first experience with the crack cocaine it felt like that was the solution to all my problems everything went away when that was on crack looking back you know for a time everything did go away no car no family no connection everything went away to fund that because i'm not working now and i've got no possessions um kelly and i aren't divorced were just separated i have no access to funds i would i began stealing from mom and dad's house they had nice stuff that i would take and go to the pawn shop and uh after a few months of that my siblings got wind of what was happening they started seeing things missing and the lungs are made short there is that they they kicked me out and so in the spring of 2006 i'm i'm now homeless and first time i'd be homeless there would be one other time and i'm sitting down at pioneer park which is where i was going to get my dope i had nothing i had a little carry-on suitcase that had everything i owned in it and i'm sitting there going in i don't know what to do when i see two police cars roll up from north salt lake and i realized they were they're rather jurisdiction pioneer parks in salt lake city it's not in north salt lake city and sure enough they were looking for me and found me and i would spend the next 18 months in jail for theft and forgery family had said we love him we've tried everything nothing's worked and so let's see if if this will get his attention and i still remember the letter that the family wrote to the judge that essentially said we love our brother we just don't know how to help him and if you write that letter to a judge the judge is going to go i got this i will help you guys i got this and so i would spend 18 months in jail in the jail i wouldn't wish that anybody it was it's not a fun place but i had my second catalytic event while i'm in jail i'm in salt lake county jail waiting to be transferred to davis county where i have to do one full year in davis county so every day i'm in salt lake county i know it's one day longer for the whole overall sentence and while i'm i'm spiritually bankrupt i'm angry at me and well first off i'm angry at everybody family particularly god for sure and i'm angry at myself and so i'm bankrupt spiritually i got nothing and family's not engaging and i meet up with a guy in jail whose name is jeff carter and he was my age i'm 48 at the time and we would play chess and we'd start talking about god and religion a little bit i didn't like it but we started talking about it one day we're playing chess in the morning and a guy interrupts our chess game his name was jonathan he was from honduras and i remember when he interrupted us that morning he said hey what are you guys always what's his jesus and god that you guys are always talking about here's how spiritually bankrupt i was dude we're playing chess walk on jeff carter jeff carter says hey wait a minute before you walk on here's a book they gave him this book so i want you to read this book and if you have any other questions come and we'll answer your questions for my lds friends that might be listening to this that book was the book of mormon and i actually thought carter was a genius we'll never see that guy again i was wrong the very next morning same guy interrupts our chess game i'm upset about it and uh and jeff decided hey why don't you just come every morning and we'll just talk to you about it and i'm just in a bad place going dude you were messing up my chess game don't give a crap about this god and jesus thing you're messing my chest came up so every morning this jonathan would come and we would talk about the principles of christianity and and um we're doing this and every day i would i would end the day by going hey i probably won't see you guys again they're going to roll me up tonight and transferring davis county only to repeat this like what is a groundhog day for six months but we're getting towards the end of that six months not knowing i'm getting ready not knowing it's coming close to being to being transferred we're running out of things to to teach this jonathan and we weren't going to teach him we didn't know and somehow we came up with this idea hey let's teach them about the atonement and i remember thinking i got this i know everything there is to know about the atonement i will get this one right so i went to my cell that night and prepared a dissertation on the atonement for the next morning which would be catholic event number two the next morning we sit down and i start talking to jonathan about you know the need for a savior talk to him about the birth of the savior and the miracles he was involved in and talked to him about culminating that with the events in a garden that was called gethsemane followed by him being betrayed by a friend where a court was held and he was condemned to die and ended it by talking about his death on the cross i thought it was good stuff and i mean we're into an hour and a half i really thought it was good stuff finish it up and jonathan leans over the table puts his hands on mine and looks me in the eyes and in that honduran acts and said why why did he do those things and my first thought was what are you an idiot i just spent an hour plus telling you why and so as i'm thinking about how i can answer this i had this second catalytic event it it really was as if my grandfather was in the room and said to me in my mind christian this question he asks you why you don't know the answer you think you do but you don't know the answer and until you know the answer your life is going to be filled