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Ara's story

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I do remember sort of thinking – yeah, well done, you married an addict.  I do remember that you marry your father.  I remember that going through my head.  Even though I’ve thought I really, really different so how did this happen?  You know, married an artist.  My Dad was a tradesman, you know.  He was almost the polar opposite to my Dad, I thought.  But I think – there wasn’t much of history repeating itself because I was in a different role.  I was a mother and a wife, not a child.  So I think I learnt some things growing up a little bit.  I knew I didn’t want my kids to grow up in a house with an addict.

It was really small things at first that became habit.  Things like not coming home.  He’d stay late at work and I’d stopped setting the table for him because I knew he wouldn’t be home because he was working really hard and that came under the umbrella of helping his Dad and being a good son, so I just laid off, you know.  It was nothing.  So it started with not coming home and then that sort of progressed to not getting up.  That was annoying.  That really upset me because I’d get phone calls from work and so I ended up being, sort of getting everyone’s grief because I’d answer the phone.  Where’s Mike – he’s not here, I can’t get him up.  It got to the point where his brother would stop by every morning to get him out of bed because I gave up. 

You get used to living a certain way with a certain atmosphere and the stress and the arguments that you know are going to come, and you both get in your roles and you go for it.  But that for me was – this is too far away from the man I married and the man I love, this isn’t right.  I had periods of thinking I knew and then not wanting to believe it because it was quite a hard thing to accept.  And I firmly believe that I wasn’t ready.  Because I think I knew that I was going to have to leave so I sort of waited I guess looking back – I’m not strong enough for this.  The kids aren’t big enough, I can’t do this.  So I waited and when I did get evidence I said “I can’t do this with you – you have to do it on your own”.

 

He got into Higher Ground really quickly which was a massive blessing.  I think he realised that he was going to have to fight because I was cutting cords real quick.  So he got into Higher Ground and did the four months in there.  I took the kids in on the Sunday and everything but we were separate, you know.  I was saying – “I’ve been on a date”, and things like that.  But whenever I saw him, I just had this massive – that’s home.  Especially as I saw him getting better, that was confronting.  Because I was like – well, he’s getting better.  What does that mean for me now that he’s sorting his stuff out.  Is there too much water under the bridge – can I?  Yeah, so they were all big decisions.  If you let one stone fall, the rest of them might just come.  And that’s what my friend said – you’re a stoic mess.  Because I knew if I let one thing go, it would be a landslide.  So I sort of had to – I had this sort of analogy.  I used to say “I’ve boxed it in my mind, I’ve put a box.  It’s got this colour ribbon on it and when I’m ready to unwrap it I will, but I’m not.  So I’m not going to process that.”  I’ve learnt that self-care is huge, yeah.  Especially if you’ve got a family, you can’t just fall apart.  You can’t just not get out of bed.  You can’t have a screaming hangover.  You’ve got to get up.  You’ve got to deal with the kids and you’ve got to make sure they’re alright and all that sort of things.  I made so many mistakes – emotional mistakes I made.  Through all this we’re stronger than ever – it sounds terrible but we’re almost grateful for it.  You talk to cancer survivors – I related it a lot to people who have survived a terminal illness because it was.  Our relationship was dying and he was dying, I was dying and we did – we lost everything.  If I was a person I was now, knowing what I know now, it would be completely – I would have supported him.  I would.  If Michael relapsed, which is an absolute possibility, I would like to think you know, that I would be there and go – Ok, it’s part of the cycle and I will stand by you.  It’s almost like we’ve not taken the emotion out but we can sit back and talk about it, not easily, it’s still sometimes difficult, but I think like I said, we know what’s got us this far.