The days I’ve lived in the shock and reality that I’m married to an alcoholic.
135 mornings since I walked downstairs at 6:20 after a night of wrestling with the Holy Spirit’s promptings in a way I still don’t have words to explain and found empty beer cans in my supposed-to-be-sober husband’s work truck. I packed his bags for him and demanded he leave our house.
The 8th of September, the day I removed my wedding rings with every intention of not putting them back on. Every thing was broken. Every single thing.
3 + 1
The teeth Harper lost and the soccer season she completed while Chris was gone, physically and mentally.
The number my friend Adam called as we stood in the Burger King parking lot on September 27th with a drunk, broken Chris Graham. That night he, against his will, entered a detox facility.
The number of times I made appointments with a divorce attorney to begin the process of legally ending my marriage to my husband.
The number of times sudden, out-of-my-control things happened which forced me to reschedule or cancel my divorce attorney appointments.
Eleven years of marriage in October. I marked the day by driving in a car with my parents and daughters through the mountains as we headed home from vacation. Around 6:30 in the evening, as the sun was fading, I sped down the highway and listened to the song my bridal party walked down the aisle to. It didn’t make me cry, it felt okay. I had peace about what was happening.
The number of dead animals I’ve had to take care of as I live here in the country with just my two girls. By “take care of” I mean, I had my 60-something year old aunt scoop one up and throw it in the field. Another one I just mowed around until animals took over. I just really wanted to tell you about the dead animals. I actually did nothing brave.
Months I’ve been in counseling; it seems like the work has just begun.
Hey Mary, Doug here. I wanted you to know we are just returning from India (at Heathrow Airport right now) and I asked Ajai and Indu to put you and Chris on their prayer chain. It is not too big, only 12,000 people who fast and pray around the clock. They are on-their-bellies, pleading-with-God kind of prayer warriors, and it puts me to shame, but what else is new…All they have is your first names, but I figure God has the rest covered.
Chris spent thirty days in intensive, in-patient treatment for alcohol addiction.
I visited Chris four Saturdays while in the treatment center. I spent an hour in family group where we learned about the disease of addiction, co-dependency, and life after addiction. I sat with parents who were on their seventh or eighth round of rehab with a child. I sat with spouses who felt hopeless about their situations. I sat with siblings who brought addicts’ children to visiting hours. I sat with alcoholics. I sat with hopeful families and families who were just going through the motions. I sat next to empty chairs because some families were done with this bullshit.
Hours on November 3rd for Chris to check out of the treatment center, come home, pack his bags, and check back into their transitional housing program. It was just the beginning of the help he needed.
Four times I’ve received letters or phone calls notifying me that our insurance is dropping Chris’ level of care. Insurance, much like alcohol, sounds good at the beginning, but just when you need it the most, it lets you down, ruins your plans, makes you feel overwhelmed and helpless.
Five months after it was due, my teaching bonus from last year came in the mail. Perfectly timed. Right when we needed it the most. Just like every other single time.
Days without wearing my wedding ring. Chris asked shyly, humbly, cautiously if I’d wear it again because he wanted to keep the promises he made the day he slipped it on my finger. He said everything was broken but he wanted to start again. I said yes.
Transitional housing days. Days for Chris to continue therapy, continue learning, continue starting again. He practiced going to a job sober, working a job sober, driving home from a job sober. He made friends, played with his kids, saw fellow treatment patients relapse. He established some boundaries, stood up for himself, said goodbye to some triggers. Fifty days of acknowledging the depression, the anxiety, the lack of coping skills. Fifty days realizing that there was help, he was not beyond it, and he wanted it.
Chris has been home fourteen days. He came home without fanfare on December 22nd, in the middle of the day, while I was teaching. He sat down at the table with the girls, opened science kits, and began sewing internal organs with Harper. He sewed a brain. He stitched together a heart.
The amount on the Cheddars gift card a friend sent. She said take the girls to lunch or treat a friend. I used it to go on a first date with my husband. It felt scary and weird. We sat at a table, and I began to get to know my spouse.
Christmas season together I assumed would never happen. When Chris left, my first worry was what Christmas would look like. There were many other things I should have worried about first, but Christmas was my first thought. We celebrated Christmas, probably the best Christmas, together as a family.
Chris hasn’t had a drink in 99 days.
The year of beginning again, one moment at a time, listening, progress not perfection, redeeming, and learning.