with challenges so i listened a minute to what was told to me in my heart and in my mind and i told jonathan jonathan he did those things because he loves me he loves us me a liar a cheat a thief and an addict and if i would look to just change my ways all of this could go away that was the last time i ever saw jonathan that night in the middle of the night i was called and transferred rolled out transferred to davis county looking back i don't think that was coincidental so i finished the jail and family had started to re-engage kelly came to visit and brought the kids all three of the four kids over that period would come visit regularly one never visited chad whose money i had taken it hurt him bad and he didn't come to visit unfortunately the rest of this recording was lost so christian and kelly rejoined us in the studio you've heard this story a thousand times so you know where we are in the story and uh jill was the best 18 months of my that might be life perfect segway right there at all i'll just pick up and i'd love to know how much sarcasm there's in that sentence there isn't much it actually is very TRUE um because i didn't have to worry about where he was where he was going to show up or what he wanted and in jail you have to have the time you had to have you know you could call and i could see on the caller id if i wanted if it was a good day and i wanted to answer and talk to him i could choose to do that but was a bad day not going to answer depended on what bill came in the mail or what call i got about something that was lurking out there that i didn't know about and so really 18 that 18 months is the best time out that we had it even our kids will say it was just quiet well they knew and we didn't have to worry about um you know i had a son that would call every morning and say did the police knock on the door last night and say they found dad dead somewhere and i'm like no not tonight or not last night but maybe tomorrow night and we at times really hope that would happen because we could have closure to our crazy life because it could be over it could just be over and we wouldn't have to keep going anymore so i read a book recently that talked about how in the holocaust and in russia it was the same way so people would at any time the secret police would show up and take them away and when that happened they were relieved the same way like it could be the worst thing that was going to happen to him but it's different than the beer yeah right so it's it's amazing that you bring that up well it also lends to the chaos i mean it had to have just been absolute chaos towards the end i mean you know any good addict can can hide and lie and but after a while it's like you can't anymore right it all starts caving in else starts catching up with you um yeah interesting so yeah it really was do you feel like you're the go-to do you get random calls from people you don't know who are kind of a connection to somebody who are starting to go through the same thing or finding out the same thing in their life and they i i do get calls just to um talking to someone the other day it's very different to have a spouse that's addicted as opposed to a child that is an addict and just the dynamics between a spouse it's a loneliness that you can never describe to anyone of trying to navigate life and kids and everything he also kind of put up some walls of how much do you want to share with your family because if i chose to let chris back into my life and my family knew they knew a lot but they probably didn't know everything that was going to be very hard for them to forgive and let him back in and there came a point in our relationship where i had to tell my family that you're going to have to support me whatever my decision is and if you can't support my decision then we'll have to figure another way because i i have to make my own decision i can't make a decision based on what you want me to do or what someone else is telling me to do because i have to live with whatever that decision is that's a pretty healthy place to come from because not everybody gets to that place but i imagine the journey to getting there to being able to say look i gotta go with what's most important to me that's a pretty developed healthy place right you didn't just come to that no i just knew that i i had to live with it and if i made the decision based on what my parents wanted or what my siblings wanted i still had to live with that too and good or bad you know when it comes down to you look back and you go he's still going to be my kids dad we still will have we'll have to interact yeah i mean so do i take what baggage i know is there and try and put our life back together or do i just walk away and um and look for new but there's always going to be baggage there's always going to be something that comes with whatever that relationship turns into or being by myself you know either way yeah well and i imagine you know you went from a period of you know you get you know you're newly married and you're doing great to i hate this man and i want him to go away right you're waiting for him to die and it'll be easier because the chaos will go away how do you get to a place a relationship place where you guys can make it work now um in fact we were just talking about this recently i i think in a lot of people's mind they think that if you go to treatment but everything is fixed it just changes the dynamics and it's not fixed and so yes we've had to figure out what our life is now what our relationship is now where we