Saturday, June 25, 2016

The day my husband and kids could have died.....and I just wanted pills

October 2010

    "Chad has been in a wreck.  He is okay.  The kids were not with him"my friend Chris says to me calmly as he knows that I possess a tendency to freak out.

     I feel as if I'm going to hyperventilate, but I continue to breathe. 

     Another friend volunteers to take me to the scene of the accident.  I get into his car and he tries to make small talk.  I am barely listening.  We pull up to the scene and there are police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks everywhere.  The flashing lights are overwhelming.  I get out of the car and everything seems to be spinning.  I am not sure if this is because of the shock I am experiencing or because I am high. My feet find the ground and I manage to walk.  I hope that no one notices my stagger.

   My eyes focus and I see Chad's little red S-10.  It appears to be wrapped around a telephone pole.  I tell the firefighter that I am his wife, and he lets me walk over to the truck where Chad is still standing.  He looks at me and immediately begins crying. 

 "They would have died, Misty.  They would have died."  

  I stare strangely at him as I do not know what he is talking about.  Through tears, he manages to tell me that he had both of the kids and their carseats in the truck with him.  At the last minute, he felt an urge to see if they could ride with my sister, since they were going the same place. He points to the right side of the truck, where they would have been sitting, and cries again.  This time I join him. The entire right side of the truck is wrapped around a telephone pole.  There is no right side left.  I think to myself how different this situation could have been.  My babies and their carseats could have been wrapped around that pole.  

    The thought of that overwhelms me and I turn away.  We walk to the road where I see a smashed up car just sitting in the middle of the road, doors open.  There are pill bottles and pills scattered all over the ground.  The police officers inform me that the men in this car were in the wrong lane, and they hit my husband and ran him off the road.  They immediately got out of the vehicle and fled into the woods on foot.  They are being searched for.  I am appalled by this.  Someone under the influence had the audacity to get into a vehicle full of pills and drive....then almost kill my husband.  Then my thoughts change.  I wonder if anyone would notice if I picked up one of those pills?

    Chad refuses to be taken to the Emergency Room.  As we lie in bed that night, we talk about how fortunate we are, and how much worse things could have been.  Chad says, "We could be lying here tonight knowing that tomorrow we would have funerals to plan.  For our babies."  I cry myself to sleep.  I think he does the same.  

   I wake up the next morning, much later than I should have, and realize that I'm really low on pills. Like super low.  I plan on only taking a couple that day.  Within a few short hours, I have emptied the bottle. I begin to panic, and then an idea crosses my mind.  Chad could go get checked out for the wreck, and they could write him a prescription.  I jump straight into full-on manipulation mode, and begin convincing him that he is hurt.  He says that his neck and back do hurt. I continue with the manipulation.  "Chad, you need to go get checked out.  Remember....I was an insurance adjuster.  I know how they look at claims.  If it looks like you aren't in any pain and that you didn't receive anything for it, they will downplay your injuries."  He thinks that I have a good point, and he makes an appointment for the following day.  I am relieved that he has the appointment set up, but I'm not sure how I will make it another twenty-four hours.  The withdrawal symptoms are already setting in.  

  The next day, Chad goes to the doctor, and, sure enough, he comes home with a prescription.  It is my favorite kind.  He takes it to the pharmacy, and I, being the great wife that I am, tell him that I will go pick it up for him.  You know, I will do him a favor.  He says that he will probably never take any of it, so I tell him that we will put it up in the medicine cabinet "just in case" he needs it.  

   I pick the prescription up, and I don't even make it out of the pharmacy parking lot before I've got the bag ripped open, the lid off the bottle, and the pills in my mouth.  I do, in fact, put the medicine bottle in the cabinet, but I continue taking them.  Chad doesn't need them, and he doesn't notice that they are missing.  About a week later, he checks in the cabinet and asks where the pills went.  I, of course, have no idea where they could have gone.  I, of course, had not eaten the entire bottle within two days.  I, of course, had not taken the blessing of God protecting my husband and babies from death and used it to get more drugs.  I, of course, didn't have a problem.

   Believe me, I know that this story sounds repulsive.  I know that it sounds like I just completely spit on the fact that God saved my family from death.  Well, I agree.  This is what addiction does.  It makes us manipulative.  It makes us cunning.  It makes us hypocrites.  It makes us conniving.  It makes us uncaring.  It makes us heartless human beings.  

It makes a mother who is filled with gratitude that her children did not die dismiss this fact and turn around and pick up the pill bottle....yet again.  It makes a mother who loves her children so much tuck them in bed, thank God that they are still alive, and walk straight to the medicine cabinet.  It makes a mother who is thankful for the gift of life, turn around and willingly swallow death.......


