Loving My Family, Life and Recovery

He Didn’t Have to Be – Brad Paisley

As a father of 4, I am blessed with the opportunities and amazing grace to give, love, care, provide guidance and life lessons to my four wonderful, beautiful children.  You see, I met my wife 6 years ago and she had 3 kids from a previous marriage.  When we started to hang out and spend time together, I was amazed how she could be raising 3 wonderful kids by herself and teaching them the key elements of life.  This was God’s plan for my life to become part of this exhilarating family and to become a husband and a father.  After my wife and I were married for a year, we had a beautiful baby boy named Houston.  Now, we shared 4 kids and a wonderful life together.  From the day I met my wife’s kids, I accepted them into my heart and soul as my own, wanting to be the best father in the world, as they are the greatest kids full of life, inspiration and hope in the world.  

When I met my wife, her kids were ages 3, 6 and 10.  Now all four of my children are ages 5, 11, 13 and 18.  I look back over the years and realize I couldn’t be more blessed as this life was not about me anymore, but about my wife and 4 amazing children.  My wife and I collectively have taught them about character, life and my wife raised them believing in God’s Will.  I am so blessed that she brought God back into my life when we met and incorporating it into raising our children. Over the years, I have come to be more than just a step-dad.  It took a while for especially my oldest daughter to accept me into the family as a caregiver, new dad and husband to her Mother.  She was very protective of her mother and still is, which is a blessing and a blessing of amazing love.  

In 2012, my life took an unexpected turn and I entered a treatment center for alcohol addiction for the second time in my life.  I spent years as a father and husband neglecting my duties to be a person that would give his entire life to his family, as my alcohol addiction was interfering.  During the times of my addiction, I was still actively involved in their lives by coaching my son’s baseball team and going to events with the family, but I always had the need to get back to the garage and start drinking.  As days / months passed and my addiction became worse, my wife would tell me I was physically present, but not emotionally or mentally present in anyone’s life.  This would be one of the main sources of our arguments through out the first two years of our marriage and finally the last straw broke when I made some decisions to violate the trust in our relationship.  None of my new family knew, including my wife, that I had been in treatment in 2004 for the same demons that was effecting my life again and I felt ashamed to share those details, being selfish and not wanting to scare away the best thing to happen in my life, becoming a husband and a father of 3 (soon to be 4).  During the first years of our relationship and marriage, I wasn’t the man I should have been, but that all changed after treatment.  I remember sobbing uncontrollably, a grown man broken, when my parents, wife and youngest son, 2 at the time, dropped me off at treatment 4 years ago.  I was a full mess and was finally coming to the realization that I had let my family down, including my wife, kids and parents.  During my 32 days at treatment, I missed my middle son’s birthday and other life events happening with my wife and 4 kids.  I am thankful my parents, brother-in-law, sister-in-law and kids were there to provide assistance to my family, but that wasn’t enough, because I should have been there.  I learned how to ‘walk’ again in my stay at treatment and learned about my mental illness, bipolar and how it was effecting my life.  Treatment was one of the toughest things I have ever done in my life because I had to leave my wife and 4 kids behind, but I knew I was doing the right thing in becoming a better person, father, husband and son.  I learned how to f.l.y. (First Love Yourself, Others Will Come Next) again and learned the skills and strategies to live my life as a loving and caring father that devoted my life to recovery and my family.  During my stay at La Hacienda Treatment Center, my wife would drive herself and my 4 kids to see me every weekend, after 14 days of being there without seeing them (treatment center policy).  I remember like it was yesterday when they would pull up and waiting for them to get out of the car.  At times, it felt like I was in a prison, because I couldn’t go home with them.  Their beautiful smiles, love and words of encouragement got me through treatment and has kept me in active recovery for 4 years.  I do not believe that I didn’t have to be the father or husband in their lives, I believed that God put me in their lives to be a father and husband. 

I am truly thankful and grateful for the forgiveness of my wife and acceptance of my children for being so caring and understanding about my addiction to alcohol.  As a teacher, coach, husband and father, my family gives me the unconditional strength and power to be the best person I can be in my active recovery.  My wife, kids and parents are my ‘lighthouse’ and they keep me centered in my beliefs and values.  As a ‘lighthouse’, they are also my ‘true north’, something my father taught me years ago about being centered first through character, morals, values, while allowing others to assist in that.  Without my family, I would not be the man I am today and they provide me extra strength and will power to believe in my personal / professional endeavors, fatherhood and being a good husband.  

I personally and publicly want to thank my family for helping make me the man I didn’t have to be, but wanted to be.  It is because of my family and God’s plan that I became the man I am today. I continue to love being called ‘Dad’ by my oldest daughter and youngest son and my other two children for accepting me as a step-dad / father in their lives.  I am a truly blessed man and love being who I am today with the support of my family.

What are you thankful for / grateful for today?

Is there anything you can change to become a better husband, wife, father, son, daughter, friend? 

F.L.Y

Lyrics – “He Didn’t Have to Be”

When a single mom goes out on a date with somebody new
It always winds up feeling more like a job interview
My momma used to wonder if she’d ever meet someone
Who wouldn’t find out about me and then turn around and run

I met the man I call my dad when I was five years old
He took my mom out to a movie and for once I got to go
A few months later I remember lying there in bed
I overheard him pop the question and prayed that she’d say yes

And then all of a sudden
Oh, it seemed so strange to me
How we went from something’s missing
To a family
Lookin’ back all I can say
About all the things he did for me
Is I hope I’m at least half the dad
That he didn’t have to be

I met the girl that’s now my wife about three years ago
We had the perfect marriage but we wanted somethin’ more
Now here I stand surrounded by our family and friends
Crowded ’round the nursery window as they bring the baby in

And now all of a sudden
It seemed so strange to me
How we’ve gone from something’s missing
To a family
Lookin’ through the glass I think about the man
That’s standin’ next to me
And I hope I’m at least half the dad
That he didn’t have to be

Lookin’ back all I can say
About all the things he did for me
Is I hope I’m at least half the dad
That he didn’t have to be

Yeah, I hope I’m at least half the dad
That he didn’t have to be
Because he didn’t have to be
You know he didn’t have to be

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