August 3, 2018

As I was driving home from work yesterday I was anxious, and playing that dangerous game in my head. Friday, Friday, Friday; just a couple drinks, it will be no big deal….. then I played it through, thinking about my Saturday; how I want and need to go to yoga in the morning, how I’ll be so angry and disgusted with myself if I fall.

So I get home, and there’s my husband all wide eyed and eager. All ready to “grab an appetizer and drink”. I grab something to eat because hunger is a trigger, and I just stare at him. Then I announce we are going on a bike ride to the beach, that I am not drinking tonight. So off we go!

Wouldn’t you know it there’s a festival on our way, beer tents, food trucks, live music! Crap! But instead of sitting in a beer tent all night we went into the art galleries, vintage clothing shops. We shared nachos. And for the first time I experienced this environment in a new, interesting and authentic way. And this morning I am content and proud. And oh so grateful for a sober Friday, and praying for a sober Saturday! Blessing to all! I’m off to yoga!!!!

Sobriety and Marriage: What’s Happening?

Before I decided to get sober I believe the universe was lining things up so I didn’t end up with yet another Day 1, or 2, and if I was lucky 3.  I finally learned about podcasts (yes, I’m 50 and had no idea what that icon was on my phone) and stumbled upon The Bubble Hour, Oprah’s Soul Seekers, 10% Happier, etc. I have about a 35 minute drive to and from work so I started listening and learning. Growing and stretching, and in those minutes to and from work I became stronger and learned that I was not alone! I finally stepped into a yoga studio, and I began to find myself. I downloaded Calm and Headspace, and began to meditate. For months I’ve been arming myself for the beginning of a life of sobriety. And now at Day 10 I am proud, I feel healthy, I feel enlightened. But my marriage is drowning, and now through clear eyes I’m being forced to look closely at my husband, I’m being forced to confront my feelings. And I’m afraid of what I’m seeing and feeling. From my online support group’s feedback I don’t think I’m alone,

My husband has been my drinking buddy, my best friend, and partner in raising my 3 children that are not biologically his. Almost every night as I come home from work he is there, ready to share a drink with me. We sit outside on our deck, sip our drinks, smoke cigarettes, (we both consider ourselves to be non smokers, unless of course we are drinking 🙂 ) and we talk. We talk about our jobs, our day, the kids, the dog. We don’t talk about dreams, plans, wants or needs. We numb ourselves through the night as we drink, smoke, cook dinner. My youngest son comes and sits to talk with us and we listen, give foggy advice, and pretend we are a happy family. This has been the only way I’ve been getting through the evenings. This is how I’ve been managing my marriage and life.

10 days sober and I’m learning more about myself, and becoming who I am. My husband has been drinking every night, pouring himself a cocktail as he waits to see if today is the day I’m going to break, and we can resume our drinking life. I watch him as he watches me. When he hears the clink of ice hitting the glass he looks up quickly and waits for my next move. I pick up a bottle of club soda, I pick up the cranberry juice, and I squeeze a lime into the glass. He doesn’t say a word, and neither do I as I mix my drink. We try to sit outside with each other and we try to talk as he sips his drink and I sip mine. The words stumble out of our mouths and do not connect. There’s emotion missing, and my words are clearly just busy noise, trying to drown out the awkwardness. I don’t know how to tell him how proud I am, and how hard this is and how much I’m beginning to understand so many things. I want him to want the best for me, but I don’t think he does. I think he just wants things back the way they were, and I think he knows that as I grow stronger and grow into myself that he is at risk of losing me because he will not be able to meet me where I am going. We are 2 different people my husband and I. He is content with how things are and has no desire to ever work hard to improve situations. He will sit stagnant on business deals, relationships, and personal problems. He is not interested in growing, and all I want to do is grow.

I tell myself to be patient. To not be too judging because maybe this new sobriety is messing with my feelings, that I will feel differently after the newness wears off and I settle into myself. We will see. But for now I’m not going to gloss over my feelings and I’m not going to drink them away. I’m going to let them sink in, and I’m going to give them validation while they are here.

