Thursday, January 20, 2011

Burntcore Week 35


Picture 1

Picture 2

Burntcore's Choice: Picture 1


The pounding on the bedroom door continued. My mind swept through the memories of earlier that night as I sat mired in a toxic mix of emotions. I struggled with being horrified, disappointed, feeling scared, and incredibly guiltily. Curled up in the corner of the bedroom with my arms wrapped around my legs, I tried to ignore the pounding on the door and the concerned voice behind it.

“Holli, please, baby, just open the door.”

Pound. Pound. Pound.

“Holli, please. I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry. It was an accident. I never meant it to happen.”

Tears burst forth from my eyes once again as he spoke. If it wasn’t for me pushing him, we never would’ve been in this position tonight. I wouldn’t be in our bedroom crying. Cory wouldn’t be outside the door banging on it.

It was my fault.

It was my fault that he drank.

It was my fault that he drank for the first time since going into recovery.

It was my fault that he drank for the first time since going into recovery because I insisted that we go to that particular bar as a test.

It was all my fault.

And now he blamed himself... something else for me to feel guilty over. I sighed and wiped my face off. “I know, Cory. This was my fault.”

“What?” he asked incredulously.

I stood up and walked to the door but did not open it. I rested my hand on the face of the door, about where I imagined Cory to be standing on the other side. “I pressed you to go there. You didn’t want to but I insisted. If I hadn’t forced you, this wouldn’t have happened. I wouldn’t have caused you to backslide.” I sniffed and tried to keep fresh tears from rolling down my face.

Things I had learned from the Al-Anon meetings floated around through my misery, lessons that I knew but that had failed to take hold in this situation. How many meetings had I gone to where participants discussed about how their loved one had slipped up and had a drink or two or three or more? How many times had the meeting leader offered suggestions and not to give up hope?

Yet, here I was, as if the world was coming to an end. Why? Because I was the reason he drank. It wasn’t his weakness… it was mine.

“Holli, you didn’t make me drink. You didn’t hold that glass to my lips and force it down my throat. That was all me.”
“But you wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t pressed for that restaurant!” I protested.

Cory sighed and I heard a thump on the door that sounded like his head. “Holli, baby, please, just open the door so we can talk about this,” he begged.

I retreated back to the bed and sat down on it gingerly. Unbidden, memories of our lovemaking on that bed came rushing forward. I gasped, my hands fisting the coverlet from the intensity. I snapped my eyes shut to try to stop the images in my mind. When I felt I could open them again, I tried to look somewhere that wouldn’t provoke a memory. The window seemed to be the only safe choice. It was too dark to see anything else that would remind me of anything.

Despite my attempts at clearing my mind, even staring out the window into the darkness reminded me of too many late night strolls, too many nights spent outside on our patio staring at the stars, too many... everything. I stifled another sob and buried my face in my hands.

“Holli,” Cory’s voice pleaded once again from the hallway, muffled by the door. “Holli, please open the door.”

I wiped my face off and shuffled over to the door and undid the lock. As soon as the lock had slid back into place, Cory had the door open and was rushing in. I hadn’t moved quickly enough and the door banged into my side, making me lose my balance.

“Oh shit, Holli, you okay?” Cory rushed over to me and caught me before I fell.

I nodded and wiped my face off again. I had the feeling snot trailed across my face.

Cory led us over to the loveseat by the window, settling down next to me with his arm still wrapped around my shoulders. I sniffled as I tried to get control of my emotions. Cory rubbed my arm softly as he looked down at me with concern.

This was wrong. This wasn’t about me. This was about him. He was the recovering alcoholic, not me. Why was I making this about me?

“I’m so sorry, Cory. I pushed you too hard.”

Cory took my hand and held it, rubbing his thumb along mine.

“You didn’t make me order that drink. You didn’t pour it down my throat. I did that.”

“But it was my idea to go there.”

“And I could’ve told you no. I could’ve suggested some other place. I pushed myself too hard.”

Cory’s eyes turned sad as the impact of what happened really started to sink in.

“I’m sorry, Cory. I should’ve let you go at your pace. We’ve come so far,” I whispered.

“We have,” he agreed. “This is a set back, but it’s not the end of the world. I’m in a much better place now than three years ago. This isn’t something that will just go away, but it is something that I can deal with, that we can deal with together.”

I nodded and snuggled closer into his arms.

“Don’t blame yourself, Holli. This was not your fault.”

I nodded again and finally had the courage to look him in the eye. “I may not have put the drink in your hand, but I think that you shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame. I pushed you farther than what you were ready for, putting you in a position to fail.”

He nodded this time and squeezed my hand. “Alright, I’ll give you that provided that you don’t beat yourself up about this. It happened, there’s no going back. All we can do is to learn from it and move on.”

I sniffled again and smiled weakly at him.

“I made the choice to have the drink and I have to face the consequences of those actions. I need to take a step back and really examine where I am and where I need to go in my recovery. I slipped, but I have not completely fallen.”

“What do you need me to do?” I asked softly.

“To trust me, to believe in me, just as you did before. This slip-up is kind of a blessing because now I know more of what that intense craving feels like after having abstained for so long. It will be easier for me to recognize in the future. However, I don’t want to constantly challenge myself with those kind of dangers. Tonight was a prime example that I still have a ways to go.”

Cory rose from the loveseat only to kneel down at my feet. He took both of my hands in his and looked up at me, his eyes pouring into mine, begging for me to believe him.

“Holli, I love you so much, sweetheart. I would never do anything intentionally to put our love and our relationship in jeopardy again. I need you to realize that. I can’t say this will be the only time I’ll make a mistake, but I can tell you that I won’t let it keep me down. I don’t want to be the same man I was when I left. I won’t be that man again,” he said with determination.

He stared at our joined hands before looking up at me again, his eyes beginning to get watery with unshed tears. “This addiction, it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my whole life. I’ve nearly lost everything because of it. I won’t lose you again. I love you, Holli. I love you so very much. Your love and trust in me gives me the motivation to continue. You are the reason why I’ve been able to fight for so long. You are the reason I’ll be able to continue to fight and persevere.

Cory shifted his weight slightly before continuing. “I’m doing this for myself too, but you are a great motivator. You are the goal I am shooting for... you are the prize. A life with you, a lifetime with you by my side. I can’t think of a greater reward.”

Tears flowed freely down my face. This time not from sadness but hope. Not an hour ago I felt like this could be the end, that my stupidity caused the breakdown of what could’ve been one of the greatest relationships in my life. However, Cory surprised me. Despite this setback, he remained strong. He had a momentary weakness, but it wasn’t the end.

A lifetime together? Did he really say that? Did he really mean that? I blushed as his final words sunk in.

“Really?” I murmured, so softly that I wasn’t sure if he heard me.

He nodded and squeezed my hands again.

I could be strong for him. I would be strong for him. We would get past this. We’d talk about it in our next meetings and keep going. The past was the past. The only thing left was the future.

The guilt that I had been holding onto since I saw him with a drink to his lips finally started to slip away. Determination surfaced. I leaned forward and gently pressed my lips to his. He responded eagerly but carefully. Cory released my hands only to cup my face with his.

When he finally pulled away, he slowly stood up with a sigh.

“Now, I really need to own up to this and talk to my sponsor.”

I smiled softly and wiped the tears from my eyes.

“Will you be okay?” Cory asked.

“Yes, as long as we are together.”

Cory smiled for the first time since we came home. He flashed his reassuring smile one more time before he turned and left the room. A few minutes later I heard his voice from the other room as he spoke to his sponsor about what happened.

We’d get past this. We were past this.