There can be happy endings in recovery
Carole Bennett M.A.
Life after Rehab – Stories of Success
I so often write stories of unhappiness, frustration, sadness and despair when one is involved with an alcoholic/addict, I thought it would be a nice column if I wrote about some success stories; stories that through the 100% commitment from the alcoholic/addict to turn his life around and live a clean and sober lifestyle, his relationships with his partner, family, co-workers and friends has made a huge different in every one’s life.
I had been working with Gloria and Sean and Rebecca and Todd for many years. Independently and jointly as they embrace their sobriety and their wives want to do their part as well to ensure that they are healthy participants on that road.
With their permission, I have asked them in their own words to describe what life was life before sobriety and what life looks like now – clean and sober. I have abbreviated their essays (which was very hard to edit, as each sentence was chockfull of insightful retrospective) in order to keep my word count around 1000 words.
Sean and Gloria –
Things felt pretty rocky back then. Especially when Sean was having a bad day, he’d drink earlier in the day and self medicate. Because he’s a quiet, low key guy, he could hide it by not interacting much with me, the kids or others. It was a lonely feeling, I knew my husband wasn’t well, but we hadn’t reached the crisis point yet and were making the best of it, I kept my head in the sand, hoping things would get better on their own.
Sean has always been so responsible and he just didn’t fit my profile of an alcoholic. Plus, I didn’t “want” to be married to an alcoholic.
At that time Sean was unhappy in his job, he’d get depressed, then drink, vicious cycle. One day Sean was denied life insurance because it was noted by his doctor. that he was a heavy drinker, and his blood work confirmed it. News to me. Apparently his doctor had been on him for years to lighten up, and I remember before his annuals he wouldn’t drink much, knowing he’d have blood work done. Another clue that I dismissed as nothing. This was Sean we were talking about, couldn’t be.
We would be on road trips and he’d buy a six pack, pour it into a big gulp plastic cup, and get behind the wheel. Sean would insist that he was fine and since the kids would be in the car I’d shut up and not make waves.
It came to a head for me when he came home one Friday, falling down drunk. And he drove home that way. We were supposed to go to out that night but he was in no shape to go anywhere, and I was so repulsed at his condition. Our sons were very upset and wanted to know what was wrong with dad, he just sat on the couch totally despondent.
The next morning I told Sean he needed to get help or move out, that we were not going to live like this. Something rose up inside me – I meant it and he knew it. I was prepared for the worst and not hoping for the best.
I knew Sean was serious about his recovery when he sat down with the boys the morning I gave him the ultimatum, told them about his problem, that he was lining up help, and that he would not drink anymore. Tears all around.
He went willingly, and embraced treatment, a whole new outlet/experience for him, and a way to fill the evening hours w/out alcohol. I was so thankful that he connected with a program and counseling. As he got more time under his belt sober, you could tell he felt better physically. He looked better, seemed to have a better handle on things emotionally.
Our lives started getting better. Sean got offered a better job that was totally unexpected. He’s making his own needs known more — telling me what he needs for the future. For the first time
I don’t feel he’s keeping secrets or living a secret life. He’s more present with us. Our love/sex life is better, too, which makes us both happy.
We are a new and stronger team; our family is united in respect and happiness. Sean has been clean and sober for over 4 years and I am looking forward to the next 40, which at one time I didn’t think I ever could.
Here is Rebecca and Todd’s story;
My husband has been clean and sober for three years now. I sometimes take it for granted that we lead a “normal” life; complete with weekend nature walks and visits to the seasonal farmer’s market. This was the life I had dreamed of before when I was living with an abyss of sadness and wretched alcoholism.
Before sobriety, my husband was away from home most week days, so our time together usually started Friday evenings when I would pick him up at the airport. He was always in various stages of drunkenness. The drinking would continue at home until he passed out. As an elementary school teacher, this was a rough way for me to end my week.
Saturday morning would begin with me finishing lesson plans for the upcoming week and gathering resources I would need. My husband would be relaxing, watching mindless TV shows, waiting for when he thought I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow to him getting a drink. He would start to drink openly at noon, although he recently confessed that he would always get up before me and chug as much alcohol as he could just to level off and get him through to noon. He didn’t want me to worry about how bad his drinking had become.
I didn’t know that he was drinking before I got up and thought we had a shot at enjoying the day. Perhaps we could enjoy a picnic at the beach? No. Last time we went to the beach, my husband brought straight vodka, became publicly drunk and students from my school were at that same beach casting concerned glances in my direction. I didn’t want that humiliation again.
No matter what I thought of, any pastime to enjoy with my spouse, it would only end in humiliation and degradation. As long as booze was running his show, there was no enjoyment for me.
One day, my husband got a DUI while working out of state. What I couldn’t do for years, finally the law could.
Three years of sobriety later and many more years of work with counseling, I enjoy a highly fulfilling life with my spouse.
Now our life is totally different and no matter what the arena, I don’t fear humiliation. With a smile on my face, I proudly introduce my husband to anyone and I know they wonder who that handsome man with a twinkle in his eye is holding my hand.
These are wonderful stories of painful experiences that turned into joyous “Kodak Moments” of life. They are there for the asking, taking and are very doable; however, hard work and commitment need to be the cornerstone before those warm, bright rays of sunshine can successfully bath ones face.
If I can be of service, please visit my website www.familyrecoverysolutions.com and I invite you to explore my new book Reclaim Your Life – You and the Alcoholic/Addict at www.reclaimyourlifebook.com or on Amazon. In addition, my book is available as an audio on my website only.