Author Topic: Gates of Hell  (Read 3689 times)

Carey

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Gates of Hell
« on: March 17, 2015, 12:49:28 PM »
I had been a member of YWBB for a little over a year, but I had been away for many months because I tended to feel EVERYONE’S grief and there was a time I thought it made me feel worse so I stepped away.  At a very low time I came back and I read a thread in the special circumstances section titled “Gates of hell”.  A story was mentioned that had been heard by a pastor at a funeral.

The story went, “He was visiting his daughter in a detoxification center and saw a sign on the wall. He said it wasn’t a nicely printed sign but scrolled into the wall with maybe a nail or file. This is what it said.

‘IT WASN’T SO MUCH THAT GOD OPENED THE GATES OF HEAVEN AND LET ME IN, BUT HE OPENED THE GATES OF HELL AND LET ME OUT.’ “

This rocked me.  I actually paused and thought about the struggle that was my husband’s life and how he must have felt at that moment, to know that all of that misery was over. And not only was Chad let out of hell, but so was I and so were my kids.  AA and Al-Anon and Dr. Phil all make sure you know that if you are in a relationship with an addict, you are co-dependant. Everything you say do and think tends to revolve around what they DID.   The whole 17 years I was married could sometimes feel like a jail sentence. Abject misery and more pain than joy. I used to joke with people about Chad, it’s like that little girl with the curl. When he was good he was very good but when he was bad he was HORRID. People were forever asking me why I didn’t leave. And judging me because I wouldn’t. I still don’t really know why I stayed and stayed and stayed.  Because the good days were just glimpses of what I WANTED my life to be.  And when he died I mourned the loss of what I had HOPED would be the new life we’d have when he came home from Saudi. Mourning a person is hard, mourning what coulda/shoulda/woulda/mighta been is almost insanity.  The hope that things CAN change is heady stuff. Even a tiny glimmer is enough to keep you clawing away.  Only after he died did I really understand that telling me over and over things would change and he’d stop and life would be good … those weren’t the lies I always thought he told me.  If he could have changed I have to believe in my heart that he would have.  He never hid the fact that he had demons. He’d go to church and just stand in the altar and pray and be prayed with, with tears streaming down his face.  He’d pick himself up the day after a bad drinking spell and swear that was the last one. He wanted it to be as much as I did.  Can we honestly think that alcoholics or addicts WANT that? They enjoy it? Because they don’t. No one wants a different life more than they do.  I took everything so personally. Why couldn’t he just love me and the kids enough to just stop.  My thinking was so wrong for so long that it was too late to reverse the damage. I’d love to talk to him face to face one last time if for nothing than to let him know that now I DO have at least a better understanding that alcoholism is the fight of a lifetime, often a fight to the death. Many times I think of past years and feel guilt for not standing and fighting WITH him instead of against him.
I prayed and prayed for God to “deliver” him from it. Because people had told me that God had just magically healed and delivered them and they never took another drink. I would think, “Why would God do it for you and not Chad?”  And I prayed for God to just get me and my kids out.  Many times I prayed that.  And He answered, didn’t he?  I certainly didn’t want those prayers answered that way.  But I think of my sweet Chad with the soft heart, flying with the eagles.  No more DTs when he tried to be good, no more throwing up in the bathtub, no more stumbling around and being made fun of. No more fear and worry about how he is going to take care of us.  No more demons from his childhood and the damage his dad and granddad did (alcoholics also) to him.
When confronted with what to put on his headstone, I was at a loss. It is a veteran’s cemetery and you can only choose certain symbols and I just kept thinking none fit him.  Until I saw the Eagle.  The symbolism of that is a whole other story for another thread, but I’ve always associated him with them.  And the song we played at his funeral was Where Eagles Fly by Sammy Hagar.  So his stone reads “Fly Free”.  And he is. He’s free.  And even though I don’t feel it a lot of the time I am too … or I can be, and I know he would want that for me. 

I've said all of this to say, that initial thread on that board touched me because it opened the gates for responses from so many others on the boards that lost their spouse in ways other than illness, or accidents. I'm ABSOLUTELY NOT making light of those situations.  Grief is grief and it's all so very painful.  But addiction, suicide, all of those other special circumstances that add layers to grief that so many may not understand, and you may feel alone because you think, “Certainly no one else’s experience is quite as F**KED up as mine was ….. and then the stories started pouring in and while the tears flowed and my heart hurt so much for each of them I also felt I’d found where I belonged.  People that would understand without hearing every detail. People that had experienced the special hurt of regrets and what/ifs that torment worse than the loss itself and in that I had just the tiniest bit of healing.  The first since he had died. I didn’t want that thread to just disappear and while that one is there on that board for that time, this is our time, WE are here and WE can share our stories for those that will come behind us and need it so much.  I’m grateful for the members here, ALL of them, but in that special way especially those who belong to “special circumstances”.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 12:54:15 PM by Carey »
I can't look at the stars they make me wonder where you are. 
Stars.... up on heaven's boulevard
And if I know you at all
I know you've gone too far
 So I .... I can't look at the stars --Grace Potter

