Living with a Lie: Kim, Brian

Perfect on the Outside

"From the outside looking in, people think we live the perfect life: five healthy, wonderful children, Brian being in the ministry and a pastor … When in reality, it was all a lie," Kim says.

Her husband of 10 years, Brian, says, "I kept a secret from my wife, and my family and my congregation. I was addicted to pain pills for eight years. A year and a half ago, I switched to heroin and meth. I felt like a hypocrite because everyone viewed me as a man of God. I was using heroin and meth every day, at least four or five times a day."

"I never thought that anything like this could ever happen to me and my life," Kim says. "I knew he was taking pain medication for a back problem. I just assumed that it wasn't an issue anymore."

Brian gives a tour of the places he hid his secret. "This is the main bathroom that I used to come in to use. I would turn the shower on, I would just sit down here, and I would put everything out on the ground, and I would do my thing," he says. In the garage, he says, "This right here is my toolbox. I would hide drugs in there. I could put anything I wanted in here, and nobody knew it was here."

Brian gets in his vehicle. "In the morning, I would get in my truck. I would normally keep everything up here," he says, pointing to a compartment in the ceiling. "The first thing I would do is I would find a spot to park to use my drugs, and then I would lay back and let the initial effect wear off, and then I would head off to work. I felt like a fraud when I would preach sermons on medication. I counseled people when I was using heroin or meth."

"Two months ago, Brian was texting someone very strangely over and over, and he said that I wasn't allowed to look at his phone," Kim says. "I knew he was lying to me about something."

"I thought to myself, what normal person does this? My priorities are so messed up, I thought, I have to have help," Brian remembers.

"He then told me the extent of the addiction. He brought out all the drugs and different paraphernalia that he had, and he admitted everything. I was looking at a stranger. For the first time, I saw an addict, and that was very hard to absorb," Kim says. "I don't believe anybody in ministry has any idea what was going on with Brian. No one knows. I think when people find out, they're going to be extremely shocked."

[AD]"I checked myself into rehab. It was some of the darkest days in my life," Brian says. "My life is harder now than it was before I went into rehab. It's like walking on a tightrope. There's no room for mistake, and if I slip up, it's over."

 

"I feel like the last 10 years of my life have been a lie," Kim says. "I have a hard time trusting Brian. If he does use again, I can't stay."

Kim tells Dr. Phil, "I really want restoration for my family. He knows that if he uses again, I won't stay. For now, if he's willing to fight and stay clean, then I will stay for our children, for [us]. I love him, but it's hard to realize how many years have gone by that there were lies … I just don't know where to begin the healing process." Kim says she has to get to know her husband again because she doesn't know who he really is anymore.

Brian tells Dr. Phil, "I want to fight this thing with everything I have. I know that for years, I've been managing all my feelings and emotions " whether good or bad " I've been medicating. That's how I've managed for this amount of time, and now I'm in a position where I have nothing to manage those feelings with. I'm scared to death that I will lose everything because of it."

"You understand there's been tremendous collateral damage beyond the drugs," Dr. Phil says, noting Brian's ministry and his marriage as examples.

[AD]"Exactly," he says.

"The problem with drugs, there is a lot of deception that goes with it," Dr. Phil says. He explains that even their nice family dinners were lies because Brian was doing drugs in the bathroom of restaurants. 

Kim says they decided to be open about their secret to raise awareness about addiction " that it could happen to anyone " and to inspire others to seek help.

The news of Brian's addiction came just six weeks after Kim had a miscarriage. Kim admits she leaned on her oldest daughter, Julia, 15, for support. In a previous interview, Kim says, "Julia, our oldest child, understood what was going on. She had to be that person I could lean on, and that was a lot of pressure for her."

Julia says, "I never thought this could happen to somebody in my family. I was really shocked. Why would he do that to our family behind closed doors? Before I found out about my dad and the drugs, we didn't really see eye to eye all the time. He would forget things sometimes, so we had a lot of arguments about that. It's hard to just jump in to be, like, buddy/buddy, like, ‘Oh, it's OK.' I can't really take back words that were said. It was really hard watching my mom go through everything. Sometimes, when it was just me and her, she would cry in front of me, and that's when I think we need each other the most." The teen grows emotional and says, "It's really hard to see your mom like that, because you know you just can't fix everything."

[AD]Kim is visibly moved by her daughter's interview. "It's hard to watch. My kids have been really affected by this," she says. Kim says the young kids don't really understand, because Brian was so good at acting like a normal father.

Brian says he wore a mask because he knew he could lose his family if they found out the truth.

Dr. Phil explains the mistake they made and how there is hope.

Dr. Phil tells Brian that because of what he was using, he has brain damage, and it could take 18 months or more to heal. He tells Kim, "He's not back yet."

"I see pieces of him," she says tearfully.

Dr. Phil warns Kim that Brian still has some hills to climb. He'll probably question his relationship with God, question his spirituality and have difficulty with his memory. "He has brain damage the same as if he'd gone through the windshield of a car, so you have a tough road ahead here, and you are subject to some real emotional problems because of what's happened," he says.

Dr. Phil brings up that Kim had a miscarriage six weeks before she learned of her husband's addiction. She was four months pregnant. He acknowledges Kim's pain and how she hasn't been able to properly grieve yet. She's had to keep being a supportive mom and wife during all the turmoil.

To begin the healing process, Dr. Phil has the two face each other for a dyad. He coaches Kim to speak from her heart.

Kim opens up and tells her husband what he did to her.

 

"Tell him what you want," Dr. Phil encourages.

Kim looks at her husband and says, "I want to see the man that I married. I want to see you in your eyes again, because you haven't been there for so long. I want to see the father that I know you are. I know you love those kids. I know you're an amazing husband, friend, and I know the addiction has taken all of those things and has brought a new person into our lives. I want us to have a life together where we can laugh, have dreams and goals and not just exist … And I deserve better. I know I do. The kids deserve better."

With Dr. Phil's encouragement, Kim expresses her support of Brian, saying she knows he can fight his addiction. "I believe, so much, in you. You know that. I believe in you more than anybody in this world," she says tearfully. She tells him he has to want to change, because she can't do it for him. Brian nods.

[AD]Dr. Phil offers Brian an opportunity to visit Dr. Hal Urschel, addiction specialist and chief medical strategist for EnterHealth.com, who will provide medical management for Brian's drug cravings. "We're closing ranks around you guys. We're going to turn this around," he tells them.