Twenty two years ago tonight, I was sitting in my comfortable little home in Baltimore. My then 12-year-old son was upstairs sleeping. I was about 6 months pregnant. As I rested my tired pregnant body on the couch, Connor, our dog was sleeping at my feet and our cat “Budweiser” was curled up on the floor. What a perfect little, warm and fuzzy picture.
Around 10 pm, my husband walked thru the room and said “I’m going down to the studio to paint.” He had his recording studio and art studio in our basement. Often, when he was having a ‘not so great day,’ he would go down and create music or paint at his easel.
Rewind about 6 months. My marriage was not doing well, in fact it was so ‘not well’ that we had decided to separate. My husband had been looking for apartments and purchasing furniture in preparation to move out. I was not feeling so great. After a long bought with bronchitis, pneumonia and several courses of antibiotics, I found out I was pregnant.
No, it wasn’t the hollywood happy scene where the guy takes the girl in his arms and tells her that everything is going to be ‘alright.’ The same scene where he looks at her lovingly and is beyond thrilled that she will be bearing his child. No, this wasn’t like that.
This felt like a crisis. We were in the throes of heavy, almost daily drinking. Daily drug use and weekly bingeing on cocaine. Thousands of dollars of cocaine. I had been on the pill for a very long time, yet the pregnancy test was positive and I was positive I couldn’t go thru with this un-planned pregnancy. There was no way this baby would be ok after the way I’d been abusing my body.
How could I bring a baby into this world in the condition I was in?
I couldn’t imagine it. Yet my husband and I both decided to give our marriage another try.
Back to that evening, when my husband descended the basement staircase 22 years, I had no idea that everything was going to change.
Looking back now, it seems that was the night that the thousands of times as a drunk I’d cried “God, please help me” that He was about to do just that.
Around 11 pm I was dozing off and I’d decided to go to bed. I opened the basement door to say goodnight. “Hey, I’m heading up to bed, see you in a little. Goodnight.” I got no reply. Again, I called his name and repeated “I’m going to bed.” Again, only silence.
After the third or fourth time, I called a bit louder thinking maybe he had his head phones on and I began walking down the steps. As I turned the corner, I could see all the way to the back door. I could see, he was gone.
He had snuck out to go drink and buy drugs. He didn’t say goodbye because he knew I wouldn’t be ok with it. It wasn’t the first time. Yet everytime I’d wishe it would be the last. I had hoped this new baby would change things.
I locked the door and I remember thinking to myself “I’m not going to get any sleep tonight. I’m gonna need a beer to help me sleep.” Back in the kitchen, I removed a frosted mug from the freezer, pulled an icy cold beer from the fridge Poured the entire can into the mug. I turned off the lights, locked the house and went up to bed.
Sitting the mug of beer on my dresser, I turned on the t.v., put my pajamas on, pulled the blankets back and then sat on the edge of my bed. Reaching over I grabbed the beer to chug it down. There I sat with my big pregnant belly, beer in my hand, and the glow of the television behind the beer. I can see it as if it were last night.
I was preparing to feel the warmth of alcohol pouring down my throat with hopes it would also numb my pain, when I very clearly heard a voice suggesting “you don’t need that. Go dump it in the toilet.” I agreed out loud ” You’re right, I don’t need this.” Not even thinking, I got up, walked to the bathroom, dumped the beer into the toilet, and flushed. There i stood watching it swirl and foam and disappear.
I sat the empty mug on the tank lid, turned around and crawled into bed.
As I got under the covers, I remember saying to a God I hadn’t ever really known before “You are going to have to help me sleep tonight, Please help me get a good nights sleep and not worry, or wonder where my husband is.” Then I dozed off saying the first line of the serenity prayer “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” over and over and over…
Tonight, 22 years later. I am sober. I am also quite emotional as I reflect on what my life looked like then. It is truly only by the grace of God that the compulsion to drink was removed in that moment when I heard a voice simply suggesting another way and I responded with an o.k.
My husband got sober as well. Unfortunately, his sobriety didn’t last very long and we were divorced a few years later. Miraculously, a beautiful, perfect and healthy baby was born a few months later. This miracle child who brought so much joy into so many lives is now in college.
My journey in recovery has also been a great journey of recovering. Recovering years lost, identity misplaced, plans thwarted, purpose and passion and dreams, all being restored! Its been really hard at times, but it has been worth it all!
Tonight, in the quiet of my peaceful and humble home, I am thankful to God for another day sober. There is not a day that goes by that it does not hit me mightily that I am sober. 22 years, one day at a time.