Check in

So it has been awhile since my last post–usually a sign that things are going well. And they are. B will hit 6 months sober in a couple of weeks. It will be a great birthday gift for me. We just got back from a trip to Seattle where we had one afternoon of mild conflict, but worked our way through it–far differently than we would have a year ago, or even 6 months ago. Otherwise, we had a great time. He has finally quit his job which will make both our lives easier. He’s going to do some writing and undertake some projects around the house. It is hard to believe how far we’ve come. It’s very exciting and so much fun. I’m so thankful.


Navigating sobriety

So it’s been about 3 months since my last post. The good news is that B is still sober–approaching 4 months now. And things overall are great. We’ve made a lot of progress; he is doing really well and life is good. The bad news is that there are still times when his behavior is straight out of his alcoholic playbook.

After he checked himself into detox in early March, he took another 2 months off from work. I had no problem with him doing that and he was great about getting a bunch of projects done, taking care of the house, and taking care of me. We talked about him leaving his job since it was encouraging conduct that was ethically questionable and made him depressed. We agreed that if his sobriety at all was at risk after he returned, he could quit and we would figure things out. I started thinking about how to manage financially on just my income which we really should be able to do. But any time I’d start suggesting ways to cut back, which usually suggested cable, for instance, he’d get super pissed and act like a child: “Fine! I won’t quit.” Or he’d want to cut back charitable contributions which is pretty hard for me to stomach. We had a lot. And the people/organizations we give to have so little. So it’s hard for me to say to someone who works at a non-profit we give to that, sorry your insurance was cut and you make squat to begin with to do amazing helpful things for people, but B can’t be expected to give up Netflix and HBO so we’re going to have to cut our contributions. Sorry.

We recently started marriage counseling–more prophylactically than anything else. But we have enough chips stacked against us that we could use all the resources we can find. I asked that if he was going to quit his job that we do so very conscientiously, with the assistance of our therapist so we do so in a way that is sustainable and that doesn’t bring about resentments. I work my ass off in a job I usually like, but I expect him to be productive in some way. And I’d like those parameters understood on the front end. At our last session almost 3 weeks ago, the plan was to create a budget and start living on it as if B were not working. Despite my repeated attempts, I don’t think he has looked at the budget once except for time I was on the couch with him and made him look at it. So that is irritating.

He turned 40 on Saturday and we had a great party. But a few people came up to me and said, “So, B is quitting his job this week, huh?” Which was news to me. I had understood that he was going to talk to a contact in HR that talked other jobs that would not be as likely to have the ethical issues he has with his current boss. (He has already reported these issues to HR, but nothing really seems to be changing). If there were no jobs, he would quit soon. But I didn’t think we had worked through the process where we were ready to take that final step yet.

The day after the party, I said to him that I didn’t really think we had gotten to the point where he was just going to quit. We hadn’t worked out our plan with our therapist yet and it did not make a lot of sense for a 40-year old, healthy man to not work anymore. Despite hating his job for 3 years, he has made no effort to find another job. I don’t even really care if he doesn’t get paid. I would love to see him write. There are plenty of things he could do that could be productive in some way, but he doesn’t take any initiative to do any of them. I made clear that if he needed to quit his current job because it was ethically challenging, then he should do so. But that that didn’t mean he got to “retire” for good. And what was his response? After he initially seemed to have heard and understood me, he choose to POUT THE ENTIRE FUCKING REST OF THE DAY. By the end of the night, he used some very course words with me that were entirely uncalled for. He eventually apologized, but only after I went downstairs where he was.

