Supporting and loving my late husband in a halfway house almost 300 miles away was insanity. For all the normal worries that came with the territory, relapse of course top of mind, there was something else off. And so I lived in a constant state of cognitive dissonance. That's what life felt like 24/7 while he was away.
The halfway house he lived in had rules which required having a job. Somehow though, he never had to get one. The first house didn't work out, so he moved to another. And to another. And another. And finally he landed a *great deal*.
He was going to open a new halfway house and be one of the managers. Looking back, my uneasiness was grounded in (a lot of things!) the fact he hadn't even worked the AA/NA program nor secured a sponsor, yet he was going to lead others. I felt like a traitor as skepticism raced through my veins.
Meanwhile I was drowning keeping it all together at home. The confusion I felt led me to question everything that was happening. I wondered if it would be better if he was closer to home? His therapist recommended that he stay in the same city as the rehab center for support services. And Michael swore up and down that being back home would be no good for him. But I had a churning in my belly...he was far, far away and nobody knew what he was doing, but him.
In the days leading up to the halfway house Open House, he worked tirelessly. Now come to think of it, he worked around the clock. Literally. I encouraged him to rest and take care of himself. He was focused and determined. I guess that was a good thing.
On the eve of the Open House, he ran around getting supplies, prepping food, made a makeshift stage for the band and ensured the property looked shiny and new. He was positive it was going to be a huge success.
A day or so after the big shindig I finally heard from him. He sounded down. I was, well pissed, because how do we not talk every day? That was asking too much on my part. So I swallowed my anger and inquired about the big reveal.
He shared that it went ok and the turn out was decent. What wasn't good was the talk he caught wind of... the sober living community in that town was pretty tight. Word got out that this new halfway house was probably not up to speed/code...whatever. From what I gathered (both spoken and unspoken) was that his sobriety was in question. His program was in question. And who the heck was he and these other guys opening this new place in that sober living community?
The subtlety of it all danced and lingered. I didn't dare call him on it. Damn.
I wish I was the me I am now, back then.
It is very easy to look back and beat ourselves up. I did that for awhile. Now I have compassion for the person I was then. I was doing the best I could with the knowledge (+ lack of information) and experience I had at the time. It saddens me, of course, to know I didn't handle everything just right. But what is just right? I guess maybe I just mean differently.
Sitting on the past, reliving moments, working through different scenarios will do nothing for me or anyone now. All I know is what I've lived and so I move forward. It's all data/information that I can take in and use for the future. It provides the foundation for my compassion for others dealing with their own nightmare.
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Photo Credit: Roman Kraft