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.
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.

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


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


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

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...