“It will be beautiful!” Those are the last words Chris Herren said to me on the phone when I called on November 16, 2019. All I could do was sob. I saw Chris speak back in 2011. If you would have told me then that our paths would cross again but on a more personal level, I would not have taken that bet. Her sister was next to me and noted that I looked like a small weight had come off my shoulders after speaking to him. Seventy-two hours prior, my world had come crashing down as I found out that all of the medical issues my wife had were related to alcoholism. Every doctor soared over the topic with one that even stated, “if someone ever accuses you of alcohol abuse, show them your biopsy.” But my wife, my rock, knew; she knew that she was hiding her alcoholism for over two years. This beautiful woman, the definition of unconditional love to all of those around her, was in so much deep, emotional pain.
While my wife was in detox, her sister and I were at your front door in a typical New England raw, rainy day. It felt fitting given how we all felt but walking into your front door, all I felt was warmth. Knowing that my life had completely turned upside down, I was greeted by Chris and Lori. He again told me that right now you can’t see it, but in the end it will be beautiful. I remember walking around in daze as her sister and I were given a tour but feeling Herren Wellness was the right decision. Several months ago, I had started following the Herren Wellness instagram page, again having no idea that our worlds would collide. I was just so happy to see the Herrens’ work continue from their story. The universe is truly at work. Herren lined her up with a life coach who they felt would meet her needs. Everything that was offered would help my wife take a step forward to being the person she was meant to be. There was this community that I had no idea existed but they knew people would be there to lift her up. They knew from the moment I dropped her off that they would help her heal if she was ready.
As I drove away, I again felt some peace. I don’t think I’ve ever been apart from my wife for one night throughout our five years together. Going forward while at treatment, my wife would only have her phone from 9:00 – 10:00pm. The holidays were an extra weight to bear and it was one of the most difficult time periods in my life.
A couple of days later, I picked up the phone and Heather Herren was on the other end. It felt like every time we spoke, she knew what I was feeling and the words to say. She recommended books to her sister and me to begin this journey. After the first few chapters, we called each other to confirm Oprah would probably not want to be part of this book club. Heather Herren continued to be there for every phone call, to listen, relate, and provide guidance. Heather was this quiet force that you were grateful to have in your world. It would just keep pushing you down the road until you could take a step. I joked that if I heard from my wife about one more acupuncture treatment as I continued to struggle at work, I was going to kill her. Heather laughed and validated my feelings. Her most important words were that our recoveries were going to occur on different pathways and timelines. It sat with me as I only called my wife’s path, recovery, never realizing that it applied to me as well.
Every day, I watched my wife get stronger and stronger. The conversations with Aliza, her life coach, always left me feeling that we were moving in the right direction and gave me knowledge of how I could meet my wife where she was at in her recovery. For the first time, I saw the pain she has truly felt but in the same moment, gain clarity in her actions and behaviors. Make no mistake, the statements about recovery being driven by the alcoholic is true. Nothing moves forward without my wife truly wanting to heal. Herren Wellness let me know that my wife was working hard and had become this quiet leader. It was in that moment, I knew that they saw what I always knew was so special about her.
There is nothing easy about coming back from the bottom. There is nothing easy about admitting your fears and that you have no control. I live in the grey now, more than what is comfortable for me for anyone who knows me. I have reset my perspective on life in that no one is guaranteed time or promise of a future. The key is to truly embrace life every day.
I am forever grateful to Heather, Chris, Aliza, Lori, and everyone at Herren Wellness. We will always be a part of this beautiful community. My wife smiles with her eyes, watch for it because it is beautiful. Her eyes tell you everything. She works every day to reflect happiness and gratitude within her recovery. I don’t know what life holds for us, the grey, the preciousness of it. These words will never carry the weight of my gratitude but as a wise person once said, it is important to hear the wonderful work you do. My experience with Herren Wellness provided me an even deeper meaning to the word, beautiful. It is a word that I have always used to describe my wife, but it is now what I know our life will be going forward.
With gratitude and love,
Wife of Former Guest