It Just Drives Me Crazy

The shower was great – things went beautifully, smoothly, and without a hitch.

And I couldn’t have pulled it off without my husband.

I have, and am going to continue to, spend a lot of time complaining about his drinking, but I also have to give him props for what is one of his truly best qualities – his willingness to help just about anyone with just about anything.  That includes things like my daughter’s baby shower.

The week leading up to it was horrid.  I’d planned to go into the office in the mornings and take my afternoons off to take care of the preparations.  With the addition of my step-daughter and grandson those plans became untenable and I spent my entire week at home attempting to prepare for the shower, but mostly taking care of G while my SD set up office in my dining room (where, consequently, I was doing most of my prep for the shower) and worked.  While she was on the phone or working, I was distracting G, and while she wasn’t, she was talking to and distracting me (she has this thing about being the center of attention).  Add in a few glitches, like my printer going wonky while I was trying to print out the custom decorations I’d purchased, and, well, you get the idea.  Thank goodness my husband and son vacuumed the carpets, swept the tile, cleaned the downstairs bathroom and hung the decorations for me Friday night because I had NO time to do any of it.

Oh, and where was my SD while all of this was going on?  She took G and went out with friends.  You didn’t expect her to hang around and help out or anything, did you?

At any rate, I sprang out of bed at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning and began decorating the cake and cupcakes that should have been decorated the day before.

super-baby-cakeI’m not displeased with how it came out except for the emblem on top, which should have been the same shade of red as the diaper and cape on the baby, but it rained ALL day, and was so warm and humid that the moment I added the food coloring, the fondant became too tacky and sticky to work with, even after kneading in additional powdered sugar – the amount of red food coloring needed to make it match would have rendered the fondant unusable.

I finally finished about 10 a.m., thanks to the sticky fondant, and then we started on the food and getting everything organized.  It was down to the wire, but we were ready to rock and roll by 2 p.m. and everyone had a great time.  My daughter was thrilled and that’s what it was all about, so I’m one happy Mom.

So, what is driving me crazy?  About an hour before the shower was supposed to start, my husband pulled out the cocktail shaker and poured two martinis into regular glasses (gin looks an awfully lot like water, you know).  He handed one to me, and I sat it aside and forgot about it.  I did pick it up a few minutes after the guests began arriving – half of them brought their kids, which I was completely unprepared for – and sipped it over the next 2 hours.  My husband managed to misplace his – I found it yesterday on one of the DVD shelves in the living room – so he immediately switched to his absolutely favorite drink:  unsweetened iced tea and vodka.

Yeah, it’s pretty much as repulsive as it sounds.

He was pretty moderate about it during the shower and immediately after; he drank steadily but slowly.  We’d planned on making steaks, baked potatoes and salad for dinner, but it became obvious that neither of us had any energy for even that simple meal, so we went to our favorite restaurant.  It was packed, so we sat at the bar…yeah, big mistake.

I had three of what I call “foo-foo” cocktails – you know, the kind that are heavy on the fruit juice/mixers and light on the booze (and usually come with a paper umbrella or lots of sliced fruit as a garnish); I was afraid I’d pass right out if I had anything stronger, I was so exhausted.  My husband ordered one, too, and I thought, “Okay, good – we’re good.”

It didn’t stop there of course; before I had a chance to even think about my second cocktail, he ordered a margarita.  Then a “very dry” martini – hello, straight gin.  He wouldn’t let me drive home and then, halfway there, he pulled his one-hitter out of his pocket and lit up!

“Really, dear?” I asked. “Three cocktails AND some grass?” I didn’t mention the drinking he’d been doing all afternoon.

“Oh, I’m fine – I’m STRONG,” he replies.

And then, right after we passed a cop who was sitting in a parking lot just waiting for speeders (or intoxicated idiots), he began harassing another vehicle that was driving with their brights on – I mean slamming on the brakes and weaving over into the lane behind them, so he could flash his headlights at them.  I was partly terrified the cop was going to come pull us over – and partly hoping they would, to be honest.  I made myself a promise some time ago that if – okay, when – that happens I am not going to bail him out of jail.

Actions, meet consequences.

