Do you ever find yourself in a place that you don’t want to be? You sit and you stew. You reflect. You think. You try to take it all in and all answers point to go. Get out. Leave. But you stay.
That was me. I said that my recovery from my husband’s alcoholism was a story for another day, and it’s another day. I love my family. I am proud of my life. I love the changes that my husband has made. Overcoming addiction is a hard thing. Recovery is long. Living life as a new mom and wife of an alcoholic husband was rough. There were lies and emotional trauma. It lingers. It is so hard to let go.
Trust is a big thing for me. It is so hard to trust. I have been this way my whole life. From the beginning to the end, I don’t trust easily. It has to be earned. It has to be built. If I am finally able to trust you, you should treat that with kid gloves. My trust is fragile and broken easily. There is no way to be an alcoholic and not break that trust. Alcoholism is riddle with lies. And that is what my husband is, he is an alcoholic. From the days of “It’s not a big deal, I just like to have a good time.” To the mornings after the drinking got the best of him and the depression sets in. It’s like watching a pilot go down with the plane except I was riding shot gun and he threw my parachute out the window.
The water landing saved my life, the love for my child was the reason I was trying to save my marriage but my trust for my husband was left floating somewhere. I must have lost it when I crashed so hard into the surface. Man, did it sting. It went flying out of my pocket some where in all the thrashing. I was trying to stay a float.
But then one night…he did it. He hit rock bottom. There was no going back, he had gone to far. He had a choice to make. He could get help or loose his friends and family. Unfortunately, rock bottom didn’t happened before the hurt was so deep that I didn’t recognize the man I married. I wanted to run for the hills and take my little guy with me. There had been 4 years of issues that had progressively gotten worse. 4 years of 1, 2 or 10 too many drinks. 4 years of depression that seemed to overtake him and 4 years of lies.
So, here, I found myself, married for nearly 8 years, mom of a 4 year old son, standing at the check-in desk at a rehabilitation center saying goodbye to my husband. That was 2 years ago.
At the time, I thought about leaving. I had the money set aside and an apartment on the ready to rent. Alcoholism is scary and I didn’t know if I was going to need to leave so I was prepared to leave, but I didn’t.
Here’s the thing, a few years earlier my husband was diagnosed with MDD (Major Depression Disorder). MDD is like depression on steroids and it can destroy a person. As my husband’s depression worsened, his drinking increased to cope with the depression. This only made the depression worse which made the drinking worse and we were on repeat cycle.
And now, I have a husband in rehab and an easy out. Who would blame me if I left? But I believe in for better or for worse. And this was the worst. My husband had hit rock bottom and I wasn’t sure he would come out on the other side. With MDD, suicide is a big concern. If I left, I may have put the nail in his coffin.
I owed it to the man I fell in love with, I owed it to our little boy to see him through this. And so I did. I supported him every step of the way. I cheered him on. I listen to his grief, his anguish his regrets and his apologies. Those 2 weeks he was away were the longest and shortest of my life. I missed my husband but I was not ready to have him home.
What was this new phase going to look like? What was recovery going to like? Would we make it back to that hopeful couple that walked down the aisle 8 years earlier? Would he be able to stay sober? He was home, he was sober and it was time to work on us. Boy, was I ever wrong. He was changing at the speed of light. He was in recovery and I was stuck. He was in counseling and I was stuck. He was working on himself and I was stuck.
He was finding a new norm. He was concentrating on his sobriety. He was focusing on becoming a better father. He was finding new hobbies to keep him busy so he wouldn’t think about drinking. And I was floundering. He changed for the better. He had a disease and he was getting the treatment he needed but I could not erase the damage of the disease.
When he was struggling, he would drink. He would lash out and hurt the people closest to him. He said things that he knew would hurt so he could bring you down with him. He knew right where to point the arrow to make it have the most impact. And I could hear those word ringing in my ears. Those arrows stung.
I was standing in my kitchen about a month after he got home. I watching this newly, sober man play with our son. I watch the joy in his eyes and listened to the laughter of our child. This should have been a celebration. We fought the battle and won. But it wasn’t. I was sitting in that kitchen so angry I wanted to throw things. I am a thrower. I have an uncontrollable urge to throw things when I am mad.
He was fixing himself but I couldn’t fix me. I couldn’t forget. I could not let go of the past. He was walking into a new and bright future and I was stuck, stewing in the kitchen wishing he had never got sober because if he were still drinking, I had an excuse to leave. I regretted that I missed that chance. I regretted that I could not let it go. I resented myself for harboring the anger and I resented him for the past 4 years of hell.
All I wanted was to have a sober husband that was focused on our family and now I had it and I resented him for being able to move past this when I couldn’t and so I stewed. My sparkle was covered in his trail of destruction and the ash was just too deep to see it. It was ugly and dirty and covered in soot. It didn’t matter how many times I washed myself clean, that sparkle was still gone.
What they don’t tell you about recovery is that the loved ones of the addict recover much slower. The hurt of those addictive lies take a long time to heal. Sobriety does not mean that the past has been erased. As much as I was preaching that those actions were not his, they were his illness, I just could not let the hurt go.
And so I stewed and I stayed. I married this man for better or worse and the worst was surely over. Little did I know that the hard work had only begun. Sobriety does not cure depression. Sobriety doesn’t erase the days past. Sobriety doesn’t fix the martial issue that the previous years of alcohol abuse had caused.
It doesn’t change it. You just have to choose if you can forgive and move one. And as my husband celebrated one month of sobriety, I was not sure I could. And so I stayed and I lost a little more sparkle, but I stayed anyways.
Life is full of ups and downs and you can’t run from everything. I knew if I ran from this, it would follow me the rest of my life. This man was my child’s father and one day, long ago, he was my Prince Charming and so I stayed to fight for him and us.
There is so much more to our story, this is just the beginning. I’m glad your giving me the chance to share. (Click here to keep reading.) There are times that I think this is the smartest decision I have ever made and days I think I must have lost my mind. But through it all, I tried to remember that, in the midst of chaos, sparkle. Don’t let life dull your shine.
The Manicured Mom