I know the definition of rock bottom is “the lowest possible level”. But how do you explain when your rock bottom is watching your other half hit theirs? I wrote “How to Pray for your Husband” over a year and a half ago, and the response to it was overwhelming. The amount of people who struggle in marriage, is well, just about everyone. And when I wrote about our experience I had no idea that even the vague overview of our rock bottom would hit home with so many people.
Looking back now though, I realize that my story was just that. It was vague. It was guarded. It was about as emotional as I’d let myself be at the time. And that was a plastered on smile saying, “We made it through that phase, stronger than we were before.” But I didn’t offer much else because maybe that would scare people off. People want to see you pull through. They want to see the comeback story. And while our story is just that, there was a lot more ugly I didn’t show along the way that really has helped us get to our life RIGHT NOW.
I like to think I’m an open book when it comes to people asking me about my marriage. It almost failed. I couldn’t hide that. It was pretty obvious when I would either kick him out or move myself out every six months for the first 4 years of our marriage. I would update my facebook status to say separated or disfunctional at best! And then here comes the part where we recommited ourselves to our marriage (or the part where my husband gave me an ultimatum and said I love you enough to let you keep doing this, but I respect myself enough to know that I can’t so either get home by 11 or I’m done).
Next comes the season of why? We have 2 kids. We’re back to being the “all-american” family. We sign papers on our first home. We go out to celebrate that day, and find out we’re pregnant with #3. (Yes, at the celebration lunch, in the Si Casa bathroom!) God is good and this is amazing. Two weeks into getting into our fixer upper, Dominic breaks his neck. And our world starts unravelling.
I wrote before about Dominics battle with prescription drugs. The withdrawal, the depression, the anger. It’s any wife’s worse nightmare, no matter what the addiction is. I’d never witnessed prescription drug abuse, or really any drug abuse growing up. I lived in a home where the motto was always “tough it out” and I never saw my parents take a sip of alcohol until I was probably 21. And even then, it wasn’t a full glass of wine. So I feel like my naivety enabled his addiction to go on way longer than it should. I don’t have any unrealistic guilt, but looking back hindsight is always 20/20. He was hooked on Lyrica and Hydrocodone for a year and a half after his actual neck fusion. And I can remember my rock bottom with him vividly. It wasn’t sitting down and having the conversation, that was the turning point the day after the bottom.
Our family walked on egg shells with Dom. We had 3 little kids. Bubba was 5, Hadley was 4, and Paisley wasn’t even a year old yet. We had a house full! So I was constantly walking around behind everyone, careful to pick up the pieces, quiet crying, clean up spills before Dom would lose his temper. To say it was exhausting doesn’t touch what my life was in those months. Then one day it was just too much. The kids were disobeying on a bike ride, the dog kept running in front of his bike tire, and he just lost it. I heard them ride up to the house and I knew immediately the kids were in tears. Being mama bear I get them all inside and in my room to shield them from the wrath I knew was coming. He knew it was no one’s fault. He knew it was every day life stuff. But for some reason that day it was too much. And he stormed into our room, grabbed his revolver, and he just stared at me as I sat on our bed with all 3 of the kids squeezing them and crying hysterically for him to calm down and put his gun away. And then he left.
I sit here and I type this, and I cry because in that moment my kids had to watch their dad leave the way he did. They are smart. They get it. They know in their little tiny hearts maybe dad isn’t coming back. We all thought it. And my heart still breaks that they had to witness that. But on the flip side I’m thankful that God gave me the courage in the moment to hold those kids and pray and pray and pray and pray and pray. And then he did come home. And our story picks up from that moment.
I told the story of his withdrawal from drugs. It was brutal. It was heart wrenching. But it was encouraging. Because recovery was possible. Once he got off his pills it was like being back with the man I originally married. Please hear me out, recovery didn’t make everything that happened go away. It didn’t take back his actions. It didn’t undo anything. But it made a clear line of communication to be able to walk our family through it. One step at a time.
Now fast forward a year a half.
Life has taken so many amazing turns. Dominic finished up his apprenticeship and got his journeyman plumber card. He went to work for a great local company for a boss who treats him really well. He has made some of the most loyal and caring friends. I’ve had some fun drama along the way, like most girls do! And can’t wait to write some posts about the way God has seriously done work in my heart through failed and redeemed relationships along the way. Good stuff!
Baby #4 is on the way. 7 months down and Miss Eliza Reign will be here before we know it. I’ve had my share of complications this time around. Testing positive for an antibody called the anti-FYA which can cross the placenta of this baby and attack its red blood cells, having horrible morning sickness (which I’ve never experienced), and then getting hospitalized with poison oak covering my whole face and chest and spreading into my mouth and throat! It is SERIOUSLY rare that Dominic EVER has sympathy for me. And a couple weeks ago when I got poison oak, he finally felt bad for me. Like actually sat with me and told me how sorry he felt for me, asked me if he could help, took care of the kids and let me eat benadryl and sleep as long as I could. He’s just not a sympathetic guy so even though I was beyond miserable, it eased the pain just a tiny bit to have him feel bad for me. And I HAD planned to milk that sympathy for as long as I could when I got out of the hospital that Saturday.
