This week Fer and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary. I love this time of year because there are so many great moments that come about all in a row - my soberversary, our anniversary, and my birthday in a few more weeks. This year we went out for a romantic dinner and during our quiet time together we really reflected on how far we've come in 4 years. We got to talking about how different our relationship was at the beginning - toxic, argumentative, and plagued by drugs and alcohol, jealousy, and anger. In particular, Fer brought up one incident that still haunts both of us today. You may be familiar with the before and after photo that's on my homepage where I have a bandage over my nose. In August of 2012 after a long night of drinking, Fer and I found ourselves in a place we frequented often, an after hours nightclub in the hotel zone of Cancun.
That's where I was when arguing with Fer about not wanting to leave the club (I wanted to stay and drink more). We were on the long and steep set of steps that reached from the rooftop club down about four stories to the ground. I lost balance on my high heels and went toppling to the ground, hitting my face on the metal railing on the way down. No one saw it happen except Fer and I, and I have no recollection of this event at all. With employees at the club having previously heard us fighting and then me coming back up the steps with a beat up face and bloody nose, many bystanders thought the worst. They believed Fer may have physically hurt me.
Fer described to me how horrified he was, seeing me go down like that, seeing me break my nose, and enduring the stares of strangers who believed he played a part in my injury. But what he told me on Wednesday night of this week, was something I had never heard him say before: "I'm so glad you went down, hit that railing, and stayed there." "What do you mean?" I said. He explained that in his experience, he had almost seen me die. The steps were very steep and had a lot of space between steps and just one skinny, hard, metal railing. Fer said that I could have easily hit the railing and went right over the side, or missed the railing completely and plunged down to the cement ground below. A fall from that high up probably would have killed me, or left me unable to walk or worse.
Fer said he holds that memory and thinks of it often. He said he frequently has dreams with flashbacks about it, often left pondering what his life would be like had I died that night, and more so, if bystanders who didn't see what happened had assumed he killed me. My stomach churned and I felt a wave of guilt and remorse. I had never thought of that event as affecting him so deeply. In true, self-consumed, alcoholic fashion, I only thought about how traumatizing it was for me and my nose.
Fer went on to say that that night had been his rock bottom. He knew he couldn't go on participating in a relationship like that and that he knew drinking had taken us to places we would never go sober, the night I broke my nose was proof. And yet, I continued to drink for 9 more months. Our relationship got better after that day though, I think that incident scared us enough. We stopped fighting so much and a month or two later I stopped using cocaine at Fer's request.
I know I talk a lot about the moment of clarity I had on May 7th three years ago in the Punta Cana airport, and I have not used any mood or mind-altering substances since, but they're not lying when they say, "more will be revealed." Hearing Fer's side of that story gave me a new view of my sobriety: I've had several "bottoms." Breaking my nose was only one.
I also recently posted an article on my Facebook page about a woman in the Cancun area who fell to her death from the balcony of her hotel. She was extremely intoxicated at the time and I immediately thought, that could have been me. But I didn't realize how close I came to meeting the same fate as that women 4 years ago.
After telling my mom this story, she said she had similar thoughts and used the recovery-common phrase, "there but for the grace of God goes us," meaning her as a parent, with a child who survived active addiction, and me as someone who was so close to death but survived.
Fer and I realize how much serious stuff we've been through for a couple of four years. I think that's why we are both 1000% sure about marrying each other. We've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, and we've made it through it all.
Nothing like a hurtful story from my past to assure me I am lucky to be alive and I shouldn't take one second of it for granted.