Dear Church

I have witnessed anger, hatred, bullying, threats, and the dissolution of friendships this last week. All on Social Media.

Years long friendships, destroyed. People in my church, name calling and attacking one another.

Friends I know to be Christ followers, creating such division and hatred among each other.

I do not believe any of them are for violence. I do not believe any of them condone physical attacks on people, businesses, or our Capital.

I also do not see any of these posts pointing people towards Jesus. I see the words, “If you are a Christian”, followed by hate and attacks.

I see the world watching as Christ followers persecute their neighbors so viciously, on a public forum.

I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed this morning, reading a dear friend attack another dear friend. Other friends joined in on one side or the other. Unfriending and blocking soon ensued, but instead of that causing a check in their spirit, they continued on attacking their once friend and were joined by more people agreeing with the attack.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35

What, then, is proven by the public hatred for one another?

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

When did we, as Christ followers, start to decide who is worthy of love and who is not?

I have seen post after post attacking the church. I see non-believers watching people who call themselves Christ followers attack others and then ask, why would I ever want to be a part of the church when this is how you treat the members of your church family?

I write this heartbroken.

I write this as a plea.

I write this weeping, as our Heavenly Father weeps for all of His people.

We are called to love. We are called to broker peace. We are called to live a life worthy of God’s love.

I challenge you to spread love today.

I challenge you to not engage in attacks.

I challenge you to be led by the Holy Spirit, in your words and your actions.

Start here. I Corinthians 13

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Stand in love my friends. Speak with love. Pray in love. Silently scroll in love.

We all have love in us. We must all give it away.

Posted in Bible Study, Facebook, First NLR, Prayer, Social Media, the Road to Becoming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Are Allowed

“And if there happen to be things you do not understand…“

If you see others delivered from their addiction while your husband is consumed by his…

“…and your pain comes from a place that is entirely out of your hands…”

If you cannot sleep, knowing where he is… If you finally exhale at signs of life and inhale anger in the next breath over choices he is making…

“…it is okay to close your eyes and do nothing more than breathe…”

It is okay to sit in silence…and grieve… and let the tears flow… It is okay to feel anger…and loss… at the same time…

It is even okay to cry over any small thing and tell yourself that you aren’t crying over him…that he doesn’t have that power anymore.

“…knowing you do not have to carry the weight of all these things…”

It is okay to convince yourself you cannot rescue him this time. And it is okay for that to break your heart.

“You are allowed to seek peace, right here…”

You are allowed to remove yourself from the narrative of pain and his self destruction.

“…all by grace, no matter what has changed or what has fallen out of place.”

You

Are

Allowed

To

Save

Yourself

Posted in Addiction, Addiction is a family affair, Alcoholism, Celebrate Recovery, Dealing with relapse, Marriage, the Road to Becoming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Broken Like Me

Today is your 25th birthday. My first born. You’re the precious girl who made me a mom. My favorite name. The one dream I’ve had since I was a little girl that never changed. That actually came true. Being a mom.

You’ve waited years for this cake. The Sponge Bob episode – You know what’s funnier than 24?

25!!

I was going to get it right this year. I ordered the cake with the meme – picked it up – it was perfect. I was running late for your birthday lunch…but so were you because that’s who we are 😉

And then this happens…

After the cake fell…

And when you saw it, you laughed and said, it’s fine, it’s broken like me.

And we all laughed, but not the loud, funny laughs that we do so well. But the. Let’s laugh so we don’t cry laugh.

You’re broken. Like me. Like your sisters.

I thought a lot today about our brokenness. I thought about what I got right. And more about what I didn’t.

I made sure we always had a home. I worked hard to make sure you girls always had what you needed and a lot of what you wanted. I have loved you every minute of your lives.

It wasn’t always a home where you felt safe.

I worked so much that I missed more special days in your lives than I want to remember. But I do remember.

Things happened while I was out of town working that I should have been there to protect you from.

You deserved more than a mom who was just trying to survive. I gave you girls everything I had left, but you deserved the best of me.

Everything I did, I did for you. I know a lot of my choices weren’t right. I hope you know I did the best I could.

I told myself when you girls were growing up that keeping our family intact was what was best for you. And every time I couldn’t do it anymore, I pivoted and told myself that’s what was best for you.

I can’t count the number of weekends we spent visiting your dad at rehabs instead of playing soccer or going to birthday parties. I tried to make them fun trips, but I know that you missed out on a lot.

