To My Husband on the Third Anniversary of His Sobriety
It’s been three years. Three years of saying no to the alcohol, the demons, the tug of giving in. Three years of saying yes to sobriety and yes to helping others.
In these three years emerged a person who is stronger and sturdier than the person you were before, even before the alcohol grabbed you and held on. You are no longer a person defined by your past; you are defined by the here and now. You have reasons for being instead of reasons for wanting to die. You have goals and a purpose that eluded you in your previous incarnation.
I remember the sound of a beer can opening. I remember the snap, the hiss, the feeling of despair. I remember thinking it would end, that it had to end.
I have learned so much from you. I have learned that no problem is insurmountable. I have learned how to bounce back from defeat. I have learned how to take those defeats and turn them into something positive. I have watched you give of yourself to the people who gave to you. To those who gave you a hand, a shoulder, guidance, and forgiveness, you have given the same in return — often to the point of overextending yourself, saying there’s no time to rest.
I remember finding vodka bottles in the garbage, how my heart would sink. I remember talking to you, begging you, trying to save your life and ours.
We’ve changed as a couple. Things are lighter, airier. There’s more laughter; we are more at ease. We are more forgiving of the little things. There are no big things. We’ve always done everything as a team, but we are a stronger, wiser team for having gone through adversity together.
There were dark times. There were times I thought you might not make it, that I would lose you and in turn lose everything. But I believed in you, believed in us, and I knew that you would turn it around. I knew you would find the strength needed to come out of the darkness.
I remember the hospital stays; I remember the seizures, the detox, the fear that you were going to die this time. I remember you saying you were done, but then you weren’t.
Three years. The work you put in is admirable. The determination with which you face this task is formidable. I know every day is a struggle. I know it never ends; you’re never, ever finished with recovery. And I will be there with you through each day, encouraging you, standing by your side, being proud.
I remember you telling me that you had to want it, that you had to hit bottom before wanting to reach for the surface, that you weren’t ready. And then you were.
I used to lie awake at night and think of the things we used to do, the way we used to be, how I missed the days when drunk wasn’t your default setting. Now I sleep easier, knowing we have that life back, and it’s better than ever. I have you back. You have sobriety and I have you, and us.
Three years may not seem like a long time from the outside, from someone looking at you from a distance. But it’s a lifetime. There was “before sobriety,” and now there’s “after sobriety,” and those two lives are separate beings. Three years is a long time to spend each day doing absolute work to keep sober, keep productive. That you use so much of that time giving back to the people who have helped you along the way is where the beauty in all this lies.
I remember you saying this was the last time; I remember you actually asking for help for the first time. I remember your first meeting, those first days and weeks of shaky hands and haziness. I remember knowing it was going to be okay.
Three years of meetings, of forging friendships, of speaking at rehab clinics and jails, of sharing yourself and your journey every night and day so that others may benefit from it. It’s been three years of self-discovery for you, and for me as well. You have taught me not only what perseverance means, but how to hold it together when everything seems to be falling apart.
It’s been a long, good three years. It’s been a journey, both yours and ours. May it continue.