I Used To Hate Him For…

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his drinking.

I used to hate him for the beer bottles littering my house.

I used to hate him for his snoring as he laid passed out in the living room.

I used to hate him for the way he would scream and curse at me.

I used to hate him for the dirty dishes and trash he left laying around.

I used to hate him for being emotionally unavailable.

I used to hate him for never fully participating in our family life.

I used to hate him for the way he drove.

I used to hate him for being such a pessimist.

I used to hate him for his anger.

I used to hate him for turning the smallest incident into a verbal assault.

I used to hate him for his refusal (or inability?) to communicate with me.

I used to hate him for his constant harping about money.

I used to hate him for the suppressive pall he cast over our home.

I used to hate him for everything our marriage was not because of his drinking.

Now I just hate him…

For making me hate myself.

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Did I Forget To Mention This?

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I have a new book out.

It’s probably not what you would expect me to write.

I didn’t expect to write it myself.

A book for “them?”

It just kind of happened.

I was thinking about what I wanted, needed – longed for – from my husband.

And then wondered if there were any men who were interested in hearing what their wives want, need, long for from them.

It’s not a fluffy, feel good book.

I hope the guys get that.

But I hope they also get that for most wives of alcoholics, we hold onto the love and the hope for a long, long time. Maybe too long in all honesty. That can be bad news for us..

But good news for the men who want to hear it.

The Difference Between An Angry Person and A Person With A Temper

When I married my husband many years ago, I soon came to realize he was a very angry person. WHen I suggested this to him (maybe growing up with his own alcoholic father had something to do with it, aye?) he would say,

“You’re an angry person too.”

And I would say,

“No. I may have a temper. But I am not an angry person.”

He’d said,

“There’s no different.”

But of course there is a difference.

A big difference!

An angry person is always angry. They may not know they are always angry but that anger is constantly there, like the backdrop that life plays out against for them. It’s why they may yell at a waiter when their food is late (as opposed to getting annoyed, frustrated and even mad but not raging with anger); it’s why they will curse like a sailor at the crows who get into the garbage (rather than working harder at crow-proofing the garbage) and yes, it is why an alcoholic can (will) call his wife a fucking bitch or tell her to shut the fuck up or suggest she go “fuck herself.” To say being an angry person is the same as getting mad is to say setting your house on fire is the same as building a fire in the fire place. Two very different things.

And so when I met my husband, I guess I had a temper. I didn’t really think I did but I do know I was not an angry person. Barking dogs or people parking on the street in front of my house or someone driving “too slow” in front of me did not induce in me a ten minute, profanity-laced rant. My normal state of being, my “default” state you could say, was reasonable calm and happiness. I didn’t feel assaulted by the least – real or imagined – transgression.

I don’t know if I can say that now.

The other day I pulled into the gas station and the way all the cars were situated, I couldn’t get to a pump but there was an empty pump being blocked by a woman at another pump. I asked her if she would mind pulling forward. She refused. Now, do I think she was kind of a horse’s ass for not pulling forward? Probably. But can I tell you, the absolute RAGE I felt within me was startling. Now there wasn’t anything I could – or would -do (because angry AND crazy is a whole different beast!) but I was SO!! MAD!! Beyond what I think was proably reasonable or even healthy.

My husband says there is no difference between being an angry person and a person who gets mad.

I can say there is absolutely a difference.

I know.

I’m living the difference.

How Strong We Are

A friend of mine is in what I call the alcoholic-husband-funk.

We all know it well.

The state of being that cycles around where you are just SO tired…

And SO spent…

And SO done.

She sent me an email to this affect and, I am chagrin to say, I felt like there was nothing I could really say to her.

I felt like I was letting a friend down.

But the truth is, later today or tomorrow or by Wednesday at the latest, she will be fine.

She will be the mother she needs to be, the wife he doesn’t deserve and she will make life happen and work for all those around her.

But of course she is not “fine.”

Of course, inside her a little bit more of her has withered and died.

Day One: Planting Seeds

Well, here it is Monday morning.

The weekend is over and like a drunk after a three-day bender, I made a lot of “promises” over the last few days and now it’s time to make good on them.

Or at least start.

As I said, I have NO! IDEA! how I am going to buy my own house but I know it’s the first thing in a long time that has made sense to me and excited me. So, rather than worry about the pesky how, I am just going to start planting seeds while maintaing complete faith in Mother Nature’s (aka God; aka The Universe; aka Life’s Energy; aka all beyond me) ability (and willingness) to provide all the necessary sunshine, rain and nutrients to create the garden of my dreams.

Gardening really is the perfect metaphor for the act of pursuing your dreams. The gardener or farmer doesn’t plant her seeds and then spend the days trying to figure out how to make them sprout roots, burst through the soil and start producing flowers and fruit. Nope, she plants them, maybe gives them a little sprinkling of water and then leaves the seeds and the wonders of nature to take care of the rest. The How part.

I don’t need to Know How.

I just need to Do.

Everyday.

And so my “how” is simple: do something EVERYDAY toward the fulfilment of this dream! Plant that seed and let life take care of the rest!

Today’s how?

I emailed a radio personality who has a show on alcoholism and asked if she would like copies of my books and be interested in me discussing them on her show!!