 

Day 8: A Sober Beginning and Ending to These Sober Days

I’ve gone back and read Alcohol, Baby and A Ghost more than once, and even went back to where the ghost house once stood, long torn down. It felt surreal, as if I was visiting a grave site. I took pictures, and will post if I can ever get them off my camera. The writing of that story was depressing, and it brought back a lot of awful memories, but it also felt like I was finally letting that story rest in the universe, instead of taking up space in my head.

So onto Day 8! There’s a pattern I’m living through as I test these sober waters. Wake up, feel great. I read, I write, I run in the early morning and don’t forget to be grateful for this second chance! So I thank God, FOR EVERYTHING. I get ready for work with a go get ’em attitude! I peer into the mirror and look for a change in my appearance. Do I look less haggard? Is my skin smoother and clearer and are my eyes bright and sparkling? I even look at the skin on my hands, looking for the veins to decrease and youth to be restored.

I’m more productive at work and more focused. I’m more assertive and sure, and I am a better communicator. I eat a healthy lunch, I go for a walk when I take a break. I marvel at how I am sober, and I can interact like sober people do. I don’t feel like I’m looking up from under my eyelashes, trying not to communicate with my eyes what my evening looked like the night before, and what terror of a hangover I am flinging myself through as I go through the day. This day belongs to me.

At some point though I have to go home, and this is where the danger lurks. During my drinking days by 4 o’clock I started feeling better, and deceptive thoughts would peel away my shame from the morning, and it would put that fire out as I planned my evening. What will I make for dinner? I’d look up recipes, and even on a week night I might make something extravagant. I’d send a text to my husband letting him know what I needed from the store, and most days he’d have it all sitting there for me, waiting for me to get started on my evening.

I’d open that first bottle of wine, sit outside and drink and smoke a couple cigarettes before I got started. I resented it when I’d have to get up and start cooking, but I did. I still have my youngest son at home and he needs to eat! So I’d grab my wine, and drink while cooking. My husband would have a cocktail and we would talk about our day, the kids, the dog, our jobs. We’d take a break from cooking and go back outside and smoke. My son would come in and out to tell us something, not even giving a comment to our drinking and smoking and cooking and talking. One big happy family………….

But I digress. Now that I’m sober that drive home is brutal as I think about how much I miss my wine, my time on the deck with the cool night air, and conversation. Now I come home, with a small plan for dinner, and grab a cranberry, soda and lime. I try to sit outside with my husband while he has a cocktail, but it’s all too familiar, and now I don’t know what to talk to him about anyway. What will I ever talk to my husband about again? My nerves are brittle and my craving is so strong it takes my breath away. I begin telling myself to just have one glass of wine. You’ve proven yourself! You can moderate! But that is the voice of my addiction, not the voice of who I am trying to let out. I remember my online support group and all their words of wisdom, I remember this blog and my promise to myself. 5PM – 8PM. I look at these 3 hours and think of all the pain they have caused to myself and those I love. These 3 hours out of 24 hold such power. I finally am realizing that I need to grasp onto those 180 minutes, and treat them as the enemy until they are defeated.

Alcohol, Baby, and a Ghost

I thought long and hard on how to begin this blog. Should I tell my complete story? Should I let you know about how I ended up an alcoholic, a mother, a wife 3 times over, and how I’ve been desperately trying and failing to make a perfect life?

I’ve settled on beginning with where my heart breaks the most. My children.

Happy 1st Birthday!

 

I lived in a house way back when, and I called this a house a ghosty house because it was haunted. It sat high on a hill in a tiny beach community. It was a leaseback, meaning it would be torn down in 5 years because it was on state park land. It was a lonely old house deep in the woods. We rented it because we were desperate, broke, unmarried and pregnant. I knew the minute I walked in it was haunted, something wasn’t quite right. A medieval chandelier hung from the ceiling, no sun peeked through the windows, and the trees smothered the house not letting it breathe, choking away peace and calm. I was nesting in my pregnant state, wary of my surroundings, and desperately trying to make this house a home fit for a new little family. It wasn’t working. The ghosts were owning the house I struggled for, and the air that was in the house was fueled by my baby’s father’s alcoholic breath. The ghosts mingled and fed from this breath, and as I inhaled it it twisted me and my pregnancy into a bundle of raw nerves with innocent eyes that grew stronger, darker, and fiercer as I fought to protect my baby.

