Saturday, December 31, 2011

"I Dont" - The novel in my mind

I don't know that I will ever actually WRITE a novel. I want to, but I lack commitment, follow through, dedication and belief in myself.

But here is the beginning of one version I tried starting.

This is FICTION but based in reality.

********************************************************************

PROLOGUE

People wonder how I stay. I wonder too. But then, I also wonder how I could leave. Perhaps this will be my legacy; “Here lies Mallory Kelley. She stayed.”

There are worse things people could say about me.

Aren’t there?

I

remember when Macy was born. I can see us as a trio, as if I am hovering above us, looking back in time, laying on my narrow twin bed in my Mom’s house. We are so young. All three of us. Jake and I are just 17. No one thinks we will make it. Jake is gingerly fingering Macy’s fuzzy hair, her ears, each individual toe. He is mesmerized by her. I am mesmerized by him.

I

remember one weekend a couple years later when Ethan was around 18 months old. Jake had earned a weekend pass from his rehab program. Rain was coming down as if someone had opened up a massive hose over the whole Southern California coastline. He had hitched a ride with someone from the bus station. He knocked on our door and I opened to him sodden and oozing on the doorstep. I expected his usual vibrating irritation or impatience but instead got grateful and eager. Relieved, I pulled him in and fell into his arms. He hugged me back. He smelled of wet asphalt and chewing tobacco. The kids bounced around our legs like fleas “Daddy!” “Daddy!” “Daddy!”. He greeted them with a soggy, perfunctory hair tousle and they went back to their cheerfully obnoxious singing puppet video. We spent the rest of the weekend in bed, dry skinned and smooth in clean sheets. We absorbed each other. We breathed each other. Our limbs intertwined. The world dissolved and there was just us. We surfaced only to feed the kids or change an occasional diaper (which is remarkable in retrospect, because two kids under four don’t typically understand making themselves scarce). This was the weekend we made Lola. It wasn’t anywhere near when I should have been ovulating and we used birth control, yet her will to be overcame those mere trifling deterrents and just a week later, her rapidly multiplying cells implanted happily in the lush lining of my uterus. I can’t even begin to explain the horror of explaining this third pregnancy to everyone we knew.

Don’t you know how this happens?” they would act like they were joking, only, they weren’t. It wasn’t funny.

I

remember one of many Mother’s Days when we didn’t have a dollar to our name. Jake, who is normally horrible with holidays, (“Promoted by retailers strictly for profit”) got all three kids up and fed without disturbing me. He sent Macy out to pick flowers and got the other two busy coloring cards while he gathered the ingredients to make scrambled eggs and cinnamon French toast. He let the kids help mix and stir and flip. They stuck the muddy mangled flowers in a vase on a tray and carried up breakfast in bed while crooning “Happy Mother’s Day to you”. Macy was beaming with pride. Ethan was doing his best to mirror his Dad’s every move. Lola was clapping and giggling “We made it Mama. We made it.” They all climbed onto the bed and gathered around me to watch me eat it. Jake reached out and tucked a renegade strand of hair behind my ear then used his calloused thumb to stroke my cheek and whispered “Happy Mother’s Day, Babe”.

My past comes to me like this, in fragmented memories. Disjointed and disconnected. Seemingly separate and yet woven inextricably together. When I take each one by itself, I feel like I have lived dozens of separate lives. When I link them and look at them as a whole, I feel tired and sad and foolish. How can 20 years be so long and yet seem to have gone by as quickly as a tear falls?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Projection and Parenthood

Sheesh!!! I really should watch out what I watch on TV.
My friends told me I should avoid this season of NBC's "Parenthood". I had DVR'd all of them but not watched any yet (it is like chocolate... I am waiting and savoring it).
But as soon as I am told I shouldn't watch it, my slightly rebellious nature wants to watch it even more (#WhyIWillBeInTherapyForManyMoreYears).

I am crying my way through each episode... the teen mom wanting to give up her baby. (I was a teen mom.) Adam and Kristina with their brand new baby, heartsick teen, and Aspergers son and her feeling like she is doing it all alone because he is starting a new business. (I have parented alone.)
But I am particularly enmeshed with the Sara Braverman storyline.
Single mom Sara and her 2 troubled kids Amber and Drew move in with Grandma & Grandpa. Dad/ Ex husband (Seth) is a drunk band member who has been unreliable and abandoning and left Sara and the kids to have to fend for themselves (sound familiar loved ones of alcoholics???).
Sara finally begins to make a life for herself. She writes and play that gets great reviews, she is dating a darling and devoted (and much younger) teacher, her kids are kind of finding their way. And OF COURSE Seth shows up wasted and destructive. She convinces him to go to rehab and BORROWS money from her lawyer sister Julia to pay for it! (Further jeopardizing well-being and relationships to save the alcoholic.) Her dad is LIVID - she is throwing good money after bad and getting herself into debt and exposing her kids to false hope. She is alienating the great guy she is dating because she is so committed to helping Seth (although it seems she is legitimately not attracted to him, she DOES still care about him).
I know it is just fiction, but it is bringing up feelings in me... I feel mad and sad for her and for her kids. I empathize with her desire to TRY to "save" her kids' dad. I am so MAD at Seth. I am heartbroken for the kids.
Projection much???

Maybe my friends were right and it was a bad choice to watch it... stupid pridefulness...

Mr. M Goes Motorcycle Riding

Mr. M went on a motorcycle riding trip with some sober guys from the program. I have been near giddy with the thought of him being gone for a few days. This is weird because all I ache for him to do is to be sober and come home. But he has been sober for 5 weeks and he is over at the house every day. But we have been fighting. He has started to boss me and the kids around about cleaning (he's a bit OCD and likes to get all "up in our kitchen" when we are not as tidy as he is). He is no longer on "good behavior" and is crankier with all of us. (You can read the few previous posts about the fight on my birthday and on Christmas Eve morning). So a little break sounded nice.

He left and it brought up feelings of grief and sadness. I felt like I did when he was away from home and drunk. I just felt sad and hurt and abandoned. I kind of missed him but not really. If anything, his absence and my grief about it made me think how TIRED I am and how exhausting it is living this way.

He's only gone for 2 nights but has called and texted and left voicemails and sent video clips of the place he is staying. He got worried when I didn't respond and tried repeatedly to get in touch with me. We finally talked for a few minutes. He was telling me he missed me etc. I felt nothing but sad. I'm just sad.
I know it hurts his feelings when he doesn't get the response he is hoping for from me. And this freaks me out because if he gets scared or sad or feels rejected and cannot deal with his feelings, will he drink???? So then I feel like I should engage more and show him I love him - to prevent him from drinking. But this is just that illusion of control. He will drink if he wants and not drink if he doesn't want. My behavior is irrelevant. I can PRETEND I have some influence if this makes me fell better to convince myself that I actually have some power in this insanity. Mr. M may stay sober a while - or forever - or he might be drunk when he comes home tomorrow. And regardless, I am just sad right now.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Annual Birthday Saga

We made it through Christmas. It was fine.
The next day was my birthday but also Drummer & Sweetie's engagement day.
I kinda had a vision of sleeping in, but it wasn't to be... Drummer was up at the butt-crack of dawn singing away practicing the song he had written for the proposal. I was slightly annoyed for a couple minutes then got over myself and went and helped him decide where to hide the ring so she wouldn't see it.
He took off to plan and set up so he could pick her up at 9AM for their picnic.