Friday, June 24, 2016

There are times...

There are times when I regret that my cover is blown, that my deepest and darkest secrets have been exposed.  And then there are times, like today, that I'm thankful I don't have to keep the con going.
There are times I question my decision to share things that are so private and rather embarrassing, in black and white, for all to see. And then there are times that it feels so freeing, like a caged bird held ransom for so long has finally been set free...that it has once again found its voice.

There are times that I worry what people will think about me after reading these things; times that I publish something deeply personal and I feel sick to my stomach; times that I worry others will think know that I don't have it all together when they hear where I've been and what I've done.  Then, there are times when a friend sits down beside me and digs deeper into my story, asking questions-not to judge me, but to try to understand.  

There are times when it is so hard to tell the complete truth.  And then, there are times when it is much easier to just be honest.  

There are times when I wonder how far I have really come, that I doubt that I can ever really keep this thing called sobriety.  And then, there are times that I have an extremely rough evening; when old wounds are once again exposed and raw; when I feel responsible for the hurt that the people around me are feeling.  There are times when I want to get in my car and drive away from this.  But then there are times that I curl right up to the hurt and deal with it. That I feel it, rather than escape it.

There are times when I think I am so different than other drug addicts....that I am the exception.  And then there are times I realize we are all just the same.  

There are times I am embarrassed that I'm a drug addict, that I want to pretend I am someone else.  And then there are times I just own it, that I have healthy pride in the fact I came so close to death, yet managed to escape it. 

There are times that I wallow in self pity, that I feel sorry for myself and think that I've got it so rough.  And then there are times when I realize how truly blessed and fortunate I am.

There are times, like today, that I feel like throwing the towel in, like giving up. And then, there are times, like today, that I decide, instead, to press on.  

That I dig my fingernails into the last board that I am hanging onto.  

That I close the medicine cabinet rather than open it.

That I pick up one foot and put it in front of the other.  

That I choose joy rather than sorrow.

That I choose real over counterfeit.

That I choose humility over pride.

That I choose gratitude instead of self-pity.

That I choose presence over escape.

That I choose courage instead of fear.

That I choose honesty rather than deception.

That I choose sight instead of blindness.

That I choose to fight instead of surrender.

That I choose the future over the past.  

That I choose companionship instead of loneliness.

That I choose to unlock the cell rather than to stay imprisoned.  

That I choose to be a warrior instead of a victim.  

That I choose lieu of death.  

Read my confession about the daily struggle of staying clean by clicking here.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The day my husband became a single father

This man right here.  He deserves an award.

April 2014.  We drove to church as a family of five, and Chad drove home that day with a family of four.  Three kids to take care of.  On his own.  A single dad.  

I'm going to be honest here.  I doubted him.  I thought that there was no way in the world that he would be able to take care of the kids without me.  My denial kept me from realizing how deep I was in my addiction and led me to believe that I was still taking great care of my children.  How would he fill my shoes?  This fear initially kept me completely opposed to the idea of going to treatment. However, treatment ended up being my only option...the only thing that kept me alive.  

And you know what?  Chad rocked the dad thing.  He morphed from the dad who worked all day and spent a little time with the kids in the evenings to a full-time, hands on, in it to win it dad.  He took time off of work and ministry to make sure the kids had all of the emotional support they needed. After all, I had packed my bags and taken off without even saying good-bye to them.  

He became their rock.  

He kissed the boo-boos. 

He tucked them in at night and assured them there were no monsters in the closet or under the bed. 

He packed the lunches.  

He got them ready for school.

He snuggled them when they crawled into his bed at night because they couldn't sleep.  

He sat at the bus stop waiting for them.  

He dried the tears.  

He became mom and dad. 

He told me to focus solely on myself and getting better and to leave the kids to him.  

He watched YouTube videos and taught himself to french braid.  The man who could barely make a ponytail perfected the french braid.  

He had my sister come over and get clothing ready for the kids for a week at a time until he learned how to do it himself.  

He got them into counseling and drove them thirty minutes each way, one or two days a week, to make sure they processed what was going on.  

He made Easter baskets and had matching outfits made for the kids.  

He planned birthday parties. 

He took our son to his doctor's appointments and medical procedures....without ever even telling me what was going on because he didn't want me to worry.

He had hair bows made.

He learned how to cook gluten free when 2 out of 3 of our kids were diagnosed with Celiac.

He drove hours to watch a five-minute performance at cheer camp.

