28 June 2015

Melissa & Ross Jagears - Overcoming Addictions

Author Melissa Jagears

I thought I’d co-write an article with my husband on Overcoming With God since I wanted to highlight the struggle with addictions that I’ve seen with my husband through the hero of A Bride at Last.
When we first met, my husband was a chain-smoking alcoholic. He was a lot of other bad things too, but there was something about this blond chick he worked with that made him decide to risk dying by bursting into flames by crossing the threshold of a church. (Thankfully he decided to do that before church started to spare the congregants seeing such a gory death, and thankfully he didn’t actually burst into flames either.) And later when he accepted Christ, the addiction to alcohol was gone immediately.
Whoa, wait a second. . . that’s not overcoming, that’s a miracle. Yes, but the addiction to nicotine was left for him to struggle through. His main motivation to give up smoking was for that same blond chick who said she didn’t want to marry a smoker, so he traded one addiction for another, cigarettes for nicotine gum. Then that newly married wife after a year of paying for expensive gum said the budget couldn’t handle it any longer.



Our first picture together in 2000. Without a doubt, he has some nicotine gum in one of those cheeks!
Wanting to remain married….well, sort of, because that first year of marriage is hard! :)….He slowly traded out the nicotine gum to chew many, many packages of regular gum.
Plain gum is basically going cold turkey which is probably the best way to begin putting an addiction behind you, but it’s also probably best to take off of work because you’ll really want to kill people. Randomly during the years following, the wife would ask him if he’d smoked, and he’d always proudly reply ‘no.’
The wife was happy with the gum expense and the hubby was trucking along when someone brought a can of vanilla Skoal to work. Having chewed as a kid, being a sucker for vanilla, and having years of being off nicotine under his belt, he thought taking one dip wouldn’t be a bad thing. By the end of the day, he had his own can. And he wasn’t about to tell his wife. And since she only occasionally asked if he smoked, he could still tell her the truth when he answered, ‘no.”
And then the years of lying about needing candy bar cash at work and sharpening people’s knives to get a little more untraceable money began—and the weekend withdrawals at home …which got so bad that he’d hide cans of chew out in the woods so when they fought, he could stomp off to the woods and get a fix. Of course, during those years he blamed all the anger and fallouts on his wife, not even realizing that his two days of withdrawals every weekend were turning him into the jerk. It was all his wife’s fault. Why was she being such a witch now? In order to deal with his suddenly not-so-nice wife, he needed a chew to be able to deal with her “calmly” yet he couldn’t let her know.
The evil of addiction convinced him the longer he stayed addicted, that if his wife ever found out, she’d leave him. Some of the things she said seemed to be downright mean (things she later convinced him she’d never said), and he knew for sure she’d kick him to the curb once she found out. He prayed God would do something to force him to come clean to his wife and God answered by giving him a black spot on his lip. Having to get a doctor’s appointment that he couldn’t hide from the wife forced him to come clean. That night, his wife didn’t kick him to the curb, but rather helped him research the best ways to quit. The best thing she found was an online community of chewers wanting to quit called Quit Smokeless where people who understood the evil that addiction is banded together to quit. And strangely the next day, his wife took him gun shopping ….what? She wasn’t packing him up and throwing him out, but happily taking him shopping for something he’d wanted for awhile because she was so relieved to find out he didn’t hate her?


She’d wondered for two years if he’d hated her and would be leaving sometime soon since those withdrawal weekends had her dealing with a very angry husband who didn’t seem to want to be anywhere near his family. She was happy to find out that it wasn’t her, but the chemical mess in his head.
Those chemicals are evil, though he’s been fifteen years quit of smoking and seven years quit of chewing, he still often dreams that he has failed and wakes up in the morning disgusted with himself for caving and believing he has to start quitting all over again. And then his coffee helps him realize it was just a bad dream, a nightmare so real he can feel the desire for more coursing through him. Every time he smells a cigar or sees someone chew he wants ‘just one more.’  The desire, according to most everyone he knows who’s quit, never goes away. But every day is a little bit easier to say no.
Being a proud fellow, he didn’t pray as much as he should have while quitting, but that is definitely something that helps. Surrounding yourself with supportive family and Christians is good, but you really need to find someone who understands, who can tell you about the nightmares, the never ending temptations, the feelings you’ll have to battle. It’s essential to commiserate with someone who understands and feels exactly like you do. Whether that’s a personal relationship with someone or joining an online support group, find someone who’s been there before.
He never would have been able to quit on his own. The desire is far too strong. But though it is good to have the support of others, without God, remaining quit would be even harder.

