The Bravest Thing Lucas Did

IMG_4316There are so many ugly sides to addiction.

The lies. The fears. The hate. The words. The deception. The lies. The financial consequences. The lies.

When it comes to a marriage, small things become huge things because your foundation of trust is gone. I am the first to confess that April of 2007 was a high bottom. Things could have been so much worse. The image of an elevator is a common conversation piece in the program. I got off the ride down on a high floor. I know it could have been so much worse, but as the light of truth began to show in the darkest corners of my secrets, the web of insanity was real.

It was clear from the first morning of my attempts at being truthful, that I was incapable of caring for myself much less another human being. Both my parents and Lucas’s parents stepped in immediately and gave us space to find help. Each taking one of the girls, our parents took the information that we offered and without trying to control us, they took over parenting duties. My job in the initial days was to take care of myself.

I filled my days with counselors and meetings and trying to read and drinking I reached out to friends that I could trust to try to make sense of what I was facing. I really didn’t know how to explain everything, as to most, I had it all together. Lucas was balancing work and trying to be present and give me space, all at the same time. It was a strange dance of loving and trying to trust that he was getting the truth.

There were many hard conversations between the two of us in the early days, but before the girls came home, we had the hardest. There was never a doubt in my mind that Lucas would do anything in his power to help me. He offered me every resource. But he was very clear that his job was to love me and protect the girls. With all of the love in his heart, he looked me in the eye and made the expectations very clear. It was my choice – I could have alcohol and pills or I could be a mom.  I was heartbroken because I knew that I had failed them. My inability to place their needs above my desire to drink and drug was not going to continue. And should I choose to take a drink or use a pill, he would do whatever it took to protect them.

What I didn’t know then, and had no capacity to see, was that this is not the norm. Survival, excuses and co-dependecy prevent most families from setting these hard boundaries. This was the single best thing that could have happened to me. I didn’t know how to be sober for me. Honestly, I didn’t want to be sober. But the fear of losing the love of my life and my precious girls kept me focused in the early days. I didn’t think my own life was worth saving, but if there was anyway that I could make up for the damage that I had done to my family, I was going to try.

His firm, no exceptions call to sobriety was so brave. If you know him, you know that the last thing Lucas Hilbrich would ever want to do is to give up on me. He loves with the biggest, strongest, fiercest love. He believes the best in people like no one else I know. And to look the mother of his girls in the eye and say those words…I just can’t imagine. He saved my life that night. Eventually, I came to a place that I could see hope. But for days, weeks and even months, the best motivation I had was the look on these faces.

We had this picture taken the month before I got sober. And for years, it was pinned to the driver’s sun shade in my car with a copy of the Serenity Prayer. On days when I could not do it for myself, I did it for these two tiny girls.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.


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