Monday, December 1, 2014

When the Slip Hits the Fan

If you're not working on recovery
you're working on relapse

***

I’m a big fan of trusting my gut.  It rarely fails me.  There was a time when my instincts couldn’t be trusted because I was in the midst of hypervigilance. I never gave myself enough time to listen to my feelings because I was already on high alert.

But, the more I worked on my recovery, the less hypervigilant I became.  I was able to trust my gut once more.  Getting that ability back has helped me tremendously.

Not long after Devin and I started using FANOS again, my spidey sense told me he was either on the verge of a slip or already had one.

He’d been lax about showing up to his group and meetings on time.  And, when he told me about them, he was only sharing generic information instead of what he learned from the other addicts or what he shared with them.

So, when our dog died few weeks ago, I knew he was in a terrible place in his recovery and ripe for a mistake.  He had a special bond with our dear Charlie Bear.  He’d been with him for fourteen years - through his divorce, our marriage, and the discovery of his addiction.  They shared a unique and precious bond.

Rather then push Devin and remind him he needed to dive into his recovery, not run away from it, I let him be.  I understood he needed to work out his feelings on his own, even if it meant a slip occurred.

Then, the red flags began to wave. Little tells he has when he’s about to fall off the wagon.  While I wanted to shout out a warning to him, I didn’t.  I watched on the sidelines as he struggled in his recovery.  I detached with love.  I offered him comfort when he needed it about Charlie’s death, but knew it wasn’t enough to fill the hole in his heart.

Without a strong recovery in place, the slip was just a matter of time.  So, when he disclosed it during FANOS, I wasn’t all that surprised.  But, I was disappointed and sad he didn’t confide in me until I told him I suspected it happened.

Because I'm in a great place in my own recovery, I didn’t take the slip personally like I’d done in the past.  I used to get wrapped up in what he was doing to prevent another slip.  I feared it would lead to a relapse. Or, worse still, I’d convince myself I could’ve done something to stop it.  That somehow his slip was my fault.  Now, I know it’s not.

So, when the slip hit the fan last week, I told him I appreciated his openness, asked that he’d tell me on his own rather than me coming to him, and asked how he would prevent another one.  I didn’t judge him; instead, I felt compassion.  He was already ashamed of what he kept from me.  Nothing I could’ve said would change how he felt.

Now, he’s back on track despite the enormous hole in his heart where Charlie Bear used to be.  And I’m doing just fine too.


Rest in peace, Charlie.  You were one awesome dog and the best listener and cuddler of our pack.  You’ll live on in my memories and always have a special place in heart.



Have you endured the loss of a pet?  How did you heal your broken heart?

55 comments:

  1. I'm sorry you guys lost such a great four-footed friend. If only they lived as long as we do.
    Glad you are in a good place and not devastated by what happened with Devon.

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    1. Thanks, Alex. He was a great furry buddy. Such a great natured guy. I'm glad I'm in a better place too, made things so much smoother.

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  2. Oh, so sorry about your puppy. My husband is so attached to our cat Spunky and he's going to be devastated when cancer finally claims his buddy.

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    1. Oh no, Diane. I'm so sorry to hear about Spunky's cancer. That blasted disease got my Doberman a few years ago.

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  3. It's hard to step aside - good for you. Losing the little ones is never easy. They make a larger impact than we might think. You're in my thoughts.

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    1. Thank you kindly. It's true. Our fur babies become a large part of the family. I mean, my kids never run to the door excited to see after I've taken the garbage down to the curb. ;p

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  4. So sorry dear about your pet.I know is really hard.
    Last year we lost our old and lovely Rex we cry and suffered.
    I think only the time and remember the good moments help us.
    Send you love dear Elsie!
    Xo

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    1. Aww, I'm sorry about Rex, Gloria. Time does heal our wounds and for some it takes longer than others.

