He informed me that was a counselor of some kind and he had my husband in his office as an employee crisis client, and Sean had disclosed that he had relapsed and was in need of detox. This poor counselor - I don't think he knew squat about addiction and just kept telling me Sean needed to go to detox. I was aware that our local detox unit had recently closed and the counselor's plan for Sean to "go to detox" would mean getting him into a van in the next 15 minutes for the unit in the Twin Cities, which Sean was unwilling to do. The counselor's other solution was that I come and get him and deal with it. He very much wanted me to let him off the hook of figuring out the solution to the problem at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon.
Since I work 40 minutes away and their office was supposed to close at 4:30, his next suggestion was that Sean drive home and meet me there to "figure it out". That suggestion met with my informing him that he would be aiding and abetting a DUI (which is against the law in Minnesota) by letting my stoned husband get behind the wheel. And I couldn't for the life of me understand why this counselor just wanted to have us figure it out and wasn't making any calls himself (beyond the call to detox). This was not a problem-solving situation for him, I guess, it was a "get this guy out of my office so I can go home" situation.
And thus kicked off a pretty ... shall we call it "busy" ... summer for me. My 40 minute drive home that afternoon included a fair amount of cursing on my part, and phone calls with Sean and my sister and my parents. Picked up Sean, picked up the kids, packed some emergency bags, met my sister to let her take my kids, and headed off for somewhere with Sean. Once the kids were handled, my head cleared enough for me to realize that a traditional detox unit wasn't going to work for Sean (opiate withdrawal is nothing to mess with and can be life-threatening), so instead we went to the ER. Thankfully the folks there were helpful and there was no question that he was going to be admitted, and by midnight or so, he was checked in. I was so angry that I don't think I even talked to Sean for most of the evening, but at the same time I really wanted him to be safe. And there is humor to be found, particularly when your brain is completely overwhelmed, in the ridiculous things people say. One example of that is ER doctors, who you'd think would be kind of used to the crazy stuff people do and the unbelieveable amounts of crap people ingest when they are in the grip of addiction. The doctors would ask Sean how much he was taking a day, or how much he'd had that day, and when he answered they would try to argue with him that he was exaggerating or miscalculating the dosage ... to which I'd usually interject helpfully "he's a pharmacist, trust him!"
It was an ugly weekend for Sean. In a way, I was glad to see him so sick - I'm sure there were some thoughts of "serves you right" but also it makes me feel like it would dissuade anyone from relapsing ever again. The following Tuesday, I drove Sean to Hazelden, where he remained for 90 days. He missed the entire summer, he missed my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party and my friend's wedding, he missed Brooke's birthday and the kids' first day of school. Every Sunday but one, for three months, the girls and I made the eight hour round trip to see him, spending 3-4 hours visiting. It was a long summer.
And how here we are a year later. I would have to say we've come a long way since that Friday afternoon a year ago. Sean is still clean and starting to even take on a somewhat positive outlook on life. I am still feeling the relief I was given, first at Family Group and later through Al Anon and just recovery as a whole. As I have been putting this post together, I'm finding a list of things I've learned that might begin to sum it up...
- It is OK to not have it all figured out right now. It is OK to work on the issues today presents and leave the worry about tomorrow for tomorrow. Didn't Scarlett O'Hara say something like that in Gone With the Wind?
- It is OK to leave him be and let him figure it out. This is still somewhat of a tricky one for me, since so much of what one person does in a family affects the rest of the family ... but overall, we each need to follow our own path, in our own time, and while I can try to be supportive and "there", I can't walk him down his path.
- I can do it alone if I have to. That sounds a bit cold and callous, but 90 days of single parenthood taught me that I can do it, and more or less do it well, even by myself. I'm not choosing that for my family and am glad to not have to do it alone, but I give myself a lot of credit for it.
- Addiction is everywhere and touches everyone. And the more open you are about your experience, the more you find support and find that you can give support to others even just by acknowledging it.
- Recovery has opened my eyes to my own need to reach and grow ... far beyond dealing with the effects of addiction in my life. And it has also freed me in large part from my guilt over not doing it all right now. "Progress, not perfection" is a pretty good slogan for summing that up. I am trying hard to move forward in life, every day, so that I become more and more of the person I feel inside me.
- I realize how much internal work, really positive, healthy steps forward, I've taken over the years, in terms of accepting myself and my past, and in terms of accepting others. Oh I'm not perfect by a long shot, but I really admire my own ability to reflect and change myself over the years. I am so pleased with who I am - even as I move forward into what I believe is an even better me.
- I still have a long way to go in dealing with some of my character flaws. I have some pretty incredible road blocks when it comes to certain forms of communication and certain relationships. And as I identify these character flaws (Step 4 for you recovery folk) and think about being "entirely ready" to have my Higher Power remove them (Step 6 - right? I don't have my book in front of me), I realize that "entirely ready" means "entirely ready" - as in, actually moving my feet to walking the path toward resolving those flaws. In recent weeks, that path has shown itself to me, laid out in a nice little yellow brick road in front of me, and I know it goes to good places. And yet my feet remain solidly in the courtyard of Munchkin Land, unwilling to put my toe on that first piece of the road. It's all about my sense of control, baby. I have to be willing to give it UP and step on that road ... and yet, as I said before, I have learned that when I am ready, I will. And I'm taking deep breaths and accepting that I can't beat myself up about not being ready when I don't even really know what is holding me back. Relax and let it ride ... and someday soon, I think, my feet will start moving and away I'll go.