I knew what I was getting into when I went to see Amy the new documentary about Amy Winehouse.
I had trepidations knowing what I had gone through with my own husband's battle with alcoholism. We all know her fate. I knew her ending before it happened exactly the same way I knew my husband's ending with this horrible disease. Why on earth would I want to revisit the pain of that escalator that went down more than it went up?
When Amy Winehouse died I was thick in the throes of my husband's battle with alcoholism. No one knew what I was going through except for me. No one could possibly know unless they were living with him. The announcement of Amy's death, at the time, seemed a Godsend. Just prior to her passing my husband suffered a seizure. He had been trying to quit drinking. His body was in a tremendous amount of pain due to sciatica and he was drinking heavily for a few years to ease the pain.
He didn't like the way the pain medication made him feel. For years he would try to quit stopping cold turkey only to succumb to it again after suffering terrible nausea, vomiting, sleeplessness and night sweats. Doing that to your body long enough takes its toll on every organ inside you.
Early one seemingly fateful morning I woke to what I thought was an earthquake. I looked over at my husband and his body was convulsing, eyes rolled back in his head and spurting blood from his mouth. It is the most harrowing thing I've ever been through. My cellphone was downstairs and I knew I had to get it, but I didn't want to leave him. I didn't know how to help. I ran reluctantly downstairs to grab my phone and called 911. When I got back to him he was still alive and that's all I cared about. I stayed with him screaming "stay awake, don't die, stay awake!" until the ambulance got there. They rushed him to Cedar's Sinai. The doctor stated his blood alcohol level should've killed him if his seizure didn't. He was lucky to be alive. The doctor said "You saved his life." That was by no means a compliment to me. They kept him in the hospital for 5 days to observe and safely detox him. I spent my nights in the hospital thanking God for both saving him and for hitting what I thought was rock bottom. Not long after that seizure he was drinking again and it increasingly got worse yet again.
Shortly after this we had an intervention and got him into rehab. He relapsed several times after rehab. When Amy Winehouse died I told him that's what happened to him except he lived. It woke him up for a while, but then he relapsed badly again. We separated, but stayed living together. After watching this and going through it for three years I couldn't bear to watch any longer. I couldn't bear to abandon him either after 11 years.
I felt weak, powerless and as out of control as he was. I would continue looking after him. I still cared deeply. I would go in his room often to check on him. One morning I walked in and he was in the middle of another seizure. Still as frightening as the first time, but I knew what I needed to do this time. Although this one caused me to have a nervous breakdown in the hospital parking lot. I don't think I'd ever sobbed so hard and so despairingly. After detoxing for 5 days again in the same hospital he relapsed a week later. Soon after that one a dear friend of his put him through another rehab. This time one on one in a sequestered apartment. He relapsed 3 months after that. We finally separated completely. He died 1 year and 10 months later.
I had heard it said Amy Winehouse didn't have enough support around her. I called bullshit. Unless you've gone through the agonizing depths of someone suffering with alcoholism, you have no idea. I will say it is hard to rally support for an alcoholic. People think it is a disease that is within your control. It is not. It is like a cancer that needs constant treatment and monitoring. When given those tools it is then and only then that it is within the person suffering from the disease to have the will to battle it.
I sobbed through most of the film. The pain is still raw. My husband and I never divorced. When he died 7 months ago I was suddenly thrust into his world again. With this film I was suddenly thrust into that life again. My love for him didn't die when we separated and it didn't die with him. I was cheated on by alcohol not another man. My only choice was to move on. I lost that battle. I knew one day I would get that call.
Everything written here is simplified and dwindles into a mere few hundred words. There are probably a hundred thousand words more to be said. The pain in past, present and future is immeasurable. The battle is forever behind me, yet the lessons carry me forth with a clarity nothing in the world could teach me. For that, I have won. And it wasn't about winning or losing, but losing those years of my life for me had to result in a lesson or it was all for nothing. I don't do anything in life for nothing. I wanted him to live. I wanted my husband back.
Amy Winehouse and my husband for that matter had all the support and tools they needed. Neither had the will to survive.