I remember the first time you told me you would never let anyone treat you the way he treated me. Do you remember me telling you how much I prayed you never would?

I hope I have taught you not to give up just because things get hard, but worry that I showed you that it’s not okay to leave something that is hurting you.

I remember the first time you made your own decision about what your relationship with your dad would be. I hope you know I see how that broke your heart – and I see the incredible strength it took to protect your heart from someone you have, and always will, love.

I know sometimes we look back and only see the pain. I hope you remember the good times too.

For every school event I missed, I hope you remember our car concerts on every road trip.

For every time I let you down, I hope you remember us driving hours to get to the beach, sand mermaids, sunburns and salt water.

For every first and last I was out of town for, I hope you remember hotel pools and fashion shows.

For every picture day or school spirit week I forgot, I hope you remember driving lessons and choir trips.

For every time you had to be the grownup because I was out of town for work, I hope you remember carefree summers in Ohio.

For every time I was too tired, I hope you remember Wii Dance parties in the living room.

Life hasn’t always been easy, but I hope you keep the good memories and heal from the bad ones.

You have survived every one of your worst days. You are beautiful and broken…

Of all of the things you get from me, I wish I had been able to protect you from this part. Yes, you are broken. Like me.

But I see you now.

Enjoying your broken- full of love and good intentions from your mom – 25th birthday cake. Sticking out your icing blue tongue.

Finding joy as often as you can. Like me.

Still hurting. Like me.

Learning to heal. Like me.

Posted in Addiction, Dealing with relapse, Family, Mom of girls, Our Life, the Road to Becoming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rescue

There are times of such sadness that words fail you. Times when you feel like you are sinking and there is nothing and no one to grab on to that could pull you back up. Breathless…drowning…desperate…forgotten.

You may doubt things you know to be true. About yourself…about God… You may feel too broken to find joy…too far gone to be reached.

You may wonder how long you can survive the constant valley that seems to grow deeper and too steep to climb out of.

So overwhelmed that you can’t seem to take that next step. So instead you fall deeper into despair and decide it’s easier to just shut down. To hide away… 2020 made it too easy to find ourselves in isolation.

Maybe you got COVID right after Thanksgiving and spent December so fatigued and trying to work while the after effects of brain fog made it hard to focus on even the simplest of tasks.

Maybe you survived Christmas through retail therapy and wonder how you’re going to pay off those credit cards. You gave up on traditions that were too hard. Maybe no one had matching pajama pants, but you managed to get matching, plain shirts on Christmas Eve. Even though this is the last year before your youngest heads off to college…everyone was home…you did the best you could.

Maybe you barely took pictures and didn’t send out Christmas cards or gifts to anyone outside your home. And your neighborhood got hit by porch thieves and you spent hours trying to replace what was stolen.

And as you are trying to replace those things, you can’t help but think about everything that has been stolen from you over not just the past year, but for so many years now…and you are so tired of it all and just need to find the hope you once had.

Maybe this is the one year you needed to go home more than anything and instead you stayed away to keep those you love safe.

Maybe you spent New Years Eve alone and your cat literally put his arms on your shoulders and nuzzled against your face and you needed that hug so much you cried and sobbed and waited for the night…the year…to be over.

Maybe you put up a fake tree and minimal ornaments and as your cats used the tree as a jungle gym, you left it. Branches bowed, ornaments fallen, tree skirt barely visible. The glow of the tree didn’t mean what it has always meant. And you just want it taken down.

Maybe it’s January 2nd and you went to get your oil changed in your pajamas because you knew you wouldn’t have to get out of your car.

So 2020 is over now but all of the things you carried are now part of 2021. And maybe you are pleading with God to rescue you.

And maybe, while you’re in the middle of cleaning your bedroom on a cold, rainy Saturday, maybe He whispers to you that He has been waiting for you to cry out to Him. That He is here to rescue you. That you don’t have to do this alone…

Maybe you found yourself sobbing and begging Him to rescue you and felt His arms wrap around you and heard Him say…just do the next thing. Let Me carry you. Lean on me. I will rescue you.

