I stared at his mangled face trying to sort out how I felt about it. There was a part of me that knew I should feel badly for him -that should be worried about him and I pondered in awe why I couldn’t seem to muster up those feelings. After all -this is the man I refer to as my beloved laying there. Was I in shock? Was I still reeling from the last 45 minutes I was convinced he was dead and preparing myself for that confirmation?
I could tell from his one good eye that was dilated and jerking that he wasn’t coherent as he babbled on about various nonsense. Funny -tho, he was speaking fairly clearly, and his sentences seemed to follow a logical progression, but the story was too disjointed to be nothing but a dream flowing out of his banged up brain.
It was almost a relief to get the real story from the nurse. He had been in a head-on collision that was his fault. He was extremely drunk and had been driving his friend home from the bar. Thankfully, no one was killed and his passenger was only bumped and bruised up. In fact, she had been taken to jail that night for having marijuana in her possession. The driver of the car he hit also walked away. My husband apparently received the worst injuries.
Good! was my thought when she told me that. Was it horrible of me to be glad that my husband got hurt? Maybe NOW he will finally learn? Or was I glad that he was finally feeling some of the hurt that I’ve been feeling for years?
I was surprised when it was less than 15 minutes before the doctor came in to talk to me. I was informed that he was fully CT’d and checked out and that despite how horrible his face looked, my husband was deemed “OK” and as soon as the last belly scan was officially read, they would be sending him home. I barely had time to register this news when an admin entered to get payment from me. Luckily, an officer also entered to give me my husband’s belongings and his citations. I took out HIS credit card and asked for mine back from the admin who happily switched cards; agreeing that the patient should be paying for his own mistakes.
They discharged him less than an hour after I got there. Granted, my beloved had been in the ER for almost 2 hours before I even arrived but it seemed like it was too soon to be released. He was still writhing in pain and still drunk. What was I supposed to do with him?
I stopped trying to explain to him what happened on the way home. Some things were beginning to get through and he certainly understood that something bad had happened because DAMN did his face hurt! I got him home and gave him the pills the ER suggested and put him to bed with an ice pack on his face.
Despite the suggestions of the few people who I confided in to leave him to suffer alone; the former nurse in me could not leave a patient in this state. A massive head injury is not something I felt comfortable walking away from. I checked on him every half hour as he moaned in his sleep and I talked to my Al-anon sponsor, HIS AA sponsor and a few friends to get support and advice. I felt strong.
And I acted strong – even when he finally woke and had sobered up enough to hear what had happened. I was strong when I watched his world crumble and saw him break down sobbing with remorse. I was strong as I listened dispassionately to him cry about how his life just ended -that he couldn’t believe it, he had to be dreaming, he lost everything…
I was strong…..until he reached for me and said he was so sorry. He was sorry he put me through all this, he was sorry he treated me so badly for so long, he was sorry he failed to be a good man. He begged me not to leave him. But then he added something that snapped me back into reality. He said:
“Please don’t leave me…until I can get through this.”
Aaahh yes. He needed me. I was his rock. I was the fixer. This remorse would only last until he had things under control again. Till he felt secure again. Then his need for me would be over. I mentally gathered up my panties, squared my shoulders and found my resolve to remain detached from this, from him and let him suffer his consequences. I vowed not to bail him out.
A few days have past since now and as you can imagine this roller coaster ride is a doosie! Much of my husband’s time over that weekend was spent feeling sorry for himself. He slept A LOT. Then I took him to get his belongings out of his mangled truck and everything changed.
After seeing that all the blood in the vehicle was on the passenger door, that his injuries were all on his right side -where the vehicle was hit- I finally asked him if he was SURE that he was actually driving. It didn’t make sense to me according to what I remember from Physics class that he could have ended up laying across his friend’s lap from the driver’s seat in order for all his blood to be there. It would not have surprised me that in his drunken state, he would think he would be Amy’s hero and say he was driving in order to save her from the serious jail time she would be looking at for her FOURTH DUI.
At first he thought that I was accusing him of being overly nice to a woman like a jealous wife, but then I watched hope plant a seed in his good eye. That hope plant grew rapidly and over the next several hours, he became convinced that he wasn’t driving and his life WASN’T over and he could fight the charges. Suddenly this girl that he was so intent on helping became a demon. He is positive that she was driving and is lying to save her ass.
