Monday, October 31, 2011
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.
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.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
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...
Friday, October 28, 2011
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.
I am jumping ahead to current.
A few days ago, Mr. M checked himself out of the hospital and went to an AA friend's house.
This worried me greatly but at least it was a sober person and Mr M DID go to an AA meeting with him.
I talked to him on the phone and his brain seemed muddled and he was slurring his words.
I thought he sounded like he was drinking.
But I couldn't see him or smell him and I thought the alcoholic he was living with and the guys at the meeting would pick up on it if he was.
So I was thinking his brain had been severely harmed by all the drinking and I was praying with a little time he would dry out and his brain would come back.
As HORRIFYING as it was to discover he was still drinking, it was kind of a relief and made more sense.
His friends came and took him and dropped him off back at the hospital.
I did not think this was the best move... I thought he should go back to the motel if he was not done drinking.
I know this SOUNDS cold-hearted. And I even FEEL a bit mean.
But we are only prolonging this binge by softening or delaying his bottom.
I want him to hit it and hit it good and hard. (But PLEASE live!)
He called from the ER last night (drunk). I should've been polite and wrapped it up, but I talked to him. He was saying there is no point in going on.
I told him that it was worth having the last 3.5 great years with him. He said it wasn't. I told him it WAS: our family trip to the capitol, our son Hacker's wedding, our catamaran trip to the Caribbean, Girlie's Jr. High graduation, Drummer's high school graduation. He got to part of all that, and we got to have him there! If he could get sober and get 3 MORE years before a relapse, maybe he could experience Drummer's wedding and Bub & Girlie's highschool graduations etc.
Even though he was drunk, he actually seemed to kind of grasp onto that.
He said "You have never said that before... that makes me feel hopeful."
I have no idea if he will even REMEMBER that this morning... but maybe it was just enough for him to not kill himself last night.
I mean, this is TERRIBLE, but it is just a relapse.
It doesn't have to last for the rest of our lives or even for years.
He COULD be back on track and get a few more wonderful years under his belt.
I thought when I got him out of the house, I would feel relieved.
And I did.
But I also felt heartbroken and very scared.
I walked into our lovely home and PROFOUNDLY felt his absence... as if he had died.
All I could see was Mr. M NOT there.
I MISSED him...
I mean we had only just gotten back from 2 blissful weeks in hawaii alone together. (Granted, the were overshadowed by the fact that he had had a small relapse, but it had do SEEMED like he might bounce right back, and I was willing to believe the best.)
I hadn't had a chance to tell the kids because they were at school and so they didn't get to see him go or say goodbye. What if he DIED???
I walked around in a daze.
I thought of him constantly.
I cried at the drop of a hat. (In FRONT of people!!! - this is new for me!!!)
My friends brought meals and muffins and lattes... they called and texted and ran by the grocery store for me and came over to visit.
I felt very loved and cared for.
And yet, my obsession with Mr. M still dominated.
All those loving gestures couldn't cure him or save him or make him sober up.
Many well-meaning people ask questions like:
"what triggered this?"
"have you told him how HARD this is for you and the kids?"
"why doesn't he just stop?"
"why don't you let him stay at home?"/"why don't you kick him out?"
"what are you going to do now?"
"how come he won't go to counseling?"
"where is his sponsor? why isn't he helping to keep him sober?"
"have you had his dad/mom/pastor/sponsor/kids/dog try to talk some sense into him?"
"why don't you make him go to a meeting?"
This disease is so "cunning, baffling, and powerful" that is is SOOOOOOO tough to wrap your brain around it. And these questions, while completely sensible for some circumstances are not viable for alcoholism. But allow me to at least address some of the to the best of my ability.
We don't know what triggered it or how long it has been building up. It could've been building for months & months or he could've just decided he wanted to drink. I don't know the trigger... and he does not either.
When he is sober, he is completely aware of how HEINOUS this is for all of his loved ones and he cannot CONCEIVE of a day when he would EVER want to drink again. But when he is in the drink, he ONLY thinks of himself and his booze... he is incapable of stopping.