I am ashamed to admit how relieved I was to drop him off at the airport Sunday morning for a business trip.  After last week’s chaos, several days of sober peace and quiet are just what the doctor ordered.

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Inevitable

Yup.  Too good to last.

This week has been Stressful (yes, with a capital S).  My daughter is 7 months pregnant with her first child and I’m throwing her a baby shower Saturday.  Of course, the week I’m preparing for all of this, my eldest step-daughter has decided that she and her son, whom I adore, need to be here. (They’re in the process of summer visitation with G’s father and moving from Michigan to Texas – long story.) Any other time, this wouldn’t be a problem, but this week?  Yeah.  They’ve both been constantly underfoot – except, of course, today when I could use her help (but we won’t even go there).

At any rate, I haven’t cooked all week – something I won’t be able to get away with tonight, for various reasons.  Monday we had leftovers from the barbecue we did on Father’s Day, Tuesday we took G to eat pizza, and last night we did Chinese take-out.  The night we went took our grandson to dinner, my husband ordered a cocktail (he insists that he can drink moderately and occasionally), so I did too – other than the occasional glass of wine at home, the only time I drink any more is when we go out to dinner which, under normal circumstances, we only do 2 or 3 times a month.

I figure he’s going to drink anyway, so why deny myself the occasional cocktail or glass of wine?  And for anyone who wants to stand in judgement, yes – I’ve gone completely without drinking for long periods of time in the hopes that it would help him not drink.  It does NO good.

At any rate, I thought I smelled vodka on him Tuesday before we even went out, and last night as we went to bed I was certain I smelled it on him.  There was also the tell-tale “he’s been drinking” behavior – promises of help, followed by snide, passive-agressive remarks indicating that I don’t appreciate him; telling me his daughter is a “self-centered cunt” because she’s moving her son so far away from us (something he would never say in a million years if he were sober); juvenile, maudlin displays of affection, followed by bouts of sullen sulking when I don’t just drop everything and throw myself in his arms; the loud snoring only a true drunk can achieve and which nothing can stop.

This is the mild, “he’s been drinking” behavior.  The “I’m completely wasted” behavior is much, much worse.  And, to give him credit, something I haven’t seen for some time.  But, it will make a reappearance…I can tell it’s coming.

Oh, yes.

Better

Things are better – I’d even describe life as “good.”  Everything usually is after we fight about his drinking, and he becomes determined to prove to me that yes, he CAN quit on his own.  I know better (and suspect he does, as well) but it’s nice while it lasts.  Which, if last time is anything to go by, will be between 2 and 3 weeks.

I’ll just enjoy it while I can.

I think that’s the saddest part of being married to an alcoholic – it can be good.  It CAN. It doesn’t have to be constant bitching and negativity and angry outbursts and odd, juvenile behavior.  Our lives don’t have to be full of constant tension, walking on eggshells, wondering what will set off an irate diatribe over something so inconsequential it’s dumbfounding.  I don’t have to be humiliated at the office in front of the employees.  I don’t have to fear for my life – and his – whenever he drives.  Conversations with him can make sense (and maybe even be remembered).  We can watch television and I won’t have to explain to him what happened in that episode of “Arrow” we watched just last night on Netflix.  Sex can be enjoyable.

He doesn’t see what a completely different person he is when he drinks.

So, yes – I’ll just enjoy this reprieve while I can.  Because a time is coming when there will be no more reprieves, and fights about his drinking will just engender more drinking, and I’ll have to decide whether I leave or stay.

Not Practical

Well, we had yet another fight about his alcoholism – or, I suppose, this one could be classified as a “serious discussion” since it didn’t devolve into a shouting match with threats of divorce.  But, yet again, I got to listen to him talk about how he drinks because he’s so “unhappy.”  There seems to be zero understanding that alcoholism is a disease and no amount of sex or non-stop activity or housecleaning (or whatever his complaint du jour is) will change that, for all he nods his head when I point that out.  He doesn’t drink because he’s unhappy, but a lot of his unhappiness stems from his drinking.

I just wish he could admit that.

At any rate, he asked me again what I thought he should do about it, and – again – I said he should go into rehab.  For how long? he asks; anywhere from 14 to 30 days, I reply.