And now his wife occasionally asks if he has smoked, chewed, snorted, shot up, huffed, and every other variation of taking in a controlled substance she can think of to let him know he can’t fudge the truth again.

CFP: Thanks Melissa and Ross for sharing! By our testimonies we overcome!!!

Giveaway: We're giving away a paperback copy of Melissa's latest novel, A Bride at Last, this week and a copy of her novella, choice of ebook or paperback in Barbour's new anthology The Convenient Bride Collection. Comment on any of the blog posts to enter. Also, each blog post counts individually (if you comment on each post you get three entries!) 

71 comments:

  1. Thank you for your testimony and honesty.

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    1. What good is a testimony if it isn't honest? :) Thanks for dropping by!

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  2. Hello Melissa! Thank you for sharing your testimony! We know that God is NO respecter of persons. What He does for one He will do for another. God bless you big.

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    1. No one is above temptation. No one is so far gone God can't save, amen!

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles and that with God's help you have overcome! May God continue to bless you!

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  4. Thank you for being with us this week on OWG, MELISSA, and for sharing your powerful testimony! It's amazing that hubby was delivered immediately from the alcohol rather than the tobacco, b/c usually that addiction is the hardest to overcome. I had a Father who struggled with alcoholism almost my whole childhood. I think it's wonderful that your husband loved you enough to be willing to quit those things you didn't approve of. Not all men would do that.

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  5. Wow! Thank you for sharing! Both of my parents quit smoking when I was a kid, thankfully.

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    1. My father was a smoker, I gave him lots of grief over it since I was a grade-school-know-it-all. :) Happy for you that they both quit.

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  6. Wow, as I was reading that, I wondered if you were telling a part of my late husband's and my life. Many times, I envisioned us (well him) telling his story to help others, but it was not to be. God bless you!
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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    1. So sorry that he didn't get the chance. The last time Ross shared, someone new was at church and thought "If someone that messed up can be accepted here, than so can I" Sharing is a great great tool, but I often want to keep things to myself, especially about my failings. My husband is much better at sharing his failings than I.

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  7. Thank you for sharing and thank God for his love

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    1. Yes, thank God for his love and mercy.

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  8. Thanks Melissa! It's always so brave to share such a personal testimony. My dad was an alcoholic and a smoker. He would quit off and on. It's very hard.

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    1. My dad too. That's why I wasn't interested in marrying an alcoholic smoker....and that's who I met. Funny how that goes huh? But thankfully my husband was willing to take on fighting those addictions. And yes, very, very hard.

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  9. Thank you ......thank you!!!!!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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  10. Melissa and Ross, loved hearing more of your story. So great how God has worked in your lives. Love to you and your sweet family!

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    1. Had we not spilled that already for you? :) We're highly entertaining dinner dates--we usually end up telling bits of our story if you have us over long enough. :)

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  11. Thanks for being so open about this. It's hard to understand what we don't go through ourselves, but it is helpful to hear from those who do struggle. It can help us be a bit more understanding (and extend grace) to those who have the addictions.

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    1. That's what I'm hoping sharing the struggle through fiction, where you can be in someone else's shoes might just do for those who haven't lived with it.

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  12. When I say I loved this testimony .. it's because I see parts of my husband and me, 33 yes ago.. and it made me laughed. His momma said he was a nice drunk. After a horrible wreck where he shoulda died, he was able to quit, immediately! And then we met... I lived cowboys and what cowboy didn't chew? The really yucky part was that he was able to SWALLOW IT, even while a preacher was witnessing to him, wanting to see if he'd spit in front of him...he didn't. But after he got saved, fortunately God removed that too. I was finally able to quit smoking the day I met him. Men chewing in the 70's was cool but women smoking, not really. Sometimes I still 'feel' the want to...but I won't!

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    1. Yeah, he swallowed it at work because he wasn't supposed to be chewing there either, the only way those addicted to nicotine could get their fix while working was to chew and swallow. Yuck! And good for you on being quit! One day at a time!

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  13. Wow, thank you for being honest and sharing.