“You are not hidden
There’s never been a moment
You were forgotten
You are not hopeless
Though you have been broken
Your innocence stolen I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night
It’s true, I will rescue you There is no distance
That cannot be covered
Over and over
You’re not defenseless
I’ll be your shelter
I’ll be your armor I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night
It’s true, I will rescue you
I will never stop marching to reach you
In the middle of the hardest fight
It’s true, I will rescue you I hear the whisper underneath your breath
I hear you whisper, you have nothing left I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night
It’s true, I will rescue you
I will never stop marching to reach you
In the middle of the hardest fight
It’s true, I will rescue you Oh, I will rescue you” Lauren Daigle https://youtu.be/gYR0xP1j4PY

In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Psalm 18:6

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Drop by Drop

It started as a slow drip.

Drop by drop. Slowly forming that first small puddle.

Nothing dangerous to you…or those around you.

You’d slip into a deep puddle occasionally, but no lasting consequences.

Slowly, and at the same time, suddenly, the drops formed a small pond. Deep enough that wading out of it was a struggle…Small enough that no one else fell in.

The drops spent years falling. Sometimes a soft, quick rain. Sometimes a torrential downpour.

The pond became a large, but shallow at first, lake. A lake that would take so long to climb out of. A lake that so many were pulled in to.

It dried up once. We thought. Only to reappear much deeper, as water often does after a long, hard rain. After the rain has gone and you think the flooding is over, after you’re tricked into thinking it’s safe again.

The lake became deeper and wider and pulled us all down into it. We waited for the drops to stop falling. Then waited for the seemingly never-ending storm to pass, with its clouds and thunder and lightning and rain so heavy we couldn’t see in front of us.

In the waiting, each of us were pulled under. Sometimes alone, sometimes all at once. We pulled ourselves back up…we were lifted out by the strength of others…only to get pulled right back under. And you, you who caused all those drops to fall…you seemed to stay barely above water…always appearing to be almost drowning, never quite going under, pulling us under to keep yourself above water.

And when we thought we had found a different part of the lake that seemed safer…no longer in the deep middle with you…not being pulled under by your crashing waves…we let our guard down…until once again we were drowning in the middle with you…

Once again we find ourselves close to the river bank. Still in the water…some of us wading out, wondering if we’ll ever be on solid, dry land…some of us still waist deep, struggling to stay out of the whirlpool that surrounds you and pulls us in…and then there’s me…just on the edge of your strong current, desperately praying for you and pulling for you to take the step to stop the drops from falling.

Praying that you don’t drown. That I don’t drown with you.

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When Addiction Wins

Every time someone’s addiction wins I panic.

I wonder how it happened. How long had it been “that bad”. How many people really knew how bad the struggle had been over the last few months. How long and how well had they hidden what was really going on.

Then I really go down that rabbit hole. What will it look like if when Rob’s addiction wins. I’ve had a few glimpses… Just not to that degree yet.

The last time was even scarier than the other times – I just didn’t realize it until 3 hours into an ER visit. His shaking (detoxing) was worse than I’d seen in a long time. We went to two different urgent care clinics and neither would see him so I convinced him to go to the ER.

After they ran some blood work and got his IV’s started, the conversations got extremely difficult. The dr asking about his drinking, Rob continually denying any drinking.

Me, outside the room, standing in the hallway, trying to talk to his nurse so someone knows the truth. Not even the truth. The little bit of truth that I know. Of which one truth is that I cannot tell you the last time I saw him sober. My guess is he was up to a bottle every two days. That would change when the dr came back in with the test results.

The dr coming back in the room and explaining to Rob that he’s gotten all of the test results back and telling Rob that if he had waited another day he wouldn’t have been able to bring himself to the hospital. And might not have woken up the next morning.

Rob still in denial. Because that’s what addiction does. It makes the addict believe their own lies. It makes the truth very subjective. And the only truth an addict knows is what will get him to his next drink the quickest.

The dr is in on Rob’s game. He’s seen it. Knows that it doesn’t really matter what he says, Rob has his own version of reality and he will not see anyone else’s reality.

So he starts talking in “if’s”…..

IF you’re drinking everyday and you want to stop drinking, you cannot stop cold turkey. The amount of alcohol you have been consuming for this length of time has made that impossible. You’ll need to slowly reduce the amount of alcohol you consume. Take one less drink a day. Slowly detox and let your body become accustomed to less and less alcohol over a period of weeks, possibly months. All of this needs to be monitored by your physician.

I don’t like this. I have seen him try and every time, fail, to do this. I don’t think it’s a viable option.

IF you’re drinking everyday and you can’t slow down/reduce your drinking on your own, you need to check into the hospital and go through a medical detox. You’re too far gone to try to just do this cold turkey all at once and without medical intervention.

