December 2011…I drove the 14 hours to Louisiana to pick up hubby from rehab. On the drive home, between uneasy moments of sleep, we talked. Talked about things he had learned while there. Apologies for things I had waited (years) for. Promises for a brighter future. A sober future.
I was hopeful. I didn’t yet know what our life would look like, but I was hopeful. A week later, my grandma passed away. and with that, the first disappointment in our “new” life. Hubby couldn’t go home with us. He had missed 2 months of work, was only back a week, couldn’t miss more. I was devastated.
So much for the promises of being there. I was angry. I drove the 13 hour drive home, with 3 kids, at night, alone. Again. I went to the visitation, stood in the parking lot, not able to go in. Alone. Again. Yeah, I was angry.
Life went on. Sober Christmas…we were trying to adjust to living with a husband/dad who was present. It’s hard. Forgiveness did not come…easily…No, that’s not true. Forgiveness did not come. Period.
But I had heard stories. Stories from people who had been where we were. Stories of the lack of trust that took months, sometimes years, to build back. I was moving slowly…guarding my heart. My husband was not happy about that. He had stopped drinking, I should trust him now. No waiting, no exceptions. So there was anger. And yes, he was sober. But it was a sober drunk. The behaviors hadn’t changed, they just weren’t magnified by alcohol anymore.
Until April. I call it his first relapse. He says he’s only had one relapse, just with a few weeks of not drinking in the middle of it.
I think this is the first time in my life I felt truly broken. There is no other word. I left work early, took a couple of days off, took the girls out of school and checked in to a local hotel. I had nothing left. No more chances, no more trying again…nothing… But, what was I going to do?
So, a couple of days later, we went home. I had told the girls we were having a mini vacation. He was (at least looked) sober when we got home. He promised not to drink again. I believed him. I didn’t believe him. It didn’t matter what I believed, I had no feelings for him. I didn’t care what he did, as long as he didn’t hurt the girls.
Fast forward to the end of May (see my earlier post, 17 Birthdays)…it was awful. I was angry. There was no love. No forgiving. Nothing. I was done. I wasn’t leaving. But I was done.
A couple of months later, I was leaving. He was leaving, or I was. It was too hard. I was too tired. Too broken. I had started seeing a pastor for counseling and we agreed. I needed a break. This was too much.
So, the hubby agreed to go to another rehab center and at least talk to them. The deal was, you are going there, or you are going somewhere, but you aren’t staying here. So, we went. And (story for another day) he didn’t stay. He came back home. I would realize later, he had been delivered from both his alcohol and tobacco addiction. Completely delivered. (another story, I promise)
And, he was a new person. Still a lot of things to work on, but he was different. But I wasn’t. I had nothing for him. No love, compassion, care..and I truly felt he had no love for me either.
I worried every day about another relapse. Constantly checked for bottles under the bed, in the closet, garage… Sobriety doesn’t fix everything. And that was devastating to me. Because, I had lived with this for long enough. And now it’s supposed to be better. Good. Easy. Snap your fingers. Done.
We started going to counseling together. With an amazing pastor. He is patient, understanding, real, and stuck with us. When we went for weeks without any change. Truthfully, probably without (me at least) wanting to change.
After all, I hadn’t gotten to the place where I realized I had issues too. No, it was still all him. And then, you have the fact that I really and truly did not think he loved me anymore. I thought he was only staying for the girls. My insecurity was on overdrive.
Until, just a few short months ago, during a heart wrenching week, I thought he was drinking again. And, I confronted him. In love. OK, maybe not in love. But, in the words of love that our pastor had advised me to use.
He Was Mad. Angry. Mad. We didn’t talk for a few days. I thought he was leaving. We fought. I was angry. I was confused. I had found bottles. He insisted they were old. (They were, I was not having it.)
The next week, during counseling, we talked about it. His anger. How much it had hurt him. How, if it had come from anyone else but me, his wife, that it wouldn’t have hurt so much. But for it to come from the person he loves more than anyone…
Wait. Did you get that? The person he loves more than anyone…Loves. Loves. Loves.
That was my moment. The look in his eyes…I knew…he was being honest. And I was broken. Again. But differently. Broken in love.
And the forgiveness came. The desire for closeness came. The willingness to actually start trying came. Not without effort, but it came.
It wasn’t expected. I didn’t mean to forgive him. I didn’t mean to stop blaming him.
Because I have heard stories from other wives. Stories of how it took years…and stories from husbands of how they knew they didn’t deserve it even when it came. And I was all set in to make him pay for at least two years.
Because I was justified. I was the injured party. It was all his fault. And I was going to make him suffer…maybe not for as long as I had, but for a long time.
But there is no timeline. The stories I have heard are not my story. I had no right to tell God it was going to take me two years. And I had no right to expect it to come immediately.
No two people suffer through the exact same things. You can relate to similarities but my feelings and memories are mine. I can’t say that if you lived through your husband’s addiction for 17 years, you will forgive him and be ready for a new relationship with him 6 months in to his sobriety. Or 4 years of addiction and be ready by his one year mark.
My story is not yours. My timeline is not yours. My hurts are not yours. My healing is not yours.
All I can share is my story. My timeline. A timeline that was definitely not my will. But one that is my reality. It is not better than anyone else’s. It is not a timeline to measure against.
All I can share is my hope. And my hope is that you have put your timeline aside and given God control of it. Because He knows the perfect time. He knows when your heart is ready. He doesn’t judge us for taking longer than someone else, He only calls out to us to be in His will, in His time.
All I can share is God’s promise. That when you think you can’t take another day, He will bring you through it. He walks with you and cries with you and suffers with you. And when you get to that mark on His timeline for your life, you will know. And it will be perfect. For you.