I keep a list of ideas for blog posts. At present I have about a dozen in my notebook and I even knew which one I wanted to use next. But then Kai got sick.
Kaimana is our 4 month old puppy. An exuberant bundle of fur, razor-sharp teeth and tenacity, she is contagiously adorable. I brought her home from North Carolina when she was 7.5 weeks old because that’s the latest a rottweiler puppy will fit in a carry-on crate. In the short 9 weeks she has been a part of our family, she has wiggeled her way into our hearts.
Friday night she was fine. She rode with me to pick up Steve and two of my children as they returned from Wilderness Trek in Colorado. She made a stack of new friends as she greated everyone in the parking lot. When I laid eyes on her the next morning, I knew something wasn’t right. Lethargic puppies are an oxymoron. So are puppies who don’t dive headlong into their food bowls.
After 2 days and as many trips to the vet, the worst was confirmed. Kai has parvo.
Despite vaccinations and freakishly over protective owners, Kai has the toughest thing a puppy can get. There is no treatment. None. No magic medicine, no surgery, no cure.
The torture of wait and see began yesterday morning. From the outset the vet and tech have been very honest and I like honesty, it’s what I’m all about. But honesty hurts when it comes in the form of “She will get worse and then she will either get better or she won’t.” That kind of honesty stinks.
We left her with at the vet yesterday and have been back to visit 3 times in the last 24 hours. She is worse. Her pitiful face crushes my heart. I swear I won’t go back to see her; it’s too hard.
But then I get home and think about how terrible she is feeling. Nothing there is familiar; she is without her toys, her bowl, her people. And I find myself walking back through the door for another bleak visit.
Why do I do this to myself? Why do I keep going back when I know I will most likely leave in tears? Because that’s what love does; it does the hard things. Whether the hard things relate to puppies or people, they are done because we love.
My family and I will go to bed again wondering what we will find in the morning. We earnestly hope that this is the turning point. We are painfuly aware that it could get worse, much worse.
My love for a chubby puppy named Kai compels me to do what is hard, even though it breaks my heart. If you’ve ever loved someone, or owned a dog who stole your heart then your get it.
The moment was surreal. Conversation flowed freely and laughter filled the air as Steve and I shared an order of nachos. A last minute date to a movie preview was followed by an impromptu late-night stop at Fuzzy’s Taco. As we recounted the movie we laughed so loud that other people began to stare. We were thoroughly enjoying each other’s company! In that moment, I couldn’t imagine being happier. For a moment I thought I was going to cry.
So what’s the big deal? Don’t all married couples enjoy times like this? I can’t answer for everyone, but I know that I didn’t. Stilted date nights and unmet expectations were the norm. Like being stranded on an island unnoticed by yet another passing ship, the lack of intimacy in my marriage left me disappointed and dejected. I craved a relationship where scenes like the one above occurred.
How did my marriage get from where it was to where it is? With a lot of hard work and determination! And, a lot of God!
As Steve and I began to deal with his addiction there were times I was completely overwhelmed. We both were. The issues were much deeper than just an addiction. We were actually dealing with an intimacy disorder. I wondered if we would make it. And honestly, there were times when I doubted the effort was worth it. Part of me wanted to give up because in addressing his problem I had to look in the mirror. The reflection was more wicked step-mother and less Snow White. I had to hear and own how my actions were contributing to the problem. I had to swallow my pride for the sake of my marriage. In reality, I didn’t have to – I chose to. And I am so thankful I did.
I like my husband and I respect him. We enjoy being together and don’t need other people as a buffer. I don’t worry about how to appear sad if the police were to come to my door and tell me Steve was gone. We have awesome conversations, we have a fantastic sex life, and we inspire each other to be better. We can argue and it not threaten to ruin our relationship. And most importantly, we can just be. We can sit in silence without feeling the pain of a void. We don’t have to worry about keeping up walls to protect ourselves. We have dreams and goals and without wishing time away, look forward to an empty nest.
When I think back to where we were compared to where we are, I feel like we need some kind of medal. There are moments when I want to stop and shout to everyone around, “Do you see how amazing this is?! Do you see how far my husband has come?” But really, it wasn’t just him. It was both of us. We are reaping the fruits of labor from seeds that were sown in our tears. We made it. Do you hear me? We – made – it!
How? Because we didn’t give up! If I could give one piece of advice to a version of myself 10 years younger, that would be it. “Holly, don’t give up!” I can only credit God’s abundant grace with giving me hope and helping me persevere when I could only see the end. More days that not, I thought it was over. The last time we went to counseling, my motivation was to justify divorce. Today that sentence brings tears to my eyes. If I had given up, I would have missed the absolute best years of my life. Yes, it was hard, but worth every minute. Every tear, every fit, every day that I thought I physically couldn’t bear the pain anymore was worth it.
No, things aren’t perfect. But I know that there will be many more impromptu dates, moments of laughter and cherished memories. No matter what life throws, I have faith in us. We will get through it. Together.
In the last few weeks I have written a series for Shannon Ethridges blog. In the next few days I will be posting them here. Enjoy!
“When will I stop wondering if he is kissing me and thinking of someone else?” As we speak over Thai food, Morgan’s questions unleash a flood of memories. Pain, distrust and betrayal, I feel their sting as a near decade of recovery evaporates in an instant. Nine years ago I struggled with the same question when finding out that my husband is a sex addict. I wondered if our fragile marriage would survive. How could I ever trust him again?
“When I get home, we need to talk. You might want to make an appointment with Jane.” As Steve spoke these words, my heart sank. The delicate threads that hold the broken pieces together unravel with every passing second. This was serious! Was this the other shoe dropping? I expected the worst without being able to name what that might be.
We sat down, hearts in our throats, and I steeled myself for what I knew to be coming. “I need to be honest and confess that I have had an addiction for most of my life. It was there in my earliest memories.” I tasted bile. What was I hearing? I needed someone to tell my heart to be quiet, to turn down the thudding in my ears. I felt like I was suffocating, drowning in the confusing mix of emotions threatening to swallow me; hurt, anger, fear, confusion, and relief. Yes, relief. The fact that our marriage had survived up to this point was astonishing considering the demons we had already faced. And while we had come a long way, I still carried a nagging feeling that a piece of the puzzle was missing. Somehow, in the middle of the numbing confusion, I knew this was it! Looking back, I think that knowing was the driftwood allowing me to survive the waves of negative emotion. Don’t misunderstand. It wasn’t easy. Picking up the pieces again took a lot of work, grace and understanding.
Thankfully, we made it through the aftermath with our marriage not only intact, but immeasurably richer. While we aren’t perfect, I honestly think we have one of the healthiest marriages around. And after so many years of secrecy, we choose to be very open about our story. For us, it is therapeutic. This openness, along with Steve’s frequent speaking engagements, gives me many opportunities to hear questions just like Morgan’s. While the questions I hear are varied, there are three which surface repeatedly. Is he thinking of someone else while kissing me? Have I really forgiven though I can’t forget? And, do I need to know everything?
I wish the answers could be tied into neat little bows, tidy and crisp. In reality, they can’t. In the coming weeks I will share my feelings, tempered by 9 years of renewed trust that Steve and I have built. Recognizing every situation is different, my intent in sharing is to give you hope. Because it all starts with the smallest bit of hope, doesn’t it?