I have the baby and it’s a boy. He is born premature because of the ghosts, the alcoholic breath of his father, and what it was all doing to me. He had to get out, it was too much to bear. So he did, and I stayed with him at NICU, my hands reaching into holes to hold his little hands and feet, stroking his back, and telling him how wonderful he was, how loved he was. I longed to hold him, to feel his skin on mine, his body on mine. But it wasn’t meant to be so we bonded for 3 weeks with my hands in these holes, stroking touching and loving.

He comes home, and I’m scared to death of the ghost house and what’s its already done to my boy. There are drafts and the wind howls on our hill. His nursery is full of dark furniture and heavy air. There’s no money for new things, so he sleeps in a used crib. I spend a little money on baby things to try and make some cheer in the room, but they look out of place, forced. I feel horrible leaving the baby in this room, and my heart longs and breaks for a cheerful space fit for this baby I am so in love with. But I’m stuck, or feel stuck and don’t know what to do.

One night I put the baby to sleep, and go to sleep myself. The baby’s father is home for once this night instead of resting on a bar stool, and he is sleeping too. I drift off, exhausted from caring for a newborn, breastfeeding, loving, and protecting. I begin to dream. I dream the most real dream I’ve ever had. An old woman approaches me silently. Her hair is white, in a bun. She is wrinkled, with long limbs that twist and intertwine and reach reach reach toward me and try to take me and pull me down. She is trying to get inside me and I am resisting, struggling, and with each pull I grow stronger and fiercer. I become a hurricane, a storm and I feel the power rising inside of me to the point where I grow stronger than the ghost, and scream, “Leave us alone! You had your chance to live, this is my time!” And then I wake up. My heart is racing, and all I can think of is my baby. Alone in his dark haunted nursery. I race to his room next to mine and scan every inch of him and the room for the ghost. He is sleeping peacefully, his cheerful stuffed animals stare mockingly, and I pull up the wooden rocker next to his crib. I pick up the little book in his room, The Tailor of Gloucester. I begin reading aloud to him as I protect him from ghosts….. “In the time of swords and periwigs and full skirted coats with flowered lappets – when gentlemen wore ruffles and gold laced waistcoats of paduasoy and taffeta – there lived a tailor in Gloucester…..”    How fitting these strange words were for our little house and this little family.  Delicate, and out of place in the here and now. So I ended up leaving the ghosty house, my baby’s alcoholic father, and tried to bring cheer and peace to the sadness.

It’s my son’s 1st birthday, and I’m hosting a party at a house where I fled to once I mustered up enough courage to leave. It’s my friend’s house who recently moved with her husband who took a job out of town, so I’m house sitting while it’s on the market. I love it there and it brings me peace. My baby and I are away from the dingy, drafty, ghosty house.

No party in our family is complete without alcohol, including 1st birthday parties. My parents, my baby’s father, and his parents are all in attendance with a sprinkling of aunts and uncles. I remember wanting to get back together with my baby’s father, and this birthday party was a first step. So we cooked together and drank together as we got ready for the party. That’s what we were good at, drinking together. I was good at being a mother, but he was no good at being a father. But we definitely had the drinking part down. Our guests came, and we continue to drink. My mother in law watches me disapprovingly as I have my glasses of wine. We open presents, and I believe I stumble and fall over an opened toy. She calmly pulls me aside, and tells me my son needs to be proud of me, and drinking too much is nothing to be proud of. She tells me I’m such a beautiful, precious and smart girl that this does not fit me. All I want is for my son to be proud of his mother, and my love for him swells and my shame swells with the drunken wine breath I’ll have to lay him down with tonight. I hazily remember the guests leaving, I hazily remember the fight I had with the baby’s father as we drunkenly hash out all the problems in our relationship. I have put my son to bed, and I fall asleep with the knowledge I’ll wake up in the morning with a pounding head, a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, and the never ending guilt and shame. I will take a shower, and take care of my baby in the morning. I’ll pretend that everything is okay, and I will go back to being a good mom now. This too shall pass I think, as I hold and love the love of my life.