“So, basically, you want to send me to prison??”

Prison.  He equates being somewhere without alcohol, where he’d learn to deal with this disease (that will never go away) in a constructive manner, as prison.  Just process that for a moment.

Oh, and his final word on rehab?  “It’s just NOT PRACTICAL.”

Saving his marriage, his business, his relationship with his children and grandchildren, to say nothing of his life, is NOT PRACTICAL.  Jesus Christ on a pogo stick.

Speaking of his life, one of the gems that came out during this particular exchange (he’s got some doozies when it comes to blaming me for his drinking) is that he doesn’t think I’ll be there to take care of him if he gets old and sick.

Oi vey…

Okay, for a man on the fast track to end-stage alcoholism – he suffers from both long and short-term memory loss and is beginning to exhibit symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy – he may not be so very far off on that one.  I don’t want to watch the handsome, vibrant, intelligent, forceful man I met and married (after swearing I’d never marry again, he was the only man who could have changed my mind) slowly commit suicide via vodka.  If the authors of this blog (and this one) are anything to go by – and why would I doubt them? – NO, I don’t want to be around for that particular end.

And his expectation that I should be?  Well, I guess it’s just not practical.

Functioning

Out of all the people affected by my husband’s alcoholism, I think my eldest step-daughter and myself are the hardest hit.  We are the people closest to him; frankly, the people who love him the most (and he is not the most loveable of individuals under the best of circumstances).

During several of our many discussions about his drinking, my step-daughter has declared that her father is a “functional alcoholic.” A functional alcoholic is someone who is dependent on alcohol but still manages to live a “normal” life – they have a career, friends, hobbies, successful marriages, raise families.

Until they don’t.

Almost universally, the booze takes over an alcoholic’s life – sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but given enough time (and enough denial on the alcoholic’s part), those careers, friends hobbies, marriages and families begin to take a back seat to the drinking.  Eventually, everything in the alcoholic’s life just falls apart.

That’s where we are now.  The long, downward spiral of his life began maybe 5 years ago when many of the events I listed on my “about” page took place – the fight that nearly came to blows with the man he’d tried to run off the road, then being detained and nearly arrested after a flight, returning home from a business trip.  During the holidays, when we had excess time off from work, he’d be completely wasted by 2 o’clock in the afternoon – it got so bad, my inlaws no longer accept invitations to our home for such celebrations, and no longer invite us to theirs.

After one particularly horrible evening, I decided to sit down with my (briefly sober) husband and try to make him understand some very hard facts, among them the fact that he was drinking 3 GALLONS of vodka a week.

No, that’s not a typo.

This had 3 results: he cut back on how much he drank and was no longer drunk to the point he was staggering and slurring his words and passing out most nights.  Good on the surface, but not so good in reality because he immediately began hiding how much he drank – the large bottle of cheap vodka that had been a permanent fixture on our kitchen counter was hidden in the garage during warm weather and the top of our large, walk-in closet during the winter months.  He also began, for the first time since his early 20s, smoking pot on a regular basis again, with the excuse that it would help him not drink (all it accomplished, as far as I could tell, was stink up the house to such an extent that I banned it to the garage, even in the winter).

So, we went along like this for quite some time, with the drinking being particularly bad, hidden or not, around the holidays and getting better again after our annual mid-January fight about it.  It wasn’t until I began thinking I smelled vodka on him at the office that I realized the “bad” drinking was no longer contained to the holiday season and, sure enough, I soon caught him sneaking vodka into the office in my canning jars (of all things).  Once that had happened, I guess he didn’t feel like he had anything to hide and brought what had accumulated at the office home in one of our reusable grocery bags.  There were 10 jars; where he’d hidden them in his office is beyond me.

It was then that a lot of things began to fall into place – his frequent trips home to “use the bathroom” because he didn’t want to use the tiny one at the office, our employees’ confusion about his erratic behavior and inability to remember conversations that had taken place very recently, his parent’s refusal of our dinner invitations, my youngest son’s insistence that he live on campus at college when he could have easily commuted from home, the long stretches of time spent “tinkering” in the garage in warm weather and playing games on his iPad in the bathroom during cold weather.