This week, I was supposed to be on vacation. I had lunch with a friend planned (an Al-Anon friend actually) and a client needed something so I agreed to go in for a call. The result: some shit blew up, I had one of the worst days of my career thanks to a fuck up of someone who works for me, but that I nevertheless have to take the fall for, and I had to cancel lunch with my friend. Other than some almonds I had at my desk at 4pm, I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. On our way home, the plan was that we were going to eat the leftover pizza we had from the party (after all the meat went up in 6-foot flames on the grill and B had to use the fire extinguisher to put out the fire–but that is for another post). Instead, when we get home, he decides he needs to take a nap. A FUCKING NAP! It’s my goddamn vacation, I didn’t have lunch, he’s supposed to make dinner, and he needs a nap. When I question his need for a nap, up goes the alcholic walls and out comes the guy who is impossible to have a conversation with. He then leaves to go his ONE AA meeting for the week. I tried mentioning it to him that our every-other weekend meltdowns that he likes to attribute to me getting “emotional” might have more to do with the fact that its been 5-6 days since he’s been to a meeting, but that does not seem to have registered. And what does he do tonight? Comes home and SKIPS THE GODDAMN MEETING. Because that will help.

It is so frustrating at times. It is just awesome–AWESOME–that he is still sober. I am so fucking proud of him. He has worked so hard and I am just thrilled for him. But FUCK! It is just unbearable when I see that irrational, unjustifiable attitude rearing its head just like he had a drink in his hand. The selective listening of hearing only what he doesn’t want to hear or what he does want to hear, depending on the situation. The inability to have a wife who shows emotion without assuming it is all about him.

I want to go upstairs–WHERE HE IS FUCKING LAYING DOWN AGAIN–and just scream at him. People don’t do this!!! People don’t just lie down every time the world doesn’t go exactly the way the want. The rest of us have freaking commitments to friends and families and our spouses that MEAN SOMETHING. They aren’t just promises and obligations that are there for us to break when we want. Only alcoholics and narcissists do this!  It is so frustrating to think that despite the fact that he has stopped drinking, he now will have to learn how sober people act and treat one another. Another freaking thing I have to be patient about. FUCK!!!

But progress is being made. Instead of going upstairs and screaming at him like I probably would have a year ago, I am going upstairs to get my Al-Anon book and heading to a meeting. After that, maybe I’ll yell at him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A new start

Since my last post, when I was leaving to go my sister’s a lot has happened–almost all of it good. I stayed at my sister’s place on that Sunday night and Monday night. That Tuesday, B stayed home from work and got hammered. I had stopped home in the afternoon thinking I could spend some time with our dog when he was at work. That didn’t work so well. But later that night, he told me that he wanted to check into the hospital for detox. I told him I was going to a 7:30pm Al-Anon meeting but I’d be happy to drive him there when I was back.

On the way to the hospital, he got the hiccups which was hilarious to me. He sounded like a complete drunken stereotype. When we got to the ER for his intake, he let me in to hear everything. I kept teasing him about his hiccups and we kind of laughed and teased each other about various things. The ER nurse at one point said: “You two are funny. Most people who come here are pretty tense.”

I stayed with him while the doctor came in and checked him. When he asked B if he felt any pain, B answered, “No. They checked my numbers at treatment last year and they were great; my liver is good.” The doctor stepped back and sternly said to him: “You’re liver is damaged. I don’t care what the numbers showed. No one can drink the amount of alcohol you’ve had for this many years without having liver damage. If you don’t stop drinking, you will die.” That brought tears to my eyes and he turned to me and said, “I’m sorry, was that too blunt?” I shook my head and said no, we needed to hear it. When he left, B was a bit shaken. I told him, “When my mom and dad were exactly our ages they were told my dad had a liver disease that he would die from. It doesn’t have to be that way for you.”

B got out of the hospital the following Friday. He’s taking another 2-month leave from work. He started going to 3 meetings a day and tried to find a sponsor. He found a guy he was excited about, but the next day, the guy started pushing some weird church on him. He had a bit of a crisis, but instead of drinking, he called another AA friend. He started writing again and updating a small group of close friends on how he is doing each day. He’s finding some “balance” in his life, as he puts it.

