July 23, 2021

Adjusting To His Sobriety

About three years ago, when my husband was adjusting to his sobriety, the children and I were often greeted with a cranky, unkind, and terse family member. It was taking a toll on him adjusting to this new sober lifestyle, having more bad days than good. While it was a lot on him, to say it wasn’t causing hurt for us would be a lie. While we were grateful he was sober, we were wanting our loving, happy, warm husband and father back- but we were not getting that. Often our laughter, hugs, and joy were spread out amongst the three of us, while attempting to walk on eggshells around any bad mood, behavior, or energy he brought within the home.

We Were All Missing Affection

One of the things I think we were all missing was affection. While the three of us gave it to each other, we needed someone or something to comfort us, to let us know everything was going to be ok. We needed a hug. 

I had been wanting to get a puppy ever since our other dog, Lily, died. Lily was a Shetland Sheepdog, and she was my first “baby.” We got her when we were first married, and never really got to “play” with her, as we were two working professionals. Lily wasn’t the most affectionate dog, but she was certainly loyal. She was by my side the whole time while my husband was sick.The day she died, I knew it was her last day. But, I had to go to work, and I knew coming home she would be ready to go. When I arrived, no one was home. My parents had the children, because I did not want them to see the dog suffer. 

When I walked in the house, I knew it was time. Lily had picked a sunny spot in our daughter’s room, ready to pass when it was time, allowing the sun to warm her into her next phase of life. Not wanting her to suffer, I knew it was time to put her down. I had to do it all by myself. My husband did not come to offer support. I don’t even know where he was. I had to muster up all the courage and fortitude I had, and drive her to the vet, where they gave her her last meal consisting of chocolate chips and whipped cream. 

When it was time, all I could do was weep. I thanked her for being there for me when I was all alone. I thanked her for being my friend and companion, when I felt all lonely and afraid like a child, even though I was a grown adult. 

When the doctors left the room after she had passed, I howled out a scream and sob so loud, recalling all the pain I had endured, knowing she was by my side the whole time, and now I had to let her go. She had cancer all over her body, and I told her I was so sorry for having to say goodbye. I cried weeping over that table alone. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as an adult. And my husband wasn’t there by my side, like we said we would, “in good times and bad” in our wedding vows.

Never Feel Sorry For Taking Care of Your Own Heart First

Feeling abandoned, neglected, and isolated, and bitter he was not holding his end of the bargain, I thought, “If he’s not going to be there for me, then damn it, I will buy my affection.” And that I did, in the form of a fluffy apricot colored puppy named “Sadie.” I asked the kids that morning if they wanted to buy a puppy, and without hesitation, the three of us jumped in the car, eager to meet someone who we hoped would be our friend and companion for life. I didn’t even ask my husband for permission. He was so incredibly angry and awful all the time. I didn’t ask for his seal of approval  for love and affection, because I needed it so badly. I didn’t care how mad he got- we needed hugs. And hugs we got. Enter Sadie.

Not just hugs. Slippery kisses, playful jumps, sweet cuddles while watching movies. Sadie was everything we wanted and needed, and more. She is a maltipoo puppy: playful, joyful, affectionate, loving, and a total handful of a dog. Sadie hops around our home like a bunny, and her ears flop in the wind accompanied by her sweet smile. She is everything we all craved- we- meaning the three of us. 

I remember the day we brought her home like it was yesterday. I told my kids they were in charge of training her, as I was working six days a week, and overtime. Well, that never really happened. And when we brought her home initially, my husband didn’t even greet the dog. To this day I have no regrets about putting my needs and the needs of our children above all else. It was really the first time I did something major like that without discussing it. However, I was so desperate for love, I would do anything.

So, if you ever find yourself wanting something, and you’re not sure if you should do it, follow your heart. Seeking love, attention, and affection are human needs. Never feel sorry for taking care of your heart, whatever that looks like for you.

As an active member of VoicesInCourage.com, I encourage you to join our community, and become a part of the movement of putting you first again in your life. You matter. Your heart matters, and it’s up to you to give yourself permission for happiness. VoicesInCourage launches Fall 2021.