Nope.

In fact, not only is there no progress, we’ve pretty much fallen back into the habits and groove of what our marriage was before I moved upstairs for 5 weeks.  He may miss me, as he stated when I moved back downstairs, but certainly not enough to change anything.  That, you see, is my responsibility.

So I am taking that responsibility.  Just not in the way he wants.

Yesterday afternoon, my daughter came over with my new (and adorably red-haired – don’t ask me where that came from) grandson, and I got some serious snuggle time in.  He’s barely a month old, so he’s still not doing much more than eating, sleeping and pooping, but I don’t care – he’s my grandson, so he’s the sweetest, cutest and most wonderful baby in the world.  Do not challenge me on this, because you will NOT win. :p

At any rate, my husband came home from work a little early to smoosh the little guy himself, and the minute he walked up to me, I could tell he’d been drinking at the office – he just reeked of vodka.  *sigh*  After she left, it was nearly 7 p.m. and I was in no mood to cook, so my husband suggested we go to our second-favorite restaurant for dinner.  I agreed – if he got hostile with the waitress there (we have a favorite and always sit in her section), it’s close enough that I could simply get up and walk the half a mile home.  I was actually curious to see how it would go, to be honest.

While he was pleasant towards our waitress, he was sullen and uncommunicative towards me.  He made a big deal about not ordering a drink (I, on the other hand, did), and played with his phone throughout the entire meal.  He’s a master of passive-aggressive behavior and was obviously trying, in his not-so-subtle way, to affect my enjoyment of a leisurely and pleasant meal. He was especially disgruntled when I ordered dessert, something I hadn’t planned on until I was told the special (warm pumpkin cake!  With vanilla bean ice cream!  And a caramel drizzle!).

I didn’t let him rush me, though, and enjoyed myself more than he obviously wanted.  When we got home, he went into the garage for a bit to hit up his hidden booze stash out there, and I thought to myself, Well, I guess we won’t be going out to dinner any more.  The thought made me sad, because as infrequently as we dine out, it’s the only thing we do together outside of home and work any more.

Then it occurred to me that while we won’t be going out to dinner any more, that doesn’t mean I won’t be going out to dinner any more.  When I’d mentioned earlier in the day that I needed the car Tuesday evening so I could go to the library for an adult “craft” class, I told him I’d make sure we ate dinner before I left for the 6:00 p.m. event.  He told me not to worry; we could do a “fend for yourself” night.  Well, all righty, then – I’ll just fend for myself at a nearby restaurant.

Maybe I’m not nearly as codependent as my therapist seems to think.

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Progress?

Today my therapist recommended the book “Codependent No More” with the caveat that I keep myself in mind while reading it, rather than my husband.  So, I started it, and from what I can tell, basically everything that’s wrong with my life is my fault.

Like I didn’t know that already, but let’s just heap that guilt on a little higher, shall we?

Look, I’m well aware that my husband’s drinking is not my fault and there’s not really anything I can do about it.  My therapist asked today how much time every week, on average, I spend nagging my husband about his drinking.  I don’t know how to answer that, because we don’t discuss it that much (especially if he’s really trying to make it seem like he’s NOT drinking).  We really don’t talk about it, because he doesn’t want to and I know it really won’t do any good.

One thing she did bring up today: what are his motivations to quit?  Not my nagging; we’ve already established that doesn’t do any good.  Not the disapproval of the kids.  Not the frustration of his employees.  Then she pointed out that he drinks and drives – quite a bit, actually – and asked me if I’d ever reported him to the police.

I haven’t, and for one basic reason: I don’t know if it would do any good.  Is he over the legal limit?  It’s often hard to tell.  I understand what she’s getting at – why should he stop drinking if there’s no real consequences? – but I’m not sure I should be forcing the issue there.  What am I supposed to do?  Call the police every time he pulls out of the driveway without me?

At any rate, I downloaded the damn book to my Kindle and started reading it this afternoon.

“You still reading ‘Helter Skelter’?” he asked (I began reading it after the recent – untrue – rumor that Charles Manson had committed suicide began circulating).

“No,” I replied.  “I’ve read it before.” And I have, several years ago.

“Well, what are you reading?”  I know what he was getting at; he wants me to either read Erik Larson’s recent book about the Lusitania or this new book he’s reading about Lincoln.

“A book called ‘Codependent No More.'”

He frowned.  “Did your therapist recommend it?”

As a side note, he’s not been happy about me seeing a therapist, but he’s been pretty quiet about it.  At any rate, I replied to the affirmative.

“So, are you going to leave me?” he asked.

“Not yet,” I replied.  “That’s sort of the point of all this.”

To which said nothing, so I guess we’ll see what happens next.

 

Here We Go ‘Round In Circles

My apologies to any Billy Preston fans out there for the misquote, but it applies.

