I have a recipe for beef tips. It calls for red wine (it must be a Shiraz, specifically a good Shiraz) and a pound of shiitake mushrooms. This simmers for an hour with garlic, shallots, and beef consume. At the end I stir in heavy cream. Spooned over basmati rice with a serving of roasted broccoli and carrots, it is to die for. No restaurant anywhere can make it better than I can.
Every year for his birthday he would ask for this dish.
Two birthdays have passed without beef tips and rice. We both skirted the issue. He didn’t ask, I didn’t offer.
He has been over two years sober. So I agreed.
It was the first time I held a bottle of wine in his presence in my own house in over two years. I took a sip straight from the bottle before dumping the remainder down the sink.
A mouthful of bitterness. So much bitterness for such a tiny, little swallow of Shiraz. Then, again, maybe the lump in my throat made it worse.
The things we give up for something we believe in….
There were plenty of people who said I should leave. And believe me, I wanted an excuse. Any excuse. I hated him more than words can say at that point.
But I didn’t leave.
I stayed for my kids. Not for him. They needed their dad. I could not watch them suffer. So long as they were safe, I told myself.
Do you love me?
All of this time, I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have watched other alcoholic patients relapse over and over again through the years. Why would he be any different? I gave up more than I can ever say in order to stay. If it had all been for nothing, I am not sure I could bear it.
The things we give up for someone we love.
I used to turn to alcohol a lot more often when dealing with something stressful. I was not an alcoholic, per se, but it seemed at a point that I was having a “stressful” day more and more often as an excuse. Temporary escape fixes nothing. It only makes things worse. If you can escape, even for a little while, you stop trying to fix anything. You just look for ways to get more of that escape.
So I stopped escaping.
My life does not begin and end with you.
Love comes in many forms. I have been blessed to have much love in my life. Different kinds of love. Many kinds of love. I treasure all of them.
But life is complicated.
He reads my blog. Every single thing I post here. He reads your comments. He always has, since the beginning. He has been here even when what I write is painful for both of us. When you disagree with me. When he disagrees with me.
He is not intimidated by my ugly bits.
Sometimes life forces you to take the measure of someone. Sometimes they surprise you. Sometimes you surprise yourself. Sometimes, in spite of everything, you find a love that was always there. Sometimes, you even find forgiveness.
It is not a fairy tale.
It is something more.
It is hope.