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    2. Of course some months ago I still thought he will received me in the porch!
      I know! Hope you feel better about it

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  5. I'm so very sorry about losing Charlie. My Pepper is just about 14 and the first dog I've ever owned. She's my special little gal pal and I am absolutely dreading what is coming sooner rather than later. She's already having accidents overnight if I don't get up one or two times to let her out. I know I'm going to be absolutely inconsolable. The thought even brings me to tears.

    Anyway, good for you for being so calm about Devin's slip. I am sure he will feel more comfortable telling you up front next time, after seeing how calmly you reacted this time.

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    1. My doberman suffered from incontinence too as she got older. It was so sad. We had to put her on medication for it because it got so bad. Then, one day out of the blue, she couldn't get off the couch. We took her to the ER and they diagnosed her with full blown cancer. I broke down and cried for hours. Ugh, it was terrible.

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  6. Sorry to hear about the lose of your pup. It is never easy indeed. But when they live a good, long, happy life, I always take comfort in that, which I'm sure he did. You relaxed? Did you pop a few sleeping pills or something? lol Great you could remain calm indeed.

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    1. Charlie led a very happy life. He was walked everyday, even towards the end. It took twenty minutes to get him to go three houses and back, but he still loved being outside in the fresh air.

      I know right, me calm? When? haha

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  7. I think the best way to heal from the loss of a pet is to remember the good times and what a long and happy life you provided for them. So many animals do not have good lives.

    And congrats to you, Elsie. I'm impressed with the strength you showed not to react codependently.

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    1. I agree, Debra. Charlie will live on in our hearts forever. He was a rescue dog which makes him even more special to us. Thank you for the compliment - greatly appreciated.

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  8. If only I would trust my gut. I made a note to myself on my fantasy football team, and have the same note embedded into my brain...."Never bench your starters! Just be patient and trust that they will get you the points you need."

    Did I listen to myself? Hell no! I've made this mistake several times this year, you would think I would've learned by now. And with a spot in the playoffs on the line what do I do? I sit my starting QB and played Eli Manning instead because I thought Eli would have the better game going up against Jacksonville. All the while I knew in my gut that if I benched Rivers he would have a great game.

    There is still hope for me. Once again I must put my faith into New York and pray that the Jets completely shut down the Dolphins tonight. So little hope remains. I need a miracle cause the Jets suck ass!

    Sorry about the dog. My dog is really ill right now and we don't know what's wrong with him.

    Glad you are in a better place to deal with his recovery. It takes a strong person to do what is necessary and not interfere with how they progress or even regress. Slips happen, it's all in how you deal with those slips that makes recovery easier.

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    1. Why, Dan? Why? Why would you pick Eli any time this year. He's done nothing but suck. He's thrown more interceptions and been sacked countless times. My team has fallen apart at the seams. The only thing good about them is Odell Beckham Jr and he's not even a guarantee. I have a love hate relationship with my GMen this year. It's been rough to watch. I had class yesterday and recorded the game. I was super excited because we had the lead for such a long time and the next time I checked - we blew it. WTF? I came home and deleted it. Don't care what happened. Stupid Giants.

      I hope your dog gets better soon, Dan.

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    2. Well the past few weeks Phillip Rivers has fallen apart. I thought Eli might be able to do me something going up against the crappy Jags. Or maybe, just maybe, I did it because on a sub-conscience level I expect myself to lose and do things to guarantee a loss. Maybe I'm just stupid. Maybe it wasn't my fate to finally get my name on that trophy this year. Or maybe it was a way for me to finally learn from my mistakes. Either way, it was a very costly move. Had I played Rivers we wouldn't be having this conversation because I would have a very comfortable lead heading into tonight's game.

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    3. And yes, it is time for a new post. Just get so busy sometimes. Or is it too lazy? You be the judge.

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    4. Well, Eli did get something going against the Jags but, in typical Eli fashion, he fell apart like a cookie dunked in milk. Have I mentioned how much I hate my team this year? And, what really sucks is the one to be forced to go will be Tom Caughlin. So not fair.

      Hmm, I'll go with busy because you're not *that* lazy….

