Just Sad

I went away for the week-end to visit a girlfriend.

I was SO excited about going; even the three hour drive was inviting.

A chance to be alone, clear my head, take care of no one’s needs but my own.

I was sure I would come home feeing invigorated and rejuvenated.

But I guess it’s kind of like a “three day pass” when you’re serving on the front line of a war.

“Invigorated” and “rejuvinated” for what?

The time with my friend was lovely.

And as a not-so-incidental side note, I think her husband is an alcoholic.

She and I met a few years ago at a state-wide soccer tournament our kids were playing in. We hit it off the minute we realized we could make fun of all the uber-soccer moms! Since then our friendship has been more phone (yes, the generation who communicates via that thing where you actually speak to one another) then actually person to person but it’s blossomed non-the-less. I’ve suspected for some time that her husband is an alcoholic. I have quite the alcoholic-meter. As in, I can spot an alcoholic-husband a “mile away.” With my friend, the first thing that sent my meter rising is her marriage is a lot (A LOT!) like mine! There is this emotional absense of her husband that I recognized right away. For example, right now something quite significant is going on with one of her sons and she hasn’t even discussed it with her husband!! Then there are the “he came in to get a beer” or “he was getting a beer” statements peppered in our conversations. Not all the time and not as a complaint but when any sort of comment or mention of alcohol is made – more than once and when it has no relevance to the story – click, click goes the meter. And finally, her words, he is from a family of “raging alcoholics.” So there ya go.

Anyway, so my sadness and melencholy today isn’t the result of spending the week end with a loving, caring couple. I didn’t spend the whole time looking at them and thinking of how much there isn’t to my marriage. In fact, much as if a friend came to my house, I rarely saw her husband. No, I’m sad today because the week end away and the six hours of driving there and back gave me time to think about how really, really bad my marriage is.

And yet I have so many good things in my life.

That’s the real tragedy of life with an alcoholic.

You can have wonderful children, good friends, a cute dog and food on the table every night but it all (ALL!) gets poisoned by the alcoholic.

You Know What I Am Tired Of?

Watching other couples and families live their lives.

Pursue their dreams, plan their futures, achieve their goals.

My neighbors just bought their new-dream house.

A friend is planning a European vacation with her husband and three kids for next summer.

My ex-boyfriend is teaching his kids to ski and love the outdoors.

We, we exist.

Sure, we have some sports activities here and there. But mostly we all just co-exist in our house and life.

Could I save myself for my dream house?

Plan my own future?

Take my kids outdoors myself?

Of course I can.

Of!

Course!

But I didn’t really sign up for single-mom-but-not-really-single-mom when I got married.

I didn’t sign up for lonely nights, solitary parenting and living by myself with him.

Honestly it’d be easier to be a single mom.

At least I wouldn’t be living in the ILLUSION of having a partner.

A Dangerous Place To Be

I feel like I hate everything about my husband.

Everything he does.

Everything he doesn’t do.

He used to accuse me of not being happy or satisfied with anything he did.

I fear I am at that place now.

Is it justified?

I don’t know.

That’s the problem with the alcoholic marriage.

What is “right” or “ok” or even normal and what is the product of living with an alcoholic?

Of course happily married couples get annoyed with each other but they have the happily part to balance things out. What happens when you don’t have that? What happens when it’s just all the annoying and none of the happily?

Everything Reminds You…

of the marriage you don’t have.

Someone posted on FaceBook this little joke video of a husand and wife texting one another regarding her going out for a “girls’ night out.” The joke was you first saw text of what each was really thinking and then backspacing/erasing and the more approrpiate response actually texted.

For example, he would text “when will you be home?” And she might start to write, “I am never coming back…” but then actually text “Around 11.” He’d then start to reply somthing like “so you’re just abandoning your family for the whole night” but erase that and say, “have a good time…”

It was cute and lots of people commented, “exactly” and “so true…” but what I was thinking was,

“My husband and I never text one another.”

We have no running inside jokes.

We don’t talk about the kids or our frustrations with them or our joy and pride for them.

We don’t share what we’ve seen on FaceBook or the news or happened to hear from someone else.

We certainly don’t dream outloud about retirement or a mountain cabin or the grandchildren we will be eager to have both visit and go home again.

