We went to see A Star Is Born on date night.

I thought it was supposed to be a romantic love story.

But I didn’t know it would rock me to my core.

You see . . . 

There was a time in my life my husband was going to die.

I’m not being dramatic. I just don’t want to sugar-coat it.

He was going to die.

Somewhere around the time we got married, addiction grabbed hold of him, and for seven years wouldn’t let go.

He was lost in the darkness of drugs and alcohol, stumbling and broken and ashamed and alone. 

The man I’d loved my whole life was trapped.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t pull him out. Couldn’t bring him back into the light.

Yelling. Fighting. Arguing. Reasoning. Loving. Crying. Begging. Guilting. Being unreasonable. Blaming. Counting pills. Following him. Checking up. Making excuses. Ignoring it. Praying. Pretending. 

Maybe if I’m just more available? More loving? Maybe if we have sex more? Maybe if I just keep pushing us forward through life? Maybe if I just carry him? Maybe once we start a family?

But I was powerless.

He was going to die from this disease.

I waited for the day I’d find him unresponsive at home. Waited for the day I’d discover he killed himself. Waited for the day I’d get a phone call explaining he was in a car accident. 

I would’ve been devastated, of course, but not surprised. 

I was just waiting, really.

He was going to die.

That movie made all those memories come flooding back.

I sat most of the movie with my hand clasped over my mouth. Then we walked out in silence. It was the first time we ever walked out of a movie without holding hands and leaning into one another and saying things like, “Oh that was sooo good, wasn’t it?” or “Want to go get ice cream?”

I didn’t even cry until we were home. 

And as we lay quietly next to one another before bed in the dark I turned to him and whispered, “I thought you were going to die.” And he softly replied, “Me too.” 

We huddled there in our big bed holding hands and praying together as warm wet tears spilled onto my pillow . . . then made love like he had just returned from the darkness.

I fell asleep thinking about a night more than 10 years ago.

A night on call at the hospital when I hit my knees next to the bed and cried.

Bawled.

Loud and long and wailing until my voice was hoarse and my whole body hiccupped and shook like a two-year-old having a temper tantrum.

Then I lifted my hands and prayed.

“I’m giving this to You. I’m giving this to You. I’m giving this to You.” 

Over and over and over and over.

I had prayed before, of course. I had handed it over to a Higher Power as Al-anon instructed me to do. But I had always taken it right back. Immediately.

This night was different. I was done.

Done.

I was broken. Our marriage was broken. He was broken.

He was going to die.

It was my breakdown moment. 

My surrender.

And then nothing happened, really.

It was six months or a year later before he went to rehab for a second time and we separated and I assumed it was over. Our marriage was over.

He was going to die. 

But then, somehow . . . 

Days turned into weeks turned into months turned into years.

And he is here. 

He is sober. 

He is whole. 

We are whole. 

He walked right back into the light.

It feels like forever ago. It feels like yesterday.

The morning after our movie date I sat at our big dining table serving oatmeal to the kids. My husband rounded the stairs into the kitchen and flashed me this giant smile. 

His smile.

And I had to catch my breath . . . he is here. 

Alive. 

The answer to my desperate breakdown moment prayer.

I could feel God pressing into me . . . 

I was listening, Mikala. I was right there with you, with both of you all along. THIS is the answer.

And suddenly this ordinary life we live is SO BEAUTIFUL. 

This house, these kids, this family, this amazing man bathed in the light is EVERYTHING I’ve ever wanted.

THIS is the answer . . . 

Maybe we need to let go to hang on.

Maybe we need to break down to be whole.

Maybe we need to surrender . . . 

And maybe, just maybe, THIS life added up over time is a true love story.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Originally published on the author’s blog

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Mikala Albertson

I’m Mikala. I married my high school sweetheart almost 17 years ago and I’m a (mostly) stay-at-home Family Practice doctor raising four boys and a little girl. I write about the simple, everyday, ordinary events of my life’s journey because I think LIFE happens in the ordinary (and even awful and chaotic!). I try so hard to just be ordinary, on purpose.