Monday, June 25, 2007

A Tale of Two Women - A Mini Series, Part XIV

Claudia’s life as she had known it all these years had come crashing down on her. The man that she loved, adored, would do anything for and has served as her confidant and rock all these years was gone. Even though she knew it was a 30-day treatment program he was in, it still seemed like a lifetime away. She still had to keep her wits about herself for her son’s sake, continue going to work everyday, and now assume the responsibilities of paying the household bills. This was going to be a difficult task because Clint had always been responsible for these things and she didn’t even know where to begin. Her gracious father-in-law though step up to the position of fill-in bookkeeper until Clint returned home. Her father-in-law helped her figure out what bills needed to be paid, which bills didn’t require any attention, as well as ensuring their checking account had enough money transferred from their savings account to cover any automatic withdrawals that took place on a monthly basis.

Claudia would find the strength every morning to rise early, get her son ready and take him to his grand parents house for the day because he was on summer break from school. She would then go to work, put in a full day cleaning rooms for an assisted living apartment complex for senior citizens, then return back to her in-laws, who would have dinner waiting for her every night when she came to pick her son up.

Even though Claudia was still regulating her medications she was plummeting into another deep depression. She started missing work more and more, started losing her hair, and was missing Clint terribly. She felt she had no one to talk to, so held all the shame from her family’s secret being exposed inside. She felt so far from the only other place that gave her refuge and that was her family in Mexico.

While Clint was in the rehab center Claudia received word from back home that her grand mother had passed away. This was her mother's mother. Due to Claudia's current circumstance she wasn't even able to travel to her grand mother's funeral which added to her already depressed state.

After the first couple of weeks, Clint was able to make a call to Claudia to which she was delighted to hear her husband’s voice. They were not able to talk long, but it was that conversation that gave Claudia the strength to go on another day.

While Clint was in rehab there were certain duties that was expected of each person in the facility, which included cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, managing the outdoor grounds areas and a multitude of other things. As each day passed and the patients were successful in completing their chores as well as participating in their group meetings and individual meetings the were given a better position. Clint in a short while had been elevated to the fire marshall of the group who's duties were to ensure all medical equipment was properly functioning, fire extinquishers were current and properly operable, burning the leaves and grass that had been gathered during the outdoor maintenance cleanup as well as conducting camp fires on special nights when visitors were allowed.

During the third week of Clint’s stay in the rehab facility, the family members were invited to attend an evening event for an hour or so to see their family member in rehab as well as be a part of the their group discussions. Claudia, her son and in-laws drove up to the facility for the meeting. Deanna declined to go and because of still reeling from being upset with her brother for causing the family such unnecessary hardship she felt it would be best if she didn't go.

Claudia and her son were so thrilled to be going to see Clint that they were bouncing off the walls with excitement; Clint’s parents were also very excited about going to see him. When they arrived Clint greeted them all warmly. His parents noted how good he looked and how his demeanor seemed different. They stayed for the meeting to which they learned a great deal about addiction. They also received literature and any assistance they would need in dealing with an addict once they’ve been released from their treatment program. Before leaving Clint presented his parents and Claudia an envelope as well as provided them with an envelope for Deanna to which her parents delivered to her the next time they saw her.

In his letters he declared his addiction to alcohol and drugs and how he had let them consume him and cause so much pain to everyone around him. He apologized to everyone and plead for their forgiveness. He thanked them for their tremendous strength in conducting the intervention. He realized he was too weak to save himself, and their strength, courage and commitment to him was what gave him the push to help himself.

During the last week of Clint’s 30-day stay in the treatment program he was allowed to come home for one 24 hour time period as an exercise and attempt to see how it was going to be in the ‘real’ world because like everything else in life he and all the other patients had fallen into the safeness of the rehab facility. They needed to step out of that safeness and stand on their on and that's what this one day did. Claudia went to get her husband to bring him home for his one-day visit, which proved to be very stressful. The entire family gathered at Clint’s parents house to see Clint during his one night home. When Clint and his family arrived you could sense the tension going on between Clint and Claudia; however, as Claudia always managed to do, she put a smile on her face. Clint on the other hand had never been able to conceal his emotions, so it was clear things were not pandemonious.

Clint’s son on the other hand could careless about anything else than being with his dad. He missed his father so much. As much as his grand parents had tried to show him a good time while his father was gone, it just wasn’t the same without his dad around. His dad was his hero.

Understandably Clint was nervous to be away from the safe haven of the rehab facility, the solitude he found in the wilderness where the facility was located, but now he was faced with reality and it was stressful at best. Of course, Claudia had been living the everyday day-to-day life as well as assuming Clint’s duties in addition to hers so she was feeling the stress as well. During the madness of the Clint’s being away, one the bills had been overlooked or paid late, so there was a reminder letter in the mail that Clint found. He blew a gasket and started arguing with Claudia over it. This only made Claudia feel worse than she already did because of missing her husband so much.

