Happy Monday morning, Brooke!
Actually, it’s not real happy – it’s one of those 50% suck moments, and I’m trying to clean up my thoughts about it.
Husband is an alcoholic. We’ve been together more than 19 years. We were each married before. We each brought children into the marriage. We have a son together, who is 18 and lives at home. All of the others are adults with their own lives.
Husband has had two very serious alcoholic crises in the past 4 years. He white-knuckled it through 18 months of sobriety after the first. He was briefly hospitalized and did outpatient treatment/meetings for about a year after the second crisis. He struck me during the more recent crisis (20 months ago), but I was not injured except emotionally. and I briefly had a CPO against him. We made a contract and he came back home. Our marriage had been better than ever until very recently. As I grieved my mom, husband became distant. I thought it was just me. I didn’t realize something else was going on.
Fast forward to last week. I realized during dinner that he was drunk. As the meal continued, the symptoms became worse, and I confronted him (yes, I know that trying to argue or reason with a drunk person is insane!). Our 18–year-old son witnessed all of this and was upset. He asked to call one of my stepsons, who doesn’t speak with my husband and I because of the drama about what kind of treatment husband chose previously. That stepson has a child who we love, and we have not been permitted to see him in 18 months because husband didn’t follow the treatment plan that stepson chose for him.
I used the model to get my emotions in check and my caveman brain under control (I was sure he was going to beat me to death and that I would be penniless in the street), and then we had a series of open and honest conversations. He thought that he could handle a little bit of alcohol, and had been doing so for several months – until he didn’t handle it that night. Our 18 year old received answers to his questions, and we decided to stay together as a family and work on all of our issues.
C – alcoholic husband started to drink
T – shit – the world is ending, I have to separate our businesses, sell the house and
go to work for someone else right now (we are both entrepreneurs)
F – panic and desperation
A – sell the house,file for divorce, go to work in a J-O-B
R – I don’t have the marriage, the house, the business or the lifestyle that I’ve worked so hard for. I lose everything because husband dried something that didn’t work and “third strike he’s out.”
C – Alcoholic husband started to drink
T – What we tried before didn’t work – he is willing to try something else – it could work – worst case scenario, I spend 18 months working on myself and improving my situation before jettisoning everything
F – cautious but hopeful
A – clean up my own life – expand business so I can afford the house on my own if his drinking causes financial or safety issues and remaining together is not safe.
R – In 18 months, I am financially independent and emotionally healthy, and happy, and if we end up back here again, we can go our separate ways with love
Last night, stepson #2 sent an email to husband and copied me on it. It said that because husband got drunk on Thursday, we are not welcome at the baptism for our newest grandchild in May. Further, unless husband goes through a specific course of treatment, gets an AA sponsor and works through the 12 steps and attends / gets a record of AA meetings, and proves that he has completely abstained for 6 months,we cannot see the grandchildren.
Neither stepson has talked to husband or myself about anything that occurred. All the information they have came through 3 brief texts and a tearful 10 minute phone call from our son during the worst of it. I could add a lot more “poor me” details to the story, but they don’t matter.
C – Adult stepson forbids us to meet new grandchild and spend time with 2 year old grandson unless H follows his manual
T – I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m being punished for something I had no control over
F – cheated, angry, disappointed
A – Wrote a long email back about how husband’s overall health is poor, cutting ties isn’t the answer and he may regret having missed this window (I lost my mother several months ago, and that’s muddying things too).
R – I don’t get to see the grandchildren, I look for passive-aggressive ways to show stepsons that they are being ridiculous.
That’s where I’m getting stuck. things are nowhere near the level of dysfunction that they were in 2015 or 2016. Husband has admitted his plan didn’t work. He was early in his relapse. Husband is getting help that doesn’t involve 12 step meetings and sponsors. I don’t feel responsible for husband drinking. I don’t have to play traffic cop. All I have to do is live my own life, take appropriate action and go to safety if there is even a hint of “unsafety” in the air.
I don’t understand why I am not welcome except for the fact that I do not have a manual for my husband. I have boundaries. I understand that husband is an adult and I can’t choose his treatment or even make him have treatment or stop drinking. All I can do is take care of my own thinking and my own actions.
I suppose the reason I’m having a hard time coming up with a new model is the fact that my acceptable results all include a relationship with our grandchildren. When I find a “result” to work backwards from, it is one without grandchildren.
This is grief – just like losing mom, isn’t it? Bang – I just blew my own mind.
C – stepson cancelled our 5-day trip for baptism
T – I have a 5 day window blocked off for a trip. Let’s find something else to do and send a card (with no money)
F – Excitement that I have 5 days with husband to do something we will both enjoy
A – find a destination and do something fun
R – Stepson gets a baptism without worrying what state his dad might be in, I get a trip with the man I still love, and I worry about what I have control over.
I am not unhappy in my marriage. I love my husband. I love the life we have built together when he is not drinking. I don’t want to give that up to fit into other people’s ideas. He drank alcohol. Sometimes I eat an entire bag of potato chips… but thanks to you, I stayed on protocol during a tough weekend. I’m down another 1.5 lbs.
I’m sorry for writing a book here. Your voice inside my head is a genius, though.