Rebecca Crews On The Reality Of Loving An Addict: “The Breaking Point For Me Was 22 Years In”
When Rebecca Crews learned that her husband Terry Crews had been unfaithful, she didn’t find out in some salacious manner. Her story begins the way that many stories of this nature begin: with women’s intuition.
“I didn’t have pictures. I didn’t have some skeezer calling me,” the mother of five shared. “It was purely this internal knowledge that we were disconnected.”
During season three of OWN’s “Black Love” series, the former reality stars get extremely vulnerable with viewers as they discuss Terry’s addiction to pornography and adulterous affair — something the actor broke down and confessed to his wife after two decades of marriage.
“I was like, ‘Okay God, I told her. So can we recoup? Can we start again?'” a teary-eyed Terry recalls in one episode. “But she said don’t come home.”
It was a difficult decision that led to a trial separation, but it was one of the best decision’s Rebecca has ever made.
“I wasn’t having no parts of reconciliation until my husband came home from rehab,” Rebecca told MadameNoire.
Though he was in recovery for addiction to pornography, Rebecca believes that her husband also struggled with another form of addiction.
“There is an addiction to the thrill of doing something that is forbidden. Some people are insecure and they want other people to desire them,” she said. “They have this validation issue and there was some of that with my spouse.”
When Terry returned from rehab, he was like a different person — much to the astonishment of his wife of twenty-two years.
“He was very humble, broken, apologetic,” said Rebecca, “He really had the desire to try and be a better person. He just blew me away with his sincere, religious attempts to prove to me that he was a better person and was going to stay a better person, that he was going to fight this demon with everything in him.”
Though the former cosmetologist admits that it took her years to fully trust her husband again, his fervent dedication to the process of getting well eventually won her over.
“That’s all that you can ask of somebody is that they choose to get better for themselves. You are then the beneficiary of that,” the Michigan native shared. “There’s no remedy for a guy who doesn’t want to change — except to exit. That can be hard to believe when they are really showing you, ‘We don’t matter enough for me to be different.”
While her story had a happy ending, the Michigan native cautioned women against leaving their partners simply to get a reaction out of them.
“You have to mean it. It’s not like ‘Oh, I’m going to pretend I’m throwing him out and I’ll see if it acts right after that.’ No, you’ve got to be ready to go alone,” Rebecca advised. “For some reason, I had hit that breaking point and the breaking point for me was 22 years in. I had no idea that my husband would turn his life around, but I had to make the choice that was best for me. And I say that I lucked out because he turned out to be one of the better ones because he shifted his perspective.”
Terry’s stint in rehab did not just breathe new life to his dying marriage, it freed him from the shackles of emotional bondage otherwise known as being a Black man in America.
“No one tells a little Black boy he can just fall apart and cry,” said Rebecca. “I never saw that man cry. I lost a baby. 6 month pregnant and he didn’t cry. He didn’t cry and I was like, ‘There’s something wrong with you.'”
The recovery process, however, caused the floodgates to open.
“While he was going through recovery, he cried almost every day,” the former reality television personality shared. “Many men are out of touch with their emotions. They’re not even wondering ‘Why am I doing this?’ That’s something my husband said that he had as an awakening during rehab that he had been kind of walking through life relatively asleep at the wheel, just allowing himself to be pushed and pulled by circumstances and impulsive behavior and never questioning why. As those things began to manifest through the therapy, he cried. He cried all the time.”
It’s never easy being the partner of an addict and Rebecca believes that in some ways, she unknowingly enabled Terry in his addiction.
“There’s a degree of blindness to the fact that you’re dealing with an addiction. You’re just asking yourself, ‘Why do they act like that? Why do they act like that?'” she shared. “There was a time when Terry was — and I believe this was a reflection of his addiction — he would be irresponsible with our money. I struggled all the time when I had to make calls to one of our creditors, basically pleading for time because he had done something dumb with the money.”
She went on: “I remember thinking, stupidly, at the time, that I wasn’t enabling and that I was just keeping things cool so that I didn’t end up getting put out. But looking back, I wish I had let him suffer the consequences of that decision. But because we were all riding on that boat, I think that unwittingly, I was responsible for letting it continue because I didn’t see an alternative other than packing my kids and getting out.”
Hindsight, of course, is 20/20 and knowing what she now knows, Rebecca advises anyone dealing with an addicted loved one to allow them to face the music sooner rather than later.
“With an addict, I just have to say, the sooner you can put your foot down with them, the sooner you can have peace. And that’s one of the hardest things for us as loving spouses to do is to put that foot and don’t move it,” she said. “Do not tolerate behavior that puts you at ease for the moment but then leaves you in the lurch in the long run.”
She adds that this doesn’t mean that you immediately move to divorce; however, things will not change until difficult decisions are made.
“If you’re not going to be present, then maybe you should go. If you’re not going to be responsible, we can’t be together. And that doesn’t mean that you go file your papers. There’s always a timing you can give people to get their act together, but toleration is a code word for codependence.”
Thankfully, their union survived and Terry and Rebecca are here to tell the story. This summer, the pair celebrated their 30th anniversary.
Catch more of Terry and Rebecca’s story on OWN’s “Black Love” series Saturdays at 9/8c.