WHEN OTHER PEOPLE MESS UP YOUR LIFE

Here’s the thing:

Other people can really, really, REALLY fuck up YOUR life.

They can drive a car over you while you ride your bicycle down the side of the road.

They can steal your car or your money or you identity.

They can walk into a school or a movie theatre or their former employer’s office and start shooting everyone.

They can marry you and then become a depressed alcoholic that sits in the living room drinking beer and playing video games, managing to destroy your soul from the comfort of their chair.

People affect us.

But in the self-help world, it’s all the rage to say,

“No, it’s not people that affect us. It’s how we choose to react or think about their behavior that affects us.”

That sounds all true and good but I am calling bullshit on that.

It makes it sound like we have this choice as to whether or not we are “affected” by another person’s toxic behavior.

We don’t have a choice.

Human emotions are wired in us.

If I walk up to you and punch you in the face, you don’t CHOOSE for that to hurt.

And if I walk up to you and assault you with ugly, mean words, neither do you CHOOSE for that to pierce your soul.

What we CHOOSE is whether or not we do the gut-wrenching, soul-draining work to PROCESS how other people affect us. What we CHOOSE is whether or not we allow those emotions of being sucker-punched with words and toxic behavior to sit and ferment within our soul or we exercise them from our being.

I don’t like people saying,

“Oh it’s your choice how you feel about X….”

It makes it sound like this should all be easy.

Like I should simply say to myself,

“Ok, I choose not to let my completely withdrawn and checked-out husband affect me. I choose to be hunky-dorey, a-ok with the fact that I have a dead, emotionless marriage.”

No, what I can choose – what I have to choose if I have any hope of survival – is to acknowledge and validate and process the incredibly painful emotions that come with a failed marriage and then send those emotions on their way.

A hell of a lot more work – but far more honest – than trying to simply say,

“Oh, I choose not to be affected by you.”

Advertisements

“I Don’t Care” Vs. Acceptance

I can’t tell you the number of times I have shouted, exclaimed and even whispered in exasperation,

“I don’t care anymore.”

I don’t care that he drinks.

I don’t care that he’s checked out.

I don’t care that he does nothing.

I don’t care that he is destroying our marriage.

I don’t care that the house is a chaotic disaster.

I don’t care that my kids fight.

I.

Don’t.

CARE!!

But of course I did care.

I cared deeply.

I cared that he drank and that he was checked out and that our marriage was being destroyed.

I cared that my kitchen looked like a meth lab and that the kids fought and that I would come home to a house where my husband had done NOTHING all evening.

I kept saying I didn’t care because I thought not caring was the way out. I thought if I could stop caring then I would be able to walk away. I thought if I could make myself completely indifferent to the pain and grieve of the alcoholic marriage, I would do what I needed to do in order to end the marriage. (And save my own life and soul.)

But I was wrong.

Not caring is not not-caring.

Not caring is hurting so much and wanting so badly for things to be different that you shut down. It’s your heart’s version of shock. The body goes into shock when there is a physical pain so great that it can’t be endured. The body “stops caring.” But that doesn’t mean the pain isn’t still there. It doesn’t mean the damage isn’t happening. It just means your body has stopped registering it on a conscious level.

And so I say, your heart will do the same thing.

It will shut down.

It will stop feeling the pain on a conscious level.

It won’t care.

But all the pain and the damage is still there. Still happening.

And there is virtually no way to be proactive and live an authentic life from a point of not caring.

When your heart is in shock.

I didn’t know any of this, wasn’t aware of any of this until just the other day when from somewhere – God, The Universe, Eternal Energy of Life – I don’t know. I truly don’t know but from somewhere – maybe just deep inside of me – came these words,

“I accept that this is what this marriage is.”

“I accept that this is who he is.”

“I accept that I can’t hope for or count on him changing.”

“I accept he’s going to do nothing to change or improve things in the marriage.

And with that, I knew…

I am ready.

To live authentically.

To take back my life and my power and myself.

You have to pass through the fires of not-caring to reach a meadow of peace and acceptance.

My Heart Is Broken

Tags

, , ,

We went on a “day trip” yesterday to hike in the mountains.

We used to do this sort of thing as a family “all the time.”

I don’t know when we stopped.

Not all at once.

Just one day we didn’t.

Until another day we didn’t.

Until we just didn’t.

But yesterday we tried.

I don’t know why.

It was a disaster though I suspect not a disaster that anyone else noticed.

(Or did they?)

I felt like the only sober person at a party of drunks.