He’s been sober for 6 weeks and a day. He even got his 30-day chip–finally. He’s sharing more and being far more open with people at AA. The last 6 weeks have been awesome. Actually, during that time, came down with a vicious cold and asthma attack that landed me in the ER. At the same time, work was crazy and I felt like crap for 2 weeks. But even then, I could not recall being happier.

We’ve been praying together each day. In fact, we started doing that about a week before he checked himself into the hospital. I don’t think that was a coincidence. Life is good–one day at a time.


temporary(?) leaving

I finally decided to leave B for a week and see how this goes. And oddly enough, he wasn’t even drinking today. But we had a rough night on Friday. We went to a concert that we were both looking forward to and when he came back from the break between the opening act and the headliner, he clearly had been drinking. When I called him on it (discretely), he got extremely upset and stormed out. And he remained angry all night, blaming me and telling me it was all my fault. I was able to detatch and told him that everything that happened that night was because of his own choices–his choice to drink and then to leave the show. He was so livid because he was “really looking forward to the show.” I couldn’t help but remind him that there had been countless things that I had looked forward to over the past 2 years that I had to enjoy without his company, but at least I chose to do them anyway. Other than that comment, I generally did not take the bait and was able to remain rather serene during the whole process. The Hail Marys I said outloud the way home (we drove separately) did wonders.

And while I remained calm and didn’t take the bait on Friday, the whole thing sort of broke me. I’m so tired. I had to work all day yesterday and I stayed there later than I planned so I could accomplish some things, but also so I didn’t have to be at home. I spoke to him on the phone and he said he was wrestling with the “four horsemen.” I told him that I needed some time to myself and that I wanted our bedroom to myself when I got home. I got home at 8pm, watched the first 2 episodes of Downton Abby. When I woke up, I watched the rest of the first season.

But when I eventually went downstairs, I picked the same fight that I have picked for over a year now. I desperately want him to get his shit together. And even though he wasn’t drinking, he wasn’t doing a damn thing to keep it that way. I had hoped that Friday night’s debacle would be a game changer, but apparently not. So I decided I had to change the game myself. I’m staying with my sister this week. I hope this will be good for both of us. It can’t be good for him for me to be trying to take charge of his recovery, no matter how much I say to myself that I won’t. So I hope this will help him too. But if I’m honest, the real reason I am doing this is for me. I need some time away so I can better try to let things/him go. Plus, I just need some time to rest and get some strength back. This has sucked up just about everything I have.

I know that alcholics have it hard because they have the physical craving for alcohol. But when it comes to the obsession of the mind, the alcoholic can choose to live in a house free of alcohol. The al-anoner must try to both manage and live with her obsession. Right now, I cannot do both. Hopefully, with some time, patience, and prayer, I will be able to again.


2012–so far better than 2011

So far, this year is far better than last year. B pulled it together on Christmas Eve, went to two meetings, and FINALLY found a sponsor. He had one slip last weekend, but hopped back on the horse and is doing great. We had a phenomenal Christmas, a lovely new year, and so far, our year has been wonderful. I’m looking forward to 2012. But I’m also grateful for all I learned in 2011.


Letting go…

How do you let go of your marriage? Or your alcoholic husband? Or the dreams you had of what your life together would be like? Because I need to do that. I need to stop getting my hopes up that things are going to change. I need to accept that B has no intention of going to AA as many times as he needs, of getting a sponsor, of working a program. I feel like he is in the middle of the ocean and treading water. And every once in awhile he’ll go to a meeting like he’s coming up for one last breath that will keep him alive just a little bit longer. But he chooses to go back under, rather than swim for the life preserver. And from there, be pulled into the rescue dingy. And then tugged onto the coast guard boat and brought into the harbor. And then dock the boat, step off the boat to dry land, and walk up the hill far away from the water. And then over time perhaps move inland. Why do that when I can just keep treading water until a shark finally gets me or I just drown?

He looks at everything on such a micro level. “What, so I didn’t go to one meeting. What’s the big deal?” Ignoring, of course, for the last fucking year it’s been a series of “one” missed meeting after another.

