Saturday, January 28, 2017

Pack your sh** and get out.

This morning as I was getting ready and putting my make-up on, my mind wondered (as it often does) back to January 6th 2015. Things that I haven't thought of for a long time, and maybe even some things I had forgotten, flooded over me. I remember nearly every minute detail of the story I'm about to tell you only because it was the night my life changed...once and for all.

It was a random Tuesday evening and Chad and I were driving home (in a two-door red Honda Civic) from Celebrate Recovery. I had relapsed weeks before, and he had no clue. The guilt had consumed me and I knew I had to let the cat out of the bag. I needed to make myself feel better. I mean, we'd done this dozens of times before. I would tell him I had relapsed and then pinkie swear that it would never happen again. He would get really mad, tell me I was only a few months away from being a crackwh***, then tell me I was on my last chance...that he just couldn't do it anymore. We would go to bed and wake up the next morning as if nothing ever happened.  I had it all planned out. I would shed a few tears, tell him he couldn't be any more disappointed in me than I was in myself, apologize, then start fresh.  Sounds easy, doesn't it? I had become a pro.

So, there we were, driving, and I started the conversation by telling him that I had "messed up" again (that makes it sound more like a mistake than a relapse). He asked me what I had used and where I had gotten it, along with how long this had been going on. I just sat and stared out the window. I can actually remember looking at a certain house that we were driving by as I contemplated on whether or not to tell the truth.  I decided on the truth, considering what a forgiving husband I have. What could it hurt?

So, I took a deep breath and told him the worst answer he could ever hear. I had done something that I swore I would never do again. Yet, I did it. They were the heaviest four words I've ever said and they just kind of got stuck in the air, just floating because no one knew what to do with them. I waited for a reply, but there was none. I said I was sorry, but the forgiveness never came. Nothing came from him other than an eerie silence. We pulled into our driveway and he parked the car. I waited for him to turn to me so we could "talk things out", but he didn't. He simply got out of the car and before he closed the door, he leaned in and said the six words that would forever change my life. The six syllables that finally woke me the heck up. "Pack your sh** and get out." That was it. Not another word...only the slamming of a door. I sat in that dark, silent car completely dumbfounded. This is not how I imagined things would go, and I wished I had just kept my mouth shut. He had never threatened to kick me out before. Surely he couldn't be serious. He would change his mind in the morning.

Morning came and he was gone before I woke up. I took the kids to school then returned home to get ready for a follow-up appointment with the neurosurgeon (I was four weeks post-op). I picked up my phone and called Chad's work number to see what time we would leave. I knew that things had ended rather awkwardly last night, but today we would be in the car for several hours and we would talk through everything. I would make it all right....set it all straight. We might even go for a nice lunch and do some window shopping after my appointment. I was already getting a little excited for the day....we needed this. He answered the phone in a stoic voice and I asked what time we were leaving. He seemed almost taken aback, and then he replied. "I'm not sure if you know how serious I am about this. I want you out of my house. Find your own ride to the doctor and take your clothes with you."

At this point, I knew he meant business. The compassion and understanding that used to fill his voice had been replaced by anger, exhaustion, and apathy. He was done, and I knew it.

Thankfully the story doesn't end there, and I later came to understand that his decision saved my life. He let me stay in our home until the following Monday when I went to treatment.

Looking back, I now realize how distorted my thinking was, that the little 'mistakes' I was making were tearing my family and my marriage apart. I now realize that I had never suffered any real consequences for my actions. I now realize that I continually took advantage of the fact that my husband is head over heels in love with me and that I didn't even care who I hurt...that their love for me just made them more willing to forgive and forget. I now realize that I had been right on the cusp of the point of no return. I now realize that I had done the most appalling and disgusting thing and I deserved much worse than what I got. I now realize that the nicest thing Chad could possibly say to me that night was "Pack your sh** and get out", because it opened my eyes (finally) and changed my life forever.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Happy Birthday to my blog!

 So, one year ago Monday, I decided to come out of hiding and share my story.  I decided that I cared more about carrying the message than I did about what others thought of me.  I decided to finally do what I have always dreamed of doing....of using my past to help others and to glorify my Higher Power, God! 

