Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Real Life Story: Crying Into My Sauerkraut & Getting Arrested

This particular story is near and dear to my heart. I've felt a little weird about sharing it, but my husband says that I should. So, here goes nothin'. 

It's been a few years almost to the day that I picked up my husband from the county lockup. We were engaged at the time, and only a month from our wedding. The events of that night were not something we talked about freely afterward because of the emotions that it brought up.

He had been prescribed Ambien after some severe deployments because he couldn't sleep and had bad PTSD. I had just moved 10 miles away from him instead of our regular 40 mile drive, and I was in the apartment we'd be sharing once we got married. It was all pretty commonplace at that time. He'd call me sometimes at 3 am when he'd taken his Ambien and slurring his speech he'd tell me he loved me and that he wasn't tired at all. I would laugh and convince him to hang up the phone so I could sleep for work. 

One particular night, the night I'm speaking of, he called me like usual. Halfway through the chat, I could hear his blinker. "Are you driving?!" I asked. He said, "Yep!", druggedly and enthusiastically and then said he had to go and hung up the phone. I panicked. I called him over and over for 30 minutes, praying to God that he hadn't hurt anyone, gotten pulled over, or hurt himself. No success. I was going straight to voicemail.

This was no usual night for us. He didn't abuse medications, but his Ambien prescription was weird. He would sleep mentally, but physically he would do anything but. He'd stay "awake" for the entire night, only to finally collapse somewhere in his apartment around sunrise and wake up refreshed. I hated it but he felt refreshed and needed the sleep. There would be funny stories like how we'd find that he had cleaned his entire apartment, or we'd find thawed out frozen food dumped in the bottom of the oven (thankfully he was too out of it to turn on its cooking functions.) One time he even purchased several Disney movies and had no knowledge of it until they arrived at his door a few days later. 

The dreaded thing we'd always worried about was finally happening. He had driven on his Ambien. 


When he finally called me back it was nearly 4 am. It had been well over an hour since I heard from him last, maybe even two, and I was in a panic. Also, I had dreamed up every thing I was going to yell at him if he had just been messing with me. When he finally called, it was from an unknown number. I knew what had happened and my heart sank. I couldn't even muster up any words.

"Um, can you come get me?"

"Where are you!?" 

"The county jail. Just come get me, please." His voice sounded exhausted, scared, ashamed. 

I drove across town at 4am to pick him up. When I got there, they had me wait for a few minutes, but didn't make me pay bail. They had felt super bad for him. He had a squeaky clean record. They realized what it was, it wasn't drunk driving, or even drug abuse, he had taken his prescription at home, laying in his bed, and then somehow driven because of some wild drug-induced fantasy that I was freezing and needed blankets. He was trying to be my knight in shining armor and it went horribly wrong. 

When they brought him out from the back, he was barefoot and in gym clothes. I asked him where his shoes were as we walked back to my car, and he said, "Don't worry about it." He was exhausted, drugged, and embarrassed. (I found out later he hadn't worn any.) It wasn't just that he now was facing DUI charges, or even that they were because of his inability to sleep after having to do unspeakable things for our government, but it was now going to ruin his chances for a job in Washington, DC, that he had been interviewing long and hard for. You had to have a perfect background, no loose ends, and it was the one of the main reasons he'd even served in the military to begin with. With his credentials, the military service made him a shoo in. His arrest now took him completely out of the running. Months and years of hard work for a career dream were flushed down the toilet.

I drove him home, and we fell asleep. Later that morning, we woke up, and he could remember everything. He was crestfallen. I'd never seen him look so beaten up. He called his boss to relay the story (a clean record was also required there), and was immediately fired. More beat downs to his ego. I kept telling him, we'd get through it. We'd fight the charges, because he was an honorable military veteran and they had given him the medications. Nothing seemed to help, and I knew that only time would make him feel better. 

