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Guest Post: My Wife Josie is 3 Years Sober Today

living_the_dream

For almost 3 years you’ve gotten to know Josie by reading her blog. The blogging relationships she has developed have been of great assistance to her and her life. But it’s about time that you get to know the Josie I know. It’s about time that you hear stories from another point of view. It’s about time you see my wife Josie through my eyes and my heart…

In the winter of 1994, while in college I tagged along to a Residence Life staff dinner at my college. At that time my then girlfriend was part of this group as were many friends that I came to know. When the event was over a few people stayed behind to clean up. This was spearheaded by the Residence Life Coordinator, Josie. The clean-up took place in her apartment attached to one of the residence halls. A discussion broke out about the perfect scenario for having children. How many? What sex? And when to keep going and when to stop in order to have the perfect mix of girls and boys. In this discussion there were only two people who agreed with each scenario, and it wasn’t me and my then girlfriend. There was something about that discussion and something so powerful about that moment that I left that evening and said to myself, I am going to marry Josie. That was the moment when I knew she was the one.

Two years later, after our friendship grew, my break-up with another and many other variables, we began dating. Yesterday marked 19 years that we’ve been together.

During our 15+ years of marriage Josie and I have moved multiple times, experienced the birth of not one but two premature children, went through promotions and layoffs, the death of loved ones and the coming and going of friends and family. During these years we have become quite accustomed to each other’s positive and not so positive attributes. Yet through it all, one thing had always remained a constant…Josie and me.

Like many married couples I know, some things are said that have more meaning than others. For me, I’ve told Josie that I would not and could not ever cheat on her. No one, even her, understands how adamant I am about that statement. For Josie, she once told a financial planner who was working with us, when asked how you would describe your life, “We’re living the dream.” And then there was the conversation we had one day about the purpose of our lives. Josie defined hers by the roles she played in life. I told her, and I still believe it, that I was here for something greater than me. I told her that it involved her. I believed that my purpose was to help her achieve something greater than both of us. Yet my most personal and momentous conversation came when I revealed to her my greatest fear in life. I told her that I feared being a father to two children without her as their mother. Listen, I am good Dad, but certainly not great. What Josie does for our two children, that’s what makes the world go around. She is a mother that will go to any length for our children. She is their rock. Without her I don’t know how I would be able to do it, or how they’d be able to go day-to-day in their own lives.

Then on January 27th, 2012 I chose my greatest fear. I told Josie she could no longer live in our home. She had become a detriment to herself and a danger to our children. I told her she had to go.

I can picture that day like a movie in my head. I know where I was when I told the most immediate members of my family about what had transpired. I don’t think I cried to anyone, I just think I did what had to be done.

The next evening we sat down with the children and explained that Mommy was sick and had to live with Mom Mom. We told them what we thought was the best for them at that time. They each took the news and questioned it differently. We had two children who knew as much as we did about our future as a family. They cried. Josie cried. And reluctant acceptance was had by all.

Josie would come to see the children almost every day with the supervision of her Mom. We were fortunate. Between Josie’s Mom taking her in and driving with her to and from our house each day, she was a life saver upon which many things would never had been able to happen. My sister would take our son, every morning after I got our daughter off to school, so I could get to work. My parents made themselves available so I could attend Al-Anon meetings. Friends and extended family gradually became aware of what was going on. There was no shortage of miracles throughout that difficult time.

Josie began her quest for sustained sobriety on that January Sunday. Her Mom and others tried to explain this to me during the 7 weeks that followed, but it took some time for me to believe it. For I had gone through many broken promises and lies as well as in-patient rehab and legal issues just a year earlier. However, as one day at a time passed, my personal cries stopped. My anger subsided. My fear had been conquered.

I stopped drinking at this time. I was never a heavy drinker nor did I ever have any personal addiction issues. But as I watched my wife from afar, my belief in her sobriety became a reality. I did not want to do something she was choosing to no longer partake in. I don’t remember the exact moment, like I did in 1994, but at some point I remember the statement I made to Josie years earlier. I was here for something greater than me and something greater than her. This could not be done if we were not together.

And 7 weeks after my choice to face my greatest fear and Josie’s choice to become sober…Josie came home.

Awkward, yes. Bouts of distrust, yes. A learning curve on how to be married and co-parent again, yes.