He bought cards, envelopes, and stamps and encouraged the kids to write to me weekly.  

He shopped for clothing for them when they needed bigger sizes. 

He went to ball games by himself. 

He escorted our oldest daughter across the floor at Parent Night. 

He went to Parent-Teacher conferences. 

He refused help from others because he wanted to learn how to do it on his own.  

He dealt with the aftermath of my weekly telephone calls with the kids.  

He calmed them down when they were angry.  

He soothed them when they were hurting.  

He held them when they cried.

He answered all of the hard questions.  

He took them to church.  

He snapped pictures to send to me.

He educated them about addiction.  
He took them to the beach.  

He let them have sleepovers. 

He took them to get haircuts.

He redecorated their rooms and cleaned out their closets.  

He took the girls to get manicures.

He vacuumed at midnight after he got them to bed because that was the only time he had free.  

He locked his bedroom door and cried when he got overwhelmed from doing it all on his own.

He loved them.

He loved them enough for the both of us.

More than enough.

Happy Father's Day doesn't suffice what he deserves to hear.

Thank you, Chad, for holding our family together.  For being our rock.  Thank you for loving and caring for the kids, beyond measure, when you were so broken-hearted yourself.  Thank you for not giving up; for making sure that they lacked nothing.....material or emotional.  Thank you for forgiving me and for teaching them how to forgive me as well.  Thank you for stepping in and doing what I should have done all along. Thank you for doing what you shouldn't have had to do.  Thank you for making me a mother, and then, years later, being patient with me as I learned how to be a mother again. Thank you for being the best Daddy our kids could ever ask for.  

And although the words don't really satisfy what you deserve....

"Happy Father's Day."  

We are so blessed to have you.

Monday, June 13, 2016

MR. & MRS.

This morning I woke up, did my morning devotions, then started cleaning up around the house.  As I made my bed, I started praying gratitude.  I do this often, and it really works!  If you've never tried it, you totally should.  

It started like this:

"Thank, you God, that I'm still alive. Thank you that I woke up this morning clean and sober. Thank you that I didn't have to wake up this morning while it was still dark out! Thank you that I was able to get out of bed and move."

If you've ever seen my bed, you know this is a tedious process. We sleep with a soft, cozy blanket on our bed, but the pretty decorative duvet and the accompanying twelve throw pillows get removed nightly, then replaced the next morning.  This drives Chad crazy, but he deals with it.

So, I continued making the bed while praying.

"Thank you for a good week, for helping me get out of
bed and do the things that I said I was going to do.
Thank you for my family....for Chad and Bethany and Ethan and Addalyn.
Thank you that Bethany got her first job last night.
Thank you for this nice bed and comfy mattress I get to sleep on.
Thank you for a bed to make."

And then, I picked up a pillow, and tears filled my eyes.
"Thank, you, God, for this Mr. & Mrs. pillow that sits on our bed."

Sheer gratitude overwhelmed me.  I don't deserve to get to sleep in a bed, next to a man who has repeatedly forgiven me when I didn't deserve forgiveness.  But, God allowed that to be restored to me. And, not everyone gets that chance.  Not everyone gets to keep their family after tearing it apart....piece by piece.  Take, for instance, my best friend L.A. We met each other in treatment (much more on that later, because that story deserves at least one post in and of itself).  L.A. LOVED her husband.  I mean, loved him.  She had been the picture-perfect stay-at-home mom to two beautiful little kids, and it just so happened she turned into a closet alcoholic. She took responsibility for everything that had happened in her life and in her marriage, even when she shouldn't have. While she was in treatment, trying to better herself and become the wife and mother she needed/wanted to be (and believe me, she worked on that waaaaay harder than I or anyone else did), you know what her husband did?  He put a no-contact order on her, sent divorce papers, and met another woman.  I watched her world fall apart.  The point is...not everyone gets a happily ever after.  I need to stay fully aware of that, and I  need to be consistently grateful that I was one of the lucky few who did.

When I first got out of treatment last April and moved into my new apartment, I wasn't sure that I would ever sleep in that bed again. In fact, it felt strange to even step foot into "our" house.  It was no longer my house.  It was Chad and the kids' house, and when the kids started saying things like, "Aww...I forgot my game at Dad's house", or "So and so stayed the night with me last Dad's house", it felt like I was living someone else's life.

One thing we decided to do, even though we were separated...or because we were separated, was to go to church together every Sunday and then have Sunday dinner at "Chad's house."  He told me he had started going to a new church while I was in treatment, and he wanted us to go there together. The church was called Life Point, and it was in a movie theater.  I agreed to go.  (I will have to tell you some other time about how this church has changed my life and my view of life).