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    5. Update: I won!!! It was a miracle. The Jets D help up and didn't allow the players I was up against to score. It was a narrow margin of victory. I was biting my nails till the very end. I'm playoff bound!

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  9. I'm sorry to hear about Charlie. It's always hard losing a furry friend. And I know I always say it, but you've come so far in your own right that you handled everything like a boss.

    It sounds like you gave Charlie a damn good life, which you should be proud of and celebrate. When it comes to animals, that's all they could ever ask for.

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    1. Thanks, Bryan, I appreciate that. Charlie was one spoiled pup - just like the other two. We keep saying we're not going to get a third "unless it gets dropped in our lap" but something tells me it may be forced to drop in our lap…haha

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  10. Slips do tend to happen following an emotional trauma and I'm glad you handled it so well.

    When I lost my cat Piggy at fifteen years of age, my heart broke. It was healed a year later when Kitty Fang arrived on my porch. She looks exactly like him and I like to think it is my Piggy come back to me.

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    1. It's funny, really. I told my counselor not too long ago the two times I "expected" him to have a slip - the death of Charlie and the death of his mom. It's such an emotional tumultuous time for him, I had to be understanding. Freaking out would've accomplished nothing. Aww, Anne, I remember when Kitty Fang showed up on your doorstep. A bit of Piggy to live on.

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  11. Animals are tough. On the one hand: It's an animal. On the other. It's my friend.
    I mean, it's not like I'm going to let my kids lick my face, right?

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    1. Oh, Andrew, you just had me laughing. I don't let my kids lick my face either, that's going a bit too far.

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  12. A few months back our precious Pip passed. It was so sad. We had some closure by having a funeral burial at a pet funeral parlor like we would have with any other member of the family. I hope the slip wasn't too serious and it is amazing how patient you were. I am so sorry for all of your loss. :( xo

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    1. I'm so sorry about Pip. I know you two were like peas in a pod. I love that you guys had a funeral for Pip, it's a great way to gain closure. We had the Bear cremated and have a photo frame waiting to be filled in his honor.

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  13. Losing a love one even a loved pet is hard, it is good you were able to stay strong and not jump all over him when you saw the slip coming as it wouldn't have helped it would only make the walls go up and he would become defensive I do hope it was only a minor slip though

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    1. Thank you, Jo-Anne. Yes, it was a very minor slip. Nothing I couldn't handle emotionally. Long ago, he promised never to do the things that caused me such heartache four years ago and he's kept that promise. You're right, getting involved would've caused those walls to be erected quickly.

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  14. I can totally understand. You have things that happen that just make you say, the hell with it all- temporarally. Then you get back on your feet and look back at the wake of destruction/pain you left while you were bobbing under. I salute your courage and honesty in letting it proceed the way you did. I know I'll face that day sooner than later with Scrappy. And all bracing yourself for it does is prevent you from living life in the meantime.

    Sometimes, you just gotta take the blow. My heart goes out to him.

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    1. Yep, there are things in life that will throw us for a loop. If we're not in the right state of mind when they happen, things can get pretty messy but it's what you do afterwards that defines you. And, he did the right thing. I don't look forward to the day when you post about the loss of Scrappy. He's part of our internet family.

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  15. As you know, we just lost our dog last Friday. It's very difficult when you're so connected to a pet like that. We try to give it time to heal but we know it will be a period of mourning, and that we'll be just a bit too emotional. I am trying to think on all the good moments we shared more than the fact she's not with us anymore. However, both Mother Dragon and I try to keep ourselves busy with other activities too. Distract our minds in more constructive thoughts is helping us cope. Dragon Hugs to you both.

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    1. Those first few days, I wasn't sure Devin would push past the sorrow he felt. But, as each day passes, he is able to remember the happy times with Charlie without tearing up. He can remember without that sorrow overwhelming him. I'm so sorry about your dog, Al. It's just so tough.

