Hope Inspires, Hope Wissel, Recovery

Anniversaries – Celebrations With Reflection

This past week I celebrated two anniversaries both filled with emotions and the struggle to remember.  Two milestones in my life which changed me forever.

On Friday, hubby and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  We have been together 18+ years BUT only married 10.  If you know our story, you get it.  🙂

I generally blog about our story BUT this year,  I want to share the gratitude I have for this man.  Our road has been a rocky one – from his commuting for 5 years, to living together to marriage.  It all seems so basic, right?  But add to it – recovery on the road to relapse, a perceived loss of independence, his congestive heart failure, my diagnosis of MS and now his retirement.  Life on life’s terms which is something I’m not really good at.  It has been a true test for both of us of our wedding vows.  He has been my rock on my most difficult days.  I have tested his patience and he has learned how to communicate just a little bit better. We have grown together in so many ways…

As we sat at dinner the other night, the subject drifted to the one question to be sure about a relationship.  I had never heard this and honestly, I was scared. But he continued saying it is “do you bring out the best of each person?”….. Of course I had to know what he thought about us because honestly my memory is awful and fear was creeping in.  My immediate reaction was to feel less than. Not worthy of his unconditional love.  Instead of blurting things out, I prayed to be quiet while he finished.  He said “our life has been a balance –  sometimes we have brought out the best in each other while there are times, we have brought out the worst.  He said it is life but the true test is how you get through it.  We have made it.  WOW!  I didn’t get defensive.  I didn’t try to over analyze.  I just was grateful I kept my mouth SHUT and for how far we have both come. I may have already forgotten much of the night, I pray his words about our life together stay with me forever.

Jump ahead to Saturday and another celebration…. WE HAVE 3 YEARS!  I look back on where I was three years ago… a hot mess on the verge of losing my hubby, a mound of credit card debt, a victim mentality while I isolated feeling less than everyone else, broken emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Appearing confident (often cocky) on the outside while a scared child on the inside.  I had walked this road before and relapse became part of my story.  I had let down my family, my friends but most of all I had let myself down.  The strong confident person was gone.  What was left was a broken, shell of my former self.  Sadly, I didn’t notice it – I thought I hid it well.  I blamed everyone else for what was wrong in my life when the only one who was to blame was me.

As I sit here writing, unable to feel anything but sadness (MS seems to play with my emotions as well as taken my memories) I struggle to remember how bad it was.  Not just this time but the first time (my first clean date was 10/26/91).  Hubby often says, God took the memories because it was too unbearable for me to remember.  God gives me glimpses at times but when it becomes overwhelming for me, they fade and only segments remain.  So instead of struggling to remember, I try each day to be a better person than I was yesterday. Does it always work? NOPE!  I know with God’s help, it will.  I continue to go to meetings – I need to hear the struggles, I need to share my blind faith, I need to be surrounded by people who have been where I have been and I need to remember  “never” should not be part of my vocabulary.

Today, the credit card debt is paid off.  Today, I am trying to connect with local women in recovery.  Today, I accept I am an introvert but it does not mean I need to isolate.  Today, I know my ride & die gals who have been with me since the first night 3 years ago are just a phone call away.  Just for today, I like myself.  Today, I don’t beat myself up over the weight or how I think “I should look”.  My life is blessed in so many ways.  Yes, MS kicks my butt BUT it is not an excuse to go back to those old destructive behaviors.  Living life on life’s terms is not always easy but WE do recovery together.

Thank you to everyone who has walked these many roads with us.  We are grateful for the part you have played and continued to play in our lives.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!


Hope Wissel


Happy Monday Everyone!  I am going to make a change today in my blog from business as usual to celebrating my hubby’s birthday.   I am sure if Rob knew that I was sharing with everyone he would cringe – he definitely does not like things on the internet.  Today is his 58th birthday and I am blessed to be celebrating it with him.