fit with each other um there are days when it was a lot easier when he was laying on the couch doing nothing or didn't ever come home um because i could do what i wanted and i was in charge and i didn't have to coordinate with anybody so all of a sudden this person's back in our life and i'm like ah dang we're gonna have to chris by the way or do you want to do this or do that because in the past i would ask but if he chose not it was okay it was actually better if he chose not to come because then we didn't have to tempt him too um so intend so it was it was easier but again figuring out those dynamics again and then learning to trust learning to know that if i say can you be here because one of the kids is bringing a grandbaby to be tended that i can trust that he'll actually be there because never could before so can i really trust that he's going to show up or am i going to get the call mom dad's not here can how fast can you get here so there's a lot of things that come back into that of um really going back to trying to rely on him and can he do what he says he's going to do and and will everything be okay and that's still there it sounds like that's still a reality for you absolutely a reality oh come on so it is actually a reality 12 years ago on the scale of one to five we'll use the five scale five being that uh you trusted me is 12 years ago impeccably no one being you had no trust whatsoever so where were you 12 years ago um well we were just coming out of that so it was not very good probably not not not at one time one or two maybe a little bit a very little bit now i do pretty much trust him but there's always just that little you know it i want to say it absolutely always goes away but it's just i mean we talked about this the other day because he goes you'll send the text it's 4 30 where are you this was on a sunday my sundays now start at 8 30 in the morning ysa and and i stay until it's all over and and we had family coming and we for dinner we knew we had the family coming and um so at 4 30 i get the text where are you i'm just going where the hell do you think i am you know exactly where i am and we've been talking about that since it wasn't it wasn't that i was it was just like you're later than normal all the kids are here did something come up he's he's not good to communicate those things of um something's come up i'm gonna be a little bit later which kind of spins me back to hmm i wonder where he is now and it typically is helping someone i mean honestly now our his life is very much centered around helping um but what you bring up though is real and and how much in that moment like let's just go to sunday how much in that moment is there a trigger there for you it wasn't and it wasn't really meant that it was just like you didn't say anything can you just say hey we're running a little bit late i'm going to be home later and that piece isn't really great our relationship but that's more normal marriage stuff and not less addiction stuff right yes but that that response that text at some level though was a trauma response from stuff 15 20 years ago yeah yeah it's hard i mean it takes a long time it takes a long time the bodies do not forget right it's like wonder right isn't it in the back of your mind there are times when something will be a little off and i hate to admit it but that's probably the first place i go getting back there is there something then i start looking then you start analyzing everything far closer than you need to because it really has been nothing but you know yesterday was this this thing you know but yeah i'm curious how involved i mean you know christian's been through tons of recoveries you know he's done he's still probably i know he's still working his program what's that look like for you to do your own recovery so um we've i mean of course done a lot of stuff together and as a family and had opportunity to talk and voice our concerns we still do a meeting couples meeting um 12-step meeting at least every other week sometimes more often than that and really for me it really is just remembering those first three steps that as i see my life getting out of control i just need to take a breath and go we can do this and then trust that it's gonna calm down but i have to remind myself all the time um because i'm a control person i'd like to have control so when things when i start feeling like i've lost that control then i just have to take a step back and think okay just calm down and go back to it's a little chaotic but we can pull it back together again yeah so the sooner i recognize that we're getting out of control um the better i off i am at calming down and i i still will pull back often and just i just need time to process just i just need to think and look and figure out what we're doing next i know that in recovery having a support network is um is really really important to just stay close to people do you do you have a support network like that where you can share uh not specifically just mostly in this meeting i'm fairly um close with the women that attend there i mean we've been doing it for a really really long time so we have a long history with them they know us very well inside and out good days and bad days um i'd like to say that we're always like the shining example of life was great every single week but there are weeks when i go you know this week we've had this and this and this and this and so it does you know even though we're leading the group we're very honest with uh-huh it's not always perfect and i do really i have