When Deanna and Claudia saw one another and hugged Claudia started crying, which was not an experience Deanna had shared with Claudia on too many occasions. Claudia was telling Deanna that she felt like she was a loser and no good, that she had somehow failed Clint because he was so mad at her. Deanna could see she was tail spinning into a frenzy, so she placed her hands on Claudia’s cheeks and told Claudia to look at her. When their eyes met, Deanna said in a softened voice, “Claudia, you are a dynamic woman. You have the strength like no one I’ve ever seen. You have just endured the most painful experience in your life with no help from essentially anyone. Do not own Clint’s hurtful words. You are not a loser. Do you hear me Claudia? You are not a loser. You are a dynamic, beautiful, loving woman who has devoted everything to her husband and son. Do not think for one minute this has gone unnoticed. Let your husband own his stuff.” Claudia out of shame kept diverting her eyes from Deanna which Deanna clearly understood, but when Claudia looked in her eyes one last time Deanna said, “Claudia, I love you. I am here for you. Never feel like you have to carry these burdens alone. God will never forsake you, and I will do everything I possible to help you”, to which both women embraced each other before Claudia and Clint said their respective goodbyes and returned to their home.

The next day Clint returned to the rehab facility to complete his last week of group and individual meetings before graduating from the program. On the last day, once again Claudia and her son went to pick up Clint which was an emotional moment for Clint because he had become so attached to the people at the facility, knew the safety net that he had been living under for 30 days was now being removed and he was left to handle things on his own. He was given a name of a sponsor and both he and Claudia were encouraged to seek weekly AA meetings in order to stay focused and supported during his recovery process.

Clint and Claudia as well as Clint’s father attended AA meetings weekly. Claudia and her father-in-law stopped going before Clint did, but managed to continue to show their support towards Clint.

Not long after Clint’s returning home from rehab and returning to work, he’s fire station had merged with the Department of Forestry which offered Clint a better work environment and more importantly more avenues for promoting within his field of expertise. He was just amazed at the opportunities that were coming to him, to which he realized were all because of God.

Just prior to Clint’s one-year anniversary of being clean and sober, his parents, sister and his niece went on a mini cruise to Mexico where they joined their cousins. Clint and Claudia were not able to go because of Clint’s work schedule, but all agreed they’d plan the following year for everyone to join.

Deanna was thrilled to be going on this mini vacation with her family as she hadn’t really had much of a vacation in quite some time; moreover, she was thrilled at seeing her two favorite cousins as they had been close since childhood. On the other hand Deanna was a little sad because this meant she was not going to have the constant contact with Aly and she had come to look forward to these moments of their daily chats. She had shared with Aly her trip with her parents, and he enthusiastically wished her and her family safe travels and more importantly to have fun.

Deanna and her family met up with her cousins and they all excitedly couldn’t wait to board the ship. They were all chattering a million miles an hour making plans for what they wanted to do, and the first on the agenda was to see their respective rooms then head for food because after all that’s what vacation is about………….eating.

From the moment they boarded the ship it was non-stop entertainment and laughing. Her cousins should be standup comedians because of their one-line jokes. Deanna’s one cousin, Blake, is married to Pat who everyone in the family absolutely adores. Everyone just wants to be around Pat because she’s so kind, thoughtful and funny. The other cousin’s wife, Janice is a pain in the butt. The most obnoxious, cynical, annoying person you’d want to meet, but they all tolerate her because of Joe.

Deanna returned to her cabin one afternoon for her daughter to take a nap and noticed the phone had a blinking light flashing on it, which she wasn’t sure what that meant. She picked up the phone and an announcement came on indicating she had a message. She retrieved the message and it was from Aly. He said, “Hi Habibi. I just called to let you know I’m thinking about you and hoping you and your family are having a safe trip. May Allah bless you always. I love you.” When Deanna hung up the phone she saw her reflection in the mirror and she was smiling. She blushed at catching herself smile.

Like all vacations, the trip was over faster than the anticipation of it starting and everyone was sad to be parting ways. However, the all agreed to do it again the next year, and once they returned home would begin researching their next venture.


Mixed Up Me said...

I am loving your story!!! Miss you . . .

a_akak said...

keeps getting better,

Mixed Up Me said...

Oh plese don't stop at 14 . . . I keep coming back for 15!!! Doesn't this story supercede all things?? You know, work, parenting, etc!!!! Talk to you later. Your comment about the orange paint spill made me wonder if the blue paint spill is Virgin Mary!! Too funny . . .

Mixed Up Me said...

Oh look I hit publish before reading . . . sooooo, PLEASE don't stop