Mr M went to a morning meeting and came over. The 2 of us went to an outdoor mall (it is 77 degrees and GLORIOUS here right now!) and had lunch and dessert then we went to shop and exchange and return.
It was crowded and chaotic.
We went to exchange stuff he had gotten me at a high-end exercise store. This was a real splurge for his to get for me... 2 pairs of exercise pants. (They typically run $100 a piece so it was a big deal.) Come to find out one pair he got me was "final sale" (for $60). I don't love them... they are not super flattering on me and for that kind of money, I should ADORE them and look like a GODDESS in them. But Mr. M - not being a shopper - didn't know that final sale meant... um... FINAL sale. He thought you could still at least exchange.
I was crestfallen.
Now he has thrown away $60.
And I got nothing.
I was super sad and also a little irritated.
He went straight to SHAME and self-absorption. It was all about him.
He couldn't be present for me at all... he couldn't hug me and say "That is such a bummer" or "that sucks" or anything.
He got mad at me for being sad. He growled loudly at me in the store. (I want to say he 'yelled' at me, but it wasn't really a yell, it was truly more of a growl.)
I am extremely emotionally fragile right now because of all that is going on; he is only 1 month sober, he is not living at home it is the holidays, we just had that big fight with him being unwilling to go to a morning meeting, it is my birthday and I am wanting a little gentleness and care. I didn't have it in me to have him attack me in public.
I left the store and booked it to the car.
Mr. M followed and we left.
We drove in silence to the beachside city where we were meeting the kids for my birthday bike ride.
We sat in the car in silence for almost the full 90 minutes until the kids arrived. We kind of pseudo made up right before they came. I will circle back around to the fight, but all 4 kids and wives, fiancees, and girlfriends came (except poor Girlie who is heartbroken she doesn't have a boy friend :(
It was absolutely GORGEOUS weather and we had a lovely ride.

Then we hightailed it down to my folks' house where we celebrated the engagement (Sweetie said "yes") with a little dessert party of about 35 people. Drummer and Sweetie gathered everyone around and told the story of how he did the surprise proposal... it was sweet and funny. Sweetie's dad gave a toast (non-alcoholic) and said a prayer (he is a pastor). It was a very nice evening. We stayed and cleaned up. It had been a LONG and full few days and I was wiped out.

But here is the thing,
EVERY SINGLE 'SPECIAL' DAY of mine, Mr. M ruins.
Birthday, Mother's Day, Anniversary, Valentine's.
He is a pretty nice and generous guy most of the time but on any day that might kind of be devoted to me, he is HORRIBLE and mean and LOOKING for a fight.
He says it is me. He says that I ruin every holiday of mine by having unrealistic expectations.
I have to look at that and ask myself if that is maybe right. And perhaps it is.
But I SWEAR he is meaner and ruder and more shame based than EVER. I feel like he is sure I have expectations that are unmeetable... that he is doomed to fail and comes in already ashamed and upset and almost creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I don't THINK I have unrealistic expectation. I mean heck, I am married to a freakin' alcoholic... how high do you think my expectations are???
I have 2 main "expectations" on my special days:
* A lot of times I like to do something with my whole family, if possible.
* I like Mr. to be NICE to me.
Yes, I like to go do something; a movie, a meal, shopping, bike riding...whatever... I am not picky about that... but whatever it is, please be NICE to me. But he just can't seem to do it.
So again, like always, another supposedly special day of mine was spent fighting and heartbroken. (This year I had already accepted that my birthday was about the engagement, not about me. I was DELIGHTED to get to do the birthday bike ride byt the beach and that ALL my kids would be there!!! But I still thought I could reasonably expect Mr. M to be nice to me.)
I believe it was Albert Einstein who said the definition of Insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".
I think I need to make a different plan for my special days and NOT spend them with Mr. M. That makes me sad. I WANT to be with him and have a great day, but that is insanity. It is Lucy pulling away the football from Charlie Brown and him CONTINUING to give her another chance and another chance... yes, at first, shame on her... but at want point does it become "shame on him"? At what point does this become "shame on me"?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

Today I was feeling kinda Bah-humbug.
Mr. M did what he wanted, slept in, meandered to his meeting when he felt like it and came over at 1:45.
I, on the other hand, got up and went to Big Lots for paper goods, grocery store for all ingredients for Christmas Eve, Christmas Brunch, Christmas dinner, and the engagement party on 12/26 (for Drummer & Sweetie), went to the craft store for a few more boxes, met a guy in a parking lot to pick up Girlie's letterman's jacket, came home and unloaded everything myself, and started wrapping gifts. I am taking care of the entire world while once again, Mr. M just takes care of himself and STILL manages to feel self-righteous about it!!!!!!!!!! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR It makes me so mad. (Oh and by the way, this is all MY money too because Mr. M only takes care of his own needs with his money now too since he has his own rent and bills to run the business... so he REALLY just IS "all about him".)

In the meantime, Drummer & Sweetie had been fighting, Drummer was giving me serious push back about cleaning his room and bathroom when he is 21 and living here for free.
Bub says he can't go to church at 2:00 because of work at 3:30 (next door to each other!). I make him and he is 25 minutes late... completely disregarding me. Then he proceeds to come home from his 3 hour shift after 6.5 hours because they extended his shift. He made very little effort to communicate with us about it. I am taking away his iphone for 24 hours. YOU WOULD THINK I CUT OFF HIS FREAKING ARM the way he cried and fell on the ground!!!! Girlie had a couple of melt downs herself over Bub wearing her necklace and frustrating packages to wrap (having a daughter willing to help with this is DELIGHTFUL!). Meanwhile, Mr. M and I are not on speaking terms only doing the bare minimum 'business' conversation.

His dad comes over and brings gifts - all identical gifts for the girls; me, 16 year old Girlie, and 22 year old Mrs. Hacker, same shirt, same robe. *sigh* I guess its the thought that counts. We hang out with him and make polite conversation while trying to prepare for 17 guests.

Our evening was nice and our time sharing "thankfuls and hopefuls" was quite emotional for Sweetie's family who came. They lost their mom/wife to cancer last year at Christmas so this is the one-year-later Christmas and things are very tough and painful and Dad is already engaged to a new woman with an 11 year old (they are 21, 27, and 27). They have been grieving and suffering and fighting and struggling. There were tears and sharing and love. It was probably the sweetest part of the season so far, for me.

I am letting Mr. M sleep over in the other room so he can wake up here and be with the kids Christmas morning (which is unnecessary since the kids are old and we are doing gifts at 10AM now that they all want to sleep in!). If we were getting along, I would've let him sleep in bed, but I didn't even really want him to sleep over.

Oh well, tomorrow is a new day, right?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Eve Eve

Mr. M just left to his home (still living with Hacker & Mrs. Hacker) in a huff.
We got home from seeing the movie "Hugo" (me, Mr. M, Bub & Girlie).
I asked him about his schedule for the next day.

The plan is to go to church at 2PM for Christmas service.
Mr. M's dad is coming over to drop off gifts and pick up their gifts at 3:45 (since I am not on speaking terms with Mr. M's mother, going on 4 years now!).
At 5:30, Drummer's soon-to-be-fiancee and her whole family (2 brothers, dad, dad's fiancee, and fiancee's son) come over along with my folks and siblings.
We will eat dinner. (Our new tradition is that we are going to eat all our favorite appetizers for dinner - yum!)
We will read the story of Jesus' birth from the Bible... we pass the Bible around and each take a turn reading a few lines from the story.
Then we each take a turn sharing some things we are thankful for from the past year and some things we are hopeful for in the coming year. We start off in the darkness and as our turn comes, we light a candle. Little by little the room and our little group gets lighter and lighter.
When we are done we have sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and have birthday cake.
This all started when our kids were very little - our way of bringing a little spiritual emphasis into the consumer extravaganza :)

All that long explanation to say we have a LONG and full day.
I am including Mr. M in it (unlike Thanksgiving when he had mere minutes sober).
I asked that he please go to a MORNING meeting tomorrow instead of a "nooner" since we have such a full day.
He was bothered and said he would go when he wanted and more or less told me to butt out.
He accused me of not supporting his program!
He has all week to sleep in (he schedules his jobs later in the day so he can sleep).
He goes to a NIGHT meeting monday, tuesday, wednesday, and thursday nights. I have asked that he please go to morning meetings Friday and Saturday so he can be with us in the evenings. Sunday we do church in the morning and he has been doing a nooner.
I am TRULY nothing but supportive. I don't say anything about how much time he spends in meetings.
I completely realize that without meetings we do not have him AT ALL.
For him to accuse ME of not supporting him SLAYS me.
That he could storm out angrily is beyond me.
I am also feeling bothered that he would even want to argue with me about it... I kind of feel like he should be happy I am being with him every day and letting him come over every day and completely 100% "made up" with him and he is coming to Christmas!!!!!!
And yet, on the other hand, I don't want him to live in shame, "owing" me forever.
But would a little perspective and reality check on his part be OK?
Sheesh!