I needed the dr to insist on this. To admit him. But me needing that didn’t make it the right thing to do. Rob had to want that. And it was obvious to everyone that Rob was not going to commit to being admitted, when he wouldn’t even admit he was drinking at all.

BUT since you aren’t drinking and you don’t have a problem, despite what your BAC levels and liver enzymes would indicate, even after we’ve been treating you with multiple IV meds for several hours already, then at the very least you need to check in with your primary physician and get a treatment plan in place so that you don’t end up back in the ER.

Or dead.

And he walked out. And he left those words hanging there. Trying to get an addict who is in the very early, painful, probably not even voluntary, stages of detox, to understand that he can make a choice. One of several choices.

And one of them, is to die.

And I don’t even think Rob heard any of it.

Not one word of…if you don’t make some kind of serious change, you will die. It may be weeks or months or years, but until you’re honest about your drinking, until

You decide you want to get sober

these decisions you’re making…or not making… they’ll decide for you. There will come a point,

And very soon if you don’t make some drastic changes

There will come a point when you won’t have any other options.

You will drink yourself to death, which could be a long process or fairly short, based on your history of extremely high BAC’s

Or your body will start to shut down, slowly, painfully, and there will be nothing that can be done except to make you as comfortable as possible. And wait.

I don’t know if Rob heard any of this. I heard it. I replay it over and over in my head so I can somehow prepare myself for his addiction to win. To prepare myself for something you cannot be prepared for no matter how much you play out how it will go in your head.

You can feel the dread and the worry and the wondering about when and where it will happen. But you feel that along side the hope that he will win out over his addiction. So you pray that he will overcome his addiction. And in the same breath, you pray for protection for your girls’ hearts when addiction wins.

But there is no preparing for someone actually losing to their addiction. Because deep down, we always think there will be a second/third/fifteenth chance. There will always be time to start over. Someday the want to overcome his addiction will win.

Until there isn’t. Until it is too late. Until addiction takes your friend. And there’s no more chances to start over for them. And no more hope for you to hold on to.

Sometimes addiction wins. And we lose a friend. And we relive what we could have done differently, how we could have helped – and none of that matters but it’s all we can think about.

And quietly, we plead to God that this will be the thing. This will be what convinces our person that overcoming their addiction is worth anything it seems to cost.

And we convince ourselves that if losing our friend is what it takes for one person to overcome their addiction, then their loss wasn’t for nothing, their loss has purpose….because if it doesn’t…if this isn’t the wake up call our addict needs…can we still hope they’ll live to overcome their addiction?

So we hope. And we pray. And. As long as they have breath in their body…we don’t give up.

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Brave Girl

Sometimes we make decisions while we are deep in the trenches…Often those decisions are made out of fear…or the need to isolate and separate ourselves from people…Or simply survival. We can only see that this decision is going to give us breathing room for the moment. We can see that making this choice is our only way to survive the right now. We are mostly incapable of factoring in what the decisions will mean long term…because we don’t do long term.

We don’t plan past the right now. We dream. We hope. We play out how things could be.

But we don’t plan.

We have planned. Over and over. Down to the smallest detail.

The first time the plan fell apart we were surprised. Caught completely off guard.

The second time it felt like this might be a pattern.

The third time we stopped planning.

Out loud. To anyone. We had no expectations. We hoped this would be the time, but we weren’t tied to a plan that included long term sobriety.

Except. That is a lie. I planned. I had expectations. I just had those conversations with myself. With anyone else, I was non-committed, not counting on it working.

Because really. How many times can someone on the outside hear your plan and see it fall apart before they consider it their role to remind you of the last few times and “let’s not get our hopes up because you know how devastated you were the last time.”

So you cut that off by saying it yourself. Before someone else can. You hide deeper within yourself and silently make those plans. Because if no one else knows you think this time may work, you only have to deal with your own disappointment, not theirs.

But life looks different now. We’ve learned how to separate pieces of our lives from the whole. We decide that this one part is manageable and we make a decision to move forward.

We wrestle with it and poke it to find holes and we weigh possible outcomes against doing nothing.

And we find that doing something in this one small piece of our world feels like….

Success. We are proud of the decision that we made because this decision comes from one of us who is slowly pulling herself out of the family trench. She still has her own trench to climb out of, but she is moving forward. She is taking control of what she can control and….

