Flight of the monarch

Yesterday, I was walking with Rosie through the small field that runs along the rail tracks at the end of my mother’s road. It was late morning, the crickets were buzzing and the grass was alive with monarch butterflies.

Flitting in shivery circles, they loped about at mid-height, some pausing on the footpath, others parabola-ing off and away from one another like non-commital lovers. “11… 12!” cried Rosie. In the end, we counted 15.

The monarchs are on their way to Mexico, preparing for their great migration south, when they will fill the sky with their ecstatic, frenetic flight. Like them, Ben is on a frenetic path right now, his movements as circuitous and uncertain as an individual butterfly’s – the shaky flight, the indecisive wing-beats flicking him one way and then another.

But now – now – he is on the path to something more certain, like the millions of monarchs that have yet to take off. At 4:40 this morning, my friend Sarita rang me to ask whether she should drive down to Ben to take him to the detox centre. The centre had arranged for Ben to be admitted today, because Ben’s GP – the one who has been following his case for the last two years and who has made every effort for him (unlike the one Ben saw some days back) – faxed the referral form the centre needed to make the admission. Needless to say, our local drug and alcohol service were rather useless on that front.

I spoke to Ben this morning, before he left, and he sounded resigned. He hates that so much money is being spent on him because it forces him to be accountable for his actions. He is tied up in shame and guilt, but as everyone, including the detox centre manager, has told him, it’s time to accept the help he is being offered. It is time to accept it and assume the responsibility that comes with that acceptance.

The detox centre manager, Patrick, who has also made all kinds of effort to get Ben in, emailed me a few hours ago to say that Ben had been admitted and was safe. The centre will arrange Ben’s transfer to rehab in 10 days. Ben is now out of the flat and somewhere safe and I can now start my holiday.

I feel unaccountably sad. I now lie awake wondering what my next step will be. I have achieved the first thing I wanted, which was to get Ben out of the flat – for his sake, for Rosie’s and mine. But there are many more steps for me, too.

And so, there will be many more nights of wondering, fear and hope, before I, too, take off. We are all on our individual migrations – taking flight to that place of safety where we can feed and grow a new life for ourselves and those we love.


20 thoughts on “Flight of the monarch

  1. Congratulations. Ben is in a safe place now and you’ve made it over the first hurdle. I can’t imagine the emotions you are experiencing about your future, but now you get to focus on your child and yourself. I’m sure it will be challenging, but try to enjoy your holiday and recuperate from your past challenges. You are an amazing woman.

    • Thank you! Like I’ve said many times before, I’m not amazing – really I’m not. I’m just trying to find my way out of this mess in the only way I know how. And, if anything, much of this latest success is down to my friend, who spent the better part of this week driving back and forth from my flat, checking on Ben, and encouraging me to stick with it and get him into detox. I was ready to give up, I really was. But she told me I couldn’t, so I didn’t.

  2. I have just come across your blog and have now caught up. All I can say is – wow! What you are dealing with is so terribly difficult and draining in so many ways, yet somehow you are strong enough to do that, take care of Rosie, AND write about it all so eloquently. As jsapphire says above, you are an amazing woman, so please take very good care of yourself too!

  3. “I don’t feel amazing. I am just doing what anyone might do in my situation.”

    MIGHT is the word here. I do not feel there are many people out there with your level of patience. That you choose to continue to support your husband shows not only how amazing you are but also the depth of your ability to love. I greatly respect that you have stood by him as long as you have. Though I do hope you soon find your “place of safety” and are able to raise your daughter in a happy and healthy environment. Best of luck.

    • Thanks jen1229. But that’s just it. I don’t think what I’ve done is actually motivated by love, because I don’t even know how I feel about Ben. I certainly don’t feel like I did all those years ago. I put it down to human compassion, because when I ask myself why I’m doing this, love never seems to be part of the answer.

  4. Did you know that butterflies are the most common symbol communicated from our guardian angels or from a loved one who has passed on?

    I am truly praying that your family’s guardian angels are looking out for all of you.
    The next steip in terms of what to do will come to you. Try to stay in the moment. Right now step one has happened….Ben is where he needs to be. Wishing you some peace and relaxation

    .”Listen for the flutter of an angel’s wing as it softly touches you with love. Embrace it and join in the dance.” ~ Linda Pendleton

    PS. I think Sarita is one of your guardian ‘angels’. What a fabulous friend!
    Take care.

  5. Great news. I’m sure that it is a bittersweet victory. Wanting this for so long, finally getting it, and now new fears related to it. You are so strong. You stood by him and you helped him move in the right direction…more than likely, saving his life.

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