My way of setting a boundary for me was to decide that he is right, he can go to a meeting whenever he wants. But I don't want him here and then leaving. I want him to come and stay so as he left, I told him to not come over tomorrow until 1:45 when we are leaving for church. Then he has the whole morning to do as he pleases (as usual in Mr. M's world... he only has himself to worry about). He can join us when he is ready to participate.
Now, I want to call him and engage him in a 'discussion' (a fight?).
But I am not going to.
I am writing this post then going to sleep.

I had been feeling so cheerful and Christmasy today so it was a bummer way to end it. (I love Christmas shopping and Christmas music and Decorations and Lights and Crowds and all of it - PLUS we had spectacular weather today; crisp air, blue sky, bright sunshine, a perfect balance of chilly yet warm!)

I am hoping this doesn't ruin Christmas or serve as an excuse for him to relapse (does he CREATE fights SO that he can relapse????) It sucks to have to live in fear of that...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Therapy Day 12-20

I didn't cry in therapy day but I should have.
I had feelings come up but I didn't want to go there and Dr. didn't push. I don't know if he didn't notice and see or if he was being 'easy' on me cuz he could tell I didn't want to go there and I had a flat tire and he didn't want to push me over the edge.
I am embarrassed to tell you that while turning into the parking lot for therapy, I turned too early (to quickly get out of fast moving traffic) and hit the curb with my front tire. This scared me and obviously harmed the car and I was still in the road with my rear hanging out in fast-moving traffic, so I just kept going and so also slammed the back tire into the curb too. (In my defense, I thought I had cleared the curb and didn't think that my rear wheel would hit it, plus, I was freaked out.) I hobbled into my parking spot and got out to check. Sure enough a BIG HOLE in my tire and completely & utterly & hopelessly flat. I could see any obvious other things wrong like bent rims etc. I do not realize to check the rear tire though.
I called Mr. M... he mocked me a little. He said to call after therapy. He had a job to do and maybe we would both be done around the same time and could figure out a solution together.

Back story - when Mr. M was DEEP in the drink, I had take my car to get the tires rotated and the alignment done (I get really proactive and "fixy" when I am in crisis... trying to order my world in weird wasy). They asked about the "key" to get our lug nuts off. I had never heard of this (this is Mr. M's arena). They found it and all was fine. Except last week the mechanic said they couldn't fine the key... the tire people hadn't put it back. I called them.. of course, they didn't have it and had NO IDEA what I was talking about. So I have been procrastinating on going to the dealership to GET the freakin' key! So OF COURSE now I have a flat tire and can't change it without the key!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (And the nearest dealership - also of course - doesn't have one, so we have to go to a much further one.)

I go into therapy and Dr empathizes with me and how difficult this is.
Weirdly, I say, it is not that tough. It feels just like a normal (albeit frustrating) life circumstance. Because Mr. M is sober and can help me, I do not have to do it alone... we are a team and it's gonna be a pain in the ass, but it is just a little annoyance in the scope of life.
On the other hand, if Mr M was drunk and I was alone, this would probably put me over the edge (interesting food for though for me later). I would be devastated, overwhelmed and would feel my aloneness profoundly.
And yes, thinking about how I am a hair's breadth away from that being the case RIGHT NOW, that is a scary place to always live: if I call Mr. M for help right now, will he be drunk or sober? Will he be in any condition to care about someone besides himself? Will he be ABLE to help me or will I be alone?
Relaying the entire above paragraph to Dr. had me where I could've been in tears in a millisecond. I was feeling it. (WHY don't I let myself GO there??????? That is the whole stinkin' POINT, for land's sake! - I am so disappointed.)

That's all I wanted to say.
Except I WILL add that the rear tire had a huge hole in it too and Mr. M thought that was just hilarious. He called later in the night and said his pals at the AA meeting all wanted to pass on their admiration at my commitment to following through! (HAHAHA! Thanks a LOT guys!)
So after waiting for three ours for my little sister to run to the further dealership for the key and for Mr. M to finally get there, I STILL ended up having to call a tow truck because we only have ONE spare :/
And on top of that, it had to be a flat bed type which takes longer.
And by the time we got there, the tire place was closed, so we still have to deal with it in the morning. So, not over yet.

But it was sooooooooooooo nice to have Mr. M there and to do it together and to be able to have help and not be alone.
Does that make me WEAK for enjoying it so much?
Should I be more self-sufficient?
(Because these are the judgmental things my inner critic scolds me with.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Consistent Inconsistency

I feel bi-polar or something.
My emotions are all over the place.

I sometimes question myself and wonder if I am over-reacting to Mr. M's disease?
A lot of people live with alcoholic husbands in alcoholic marriages.
I am not alone or unique.
Do I need to go to nuclear options like divorce and asking him to move out and the intense level of grief and heartbreak I feel?
Maybe my expectations are too high?
What is my value & worth in this whole thing? Do I deserve more? Or is this the best I can hope for?
And where does my Higher Power figure into all this? - Do I get to decide what I want to do or is this some kind of 'test' or 'challenge'?... Am I too focused on my comfort and happiness in this life, when I could just be finding joy & peace in my suffering and trials?

One minute all I can see is my grief and loss and I take Mr M back into my heart and bed after ONE WEEK sober, and embrace him and can only see how much I love him and do not WANT to do life without him.
Then he gets all cozy and starts taking it all for granted and making assumptions... he starts demanding or bickering and cleaning the house (as if I am a failed housekeeper in his absence - which I am :/
I start thinking of how he starts drinking and ABANDONS us. (Lest I forget what this really is.)
How he pees his pants, saturating the whole couch.
He breaks things.
He vomits on things.
He runs into things and falls over.
He drives drunk.
He doesn't work.
He doesn't provide.
He is not even "semi" functional.
When Mr. M drinks, it is cataclysmic.
If I go nuclear in my reaction, I think it is because he goes nuclear in his drinking.
I think it would be harder and "grayer" in the questions I ask myself above - if he were more functional... but he is not. Living with him drunk is truly not an option, so that helps.

So the last few days, I have been feeling angry and sad.
I feel like when the going gets tough, Mr. M gets going.
And again and again for the past 24 years, I am left alone with 4 kids, 4 mortgages, 1 dog, 4 cars, college apps, angry kids bickering, discipline (I just had to fight it out with Bub at 11:30PM because he wants to shave his head, vacuum the hair, and do laundry in the middle of the night on a school night when the rest of us are just turning out the lights for bed - he thinks I am out of my mind so I had to threaten to take away his beloved iphone, this sent him into a complete meltdown of tears about how HE has been the one to step up to the plate during dad's absence! really???), bills, home & car maintenance, working and dealing with clients, emotional trauma of Drummer arguing with his soon-to-be fiancee, Girlie's driver's permit tests (studying and failing and the TEARS and then studying and PASSING and now having to DRIVE with a new teen driver - UGH!), shopping or and paying for all Christmas gifts, ordering (and paying for) Girlie's letterman's jacket, designing, ordering and paying for Bub's yearbook dedication page, Bub's graduation is coming etc. etc.
Mr. M just gets to CHECK out while I run and pay for things single-handedly.
And then he sobers up for 10 minutes and gets to waltz back in and enjoy all the fruits of MY labor - until he wants to fall off the deep end again!

I get jealous and sometimes I want a turn to lose my mind and give up and throw in the towel and run away from home and know that someone ELSE will pick up the pieces.
Now, please don't misunderstand me, I could NEVER allow myself to do that AND I wouldn't truly want to. Being a mom and having my family is my greatest joy in life.
But sometimes.. sometimes... I am tired and sad and tired of doing this alone - or being frightened that at any minute I will be left to do it alone.
And that realization and fear is getting harder and harder to live with. (Hence the gnarly feelings I am having below, fantasizing that MAYBE there is someone on the planet who will love me and want to STAY and do this journey WITH me.)

Mr. M wants to be forgiven and have a clean slate.
He wants me to focus on the good times and not let the bad out-weigh the good in my memories.
And when he is good, he IS pretty darn fabulous (my friends have jokingly moaned "Why can't OUR husbands be recovering alcoholics!!!???"). Like right now, he has spent 2 FULL days Christmas shopping with me; humoring me, running from store to ridiculous store in search of that perfect gift, carrying bags like a pack mule, and yes, PAYING, because he is working and when he is working and sober, he is the most generous guy you will ever meet. He'd give you the shirt off his back. (I am more fearful and therefore stingy and greedy - "UM... don't give that guy the shirt off your back... WE need it!!!"- Side note: I think I have always been fearful around money, but of course with Mr. M's consistent inconsistency, I have gotten more and more terrified.)