And I feel like screaming. And celebrating. And I want to tell everyone what she’s doing!

And I want to keep it quiet and let this be just between us. Because this thing she’s doing – this hurdle she is running towards – it’s there because of the last failed plan.

And the last failed plan is still failing.

But she is rising. And she is working towards a goal that gets her back on track to some kind of normalcy. And I want to celebrate the bravery of this goal. I want to celebrate her lifting herself up and chasing after normal.

And I want to quietly and privately encourage her because this is not something she should have had to chase. This is not a track she should have fallen off of. This is the cause and effect of all of the times the plans didn’t work.

So I help how I can. I tell her I’m proud of her. Quietly. I don’t announce it on social media.

I will be her biggest – private – cheerleader over her decision. Because I know the strength and the overcoming this has taken.

But the world doesn’t need to know. Her peers don’t need to know. This thing – this normal for everyone else thing – this thing no one else knows to celebrate because it’s just what you do and it’s not special because it’s been part of the normal plan for everyone.

This thing is my girl rising up. Taking back her life. Deciding she can still have a plan and she gets to decide what that plan looks like.

The other plans falling apart don’t get to decide that her plan for her life will fail.

Her plan is independent of the others. It is impacted by them. It is partly made because of them. It will be harder because of them.

But she finally sees that she can go after what she wants. She is free to be happy and successful and to be whoever she wants to be.

And nothing can stop her. She is amazing and strong and beautiful and determined and I will always be the one quietly cheering her on in the corner. Making sure she knows I’m there, but also showing her that she is capable of great things simply because of who she is.

One small step for most….but a hundred halted, hesitating, then long, brave strides for her.

Brave girl, you can do hard things…

You already have…

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Sitting In The Circle

It’s often the smallest things that stop you in your tracks. The things that you don’t even think about and then you see something or hear something and all of a sudden you’re overcome with a memory…a moment…a season of life…

Driving the kids to ACT prep and an ad comes on about Magic Springs, and you remember a month earlier when the girls asked if we could get season passes again.

All you could see in that moment was last spring. How often we all went as a family. How many memories were made. And then, before summer had even really started…we stopped going. Rides are Rob’s thing. He loves Magic Springs. Waiting in line for a ride with one or all of the girls. Deciding which rides HAD to be ridden before lunch, what order to do the rides in…He was at ease there. It was his happy place. We all loved going, but mostly we loved going with him. So when his relapse turned out to be more than a few bad days…when our life got turned upside down again…we just never went back.

And it’s that way with so many places…favorite restaurants where we used to have dinner after church on Sundays…Beebe flea market on Saturdays… our no kids allowed Saturday morning dates…stores that we only went to together…family gatherings…

There is a feeling you get when you pass one of those places or wonder what to do with a free Saturday or know there’s a family party coming up…

It’s a tangled up ball of so many feelings, all fighting to win. Dread. Fear. Sadness. Anxiety. Anger. Regret. Loneliness.

None of those words wholly encompass the feeling. But each word is a part of it.

Dread. Not wanting to be at that place or event because even if no one else knows what is different, you know. You know that you will walk by a ride that only he and the girls would ride and someone will say something and you’ll wonder if it can ever go back to how it was.

Fear. As hard as it is for you to be there, you’re so afraid of how it will make the girls feel. Will they say anything? Is it worse for them to be there and feel something or is this going to make things worse?

Sadness. Do you ever get to the point where you don’t wish you could have things back the way they were? Are you always going to associate this place with everything you lost?

Anxiety. Can you do this? Do you want to? Is there anywhere else you would rather be than here, with these people, in this place, where you think everyone is wondering where you fit in with them anymore?

Anger. Oh, anger. If your anger could make someone else break their addiction….If the anger you actually let show could set them free…If the anger you never let come to the surface could somehow fix your relationship. Well. There’s so much anger. Couldn’t it do something good? Couldn’t there be some good that comes from it?

Regret. What you would have done differently if only you had known. Why didn’t you see the signs? When did it really start again? You relive every moment and try to rewrite what you would say and do, praying that somehow you get a do over. Knowing you don’t.

Loneliness. Walking into that family gathering. Knowing everyone there knows more than you wanted them to. Sometimes he’s there and it’s awkward and no one says what they’re thinking. No one asks the questions. But more often you’re doing this one alone too. And you wonder how many more times you can walk into a room alone and feel like you will never belong again before you just stop showing up.