WifeLess

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Re: Gates of Hell
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2015, 03:06:40 PM »
Carey,

Thank you for restarting this thread here on Young Widow Forum, and for sharing your experiences so openly and honestly on it. I'm sure that many who follow will indeed benefit from your story, as well as from those of other members like yourself who will no doubt be contributing to this thread. For now, all I will add is something I once posted on our previous board:

When an issue such as mental illness, suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc., is involved in our spouse's death, dealing with the aftermath can be especially difficult. Life was frequently frustrating, exhausting and sometimes even dangerous for years before their death. It was very likely an ambiguous love / hate relationship with a wide range of behaviors, some loving, some argumentative, some violent. And so for those of us left behind to deal with the consequences, feelings will likely be conflicted, just as they were before our spouse's death. This may make grieving a more complicated process for us than for those widowed under more "normal" circumstances.

Sorry for the complex road to healing and recovery that you must travel.

--- WifeLess

Bluebird

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Re: Gates of Hell
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2015, 03:35:37 PM »
@Carey, thank you deeply for writing this amazing post and getting the "Gates of Hell" thread started in our new home here on widda.org. There is so much of your story that I can relate to, I hardly know where to begin. I guess I'll share some of my own gates of hell story.....

I married my DH when I was quite young. He was an exuberant person who loved life and who loved to have a good time. He was intelligent and funny and a great friend. By the time he died, I had been in a relationship with him for 26 years, 24 of those years as husband and wife.

Alcoholism wasn't always in our lives, but alcohol was always in the picture. I remember in the early years, if we fought, it was because he had already had his first drink of the day (or two or three) before we were about to go out for the evening. I could never understand why he would get started so early, when we would be going out soon. Back then, I didn't see it as alcoholism, I thought he was perhaps a problem drinker.

I also remember that when my DH wasn't the happy exuberant person, he was deeply depressed. He would say that he had a dark cloud that wouldn't lift. Sometimes that dark cloud lasted many many months. During those months, drinking was worse.

About 6 years before my DH died, I remember very clearly a scary time where he had severe stomach pains. He looked frightened and I asked if he wanted me to take him to the hospital. At first he said no, but then he said yes. It turned out that he was suffering from his first attack of acute pancreatitis. My denial was so thick, that when his doctor told me there were two common causes 1)Gallstones or 2)Alcoholism, I said they better start looking for gallstones! During that hospitalization he also had his first major withdrawal. He hallucinated, thought he could float, saw animals and monsters outside his hospital window and began fighting treatment. They restrained him, but after he broke through two sets of restraints, he was placed in a coma....they were worried he would kill himself with the fight. The hospital let me know there was a 20% chance he wouldn't make it out alive. I remember walking the halls of the hospital, tears streaming down my face, looking for a priest to share my pain and shame. The hospital minister was nowhere to be found and I realized I was alone with this. I had not yet told our son, who was around 11 at the time. I just told him that Daddy was sick.

DH made it out of hospital and determined that he would never drink again. Two weeks later he was charged with his first DUI and two weeks after that he entered inpatient rehab for the first time. During that time, our son and I participated in family therapy, and we were both hopeful that DH would respond well to rehab and fight the monster of alcoholism.

Life after that rehab was truly the gates of hell for all of us. My DH became increasingly astute at protecting his supply of alcohol...hiding it in multitudes of places all over our home. Our son became less and less trusting of our family home, and who could blame him. He came home as little as possible, spending more and more time out of the house. I became a stressed out woman with two faces. The face I put on to go to work, to be responsible, lead my team, earn a living. The face I put on to go home, hard, angry, frustrated and on edge. I would look down at my hands as I drove home each day...they were gripped so hard onto the steering wheel that my knuckles were white. I was always wondering what I would discover when I got home.

Sometimes I would discover my husband bruised and bleeding. Sometimes I would discover him with joints dislocated. Sometimes he would be attempting a withdrawal and I would discover a man who was hallucinating and then who would go into seizures. The thought of the damage to his body and his mind, the damage to our son's security, makes me feel so nauseous, I want to throw up.

Ultimately, my DH suffered a brain bleed that led to a stroke and  signaled his final downward spiral. It was during this time that I FINALLY understood and fully embraced that he was unable to alter his course, that he would die from his addiction and there was nothing I could do to stop it. That realization was a gift from my Higher Power. It made me more compassionate, it removed my anger and bitterness, and it helped me realize my job was to take care of myself and our son, and love my DH anyway.