My family is short with one another, they snipe at one another and there seems to be a constant flow of ridicule.

No one can answer one another nicely or with a nice tone.

It seems no matter what anyone has to say to another, their voice is laced with hostility.

I suspect much of it is just “habit” now.

It’s my husband’s fault.

Yes, it is.

An alcoholic in the household is the proverbial bad apple.

No one is rubbing off on him.

He’s rubbing off on all of us.

It’s Not Too Late

Tags

, , ,

I’ve never heard any woman who left her alcoholic husband say,

“I left too early.”

Or even,

“I left at just the right time.”

Every single woman I have ever spoken to who has left her alcoholic husband said,

“I should have left sooner.”

Every.

Single.

Woman.

And yet, I will dare to say they all probably did leave at exactly the right time because sooner, earlier it didn’t yet make sense to them. It couldn’t make sense earlier.

I don’t think any woman can understand – or even believe – how bad the alcoholism is going to progress. It seems unfathomable when her husband is “just” drinking a little too much during the week or “only” getting drunk on the week-ends. It seems incomprehensible that her husband, albeit drinking compulsively, is ever going to be the angry, hostile, combative, detached, abusive man she hears of from other wives. It’s not we doubt these woman who’s hell has progessed beyond ours. It’s just…

Have you ever seen the Wheaten Terrier dog breed?

As a puppy, the dog’s coat is a deep reddish brown.

That turns WHITE as the animal matures.

My friend had one and I told her if I hadn’t seen it as a puppy, I would have never believed it! I couldn’t imagine how that deep, dark colored coat would eventually grow in white.

Living with an alcholic husband is sort of like that.

You can’t imagine the animal your husband’s drinking is will become the beast others must battle.

But it does.

And so if and when we decide to leave, we can think we left “too late” or we should have left “earlier.”

I certainly have been feeling this but then I was talking to a friend Monday morning and we were re-capping our week-ends. She said she had a really nice week-end as both her college-age kids were home with their girlfriends and they all “sat around” all week-end watching movies, playing board games, etc.

All I want (ALL!! I WANT!!) is a home that is pleasant and cozy and roomy and nice and comfortable and safe. But as my children get older and older (one is off to college next year!) I found myself thinking it’s “too late.” I “should have” given that to my kids sooner. But hearing about my friend’s week-end made me see…

It’s never too late to enjoy your life!

I Don’t Think It Ever Stops Hurting

I know I am now fully prepared to leave.

I know I have accepted unequivocally that that my marriage is over.

I know I am committed completely to getting out.

And yet…

I don’t know how to make it not hurt when my husband walks in the door from work and doesn’t acknowledg me. Say hello or give me a kiss.

I don’t know how not to feel a sting of pain when he goes to bed with out saying good night.

I don’t know how to not notice every morning when he walks out the door without giving me a good-bye kiss.

I’ve learned to stop expecting anything from him.

I really have.

I just don’t know how to learn to stop making it hurt.

I’m Ready

It’s been a long time coming.

The emotional roller coaster and difficulty of leaving an alcoholic marriage cannot be overstated.

I would have never (NEVER!) understood it myself if I didn’t live it.

What’s so hard about leaving a marriage that makes you miserable, angry, depressed, hostile, unhappy?

Well, a lot it turns out but that’s a post for another time.

Now, I am ready.

I am finally, finally fully ready emotionally.

We think it’s hard or we can’t leave the alcoholic marriage because we don’t have the finances or a job or any support. But the truth is we “can’t” leave because we aren’t emotionally ready to leave. Once we are ready to leave, filling in the finances, job, support is the easy part.

And that’s where I am now.

I am ready.

To do what I need to do to create the means to leave.

But don’t be mistaken into believing that creating the means to leave is just about creating the means to leave.

That’s what is so exciting, actually!!

Our lives are not a series of little boxes, separate from one another, bearing no effect on each other.

Money-box.

Health-box.

Children-box.

Marriage-box.

If that were true, if we could restrict each area of our life to its own little box, then the alcoholic marriage wouldn’t be so problematic. We could lock that little bastard of a beast in its own box and ignore it. But our lives are not boxes. Our lives are tapestry with each thread, each color, each design playing into the next.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is when you are ready…

When you have come through the storm to clear skies and clarity…

Then you see that you can work on ALL your life by working on ANY area of your life!!

I joined Weight Watchers!

I’m almost embarrassed to say that because Weight Watchers is such a cliche.

And I have tried it before but to no avail.

Part of the problem for me was the program limited FRUITS and VEGETABLES!!