We spent the rest of that day tying up the loose ends from the night before. They had impounded his truck, but to pick it up, we had to file some documents at the DMV. To file those documents we first had to go to the impound lot. This meant that we had to get a document from the impound lot, then drive to the DMV file documents and pay a fine, then go back to the impound lot. Meanwhile, the impound lot lost his keys. So, we had to go back to his house and tear it apart for his spare key. It took us no less than 8 hours to get it all completed. And it ended with a missing set of keys, and his license had been suspended for 6 months.

Then, he had an appointment with his religious leader because our marriage ceremony required the highest dedication to the faith in order to use the religious building for the ceremony. This would now be tricky. We had both worked so hard for this type of ceremony to happen, and the religious leader was hesitant to give a man with a potential DUI charge the permission to wed in the sacred building. After a lengthy, stressful, discussion, he allowed him to marry me there. But... when he came back from the meeting he was worn out. Permission or not, he was beat up.

We went to a local fast food place to binge eat our feelings away. We ordered some polish dogs, and sat in a booth in the very back of the place where no one could see us. We were exhausted, he felt broken, and my heart hurt for him. I couldn't make this better and it hurt to see him hurting. We both started to tear up, and then one of us got a visual of what we must look like - two exhausted people, crying over polish dogs with sauerkraut, because a month before our religious wedding, he got arrested for a prescription DUI, lost his job, and lost his dream job, too. 

That visual made one of us start laughing hysterically, and then the other joined in. I don't remember who did it first, but we laughed so hard while tears streamed down our faces. No words were said, just healing laughter. When we finally stopped laughing, we both ate our food quietly and smiling at each other.

The stress didn't end there. We had to get a DUI lawyer to help us reduce the charge. It cost us a fortune, the fines, the lawyer fees. We ended up upside down in a vehicle loan to pay for it. That vehicle ended up dying before we could pay it off, and hardships kept coming. At the end of the day, we had each other, and our willingness to keep pushing through the mess that came. We found some good in it. He realized he wanted nothing to do with government jobs, and that, in a way, this was a huge godsend by steering him abruptly away from that life. We learned to work as a team from day 1 of our marriage. We learned to laugh at hard things, which would prove useful in the coming months as we went through my mother's terminal diagnosis of brain cancer, depression, ptsd, and the full gamut of grief. Somehow, this incredible disaster turned into a huge moment in our lives that brought us closer together. 


Life may change everything in an instant, but if you can find a way to laugh at the craziness of it all, you will get through it. Sometimes it may take months, hours, years before you can laugh, but don't give up hope. Just keep pushing through it.

It showed me from day 1 that we could get through hard things. It showed me that we really love each other. 

Now, we just laugh about it.

++ Have you ever had a moment where you were too stressed to do anything but laugh? Share below in the comments. 

I'd love to hear it!

{Image credits: Neither quote image had a viable source listed under them... they are lost on the internet. Sad.}

Join the conversation!

  1. Ohhh man! Poor guy.. I'm so sorry this all happened. I'm sure it left you both in a whirlwind with some shattered hopes and dreams. That being said, I hope you have come to terms with it now and are reaping the benefits of circumstances that have been for the better since that day. At least you both walked away with a wonderful spouse only a month later!
    Also, the laughing. I hear you. Sometimes in those moments of defeat, laughter is the only thing that can pull you up and give you joy. Thanks for sharing this story!

    1. Yeah, it was rough for a lot of months, and then he saw the silver lining, the government was not for us. Now he's a creative and he's SUPER happy. It's all behind us now. I don't necessarily believe or disbelieve that God steers our lives that abruptly, but honestly, sometimes it feels like something made that happen. The government job would've been miserable in hindsight. It would've made our relationship really hard, and he would've always been gone and never been able to talk to me about his day. We are both so grateful that isn't our life. Those jobs have high alcoholism and divorce rates because it requires you to be dishonest with your closest relationships. Not worth it.

  2. ...But such a great story! Not to downplay all of the really hard repercussions, but the end of the story somehow redeems it all. I love that you both had nothing left but to completely lose yourselves in the moment with laughter. The chain of events sound like they're out of tragic but uplifting moving! I'm glad you shared this story :)


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