So. Three years. Last night we started talking about what would have happened if Scott hadn’t made the choice to go to treatment. At first, we were talking about all the good opportunities we wouldn’t have had, like being a family, buying a wonderful house in Maine, starting a non-profit, or writing a book.
And then, we talked about what he would have sacrificed if he decided on that night in July 2011 that snorting Adderall, abusing Clonazapam, Vicodin, Percoset, and all the other painkillers, plus drinking himself into oblivion was the better choice.
He’d have most likely said goodbye to Ara (and me). Even if he hadn’t lost his job outright, the Argonaut would have crumbled away, and we probably would have had to sell the house. Perhaps Ara and I would have moved somewhere else, maybe even have left DC. Maybe she’d have had to start school earlier than I’d have wanted her to because I would have had to find a full-time non-Argo position. And maybe she wouldn’t be so secure in knowing that none of this is her fault or responsibility.
Conversations like these are both gratitude-inspiring and horrifying, because not only are we talking about what he and I would have lost then, but what we still could lose in the future.
Scott has been flying back and forth to DC every ten days or so to relieve the pressure on the managers, schedule meetings, and take care of those little things that just can’t be done remotely. Even though I know it needs to be done, and we’re so lucky to be able to be in Maine in the first place, I hate it with a fiery passion. Like any spouse, I get anxious when he’s driving to the airport at three in the morning, flying to and from DC by himself, and then driving back home arriving at three in the morning the next day. I stay up until the wee hours, which, if you know me, you understand this is particularly painful given that my bedtime is normally shortly after Ara’s. I end up tossing and turning if I even fall asleep, and don’t sleep well until he is safely in bed that night (or, since his flights have sometimes been cancelled, the next night). It’s horrible.
[And, of course, we’re in Maine so we could be eaten by a bear or attacked by a moose!]
Last time, I awoke at 4, unable to fall back asleep and checked my phone. There, on FB were 4 manic posts from Scott documenting all of the precursors to my worst fears. He’s in DC, away from us, off his meds, and his best thinking is “I should go to a bar at 3:00 in the morning.”
-STOP TALKING, I texted. Why is he ranting on Facebook?
-WHY ARE YOU AT THE ARGONAUT? I text. Oh, god. Panic. Panic. Panic.
-GO HOME! Please go home. Please, just go home.
-YOU SOUND LIKE A LUNATIC OFF HIS MEDS!
—-I AM A LUNATIC OFF MY MEDS! he texts back.
-GO HOME. I text.
I want him to go home more than I should. Of course, without us, our DC home is more of a house, at this point. And is one of the reasons why he can’t sleep. I can feel the codependent crazy edging back in because you know what? Nothing good happens after midnight, let alone after three in the morning.
And certainly not in a bar.
And certainly not for an alcoholic in a bar.
I’m in a panic, flashing back to that night before treatment where I’m watching him on the security cameras from home, both of us full on crazy for different reasons, not understanding why my husband just fucking can’t come home like other peoples’ husbands!
—-CALM DOWN. I’M FINE. NOTHING’S GOING TO HAPPEN. I JUST CAN’T SLEEP. I’M GOING TO TRY AND GET SOME WORK DONE. he texts.
Bullshit, I think. I am not reassured.
Later, after he’s safely home in Maine, he tells me that —-he should probably go to a meeting this week.
-What? (I’m shocked because he is no fan of AA and hasn’t been to an AA meeting in months. A year, maybe.)
—-I thought maybe nobody would know, he replies.
—-I thought maybe I could have one and nobody would know.
I laugh at first, nervously, perhaps. His disease makes him so delusional that in this scenario he has one beer and gets away with it.
Then it becomes a belly laugh because the more likely reality, and one that I can pattern off his two previous relapses, is that he has one beer, followed by another, and another, and then a bottle of vodka. And his fantasy that “nobody would find out” is replaced by the headline “Entire Staff Comes In To Work and Finds Boss Passed Out On Top of Bar.”
And then it’s the kind of laughing that happens just before the tears. I know we’re just like any other alcoholic/codependent couple. We’re not special. That just because we have a family and a business and a non-profit and a book, and a house in Maine there is nothing besides work and sheer luck (as I’ve said before) that is standing in between us and…devastation. This disease makes sure that if we forget we are reminded with lightening speed.
Here we are, a couple days before being three years into sobriety and he’s contemplating drinking again. Not in a real way, not in a way that he prepared for, or that in hindsight we could have seen coming, but in that way that this disease just lies in wait.
So, in our world, there is no moderation movement, there is no day we don’t have to consider relapse, and there is no place where complete and total abstinence isn’t the answer. I know AA wasn’t the solution for Scott, but I am eternally grateful to them. And for that reason, I will not stick up my nose at what has worked so well for so many, what has been the only solace for so many families for decades, what has previously been the only cure for this disease with no cure. And which did so at a time where there were no anti-craving medications, no dual-diagnosis and alternate treatments, no therapies, no harm reduction and no end in sight except institutionalization, prison, or death.
Addiction statistics are depressing. Only 10% of people seek treatment. And only 10% of those find lasting recovery. I hope for a world where the deck isn’t so stacked against humanity. Because in the end, despite living a life beyond our wildest, a life full of miracles that a short time ago never felt possible, it still feels as if we’re just cheating death. Or relapse. Sometimes, they don’t feel that different, and too often they are one in the same.
I’m immensely proud of the work Scott has done, and that I have done, and that Ara has done. I hope we wear our battle scars well and our journey continues to help other people. It’s the most we can wish for, and, with every ounce of my being, I hope we’re not wishing for too much.
Here’s to three years. To good choices, a lot of work, and to a whole hell of a lot of luck.