As part of my work I get to meet amazing women and last week I had the opportunity to interview Vanessa Stottor, an extraordinary woman who’s life literally fell apart when she found out her stable, loving husband was in fact addicted to cocaine and alcohol.
Vanessa had enjoyed the happiest upbringing, and even though she struggled with dyslexia at school, her creative talents showed from an early age as did her easy rapport with people. As a young woman she knew that she wanted to help women find who they are, empowering them with the confidence that she felt , blessed with a wonderful childhood, she became a make up artist. She loved the day-to-day contact with women and making them look even more fabulous.
In 1999 Vanessa married and went on to have two beautiful children. It seemed that life just couldn’t get any better, a wonderful husband, two great children and had started a new business as a beauty consultant with a cosmetic company and was doing very well.
It was a massive shock then, when her husband Brian, had a complete breakdown. Even more of a shock, was the fact that this breakdown was due to drugs and alcohol. Vanessa tells her story:
“To say I didn’t see it coming would be the understatement of the year”
We were the Walton family, and people use to ask me how I was always so happy. In truth I had never had a reason not to be anything other than delighted with the way life had turned out. Until this…..
“I felt like a complete failure “says Vanessa, “was it my fault? “Why had I not seen this coming? “
At that time I was also diagnosed with a melanoma, a condition that Brian’s mum had died of recently, and my world turned upside down in the space of a week.
Life became a rollercoaster of sleepless nights, and a world of calls from drug dealers, and lies, whilst desperately trying to shield the children from the mess we were in. Many people have asked me since why I didn’t leave him, but for me, marriage is for life and somehow we were going to work this out.
Unbelievably, Brian was managing to hold down his job, and although I had friends who were supportive, we also lost friends who found out, and I felt so very lonely trapped in a world I had no idea how to handle. I did find the Baptist church, which helped me greatly to deal with the grief I was facing of a lost ideal, and the real prospect of the dread that could lay ahead.
Brian promised countless times to quit the cocaine and alcohol, but only to let us down time after time. Finally after yet another night when he failed to return home, I reached rock bottom and told him that as far as I was concerned he was as good as dead to me, even though I would remain married to him.
Something about that night must have made Brian realize that this was the end, and he decided to go into treatment. When we took him in and left him there it was like leaving a 10st baby at Pre School, he cried, we cried and knew this was make or break.
We visited every Sunday and slowly over the next few months Brian began to heal.
After living through a hell that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, Brian and I went from strength to strength. I can’t say it was easy and my work helped me tremendously, offering me stability in a world where everything was so unstable. By having something that was outside of my home, my work provided a welcome distraction and restored some of my self-confidence to deal with all that had gone on.
“How did you manage to forgive Brian for what he put you through?”
“My parents were a huge influence in who I have become as an adult and taught me that forgiveness is key if you are truly going to move forward”
I often talk on this now and we don’t’ hide our story in the hope that it might help others. There is a misconception that “people that do drugs” live on the streets or are somehow very removed from the middle class family life, but they are not and there are many people who have gone through what we have and more. I hope that my story offers hope to them.
Vanessa Stottor is launching her own book soon about her story and has launched a web site to offer a place of comfort. http://beabutterfly.co.uk/ We wish her the best of luck and thank her for sharing her story.