I used to sit in the meetings and think (want to scream!!),

“I’m not here because I eat too many grapes!!”

But last week, in this sort of “last ditch effort” to somehow make myself accountable for this extra 50 pounds I’ve been carting around for over ten years, I found my way back there.

I am happy to say, fruits and vegtables are unlimited and the leader was fantastically motivational!!

So here goes.

Just one road of many I am taking to lead me out.

P.S. I am adding a page for my weight loss journey.

How Can I Leave What’s Already Gone

My husband was out of town for work last week.

He rarely travels for his job so this was somewhat of an anomaly.

He didn’t call home.

Not.

Once.

I really don’t understand this.

I mean I! Really! Don’t!!

I could maybe – maybe – understand him not calling me. (Though not really. We are still married, living in the same house and raising children together.) But let’s say I could understand him not calling me. After all, it’s not as if our relationship is all warm and fuzzy. More roomate and tolerate.

But his children?

His…

Children??

He didn’t call them even once.

He was gone a week.

When he got home, I asked him why he didn’t call.

He said,

“It didn’t occur to me.”

It didn’t “occur” to him?

When you are married to an addict or alcoholic, the decision to leave is a long, windy, emotionally charged one.

It’s not as simple as I myself would have believed had I not come to live it.

Guilt, grief, anger, fear, resentment….

Hope!

They are all there.

Sometimes at the very same time.

But now I see.

What I fear leaving.

Has already left me.

She Came To Work

I’m out of town with two of my kids, visiting some relatives. We stay in a hotel because a) it’s more comfortable; b) the relatives are old and don’t have WiFi and c) well c, it’s just easier frankly. Everyone can have their fair share of togetherness but also down time.

I couldn’t sleep at 4 am so came into the dining room/lounge area where the staff has just begun filtering in. One young woman sat down with her laptop and through her conversations I realized she came to work with her mother, who is just starting her job today.

“You poor thing, a co-worker says, “you had to come into work extra early, huh?”

The girl replied,

“No, I don’t even have to work today. But it’s better than sitting at home listening to my dad yell about me watching Netflix.”

Wow!

Now maybe someone else might hear that and think nothing. Or might hear that and think the girl probably “deserves” to be “yelled at” for watching Netflix “all the time.” But I hear that and I think,

“There’s far more going on in that home than just yelling about Netflix.”

How do I know this?

How can I be so sure?

Because as her co-worker said,

“You better hope they don’t see you and need you.”

Exactly.

Anyone can guess how risky it is to hang out at your place of employment on your day off! Like standing next to your mother in a kitchen full of dirty dishes and proclamining you are bored.

This girl got up before 5 am and came to hang out at her job – on her day off – because getting out of bed at the crack of dawn and risking having to work on her day off was still better than being at home with her father.

I dare say, that could be my daughter one day.

It’s One Of Those Nights (Mornings)

Tags

,

It’s 3 am.

I have a glass of white, a bottle of diet coke and an ice cream sandwich.

I have my brand new “Passion Planner,” which if you don’t know what it is, you’re probably not the planner/notebook/calendar junkie I am. I could recite all sorts of acolydes and praise for the Passion Planner – and I’m sure all justified – but the truth is it’s just one more (planner) desperate attempt by a desperate woman to some how gain control of her life. Her Self.

I’ve cried this early morning hour for the loved ones I’ve lost and miss.

And for the life I lost and miss.

We have a wedding to go to in the normal-morning hours and when I tried on the outfit I plan to wear, all I could think was,

I’m as big as a house.

I’ve “let myself go.”

I have.

I’m one of those women.

I blame his drinking for that too.

I blame this whole hot-mess-of-a-life I am living on his drinking.

I do.

And I don’t think I am wrong.

But I do know regardless of who or what’s to blame, I am responsible.

Responsible for fixing in my life what his drinking has destroyed.

I just wish I had a better idea of how to do that exactly.

Time To Triple The-F Down

Tags

, , , ,

I can’t get enough of this guy Gary Vee because he is so spot on!

I was watching this video and thought,

“I wonder what he would say if I told him how my marriage was killing me?”

And while obviously I can’t literally answer for him, I’ve watched enough of his videos now to think his answer might go something like this:

“Fuck him! Get the fuck out! Look, I’m not just some cold-hearted bastard but it all comes down to this: your life or your marriage. And if you spouse is dragging you down. If he’s making it so you can’t live your life, that you are WASTING this one opportunity you have at this thing called living, then you have to make the hard choices, the tough decisons.”

Yep, that’s what I think he would say.