(If you’re just now joining, you may want to read part 1 to catch up.)
The day my husband came home from his 6 day death march, I knew we were at a cross roads. My parents had come to help me prepare and I knew that we needed some time apart while he got the help he needed. I got him into a 12 week IOP (intensive outpatient) substance abuse program and went to Kentucky to catch my breath.
It took everything in me to leave that day.
We were separate for about a month as he began the road to recovery. I supported him and got help for myself, and over the weeks, I began to regain a sense of hope. I started to see changes in him and I slowly allowed myself to fall in love all over again; but this time, with the sober, courageous man I always dreamed he’d be.
The months went by and though things were still difficult and shrouded with pain, we were healing and things were moving in the right direction for the first time in our entire relationship. I knew it was going to be a long road and a hard path; but I was up for the challenge and knew that we could make it if he continued fighting the battle. I was a warrior in his army and we were fighting together.
Or so I thought.
In reality, we’d placed a bandaid over the gunshot wound and that carried us through for a few months; but inevitably, the blood began to seep through and the bandaid could no longer contain the damage.
A lot happened over the course of that year, but we made it by the skin of our teeth. By the next St. Patrick’s day, my twins were about 10 months old and my husband had been sober for 8 months. Relative to the story of us, things were going pretty well.
On March 17th, St. Patrick’s day 2013, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive! I couldn’t contain my joy!
Convinced my husband would join me in my excitement, I showed him the test. I had imagined that maybe the luck of the Irish really was on our side and this could be the beginning of better St. Patrick’s days for our family. And yet, despite the beautiful loves we already had and this new life we’d started together, his reaction was eerily similar to the first time around.
Although we’d discussed having more children together, and I thought we were on the same page, it was clear, he didn’t want another baby.
Maybe it was at that point that something inside him shifted again and our struggles continued to increase. Although he was sober, our turmoil didn’t dissipate. It became clear we were still living in two completely different worlds.
He recently told me he doesn’t remember the birth of our youngest son, although he was in the room and cut the cord. Something in him had shut down because the responsibility weighing on him, a responsibility he never wanted but tried to force himself to manage, was too much.
For the next year, we white knuckled our way through every single day. Every day was a battle. He remained sober, or so he says, but he made it clear he wanted nothing to do with me or our family. Even in the brief periods of “good,” it was so difficult for us to get there that we were too exhausted to enjoy it.
By St. Patrick’s day 2014, we couldn’t hold on any longer and it was 2 days before my husband’s favorite holiday that we separated.
I later found out that he’d done the same thing he did in 2012 and had gone straight to the bars of Savannah and then headed to Florida to immerse himself as far into this world he missed so much as he possibly could.
I spent last St. Patrick’s day on the phone with the military, lawyers and my parents trying to figure out what to do because he’d cleaned out our savings and I knew we were at the end. I knew I had to make some moves, but I’d fought so hard to avoid it all that I struggled to make myself do it.
Thanks to some close friends and my family, I managed to survive those gut wrenching days and made the decision to move to Kentucky for a separation.
Initially, I’d intended we would separate for a few months as we both got some help and space, and then we’d come back together when he got to Kentucky to hopefully start the process of rebuilding.
He had other plans.
Over the course of this year, even through the occasional “right words,” his actions have repeatedly proved where his heart lies.
Once again, St. Patrick’s day is approaching and I am filled with the same anxious pain I’ve had each year for the past 5 years.
This year, I will spend St. Patrick’s day in a court room.
The biggest court event to date is scheduled for March 17, 2015. On that day, almost 5 years exactly since we first met, we will sit in a courtroom with our lawyers and a judge, hashing out the end of our life together. The fate of our family now rests primarily in someone else’s hands, and on my husband’s favorite day of the year, we will complete the biggest legal step in ending our marriage.
Each year, this March day has brought with it extreme pain. It’s a day I fought from the beginning. A day I never dreamed I’d see. But now, it’s here and I can’t run from it any longer.
Despite our love, despite my efforts, and despite his empty promises of change, we will stand together on St. Patrick’s day and face the unraveling of our marriage and our life together. Following this dreaded date, I will go to work and he will likely go to his favorite bar and begin the festivities of this holiday.
The green beer will flow and with it, my memories and dreams will flow out.
This holiday has wrecked me every year for 5 years, and it continues to live up to it’s horror.
In the face of this death, I will do my best to stand tall. Just as I have every year, I will reach down into the depths of my soul and find every ounce of strength I have to endure and survive the sting. It’s not how I wanted the story to end. It’s not what I wanted for us. But just as it’s always been, it is out of my control.
Each year this month has come in like a lion, but it has never gone out like a lamb. Maybe there really was something to the quote, “Beware the Ides of March.”
My feelings today are the same as they were in the beginning of this journey toward divorce that began a year ago. Though I am stronger, the pain still leaves me weak at the knees at times.
“For me, it’s not simply the reality of a love ending that hurts. Its the reality of a love that never connected. A love that has never been on the same page. A love that never sang the same song and that never can. A love that doesn’t make sense, that left my heart alone and trembling on the cold, hard floor of a prison cell. A prison cell that I created.
The dream has died and I am left with a courtroom. There is no warm glow of a heart wrapped in the hands of a man who cherishes it. There is no sweet melody of two souls wrapped around each other forever. And there really never was. All that’s left now is the casing of an attempt at a life together. A bleeding heart dropped onto the floor struggling to find its way back home.
I’m out of the cage and my heart is working its way back into my chest, but the process of stepping outside the prison is tedious. The nerves have all been shot and there is no feeling left. The bones are dry, the soul still shattered; but there is hope. Hope of a life on the other side. Hope of a future free from prison cells and broken, disconnected hearts. Hope of wholeness and restoration, and faith in the vow to continue on.” From my post “When Love Ends In A Courtroom“
Here’s to this hopefully being the last pain and angst filled St. Patrick’s Day of me and my boys lives.