Welcome to the first of many blogs I’ll be writing from Backstreet’s Back podcast. I wanted this to be my very first one, probably because its the most personal one for me.
About two months ago when AJ, Cheryl and Rene debuted this podcast, right out of the gate they all put their personal lives for the world to hear about their issues with substance abuse and their road to recovery. I was immediately fascinated with hearing them, not just because of the secret bsb dirt AJ was sharing, BUT because of how everything they spoke about the 12 step program, recovery process, their personal lows, it all resonated with me and brought me back to my former husband’s journey and struggle with recovery.
I grew up in a home surrounded by substances abuse problems. My father was addicted to cocaine and because of bad ties with his dealer, ended up in jail and passed away right after my 13th birthday in prison. My mother, struggling with his incarceration and death turned to partying and drinking to unleash her resentments on the world.
I promised myself I would never turn out like them and be addicted to drugs and alcohol. I was so afraid of what it would do to me I stayed out of trouble, kept my head down (mostly in teen magazines of the backstreet boys) and really focused on the backstreet boys for kept me safe from the outside world where danger could face me at any moment.
When I was 23, I started dating my high school crush and my life was perfect. He was perfect, and I knew he was my soulmate, my husband, my partner.
Now for those of you who heard Rochelle’s interview on the PMU podcast- it was like I was hearing myself giving that interview. While I was extremely fortunate my husband never touched drugs, he was an compulsive alcoholic. It took some time for me to see the writing on the wall.
“You know whenever John goes out with so and so, he always gets wasted. He’s such a bad influence on John”
“Everytime John goes to the bar he gets so drunk, we should cut back on going out.”
“Maybe if I go with John everywhere I can just count his drinks and I will let him know when he’s had to many and then he will just stop.”
For almost a year and a half I tortured myself into believing other factors were at play. It became almost a daily conversation asking how long he would be at the bar, what time would he come home from the bar, how many drinks would he have. The bartenders HATED me because I would like to be that asshole who would walk into a bar and make the hugest scene because if I embarrassed John enough, he would have to realize his drinking was bad right?
Into 3 years now and about to get married at this point, I started drinking more with him because maybe if I was doing it with him then I wouldn’t feel so frustrating. It would be more manageable for me because to deal with because we were in on this together. Weirdly enough, I hated bars, I hated drinking and I started hating him.
About 1 year into marriage we split for almost a year. I moved into my own place, I dated and whenever I saw him drunk on the street I felt relief that wasn’t my baggage anymore. But I missed him and a month before getting back together he told me he wanted to stay sober, he went to meetings, he spoke about the program. I felt this was the first time in years he truly wanted to change. So he moved back in and for a year he was sober and it was like I could think peacefully again.
But what seemed out of nowhere, he relapsed, and it was the worst relapse ever. I turned into the craziest version of myself and I hated everything about myself. I was at school at the time and I would obcess about what he was doing while I was in class. I would call him during my break and if he didn’t pick up I would ditch the rest of my class to run home and catch him doing something horrible or being drunk. I had the bartender on speed dial to check for his whereabouts or if he came in at all that day so I could catch him in a lie. I installed a breathalyzer in our car because I was told he almost received a DUI and I also had a breathalyzer key chain to test him whenever I felt like. Amazon really does sell everything! Our breaking point was an ultimatum for him to move into sober living for 90 days and he couldn’t come home until he finished the program. He successfully finished, but when he came back, I changed. I wasn’t the same head over heels in love, needing to be a wife to someone kind of place anymore. So we separated and divorced a year later. During that time, he relapsed again and stayed that way up until the day he died on May 8th, 2019.
This is the hard part to finish right here.
AJ, if you ever read this, and I hope you do. Every moment you shared, every struggle you faced, I felt everything you said. The depression, the insecurities, the needing to be accepted, that was my husband – that was my John. He so badly wanted to survive this demon on his shoulder that weighed on him constantly. It isn’t a choice, it isn’t a goal, it’s a disease – one of the worst kind you could ever encounter and it takes everyone down with you.
AJ I hope you survive the disease that my husband so sadly couldn’t. You are strong, smart, kind hearted and have the soul of an angel. You keep fighting this fight and believe in yourself. I will root for you -always.
Thank you for sharing your journey with us and reminding me of the world I once knew and was consumed with. Rochelle, I know your journey and understand your frustrations more so then you could ever imagine. I pray you two get to see this disease on the other end for good! God bless you both.