I wrote this over the New Year break and it took a little time for me to be okay posting it, but it’s where my head was and sadly still is. Don’t hate the addict hate the disease.
There I was on New Year’s Eve home sick with a cold and I couldn’t do much besides watching the Sex and the City marathon on E! I was in bed by 8:20 pm and no ball dropping event was happening that night for me. That wasn’t always the case, NY Eve was always a time to keep the party going. It usually stared after Christmas and rolled into the New Year. However, I never needed an excuse to party. For over twenty years I rode that party bus until the DUIs became real, the self-loathing and drunken stories weren’t fun anymore and I had to take honest stock of my life. Now that I’m almost sixteen years sober, life is very different and figuring out which guided meditation I’m going to do on Insight Timer can be my biggest worry of the day.
As we move into this new decade, reflection upon the past ten years has been emotional, heartfelt, joyous, sad, adventurous, raw – what am I missing? It’s been a sober decade for me and one where lessons were learned, behaviors were fine-tuned, and boundaries were tested, stomped on and crossed.
I’ve spent the last decade in a relationship with my husband, who is also an addict/alcoholic like myself. Eight years of those we were married. This man is someone I love deeply with all my heart, soul and body. We met in early 2010, at an AA meeting, where he was under a year sober. We started dating soon after, and yes, I know what you are going to say, “Don’t date a newcomer – you should have known better.” I knew that and I did it anyway – my heart felt what it felt. We were married 18 months later. We were the AA couple; having potluck dinner parties with our fellows, going to meetings, working steps with our sponsors, being of service and feeling a part of the AA community.
Early on I saw some cracks, but my love for him superseded any of those defects that would, of course, go away with enough step work. Twenty-four hours after our wedding, he relapsed on marijuana. I was stunned. I felt betrayed and manipulated. My first instinct was to get an annulment and my second thought was that I truly love this person and I will stand by his side while he travels his journey to get clean again. This is just a slip up; he’ll get back in the program and we will be ok. Except we weren’t ok, and his disease was progressive. I went to Al-Anon, got a sponsor, worked steps and did all the things I was supposed to do. How come he couldn’t just get it again like before? I was playing God a lot and hoping, wishing and praying. It wasn’t enough because I couldn’t fix him. I did this – over and over and over and over and over and over again for the next eight years. Rinse and repeat.
There’s a lot of things I can write about what occurred during that time, but in the end, his addiction was stronger than our wedding vows. I had to finally let go. It’s been the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make and I’m still going through it and it fucking sucks. Every day I want to stay in bed and hit the snooze button for summer to come around to wake me up. (Summer is when I think I’ll be doing better). But no, I pray for him every day. I pray for myself to get stronger and more courageous. I pray that I made the right decision. I pray that I can learn how to be alone, and I pray that I’ll be able to love myself more than I did the day before. During our marriage, I lost myself being that codependent and enabling wife. That is a sickness in of itself. I am relearning how to value myself and put me first. It may take some time to dismantle myself from the decade long relationship, but I’m doing all the next indicated steps and showing up each day as best I can.
I’m doing the work, as we say, and sometimes I’m not doing the work. Sometimes I’m happy to be social with my friends, go to a meeting, take a hot yoga class, show up for work and take Bailey on a walk. That’s a good day. On other days I don’t want to leave my house. I watch Netflix, eat chocolate cake for all of my nutritious meals, and I sit in my sadness and cry for what seems an eternity, it’s usually every hour at 15-minute intervals, with my box of medicated Vick’s tissues. Grief is just love with no place to go. I see that sentiment a lot on social media and I get it. I’ve lost both my parents in the past few years. My siblings are back East, and my spouse and Bailey were my family. No matter how bad he was in his addiction, it wasn’t all bad. There were good phases of our marriage where happiness, hugs, and sunsets were daily. Where I had hope and we loved on each other and we got it. Those days were fewer in the past couple of years and the trudging was getting deeper and murkier. I was sinking quickly into a vat of trying to think my way out of a toxic situation.
Walking through a divorce is the last thing I ever wanted to do. I tried so hard to save the marriage, to save him, to save us – only to keep falling on my face as I can’t save anyone but myself. Surrender and give it to God. Isn’t that what we are told? The practice of surrendering each day is hard, really fucking hard. Earlier in my sobriety, I went through break-ups and at the time, those were devastating! But I moved on and stayed sober and was able to help others going through the same thing. It’s not pretty growing up in the rooms or around others, but it’s always about giving back. The service. That’s my purpose right now, is to be of service to others and put my shit show on the back burner. It will still be there when I need to nurture it and let it go.
As Glennon says, We can do hard things. That’s my mantra right now. I see others choosing a word for 2020 or making a resolution; not me, I’m choosing myself for 2020 knowing I can do hard things.