a really great support system in my family although they were challenging i have a sister who has a son that is in recovery and so there are times when we can we always tease that if someone told us in heaven that we should have they should have told us we should have gotten in another line that we would have gotten different challenges have we missed she's like why did you drag me in your line and i'm like heck i didn't do it um because they've had some their son has definitely been very challenging there's a lot of irony in that that particular sister and one other sister how many siblings you got six okay there's six of us all together five others two of them were pretty vocal about their disdain for me and i'll tell you why they were so vocal is that as i'm crashing as the world's coming crashing down they were there and picking out the pieces and they did they were making calls to creditors they stopped all the mail and they would sort through all the mail and figure out what they so they kind of saw front line the total mess and that our lives were at that point just from uh not only a financial perspective but everything else they're like oh so yes they kind of had to come in and pick up a lot of pieces in the beginning and the irony to me was you know not too many years ago we get the call from that one of those sisters going hey we got a problem and to this day a magnet magnificent relationship with those sisters both of them i forgot both sisters one of the sisters wrote the i mean jail wrote this letter it was did i share this one it was the most hateful letter you could write you can't write a letter saying how pathetic a person is and it was pages long and i remember i get it in jail and i was in the workforce so i could have visitors face to face and my our oldest son came i said read this this is what you're at she's such a [ __ ] [Laughter] this validates all my feelings she's such a bad human being i'm in jail by the way and he reads it and i'm going to see see and he takes it right in front of me reads it does one of these things looks looks at the paper looks at me and then goes rips it up go what are you doing adam there's more evidence in his wisdom at the time he goes dad this this letter can do nothing good there's nothing good about this letter you're not going to keep this letter dad and then that sister has has called and and allowed us to help one of her children who was struggling um with an addiction and it's just crazy so your analogy of the line was you know we're in this line and you two better be in the same line with us well the question is if you had the choice to pick a different line would you today probably not and how come um there's just a lot of things in our life that have the changes have been good they've been hard but they've been good it's been a journey that i wouldn't give back i wouldn't wish it for anyone um but it's been good it's it's our children are very very close they're very protective of me and always were um but i don't think they would have the relationship they have with each other or with us had we not gone through those challenges and it started out as them protecting each other uh we've got this little secret in our family and so we have to protect each other they're not like that at all anymore um all of them will in a heartbeat if they run into someone anyone that says um you know it's just in common conversation talking to them about my husband's struggling or my son's struggling they'll just write their dad's number down and go you just call my dad and he'll help you and so there um but i think that all came from us having to just band together and be our own little um force against the world at times in our life so yeah it's an incredible journey and we're very very close and i think a lot of people i won't say all people but a lot of people that get to the other side will say the same thing you know that the journey was brutal i wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy but i wouldn't give back what i've learned from it either yeah that's powerful so christian what's up what's it i mean i know you guys have talked about this stuff a lot but i hear you sit there and want to kind of even correct her and i'm like no it's not like that does it triggering for you to hear it no not anymore it was at one time like i was going that's not exactly how i i saw it keep in mind i'm the guy that was medicated with mood and mind-altering substances so her her perspective is probably more accurate and today to your question i i i don't get i don't give i don't get triggered by that there are times when stuff will come up um not so much triggering stuff but it'll kind of i'll go to this place of guilt and and then if i stay there a little bit too long it'll want to move into this place of shame i'm all for guilt guilt to me is healthy emotion shame on the other hand is not there's just not what were you going to say um it's got to get you that way a little bit when you're here they were ready for you to die not as much anymore yeah anymore no not as much anymore it did in the beginning um because i knew adam our oldest was making that call you know when i'm out every day every day did the police come and announce this guy i know they didn't i don't take that personally offensive because i know they didn't really at their core want me dead they just didn't want to continue in the pain anymore just bracing for them and uh yeah the anticipation was just it was hard what's the unknown yeah it's just and we knew we he was in places