Understanding my umbrella

No, this isn’t a riff on an old Rhianna hit, though I suppose it could work that way, too. What this is, is an ode of sorts, long overdue…

Once upon a time, before Ben and before I had any notion of what my life would become, I took a year out between degrees to go travelling. I spent several months on an island on the other side of the world, an island fraught with trouble yet continuing to trade on its reputation as a paradise on earth.

One day, a cousin and I were talking about the peculiarities of the English spoken there. This cousin, who happened to grow up on the island and whose English is rather good, was sharing a somewhat derisory joke at the expense of his less accomplished compatriots.

‘Oh yes,’ he said. ‘It was raining and I heard this man say to a girl, “Come, come – come over here and understand my umbrella.”‘

I admit, I laughed – in a friendly and non-judgemental way, I assure you. But there is something sweetly apropos about this syntactical accident. You see, when I got freshly pressed at the beginning of this month, and a torrent of support welled up in my notifications window, this was the phrase that kept bobbing up in my mind.

Before then, I’d been writing my posts, throwing my torment onto the screen because I had nowhere else to put it, and hoping that someone might some day be comforted by the knowledge that she or he was not alone. The first person who really made contact with me was Stronger Me. In sharing her experiences with me, in showing me she had been through the same thing, I felt buttressed. I felt like someone sort of had my back.

And then I got freshly pressed. Suddenly there were scores of comments flooding in – so many of you with similar stories to tell, so many of you reaching out to me. After feeling so alone for so long, I felt like I had (have) a community out there keeping me afloat – a community actually interested in seeing me succeed without judging me. A community of people standing under my umbrella and bolstering me with their understanding.

Does that make sense?

On Saturday, the detox centre let Ben out for a few hours on condition that he would be breathalysed on his return – and chucked out if he tested positive. He went back to our flat, cleaned out the fridge, checked the gas, water and electrics, packed some extra clothes and his drums so he could practise in rehab – and mowed the lawn.

On Sunday, he used his free time to visit the Imperial War Museum.

On Monday, he completed detox and lugged his gear to the rehab centre where he was successfully admitted. He is now in rehab and will remain there until the end of November.

How does it feel? Bloody marvellous, really. Although, me being me, I’m already thinking of November and what that will mean. On the other hand, I’ve got you, my good people, following me, talking to me, keeping me a bit saner than I would have been had I been doing this entirely on my own.

A few months back, my therapist suggested I check out Al-Anon. I said that I’d wanted to, but that given I have no childcare during the evenings, attending a group was next to impossible. I said I’d started a blog instead and that I had made contact with a few people, which I’d found helpful. I said this was the best way for me to get the support I needed, because I could do it any time, without having to leave my daughter with someone.

So, everyone, I want to thank you. I hope you will stay with me as the months go by. I hope you will keep sharing your thoughts and offering your support. And I hope I can do the same for you.

Thank you for taking precious time out of your days to check in on me and my little family. Thank you for being candid and caring at the same time.

Thank you for understanding my umbrella.


19 thoughts on “Understanding my umbrella

  1. This made me cry. This is such a blessing for you and I am proud of Ben for FINALLY doing the right things. He has a fighting chance and your family has potential to be better. I know November may seem daunting or looming now but keep your head up. He’s finally doing something right and on his own. Best of luck to you all!

    • Thank you, and please don’t cry! : ) Yes, he is finally doing the right things. I’m not sure I can allow myself to feel hope, because I have been here before all too often. But this is his first stab at residential rehab, so… I daren’t consider the possibility that things might, just might, get better. At least, for now, they are.

  2. I am SO happy for you and Rosie, and am so pleased that Ben truly seems to be trying. Perhaps your out of country holiday, helped him to realize what his life would be like without both of you. It just doesn’t matter …what matters is that Ben has gotten himself some help for his illness and there is now some HOPE. A chance to breathe! Way to go, Ben! Way to go, you! …. For all of your support and facilitating to get Ben to this starting point of his recovery journey. My prayers continue to be said for your family. I wish you some more wonderful moments of relaxation and joy on your holiday. I hope you see a lot more butterflies!! 😉 Take care.

  3. Im new to reading your blog…I find it fascinating, as I am married to a recovering alcoholic. The road to recovery is never as easy as we wish it was. Good luck to you and I’m looking forward to reading more.

      • It took him MANY tries to get to a place where being sober was what he wanted more than anything. Which required him to make the commitment to take responsibility (not something alcoholics are known for). That was a big trust builder for me, seeing him able to take responsibility for his actions, for his life, for his own sobriety. And that trust grows stronger every day. Things got much easier when he started being able to be honest with himself, (and with me). We’ve done a lot of communicating, working on being honest with each other, but its been a long road – alcoholics (even ones in recovery) are selfish…so selfish…but once they make a commitment to themselves to be sober – it gets better.

      • How long did that take? I know it isn’t the same for everyone, but I am so curious. How did you rebuild trust? I keep thinking that trust can never really be rebuilt. And when did he really decide to make the necessary effort? What was his turning point? How did you cope? How did you remain sane? How did your family? So many questions!

      • Hey there, thanks for your reply. I’m going to keep re-reading it until your advice sinks in. I’m amazed at your patience. Best of luck with everything. And I’ll give some thought to your offer. Tx

  4. I love this. You are such a gifted writer. I chose to blog for the same reason – to find support or offer support or to just get it all out and hope to connect with others. When I found your page, I was relieved to find someone out there finding their way as well. YOU have helped ME tremendously. We might be in different places, in the fact that you are with your husband and he is getting help, but the fears and the anxiety and the pain of being touched by alcoholism is the same. Your blog and Wife Goes On (powerlessoverit.blogspot) are my online form of Al-Anon as well. I cant tell you how much I appreciate you and admire your strength!

  5. That is awesome that Ben is now in residential rehab – I wish him all the best! There just may be a light at the end of your tunnel. Stay strong, be as positive as you can, and enjoy the remainder of your holiday!

  6. Aw! What a wonderful heartfelt story! I have never been on your side of alcoholism, but I have been on Ben’s side. (Feel free to hate me… I kinda do for all I put everyone through.) You are a very strong woman and I wish you the best. I enjoy jumping into your world occasionally to see how things are going and hoping for the best for Ben.

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