Almost 9 weeks ago, I was wondering if we would get the chance to  CELEBRATE.  He was suffering from congestive heart failure and I was worried that our life together was going to be cut short.  This is the first time that I admitted that I was scared!  See, the social worker in me kicks in during a crisis and I get through it – and then sometime in the future, I fall apart.  It may be days, weeks, months and in some cases a year or more but it will happen.  I have had my moments but I think they are passed and I am ready to CELEBRATE life with Rob.

When I think about how long we have known each other – over 40 years, I think about how long we have been together – about 11 years, then I am blessed that we have been married a little over 2 years.  It has been a roller coaster of a relationship up till now with many twists and turns.  On the outside, he may seem indifferent (since he doesn’t show emotion often), a workaholic, some may say boring and a definite planner (this is inside and out).  On the inside, he is a soft, gentle and a VERY emotional person with lots of tidbits of information flowing through his mind.  When we reconnected 11 years ago, he took on the role of father to Belinda.  Not always something that she wanted but I was grateful that he wanted to do this.  When financial struggles came along before I moved to Brick, he was there to help.  No, I didn’t ask – he just offered or took care of it.  He wanted to provide for my daughter and I, something that I thought would never happen for me.  I mean I was an INDEPENDENT woman.

Rob is my rock – he keeps me grounded in reality when I sprout wings and want to fly into dream land.  Yes, that is a good thing because he is planning and thinking ahead.  He is my opposite and they say that opposites attract, right?  So, as I wanted to PLAN for a day trip to Atlantic City to his favorite restaurant (Harrah’s Buffet), he paused and made me think about the expense as I was getting ready to go to National Conference.  Was I frustrated?  YES!  Was I disappointed? YES!  The truth is – it doesn’t matter where we celebrate or how we celebrate just the fact that we are together is what counts.  So, it might be a walk around the lake and dinner locally but we will be together – enjoying each other’s company, sharing our dreams and wishes for the next year.

Birthdays don’t have to be flashy, especially as we get older.  They don’t have to involve lots of presents (we buy what we need).  We need to reflect and celebrate with family and friends the gift of another year.  Time is precious and we never know what God’s plan is for us or those we love.  I love him more today than I did when we got married and am grateful that God helped him to find me again.

 Happy Birthday to my hubby, my soul mate – Rob Wissel.

birthday_card02  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.  I know that we will…

Hope Wissel

In a fog…

The foggy weather outside is a perfect description for what I have been feeling this week..  actually, that is kind of how I have felt since the doctor put Rob on restriction on May 7th.  We have traveled through the last two weeks going to doctor’s appointments and tests.  Hurry up and WAIT, as Rob would say.

The last test was on Monday and without hesitation they moved him from the Cath lab to the Critical Care Unit.  The doctor explained to me that Rob had congestive heart failure which has caused all of the fluid around his heart along with cardiomyopathy then there were lots of other medical terms that I didn’t really understand.  A few days is what they are saying so that they can pump him full of a diuretic to reduce the fluid and the pressure on his heart.  THEN they are going to adjust his medicines.  Then, he will probably go to cardiac rehab before he can come home.  The stint is only 50% blocked so they are going to wait to replace it.  The biggest problem through all of this is that Rob had NO symptoms that there was a problem with his heart – no chest pain, NOTHING.  

God blessed us with what we thought was a sinus infection which was the reason that Rob went back to the doctor on May 7th.  He wanted to get better for our trip to North Carolina to see Belinda.  Well, that trip didn’t happen nor did we spend our anniversary in Atlantic City.  We are together – struggling through the trials of this disease knowing that God has his hand in all of this – whatever is recommended by the doctors.  There is light at the end of the foggy tunnel.

I am blessed with a supportive family, friends and LOTS of prayer warriors who help me to stay strong.  For despite the fog, I don’t think that this is something that will be over in a week and Rob will be back to work.  His spirits are good and he is ready to do whatever it takes to get better.  His goal – travel to North Carolina to see Belinda AND to have a steak a Charlie Browns.  Okay, so the two don’t go together but considering that Rob hasn’t had much of an appetite in over a month, it makes sense to us.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and well wishes.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.