um i think what i was going to say is as he's saying he was medicated we talk about that often of just the chaos i'm like you were medicated i was calm hard sober living every day of hell and so there are times when i'm like i don't know some days i want to jump on that train and go oh i don't care oh well it doesn't matter oh well and and i didn't get that that choice that's a sign of the spouse that rarely gets talked about it what gets talked about a lot is the culmination of all the events of leading into the recovery process not the years leading up to that where i was checked out with mood or i might have been in the room but i was under a mood and mind altering substance and so all of the responsibilities of adulting in a marriage fail on the on the spouse and kelly's case so i have learned through her recovery that the amends for me with regard to that part of the relationship is just a living immense i just i don't get the luxury of checking out anymore if that's a luxury i get to adult in this relationship which is manifest by grandkids you know we've been asked a lot to watch grandkids i mean i'm in let's go used to be a burden a little bit we talked about this i took it they're dumping the kids again and and i had a epiphany not too long ago wait a minute i'm in recovery i 12 years ago i wouldn't have been able to see them now not only are able to see them they want to see us and me and so i got to change my attitude besides that they're going to be teenagers one of these days and they're not going to i'm going to become dumb real fast they're going to be the smartest person in the room for 10 15 years and then i'll get smart again as they get older and by then i might not have any energy to do anything about it when you're when we're talking about adam calling adam just recently told his dad that he would drive around downtown salt lake down in the by the rocks and the homeless shelter and he saw him often leaning up against a wall-e but he was just checking in to so he would go on little fish just to make sure he was that he could pinpoint where he might be he just wanted to make sure i was alive a little bit the way that came out was interesting not too long ago we're just talking in families and we're going back down the memory road of how bad it was a little bit and it's okay i think i talked earlier in the formula for humor is crisis plus time so most of our the crisis is enough times elapsed that now we can laugh at it and so we're laughing about some of these horrific things and adam said something uh describing what i looked like at a given time and i've never heard that before and the only way he could have described known as if he'd been there to see me on that particular day and that's when it came out dude how did you know it where i was that day and the weather conditions it was miserably cold and wet and i was i didn't have anything to protect me and that's when he kind of smiled and said i would check out i'd drive around see i couldn't find you well why don't you stop no i wasn't going to say anything i wasn't going to save you i just wanted to know that you you were still there and you didn't know that no i didn't know that no wow and so so you you know you kind of left off your story where you're you've left jail you know you did what what you felt like you were supposed to do there and then what happened so quickly go back home uh kelly began visiting me in jail the phone that you first started the phone calls were kind of funny because i'm calling a lot and and she's not answering very much and i'm kind of going what the heck man what it's me you know why aren't you calling because we're buddies now aren't we tight sort of thing had no idea what she was processing on the other side and uh we've we've laughed at that over the years a little bit because it really was hang up call again hang up call again i'm like i am not i'm not answering the phone yeah it was called 50 times i'm not answering them it was it was pretty silly she didn't hear yeah that's where my mindset was she was in the other room she was somewhere else it's not like she's looking at the phone going i don't want to talk to you that never crossed my mind [Laughter] get out of jail 18 months in jail get out jail she'd been visiting so we reconnected a little bit and i was invited to go back home and she had a deal she had a list of four deal breakers on a napkin three of which were very appropriate actually they all were but i made fun of the fourth one was you can come home but you can't use drink or drive that's fair right you have to get a job i remember too which is fair you got to get your driver's license reinstated which is also fair because i was on probation driving without a ballot driver's license uh license and the fourth one is the one that i chuckle about um you gotta go to church and when that one came up and going oh thank you thank you jesus if i'd only gone to church all this never would have happened so that's sarcasm but uh so i go home things are good for the first little while and then i relapse real fast uh this expectation of adulting and so i i relapse real fast she holds her boundary during this time she's come up with uh healthy tools to keep her safe one of them was a boundary tool and she said you violated the deal you can't stay here and so for a time i was back homeless a little bit and the holidays are coming up she's not having anything to do with me nor the kids and it's cold and the only thing i had at that time was a insurance card that was through her employment