I finally spoke to my wife yesterday, the first time I've heard her voice since Sunday when the ambulance took her to the hospital. That's the day I called 9-11 when I couldn't even get her to open her eyes. Her blood alcohol content (BAC) was at near-lethal levels (.46 to be exact). She's now with her mom in another state, trying to dry out.
She sounds good. The doctor prescribed anti-depressants. She tells me she's working her program, striving for longterm sobriety. Those are all positive things.
When I asked about working on our marriage, I was met with silence on the other end of the phone.
Finally, she said, "I'm not thinking that way. I'm focusing on sobriety right now."
"Well, I need some kind of indication from you," I told her. "It's been two months of my life on hold, my marriage in limbo. I need to know if there is a reason for me to keep sticking around. I need to know if I should move on."
"If you feel you need to move on, I can't stop you," she said. "Go ahead."
Then the conversation turned to our kids. "I want them to come up here for a visit next week," she said. "We can come over Sunday and get them. This will give you a break, give them a chance to be in the same place for a week and it will save us money on paying for the sitter. My mom will be here all week. We'll all come back the following weekend."
I thought about it for a minute, maybe two, and told her I was uncomfortable with sending the kids away. "I feel like I'm being punished for doing the right thing," I said. "I love my kids and want them with me."
"Well, they are my kids too," she shot back. "I want to see them. And this way, you'll be able to go to your Al-Anon meetings and do some things for yourself. Your mom can go home."
I could feel myself being manipulated. She was offering "me" time, something I haven't had since she relapsed on Dec. 5. The offer was tempting, but I knew what I needed to do.
I paced around and tried to explain again why I thought this wasn't a good idea. That's when she became very agitated. "I didn't even want to call you because I knew you would start getting all snippy," she seethed. "You think I'm not going to return the kids. Well, the plan is that I am coming back. I do not plan to stay here."
"All I asked for was a day to think about it," I said. "It's a lot to process right now."
She became more agitated. I hung up.
She called back immediately. "I'm sorry. I didn't hang up," she explained. "I get crappy reception here."
"I hung up," I said, hanging up a second time.
It was followed by a text message from her: "Nice. Really mature."
My response: "I want to talk, but not in that way. If you'd like to talk without arguing, you can call me back."
"I'm upset and don't believe I should talk to you right now," she texted.
This is very hard but I'm sticking to my guns. The kids stay with me. I need to look out for them. Five or six days without alcohol does not mean she's suddenly ready to handle two little kids. And if sobriety is such a priority that it trumps working on our marriage, what would two little kids do to her?
I feel pretty good about the way I handled things.
Last night I sent her a text explaining my plan for the kids this week: they stay here with their grandma. While I'm at work, some of my Al-Anon friends have offered to check in to see how things are going.
"I wish you would reconsider," she texted.
I'm not reconsidering. I have to think about me and the children from now on. My response? "If sobriety is your priority, I believe the kids would present a major distraction. I have activities already planned for them this week. It's nothing against you or your mom."
I'm not going to budge on this one. Sobriety may be her focus, but for me, the kids are my priority. I'm strong enough to do this.
Today I plan to get out of the house and take a hike if the weather cooperates. Tonight, I'm going to see a play. I think I've earned some "me" time.
That's all I have for now.