13 years ago, today, on my birthday my boyfriend checked in to rehab.
I was working at a golf outing for my corporate job. I was on the 13th hole, on my 32nd birthday. I remember thinking “why the hell am I still doing this”. I got a call half way through the long day in the sun from John and he said he was checking in to rehab. I had 2 immediate thoughts “Thank God!” and “Holy Shit!”
It hadn’t really sunk in yet. The total ramifications of my boyfriend of 7 years checking in to rehab for drugs and alcohol. I just remember thinking “this is something that has to happen”. And I hung up the phone wishing him well, thinking it was over between us. I had walked out 2 days earlier after finding pain killers next to his bed. Again. After he’d SWORE that he wasn’t using any more.
A little background,…my Dad was an alcoholic all my life. So I was DETERMINED not to follow suit and be with someone who was an addict. Yet I’d been doing exactly that for 7 years. And somehow now, I was getting out. Now it was over. The girl working with me at hole 13 on the golf course was thoroughly entertained by my life stories. She couldn’t believe what was happening. And was really impressed with my composure. I later went to dinner with my whole family in Greek town. No one asked about John. It never came up where he was.
It started sinking in….he checked into rehab on my birthday. And even with that thought running through my head constantly things actually got better. My life started looking up. First, I let him go. I realized I didn’t’ want to be with an addict. And that was my life with John. I was almost relieved that it was over. I couldn’t picture a life with someone in recovery. He was only 28, so that wasn’t even an option. I called my mom and told her that we had broken up, and that he was in rehab and it was over, again. She was sad for me but understood and expressed that it would be hard for her. For HER. But I got it.
A week went by and John called me from rehab. I remember the minute I talked to him feeling like he was BACK. That the John that I knew and LOVED for so long had returned. He was charming and interested and silly and sweet and really engaging. That wasn’t the man I walked out on 1 week ago. Now he was asking me to come visit him. What?! In rehab?! Why would I do that?!
I realized why. Because he really was back. It was like he came to life again. The man I knew deep inside was back. And he was as loveable and compassionate and thoughtful as ever.
I went to see him and we were back together again instantly. After only 1 week in rehab. He told me he was doing it for me, and for the life he could have with me. I asked one of his counselors if that was ok. “Can someone get sober for someone else? I thought you needed to do it for yourself?” He told me that sometimes being with someone you love raises your rock bottom. And he told me he thought John would be sober for life. They don’t say that about 1st timers. There’s normally only a 30% success rate. I checked in with my heart. And I KNEW this was a lifetime decision for him. See I didn’t want to be with an addict. But I did want to be with John, the real John, the sober John.
Now 13 years later, married and with our 2 kids, we celebrate his sobriety anniversary and my birthday together.
Here’s one thing I know for sure… our worst day now is better than our best day then. It isn’t always easy. But it’s a lot better than it ever was. And I am constantly reminded how hard we fought for this life.
Reflecting on this day 13 years ago makes me even more grateful for every day of our lives together. We’ve earned this time together. We’re still constantly striving to be our best selves for each other. And for our kids who deserve that version of us.
My birthday will forever remind me of Johns commitment to this life we have. That we wouldn’t have if he didn’t choose it. And if I didn’t choose him.
For anyone suffering from an addiction there is hope. And if you’re with an addict not all stories are as successful as ours. But it is possible. I hope you check in with your heart and make the choice that’s right for you.
Celebrating John today and every day. Celebrating this life we built together and every day that we get together. 46 years around the sun feels really good.