I wrote a blog entry a couple of years ago outlining some of the difficulties being married to an alcoholic. I'm still struggling with many of those same issues as I face my wedding anniversary today without my wife by my side.
I've struggled the last couple of weeks trying to balance work, raising two small children (and my older two who come up for visits), working my Al-Anon program and dealing with my alcoholic wife as she detoxes at her mother's house in another state.
A quick recap: On Feb. 5, I called 9-11 because I couldn't get my wife to respond. At the hospital, she had a .46 BAC. The nurse told my sister-in-law that whoever called probably saved her life. I've only spoken to my wife once since this went down and it wasn't a pleasant conversation. My in-laws are waiting for a bed to open up in a treatment facility. Before this current relapse (which started Dec. 5), she'd been sober for a year and a half. During that time, as I found out around Christmas, she also had a year-long affair with a guy in AA (actually, the secretary of the meeting). Until she gets into a center, they essentially have her under lock and key, confiscating her purse, wallet and removing all traces of alcohol from the home (including cooking extracts). I told my wife she wasn't welcome back into our lives unless she gets serious help and gets sober.
Back to me. I've been going full-steam ahead, trying to focus on myself and the kids. This has been the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I go from feeling "free" to falling into complete despair. My Al-Anon friends have proven great allies in this struggle, helping me see the whole situation clearly.
I'm resisting the urge to trek over the Sierra Nevada to see my wife today. What would a visit from me accomplish? I can't rescue her, ease her pain or make everything better by my presence. She's not going to declare her undying love to me when I walk through the door, as I would like. A visit from me would serve no purpose other than to turn the knife in my gut just a little bit more.
A few weeks ago, when I recieved my two-year Al-Anon chip, a lady approached me after the meeting to say how much my story spoke to her. She's only been coming a few months so she's still a newcomer. I directed her to some of the literature, made sure she had a phone list and told her to call any one of the ladies on there. I also told her to find a sponsor. She thanked me and mingled with some of the women in the group. She's struggling with an alcoholic husband who gets in her face. Through another Al-Anon friend, she said I was an inspiration to her. That means quite a bit considering I don't feel very inspirational. I'm a damn mess.
Last night an old friend reached out through Facebook. She's one of those "could have beens" from my high school days. She's been sober 15 years and her wedding anniversary is approaching Feb. 25. She said in order to see her husband, she visits the cemetery. "I was married to the most wonderful man," she said. "It's really hard with my current boyfriend because he's younger than I am and there are trust issues."
That's when she said she's also in Al-Anon. "I went to AA to get sober," she said. "I went to Al-Anon to stay sober. I am also a co-dependent, so I see both sides of the issue."
She told me some stories of alcoholic behavior and they perfectly described my wife.
It was great chatting with her after all these years. She was always a good friend (who now lives halfway across the country).
I love my wife dearly, but until she can love herself, there is no room for our marriage. I know that now.
My current battle has been with my in-laws, who want me to send the kids over there for a week-long visit. I told them no for this week and again no for next week. I said I'd be open to considering it the week after next.
My mother-in-law sent a tersely worded e-mail that she hopes there isn't another delay when the time comes. This isn't about her or my sister-in-law. I'm uncomfortable sending my kids up there to see their mom when she's so unstable. I also know that it's been an information black-out zone from that end, with little to no communication. I would be a basket case if I sent my kids over there and was unable to find out how things were going.
My sister-in-law called to see how I was doing, she said. The conversation quickly turned to the kids and sending them to Nevada. I felt as though I was being manipulated. "We really want to do this for you," she said. "We know how exhausted you are and we want to give you a break. We also want to see them."
My mother-in-law's first e-mail said much the same thing. It's a family of untreated co-dependents trying to cure an alcoholic. I smell disaster.
I'm undecided regarding a visit but I'm going to trust my gut when the time comes. Today I plan to make breafast, eat, play with my kids, watch a movie, maybe go into the office for an hour (since I often had to leave early this week due to childcare issues) and clean the house. I also plan to talk to my sponsor, do some step work and maybe speak to my wife (if she calls like she said she would).
Looks like I may be closing the book on a 10-year relationship. That's sad and I'm grieving. And you know what? That's OK.