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.
Carrie Corrigan says
One – Number of internet friends you have in Green Bay, WI cheering you on, sending you love & sarcastic IG messages on the daily. 🙂
I appreciate all of those things equally. Thanks, Carrie.
God bless you Mary.
Rebecca Arenas says
One – Number of internet friends you have in Pawtucket, RI cheering you on, sending you love & sarcastic IG messages on the daily. (Nice one Carrie Corrigan :D)
Rebecca, thank you!!
64. The number of years I have lived; but you in your years are much stronger, far braver, and more connected to your faith and beliefs than I could ever hope to be. You are an inspiration. Much love!
Carolyn, you’re too kind and giving me much more credit than I deserve. I would say Jesus did this, and I’m just following (being dragged?) along. But thank you. Love you.
We continue to pray for all of you. Love you.
Thank you, Kathie. I appreciate the continued prayers. Love you too.
Lisa K says
Sending your prayers. Whether or not you see it, you are incredibly brave. You are strong. You are an inspiration to me.
Always appreciate the prayers, Lisa. Thank you. And the encouragement–you’re good at that.
Amanda C. says
I found you and have followed you on Instagram because of Weight Watchers for awhile now. I have an alcoholic sister. I can’t say that I know how it feels to be married to an alcoholic, but I feel pretty confidant that I can relate to you in many ways. I don’t have a relationship with her, because I am fed up with the BS and lies and all that comes with that disease. I remember reading your post about when you found out he was hiding drinking from you and that you had asked him to leave your home. I cried. Since then, I’ve looked forward to getting your blog updates on your family, just praying that everything would be okay. I don’t even know you, but you have no idea how happy I am to hear that you are all back together and just in time for Christmas! God is good!!
God is good no matter what. Thank you for following and caring for our family, Amanda. I cried when I shared him leaving too. I’m sorry you know the BS and lies of alcoholism. There is nothing wrong with deciding you can no longer be in relationship with someone who is unhealthy. It’s brave and no one else will ever understand it, but it’s what has to happen. Thanks for the encouragement and for sticking with us.
One -internet sister you have in Madison, Wisconsin. Your authenticity humbles me. God shows up in our weakness. Praying for you and your family.
Oh man, He shows up and shows off in our weakness, that’s for sure. Thanks, Kitty.
Elizabeth Roark says
Three-the things you have from this woman in Chipley, FL. Prayers, empathy, and admiration. Except the admiration is really like, “God, look what You’re doing in and through Mary. Look what You’re doing in and through Chris. Look what you are doing in and through those girls.” Much love. Keep on keepin’ on.
I love those three things. And yes, you’re so right, I don’t do much to deserve admiration, but I serve a God who does. He’s doing some good work in the Graham family. Thanks for the encouragement, Elizabeth.
Joan Phegley says
I opened your email today, not sure what prompted me.
I’ve stopped reading blogs and such after going through a divorce (31 yr marriage).
But, I couldn’t stop reading…your blog post gives me hope as a woman.
Mostly because you are REAL…it’s what attracted me to your blog a couple of years ago.
It’s been almost 4 years since I walked out, DONE with living with a narcissistic man.
He will always “be RIGHT”, and I will always be “TOO GOOD FOR HIM”…
HOPE is the what I hold onto.
What I know now…
No one’s life is like mine.
No one’s ever walked in my shoes.
I used to be embarrassed by my spouse’s behavior (losing jobs every 7 years), borrowing money from his own kids to pay back loans from his friends…abusive language, threats behind closed doors, and his “holier-than-thou” behavior the moment we drove into the church parking lot (opening the doors for me, volunteering to pray (he never prayed with his family at home).
BE BRAVE Mary!
It’s something I learned I can do, living on my own as a empty-nesting grandmother.
We are amazing creatures, “born for GREATNESS” as Papa Roach sings! I believe it EVERYday.
I pray you do too!
Joan, thank you! I know exactly what prompted you to open my email after all this time–the Holy Spirit. His prompting is always perfectly timed if we listen and respond. I’m so glad you read today and I pray you continue to have hope in our God who redeems and restores and overwhelms us with His goodness even when we don’t deserve it. Thanks for the encouragement, Joan.
Your faith is so very strong and you are a true reflection of God’s constant work. Family is so very important and God knows that. My prayers will continue for you, the girls, Chris and your extended families.
Thanks, Balynda. I appreciate the prayers and support. Miss you, friend.
I don’t even remember how I came about following you. But your blogs are raw and truthful and hopeful and beautiful. Been praying for you and your family. I love how Jesus takes broken things and restores them for the world to see.
Kelly, thank you for your prayers! We appreciate it so much and feel them daily. I love to see how God restores things too–I think it’s one way we have to talk about the hard, so we can show His glory to the world.
I am an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA) and I commend you for your strength to get things right for your children. I really hope that your husband can continue to count his days of sobriety and be there for you and help raise your children. I also hope that your children are lucky enough to have a sober daddy who spends time with them as well as you getting the spouse you married. Thank you for sharing your story.
I hope those things as well, Tiffany. Chris is a ACOA as well, and I’m pretty determined to stop that cycle with my girls. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂
Katherine Starfish says
12,000 just slew me. Wow.
Me too. I cried for days after that message. Just so overwhelmed I couldn’t do anything but cry.