Finding Focus

Now that I have made the decision, my head is spinning, racing, darting back and forth like a rabbit being chased by a fox.

I need to make money.

I need to clean out the house.

I need to stop yelling at the kids.

I need to meditate.

I need to make money.

I need time for me.

I need to establish a morning routine.

I need to work out.

I need to make money.

I need to make money.

I need to….

MAKE MONEY.

And with each one of these thoughts, comes an equally spastic actions.

I’ll work on my art.

I need to clean out the basement.

I’ll take a bath.

I need to clean the kitchen.

I’ll set up an Etsy shop.

I need to do the laundry.

I’ll meditate.

I need to change the sheets on the beds.

It’s no surprise that by the time I lay down at night (often far too late. Around 2 am!!) I feel exhausted as the sun sets on another day of futility.

When you are married to an alcoholic, you have very little support in the daily matters of living. And so you do establish a routine but it’s often a routine of chaos. It’s like I have a hundred little fires burning in my house and I do just enough so that none of them turn into angry flames lashing at my life.

And so I’ve decided I need to let some of the fires burn. Trust they won’t burn down my house while I focus on three areas of my life:

Spiritual.

Physical.

Financial.

Of these three, the two most important are the physical and spiritual!! We all think we need money to make our lives better and complete and whole but the truth is, if you address the spiritual and the physical needs of your life, the money will come. It’s like planting a garden. The money is the plants. If you tend the soil (physical) and nuture the seedlings (spiritual) the plants (money) can’t help but grow!

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Who Were You Before

Who were you before you were the wife of an alcoholic?

Who were you before his anger became your anger?

Who were you before his toxins poisoned your life?

Who were you before the rage and the grieve, the hope and the hopelessness broke your heart and twisted your soul?

Who were you when you were who you knew you were meant to be?

Me, I was fun.

I was reminded of this the other day when I happened into an Ace Hardware.

I HAD NEVER BEEN IN AN ACE HARDWARE BEFORE!

O!M!G!

I went in for a tire pressure gauge.

I thought it was your usual and typical hardware/automotive store.

But as I made my way to the cashier, I spied this little piece of nirvana it seemed!

Elephant tapestries, colorful rainboots, cats wearing glasses coin purses.

It was crazy.

How was this stuff (and oh so much delightfully more) here and I NEVER! KNEW?!

I carefully considered my purchases, settling on the aforementioned elephant tapestry, an elephant backpack for my niece, a pair of super colorful mittens and some other little trinkets (plus the tire pressure gauge of course) and went to pay for them.

“I’ve never been in an Ace Hardware store,” I told the clerk. Maybe with only semi-mock horror.

She echoed my horror back.

“You HAVEN’T?!”

We proceeded to laugh about all I have been missing and oh what they have at Christmas time and how I must (MUST!) come back soon.

We said our goodbyes, like two old friends and I headed for my car where it suddenly hit me.

I called my friend.

“I’m a FUN person!!”

She laughed and said,

“Why do you think I hang out with you?”

But it’s been a long time since I have felt fun.

It’s been a long time since that has come out in me.

I remember many, many years ago when my kids were all little and we had this huge maple tree in our front yard.

Oh, the leaves it would give us in the fall!

Piles upon piles upon piles of leaves to rake up for the kids to jump in.

I loved raking those leaves.

It gave me something to do while my kids played in the yard.

One year we lost that tree to a storm.

I was heartbroken.

Our elderly neighbors had the “same” tree.

So one fall afternoon, I offered to rake up their leaves while also taking some for my own yard.

That’s right.

I raked leaves INTO my yard.

The kids were thrilled.

My husband not so much.

He pulled up to our house to see his wife raking leaves from the neighbor’s yard INTO his yard.

I suppose it was early enough in this tragic journey that I underestimated his reaction.

“Hi!” I chirped.

“We’re borrowing the neighbor’s leaves.”

“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? WHO THE HELL RAKES LEAVES INTO THEIR YARD? THAT’S THE DUMBEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN ANYONE DO!”

I’d actually forgotten about this – it has to have been at least ten years ago – until I started writing about being fun.

Today I am going to be fun.

I’ll laugh too loud.

Or squirt the kids with the kitchen sprayer.

Perhaps I’ll take my dog to the park and wrestle with him.

Maybe I’ll see if the neighbor’s tree has started to lose its leaves.

For Today

When I got in my car this morning, these exact lyrics from this song were playing:

“It’s never easy to walk away…”

The rest of the song is pretty applicable for me too if you see past the literal interpretation of the words.

Today is Day One.

The biggest question of leaving your alcoholic marriage is obviously how.

How will I leave my marriage?

And what how really means is money.

Where will the money come from?

The fact is I don’t know.

My husband will not leave our house.

And I have too many kids and pets to go to anything but another house.

So that brings us back to the dreaded How?

And the answer is I don’t know How.

But for today I am not going to think about or worry about How.

For today I am going to Know that the How will work its way out.

For today I am going to live in the knowledge that this is happening, I am doing this and my new life will Be.

There Is No Bottom

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I’m not a huge fan of Alcoholics Annoymous though I always do qualify that by saying,

“But if it works for someone, then that is great.”

My issues with AA stem from the fact that its doctrine seems to put forth this idealogy that alcoholism is somehow this “simple” issue that has their one and only “simple” solution.

Turn your drinking over to (your version) of God. They couch God in the euphamism of “your high power” but don’t be fooled. AA is a faith based program.

Never drink again.

Attend AA meetings indefinitely.

One other, in my opinion, myth AA perpetuates is this idea of “rock bottom.” As in the alcoholic has to hit “rock bottom” before he will be able to stop drinking.

Of course for some alcoholics, there will be a cataclysmic event that so shocks and scares them that they turn to a life of sobriety and never look back.

They kill someone in a car accident.

They almost kill someone.

They pass out only to wake up with no idea where they are or how they got there.

They experience blackouts that cause them to lose days of their lives.

Jail time.

Yes, these can happen.

Of course they can.

Alcoholism takes all forms.

BUT…

The truth is the majority of alcoholics never hit the proverbial rock bottom.

They just free fall indefinitely until they get tired of falling.

Or never stop falling.

For most, alcoholism is a chasm with no bottom.

And guess what?

It’s the exact same for the wives of alcoholics!!

We don’t finaly decide to leave because there is one big, overwhelming event or tragedy that jars out of our troubled complacency: we decide to leave because the daily living of little tragedies (peppered with the classic-alcoholic events like ruined holidays and drunken family vacations) finally becomes too much.

I know I buried my lead here, but I am leaving.

I didn’t lead with my lead because I felt the need to explain.

I have said I needed to leave before.

I have written about my “decision” to leave and then wrote no more of any effort.

It’s not because I “lied” or was posturing.

It wasn’t an idle threat launched in the world blogging.

It’s because this is the very difficult and convulted emotinonal trajectory of leaving an alcoholic husband.

We make the decision over and over again until we finally make the decision.

I have chosen the date.

June 14, 2019.

There are things I need to get in place (i.e. finances. aka money!) and while June 7, 2019 is doable it will also be a hustle.

The biggest obstacle women face in leaving their alcoholic husbands is making the definitive decision to leave.

I have made the decision.

I am tired of falling.

This Is What Life With An Alcoholic Looks Like

This blog is like a dog chained up in the backyard.

It’s out there, alone.

Wanting your attention.

You will yourself not to think about it though it still sneaks into your thoughts on a regular basis.

You want to help it, go to it. (Write for it.)

But you just seem unable to bring yourself to.

There the analogy ends because I have no idea what compels people or enables them to justify chaining a living creature up in their backyard and ignoring it but I know what compels me, allows me to “chain up” my blog and ignore it.

Ironically it is the very thing reason for the blog:

Life with an alcoholic husband.

It just does this to you.

Kill your energy.

Destroy your passion for living.

Annihilate your enthusiam for your own life.

There is a saying that goes,

“Hating someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to suffer.”

The point being that the act of hating is far more destructive on the person harboring the hate than on the object of that disdain.

But in the world of alcoholic husbands, we indeed suffer the ills of the poison they drink.

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.”

“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

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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

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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.