That is me any given day. Confused. Up & down. All over the place. Borderline crazy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Playing With Fire

I have been in a kind of fantasy-denial for the last week or so.
This blog is a good friend to me when I am hurting and lonely and scared... but when I am feeling ok or (dare I say) good or just in denial and WISHING I felt that way, I turn my back on this friend who is a reminder of painful times I don't want to remember.

Mr. M had 3 weeks sober on monday.
This is fine.
I mean, all ANYONE has is one day, right?
3-6 weeks is Mr. M's typical relapse cycle (putting us right around Christmas for his next falling off the wagon episode).
But he is so hopeful, so committed, so excited about his sobriety, I DEEPLY want to believe it too and so I have been living as if I do.
(He is doing "90 meetings in 90 days" and calling program people all throughout the day. He is calling his sponsor and working his steps. He is working and going to the gym. He is cheerful - mostly - and hopeful. He is him at his best.)

In light of that, I have been letting him come over every day. We went Christmas shopping together. He has helped with Dr. appointments for the kids and errand running. I was out of milk and having 'guilty mom syndrome'. He called at 10PM, after his meeting, saying he had gotten milk and could he bring it by! He set rat traps when I heard scurrying in the attic. He decorated for christmas when I was out at a party. He filled the fountain and moped the floors. (And yes, we have had *ahem* a couple conjugal visits.)
My life is easier when he is sober.
I am not alone for 10 minutes.
I so want it to be real.
I SO want to lean into it.

[OH! Writing this reminds me that I have to remember what my therapist said this week about that... something like maybe I can't handle it and am not ready for it??? and bring it up again to Dr. next week.]

So I have been "enjoying" it and just indulging for a little bit.

But then my "other man" flirtation surfaced (I haven't mentioned it for a zillion reasons: I want to pretend it is nothing, I am embarrassed and ashamed, Even though this is anonymous, I am still so afraid of being discovered)... and I have been fixated on that instead of fixating on Mr. M and his drinking.
I have SO many things to say about this subject:
I am 41 and this person is 58 - This means he is too old for me.
He is married - and this means he is MARRIED... and even if some of my behavior makes this seem questionable, marriage means something to me. (I mean My GOD, I have fought for 23+ years to keep my sham of a marriage in tact, I am not ABOUT to be a party to destroying someone else's!)
I am not that attracted to him.

That said, here's the thing:
I am super vulnerable.
I am deeply needy.
I am ACHING to have someone take care of me (and he is wealthy - more on that in a minute).
I am longing to have someone desire me.
So PLEASE GOD, rescue me from myself... I am TIRED of being the grown up. Can HE please be the grown up and do the right thing??? (I found myself praying for his marriage today, that he would only have eyes for her... that their love would be kindled, that their marriage would be protected.)

I have been having a kind of "fun" time playing with this flirtation... It is a delightful distraction from my pain and loss. Plus, I am telling myself it is just a little harmless fun on both our parts. I mean, we only usually see each other once a year for our annual lunch to talk business and catch up. This year we didn't need to at all but he told his assistant to schedule it and she said he just liked spending time with me!
So we HAD our lunch.
We drank wine, yummy, expensive wine (he treated... normally I would because he is my client). I know nothing about wines, he does... he was excited to share that with me and be the expert and teach me.
I had a tad to much and was a little flushed and wobbly as we left.
He loves to do the polite hug and kiss goodbye (on the lips! - SOOOO not what I would ever do!). Only this time, he pulled me up against him so that I was fully pressed up against him and planted one on me. I backed away and thanked him for lunch and that was it.
But then he texted me later.
He asked a couple more questions. He said they might require another lunch. I agreed. (UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) He asked if we could do it the next week to "kick off thanksgiving week" (Really?!) I said sure. (What the heck?)

More wine. More yummy food. More laughing and conversation. Yes, he has said that his marriage lacks intimacy and connection and they have talked about splitting up. He said lunch with me is the only time he does something nice for himself... like a little vacation.
When lunch was over, he asked me to drive him to his car. I did (again, flushed with too much wine at lunch! - and enjoying the feeling... I am normally SUCH a good girl and this was ALL so naughty and I am embarrassed and sad to say I was enjoying it). When he was getting out he leaned in to hug me and he kissed me and he PUT HIS HAND UP BEHIND MY HEAD AND KISSED ME AGAIN... I pulled away... he kind of smiled as he got out of the car and said "Delicious"! (GULP!) He called me after to tell me something and then it all kind of faded away. Mr. M got a few days sober. I put it behind me and *phew* I didn't have to think about it until next year.

Until we had to email about something for business.
Then I told him I was having trouble finding wine as yummy as we had tasted (true, but unnecessary to say) and asked for a recommendation.
He said it was the excitement and the company that made it so good and suggested we "meet" again.
I said sure.
He said FRIDAY (in 2 days from now). I said that it probably won't work until after the new year. (I am terrified AND I don't want to be over-eager AND I truly am a good girl and don't want to do anything "really bad" - as if this isn't all bad enough! And, I kind of like that I am aloof and have the illusion of being in control of SOMEfreakingTHING in my life).

EMAIL/HIM: You need to find some time for me in your busy schedule!

EMAIL/ME: hahaha! What can I say, I'm in high demand! :)

EMAIL/HIM (after a few more exchanges where he asks if I am on my way over and I respond "I wish"): You’re making this a lot more complicated than it needs to be you know :)

So thankfully, I dodged that bullet for now... but he is a 58 year old man who knows what he wants (although I THINK - and really, what the heck do I know??? - he is a "good boy" and a rule-follower who is just having fun "playing with fire" too) and is more firmly going after it. But he is not going out TOO much on a limb.
Anyhow, it is all very fun and enticing, and distracting - and I am ΓΌber-vulnerable.

So over the last 2 days I have been feeling more ANGRY with Mr. M. I am feeling less in denial. I am feeling more TIRED and hurt. I am wanting more distance.
But why can't I do this just because I am worth it and have value?
Why do I need some fake/fantasy flirtation with an OLD married guy to give me false strength to back away from Mr. M?
(And I would NEVER want to hurt this guy's wife and grown children... even if I was utterly selfish and immoral, I couldn't live with myself - GOD, I hope that is true!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I CANNOT minimize the role this man's MONEY plays in the equation.
He is not bad looking.
He is smart and had many good qualities.
I am not really that attracted to him... but the idea of security of his income and that lifestyle are HUGELY appealing to me.
Not from a "gold-digger" standpoint but from a safety and security and comfort and being cared for and taken care of perspective... To think I wouldn't have to live in constant terror and could REST. My goodness, that is a turn on!
He is looking for things that I can provide and I am looking for things he can provide.
(Although truthfully, as Dr. oh so sagely pointed out - how safe and secure and rest-filled would I really ever be able to feel with a man who could up and leave his wife? If he did it once, he could do it again.)

Over these weeks, I have also been looking on dating websites and am vacillating between exhilaration, terror, and nausea.
What if someone won't love me?
What if I end up alone and Mr. was my only chance at love?
What if I end up with someone worse???
Mr M - abandoning as he is - love me even if I have gained weight, grown a few chin hars, have acne, get crabby at PMS time, etc... I can be a handful... maybe I would not be worth it to someone else?

So this is clearly bringing up a LOT of issues in me.
Honestly, I think very little of it is about Mr. M... it all says a LOT more about ME and my lack of belief in my worth and value, about my deepest fears, about how much I attach to money.
I am not making any rash decisions or moves, but I AM very very very vulnerable and that can be good or bad depending on the circumstances that happen to me and the choices I make.

God, please protect me from myself.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Therapy update

I am still seeing "Dr." who I used to write about each week. I SHOULD start writing weekly updates again to chronicle my journey for myself. (If I ever go back and read them, it is SOOO interesting to me to see where I was and what I was learning - a blog is just a journal posted online... even if no one else reads it, it is a record of our journeys, for ourselves.)