Over the last few days, between talking to attorneys, friends and bosses, my husband’s story melded into “I had a bad night. I made some really bad errors in judgment but I am innocent!” I have tried a few times to remind him that we have no proof of anything yet. Though the accident report says he was driving, until we get dash-cam proof or eye witness statements that he was indeed behind the wheel we simply do not know for sure. But there is a better possibility that he really WAS the driver and he needs to prepare himself for that. And if he was, then he is going to be crushed all over again.
But he is not listening.
I thought he was looking at rock bottom. I thought there was FINALLY going to be changes -that he would finally get serious about getting help and working a 12 step program. I thought there might be hope for our marriage. But this isn’t his rock bottom after all.
The day he started calling DUI lawyers and lamenting about where he was going to get the money to pay them, he received a Am Express card in the mail he forgot he applied for a few weeks ago. He also discovered that his one other credit card had raised his limit by $5,000 for “being a good customer”. Money problems gone.
The insurance company totaled out his truck and he ended up with $4,000 more than he owed the bank – enough to buy the new used truck he wanted for the RV he planned to buy and live in when our house sold. Vehicle problems gone.
His job as a CDL driver coincides with the school year. His boss can’t/won’t fire him until this DUI charge gets settled because until his court date in July and potentially months thereafter while a case is built, he has a valid license. Now that he has an attorney and this hope of getting the charge either dismissed or lessened, if he loses his job, it won’t be till the fall. In fact, the timing just happens that he will be laid off for the summer as usual and will be able to collect unemployment as usual. That gives him time for us to get an offer on this house and buy his RV while he is still technically employed. Housing troubles gone.
Now the only serious badness he is still looking at is his marriage. I had told him all along that I did not intend on divorce. I was in no hurry to file. I just needed him to get help and get serious about a program and about our marriage. Right after the accident I had hope that it was actually going to happen. Now I can see the old Beloved is back. The guy who feels sorry for himself, thinks people should treat him with kindness and graces because he is a veteran with issues and really is “a good guy.” I hear the cockiness back in his voice. He is no longer contrite. He tells me I need to get over my issues about Amy and what actually happened that night cuz “I’m the only one worried about it”.
Our pastor came the other day to visit and talked with each of us separately. He was aware of the troubles we’ve had over the years and that we separated recently to get him into treatment but he is the pastor of a large church and a busy guy. It wasn’t until I sent him a picture of what happened over the weekend that he found the time to finally visit us in our home. I fully expected to get the encouragement to stick it out. I expected to be reminded of my duty as a wife to stay through sickness and health,, blah blah blah. But I was floored by the first question pastor asked me when we were alone:
“Why are you still here?” The question was one of disbelief. “Do you even love this guy anymore?” They were honest questions. Instead of godly wife encouragement from him, he told me how impressed he was that I was so calm and that I was still living with him. He agreed with me that there is nothing I can do to make my husband truly hand his life over to the Lord. He told me that he thought I already went above and beyond what most women would allow or do or put up with.
I told him I take my vows seriously and feel guilty leaving a man who is obviously sick. But that I understood that sometimes leaving is the loving thing to do. He agreed. Then he told me something else that blew my mind. He talked about unfaithfulness.
I am well aware that unfaithfulness is one of the few reasons God “allows” divorce. But I don’t know what happened that night with Amy and I honestly doubt that any full-on sexual activity happened. After all -no matter how much I don’t trust the actions of the drunk -I also am all too aware of how physically incapable my husband would have been to perform any such actions. I told this to pastor.
“Unfaithfulness in a marriage is more than just sexual, Ruby,” he explained. “He has been unfaithful to his vows. He vowed to love you as Christ loved the church. He vowed to be a spiritual leader. He vowed to be faithful to YOU, not to a bottle or work or friends or himself.”
He didn’t outright say it, but he gave me an off-handed blessing to leave. He gave me a godly man’s understanding and acceptance if I made the decision to leave my husband for good.
I guess now I really to decide if this man really IS my beloved. Am I still in love with him? I believe I was at one time but honestly not sure any more. 5 years of being hurt changes a person. I can honestly say that YES! I do love him, but is it the kind of love that should be in a marriage? If I’m honest I have to admit that I love him the same way I love my friends. I care about them and would do almost anything for them as well. But would I trust them with my life? Would I follow their lead as a wife should? Would I expect them to put MY needs or desires above their own? No.
There is too much going on right now to make any life-changing decisions. I am trying to live one day at a time. My husband’s course of action will determine our future. If I really am his number one priority as he claims, he will make decisions based on what he thinks give US the best shot of repairing our marriage -not based on what will save his butt. I’m sure many of those decisions will benefit both causes so I pray that God will grant me the wisdom to know the difference!