He doesn't stop because he wants to drink more.
Why? Well, initially, when he begins drinking, it must be because of feelings he has that he doesn't want to feel or thinks he will die if he feels. ("Ease and comfort", the Big Book says.)
After he starts drinking it is because of the "ism"... the disease... the phenomenon of craving starts and he cannot stop until he is good and done. I cannot make him. Threats, pleading, crying, punishing, manipulating, etc. cannot make him (BELIEVE ME, I have tried & tried these, over & over - hahaha < sad laughter).
Letting him stay is harmful for me and the kids and only enables him to drink safely and happily for a longer period of time... I would like to hasten the arrival of his misery and allow him to hit bottom quicker. I kick him out when I can't tolerate it any more... this is getting sooner and sooner. But I will do it when I have the strength or when I am 'done' enough. (When I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.)
What am I going to do now?
Sheesh! I have no idea. I do not like my plans to be so tied to him... I don't want to be so reactionary. But I don't have a choice. I mean I will go on living. I am going to football games to cheer on the boys. I am going to school plays and xcountry meets. I am going out to lunch and Bible study. I am trying to work and earn a living and to meet the kids' needs. I am going to therapy to try to get healthy. I am trying to get a good nights sleep and to stay current on my dr visits.
Today, I have 2 choices:
I can leave him for good - I am not quite there yet. I am not sure what my tolerance is.
Or I can stay and let him ride this out while he decides to either "get busy living or get busy dying"
He & I have been doing marriage counseling. He does not want to go alone. I cannot make him.
Sponsors are a resource for alcoholics who WANT to stay sober. You call them and follow direction and work the steps with them if you want to stay sober. If you want to drink, a Sponsor is not going to stop you... they will tell you to call them when you are done... and "have fun while you're out there". A relapse reminds all the sober alcoholics why they don't drink. An alcoholic who DIES from the disease REALLY reminds them.
Everyone who has ever met him has tried to talk sense into him.
Read all the paragraphs above.
I can't MAKE him go to meetings... but even if I could, I can't MAKE him sit in the meeting and suddenly WANT to be sober. He knows the promises of AA and all the gifts of being sober and working the program and he still chooses to drink. He will stop when he is done. That could be when he dies, goes to jail, goes insane, gets in a car crash, kills someone else, passes out on the side of the road and gets picked up by cops, has severe pain or health consequences that frighten him badly enough, when I leave him, when there isn't a payoff emotionally or physically any more. At SOME point, if he lives long enough, he will likely stop. Although, many people die of their disease and only then do they stop.
He will be quick to tell you it is not a moral issue or a character issue... it is a disease.
I kind of get that, but his choices have moral implications.
When my husband is drinking he is the most selfish, self-absorbed, narcissistic human being I have EVER met. The kids and I do not even exist. It is just him and his sadness and his hurt and his shame and his fear and "the kids hate me, whats' the point of living" and "if I go back to a meeting, I am going to have to identify as a newcomer". Waaa Waaaa Waaaa.
He never thinks of anyone but himself.
If (when???) he sobers up, I am going to have to pay attention to see if this is maybe always how he is and I just don't notice because he has so many"good" behaviors...
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Mr M started drinking on Sunday and it went from bad to worse FAST.
AA says it is a "progressive disease", meaning it is always in progression. It doesn't go back and start at square one, it picks up where it left off.
So Mr. M couldn't hide it and secretly drink for months or years like he used to be able to... he couldn't work and play-act like he used to.
He was "skid row bum" drunk within 24 hours.
He was weeping and telling our kids all his regrets about raising them.
He repeated his stories 5, 6, 7 times each.
He slurred his words.
He got angry, belligerent, and aggressive.
At 3Am, he picked up the coffee table and made as if to throw it at me (after throwing a bag of chips down the hall at me, flinging them all throughout the hall). When Drummer (age 21) came in and tried to intervene (because dad was load and angry and it woke him from a sound sleep), Mr. M turned on him and started kind of lunging at him and threatening him. Drummer left the house and ran down the street. I calmed Mr. M down by reasoning that he should be proud that Drummer was trying to protect me, his mom. Mr. M kind of went for it and calmed down. This was all on night TWO!