I took a break from therapy for a few moths due to financial reasons - we had a LARGE tax bill due in April and needed to scale back to get that paid. When we recouped, I started therapy again. The timing was perfect in that Mr. M relapsed about 2 weeks before I started again... it has been a lifeline to sanity to have a healthy, balanced person with whom to process.

Much of what I blog about probably comes straight out of stuff I am working on in therapy. One of the main things being to just ALLOW myself to be where I am... to be sad, to be mad, to be heartbroken, to grieve etc.
I didn't realize quite how much I make up all these rules to follow.
I have to kind of chuckle (a sad chuckle because it is not "haha" funny, but it is interesting funny) when I think back to when Hacker was in 1st grade. He was at a small private school that did not have uniforms but the boys had to wear slacks and a collared shirt. Hacker usually wore "polo" style collared shirts but one day I gave him a shirt that buttoned all the way up from the bottom. "Oh, mom, we are not allowed to wear this kind of shirt," Hacker told me. I assured him that he WAS allowed. He was fairly certain he was not. We went back and forth a few times and I eventually said "Sweetie, there are plenty of rules in life and in your school - you don't need to MAKE UP rules to follow!" I thought this was HILARIOUS that he was not just a "rule follower" but so much so that he created rules that MIGHT exist to follow. I wondered WHERE he got this?!

I remember some friends who live in Singapore doing a similar thing. Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore (I think due to littering prevention). One of our friends brought some gum home from America for his family to chew in their home. The wife gasped with horror that her husband was bringing this bootleg contraband into their home. He told her is was not illegal to own and chew gum in their country, in their home... it was only illegal in public. She was not so sure about that... she was pretty confident that NO, it was illegal in any form in any place. Again, there are plenty of real rules, but in our fear and pleasing, we sometimes invent and follow extra unnecessary rules.

All this brings me back to me, all these years later. Well, I darn well know where Hacker got this! I came to see that I was not the rebel I thought I was. I too have rules I make up to follow.

I have all sorts of rules around Mr. M's drinking and m behaviors & responses that I didn't even realize I have. For example, in this latest go around, I decided not to have Mr. M join us for Thanksgiving. It was HARD but I thought it was a realistic consequence, given his choices. Then the next day, I heard a RAT running around above my head in the attic and when Mr. M offered to come take care of it, I gratefully said "yes". I felt bad doing this because my RULE said that I needed to be consistent. I am not allowed to hug him and kiss him and have him come over and hug me on wednesday only to say I am feeling angry and sad on thursday and don't feel like seeing him. I have rules that say I have to pick a position and stay with it. Why??? I'm not sure... because I don't want to send wishy-washy messages? Or maybe because I feel like if I am inconsistent that will make him confused and sad and cause him to drink (as if anything *I* say or do actually causes him to drink! - My grandiosity thinking I am not powerless and that my life is manageable).

I feel like I sound like a crazy person letting Mr. M come over one day and then NOT letting him the next. Dr. is so validating though. He says that I am honoring myself and listening to what I need. As long as I am just listening to my needs and being nice to myself, he thinks it is healthy. If I have MOTIVES though (like to punish him or teach him or send him a message), then it is a different ball game and he would want to explore that. On the flip side, he says Mr. M gets to also be "wishy washy" and decide if HE feels like he wants to come over and kill the rat or not. Maybe he WILL do it, but tomorrow and not get up out of his cozy bed when he is already hunkered down for the evening. Mr. M functions out of a lot of guilt and shame and "owing"... he has a really tough time saying "no" to me when he is sober because he feels like he has hurt me so badly he owes it to me to set no boundaries and has to do anything I want. I am sure in our younger years I perpetuated that and completely agreed that he DID owe me... but this is a tough one, because how long does he owe me and how much? Can he ever repay his debt? etc. - If I am going to "forgive" him and stay with him, I feel like I actually need to forgive him and stay with him... but is that just another one of my "rules" I made up??? - I am still learning!!!

I think it is more about - If I am sad then I am sad and I can express my sadness. I might want to cry and tell him how much sadness this has caused me. If I am feeling mad and don't feel like being around him then that is an OK boundary to set. Likewise, HE needs to be responsible for himself and what he can handle... for example, he needs to honor himself and believe HE is worthy of that... so if he is not in a place to be able to HEAR my sadness right then, he doesn't "owe" it to me to listen right then. He might need to say "I am feeling overwhelmed right now and I don't feel like now is a good time for me to listen to your feelings... can we do this tomorrow?". We both need to be grown-ups and be responsible for ourselves.

I am glad he has started therapy too so at least it isn't like I am speaking Greek to him! We are both kind of of the same page speaking mostly the same language.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

20+ Years Ago

Today I was on facebook looking through the pictures of my friend's daughter that appeared on my news feed.
She is about 22... she and her young husband are so sweet and fresh-faced and naive seeming as they smile out at the camera holding their newborn daughter and toddler son. They look like babies themselves and yet here they are playing house, making babies of their own, and trying to forge a path for themselves in this world.
I look at them through tear-blurred eyes.
Because I can only see myself.

Mr. M and I were BARELY 18 when we said "I do".
We had no idea what "we did" when we said our vows and began to forge OUR own path.
I was a sweet little girl like my friend's daughter; sweet and fresh-faced and naive.
I feel so very sad for that little girl that I was.
She deserved so much more.
She deserved a husband who was present, who didn't leave her and get drunk and lose his jobs and steal the rent money for cocaine or take the kids in the car to buy drugs.

How could she have known that if she stayed, she would eventually be a middle-aged woman with 4 grown (and nearly grown) kids STILL GOING THROUGH THE EXACT SAME THING?

I wish I could reach back in time and hug her and whisper her worth to her. I wish I could comfort her and keep her safe and protect and provide for her.

I see my friend's sweet daughter and I am so happy for her and for them and yet it is hard to not feel jealous and to mourn deeply for the sweet, unmarred happiness I never got to have.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Costs...

I just got a bill (the first of many, I am sure) for Mr. M's hospitalization.
It is over $22,000!
It is saying this service is "specifically EXCLUDED from our coverage". SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?
(By the way, we pay $850 per month, over $10,000 per year, to have this crappy plan - with Blue Shield of CA - with a $6ooo family deductible PLUS then we pay 20% of all charges up to an additional $4000. We PAID all that in Jan/Feb of this year because Mr. M had spine surgery... so this should be covered at 100%, which is why I was happy to allow him to go into the hospital... why not take advantage of the coverage we HAVE?)
There is NO REASON this should not be covered.
I am DYING.
But at least Mr. M is dry for right now and handling it for himself for now...

History Lesson

This go around, I have definitely felt a lot more "done". I feel tired and am finally beginning to truly SEE just how alone Mr. M has left me (and the kids) for so many years off and on for the last 23 1/2 years.
We were married for 3 years before he started using.
I was new and naive and in denial (plus hus drug use was sporadic at first then slowly built to CRAZY) so it took me 3 years to "catch" him.
He was in and out of rehabs and our home and relapses for FOUR YEARS. (At one point, he lived 3 hours away for 6 months... I would drive up with the kids and visit him there, staying in Motel 6). I - along with 4 kids - had to get on welfare and food stamps. I HAD Girlie on government funded Medi-Cal.

He got sober in a 12 step program when Girlie was 2 (early 1996).

He relapsed again but I didn't know it for quite a while. Yes, there were signs and symptoms, but again, denial, naivete, stupidity, wishful thinking, all stopped me from truly seeing what I was seeing (from adding up 1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1=8).

I think he actually had between 6-7 years sober then started back slowly, secretly, controlled for quite a while... then it started to escalate. I "caught" him sometime around 7/06.

He was in & out of places and out of the house for most of the next 2 years. He got sober in spring of 2008.
He had to get a year sober before I allowed him home (it was closer to 11 months).
So in 2009, he moved back in. We got about 2 1/2 years with him before he relapsed... but honestly, he started using pain killers for his back in November 2010 (from 11/10-2/11) and I believe started on the downward spiral toward relapse then. So we really got about 18 good months with him.
Wow! This puts it in perspective.
This has been a long, hard road.
And lest I forget and think I wasn't this done with my alcoholic marriage last time, it was a good reminder to go back a read this and this.
*sigh*

Friday, November 25, 2011

The cycle continues

True to form, Mr. M is indeed drinking again.
He was more functional (and for longer) than I thought he had the capacity to be.
Since he is not living at home, I couldn't see him or smell him, so I just had to go on what he was saying. He was saying he was just depressed and sick. To the people he was living with he didn't seem drunk... so they went with it too. I THOUGHT it seemed 'drunk' to me but again, didn't trust myself fully... i WANTED it to not be true so I went with fantasy over reality in my brain. So again, I was shocked and sad to find out he was drinking (not really shocked, but still shocked - does that make sense at all?).