So, he picked me up for church and asked me to pack a bag and plan on staying all day.  We went to church and went back to our his house for lunch.  It felt like stepping into a complete stranger's house.  It was super clean and tidy (the way he likes it), but I noticed that it was missing my touch. You know...the little things. The flowers.  The candles burning.  The throw pillows.  The spring decorations.  It was missing me.  And I was, in return, missing it.

After lunch, the kids were ready to swim, so I got my bathing suit out of my bag that awkwardly sat in the living room and asked him if I could change in our his room.  I walked into the room and noticed that he had the bed neatly made, all of the throw pillows pretty much in place. But....something was missing.  Something important was missing.  The Mr.& Mrs. pillow was nowhere in sight.  I went into the master bathroom and changed, then walked back out and stared at the bed again.  I stared at my side of the bed longingly and regretfully.  What had I done?  How had this happened?  I looked again for the Mr. & Mrs. pillow.  I looked on his side of the bed. Maybe it had fallen.  I looked underneath the bed on both sides. Maybe it had fallen.  I looked at the chair that sits in the corner of our  his room, hoping that he had left it there, forgetting to put it on the bed.

Then, I turned and looked at the closet door.  My closet.  Where all of my clothing, shoes, purses, books, keepsakes used to be kept.  I slowly opened it, and, when I did, I noticed that it was now full of his clothing, his shoes, his belongings.  Wow. This was real.  I really didn't live here anymore.  And, then, I looked in the back of that dark closet, and there it laid.  Turned upside down, completely out of sight and out of mind.  The Mr. & Mrs. pillow.  Abandoned. In the dark.  Just like the Mr. & Mrs.  My heart fell onto the floor beside me, and I wanted to crawl in that closet and lay down with that pillow and scream and cry.  I stood there for a minute, then composed myself and walked out of the room.

I later asked him why he had taken that pillow off of the bed, and he said, "Because you don't live here anymore."  He was right.  I didn't.  And, as bad as it hurt, I knew that if he never allowed me to move back in with him and the kids, I couldn't resent him for it because that is what I deserved.

Over time, I began occasionally staying the night at our his house with him and the kids.  I always packed a bag (well, I can't lie, I actually pretty much lived out of the back of my rack and all!) and felt like an overnight guest in someone else's home.  Because, that's what I was.  I was a guest in my own home. 

Somewhere into the fifth month of our separation, Chad asked me to move back home.  We knew that we had so much work to still do on our relationship, but we thought we were ready to be back in the same home.  He thought he could trust me.

{On a side note, I mentioned in a previous post that he had hidden all of my jewelry so that I couldn't pawn or sell it.  Just this past Monday, I reorganized my closet in our bedroom and I found the jewelry box laying in the very back of the closet, in a corner.  It had probably been covered up by the Mr. & Mrs. pillow!  I guess it never even dawned on me to ask if I could have the jewelry back. Maybe that stuff didn't matter as much as I thought it did.  Maybe I was just happy to be back in my own home.}

Anyway, I clearly remember the first night I officially moved back in.  We got the kids ready for bed and I went to Chad's our bathroom to take a shower and get ready for bed.  When I walked back into the bedroom, I expected the bed to be turned down (it's kind of a rule around here....the first person who goes to bed removes the bajillion throw pillows and decorative blankets, turns the covers down, and fires up our matching heating pads!), but there he sat on the edge of a still perfectly made bed.

He smiled, and I looked at him, wondering what was up.  Then, I saw it.  And my eyes filled with tears. There it was, once again gracing his our bed.  The Mr. & Mrs. pillow.  And, there we were, once again.  Mr. & Mrs.

Every night, I get to remove those blankets and pillows and crawl into our bed, in our home, with our children sleeping in their rooms.  All five of us under one roof.  Every morning, I get to wake up in our bed, in our home, and walk the quiet halls while everyone else is still sleeping.  I get to hear the sounds of their breathing, the rise and fall of their chests as I watch them from the doorway.  I get to let our dog out our back door to potty, and then I get to sit in the stillness of our living room.  I get to go to church with my family, go to dinner with my family, go to the movies with my family, swim with my family, take care of my family, live with my family, be a part of my family, be present with my family.  All of that is a privilege that I do not deserve.

And, that....that is why I am grateful.  That is why every morning that I get the privilege of waking up should start with a prayer of gratitude.  Because, even though I deserve nothing, I have everything.

To read my husband's side of things, click here.