In addition to pulling together the intervention, I also worked closely with Kay, the intervention specialist, to secure inpatient treatment for Michael, should he agree to go. Upon Kay's recommendation we chose a facility in Kerrville, Texas.
From what I saw in the brochures and on the website, it was beautiful and looked almost like a summer camp in the rolling hills. After many conversations with the in-take personnel I confirmed his spot: how and when to get him there, what he was allowed to take, what items were banned, the amount insurance covered (sadly not much) and the amount of money I would need to pay out-of-pocket (thank you, 401(k) loan).
I'm getting ahead of myself...first, the intervention.
The evening before the intervention we met at my parent's house for a rehearsal. Michael's mom arrived from out of town, without his knowledge. With all our family and friends gathered, it was oddly reminiscent of the rehearsal before our wedding. Kay discussed the phases of the intervention, who would speak first and last, what the protocol was if he was angry and specific steps we'd take if he rebuked our call for action (in-patient treatment).
The morning of the intervention, as Michael lay passed out in our bed from a three-day bender, I took the kids to my parents’ house. My mom's role was to take them out to do something fun while the rest of the group gathered to save my husband, our marriage and our family. Most of us had coffee in hand. All of us were dealing with nervous jitters.
One of Kay’s requirements for the intervention was food. In our early conversations she explained that the purpose of food was to make something so invasive feel a bit warmer, like a normal gathering. Friendly. And she emphasized food would help in accomplishing this goal.
As we discussed the events that were about to unfold, Kay methodically made guacamole. She peeled each avocado carefully, diced her jalapenos, chopped her onion. She directed us once again, in her calm sedating fashion regarding the details that would soon (possibly, fingers crossed) alter Michael’s life. All of our lives.
My nerves were working overtime...I felt like a liar. I told Michael the night before that I was going to a baby shower for my best friend, when in actuality I met with the others to prepare for his intervention. What is so peculiar is that there were a mountain of lies piled up throughout our marriage, yet here I was feeling guilty for scheming his intervention. For him. For us.
After finalizing the last pieces and parts of our notes and the order that we would speak to him, we filed out of my parents' house and loaded into our own cars. We drove in a line, like a funeral procession. Michael's mom rode with me, just as she had when I picked her up from the airport when she arrived for our wedding. We were nervous and smoked cigarettes. I did not care who might see.
As we approached my house and began to spill onto the lawn like lost tourists, Kay directed me to go in and wake up Michael. She followed up her directive with a clarification that she and the others would join shortly and begin to set up the food in the kitchen.
I share this story with you because I once held immense shame in it. I remember clearly wanting to protect my own family from the gruesome details and thinking what would I tell an acquaintance or even a stranger when they asked what happened to my late husband? The truth felt overwhelming...like shards of glass in my heart and soul. Yet, a part of me still wanted to protect Michael.
A lot of counseling and many experiments with different modalities, long walks, screaming fits with my fists raised to the sky, writing in my journals and years of reflection placed me here today. I am now able to speak of this - my story - because it is done. Finished. I do not live in the past. I have forgiven - him and myself. I want to be here now and share with you how even when you're at the lowest of the lows, there's always room to rise.
*Are you interested in learning more about grief guidance and wayfinding? I offer a complimentary 30 minute session.
*Photo credit: Charles Deluvio