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  14. Wow, thank you for being honest and sharing.

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    1. You're welcome Grace, thanks for reading.

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  15. Wow, what a wonderful testimony. I've already read A Bride and last and its amazing to hear this story and see the two together. God bless you and your family.

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    1. Hubby was very handy in some of those scenes. I read them back once months later and he was like "How do YOU KNOW what that's like?????" I had to remind him he basically spelled it out for me quite awhile ago. :)

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  16. It's so nice to get to know more about you and Ross - so glad for your overcoming!
    Karin

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    1. Thanks for hopping over here with me, Karin!

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  17. Such a good testimony. I can understand how difficult it can be when someone hides something from their spouse. I am so thankful that you both were able to work through this and relied on God to get you both through and past this.

    ~Cindi

    cindialtman(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Very difficult and I was just plain confused. I don't like being confused! So I was happy that secret finally found the light of day.

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  18. What a great story about the problem with your husband. I am trying to get my husband to quit also but it is hard for him as you know. Thanks for the giveaway on such a great book.

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    1. Tammy, don't give up! If he's not quitting chew, I'm sure there's some support group for whatever he's quitting. My husband hates computer stuff, but I got him comfortable with the one site enough that he could check in every day and hold some conversations with others quitting at the same time he was. I think that helped that there was a bunch of them quitting at the same time and some mentors that came in who'd been quit longer.

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  19. Thank you for your testimony Melissa. I believe so many could be helped as many of us do have some sort of addiction.

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    1. Yes, they might not be as recognizable, but they're addictions...as my heroine finds out about herself. :)

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  20. Powerful story Melissa. Thanks for sharing your story. And tell hubby thanks too.

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  21. Thank you for sharing your story. God is good and God is enough. I commend you for staying strong in your marriage and helping your husband.

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  22. Thank you for sharing your story. God is good and God is enough. I commend you for staying strong in your marriage and helping your husband.

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  23. Thanks Melissa. very interesting. I have two daughters dealing with this, or should has tried quitting. But still smoking. I get frustrated with my older brother for always saying if you really want to stop smoking. also they have a harder time if they have a spouse that continues to smoke around them, as does one daughter. I can remember when my dad used to try to quit. later my mother said one time she would rather him smoke for he got so crabby. It surprised me because I had never seen him cranky. And, he really wanted to quit.. And, he was a praying man, so I feel sure he prayed too.Reminds me of years ago the Smokers tried to get by with saying Cigarettes weren't addicting. Please put my name in this giveaway. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

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  24. Melissa, thank you so much for sharing yours and hubby's encouraging and inspiring testimony here on OWG! I have seen that battle in other people's lives and know how incredibly tough it can be. I realize it's an ongoing struggle and battle, but you guys have each other and faith and that is huge. Pass on to him that he's doing an amazing job! I know that his story is going to help others!! My hubby kept something from me for a few years too... When it came out, I was so devastated, and it took years to trust him again.
    Really looking forward to reading your new story!!! Bless you!

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    1. Yes, the secret was worse than the fact that he was re-addicted. But as I wrote, a relief as well when he came clean because everything for the past couple of years made much more sense. He was quite amazed when I calculated up the quit times. He can do it! So can anyone. Not that it's easy whatsoever.

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  25. Both my husband and myself came from smoking families. Neither one of us ever smoked, thankfully. I also have relatives that are or have been addicted to various substances. Addiction is a terrible thing. One cousin grew up addicted, spending time in jail then prison. One man from the Church we grew up in, never gave up on him. Finally after many years he gave his life to Christ, got out of jail, married, started a business and went to school (graduating with honors) His recovery is a true miracle from God. He gladly shares his story with any one who will listen.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I believe if more people would share their stories, more people would see that recovery is possible.

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    1. Yes, recovery is possible and hard. My husband didn't know there were as many men quit of addictions in our church until one men's get together. They need to tell their stories more often!

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  26. My thanks to you and Ross for your wonderful testimony, Melissa - when we are led to share, there are always people who are blessed by our doing so. I'm thrilled for you and your family re: your husband's accomplishments - addictions are illnesses not easily healed from, and which many people don't realize as being illnesses - nor the difficulty of.