I finally told him that I am preparing to divorce him because I don’t see any indication from him that he’s willing to do all the things he always says he will do–go to meetings, get a sponsor, etc. His response? Doesn’t seem to care much. So if he doesn’t. Why should I? But I do. I care more than anything. How do I fucking stop caring? How do I let go of this mess and let God do it?

If alcoholism had a neck, I’d fucking throttle it right now.


Honey baby

So apparently the term “tar baby” is racist so I don’t want to use that, but the concept of getting more and more entangled in something the more I fight it is one I need. So maybe “honey baby” is the way to go. It suggests getting tied up in something sweet–which of course B can be sometimes. But we all know that honey can cause a huge freaking mess too. It gets all over everything and just when you think you’ve cleaned it off you, you find a patch somewhere that mucks you up again. That is what it is like dealing with an alcoholic spouse.

If I had my way, I would tell B that I am drawing a boundary and that I don’t want to be around him in any meaningful way until he starts going to meetings regularly and starts seeing or calling a sponsor. But it is kind of hard to draw that boundary with his sister’s family coming down tonight and a bunch of people coming over tomorrow.

So the question is, how to stay sane in the meantime? Unlike AA where there are a ton of meetings going on, there are not nearly as many Al-Anon meetings. Plus, many of the regular ones will be cancelled with the holiday I imagine. I’m going to try a pod cast and see how that goes.

 


Bitch

I feel like one today and I don’t like it.

Yesterday, B and I spent the morning in the ER where he had a battery of neurological tests after his right leg kept giving out on him. They didn’t find anything, but he has to go back next week for most tests. All I could think of is that we are the same ages of my mom and dad when my dad died–38 and 39. While we were there, I got an email from my brother that he and his wife learned that they had lost their baby today at their appointment. It was heartbreaking. This is the second baby they’ve lost, and we are heartbroken for them. But we are so grateful for my nephew. I spoke to S last night and he sounded good, but my mom told me that he broke down when he called her to tell her. I hate the thought of anyone I love hurting.

B decided last night that he was too exhausted to go to AA, but he claimed he was going to listen to an AA podcast. He didn’t. He slept in this morning and didn’t have time for a walk with H. When I asked what his plans were for tonight, he didn’t mention an AA meeting. His sister and family are arriving tonight so my fear is that he won’t go. I don’t want to think about a weekend with him going without a meeting. And he hasn’t bothered to call a temporary sponsor like he said he would last weekend.

I find myself here pissed that he slept in, pissed that he didn’t make the bed, pissed that the house is a freaking mess, pissed that he didn’t go for a walk. But none of that stuff really matters. And how can I be so petty when we still don’t know if there is anything seriously wrong with him? What I’m really pissed off about is that he’s not taking his recovery seriously. And we’re going to go through the same pattern as before. He blows off meetings and eventually, he’s going to pick up a drink. But I can’t say anything about it. I’ve learned that’s a guarantee that he’ll head to the bar. So I need to find a way to set my boundaries and let him know that he can skip all the AA meetings he wants. But I don’t necessarily have to be around him. Not an easy boundary to set when we have 14 people coming over tomorrow for Thanksgiving.

I guess I’ll just pray I can let go of these resentments that are building. And I’ll pray for a peaceful Thanksgiving for my family. Sometimes if just helps to write things here.


Groundhog Day addendum

This is what I wrote about 15 minutes ago on the previous blog entry:

“What is so hard is that if he were to come in here, be himself and just say, “I’m sorry. I’m struggling. I’ve called J and talked to him,” I’d be fine. All would be forgiven. My anger would melt away. But the longer he acts like a dick, shuts me out, and suggests I don’t have a right to my feelings, the more I question whether we will make it. And that is what scares and angers me most of all.”

About 5 minutes later, this is the text conversation that occurred:

B: I apologize for the mean look this morning. That was uncalled for and I am sorry.”

A: Thanks. Apology acceped.

B: I will get on the horn with J [temporary sponsor/AA friend].