My husband is no longer a “functional” alcoholic.

The Burden of Imperfection

I never pretend to be perfect.

I have plenty of faults and foibles, and if you talk to me about them, I may be uncomfortable but I certainly won’t deny they are there.  Some of them, like my tendency to be a slob, I am truly trying to improve; for instance, I’ve stopped throwing my clothes on the floor next to my side of the bed at night and I’ve arranged the shoes in my closet (and have kept them that way, too).  When I remove something from a hanger in my closet, I move that hanger to the front where they are all easier to retrieve when it’s time to do laundry. Baby steps, but the effort is there and the changes being made stay in place.

My procrastination is probably my biggest fault, but I do work on that, too – I haven’t paid a bill late in a very, very long time, and we’ve begun eating dinner in the evening much earlier; I simply start it the minute I get home from work rather than collapsing in my chair.  Some, like my sedentary ways, are more difficult to overcome; it’s no help that almost all of my favorite pastimes (knitting, crocheting, learning to sew, reading, chatting with my sister-in-law and kids online) are better suited to sitting down.

One of my better qualities is that I have a TON of patience, especially with those I love.  So what kind of a statement is it that my patience has worn very, very thin within the confines of my marriage?  I can’t blame this lack of patience on perimenopause any longer, because all of that is on a much more even keel since my periods stopped all together.  My sex drive even seems to be making a comeback…the ultimate irony because it’s the thing that angers my alcoholic husband the most: I simply don’t have the patience to want to have sex with him any more.  The desire is there, just not with this angry, demanding, critical, controlling, self-centered stranger.

Who, by the way, has absolutely zero patience for anything these days.  Especially me.

The underlying current in the tense, often terrifying, minefield that my marriage has become is that if I just tried harder, he’d be able to quit drinking.  It’s been a long time since he’s flat-out told me it’s my fault he drinks, but he has certainly implied it, and very recently at that.  He’s very much an A-type and declares, “I just can’t sit and do NOTHING all day like you can.”

Um, I’m not doing nothing.  I rarely do nothing; I’m always busy doing something, it’s just not what you want me to be doing. You, like every other alcoholic in the world, think the universe should revolve around you and you, specifically, think every moment not spent doing what you think should be done is a moment wasted.

When we had our most recent (and increasingly frequent) fight about his drinking he said he wanted to stop but, again, he couldn’t stop if he was just sitting around all the time.  First of all, this is hogwash, because he drinks no matter what he’s doing.  Building trellises for the vegetable gardens in the back yard?  He’s got a drink close by.  Digging up the new flower beds for the ornamental gardens in the front yard?  He’s got a drink close by.  Spreading soil, compost or mulch for the gardens?  He’s got a drink close by.  Putting in the new sink in the half bath downstairs?  He’s got a drink close by.  I caught him sneaking vodka into the office in mason jars not too long ago, so he’s drinking while working.  He used to drink while he drove anywhere, even the grocery store, until I refused to get in the car with him behind the wheel.

Secondly, it’s not as if I’m forcing him sit around and do nothing, no matter what he wants to believe – the very thought of forcing this man to do anything he doesn’t want to do is ludicrous.  During our last fight, when he implied that it was my fault that he drank, he said that he wanted to “go out and get involved in the community.”  This just makes me roll my eyes.  What’s stopping him?  Not me, although that was the implication.

But the alcohol does.  IT stops him.

Alcoholics don’t get involved in the community.  Alcoholics don’t have friends (nor do their wives, for that matter).  Eventually, alcoholics don’t have any interests beyond their next drink.  He’s not to that last point yet, but he will be, and sooner rather than later.

I may not be perfect, but I’m certainly not stupid.

Hello, World

My name is Jan.

I have another blog.  It was once a fairly popular food blog, but my interest in it began to wane somewhat about 18 months ago and I haven’t posted there in over 6 months.  It’s not because I don’t want to, but because I couldn’t keep sugar-coating what my life was really like.

I couldn’t continue to lie to my friends, to my readers, to the world.

To myself.

On that other blog, I call my husband “Beloved.”  It is more true than he realizes.  I don’t know how I’m going to refer to him here; all I can do is name him for what he is.

My husband is an alcoholic.