He proceeded to stumble down the hall and run into walls, get up and down repeatedly during the night, mumbling, thrashing about, crying, complaining, SCREAMING and groaning with pain in his stomach, eating everything in the fridge and cupboards at all hours. He PEED HIS PANTS on the sofa and Bub (18) saw it and burst into tears.
Mr M went into the backyard to kick off his wet pants then proceeded to walk around naked then entering the kitchen and eating a meal naked. He eventually tried to put on fresh underpants but kept falling over and putting 2 legs in one hole. I eventually offered to help to which he grudgingly responded "Yea, please".
I told him this was not good for the kids and would he please leave and go get a motel room and do his drinking. He told me to F**k myself and that it was HIS house too... he is on the deed... he helps pay for it. He told me to call the "F-ing cops" because what are they going to do;
"Mr M, are you drunk?"
"Yep! And there is not an f-ing thing you can do about it... I am a grown man, drunk in my own house... so f**k off, Pig."
The next morning, when he sobered up a little, before he embarked on the day's drinking, he felt a little bad and said he would leave. I was relieved. I left to therapy thinking we would deal with that when I returned. When I came back, he was three-sheets-to-the-wind (is that saying??? Is it "two sheets"?) and back to telling me I could F**k myself and that it was HIS house too... he is on the deed... he helps pay for it. Call the "F-ing cops" because what are they going to do:
"Mr M, are you drunk?"
"Yep! And there is not an f-ing thing you can do about it... I am a grown man, drunk in my own house... so f**k off, Pig."
And so it goes.
So the NEXT day when he woke up and said he would leave, I had him pack his bags and go right then. He started to walk down the street, but I knew he would just come back later that night and I didn't want that. I had his car keys - confiscated to prevent drunk driving so he would either have to go on foot or I would drive him. I drove him down to a fleabag motel about 20 minutes south. He got out of the car and checked in and I drove away, leaving him to drink.
Possibly to drink himself to death.
We got home from 2 blissful weeks in Hawai'i. He did not drink. I know because I was with him 24 hours a day. We snorkeled and hiked and sun-bathed and swam and explored and drive around and ate and slept and had sex. It was a delightful time. I was hoping SO DEEPLY that this relapse was just going to be a "blip" on the screen and that he could bounce back without having to lose everything, including his 2 year old thriving business.
We got home late friday night. We were up early and off to Girlie's cross country (xcountry) meet. She had said she didn't want us there but when she heard us cheering right before the finish line, she waved. When we hugged her sweaty body after the race, she said "I was looking for you through the whole race and listening for your voice!" (They SAY they don't want you to go, but they don't know what they want!... TEENAGERS! :)
We came home and Bub called to say he and his girlfriend had made it to the finals of the drama festival for their scene from "The Notebook". I decided I would go. I don't know if it was guilt because Dad is drinking, guilt that we had been away for 2 weeks, or the realization that time FLIES and I am almost DONE with active mothering, but I am trying to be there for EVERYTHING. (Probably all of the above.) I have regrets about not being able to do this with the older 2. I didn't have the perspective and I also had 2 little children I was still having to drag around to everything and drive everywhere.
But still, hindsight is 20/20.
I dashed down to the school to see it. Mr. M, Drummer, and Hacker (and the new Mrs. Hacker) joined us and Girlie arrived by bus from her xcountry meet and we ALL got to see their performance... and they WON! The day continued at this busy pace trying to get back on track after being gone for 2 weeks.
Mr. M needed to run a few errands. I wanted to go with him. Heck, we had been together for 14 solid days. I was kind of feeling homesick for him. He thought I wanted to "guard him"... I guess that was also true. I was SO scared to lose him. But I KNOW I can't follow him around and go to work with him and keep him from drinking... but still, I think the impulse is still there.
Sunday, I had to go to a close friend's daughter's wedding. I had to go early to help with centerpieces. I had no sooner walked in the door than Girlie texted "Is dad still drinking?" I told here I didn't think so but asked why she was asking. She said he was acting strange and chewing gum and kind of smelled. I hope I am saving her YEARS of denial and self doubt by telling her what it took Oprah telling me; BELIEVE YOURSELF.