And then that’s what is happening. You stop going. You don’t show up. You cut places and events and people out. Not going is easier. And lonelier. And you regret not going. And you’re angry about how someone else’s decisions have taken away parts of your life that are so important to you. And your anxiety over what will be said about you not showing up is uncontrollable. So you stay away and you deal with your sadness alone, crying your silent tears into the same tear stained pillowcase. You fear that this is what the rest of your life will be now. And that fills you with so much dread because this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

So the circle goes on…the broken circle that never seems to end…that won’t end. You sit in the circle. Which seems endless. But you stay there. In the circle. Waiting for your miracle. Knowing that if you leave the circle, you won’t be there when the miracle comes. And even after all this time, you still know it will. You know the miracle will come. You don’t know when or how or how broken you will be when it happens. But you can’t stay without believing it. And leaving isn’t an option.

So you sit in your broken circle and wait for your miracle.

Posted in Addiction, Alcoholism, Communicating in marriage, Dealing with relapse, Family, Marriage, Mom of girls, Our Life, Recovery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Separation

At this point, the number of years we’ve spent apart outnumber the years we’ve lived under the same roof.

Despite that fact, I had never used the word “separated”. Anytime I would fill out forms…for the doctor…rehab…insurance…Job applications…anything…I always use our home address.

When he was in rehab the first time, it was just for a couple of months, then right back home again.

When he went to a rehab for 14 months, it was just where we visited him and sent letters to.

The next rehab was only 35 days. It wasn’t going to be long enough. So I found a sober living home for him – 30 minutes from us, close enough to go to church together, spend time together during the week.

When he changed his mind and went to a different sober living house instead. In a different state. Hours away. It wasn’t his home, it was just where he stayed.

Then he moved in with his parents. I’m careful never to call that his home. He’s just staying there.

A few months later we commit to starting counseling again.

We’re filling out paperwork. By default I check the box: ✅ Married

I put the same address down for both of us.

It’s the last thread of our marriage that I hold onto. Putting down somewhere that we don’t have the same address. It means something I am not ready for.

I can feel my face flush as our counselor starts reviewing our forms.

Married ✅

“And you currently live together?”

Rob and I look at each other. For once, I think, please say something first.

My look worked I suppose.

“No. I’m staying with my parents right now.”

The perfect answer. For both of us. It sounds temporary.

He looks at us. Looks at the paper. Scratches out what’s written there. Writes down the address Rob gives him.

Then says, you checked married but you’re separated?

I don’t want to be here anymore. Why is he saying this? Of course we aren’t separated. We just haven’t been living together. For a while. It’s temporary. I repeat this over and over. Silently. In my head.

Rob speaks out loud. It startles me. “Yes we’re separated. We have been for awhile. I haven’t lived at home for probably 4 of the last 5 years.”

The counselor scratches again.

Marks instead

Separated ✅

I start to argue. We aren’t separated. We just don’t live together right now. But we’re still married. He’s just been in rehab for a long time. And then the sober living house. And now he’s just staying with his parents.

I think I say most of this out loud. I’m never sure though. How much I say out loud and how much is my inner monologue.

Then he circles it. Separated. “That’s what separated means. I understand you’re still married. But you’re also separated.”

I’m trying to understand why this panic is building up inside of me.

Stop saying we’re separated. I want to scream.

I have stood by him through rehab, relapse, sat next to him as he goes through withdrawals, over and over; wiped his face, held his cup of water so he could drink, held his hand and told him it’s ok, we’ll get through this. Tried to make my face look like I believed him every time he said this is the last time. I’m going to make it this time. Smiled at him. Believed in him. Encouraged him.

I have spent my weekends going wherever rehab was – I have not missed a promotion ceremony or graduation – I show up for every family day – I drive 5 hours each way to spend 3 hours with him so he is not alone on Sundays – I write letters so he gets mail – I arrange my schedule around what time he’s allowed to call – I schedule our whole lives around him.

We do not live in the same house because he’s been in rehab over and over and he’s still not sober. We finally had agreed that he would get sober and then he could come back home after the girls are graduated and moved out. But no sooner. How is this separation?

How can my husband see this as a separation?

I have stayed. Every time. Through every relapse and new hospital stay and rehab and relapse…I have stayed.

Living at two separate addresses is not separated. Not when I put everything that I want our life to be on hold. Every time. I put what he needs. Where he needs to be. What kind of support he needs from me. I put that first. My life happens around his needs.