I Think I Am Finally Excited…(And A Little Bit Surprised)

I’m surprised that this song is by “WhiteSnake.” Never imagined that when I heard it on my “easy listening” station. But I like the words!

And I think I am finally excited…about my life!!

We all know how the alcoholic husband sucks us dry.

Mentally.

Emotionally.

Spiritually.

And even physically as the stress takes its toll on our bodies.

We spend a lot (A LOT!) of time wanting something different for ourselves while feeling unable to achieve such.

I never understood exactly why?

Why couldn’t I dig myself out of this hole he put me in?

I think “direction” is the answer.

As in lack of direction.

I have wanted out but didn’t know how to get out, was afraid of what my kids would think of us getting “out,” etc., etc.

Then yesterday somehow this plan came to me.

About an hour from us is a little resort town.

The kind where you can buy a house for a million dollars…

Or $250,000.

Now, I actually do not have either at the moment BUT…

I’ve decided that for my big (BIG! Like I could name “50 ways” it’s big. Wink, wink) birthday next June, I am buying myself MY OWN HOUSE in this town!!

A bold declaration, I know.

And I will say my friend did ask the obvious question:

“Good plan. But where’s the money coming from?”

Let me be clear on this. Very clear.

I.

Don’t.

Know.

That’s right.

I’m declaring I will buy a house in one year’s time though I have no money nor job?

Yep, that is pretty much it!

But I am going to make it happen SOMEHOW!

Because I want it THAT BAD!

The kids and I can stay “in town” (i.e. current home) during the week and then head to my retreat on week ends and school breaks! My husband can come…

Or not.

Because when you buy your own house, you get to make ALL the rules.

And the rules will be clear!

Be sober and nice…

Or don’t come.

Stay tuned.

I’m finally excited about MY life again!!

We’re Everywhere

Today I was in line at Michael’s (am I the only one who feels Michael’s’ is practical a spiritual retreat?) behind a woman who was fumbling around in her purse when it came time for her to pay.

“Sorry,” she tossed out to me as I waited, though I didn’t feel the least put out.

As she pulled out a bank card, she said to no one in particular it seemed,

“Oh this one is my husband’s. He’ll have a fit…”

She continued rooting around in her bag where she came upon a ten dollar bill.

“Here,” she said to the cashier, “I’ll use this and then put the rest on his card. Then he won’t be as bad.”

I chuckled and said, “husbands are all alike, huh? I do the same sort of thing when I have to use my husband’s card.”

“Oh yours isn’t like mine,” she said, though no hint of malice in her voice.

“Mine’s a drinker. Drinks too much. Is mean.”

“Oh,” I kind a smiled, “you might be surprised.”

Why Am I Awake?

It’s nearly 2 am.

Tonight nothing happened.

As in the nothing of my marriage but a lot “happened.”

My kids began snarking at one another the way they do and it cuts me right to the bone.

My children do not like each other.

No, really they don’t.

Of the four, some combinations work better than others but the truth is we all really live alone together here.

Of all the things my alcoholic marriage has cost me; of all the ways it has hurt, robbed and destroyed me, perhaps my children’s relationship, or lack there of, with each other is the most painful.

People tell me it will change once they are adults.

People tell me it is all “typical” sibling behavior.

That the palatable dislike they have for each other is normal.

We are a household of three teenagers and one very emotional tween.

Could it ALL be hormones and growing pains?

I want to believe…

I want to be hopeful…

But it’s hard.

I see so much of my husband’s behavior (not the drinking thank God!) in my children’s behavior that I find it hard to write it all off as sibling-stuff.

My kids hate each other.

It literally keeps me up at night.

Being Logical About The Illogical

Illogical – adjective – lacking sense or clearn, sound thinking

Logical – adjective – characterized or being capable of clear, sound reasoning

You know, after you have been married to an alcoholic for ten, 15, 20 years or more, you think you understand it all. You think you’ve finally wrapped your head around the maddness and have stopped expecting anything less. You think there is nothing more to discover or learn. And then one day…

Guess what?

Alcoholism.

The gift that just keeps giving.

I have a flower garden.

There are deer in our area.

In other words, I plant flowers for the deer to eat.

And the problem with flowers versus vegtables that the deer eat too is you don’t really want to put a big fence up around your flower garden.

So I have been trying to “design” and “engineer” my flower garden in such a way as to deter the deer from munching the tops off my daisies, aka deer candy.

My husband happened to walk outside and I asked him what he thought of my efforts and did he think it would deter the flower-top thieves.

“I don’t know…”

I tried to engage him a little more and still, he just kind of shrugged and said,

“I don’t know. I’m not a deer.” And walked back inside.

I started to feel hurt.

I started to feel angry.

But then I thought, he’s not even engaged in his own life.

Why would I expect him to be engaged in mine?

And that when It popped into my head.

An It that had eluded me in all my years of coming to understand the alcoholic husband.

The alcoholic is, by nature, design and very defintion, a completely illogical being.

It’s what makes alocoholics and alcoholism so maddening and difficult to deal with.

And so, in processing life with an alcoholic husband, what we need to be above all is…

Logical!

Stop expecting logical behavior fron an illogical being in an illogical situation.

It can go a long way in saving your sanity.

Who Are The “Lucky” Ones?

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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.

The Pure-Hell-All-The-Time.

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!