We’re just here, in this house, in this life, together but barely doing more than co-existing beside one another.

It might be hard for someone outside such a marriage to understand how profoundly stressful such a marriage is. Afterall, if there is relatively limited fighting and screaming for an alcoholic household; if there are no calls from the police or jailhouse; if “all” I have to deal with for the most part is his emotional and mental absence, shouldn’t that be “not that bad” compared to the “really bad” alcoholic marriages?

Maybe it’s not “as bad” but it’s still bad. It still rots your soul. It still destroys you. It still erodes your sense of self despite it being his drinking.

“Sometimes A Cigar Is…

just a cigar.”

So said Ernest Hemingway in response (or defense maybe) of “all” the symbolism in his writing. Sometimes there wasn’t any symbolism at all. Sometimes…

But what about when the cigar is not “just” a cigar?

Or the empty kitchen kitchen trashcan liner-box is not JUST an empty kitchen trashcan liner box?

The last two days have been horrible, as evident by my “rapid” succession of posts. (Misery does make for prolific writing.) But like any volcanic eruption – the firey, molten lava kind or the emotional kind – after the violence comes a strange calm. The release of energy – again be it of the raging hot-rock variety or the emotional varity – is cathartic. Maybe not for the villagers at the base of the volcano or the children who live with the “volcano” but certainly for the volcano/”volcano.” And so now that I am purged of that intense build-up of angry energy and resentment, I can seem to go back to relatively “normal” living.

So I decided to clean out the pantry.

And in that pantry I found…

The empty kitchen trashcan-liner box.

Seems innocuous enough, right?

Except that box represents everything I have been screaming about for the past two days.

No one does ANYTHING around here…including throwing out an empty box.

(I do realize that my husband actually PUT a trashcan liner in the kitchen can, hence the empty box I have to deal with but I think we all know that’s not the norm…)

Now of course I would sound like a lunatic and a bitch should I start screaming about that empty box. And because I had an emotional eruption over the past two days, I don’t even feel the need to scream.

But you know what that box is?

It’s the beginning of my next eruption.

It’s the dormant magna that will one day become the explosive lava, ash and rock of my emotional volcano.

I know this is unhealthy for me and my children.

I know I should find a way to never let the volcano build up in the first place.

I know that my tactic of simply sucking it up for months until I lose it over “just a cigar” is hardly a joyful way of living.

I just don’t know how to do things any differently.

While The Drunk’s “Away…”

Well, maybe not away but sleeping it off, the family will…

Most certainly not play.

More like implode.

Last night was a terrible night. All the kids and me fighting with each other, yelling, stomping off, slaming doors.

And why?

Well, would that be “why” as in the immediate why or “why” as in the real reason?

The immediate why is because I lost my shit over the kids’ dirty dishes, dirty clothes, have-eaten leftovers, etc., etc. all over the house.

The deeper why, the real why if you ask me is because the pressure and stress of living with an alcoholic husband eventually makes you snap.

And here’s the saddest thing:

I know it’s because of him.

I know it’s the stress of living with an alcoholic.

I know while he sleeps it off, we all bear the weight of his behavior.

And yet…

When nights like tonight happen, I blame myself.

I blame myself because my kids are counting on me – they NEED me – to hold together. To shoulder this burden silently. To shield if not his behavior from them, at least my stress and anger. I blame me because when I hold it all inside, they do better.

A lot to ask of myself?

Of course it is but that’s the nature of the alcoholic household.

I Am Losing My Mind

I don’t know how to put it any clearer:

I am losing my mind.

I live in a house of six people where no one (NO! ONE!) does ANYTHING to keep the house reasonably orderly. And when I say “reasonably,” believe me the bar is low.

I understand part of the responsibilty for my children doing nothing lies with me. I let them do nothing. I let them get away with rarely picking up after themselves but here’s the thing:

It becomes one more battle.

One more argument.

One more thing that I am responsible for ironically.

So I just do it all.

I do it all because I don’t want to nag and argue with children or a husband.

I do it all because even if I ask for help tonight, it never translate into help tomorrow or the net day.

I do it all because even when I do ask for help, I don’t always receive such.

I do it all because it’s just one more (one more!) consequence of living with a compulsive drinker.