Many would be reading at this point and saying "Why didn't you .....(leave, try tough love, protect your son better)....And my best response is that I tried it all.

With some time and distance from my DH's loss, I believe the time for our choices to live life differently was really a lot earlier in his illness when neither of us truly knew what we were grappling with. With the help of alanon, I was able to make amends to my DH for some of the terrible ways I behaved during the times when the gates of hell felt firmly shut. He forgave me, as I forgave him the horrors that were visited upon our home as a result of alcoholism.

I found it hardest to make amends to our son. I wanted him to know how deeply sorry I was for not being there during the time he needed me most. I was there physically, and I tried to make choices that would protect him, but I was so busy staring at his father's illness, preoccupied with fixing the latest tragic impact, that I wasn't there enough for our son. Several years after DH died, I finally got the nerve to make amends. To openly and honestly give our son my assessment of my wrong doings and apologize to him. He was very uncomfortable and told me that he knows I did the best I could. He also didn't want me "making up for it" for the rest of my life. As a result, he is a fiercely independent young man and father now, and he has told me that I am THE person he trusts most in the world. For this I am grateful. I don't deserve it, but I am grateful.

It has been very painful for me to revisit the gates of hell. As I thought about writing this post, I realized that my grief and pain has never left. It is put in a safe place somewhere in my heart where it doesn't prevent me from moving forward with living the best life I know how.

I also want to offer some hope to anyone reading this who is perhaps still dealing with very active pain and grief from their loss. When my DH died, I thought life for me would at best become vanilla. I didn't think I could live life well again, I didn't think I could trust enough to love again, and I did not think the word "joy" would be in my vocabulary. I was wrong on all fronts.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 03:43:12 PM by Bluebird »
My First Love, Peace Be Thine

Skitwin

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Re: Gates of Hell
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2015, 06:08:40 PM »
Hi all, might I suggest that we copy/paste into a new thread? We only have 3 days until it goes offline. If we split it up among us into 5 pages each, it shouldn't be a big deal. I just did it to a word document for the first page of the thread. I will do the next 4 pages if someone wants to take pages 6-10, 11-15. It needs to be done by 3/20/15, so please let me know if you can take these other pages. Once we have them, we can post them back here.

Bluebird

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Re: Gates of Hell
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2015, 06:53:32 PM »
Hi all, might I suggest that we copy/paste into a new thread? We only have 3 days until it goes offline. If we split it up among us into 5 pages each, it shouldn't be a big deal. I just did it to a word document for the first page of the thread. I will do the next 4 pages if someone wants to take pages 6-10, 11-15. It needs to be done by 3/20/15, so please let me know if you can take these other pages. Once we have them, we can post them back here.

Hi Skitwin, that suggestion had also been previously proposed, and a thread started by another member. Unfortunately it raises a few problems, the first being the copyright of YWBB and the second being our inability to gain permission from the very many contributors. As a result, after gaining input from the rest of the moderator team, as well as soliciting feedback from members who have swung by this section recently, WifeLess and I agreed to remove the thread. This was a very tough call since we agreed it was valuable for many members, including both of us. We hope you will join us in contributing to the new thread here?

Take care, Bluebird
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 11:23:18 PM by WifeLess »
My First Love, Peace Be Thine

Carey

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Re: Gates of Hell
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2015, 02:34:32 PM »
If you were a member of ywbb and posted to that thread, PLEASE feel free to copy and paste your contribution from there to here. I know so many would benefit.
I can't look at the stars they make me wonder where you are. 
Stars.... up on heaven's boulevard
And if I know you at all
I know you've gone too far
 So I .... I can't look at the stars --Grace Potter

Ursula

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Re: Gates of Hell
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2015, 10:46:00 PM »
Hi Carey, I just wanted to say, thank you for re-viving this post. I have read a lot in it on the old YWBB and it is good to have a place to come to here too. A lot of what you said resonates a lot with me. I feel out of place many many times in the post of all the people mourning for somebody they loved 'cleanly'.  I just wrote a long long reply when my laptop shut down because I hadn't plugged it in and now it is too late to re-write and I have lost the thread. Never mind, thank you anyway and hugs on your way. I will go to sleep to let the layers that complicate life rest and get some peace.
Por que tu fuego a?n me quema, sin ti las noches son eternas,
tu aroma sigue aqu?, no me deja ir.. Por m?s que intente y quiera olvidarte, yo nunca lograre dejarte, cautivo de este amor sincero esclavo de tu voz.. Por que estoy am?ndote, so??ndose, aunque no est?s aqu?..
Y yo te esperare, amor aunque los a?os lleguen sin querer (Marc Anthony)

WifeLess

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Re: Gates of Hell
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2016, 05:27:21 PM »
Perhaps this could use a bump.