I. Stay. I have stayed. I always stay.

Don’t tell me that we’re separated now because I made the decision not to let him come home while the girls are still home. Don’t tell me that making sure our girls feel safe in their own home means we’re separated.

I am not moving on. I am not halfway out the door. I am all in. I am waiting for our miracle. Waiting for his sobriety. Waiting to start our marriage over. I am waiting because I have stayed.

So please don’t disregard the sacrifices our family has made by labeling us “separated”.

We are a broken, fragile, burdened family. But we have not given up.

I realize now I’ve said at least half of this out loud. Most of it in a very defensive tone.

It’s time to go. You give us our homework. We set up our next appointment. I reach over for the card and it’s right there. In black and white.

Married

Separated

Posted in Addiction, Addiction is a family affair, Alcoholism, Celebrate Recovery, Communicating in marriage, Dealing with relapse, Family, First NLR, Marriage, Mom of girls, Our Life, Prayer, Recovery, the Road to Becoming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Surviving

The first few days your husband starts rehab – it’s like the 5 stages of grief except you don’t get anytime to stay in any of the stages so you don’t get to process the feelings. All you get to do is feel all of the feelings.

  • Denial. Really this starts before the decision to go (back) to rehab is made. After all. We’ve been here. Done this. Why will this time be different. Doesn’t he know what he needs to do to get sober? Why are we doing this again. What about this program will make it stick.
  • Anger. Are we ever not angry during the whole addiction? It’s not even the anger that anyone really questions. What are we angry about? Who are we angry at? Because anger feels like my right. It feels justified. I am not angry that Rob needs to go back to rehab. I understand that. I do everything I can to help facilitate that. I am angry about what this is going to mean for me. For our kids. I am angry because once again he is going to go off to some place where he’ll be told what to do, when to do it, where to do it, encouraged to read and study the Bible, participate in group therapy, one on one therapy, quiet time….the specifics vary from each rehab, but the idea of rehab is a time of rest and renewal. Working on themself. If I had a dollar for every time I heard them tell my husband and me that he needs to be selfish and take care of himself…well. I could pay for his rehab. He needs to put his recovery before being a father, husband, having a job, or anything that might work against his ability to get and stay sober.

And I just want to say. NO.

This is not what I need. I need a break. I need a week – a month – when I get to take care of myself and not worry about anything else. I need to process everything that’s happened and what that means for our family and I need to try to make sure our kids survive this with the least amount of scars as possible. <<<Spoil alert – the least amount of scars are a number so high you cannot count them. You mostly cannot see them. At least for the next few weeks – months – because they are also just surviving.

Surviving. That is all we, the family, get to do. We get to survive. We have to do all of the things and go to all of the places and keep all of the plates spinning and never drop one because if one plate falls while we are in survival mode…we may stop surviving.

  • Bargaining. Oh this one. Why isn’t this at the top and in the middle and at the end? Because it is. We bargain with the addict to get him to agree to go to rehab. We bargain with how long he’ll have to stay. We bargain about what we will and won’t tell people. How much we will and won’t share with people. We bargain about when he’s ready to leave rehab. None of these bargainings go well. And when, its the end of the last most recent rehab and for the first time you tell your husband he can’t come home. You tell him it’s too soon and you have to find some kind of sober living house for him to go to. Is this the ultimate bargaining? When a mom and a wife finally decides that she and the kids have to figure out how to move forward. And she knows she can’t do that wondering if he’ll relapse in 6 months or 5 days. So we bargain. Make plans. Change those plans. No one is happy with the end result of the bargaining. It’s literally just what you have to do to survive. Nothing more. And honestly, not even close to enough.
  • Depression. Sometimes you get to admit your depression at this point. Unless the addict is depressed and points to that as why he drinks. Because when the addict is depressed, your depression will always get put on the back burner. Your mental health will not be a priority. Your job is to keep the family together and to be as supportive as possible to the addict. You will go deeper and deeper into the hole you started digging to get away, ultimately to realize you aren’t getting away, you’re only digging a hole deeper than you could ever pull yourself out of on your own.
  • Acceptance. In grief – or, the death of a loved one, acceptance simply means. You accept what has happened and move forward. Yes. Life will look different but you have accepted what has happened and you start to learn to move forward. In an addicts family, acceptance is layered and confusing and fluid. There are some facts you have to accept. These are the next steps. You accept that. This is what the next steps mean for you and your family. You accept this not because you agree with it or like it or it is how you want it to be. You accept it because it is happening to you. Your influence on what happens to you is minimal at best. The family of an addict accepts what is happening to them because there is often no other choice.