I have been HYPER aware of the lies I have been telling myself for years:
* I don't want to be alone - I AM alone and have been for 23 years.
* When he is sober is is such a great guy - Really??? Is this how a great guy treats his wife and children?
* We've had such good times over the years - always waiting for the other shoe to drop and the very real risk that he will relapse and do this to me (us) again.
* But this could finally be the time he actually gets & stays sober! - Yes, and it could also NOT be. And if it is, at what point will I ever be able to relax and trust him and "lean into" his care?

I have also been HYPER aware of the patterns I have created in my kids that they are now old enough that I can see them manifested.
They feel sorry for him (I taught them: "Poor dad, he is so sick")
They want to baby & coddle him (I taught them: "He can't do it himself... he needs help")
They want to enable him (I taught them: "Dad can't work by himself today... does anyone want to work with him to earn a little extra money?")
They expect ME, not him to hold the marriage together (I taught them: "I am not going anywhere... marriage is forever... you can count on me!") Since dad is not capable of things, I led them to believe that they could realistically expect ME to always hold it all together and never give up. And now that I am getting tired... nearing the end of my rope... I am feeling a lot of anger directed to me.
Hacker saw how sick his dad was, how sad, lonely, scared, depressed and said to me about him "I just feel so bad for the poor guy!". I totally get that and have spent 23 years feeling sorry for the "poor guy" myself, and apparently teaching my kids to feel sorry for him. Hacker thought I was kind of mean and cold when I pointed out that this wasn't "happening" to the 'poor guy'... the poor guy CHOSE this and continues to choose it! How "poor" is he when all the sickness, sadness, loneliness, and depression are results of HIS actions and choices?

This is not a "blame me" post... it is just an honesty post. Yes, I have tried hard and been loyal and hung in here and stuck with it... I did the best I could with what I had. But there have been some very sick & and dysfunctional behaviors (most of which stem me having a low sense of my own lack of value and worth - this is all I thought I deserved and could hope to expect). Now the kids are a new generation of "adult children of alcoholics" that I helped create. I PRAY they do not have to go through this all the hard way and can get help and heal and get whole before choosing to repeat the patterns themselves in their own relationships.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful For The Fleas

This is a repost from here.


"The barracks where Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy were kept in the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbruck were terribly overcrowded and

flea-infested.

They had been able to miraculously smuggle a Bible into the camp, and in that Bible they had read that in all things there were to give thanks, and that God can use anything for good.

Corrie’s sister Betsy decided that this meant thanking God for the fleas. This was too much for Corrie, who said she could do no such thing. Betsy insisted, so Corrie gave in and prayed to God, thanking Him even for the fleas.

Over the next several months a wonderful, but curious, thing happened. They found that the guards never entered their barracks. This meant that women were not assaulted. It also meant that they were able to do the unthinkable, which was to hold open Bible studies and prayer meetings in the heart of a Nazi concentration camp.

Through this, countless numbers of women came to faith in Christ.

Only at the end did they discover why the guards had left them alone and would not enter into their barracks.

It was because of the fleas.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks to God for every good and perfect gift (James 1:17), but also thank Him for how He will use all things for good in the lives of those who trust Him (Romans 8:28).

In this time of falling stock prices and rising unemployment; in a time when many are facing physical and emotional challenges; there can be little doubt that such a trusting prayer of gratitude will be challenging to offer.

But then take a moment, and remember the fleas of Ravensbruck.

And thank God anyway.

James Emery White"


Today, I am TRYING not not only SAY 'thanks' to God for Mr M's alcoholism, but to actually BE thankful.

No matter what the outcome.

Can I find a way to be grateful for this disease? For the growth it is bringing? For the learnings I am discovering?

I am not sure how I am doing, but I am trying.


Much love to you this day of giving thanks... my wish is that you are able to SEE many things in your life to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Don't Want To Be Married Any More

I have sooooo much anxiety.
I was out of town for a few days and while I was gone I checked in several times a day with Mr.M. I think I was pretending that everything was normal and OK. That I was out of town and he was just at home and things were just like they have always been.
He is self-absorbed and irritable and pitiful and seems hardly aware that I might be having some experiences while I am traveling that I might like to share... he talks incessantly about himself, repeating the same story over & over. It is actually quite concerning.
Yet still I want to pretend like everything is OK.
But when I got home, anxiety descended immediately.
He smells like alcohol.
But - I am telling myself - he is functioning. He is working and coherent... he can't DO that when he is drinking. He can't drink in moderation. He gets fall-down dead drunk right out the gate.
So what am I smelling?
And what about my mantra to "believe myself"?
He is staying with Hacker & Mrs. Hacker and is supposed to be looking for a place to live, but isn't.
I want to CONTROL my environment and CONTROL him and CONTROL the situation and say he isn't ALLOWED to live there... and they will all "obey" me... but is that what I want?

While out of town, I prayed for his death... not out of anger or hate or spite... I am tired and he is miserable and killing himself slowly every day.
I thought of him dying and I felt relieved.
I prayed he would be miraculously cured of this disease or die.
I prayed that it wouldn't be a death from drunk driving or from suicide or from drinking directly (right now).
A car accident would be OK or cancer - sudden & quick, or
alcohol related illness death,
but after-the-fact, not drinking again and dying from it, if that makes sense.
What I am getting at is that I would love him to die sober not drunk, so the kids don't have to live with that.
I want to move on and be free from the agony of worry.
But I can't do it while he is alive.
I don't want to divorce him.
I don't want to give up on him.
I don't want the kids to see me give up on him.
I don't believe in divorce (if it is possible to avoid it).
I believed my vows "in sickness and in health, in richer, in poorer"... I don't want to break them.
I am not proud of this.
I am sad and sick.
But this is where I am, confessionally.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Status Quo

Is there even such a thing as maintaining "status quo" when you are in an alcoholic marriage?
Is the status quo really just waiting for them to drink and for your whole life to go down the toilet? And since nothing is ever reliable and you can't count on it, I guess THAT is the status quo.

That said, things are just the same right now.
It is a waiting game.
Waiting for Mr. M to relapse.
Again, I am not trying to be negative, I am just expecting the pattern to follow what the pattern has always been... which is why it is a "pattern".

And yet... and yet there HAS been a "last time".
Back in March 2008 he got sober for 3 1/2 years.
Before that, I don't know, maybe in 1997, he got sober for 6 1/2 years (or something).
So there have been the "sick and tire of being sick and tired" times.
Maybe this will be it.
And maybe it won't.
I soooooooooooooooooooooo want it to be (achingly, desperately, heartbreakingly) and yet this has NEVER been the pattern.

So he goes to daily AA meetings, he does his AA readings, he goes to counseling, he checks in with AA buddies and his sponsor, he works his steps... and I wait... wait for the other shoe to drop. And if it does I will still be surprised and shocked and devastated. And he is annoyed that I would even have a CONCERN that he could drink again... how could I not just KNOW that he is done?! *sigh* I feel so unseen and unheard... I feel like I am a 1-dimensional caricature to him. I would love to be a full blooded 3-D person to him one day.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I Can't Do This Alone

It is the weekend.
Mr. M is at an AA retreat.
This is good news, I guess.
But I am having trouble "celebrating".
I just feel SAD.

I am 41 years old (soon to be 42).
My kids are all getting older. One is married, one is soon to be engaged, 1 will be off to college in the fall and Girlie just turned 16 and will be driving soon.
I should be enjoying these years with my husband (we have EARNED them!).
But instead, he is sleeping on people's sofas like a delinquent.

But if it is true that "the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior", this is not going to end now... he has MANY more relapsed in him. (He typically gets a month or 2 under his belt then relapsed for a couple of HORRIFIC weeks - no working at all, incoherent , no bathing, no eating, pain, vomiting - before getting sober again for 1-2 months before doing it all again.) He said he absolutely cannot envision this... he cannot EVER picture himself wanting to go through this again. But here's the thing, see: he never can. And he never should. He ALWAYS ends up this bad and yet he always ends up eventually drinking again.