 So, what has happened in a year?  A whole lot!  First of all, y'all have shared my story so much!! Thanks to you, my story has been read over 116,000 times in twenty-two countries!!  I write the stuff, push publish, and you all do the rest.  Thank you for reading and for passing it on.  Muah!!

 So much has changed in the last year.  I feel like I have finally started to really enjoy life again, and to {almost} feel normal.  I have kind of just fallen back into a routine with my little family, and things that used to overwhelm me are much more bearable.  Now, don't get me wrong....I still hate to cook, I have piles of dirty clothing in my laundry room, and some days I just have to give myself a little time to cry. Oh, and I still have one Christmas tree up. But, on the average, I'm finally a functioning adult(ish) person!  

 Since last year, I have grown so much in my recovery.  I have dug into places I had never gone before (with my amazing counselor and friend, Renee), and I have come to a place where I feel good. I know that I'm still powerless over my disease, but I feel good.  
 Over the past year, I have continued to make some wonderful new friends and reconnected with some old ones. I have found accountability and encouragement from some amazing women. I have stayed close to and continued to love and laugh with my tribe (Cat, Ash D. Ashlea, Lee, and Lou!) I have begun to earn trust back from the people I love. I took a volunteer position at my church (Life Point Church in Portsmouth, Ohio!) and it has given me such a sense of purpose and a drive to get out of bed and do something! I helped lead a recovery-based small group. I participated in community outreach events. I have begun focusing on my health again and I am trying to get my physical health in line with my mental health.  Never in my life have I thought I was more mentally healthy than physically healthy; and I've never really been that physically healthy, so that's saying a lot!  Ha! I am eating healthy and exercising five mornings a week (unless I oversleep!).   

 Over the past year, I'm pretty sure that I've had more good days than bad.  I've learned that I can never stop recovering. It's not a "one and done" thing.  It only gets stronger when I do things to strengthen it.  I have learned that anyone can relapse, and I have been heartbroken over a few that have.  I have learned that anyone can overdose, and I have been heartbroken over a few that have. I have learned that it is actually much easier to be honest than it is to lie.  It's much easier to stand up than it is to hide.

 Over the past year, I have gone to parent-teacher conferences, Christmas programs, doctor's appointments, vacations, and a bazillion other events with my family.  I have tucked children into bed, braided hair, organized a talent show routine, had a major neck surgery, made frozen pizzas for dinner (my specialty!), read books to my little ones, dropped kids off at school, picked kids up from school, dropped kids off at practice, picked kids up at practice, sat in the bleachers to watch my son play ball, helped with school projects, gone on dates with my husband, planned birthday parties, shopped for Christmas gifts, etc. I have reconnected with my brother, his wife, and their sons and daughter.  I have spent more time with my sister.  Basically, I have lived life.  And, even more importantly, I have LOVED life.

  I have learned that so much can change in a year.  I'm so thankful that I started this journey of sharing my story one year ago.  I'm so thankful that it's not still on my Bucket List.  I'm so thankful that the community, both near and far, have embraced and encouraged me.  

 So, what I want to tell you is this. Don't sit around and wait. Don't wait for things to happen to you....make them happen. The dreams that you have aren't dumb. They are your dreams and you can achieve them. There is nothing that you have done that can trump your purpose in life. So you've screwed up. Use it. Make it worth something! People aren't as harsh and judgmental as you think. Oh sure, there are some out there, but the majority of the feedback I've gotten has been so positive! I have been encouraged and supported in a way that I never dreamed possible. The things that I thought others would think were just lies I was telling myself. So do it. I don't care what it it. Learn how to sew. Get clean. Learn to play the guitar. Share your story. Audition for a role in a play. Go to another country. Start a business. Get a nose ring (my husband will kill me for that one!), Reconnect with that estranged relative. Get your GED. Enroll in college. Take a new job. Become a foster parent. Run a marathon. Write a book. Get healthy, Just do it. Do that thing. That thing you just thought of when I said that? That thing. Do it. 

Before another year passes by.
Before it's too late.
Do it.  
You won't regret it. 

I know I sure don't.