Saturday, February 27, 2016

Another surprise visit at the rehab

One year ago this weekend, I got one of the best surprises I have ever received.  I was in my second stay in treatment, and Chad had promised me that he would not be bringing the kids to see me this time around.  He said the visits were so emotionally exhausting for the kids, and they even had a rough time after their weekly fifteen minute supervised phone call with me.  I was devastated by this, but I also understood.  I prayed nightly that I would get to see them, as one-hundred days without any contact with them was a daunting thought.  I didn't know if I could get through it.

I had originally told Chad and the kids that I would be leaving treatment on February 17th, as I had initially signed up for the thirty-seven day program.  Only a couple of weeks into my stay, and after learning that I didn't have a home to go to, I made the wise decision to stay for a little over three months.

When Chad visited me on Valentine's Day, he informed me that he would come to see me on February 28th for an hour, so that he would be allowed to pick me up on March 15th for a four hour out visit to celebrate our fifteen-year anniversary.  I was required to have two successful in-visits before I was allowed to leave the facility.  I thought this sounded like a great idea.

So, on Saturday February 28th, I got up and got ready for my visit.  I put on a button up ivory shirt with gold buttons, put on a new pair of jeans I had gotten out of donations, and threw on my favorite olive green vest.  I wore my favorite cognac ankle boots, did my make-up, and spiked my inch long hair.  I was pretty excited to see Chad again, and, honestly, I couldn't wait to just hold his hand.  I knew I was still not welcome in our home, but I saw something in his eyes when he had visited two weeks prior that told me there was still hope left for our marriage and our family.  I had surrendered to the idea that I just had to work on myself and what had led me into my addiction and trust God with the rest.

I always volunteered to help with lunch duty for the other residents and their families on visit Saturdays.  Most of the other girls left the house for visits, and I really wasn't even sure what time Chad would show up.  Families started arriving for visits, and another girl and I started preparing lunch.  I will never forget this moment.  I was standing in the kitchen with a ceramic tray of rolled up turkey and ham (you know, so they would look pretty) in my hands, and I looked out the front door to the driveway.  I saw my white Honda Odyssey pull up, and I wondered why Chad had driven it.  He typically drove his truck or car.  I got excited when I saw his face, and then I realized there was someone in the van.  I thought that maybe he had brought one of my friends with him.  Then, I saw the side automatic door open, and out stepped the most beautiful sight I have ever three kids.  I immediately started jumping up and down, yelling, and crying.  All of the other girls ran into the kitchen to see what the commotion was all about.  I remember saying, through tears, "My kids."  The other girls hugged me and cried right along with me.  That's what happens in rehab.  We grow to love one another like sisters (even though we sometimes drive one another crazy!) and share in each other's burdens and joys.

Chad and the kids walked into the office area to get checked in.  It felt like an eternity while I waited for them.  I stood right by the door and waited.  The office door creaked open, and in they walked.  I hugged them all at once, then stepped back to take a look.  It had only been about seven weeks since I had last seen them, and they already looked different.  I noticed that Addy's hair was extra curly, and it was clear she had slept in sponge curlers the night before (the above picture was actually taken by her dad that Friday night before bed).  She was wearing coral pants, a navy blue and white striped peplum top, and tan suede ankle boots.  My eyes moved to Ethan.  He had on jeans, a light blue, white, and navy blue striped button up, with a navy blue dressy sweatshirt over top of it.  A smile took over my face when I looked to the neck of his sweatshirt and saw little aviator sunglasses hanging there.  He looked so big.  Then beautiful as always.  She was wearing a new PINK outfit (her favorite store) and new Vans.  I told them all that they looked adorable.  They replied that Chad had taken them to the mall the night before to get them a new outfit for their visit.  How precious.  It was clear that he was doing an amazing job taking care of them.  They had brought Wendy's food with them, and we went into the dining room to eat.  The room was full, so we went out to the empty sunroom to sit at the table there.  The kids talked, telling me story after story.  They also told me that they had started going to counseling.  I asked how that was going, and they replied that they usually just spent the time telling on one another.  I was not surprised.

Addy wanted to walk upstairs to see my room.  I let her walk up the spiral staircase that she LOVED, and we went into my room.  I showed her which bunk was mine, and she laid down in it.  She had previously sent me a little Sully doll from the Monsters, Inc. movie (her favorite), and I showed her him sitting on my bed and told her that I slept with it every night.  She laid down on my bed, closed her eyes, and said she wished she could have a sleep-over with me.  She had no idea how badly I wanted that as well.

We went back downstairs into the sunroom and spent the rest of the visit playing games and working puzzles.  I loved the feeling of just watching them:  seeing their faces light up as they told me a funny story; watching them laugh and smile; knowing that they were just eating up the attention they were getting from me.  The four hours flew by and were over in the blink of an eye.

The worst part of visits are the good-byes, especially when kids are involved.  I walked them to the door, and Addy grabbed ahold of me.  The older two were holding back tears, but Addy could not contain them.  She wrapped her arms around me, buried her face in my arm, and just cried.  I hugged her, kissed her, and told her I would call her in just a few days.  That feeling of knowing my kids were going through pain directly because of something I had done is not something easy to shake.  In fact, it is something that I think about daily and it fuels my fire to stay clean and continue on in my recovery.  Chad pulled Addy off of me, and they walked out the door.  I quickly ran upstairs so I could watch them drive off of the hill and down the long driveway.  Once again, I watched the vehicle until it disappeared from my sight.  I turned away with the knowledge that I had really messed things up, that I had put my entire family through turmoil.  But, I also had hope.  Hope that there was nothing I had done that I couldn't make amends for.  Hope that there was nothing that could not be restored.  Hope that I could spend the rest of my life being the mother that they needed and deserved.  Hope that life for our family was not over; rather it was just beginning.  

To read about my first surprise visit, click here.

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