I am not even going to pretend that this is going to be a quick story. I have a feeling that it will involve multiple blog posts and could quite possibly make you forget that I am a healthy living blogger. Over the past few months I have thought about this blog a lot and what I was going to say when I finally did come back to the blogging community. See, the story that I am about to tell is not an easy one and I have been very concerned about what the reaction would be. I have always been the type of person who hates to receive negative comments because I am overly sensitive and it really hurts my feelings. On top of that, I have never really felt like I fit into the blog world. I am not perfect and my life is FAR from perfect. I don't have a lot of money, a cool job, fancy cooking gadgets or really even a whole lot of knowledge about how all of this blogging stuff works. Sometimes when I read other blogs, I feel so inadequate. I can guarantee that I do not fit into the mold that seems to fit so many other blogs. However, H and I have talked about it many, many times and we have always come to the conclusion that we have nothing to hide. On top of that, I am starting to realize that a few rude comments from people I don't know are not going to kill me. I have learned how to handle stress and pain and grief over the last few months in a way that I wouldn't recommend and yet it has made me a stronger person. So, with that long introduction out of the way, let’s get on with the story telling.
This story begins with H and I meeting and falling in love back in 2002. We started off as friends and slowly realized that we had a connection that went much deeper than that. When I met H, we couldn't have been any more different. I was a good girl who spent her free time in church and considered training for a 10K to be the epitome of fun. H on the other hand was facing multiple felony charges and spent all of his time chasing after fun. No one could understand how the two of us could find any common ground but there was something that made our hearts connect.
After a fun summer of hanging out and getting to know each other, H was sent to prison for 14 months. I was absolutely devastated and embarrassed by the entire situation. No one wants to "date" someone in prison. It definitely doesn't make you cool and it doesn't fly in certain social circles. I lost a lot of friends during that time because they couldn't understand why I would stand by H and support him when he had nothing to give me but his heart. H and I spent the next 14 months writing letters and talking on the phone in what can only be deemed a ghetto fabulous courtship. Although it was not ideal, we definitely learned a lot about each other and only fell more in love. H came home in November 2003 and life became magical. We were married less than a year later and we spent the next few years creating a wonderful life for ourselves. I can honestly say that the beginning of our marriage was like a dream. H is so full of love and has such a great heart. He made me feel like a princess every single day. I never doubted that he loved me for even one second of our marriage. We spent the next couple of years creating a life for ourselves that included lots of running, working and loving. We had quite a bit of fun becoming runners and triathletes. We worked very hard training for marathons and eventually moved on to triathlons. We reached a point where we were participating in more than 25 races a year and training as hard as possible. To say that fitness consumed our lives would be an understatement but we enjoyed every moment of it.
As many of you know, racing costs a lot of money and so H and I both worked a lot of hours to pay for all of our racing. Our schedules became insane as we worked really hard to put in training hours and find ways to fund the never ending training and race fees. Over time our schedules meant that we spent less and less time together but we always had fun on the weekends when we would spend hours riding our bikes or conquering long runs. A typical day for me would be to wake up at 3:00 am and head to the gym where I would put in a good solid workout until 7:00. As soon as I finished working out, I would rush off to work and spend the next 8 - 10 hours working away at my desk job. After work, I would either jet off to my second job (a little part time gig I picked up to make some extra money) or else squeeze in another workout. The rest of the day consisted of dinner, packing a gym bag for the next day and falling into bed so I could do it all again. Although H and I would talk on the phone throughout the day, it wasn't unusual for me to see him for just a few minutes each day and we slowly became dissatisfied with what our lives had become.
I started to notice a change in my husband after a trip we took to Arizona in January of 2006. We had flown to Scottsdale with my mom and stepdad to run the Phoenix Rock N Roll Marathon and enjoy some time in the sun. We finished the marathon and had a relaxing vacation but there was something off with H's behavior. When we got back home, we quickly settled back into our old routine but as the months went by I began to notice more and more changes. My normally energetic husband would sleep all weekend long and when he was awake he would have crazy mood swings. I confronted him about these issues many times and we never reached any conclusions. H told me that he was suffering from depression and that he thought he was bi-polar. I encouraged him to get help or to see someone about the issue and he assured me that he would take care of it. The rest of 2006 flew by with ups and downs and the same old busy schedule.
As we moved into a new year, we were both excited about what the future would hold for us. We were both still working insane hours and I began to get used to H's change in behavior. I was convinced that he was overworked and just needed a break so I tried to work even harder to take some stress off of him. He was still moody and tired and stressed out all the time but he also was loving and fun and kind. The dramatic changes in his behavior were stressful but after awhile, I just began to accept that this was the way he was going to be. Then, just a few weeks into 2007, I discovered that H was addicted to various types of pain killers. Needless to say, I was shocked and felt like my feet had been knocked out from underneath me. I had absolutely no idea what to do but H told me that he was going to see a drug rehab counselor and that everything was going to be okay. Things seemed to get better after this and although H was still moody, we both had an amazing year of racing and set many PR's throughout the season. I will always look back on 2007 with mixed emotions because it was a combination of some of the best times of my life as well as some of the worst.
Time went by as it tends to do and before I knew it, we were starting 2008. The thing about 2008 is that H and I were signed up for Florida Ironman and the entire year was CONSUMED by training for this race. Every spare second that I had was taken up with training in addition to working one full time job and two part time jobs. H's business was doing okay but the economy wasn't great and money was tight so I was working as much as possible to make sure our bills were paid and we were still able to race. I remember being frustrated this entire year because it seemed like I never had any time or money and my husband was slowly sinking back into his moody and depressed state. I confronted H many, many, many times about using drugs and he always assured me that he was still seeing his counselor and was on a blocker that would keep him from getting high. Deep in my heart I knew that there was something seriously wrong with my husband but I was too busy with work and training and life to really confront the problem. H can be very convincing when he tells you something and so I chose to believe what he said and continue on with life as usual. As the year progressed and Ironman grew closer, H stopped training and spent most of his time sleeping. I remember having arguments every single weekend for almost an entire year as I begged him to get his workouts in or to explain to me what was wrong and he absolutely refused. I would head out on 8 hour bike rides and 20 mile runs, wishing that I knew how to change our situation but having absolutely no idea what to do. I remember crying on my bike many, many times and having to pull over on the side of the road because I couldn't see straight. I felt so lost and alone because I couldn't figure out what was wrong with H and I wanted so badly to help him. I was also completely exhausted from trying to keep up with my busy schedule and was on the verge of a total breakdown. As proud as I am of my accomplishments at Florida Ironman, there are many memories attached to that event that make me sad. Somehow we survived the year and we both made it across the finish line at Ironman. (Yes, H finished Ironman with virtually no training. I don't know how he did it but it makes him pretty hard core.) As the year came to an end, we struggled to move into a new year and I had my fingers crossed that things would get better.
Well, 2009 can be summed up in just a few words...all hell broke loose!!! I cannot tell you how many nights I cried myself to sleep throughout 2009. H continued to have problems with depression and pain pills so he started to see a psychiatrist. I was never really sure what was going on with H's doctor but he didn't seem to be getting any better. In fact, as the year went on things continued to grow worse and worse. It is a very weird thing for me to explain to someone because although H was around and a huge part of my life, I felt so completely alone. I was about to realize though that things hadn’t quite reached their peak yet. On November 17th, everything in my life was turned completely upside down...