and so for the first time i got a treatment a couple of times um never really completed anything but for the first time i've made the call the previous attempts were family made the call we think you got to go do this okay whatever but this time i'm going i can't do this and so i made the phone call got into treatment i asked for help to get in and didn't get much help and got into treatment and then early on in that treatment process every thursday night where i went to treatment they would hold a family evening where clients and their family members were invited to come and of course we'd invited her but we weren't getting any takers on that and i understand that and so on one particular time i'm i'm there with the clients and in the room that we were in clients and family members sat apart clients on one side of the room family members on the other side and so i'm just sitting in the back just kicking back with one of the other guys who we know doesn't have any family coming we're just kind of whatever you know is hanging out and i see you walk in late i see kelly walk in with our two daughters of course that got my attention and i remember looking across the way of the daughters and i'm kind of making googly eyes with the daughters and they're not they're not really having much but i'm kind of going what's going on they didn't know that's where we were going i just took them this night so they were not they didn't want to be there they didn't think you were that funny yeah they weren't impressed so during that those that those thursday nights there's process work done process work in this facility looked like family clients and their support family members would be called down to the middle and they would have knee to knee hand to hand eye to eye and they would be sitting down just like that holding hands looking each other's eyes a therapist would begin the dialogue by just asking a few questions so this is going on and normally you knew ahead of time that you were going to do that kind of work that process work of course i wasn't going to do anything because i had no idea they would be coming they finished the process work that night and there was still some time left over and i do remember vividly hearing the therapist say these words christian which got my attention i see your families here why don't we invite them to come down and i can see across the way and and i see our youngest daughter abby when that invitation comes out she slides down in her chair like i'm not going to do that kind of a little bit of an embarrassment looked to me the other daughter sarah it was as if she was on a uh on a cannon that was loaded and when the invitation was given she sprung out of that chair like a cannonball coming out of a cannon and she was down to the middle and uh there we we got in that position hand hand knee in the eye to eye and the therapist just began the whole thing by saying to sarah tell your dad how it felt when he lied to you stole from you and manipulated you and up to that point i felt like i'd inconvenienced her not hurt her until with tears streaming down her eyes and mine you know she expressed the pain uh and i want to do that and that was a wonderful opportunity for that relationship to begin to mend they weren't trying to say you should forgive your dad you'll do that on your own time when you have enough safety ammunition to feel safe enough to forgive him but what it did do was put her and i side by side through the recovery process as opposed to her being way out in front and looking over shoulder blade i can't believe you did what you did 20 years ago and so kelly would come and then we had that opportunity to do that what was your take on that it was good just and and i the opportunity just for us to unload a lot of the feelings we were feeling and he was in a place where they could help him process those um there's a lot of anger and um frustration and just plain questions like why why why do you why did you do what you did you know again as you've learned that that's all um addict behavior and it just comes along with the disease but just so many things of just why so we finished i did 83 days in residential and the last 45 days roughly they were there every thursday they being kelly and the daughters our daughters and then our oldest adam would come with his fiancee and we did good work the daughters sundays were visit days and afternoons were just kickback visit days and games we would play games sarah and abby would come every sunday and bring games and play with not just me but they felt the love and connection of other clients and in the recovery process so they particularly sarah both of them loved it but sarah fell in love with the recovery process and the connections so much so that she's um in school to to be a licensed clinical social worker she's finishing up her master's right now so that's really cool and it's come a long ways but i'm thinking about you sitting there with your daughter and and and she's touching you and she's angry i mean is it you hold the hand so that they don't slap you i don't know because we've seen we've been doing it in that style quite a bit over the years we've seen times when family members are not ready or willing to hold the hand they'll sit down in front but they're not holding the hands and uh sarah was just pretty compliant that if that's what you want me to do i'll do it and it was beautiful because the the support people spouses there's so much anger built up inside and and when they say that's a good example use