Breathe, take air in, let air out, take air in, let air out. Oh God, I cried, can I do this? The night my husband got sober, I did not even know it had happened.
For weeks I walked around talked to people, went to work, took care of my boys thinking, take air in, let air out, take air in, let air out. If you saw me in the grocery store you would never guess my world just collapsed because my husband got sober. The sun kept coming up each morning and I kept taking air in and letting air out.
How did I get here? An educated woman, a career woman, a God fearing woman, a mom, a friend, a smart talented person now reduced to a numb breathing zombie.
The big, big house we had just built 4 years before sat empty. The friend’s house the boys and I fled too 5 days before Christmas sheltered us all that holiday season. My boys asked where is Daddy?
I responded with the truth, “I don’t know,” and went back to breathing.
The Years of Disconnection
Fortunately or unfortunately, for the past two years, the boys and I ate our meals, attended church, camped, rode horses, skied, took vacations, played and slept without Daddy. My husband and I had developed separate lives.
The boys and I formed community and friends that my husband rarely participated in anymore. He lived with us in the big, big house without connecting.
You see my saying “I don’t know” to the boy’s question of “Where is Daddy” constituted a normal routine. The boys then 4 and 6 years old just accepted it. Spending several nights away from home with these particular dear friends also became a normal routine over those years.
As I sat breathing Christmas morning, watching the boys open their presents with delight I thought we are warm and safe. My friends never let on that Christmas Day that my distressed now sober husband was blowing up their phones with calls and texts. (His lawyer promised him a Christmas Visit with the boys that did not get communicated to my lawyer.)
A Somber Sober Christmas
While I sat taking air in, letting air out, smiling and watching my boys open the presents my friends had retrieved from the Big, Big House, God insulated me from the battle raging inside my husband’s mind.
A no-contact restraining order issued by the court on December 21, meant silence until after the new year. Court systems shut down for the holidays so there would be no changes to the judge’s orders until January. Ten long quiet winter days to breathe.
I did not know the night my husband got sober that he walked into an AA meeting saying, “I am not leaving this meeting without a sponsor.” A first clear action step to saving his life and our family.
As I went through my days reminding myself to take air in and let air out, God continued to move mightily in my husband’s life without me. Looking at it with a few years distance, I question whether I hindered God from answering my most desperate prayers.
My Efforts to Create A Sober Family
Like someone trying to shore up a sand castle with the tide coming in, I tried desperately to maintain a family life. For years I had pressured my husband into family meals, family activities, family outings. Most of which failed miserably. I defended him and berated him all in the same breath before friends, family, and God.
I focused for years on making this marriage work–no matter the cost. Like a wind-up toy, I hopped around trying everything to create the family I wanted. God waited for my inevitable exhaustion.
Although I cried out to God for this dream family, I was unwilling/unable to get out of the way–to Let Go and Let God. Then God moved me out of the way.
He moved me to a place where just taking in the very gift of breath He placed in me, took work. Performing the simple automatic task of taking air in, letting air out now took so much concentration that controlling anyone other than myself proved impossible.
I simply let go.
My Husband Got Sober–My Recovery Got Serious
Take air in, let air out. I surrendered my marriage, my thoughts, my very being to the one who created me. I even surrendered my precious boys to the care of their heavenly Father. I had no answers, no plans, no desires those ten days. My body moved into the automatic routines of work and home–helped by my dear friends while my mind and spirit went to home base. To the pneuma, the ruach, the breath of God that lives in all of us now snared all my attention.
Take air in, let air out, separated from the turmoil I now only needed to breathe. Even weeping left me for a time.
Breathing was seeking God.
Breathing was sustaining life.
Breathing was setting my husband free.
Breathing was me.
The night my husband got sober, I did not cause it; I could not control it. Only God could transform him.
My dear friend, if you are in a moment like this, breathe. All my pushing, prodding, anger and destructive behavior never produced any desire for my husband to get sober. Only God can transform another person. And even God will only do that, if the person consents to the transformation.
God opened my husband’s eyes to the destruction in his life, not me. My efforts were vain and misguided–as the 11th step clearing states
Seeking only for His willing my life and the power to carry that out.
If I wanted the family I always dreamed of with a sober husband, I needed to trust God and get to work on me!