So although, YES, it IS hopeful and great that he is at an AA retreat this weekend, I am not betting on this horse.
But even if he DID begin long-term sobriety right now, it will be quite a long time until we know it and it is believable. In the meantime, I am ALONE (the resonant theme of my grief right now). I feel alone. I am alone. He has left me and I am by myself. I don't want to do this without him. But I may have to. And regardless of what the longterm holds, right now, I AM doing it alone.

These Phil Wickham lyrics ("Grace") feel comforting to me right now because since my husband has left me alone, I deeply need to rely on my HP (Higher Power) for grace & peace & comfort:
"Cause I need eyes to be my guide
I need a voice that's louder than mine
I need hope and I need You
Cause I can't do this alone"


Friday, November 4, 2011

Self-Absorption

If you were to listen to just my end of my conversations with Mr. M on the phone [and these are 2-3 times a day... this is probably extremely dysfunctional of me, but he had only been drinking 2 weeks after 3.5 years of sobriety, so i think I am kind of in shock and it is hard to go completely cold-turkey and just cut him off], you would hear something like this:
Long stretch of silence while Mr. M talks.
Me: So you're really frustrated?
Long stretch of silence while Mr. M talks
Me: Oh, yeah... that makes sense...
Long stretch of silence while Mr. M talks
Me: Yeah... yeah...
Long stretch of silence while Mr. M talks
Me: It did?
Long stretch of silence while Mr. M talks
Me: I'll bet that hurt your feelings?
Long stretch of silence while Mr. M talks
Me: Yeah... ouch!
Long stretch of silence while Mr. M talks
Me: Mmmmmm Hmmmmm...
Long stretch of silence while Mr. M talks
Me: Yeah
Long stretch of silence while Mr. M talks
Me: Wow, yeah... i get that...
Long stretch of silence while Mr. M talks
Me: Uh huh...
Long stretch of silence while Mr. M talks
Me: Totally
Long stretch of silence while Mr. M talks
Me: Oh yeah, that makes sense
AD NAUSEUM.

And this is no exaggeration.
He talks and talks and talks and talks and I listen and mirror and reflect and hear and understand.
He talks about his depression and fear and anxiety and frustration about everything from his housing situation to his irritation with his Sponsor to the meeting he went to to fears about the stress of jumping back into his business.

I am currently just a 1-dimensional caricature in his world right now. I do not have needs or fears or heartbreak or desires. I am here only to serve his bottomless pit of need.
It has me wondering - are we ALWAYS like this? Or is he usually better than this?

And lest I sound like I am trying to be a noble sufferer, my motives are not entirely altruistic, I KNOW better than this, but I think - if I am totally honest, I am doing it with probably more than a little self-serving and codependence: if I listen and love and hear and mirror enough, maybe I can keep him sober!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Long Hard Days Ahead

I have been particularly sad all day today.
Mr M has a few days sober.
He is looking for a place to live (room for rent) and a place from which to run his business.
His absence - his prolonged absence - is really sinking in.
He is not here.
He is not going to BE here.
I miss him.
(Well, kinda... I do NOT miss him being drunk. I don't miss the thought of him lying and sneaking and being more a teenager than a husband. I don't miss the me worrying and policing and nagging and controlling.)
But I woke up and his side of the bed is empty.
It's not supposed to be empty... he is supposed to be IN it.
He is searching for rooms for rent (after ruling out sober living home) and all I can think is "You are not SUPPOSED to be looking for places to rent... you are a 41 year old man... you are supposed to be at home with your wife and children, not looking for a rental room like a 19 year old kid... Put on your big boy underwear and GROW THE FRICK UP!"
I am mad and sad and really tired.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mr. M's first therapy day

Today I called Mr. M at 8AM.
His counseling appointment was at 9AM and I was not-so-subtly checking to see if he was up and about and still planning on going or drunk as a skunk and soon to be out on his butt.
He was bright-eyed and bushy tailed... he had been up for a while and had eaten breakfast and was already up near the counseling office.

He went round & round about if he should do therapy with our marriage counselor or if he should start with someone new.
He was hesitant because she is a woman... he thinks that is "inappropriate". I think it eventually kinda came out that he was maybe a little attracted to her. I was a little hurt/bruised, but the reality is that it is completely NORMAL to be attracted to your counselor, Dr., boss, etc. When you are vulnerable and trust someone and they act trustworthy, that is attractive. Almost all little boys go through a stage of wanting to marry their Mommies (and little girls, their Daddies).

On the other hand, we have history with her.
She knows him.
He trusts her.
He has opened up with her before.
He wouldn't have to start from scratch.
She knows me, she knows our pattern and dynamic.
She knows what she is working with and he is long past the 'putting on a good facade' stage.

She wanted to makes sure I was OK with it... that I wouldn't feel like she had abandoned me and that she had chosen him or aligned herself with him. I said I think I feel pretty safe and OK... and I am in therapy and have somewhere to go. Although, in writing this, for the first time, I am a TINY aware that there MIGHT be some feelings of me giving up something good for someone else because that is a "good girl" thing to do. (I still feel great about the decision, but there was a little of that there, so that would be something to explore).

All that to say, after all that, he decided it might be ok to go to her. He called and she still had our appointment held for us for this morning (God-cidentally).
He called me afterward and said he cried the ENTIRE time. He said he used like 20 tissues. He said he had tears and snot running down his face. He said she cried too and that made him feel like he mattered and that she wasn't just in it for the money.
Overall, he said he was exhausted and drained but felt good.
He was super aware of how much help he needed and how broken he is.

(On a sweet note, he said he was able to close his eyes and envision God sitting next to him on a park bench and felt God's sadness and compassion... they sat quietly for a while... he didn't feel condemned or judged. This was the first time and it was all new news to him! That seems like a little - or maybe not so little - breakthrough!)

Then Mr M looked at 2 sober living homes and was very discouraged. He has a couple more to look at, but he is really feeling low to be even LOOKING at this again as a 40+ year old man. (I feel him! I didn't think I would be doing this again as a 40+ year old woman! - Discouraging.)

My own therapy appointment was more low key, after last week's sobfest (my last week was like Mr M's this week). So I didn't go after it as hard and Dr. gave me a pass.
We did talk about my fear of being left or being alone and how I organize my whole life to make sure people don't leave me. I was sharing about a friend who has really been attaching to me and opening up to me and how much I love that and then yet I feel "dirty" because although there is pure, open love for her in it, I could also see a little of my dysfunctional fear peeking through in that if I can make myself essential to her and she NEEDS me, then I will have secured our friendship... my value in her life assures me I won't get left. I HATE seeing/realizing that. Ugh!!!!!!! (And of course, I couldn't help but relating that back to Mr. M - if I am in a position where he depends on me, he will always come back to me. Shoot!)

Again, it sometimes feels like 2 steps forward, 3 steps back...

Monday, October 31, 2011

He's out - Day 1

I didn't hear from Mr. M all day yesterday then all day today. So I didn't know if he was actually getting out or not or if he did and drank or __________.
He called around 4:30 saying he was on his way over and he hoped that was OK.
He got a ride from an alumni of the hospital.
He wanted to come and get his van and pack a few things.
I said sure, but it was weird timing because it was Halloween and the kids were home and I didn't know how they would feel about it.
Girlie said "Aw, hell no!!!" and I didn't even scold her.
Drummer took her to get a birthday present for a friend and then dropped her off at another friend's to trick-or treat.

Mr. M came by. He said he wasn't calling me because he didn't want to bug me. I told him I was OBSESSED so it was impossible to bug me... I waited around like a freak for his call. His assumption that I was rejecting him was based in fantasy, not reality.
He found the wadded up shorts & underwear that he peed in a couple weeks ago. I had left them in a pile by his work bench. He was embarrassed when he asked what they were and I told him.
He showered and packed some things and discovered his battery died so he had to hang around longer than expected.
I reiterated that my intention in having him not come home was not a punishment. It was a mental health move for him and for me. I was going to be a controlling, policing freak-wad and he needed to work a program on his own and not have me bossing him around and working his program. He seemed like he even kind of agreed.
He talked to the kids and hugged them and apologize.
He was choking back tears the whole time.
He didn't want to cry but couldn't help it.
I hugged him and said feelings are healing.
He said it was hard to let himself have them... it is not how he was raised.