Then there’s the acceptance of changed plans. You made a plan. Details were ironed out. Dates were set. You had a sense of knowing this is how we start moving forward.

Except. That’s not how it’s going to be. You’ve barely had time to accept the plan before it changes. And not a small change. A big change. And he isn’t asking you. He’s telling you. And he isn’t even just telling you this is what he wants to do. He’s telling you. This is the plan I made. And when you try to remind him you had made a plan together, all he says is. This is the plan I made. And. Once again. You realize all of this is happening to you. You don’t get to have a say. You get to figure out how to survive. And not complain because let’s not forget that he’s being told in his meetings – Your Job is to stay sober. Not to worry about your family or being a husband or father or employee. Your job is to not drink and to work on yourself.

Maybe one of the hardest parts of acceptance is this. Accepting that whatever his behavior looks like, he is being encouraged to behave this way. It is drilled into his mind that he has no responsibility except to stay sober.

But bills still have to be paid. Jobs have to be worked. Children have to be raised and sent to school and church and fed and bathed and taxi-ed to every. Place. Life goes on. No matter how much I need life to stop. To have time to breathe and sort through all the feelings and time to make long lasting decisions instead of making snap decisions that you know you are going to regret sooner than later but you don’t have time to figure it out so the snap decision is what you have.

Time is not your friend. The longer he’s in rehab or the sober living house…you and your family are learning <again> how to live without him. You take a minute and wonder if it’s better with him gone. Or if it will be better when he comes home sober. Except at this point you don’t even know if that will ever be an option.

You wonder if you should put a timeline on him moving back home. And you think you have that figured out.

Then. A year later. He’s kicked out of the sober living house and you look back on the last 6 months and beat yourself up for not seeing whatever signs would have told you he had relapsed. You relive the weekend visits and tear apart each moment. Trying to pinpoint those little changes. Angry at yourself for not seeing what was happening. Angry at him for relapsing and hiding it. Except you realize you can’t be angry at him for hiding it because there were signs and you just did not have the energy to admit you were seeing them. It was easier to brush off those little heart checks you felt and instead just count down the hours until he went back to the sober living house.

And you try to weave through the complex web of lies he’s been telling. Still is telling. You are in full panic mode now. He can’t come home. He can’t even stay sober in a sober living home. So you fight. And he goes to his parents.

And now it’s a year since he’s been there. And there’s no progress. And you’re still angry…depressed. You’re moving away from acceptance because you’re so stuck on anger and you need him to get sober. You need something or someone to mean enough to him for him to decide he needs help. But after more than 20 years of this, you’re almost ready to give up hope and resign yourself to this being the rest of your life.

So we wait. We know that nothing is changing and we wait. And we don’t bargain because there is nothing left to bargain for. We aren’t in denial. We just don’t talk about it. We only talk about it to ourself. I have all of these conversations in my head with him. And I tell myself I will Be brave enough to have these conversations with him in real life. And I back down every time. Because fear is a real thing.

I fear he will drink so much he loses his job

I fear he will drink and drive

I fear he will not survive the next time he has a 4.3 BAC

I fear he will become sick because of his drinking and I will be left taking care of him but still unable to control his drinking.

I fear our girls will move as far away from me as they can because they need to distance themselves from just surviving.

I fear there is nothing I can do or say or be that will help him.

I fear that I will never get past feeling like this is all my fault.

I fear that he will convince me he’s sober and he’ll come back home…and I fear that that next relapse will leave me paralyzed and unable to even just survive

I fear he will come back home because he is sober and I will not be able to stop fearing and dreading and planning my reaction to his next relapse.

I fear that one of my girls will fall into this addictive life. As the addict or as the addicts family. It’s what they’ve known. I fear they won’t break the cycle. I fear that this is my legacy to them. The one thing I pray against more than anything.

I fear that no matter which of these things happen, one or some or all, I fear that I have already lost myself. I don’t know where she is anymore. And I don’t have time to look for her as long as I’m stuck surviving.

Posted in Addiction, Addiction is a family affair, Alcoholism, Celebrate Recovery, Dealing with relapse, Family, Marriage, Our Life, Recovery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments