If you ask me, eventually and essentially, the alcoholic marriage comes down to one of just two types:
The Slow Erosion.
This is my marriage.
There are the expected flare-ups every four, five or six weeks. Sometimes not for months. The fuck-you’s and the fucking bitches, shut the fuck ups and go fuck yourselves. It’s a pressure cooker of a home, no doubt, but the intensity of the pressure is not constant. What’s constant is the slow climb. The building of pressure that leads to the climax. The alcoholic unleashing his fury and purging himself – at the expense of his family, of course – of the loathing, self-hatred and anger like a volcano spews it’s lava, noxious gases and broken rock pieces.
It’s a deceptively dangerous alcoholic, what some in the “industry” euphemestically refer to as a “functioning” alcoholic. The idea (fallacy!) being that somehow, in between the eruptions, everyone is living mentally healthy and emotionally safe lives. That because the alcoholic doesn’t spend the mortgage money on booze or get arrested on a regular basis, somehow his wife is spared the sterotypical pain and dysfucntion of an alcoholic marriage.
And it’s the marriage that is most likely to rob us of our lives, our souls. The marriage that steals our days and lives so gradually, so insidiously that we lose ourselves to complacency.
We live in the in-betweens. It’s like we are periodically jerked out to sea, tossed about violently and mercilessly in the ocean depths only to be returned to the peaceful shoreline for a few weeks or months. We live with the fear, the dreaded expectation – the knowledge! – that it will happen again but the warm sunshine and the soft sand are deceptive. We let ourselves be fooled. Not because we are dumb or weak or “co-dependent” on the ocean’s rage but because we are human beings and human beings (the good ones anyway) tend to have a hard time walking out on committments they have made and people they love. (Or onced loved?)
And then there is the other alcoholic marriage.
An ocean that is constant in its assault on us. An ocean that nearly never stops pounding us with thousands upon thousands of gallons of bone chilling water. An ocean that we somehow endure its absolute worst day in and day out until one day it delivers even more.
One day it becomes even more viscious in its attack on us.
Think of the alcoholic marriage where there is repeated jail time, jobs continually lost or extra-marital affairs regularly. Think of the alcoholic marriage with physical abuse or holes punches in walls or public displays of drunken behavior.
The alcoholic marriage that one day, somehow, is even worst than all the years of worst.
This is where my friend is in her marriage.
A marriage that it is impossible for her to deny its destructive affect on her.
A marriage she knows she has to leave and yet she doesn’t know how.
She will find a way.
Because she has to.
Meanwhile, I am “safe” (relatively of course) in my marriage of mostly nothing. My marriage with an emotionally absent husband whom I can “ignore” because he’s not in jail or having an affair or losing job after job.
When my friend tells me of what she is enduring in her marriage – infidility (blamed on her, of course) – I think I am “lucky” one to not have to face the pain of betrayal while trying to navigate and mitigate the anger and hostility of an alcoholic husband. (Caught in an affair, no less. Like a cornered animal, the alcoholic who has no way out will attack).
Yet, when I think of how she will find her way out because she has no other choice, I wonder…
Maybe she is the “lucky” one.
P.S. I love you T. You can do this!