We were at an impasse.
Chris was nearing the end of his 30-day treatment program, and we didn’t know what was next.
He wanted to come home. I didn’t think he was ready. I didn’t think I was ready.
As he worked through the end of his program with his counselor, they explored other options: a transitional living house or going to live with someone else.
I explained to Chris my reservations, how I was still adamant about keeping our girls safe, both physically and emotionally. While it was hard for them with Chris gone, we had our routines and a new normal. Chris coming home and possibly relapsing was too much uncertainty for me. If that happened, he’d have to leave again. I couldn’t imagine putting the girls through that again, so he wasn’t to come back yet. He needed more time. He needed more sobriety.
Plus, we hadn’t even begun to address the shambles of our marriage. As Chris got sober and the fog of constant alcohol left, he was becoming more of the kind, patient, loving man I married, but there was still a lot of things we needed to address and heal.
I told him I didn’t yet know if he was just an asshole and I hated him, or I hated his addiction which made him an asshole. Because so much of his drinking was done in secret, I thought for years he was just an asshole. So untangling those feelings from my husband and attributing them to addiction was hard, confusing, and tedious.
Understanding where our marriage was and the fears I had about hurting the girls more, I told Chris it just wasn’t best for him to come home.
But as I told him this, I was asking for people to pray specifically about what should happen next. If someone called or texted or sent me a message about praying, I gave them few details but a very direct request: please pray for the next step for Chris and that whatever happens, it would be the best option for all of us.
I wanted to say with complete certainty he shouldn’t be in the house again but I wanted it to be God’s will and not mine.
So the people prayed.
During this time, I was reading The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. I was learning in brutally honest ways how my tendencies were helping and hindering my life. I was taking a hard look at where my motivations are and how my God-given personality traits can be used in healthy and unhealthy ways.
(If you haven’t read the book yet, please stop reading this blog post and immediately go get it. It will crack you open in a way nothing else has. The way the Enneagram has helped me see myself and others clearer is life-altering.)
I’m an eight on the Enneagram; also known as the Challenger. I’m here to say hard things, lead others, and stand up for justice. I’m motivated by fear—not fear of others but fear of being controlled and fear of being betrayed. There are a million other things that make up my personality, but reading that book was difficult because no one should know me that well. It’s a little too exposing.
So I’m reading this book, processing through all the things it’s helping me understand, and praying about what’s next for Chris.
And I keep hearing this one answer from God when I pray. One word: fear. I ignore it because it’s probably just me, not God, and every time I ask what Chris should do next, where he should go, how we should proceed, what I should do about my marriage, I just keep hearing that one word.
So I sit with it for a while, I sit with it for days. What about fear? Fear of what? And then I hear it plain as day, what would I do next if I wasn’t afraid?
I know the answer to this before I want to. I know what I would do if I took fear out of the picture. I know what happens next if I wasn’t living afraid. I know what God has been reminding me again and again through this season.
I need to ask Chris to come home even if I don’t want to. Even if I’m afraid about what could happen.
I can’t control this. God is in control, not Mary Graham. And while I am doing everything I can to control what little I actually have control of, God is telling me to let him do this. To let him take care of me and the girls and Chris and just be obedient.
That night on the phone, I tell Chris through tears he can come home. When his thirty days is up next week, he can come back to our house and try again. I’m afraid and fearful, but I know it’s what I’m supposed to do.
He listens and soon we get off the phone.
Two days later, he calls me with his answer: No, he’s not coming home.