I was sad to have him leave but I was already giving him advice and trying to monitor his moves and sniffing him (was that booze I smelled???).
He went to an AA meeting and then went to stay at his friend's house (a different AA friend).
He is supposed to go to counseling tomorrow morning then go check out a sober living house the go spend some time at his sponsor's house.
If he doesn't drink, maybe that will happen.

He says he has NO DESIRE to drink right now.
G O S H how I want to believe that so much every time.
OUCH it is so heartbreaking to discover anew each time that he has drunk again.
I am such an eternal optimist... and/or an eternal moron.

Getting out Today

Our awesome (NOT) insurance plan (Blue Shield of CA PPO plan) only covers acute detox and no substance abuse programs or anything, so Mr. M's coverage ends today. They have not let him use the phone at all in the Recovery Unit so he is getting out with no place to go. That is so frustrating because it set them up for failure, in my opinion. He is going to get out and be basically sitting on the curb with his bag and no ride and no place to go.

It is taking EVERYTHING in me to not jump in and "fix" it!
I could so easily call around and find a place.
I could go pick up up or find a ride.
I am scared that when he gets out he will feel so alone and scared and discouraged and his shame will be at peak level along with his abandonment and anxiety that the only solution to his fragile emotions and mind may seem like a drink.
But if he wants to stop drinking bad enough, he will figure it out. (He can call AA friends or even AA central office and ask for help.)
On the other hand, if he wants to drink, he will ALWAYS find or manufacture a reason to drink, even if there isn't one... so in this case, he won't have to work hard to manufacture it.
I remind myself that "fixing" it only fuels the fire and prolongs the behavior.
He is a big boy.
He got himself into this mess.
He can get himself out - if he chooses.
Sooooooooooooooo hard for a person who gets her self-esteem from being needed and from saving and rescuing to NOT jump in and "make it all better". It is only from years of trying to do that and SEEING the fruitlessness of it that I am able to hold myself back.

I'll keep you posted.
xo

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hospital, Round 1 and "WIFFM"

He was checked in to the hospital Saturday night. I tried calling on Sunday night to get an update about his health; is his pain pancreatitis? liver? or what? Of course, no one would talk to me because of privacy laws. They said I would have to come down. I didn't necessarily PLAN on going to the hospital.

(Although "T" had been scaring me into thinking he might DIE, so I should go. Now, don't get me wrong, I am absolutely aware he could die. I think that is why I was so heartbroken and horrified when I dropped him off at the motel... I knew he could very well not emerge. I think I was saying a possibly permanent goodbye. This realization was helped along by the fact that I was reading this blog about a wife's insidious loss of her husband to the disease of alcoholism. I really believed he could indeed HAVE pancreatitis. And if now he isn't quite ready to die, it is only a matter of time.)

After not being able to get ANY information ("We cannot confirm or deny if we have a patient by that name her..."), I finally had to drive the 20 minutes to the hospital. I went back and forth as to whether I would visit him or not.
The receptionist connected me with the case manager who said she couldn't help me.
She sent me to the nurses station.
I went to the nurses station and they were dismissive. I told them I needed to complete a form to enable me to get information about my husband when I called.
They told me to go hang out in my husband's room and they would get to me as soon as they could.
I sighed with resignation... I guess I would be visiting Mr. M.

I went into his room and he had disconnected his IV and fluid was pouring onto the floor. He did this because he wanted to go to the bathroom and when he started to walk there, his hand was jerked back painfully because he was connected to an IV. Rather than having the mental wherewithal to unplug the machine from the wall and roll it with him to the bathroom, he just undid the connecting tube and flung it on the floor. In my 5 hours I spent with him, he did something similar to this 4 or more times! He was as surly and belligerent and obnoxious on dilaudid as he is on alcohol. By giving this to him, the nurses were only harming themselves!

The nurses were SO annoyed with him - and I don't blame them... he was being a pain... and I was the only one who could control him. With me we was more docile and controllable... it seemed mine was the only voice who could penetrate the haze. (Several nurses and staff thanked me for being there and controlling him.) This was frustrating and yet gratifying. Because I am SICK with the "disease" of codependency, MY ego and my grandiosity kind of LIKE that he needs me... I am the only one who can help him... he loves me in a way he loves no one else. I am not proud of it, in fact, I am embarrassed to admit it, but if I was completely honest, it is true. There HAS to be a "WIFFM" for spouses of alcoholics to stay (a "whats in it for me"). We might be kind and loving people, but we are NOT that noble of sufferers. We are NOT "Mother Theresa". There HAS to be a payoff. Maybe we get self-esteem from being a "Savior" or a Rescuer. Maybe we like that WE are the only ones they need. There are many reasons a codependent stays. On the surface, it is usually the nice or good or loving things:
"I said for better or worse. I can't just stay for the "better" part and leave for the "worst", can I?"
"He/she is my spouse... I OWE them that"
"What about the children?"
"I am obeying my God/Religion... I am not allowed to divorce"

Whatever our reasons, it doesn't really matter... I think what matters is HONESTY. Not even to others (yet), but can we begin to REALLY be honest with ourselves about what staying does for us???

I really noticed how much I snapped into all my old behaviors instantly. I picked up right where I left off. If alcoholism is a progressive disease, sheesh!, so is codependency. I started following him around, monitoring him, crying, manipulating, sneaking around and dumping out the bottles I found stashed. All my motives are not selfish and yucky... I was going to save him and me and our family. I didn't want to be left again... I didn't want the kids to have to go through this. But if "reality is my friend" (a new wisdom I am trying to incorporate into my life), then I need to admit and acknowledge what my WIFFMs are...

More later.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Motel Round 1 of ___?

I am PRAYING there are not more rounds at the motel, but the way Mr. M drinks, it is unlikely. He is in the hospital for round 2 now but I need to back track a little to explain how he got there from here.

I had dropped him off at the $45 a night motel (this is the type of motel I drive by all the time when I am in this area and think WHO stays there????, well, now I know!). I TRIED not to call him because he was making his choice. I think I broke down and called him once and it went to voice mail and another time and he answered. What pointless calls. Why did it still meet such a need in me to call? And yet it was SO unfulfilling.
After that HE called ME once or twice a day to check in and tell me he was alive. I waited on pins and needles for these calls. Every time I would eventually ask "Are you still wanting to drink or do you want to go get some help?" and he would slur that he still wanted to drink more. I told him when he was ready, I would come get him and take him to the hospital.

He was having excruciating pain in his stomach my friend "T" had me convinced it was acute pancreatitis (which it absolutely could've been). This can be deadly or have otherwise horrific long-term consequences.

He checked in on wednesday morning and finally, on Friday, he started talking about maybe being ready to go... not because he wanted to stop drinking, but because he was in so much pain. (I was not encouraged that this would actually result in sobriety... it felt too soon.) He said he was getting ready to go but didn't know WHO would take him.
I had offered multiple times yet he was still doing that "hinting around" thing. So my thinking was, he either didn't hear me, in which case I am not obligated OR he is manipulating and wanting me to offer again instead of just asking. Either way, I was no longer super into going. I didn't want to go into that hotel room with the cockroaches he said were everywhere. I did not want to have to gather all his stuff. I did not want to see him like that (or SMELL him like that!) I did not want to worry about him barfing in the car. It just all sounded like something I did not want to put myself through.

I told him his AA friend Tweb would come get him. I called Tweb because Mr. M's phone was dying (ENABLING!) and Tweb and a buddy went to get him and took him to the hospital. He went and - because of the pain - was checked in to the normal "Med/Surge" floor and was given dilaudid for pain (do you give a drunk an ultra strong narcotic???!!!). I tried to call and check his status and they would NOT talk to me over the phone. I didn't want to have to go there, but I did want to know they were testing him for pancreatitis. It is SO hard to strike the balance between 'tough love' and wisdom... I certainly haven't struck it yet.

But I DO have to say I am proud of myself that I arrived so quickly and firmly at the decision and have stuck to my guns while still managing to be (mostly) loving and kind.