    I lived with an abusive ex-husband who was unable to conquer his addictions (alcohol and smoking), even after going through numerous treatment programs. One of my sons struggled with an addiction to chewing (prompted by his football coach, as a replacement for smoking) - his daughter's birth was the impetus that enabled him to conquer it. I'm reading "A Bride At Last" now and enjoying it even more in that I can relate to several of the issues of it's characters. My personal feeling is that it is impossible to permanently conquer addictions without God in one's life.

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    1. Our children are definitely one huge motivation to stay quit. Though for some reason, for him, it's me. He's mentioned before if I were to leave/die he's not sure he could continue quit. It's still that much of a struggle. :( A struggle that those of us who don't struggle with it can be too flippant in regards to their "lack of will power." I'm hoping I get across a compassionate vicarious glimpse into it in the book. Thanks for reading!

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  27. The Lord delivered me from smoking years & years ago and I HAD to quite cold turkey, otherwise I would have went right back! I know how hard it is to quit and am so thankful that the Lord did the miracle in your husband's life :-)

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    1. Yes, in the end, he'll say cold turkey is what has to be done. And that it's never easy or over. So happy for you to be quit. Keep it up!

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  28. I give God all the credit, Melissa! I have no desire anymore (PTL!) and it just makes me gag everytime I think about it or even when I walk by someone who is smoking, I need to hold my breath until I pass that person. It was definitely the Lord's working, because I couldn't do it by myself! I had been an on again/off again person for several years and I finally just got to the point in my life when I knew I wanted to quit for good. So I began to pray & asked God some very specific prayers and He answered every one of them :-) He is so good and so faithful to answer!

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    1. So happy for your miracle! Ross is certainly happy for his in the alcohol department, that's for certain.

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  29. Wow, just finished A Bride At Last and reading this blog post has put a whole new spin on the story. Think it might just be your best so far. There's a lot of heart and grit in it. And you definitely have a keeper there. Praying wonderful blessings for your whole family. Such a blessing when a testimony like this can reach so many others.

    Oh -- and obviously don't put my name in the draw 'cause I have the book...loved it!

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    1. Yay for "best so far"! Glad you liked it. Lots of grit, yep.

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  30. Thank you Melissa for sharing. What a powerful testimony. You can Overcome anything with God! I am looking forward to reading my review copy of your book A Bride At Last.
    Please don't put my name in the drawing as I have my review copy.

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  31. Wow! Way to go both of you as you dealt with the addictions God bless you both

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  32. What a powerful testimony of what walking through freedom through addiction can look like. It's often much messier than the media would have us believe, but by God's grace it is definitely do-able. Kudos to Melissa and Ross for the beauty of transparency.

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  33. What a powerful testimony of what walking through freedom through addiction can look like. It's often much messier than the media would have us believe, but by God's grace it is definitely do-able. Kudos to Melissa and Ross for the beauty of transparency.

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  34. What a powerful testimony of what walking through the slogging steps to freedom fro addiction can look like. It's often much messier than the media would have us believe, but by God's grace it is definitely do-able. Kudos to Melissa and Ross for the beauty of transparency.

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    1. Ha! The media likes things in nice tidy bows, doesn't it? Thanks for stopping by!

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  35. In the hospital I see patients withdraw from many substances. Those giving up nicotine are the most angry and irritable. I'd say the miracle was you stayed with him! Praise God for Melissa and Ross!

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    1. That's interesting Cathy! He was definitely angry and irritable!

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  36. I'm so grateful that your husband along with the Lords help and his lovely wife is able to take on his struggle one day at a time. Praying for you both! Thank you for sharing Melissa and Ross!
    jennydtipton at gmail dot com

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  37. Addictions can take so many forms.It is encouraging to know that God is enough! In some ways, family members face the same struggle when dealing with the effects of diseases like diabetes and blood sugar roller-coasters that affect a loved one's personality or mood. Thank you for your testimony!

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  38. Addictions can take so many forms.It is encouraging to know that God is enough! In some ways, family members face the same struggle when dealing with the effects of diseases like diabetes and blood sugar roller-coasters that affect a loved one's personality or mood. Thank you for your testimony!

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  39. Hi Melissa!! Thank you so much for sharing, I needed to read this tonight!! alander87 at allcom dot net

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    1. I'm glad it's out there for you to read then. Hope you had a good night.

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  40. Thanks for sharing Melissa. Great to see how God worked and is working!

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