About 4 years ago, I found myself running to the car in pursuit of a new life. I knew the next day was Easter 2015, but what I didn’t realize until later is that it was also a blood moon.
Earlier that week, husband Grady and I’d been at a flag convention in Georgia. Upon completion, we decided to take the long route home and spend a couple of nights in the crook of Florida’s pan handle. We’d never been to that part of Florida before.
Known for its sea turtles and fresh oysters we arrived in Apalachicola, where there’s not much to do but sit, enjoy the surroundings, and drink. By sundown, I was asleep, but true to his Irish heritage, husband Grady kept going it alone until finally unwinding at a pizza pub doing shots of Jägermeister with the locals.
By the time he got back to the condo and in bed with me, he was spent and snoring like a buzz saw. I did what all good co-alcoholic wives do and “poked the bear” as they say; I awoke Grady and told him to go to the couch.
Now Grady, who was usually a passive drunk, came awake roaring. I spent the next 2 hours hovering in the bathroom. I did eventually win! He finally went to the couch.
The next morning, still drunk, he was indignant and self-righteous. In the light of day, I played my role perfectly, keeping quiet on the long day of driving, all the while plotting my escape.
That night, as we settled into the hotel at Orange Beach, Alabama, I had a plan of what to do if another fight ensued. True to form, just before bed, Grady snapped at me. It wasn’t much, but I was looking for an excuse to execute my plan. I took the opportunity.
“Turn down the TV,” he yelled. I snapped a quip back then grabbed my already packed overnight bag, the strategically placed car keys, and ran for the door. Before Grady could get his pants on, I was down the elevator and gone in the car.
I have never felt so free.
I turned my phone off and spent the night in a nearby hotel. The next morning, I drove home. It seemed like the most beautiful day in the world. The sky seemed bluer than usual; the clouds so soft. Several times at rest stops I’d stop to lay in the cool grass and stare at the far away sky. I wrote notes to myself saying silly things like: I’m going to cocoon myself in a carpeted apartment, live on the plush flooring with little possessions, avoid social events and tv, etc. (I was a little off my rocker.)
Reality Sets In
For the next 3 days, Grady tried to find a way home. He couldn’t take an airplane because he is always “packing,” so he had to wait for an available rent-a-car to be delivered. In those 3 days, running on adrenaline, I moved out. For the next 2 months I couch surfed, awaiting my new apartment’s readiness.
Reality began to set in. Gone was my jubilation with freedom. I was profoundly sad and yet knew I was doing the right thing because Grady’s drinking had been escalating to a dangerous level for years. My poor friends wearied of my repetitive laments. I paid a professional to listen. I dug deep, listened to nature, got in touch with my soul and visited with a divorce lawyer.
A year later, it all came to a head. With my daughter’s urging and the coaching from Corner Stone Recovery Center in Tennessee, the family along with our priest, Dr. Chris Keller, came together at lunchtime to hold Grady’s intervention at US Pizza Co. in Hillcrest, a neighborhood of Little Rock.
So why am I resurrecting this insane time of my life? Because I want to share that miracles do happen, and people can change. My life has come full circle. This past weekend I moved back into the Big House, our family home, with Grady. He has been sober over 2 years and absolutely loves it. He thanks me weekly for saving his life and now practices the AA 12 steps in all parts of his life.
On moving day, I was once again hypersensitive to nature, like the day I got married June 27th, 1987 and the day I left April 5th, 2015. The sky seemed bluer, the air cleaner and I felt the vibration of the trees. A sign. A good sign.
Like they say in AA, “Don’t give up until the Miracle Happens.”