(If you are just joining in, make sure you check out the first two installments of this story. Scroll on down...go ahead...we will be here when you get back!)
When I woke up the morning after dropping H off at the detox center, I realized that I was the only one who could figure out how we were going to survive. I didn't have the luxury of asking H his opinion on anything in regard to our finances and our plans for the future. He was definitely not in the frame of mind to help me figure this huge mess out. There is no way to describe the huge weight on my shoulders and the overwhelming feeling of desperation that was suffocating me. I decided to do the only thing I knew to do at that moment and drag myself out of bed to go for a run. Running is literally the only thing I could think of that would help me to quiet all of the chaos rushing through my mind. As I ran through my neighborhood on that chilly November morning, I remember feeling a few brief moments of peace. Those few moments were enough to power me through a day of very tough decisions and hard phone calls. I literally spent hours on the phone over the next few days trying to figure out our next steps. I was in a rush to fix our financial situation but I was also trying to figure out what we were going to do with H when he completed his detox. In addition to all of that, I was calling all of his clients to try and explain in a roundabout way why he was unable to work with them for a while. In hindsight, it is an absolute miracle that I had previously requested quite a bit of time off during this week in order to celebrate Thanksgiving but I have to admit that I was extremely angry that I was wasting precious vacation time trying to pick up the pieces of our lives.
The next couple of days are all a blur and on Monday I received the call that I had been dreading. H had decided that he was done with the detox. After just four days he was ready to come home. To tell you that I was scared to bring him home would be a huge understatement. I knew that he hadn't had enough time to detox because he was suffering from major withdrawal symptoms and he was still so angry. It was a bad combination but the doctor and therapist both agreed to release him. Before he could be released, we were required to have a "family meeting" with his therapist to discuss what H's after care would be like. I knew that I couldn't handle that meeting alone so I called and begged my Dad as well as Billy and Mel to come with me. I was so blessed that they all agreed to come and help us make some tough decisions. Billy and Mel even came to the meeting straight from their trip to Philly...talk about a great support system. I had spent some time researching various rehab facilities and my hope was to convince H to go straight into a six month rehabilitation. Unfortunately, after over an hour of very tense, emotion filled conversation, H refused to get treatment and decided he was going home. I wish I was strong enough to have forced him to go to rehab because the next few weeks were not good at all. H spent the first couple of days lying on the couch throwing up, shaking, yelling, sweating and well, every other miserable thing you can think of. I had never in my life watched someone detox from drugs and I was scared to death. I stayed awake for the next three days just trying to make him comfortable and cleaning up the residue…umm, eww! Those were some of the most miserable and scary days of my life but they are forever burned into my mind as a reason to not do drugs. I wouldn't wish that kind of suffering on my very worst enemy. It hurt me to the very depth of my being to watch him suffer like that but deep down inside, I was wishing that someone would come along and rescue me from all of the chaos. It felt like way too much to handle on my own but I had no choice but to keep going. This was my life and no one could rescue me from that reality. I didn’t have a chance to really absorb everything that was going on around me because I was running on auto pilot and simply trying to cope with each new problem.
On Thanksgiving morning, H seemed to be doing better and could actually move around a bit without my help. I was signed up to run a race that morning, the Turkey Trot 10K, with a bunch of family and friends and H urged me to go have fun. I really wanted to run the race because I needed to do something to feel normal again and this race is a Thanksgiving tradition. I have been running the Turkey Trot for years now and it just wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving without it. I did make it to the race and actually set a huge PR (Yay! Go me!) but while I was out running, H was meeting up with his dealer. When I returned home from the race, H was gone and I was greeted by silence. I was absolutely crushed! I spent the next four hours sitting by the window anxiously watching for H’s car to come around the corner while trying to get a hold of my husband on his cell phone and literally weeping over the situation. When I say weeping, I mean a balls-to-the-wall sob fest. All of the emotions that I had been storing up for weeks just began to pour out of me in a torrent of sorrow that wouldn’t stop. Never in all of my life did I imagine that I would be sitting all alone on Thanksgiving Day crying my eyes out. I couldn’t figure out how this had become my life. I just wanted to know how it had happened. What had I done wrong to deserve this much grief and pain? H eventually made it back home and we spent the next few hours arguing but I have to tell you guys from experience that it does absolutely no good to argue with an addict. Not only was H not in his right mind but the drugs had such a hold on him that he didn't care who he hurt or what it cost him. He had officially reached a point where his only desire was for drugs.
H had made up his mind that he was going to go back to work in order to help us dig out of our financial mess but that plan only lasted about a week. H quickly realized that he couldn't keep up the pace of his job and use as often as he wanted. The entire month of December, I worked as hard as possible to keep us afloat financially while H found credit cards to support his habit. He literally spent three weeks in a constant search for his next high. I barely saw H at all in December and when I did see him he was out of his mind. I distinctly remember coming home early one day and finding him at home trying to reconstruct a broken needle. He was so frustrated and angry that he couldn't get his shot and there was blood splattered everywhere. When I looked at my husband, I didn't even recognize him. H reached a point where he didn't shower or change clothes or brush his teeth. He also was suffering from severe cellulitis in both arms and they were simply oozing with puss and blood. He hadn't eaten or slept in days and he was wasting away right before my eyes. I know that it seems really strange but I couldn’t even feel angry with him. When I looked at H, all I felt was pity. His eyes were so sad that looking into them was almost haunting. I remember thinking so many times that he looked trapped and scared like a caged and injured animal. H was not enjoying this period in his life or even the drugs he was using. He was completely trapped by addiction and neither one of us knew what to do.
As December passed by at a slow torturous pace, I did everything I could to hang on to my sanity and pull us through. H had finally agreed to go to rehab on January 2nd and all I could do is hope and pray that he would live until then. Death was definitely a very real possibility. H was using insane amounts and deadly combinations of drugs. At one point, he was even shooting a syringe filled with his own blood in the hope that the residue would give him a high. My entire life felt unreal. I had never even seen drugs before and now here I was watching my husband die in front of me as a result of his addiction. I remember thinking about Christmas a few times and wondering if I should get a tree or bake some cookies but honestly, I didn't have the strength to even try to celebrate. I knew that the only type of celebration H would want to have would involve his drug of choice and that just made me feel sick. When I woke up Christmas morning, instead of being greeted by a fresh cup of coffee and a stocking filled with gifts I discovered an angry email accusing me of cheating on my husband. Apparently, in order to explain why he wasn’t able to work, H had convinced all of his clients that he caught me in bed with another man and he was in the middle of a divorce. The truth seemed to evade him completely and I had become just a pawn in his game. H was asleep in our bedroom and for a brief moment I thought about confronting him but I was too emotionally exhausted to argue anymore. Instead, I did the only thing I could think to do. I pulled on my running shoes and started to run. As I ran through the neighborhood and watched a fresh layer of snow fall all around me, I remember glancing in people’s windows and seeing their beautiful trees all lit up, I could smell bacon and cinnamon rolls being prepared for a Christmas Day brunch and I even heard laughter pour out of a few homes…and all I could do as the tears poured down my face, is continue to run.