I Lied A Little

April was a month of mostly nothingness but before the “April blues” hit (there’s something you don’t hear often) I actually managed to write another book!

You may be surprised as to what the book is about and believe me, I was surprised as well that this book was in me.

Books are like that though. Most writers will tell you it’s not so much we write a book as a book chooses to manifest itself through us. And low and behold, here’s what came a knockin’ on my writer door:

Like I said, I was as surprised as anyone.

A book FOR the alcoholic husband?

I never really sat down with the intention of writing such a book. More it just came barging in one night. I was thinking about what I would need from my husband were he ever to want to repair our marriage and rekindle the love and passion between us. This book is what answered.

Meanwhile there is another book knocking at my door – in fact it is banging violently – and yet I won’t let it in. I opened the door just a crack to take a peek but I quickly slammed the door shut. Ironically – or probably NOT-ironically – I feel like it is the most important book on the subject of alcoholic husbands that I have in me. So why am I so stymied by it? I have been asking myself that and then tonight I found a quote I had saved in a notebook:

“Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, it carries a responsibility with it. It is much easier to procrastinate and live on the ‘someday I will’ philosophy.” -Denis Waitley

Interestingly, on the same page of that notebook I saved this quote as well:

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all have gifts. God has been so kind as to impart on me if not the gift of writing, certainly the gift of wanting to write. I don’t believe God gives us our gifts AND the circumstances in which to use them. (i.e. “Hey, I’ll make Wren a writer and then give her an alcoholic husband so she can help others by writing about that.”) No, we are given gifts and it is our job – responsiblity – to use them to the betterment of our lives and the lives we touch.

Or not.

A New Month

May 1.

Good bye April.

I normally like April.

It’s such a nice month.

Normally.

How can you not like April?

Even the name “April” is so pleasant to me.

But April betrayed me this year.

For some reason it seems April was when all (ALL!) the years of living in an alcoholic marriage decided to take their cumulative toll on me.

I just kind of gave up in April.

Stopped trying to keep the kitchen clean.

Stopped worrying about staying on top of the laundry.

Stopped caring what the house looked like.

Just kind of stopped it all which may actually sound like it could be psychologically healthy but I also stopped going to CrossFit and writing and trying in general to prevent my soul from completely disappearing down the rabbit hole of his drinking.

This is why I do not (DO NOT!) believe in the idea of “detachment with love.” Whether you are trying to “detach” from your alcoholic husband or the chaos of an alcoholic household, it’s very hard (impossible?) to stop caring while still caring.

Huh? You ask.

Exactly.

How do I “detach” myself from my husband but still love him? Isn’t attachment the very essence of love?

And how do I “detach” myself from the clothes no one else ever picks up, the dishes no one else ever does, the trashbag no one else ever changes, the dog no one else ever feeds and yet still do the dishes and the laundry, change the trashbag and feed the dog?

I don’t think detachment is the answer.

I think the answer is acceptance.

As in accept it…

So I can change it.

Hopefully May will prove more of an ally than April was.

When The Quiet Rage…

Becomes the quiet slip.

Well, well, well no post from me in over two weeks.

This is certainly not what I envisioned or planned when I started this blog.

Maybe I didn’t think the words would come easily but I certainly thought they would come more frequently.

I suppose as a reader my silence could seem to mean one of two things:

My husband’s drinking has gotten so bad that I am in full survival mode and writing a blog is the least of my concerns.

Or…

My husband has QUIT drinking and we are now working together to heal and rebuild our lives.

And yet, my silence means neither of these.

What it means – and perhaps it is more sinister than the obvious danger of life with an alcoholic – is that I am slipping.

Slipping down that slope of someone else’s compulsive drinking where at the bottoms awaits apathy.

Lethargy.

Indifference.

Passivity.

Listlessness.

We wives spend so long, work so hard, digging our nails into that muddy hill, desperately trying to stop the slide. We grab frantically at roots as we slip down, jam our toes into the hard Earth as we try to will ourselves to stop but it seems eventually the gravity of his alcoholism prevails.

What awaits me at the bottom?

Nothing.

Nothing as in no dreams, no passion, no excitment for life.

What awaits me, as Henry David Thoreau said, is a quiet desperation.

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”