However, today, January 27th, 2015 I am proud to say my wife is 3 years sober.

In my opinion my wife has an addictive personality. No matter the substance, food, alcohol or drugs, they are just a symptom of something more. But none of this defines Josie.

Today, my marriage to Josie is stronger than ever before. She has accepted herself for who she is, the person I met many years ago and fell in love with. My wife is the smartest person I know (I will never tell her this however). While I see things as black and white, she sees the gray in many situations. She has given me the two greatest gifts ever, our daughter and our son and we parent together. We complement each other’s strengths and we lift each other up in areas that we’re not as strong. We have found a way to communicate honestly and openly about our thoughts and our feelings. Sobriety has created a foundation that makes our relationship stronger each and every day.

The Josie I know took an intelligent mind and made choices that were neither in her best interest nor that of anyone around her. I hate the choices she made, but never hated her.

I love my wife. She is the one and only for me. I love coming home to her. I cannot sleep in a bed she is not in. I love to make her laugh and I will go to all lengths to make that happen. She is the only person with whom I can do something, or sit still and do nothing, and be just as happy either way.

Sobriety is a part of our lives. Lives that have never been better. I do not sit in judgment of others who have chosen differently. I just know that I wouldn’t trade my life or the last 19 years for anything. I am living the dream with Josie and my two children and I am the luckiest human being alive.

Today’s Miracle:
That I can express just a fraction of what my wife Josie means to me because the full amount goes beyond words.

Recovery Maintenance: Checklist for Keeping on Track

What do you want to hear first:  the good news or the bad news?

If you’re like me, you want to get the bad news out of the way, so here it is:  addiction is a chronic, progressive, incurable disease.  Once diagnosed, you are never healed.

Alright, bad news dispensed, here’s the good, no, scratch that, the great news:  the methods employed for managing the disease of addiction are ridiculously inexpensive (read: free), easily accessible, and can be utilized by anyone suffering from it.  If used properly and consistently, not only will the addict keep his or her disease in remission permanently, the rest of his or her life will improve dramatically.  How many other diseases can make that claim?

So the question for people like myself, with more than a year of recovery, how do you keep on keepin’ on?  How can you ensure that you are maintaining your recovery?

As a regular participant in 12-step recovery, nothing scares me more than to hear stories of people with significant sober time come back after a relapse.  Sadly, it happens more than one would like to think.  I have seen people with 20 years of sobriety “go out,” and come back and report what we all know to be true:  it never gets better.  Twenty minutes, twenty days, twenty years; pick up a drink or drug, and you have fallen back down the rabbit hole.

Every time I hear that tale, the person says the same thing:  “I picked up (meaning either drank again or used a drug again), but the relapse happened well before that.”

And that’s the part that terrifies this addict.  Because I can say, with certainty, for today, that I am not tempted to ingest a mind-altering substance.  But what worries me is am I heading towards it?  Because, as we say in AA, everything you do either takes you toward a drink, or away from it, and the steps towards relapse are small and inconsequential at first…. so have I taken them without realizing it?

Here’s how I’ve solved that problem, for myself anyway, and I figured I could write it out in case it would help anyone else.  I’ve developed a checklist to make sure I am staying on track when it comes to my recovery.  The list is in reverse order for a reason, for each question that I can respond in the affirmative, I feel that much better.

  1. Have I maintained my sobriety date?
  2. Do I wish to pick up a drink or a drug?
  3. Am I confident that I can refrain from ingesting mind-altering substances just for today?
  4. Have I prayed today?
  5. Am I regularly participating in 12-step meetings?
  6. How is my mental state?  If bad, has it been consistently bad?  Has there been a pattern of negative thinking?
  7. When life becomes stressful, do I react in healthy, sober ways, or do I revert to old patterns of behavior?
  8. Am I maintaining my new, sober healthy behaviors and daily structure, or am I letting things slip?
  9. Have I been talking about what’s going on with me, or have I been keeping things bottled up?
  10. Have I been sharing with other people in recovery?
  11. Have I been giving back (12th step work)?
  12. Gut check:  do I believe that I could pick up, just once, and it would be okay?

I would love to hear what people would add to this list, or how they would modify it!

Today’s Miracle:

That I can read this list, and feel pride that I am a grateful, recovering alcoholic/addict!

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