The kids said I didn't need to rush home form the wedding. So I stayed. I felt guilty, but I wanted to be at the wedding for my friend. I wanted to have a fun time before I faced the hell that is my life again. I didn't want to rush home to a drunk husband and an afternoon of misery. So yes, I stayed. I stayed and drank a couple glasses of wine, I took photos in the photo booth and I danced & laughed. I had a fist clenching in the pit of my stomach the whole time (although the wine helped me for get a LITTLE) but I buried my head in the sand like an ostrich for a few hours and pretended all was well.
I came home and the familiar saga began.
I TRIED not to enter into counterproductive behaviors I KNOW better than to do, but I did some of them any way.
I snuck around and followed him and poured out vodka.
Now I am looking up sober living homes and treatment facilities that HE does not care enough to look up. WHY?
I cannot make him care about me and the kids more than the booze.
I cannot keep him sober.
I cannot control him.
I cannot wish him sober.
He has to want it and he has to choose it.
Right now he is choosing sickness.
I have to choose wellness for me.
I am SEEING my obsession.
I am seeing how much my feelings are so very tied to his actions and his choices.
I am seeing how stoic I try to be, carrying on by myself.
I am seeing my behavior patterns that I do even though I know they are not healthy or helpful... I see the payoff for me in these behaviors.
I am still not on speaking terms with his Mom and do not have the energy to coddle and spoon feed his dad. I feel guilty, but I barely have enough energy for myself and the kids.
It always used to take me a long time to see, realize, admit, Mr. M was drinking again. I SO did not want it to be true, but ever since I have my "Oprah Epiphany", I believe myself and not the lying alcoholic. In the past I had been SO willing to think myself crazy and believe HIM over me. But now, I believe ME.
I saw the behaviors leading up to his falling off the wagon. I saw them coming. I pointed out my concern. I offered support, love, and help. He wanted none of it. He was on a collision course for a relapse. Seeing it coming means nothing really because I was powerless to prevent it. It is like having your leg stuck somehow in the railroad track and although you SEE the train barreling down on you, you can do NOTHING to get out of the way.
I feel betrayed and abandoned and believe it or not, I feel SHOCKED. I am not "surprised" per se, but I am still shocked. I have been able to forgive him and give a clean slate and own my own contributions to our dysfunctional patterns and to live as if we are BOTH the issue so that I can forgive him and we can live as 2 equals and move forward without bitterness and"owing". I have HAD to live as if I did not think he would relapse again. Even though it was always a lurking fear, I put it away from me, sealed up tight.
I shouldn't be shocked because I know the old saying "Dogs bark. Drunks drink." Period. And yet...
Monday, October 24, 2011
I haven't been on this blog in a LONG time... and secretly I think I'd hoped I'd NEVER have to be back. I know that can blog on this site even if Mr. M isn't drinking, but I think I was thinking of them as synonymous. He's not drinking so I am not blogging. I hope I don't have to blog again because that would mean he is drinking again.
But I am back, which means... you guessed it... Mr. M relapsed.
I think I saw it coming for about a month. He was stressed, angry, ungrateful, rude, unhappy... and more of these things than his normal self.
I saw it coming and I think I knew it, but didn't want to know it.
I started planning a 2 week vacation right away... not realizing that I was going into 'protect and control' mode, thinking (I think) that I could make him happy and get him recharged and stop it from happening.
He drank (vodka from the bottle) 3 days before leaving for 2 glorious weeks in paradise. Should I cancel? Should I still go?
I still wanted a vacation.
I had already spent the money and was not getting it back.
My husband was drinking and might not make it.
I was still clinging to the fantasy that maybe he would bounce right back and be OK. (Maybe THIS time it would only be a "blip" on the screen.)
In the end, I (we?) still chose to go to Hawaii for 2 weeks. He did not drink the whole time there... so it was a little slice of fantasy that I could cling to for just a little while longer.