Monday, December 22, 2008

This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You

So, it's midnight. I have spent all day and night working either at the office or at home to prepare for our Christmas dinner tomorrow night with my side of the family. To this point, as with every year, I have been the only one to consider presents for the children, food for the meal, decorating the house, sending cards and the like. Husband did ask this morning what he could do to help, but I struggled with trusting him enough to give him a task that I knew he would complete without behaving like a teenager.

Last night after dinner (which is always an ordeal), we were cleaning up dishes and I was singing a Christmas song, snapping my fingers and just being in a holiday mood. Suddenly, husband turns around and says in his very large voice, "Where the f*** did you learn to snap the wrong way with your fourth finger?" For about half a second I looked at him in disbelief, but then my automatic reaction was to laugh. I asked why he cared how I snapped and he said that it really bothers him, and proceeded to give me a laundry list of absurd things that I do that really get under his skin. Again, I was incredulous and thought about defending my seemingly inncuous behaviours when it occured to me - how awful life must be for him if things that other people do can make him so raw.

This might be the first time I truly have pitied the legacy of alcoholism for him. But it also made me face the fact that he is still very deeply entrenched in his anger and fear - and I think that maybe he's just so used to it that it feels more comforting to him than the kids or I do. He used to say that alcohol was his only friend; now that it's gone he seems to have wrapped himself in his pain and fear of facing the real world. It really makes me so sad for him, for the kids and even a little for myself.

I am very literally at a crossroads. I have asked him to get help. I have told him that I won't continue to live this way. In my heart I know he's not really ready to seek out and accept help...hell, he's told me that he has lost his faith in AA and doesn't believe in counseling. So, I have laid out the consequences for not seeking help and now I have to follow through. It's such a familiar's how I feel when I have to discipline the kids and all the while my heart is breaking for causing pain and discomfort for them. But I am afraid for my husband because I think that the only chance we all (himself very much included) have for some peace and sanity is to get some physical distance between us. He's so comfortable in his discomfort that I don't think he'll ever wake up as long as we keep the status quo.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Believe

I have enjoyed for many months now several blogs by folks in recovery in both Al-Anon and AA. As I was perusing blogger today for new sources of wisdom, I wondered if my own blog could be as cathartic as reading about other's experiences. So here I am.

I am a mother to two wonderful children. I am married to an alcoholic. I have a wonderful but stressful career. And last, but certainly not least, my father is an alcoholic who is now in a nursing home.

My experience in the last handful of months can best be described as awakening. It's been both frightening and exhilerating, and I have no idea where it's all going to take me. I want to say that it's OK that I don't know, but the controlling part of me wants very much to know what the next hour, day, week, month, year and lifetime hold for me and the kids. Thankfully, at least part of my brain knows not only does that stuff (i.e., what the future holds) not matter, but that I have very little control over the world in general. Boy, it's tough to really embrace that idea.

It's Christmastime and the stress levels are wicked high. It's all self-imposed, but so much of what I want for my kids are memories of things done together...making cookies, being part of a community at church, helping others. This is where a big part of the anger I have comes in: I resent like hell that I am the only one who cares about doing anything but surviving in my home. My husband hates Christmas, and most other things too, by his own admission.

Husband is just shy of two years of abstinence. I carefully worded that sentence. In my estimation, he is a dry drunk. I'm sure on so many levels that my assesment of his situation is all wrong (as far as taking someone elses inventory), but as I have to live under the same roof and we are all subjected to his behaviour, it is my way of describing where he is in recovery terms. He is angry at the world and has frequent child-like outbursts. This would not be such a large problem, save the fact that he is a stay at home parent to our two smallish kids.

I am most concerned with the effect his anger has on our children. I grew up with a father who drank and still drinks. I am just now seeing how that has changed me. I always knew it was a factor, but I have finally been able to drill down to a very micro level, and to see how insidious this disease is to a family. I do not want my kids to live this way.