I have been sitting here, staring at my blinking cursor, struggling with what my first sentence should be. When I told my therapist of my struggle for a first sentence, she suggested that I write just that…so here I am. I have been wanting to write a blog for sometime now describing my years of struggle and emotions in battling my husband’s alcohol and drug addiction – but I could never find that first sentence, could never pinpoint what experience to start with. Due to some recent events in the last couple of weeks, however, I have finally found my voice, and the beginning of my story.
Two weeks ago- Saturday evening. My husband had just put our older son to bed. As I’m looking at him, I realize that he seems to be “off”…for those of you in my shoes, you know that by “off” I mean that he once again appears to have used something. But I think to myself, nooo, he promised so fervently last time to not use anymore..he wouldn’t. Oh, how powerful the voice of an addict’s denial is that it can even creep into the consciousness of those whose minds are not in the grips of drugs and alcohol.
He leaves to run “errands” – when he comes home, he’s visibly under the influence. And at that moment, all the dormant emotions that are always bubbling beneath the surface – the anger, the hurt, the betrayal, the frustration, the intense desire to spit in his face, to pull my hair, to pound my head against a wall…all these feelings burst forth once again in heated rush of pain. I beg with him, I plead with him on my knees- asking him what he has taken. For 3 hours, he maintains that he took nothing at all. Finally after 3 hours of tears and shattered glass, he concedes that he took percs and drank alcohol. When he finally admitted it, a calm set in. A calm to know that I was not the crazy person he always made me feel when I would question him if he was using, a calm to just know…to know that I could no longer fight this battle- that someone else would have to take it over.
Interestingly, the next day, I receive a call from his brother and prior partner in crime, that he thinks the time has come for an intervention, that my husband needs rehab. That phone call further cemented in my mind the fact that I had to get my husband to rehab. He was quite literally on a self-destructive path to death – whether a mental/emotional death or a physical one.
That phone call from my brother-in-law started a chain of events that week that sizzled with a frenzied energy. I had to get our finances in order, arrange payment, hire an interventionist, get family and friends together, arrange our health care- all while caring for two young children and my husband who was working from home those days.
My first step was to attack the finances – I called the holding company where, per my husband, the “majority of our savings” were housed….a week and a half later, the representatives voice and words still vibrate through my mind…”Your account balance is zero.” My heart sank – where had all our money gone? We at one point had several hundred thousand in savings in there. I can only imagine what the cloud of drugs had done to his sense of judgement…the poor financial decisions they had led him to make. In one phone call, the rug of security was yanked from beneath my feet. Then I started to look at our credit cards…with each card I found, our debt mounted…it is currently at $62K. Then I discovered that he had lied to me about his income and made 1/3 of what he had claimed to have made. Why had he let this go on? So many areas of frivolous spending that could have been cut. Now, I had no income as my husband had lost his job until he cleaned himself up, no savings and no way to pay the mortgage, utilities, cars, etc. Not only did I feel like I had already lost my husband and father of my children but now whatever financial security I thought I had was gone. My entire world had crumbled around my feet in the matter of a few hours. I was devastated.
But still, I knew I had to get my husband to rehab. So I shifted gears and worked feverishly to gather as much financial information as I could to apply for financial aid. I worked with my health insurance company to change my plan to one that would provide some coverage. I worked with the interventionist to orchestrate the entire intervention. The emotional adrenaline of those couple of days was intense. No words can describe the rush of emotions. My family wondered why I bothered- why I didn’t just walk away from him. But I couldn’t walk away- no matter what, I still remembered the man he was before he was sucked down that vacuous rabbit hole of drugs and alcohol…I remembered and loved him. As hard as it was during our fights all these years to separate the man from the alcohol and the drugs – in those moments while planning the intervention I could.
Then came Saturday- the day of the intervention….the intervention was not planned until 6:00 that evening so we had to get through the whole day. He hugged me so deeply in his arms and buried his face in my neck…he told me with those kinds of hugs that he would never need to touch another drug again. Oh the guilt I felt at that moment- was I doing the right thing with the intervention and sending him to rehab? Maybe he could just stop on his own. I spoke to his family who all solidly reminded me that despite our misgivings this was the necessary path – for how many times before had we heard that he was going to stop on his own? I watch him playing outside with my older son and in those moments, I felt like I was enjoying our last minutes united as a family. I had no idea what this evening’s intervention would bring – would he hate us and leave? Would he go to rehab and then relapse? My heart broke into a million pieces, a million times over that day. We lay in bed hugging each other while the boys both napped. I wanted to rattle him by the shoulders and say “why did you have to bring it to this??? Why did you have to destroy us???” He caught me crying so many times that day- each time I would say I was just crying because I was so worried about him. I wonder now if he’s realized the truth of why I was crying.
6:00 came…when he first walked into the room, I realized he was on something. Or well, the observation popped into my head, but even then that niggling voice of denial reared up and convinced me that noooo, he wouldn’t have taken something- not after so lovingly and sweetly declaring his intent to never touch another drug again. Afterward, I found out from the interventionist and the rehab facility that he had, in fact, taken something and had to be admitted to detox for a few days.
And then the intervention began. One by one, we went around the room.
In that room, on that night, there was such an intense shattering of emotion that the voice of denial no longer had a fighting chance- my husband acquiesced to go after only an hour…we didn’t even need to get to our consequences. It makes me wonder if he wasn’t expecting, and maybe even hoping, for this to happen.
The following day I felt such a peace. A peace that he was finally where he needed to be – and a peace that I no longer had to fight that battle myself…at least for 28 days. I knew that the following days and weeks would be frought with more anxiety, more instability as I dealt with the fear that I had lost my husband and met, head-on, the sorry state of our finances. But for that one day, I allowed myself the luxury to let that peace permeate my entire self. And for the first time in a very, very long time, I smiled a genuine smile.