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  16. Sometimes it takes something devastating to learn something more about oneself. The death of your beloved doggie showed how you had the strength to deal with your husband's slip. You now have found even greater inner strength and compassion you may not have fully realized you would have if this event would happen. I have lost pets. The first that I was so close to was our dog Fox. She was a stray and I now wonder if she was part coyote. Anyway she was so intelligent that we could play tag with her and she could read when we needed her gentle touch. When she died (my parents did not spay her and she got pregnant with too big pups for her size and the vet had to put her down and the pups didn't survive either). I was so devastated and blamed my parents for not getting her spayed. It took years for me to open my heart again. In 2000, I got Katie, my wonderful lab who was there always for me. She lived to be 13 1/2 and I still miss her. What helped is that we have another dog that needed our attention as our present doggie, Wallace, has a strong phobia of the outside. I also made a photo book of my Katie and wrote about her and that helped. Your Charlie is now an angel and has helped you through this slip...how beautiful is that?

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    1. It really is a thing of beauty, Birgit. Charlie lives on in our strength to endure and our love of one another during this difficult time. I'm so sorry to hear about Fox. What an awful event to endure. Just amazing that she could play tag. Charlie was similar to Katie - he just knew when someone wasn't feeling well. he'd walk up to us, make his little Bear sounds, and lick our hand a few times, like he was saying, "I'm here for you and my heart goes out to you." I'm glad you now have Wallace. We have two other dogs that needed our attention and that distraction helps.

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  17. So sorry you lost your dog :( Those are definitely huge holes. I'm glad you both weathered that storm, though. Even though it was a slip, it shows how very far you have both come.

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    1. Thank you so much Kinley. This really was an opportunity for both of us to see how far each of us has come in our recoveries and what still needs to be done.

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  18. ugh. sorry about the pups...it can be so hard...we lost a pet just at about 2 years ago now...it was my boys first pet to die...i am glad you came through the slip...i know it has to be hard, even with a stable recovery...thoughts and prayers for both of you

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    1. Oh my gosh, I can relate. My kids' first dog died shortly after we moved to the east coast. I knew how much they loved her, but when she died, they all fell apart and my daughter took months to get past it when she went to bed at night without her.

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  19. I still miss my dog, who passed last year from cancer. So, my heart goes out to both of you.

    Sounds like you couldn't have handled that slip any better. How relieving is it to allow everyone the opportunity to take the credit or blame for their own lives???? Sounds like you mastered a major life lesson right there! Bravo!!!

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    1. I'm so sorry about your loss too, Robin. It's such a difficult thing to lose our pets, they're so much more than just animals. Thank you for your kudos. Muchly appreciated!! :)

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  20. So sorry about Charlie.

    Good for you for staying centered and grounded. It benefits you both as a couple.

    Hugs!

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    1. Thank you so much, Robyn. Devin and I have grown tremendously these last few years. Hugs back atcha!

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  21. Hi Elsie - so sorry about Charlie .. and pets going do leave huge holes for us don't they. I'm pleased you let things ride themselves out and it seems to have worked out for you both .. all the best and continue to take care - Hilary

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    1. Thank you, Hilary, I appreciate your condolences and your praises. Take care and be well!

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  22. Losing a pet is losing a family member - they really are our family. My condolences for the loss of Charlie Bear :(

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  23. I'm so sorry about Charlie Bear. I know how terrible it is to lose a beloved pet. What a handsome guy he was. Take care!

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  24. Sorry to hear about the dog dear ~ I am admiring on how you handled the situation, you didn't waver from your faith, but you let him help himself, so to speak ~ I am more like, this is how I want you to handle the situation, this is what I think. I think there is a lesson to be learned from letting your man slip, fall, recover and make amends by himself ~ I am glad both of you are in a safe place to start and continue your recovery program ~ Take care Elsie ~

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  25. I still have my dogs ashes on the mantlepiece, I still miss him, sorry for your loss!

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  26. I'm sorry to hear about Charlie, Elsie. Yes, I've endured the loss of a pet on more than one occasion. It just breaks my heart and I just go and it on my rock and be quiet for a while.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.