Websters dictionary defines rehabilitation as restoring to a good condition of health. The day of my alcohol induced rant was the beginning of rehabilitation for me in so many ways. I have found myself not only physically unhealthy, but mainly emotionally and mentally unhealthy. This was going to be a long road for me to travel, but on that day, I made the commitment to take any steps I needed to bring me back to myself.
My husband returned home a few days later. He had stayed at his moms house for those two days, never attempting to contact me or check on my condition. During those days, I spent a bit of time with my AA sponsor and reading every detail I could find on depression, alcoholism, and domestic mental abuse. The day he walked back into the front door, he never said a word, unpacked his bags and returned to his normal daily routine. To be blunt, the day of my blackout, to this day, has never been discussed by he and I again. I sat in wonder and watched at how cold and callous this man could be. HIs heart seemed to be missing from his chest. His way of dealing with problems was to ignore them until they went away.
Summer was winding down, my daughter would be returning home in a few weeks: I knew I needed to start the process of pulling my life back together as quickly as possible. The first few weeks after my episode, I attended 4-5 AA meetings a week. The weeks after, I only attended my two favorite groups once a week, two days a week. I was surprised at the response that I received from the beautiful, amazing souls that were in attendance at the meetings. I had become so familiar with negativity and insults that I never imagined that I would be welcomed and accepted, problems and all. From the minute I walked into the door at the first meeting, I have never felt so loved. The first night I attended, once everyone heard it was my first meeting, they took turns introducing themselves and telling a short version of their own story. The meeting was ended with a prayer for me and I could not make it to the door for the numbers of people coming to hug me, shake my hand or offer a phone number for support. I sat in my car and I cried. It was the first time in a very long time that I felt human: it was the first time in a very long time that I felt it was ok to be broken and there were people willing to help me put the pieces back together. I attended the meetings regularly until Dec of that same year. I am not going to lie to you and tell you it was easy: nor am I going to convince you that I found a life of complete sobriety. I never fully stopped drinking, but with the help of the wonderful people who I met through the groups, I have been able to have alcohol as a recreational use and not as a crutch to help me avoid life.
My husband never offered to attend any meetings. Honestly, when I would go to the meetings, he never asked anything, including where I was. It was my issue, my problem, I had been informed to fix it, that was all he needed to know.
During the meetings and telling my story to others, I began to realize just how much control I had given to my husband. Amazingly, it came as a surprise to me at how quickly I had conformed myself in trying to be what he wanted me to be. The years of insults, negativity, and lack of support had whittled my self-esteem down to the bare minimum. I had wanted so desperately to be loved by him, to be his world, to be his everything, that I had sacrificed the most important person in my life……me! I knew that I had to return to that place where I loved myself and took care of me: I was terrified of what it would do to our marriage, in my heart, I knew our relationship was not going to be strong enough to survive. I had to let go of the emptiness and loneliness and I had to build my strength, not only for myself, but for my children as well.
It was a step by step process that I am still involved in. When you reach the point that I had lowered to, there is no quick fix or overnight transformation. It is a daily process of re-training my way of thinking and living, resurrecting my whole belief system.
My first step was to put myself back into the working world. The industry I received my degree in is very limited in its availability, but I was quickly able to find a position with a company in a neighboring town. It was not the job that I had applied for, it was a sales position with only a commission pay check, but it was a job. I began working in September part-time, three days a week. I was still attending AA meetings, my daughter was back and I shifted a lot of focus to spending girl time with her, and I began to reach out to old friends through phone calls and Facebook. By November, the small amount of commission pay that I had earned in my few months of employment were not worth the time invested and I quit. I had spent time investigating my options and made the decision to return to school for my Registered Nursing Degree. I applied for a student loan, registered for classes and anxiously waited for the holidays to pass so I could begin school in January of 2011.
My pride was slowly returning, my self-esteem was rising and my husband was not a happy camper. On more than one occasion, he tried to sabotage my sobriety. By never talking about my drinking background, I guess he never had to admit there ever was an issue, and on several occasions, he would offer me a drink or come home with my favorite wine or vodka. The weaker me would have taken this as a gesture of love and find it sweet that he thought of me: the smart stronger me realized this was just one more form of his control over me and refused his gifts, standing strong in my commitment to be the better person. He suddenly became this needy, clingy, suffocating form of a man. He would come home with hugs and smiles, spend his evening asking about my day, always wanting to touch me and cuddle with me: a little too late. Again, I knew this was his way of seeing that he was loosing control and he was desperate to try anything.
For New Years of 2011, we booked a four-day stay at our favorite hotel on our favorite island vacation spot. The island is in the same state where we live and was one that had become special to our hearts. In our happy days, we spent many vacations there, laughing and loving each other. It is even the place where he asked me to marry him. I never discussed it with anyone, but I realize now, this trip was my last effort in saving our failing marriage. It would be just he and I, on a very small island, bringing in the New Year, with a very small group of strangers. I have nothing negative to report about the trip: it was quiet, too quiet, we had nothing to say to each other. At 12 a.m. on January 1, 2011, I looked around the room of the restaurant that we were seated in. Others were dancing around us, silly hats on their heads, champagne in their hands and blowing whistles like silly kids. My husband and I were seated at a table, in the middle of all the fun, not saying a word to each other, just sitting there. When the ball fell, everyone around us began cheering and kissing, we simply looked at each other, smiled an awkward smile and uncomfortably watched everyone else. At that very moment, I knew I needed to begin preparing my life to live without him.
School began in January and I was busy with a full-time schedule of classes. My attention focused on other activities, I was able to keep up a social drinking relationship with alcohol, literally, maybe a glass of wine a week. My relationship with my daughter was on the mend, I pushed aside my husbands lack of attention to her and showered her with my love, after all, if I could make it through two more years, she would be out of high school and I would be on my own. That was my plan: I would have completed my classes needed for acceptance into the nursing program by 2012. If I were accepted, classes would have began August 2012 for the two-year program. My daughter would graduate high school in June 2013: I would move out of the home, still attend school, and complete my degree in 2014. My career would be back on track, my children grown and out of the home, and my heart would be available to find the love it desired. Friends were slowly coming back into my life, I was reconnecting with old ones and through school, meeting new ones. Life was looking better, it was always a day-to-day challenge, but I had made the efforts to set changes in motion and things were looking up.
Until I returned to the establishment where I had most recently held a sales position and literally begged for a position that suited my college degree. It was April of 2011, the spring semester winding down, and amazingly, thanks to the transfer of classes from my degree, I was only required to complete two more classes that would be available in the fall, online. I knew I had to have a daily activity to focus on, so I returned to my former boss and presented him with an offer that he could not refuse. In May, classes completed, I returned to my chosen industry on a full-time basis. Little did I realize just how much this decision would change my life.