sarah's example if you have to kelly sarah had this resentment and this anger with her dad and it was eating her up inside consuming her inside but she was holding it inside thinking this anger that she had inside would kill me it was like a poison that would kill me and it wasn't killing me it was killing her i didn't know about the anger i mean i knew she was angry but i didn't know about the gist of the inside of it and so the beautiful thing about this process was sarah got a chance to get all that out all of that resentment all that anger i had a chance to hear it and for the first time sober feel it and the net result was okay now let's go together again not saying hey trust your dad you'll trust him when you feel safe enough but we could go through the process together and one by one with all the kids with some siblings with you kelly our old second son chad wasn't wasn't there yet he wasn't going to expose himself to that kind of risk emotionally but but one by one we we went through that process and did it i finished treatment 83 days of residential i'm excited to go back home because she said okay come back home and how many days not very many four days after the i get home the honeymoon's over and i'm expected to adult i'm still not sure how to adult and i'm scared and so i ended up going and relapsing on some crack cocaine it was actually forty dollars worth she gave me some money to go reinstate a driver's license instead of doing that i ended up spending 40 hours on crack cocaine it's just supposed to be a couple hours and then i'd go back that turned into 10 days and i funded it by selling the watch i had which was with a few bucks the phone i had that which is worth a few bucks and that car i was driving at the time which wasn't mine it was sarah's sold that that funded cocaine bender for 10 days and when that party ended i uh i realized you know this wasn't working and i called and went back into treatment and then kelly came back uh i don't know how long it took you to come back you because i don't think you were really interested in coming back to treatment now to try again the car that he talks about like um i think he sold it like three or four times then i'd report it stolen and then they would call me and i would go get it back and so whoever had he supposedly sold it to was out whatever drug money he had but three or four times we would go pick the same car yeah same car yeah yeah go pick up this thing pretty manipulative and sick on my part he kept trying to and i'm like because i kind of knew that have any way to felt yeah i kind of the one the last time the guy said you know that you have a title no but i'll hand write you a title yeah it works that way that's legal that's the sort of thing so i get a treatment you at the end of that you and i had met privately with our therapist when i'm in treatment that last 30 days by the way that was that that last 10 days there was a last time i ever picked up and i remember that because it was where the light bulb went on hey this never worked for me and so i knew inside me that something had changed it's over um using is no longer an option because it the light bulb went on dude every time this is supposed to be 40 bucks in an hour to 10 days later man the light bulb went on smith it don't work for you so figure a different way so go back to treatment 30 days at the end of treatment kelly came came in privately and we met privately and she had a lot of pain um understandable and we decided you're not i'm not going home 48 years old have a house i haven't put any money towards the house for years but have a house but i'm going to sober living and i was just mad i was pissed and so harry and sober living we had agreement of how many months was i to be in silver living how long did we last probably three three months because logistically it just got to be a nightmare and he was always home and i'm just like oh this isn't working and we started to date again you know i'd call her um from the silver living place what are you doing uh i'm i'm going grocery shopping she'd say i hate shopping hate with a passion but i found myself saying can i come i will tell you he has not grocery shopped since let's just be honest that's not true but not very often but we would we would date again and and so the relationship for healing began it was it was kind of looking back you ought to hear your take on this we've never talked about this but looking back i think the children our children looked to those three months and the the months following to to get an idea of where they could go in the relationship if mom is going to engage in a relationship maybe it's okay for us to then and three of the four quickly engaged in the relationship and how many months you say before i went back home four four what was going on were you interested i think the the kids watched me the whole time they very much mirrored whatever my emotions were as i said before they were very protective of me they were protective from any family who was critical they would you know they were very um they really had my back and so once i started to realize that they were kind of gonna mirror whatever i was doing then i also had to like take a serious look at what i was doing because everything i was doing was going to affect them and so part of that was okay what are you going to do so we'll have to ask you know the last time he's in treatment for 83 days and then he comes home and relapses almost immediately what kept you from

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