But no, he got me home, tucked in on the couch and loaded with benadryl again and then took off to go on a mountain bike ride! I had a quiet house with no kids home and I was asleep before he even left. Then 3 hours later I wake up to my phone ringing and his friends name on my phone. I answer it half asleep only to hear Ben on the other end in the sweetest voice possible…..”Ashley…..I’m really really really sorry. But I think Dom broke his arm and I’m pretty sure it’s bad. And I need to know how fast you can up to 4 corners to pick us up?” WHAT?!?!?! Please tell me you’re kidding me. My husband has NO insurance. And he solely supports our family. “Ummmmm, what does bad mean? And I can leave now and be there in maybe 45 minutes.”
“Well I mean he’s ok. We just need you to get here as soon as you can.”
They were fortunate enough that the owner of Ashland Mountain Adventures shuttle was able to take his personal truck and come up and get to them probably 30 minutes faster than I could have and drove them to the hospital where I could meet them. My husband had enough sense before he went into shock to have his friend take his jersey off and tie his arm up and to his body and get all of his gear off of him before they had to hike themselves out to where they could get picked up. We looked like one big hot mess at the hospital. I still had my hospital bracelets on from my stay at one across town the night before, my face was still swollen and I was covered in pink calamine lotion sitting waiting for him! And then in they wheel my pale white husband ready to pass out and I’m not sure the ER nurse knew which one of us she was admitting.
Here comes the good part. Dominic broke his humerus in half. Right at his bicep. Just snapped it. Like really? You couldn’t just have a slight fracture? Something easy that can be casted and heal up in a few weeks and you can still go back to work and do some stuff? Nope. When he gets hurt he makes sure he needs to get put back together with plates and screws.
And then my heart stopped. The second the nurse attached his IV and shot him full of pain meds my heart sunk into my stomach and I immediately felt that despair. Please Lord no. Please please please don’t let him go there again. This is not happening. Surgery means prescriptions. Surgery means depression. You’ve got to be kidding me. I can’t do this again. I’m not strong enough to carry this again. All the worry of how the heck we were going to pay for this completely faded and all I could think about was how the heck I was going to make sure he didn’t get addicted to pills again.
So we have 3 days at home before surgery. It’s my job to keep him drugged up and in as little pain as possible until then. But I’m struggling with even giving him any once I get his prescription and it’s hydrocodone. So we make it to surgery, and we get discharged the same evening. We want to keep our cost as low as possible so we won’t be paying doctors bills for the rest of our lives. The first 3 nights are hell. Literally 100x worse than neck surgery initially. And through this whole process my thoughts just keep bouncing back to his rock bottom.
Lord please keep me strong enough to give him tough love. To stay in control of the pill situation.
But to be honest. We were already covered. In the past year and a half the people who we’ve been lucky enough to surround ourselves with were already a step ahead of me. Everyone close to us knew how bad our situation was before, but most of them weren’t around to witness it. When you’re in such a dark place, having friends is impossible. To watch his friends send him messages, show up at the house and the hospital, come for dinner, sit with him even when he was dozing in and out of sleep, and force him out of the house even if it was just for a car ride or to watch a movie has been a weight lifted off of me. They have continually reassured me that they won’t let him go there again.
I can’t say these past few weeks have been easy. It’s scary to think that Dominic will be out of work for 2-3 months. But here’s where it gets good. God placed photography in my lap when Dom broke his neck to help ease the financial strain for the specific reason that I’m able to be home to take care of my family and still at the drop of a hat book sessions and help pay bills. God placed our specific families around us who without even thinking twice would pay for him to get his surgery, take our kids, and start looking for other ways to bless our family. God put every single one of our friends in our lives at this moment to ease our stress. From meals, to house cleaning, to babysitting and carpooling, to money, to just coming by and visiting. Every single one of them has helped. And God had Dom turn down his job offer in Seattle last month because He knew this community we live in would restore any shred of doubt at how amazing humanity can really be. We have had complete strangers make donations to help our family. To pay for our surgeon. To drop off meals and lunch stuff for the kids. We’ve had help on top of help on top of help, and prayer going up on our behalf even when they didn’t know us personally. It is OVERWHELMING!!!!!! My heart is so full that I just cry, all the time. Every time someone drops something off the tears just start flowing. We are being shown love at every turn and it makes me turn and say “Lord I’m sorry I doubted your ability to cover us.” We’re almost 2 weeks out of surgery and Dominic already has stopped taking his pain meds during the day. And while it sounds corny, thats a BIG deal.
I know I keep saying it on everything I’ve posted on facebook and instagram, but we are SO thankful for each and every single person who has reached out to us during this whole ordeal the past few weeks. It’s brought us more encouragement and full bellies than we’ve had in a while and my list for thank you’s is growing by the second.
We’re thankful that where we’ve been continues to influence where we’re going. And hopefully we can encourage others that even in the most hopeless times there’s a bigger plan. There’s a divine work happening in each of your lives even in the dark.