***

So that’s a positive sign. And my anger is dissolving. I’m still going to stay in bed. Being married to an alcoholic can be really tiring.


Groundhog Day

For the second week in a row, I came home from New York to find B off the wagon. Again. When I got home, he was the one that wanted to sit down and talk. He told me how he’d relapsed and was going to call a friend to be a temporary sponsor. And when I asked, he confessed that he hadn’t gone to his meeting on Thursday like he told me he had. And he hadn’t gone yesterday morning either.

I didn’t yell. I didn’t cry. I nudged his leg with my foot and tried to be understanding while at the same time processing that for the upteenth time I had to explain why he was bailing on our friends that night. It was one of our good friend’s 40th birthday and I had to go by myself. Again. When I’d ask questions about whether he went to a meeting he’d lied to me about–and seriously, I doubt this entire conversation took 5 minutes–he’d act all bent out of sorts like I was being such a burden on him and that I had no right to ask questions. I  told him I wasn’t angry that he drank, but I was angry that he didn’t go to his meeting on Thursday. Per his usual m.o., he went upstairs to watch tv in the guest room–or perhaps more accurately, curl up in a ball in the guest room with the tv on. All I wanted to do was to take a nap but when I went into our room, he’d stripped the sheets. At this point, I lost it.

In reflecting back on it, I think I swung to the far side of the pendulum by trying not to be so angry at him. I know my temper can freak him out–although I get over being angrier faster than anyone I know so long as I can address it–so I tried to keep it in check. But what I’m realizing, it is not just my temper that bothers him, but just my being angry at him. I realize that I don’t necessarily have to yell and scream; I’ve tried to be better about that. But what put me over the edge yesterday (and into yelling and screaming territory) is that I’m realizing he doesn’t even want me to be angry. Or sad. Or hurt. Or disappointed. Or scared. He doesn’t want these consequences to his actions. But I have a right to be angry, sad, disappointed, hurt, and scared. And while I don’t want those emotions to take over my life, I cannot pretend that they are not there. They’re there. And I should be able to express them. Maybe I don’t need to yell and scream (although, maybe sometimes I do). But he can’t ask me to not feel them. And he doesn’t have a right to not express them. I can express them more productively; I don’t have to yell and scream all the time. But I should be able to say to him, “B, I am angry with you.” If he can’t deal with that, then that is on him. Still hard to find where that line between what is on me and what is on him.

Sometimes I think I try to be the perfect Al-Anon wife–be detached, don’t get sucked into his madness, be compassionate, try to understand that he is hurting, etc. But I can’t do it all the time. I called my sponsor yesterday. Before I left for dinner, I went into his room and spooned him and told him I loved him–trying to be compassionate, loving, and understanding of his shame. But when I got home last night, he didn’t speak to me. He just sat on the couch watching hockey. I went to bed and he slept in the guest room. But not before coming into our room long after I was asleep, making a racket trying to get his medicine, and deliberately leaving the hall light on, making it all light in here. Bottom line: he’s acting like a complete dick. This morning, he passed me in the hall and then just looked away. He left while I was doing yoga almost 2 hours ago and I haven’t seen him since. I thought he was going grocery shopping but now I think he’s probably somewhere drinking.

I’ve decided to spend the day in bed. At least until I feel like getting up. I have the local paper and the NY Times. I have the book I’m reading and a bunch of magazines that arrived while I was gone. Maybe I’ll sleep. I never do this. I always feel I have to be doing something productive. Fuck that today. I’m taking care of me. I’m going to pray some more. Maybe I’ll blog some more. And then maybe I’ll go to an Al-Anon meeting tonight.

What is so hard is that if he were to come in here, be himself and just say, “I’m sorry. I’m struggling. I’ve called J and talked to him,” I’d be fine. All would be forgiven. My anger would melt away. But the longer he acts like a dick, shuts me out, and suggests I don’t have a right to my feelings, the more I question whether we will make it. And that is what scares and angers me most of all.