Of course he’s drinking again.

If I say anything to him, he’ll just deny it.  If I tell him how I know, he’ll just move where he hides his vodka (yeah, I found his new hiding place – same cabinet, different shelf.  He obviously thinks one of us is pretty fucking stupid).

When he stopped, I moved back to our bedroom.  Not so much because I believed this time was any different, but mostly because I missed my bed with it’s Tempurpedic mattress and 600 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets.  I also missed watching what little television I do on our big flat screen from the comfort of my recliner, and having ample room to work on my crafts.  It is MY house, too – why should I confine myself to the smallest of the bedrooms upstairs?

He was happy I came back downstairs and for a day or two things were quite nice.  It didn’t last, naturally; I guess my move back downstairs was some sort of, I don’t know, sign?  That he didn’t have to “behave” any more.  After all, he’d gotten what he wanted out of it, so why not start hiding vodka in the garage again?  It really wasn’t two days after my return that the tea and juice made their return to the garage refrigerator, and it was maybe two days later when I found the vodka in it’s “new” hiding place.

Last week, I told my therapist that I’d moved back and when she asked me if he was still drinking I told her I didn’t know – the tea and juice had made a reappearance but I hadn’t found the vodka yet.  She expressed surprise but I told her how careful he is at hiding it, and that I wasn’t all that inclined to go hunting down his new hiding place (turns out, of course, I didn’t have to hunt very hard).  Mostly, though, I was more than a little disappointed in myself, in what I view as my “weakness” in moving back downstairs.  I’d told him that if he chose to ignore the situation – which he did – that things were going to end between us.  I feel like a ninny, because all he had to do was act like he wasn’t drinking and be nice for a little while, and I bounced right back into the whole goddamn mess.

My therapist counseled patience on my part, and not to be angry or disappointed that he wasn’t jumping feet first into what was essentially MY solution to our problems.  Alcoholics do things on their own schedule; if he wasn’t drinking, she said, he was having enough trouble getting through his days without his major “coping mechanism” – how would I feel if someone told me I couldn’t knit.  I just stared at her for a minute and said, “I guess I’d find something else to do.”

Sorry, lady – as an analogy, that sucks.  HARD.

Well, I see her again tomorrow and we’ll see what she says about the fact that I know he’s drinking now.  I’m not sure she’s much help, though, and I’m going to keep going forward with my plans to get the hell out of Dodge, as much as it breaks my heart.  Because I really DO love him, and I know he loves me.

Which is the saddest, hardest part of all of this.

Five Days

He hasn’t had a drink in five days.

I can tell, because he is a completely different person when he doesn’t drink.

He is still impatient, he still is opinionated (and lets you know it), he is still particular about how things should be done.  But he’s not demanding, he’s not irritable, he’s not moody, he’s not short-tempered (well, any more than is natural for him), he’s not intentionally cruel.  He does things with good humor, and a good sense of humor.  He’s affectionate but not maudlin.  He’s happy, and pleasant to be around.

That’s the man I married.

I’m not stupid.  I’ve been down this road before.

We’ll see how it goes.

The Search Is Off

I’ve spent the better part of the last 5 or so years worrying myself to death over how much my husband drinks.  This last 18 months or so, I’ve often searched for where he’s stashed it, then monitored his intake once I’ve found wherever the hell it is he’s hiding it.

And I’m tired of it, I tell you.  Sick and tired of it.

What good does it do me to know that he’s going through 2 quarts of cheap vodka a day?  There’s nothing I can do about it.  The only thing this accomplishes is to make me worry and stress me out.

When we had our most recent – and, if I have anything to say about it, final – fight about his drinking, I decided I just don’t care any more.  I can’t care, because it will kill me just as fast as it’s killing him…maybe even more quickly.  So I told him I know exactly where he’s been hiding it this last go-round, and I know exactly how much he drinks.

And, of course, he’s moved it – why wouldn’t he?  Have I looked for it?  No, because I don’t need to know, although my mind relentlessly tells me it’s somewhere in the bedroom we no longer share (which makes sense).  So, please tell me WHY when I’ve decided I no longer have any interest in keeping track of his alcohol consumption, that it keeps smacking me in the face?

This last weekend, I found another of my canning jars, full of vodka, buried in a cupboard in the garage where he keeps the old rags and towels.  I was just looking for a towel to clean up a large spill on the kitchen floor and there it was.  Then, this morning as I was paying bills, I found a charge to a local restaurant where he had lunch on Wednesday while I was at the therapist.  We’ve eaten there for lunch fairly often over the last couple of years, and I know their lunch menu well – there’s nothing on it over $7.99 (which is how much his favorite, the French Dip sandwich, costs).  So why would he spend $15, before a tip, on lunch?  Yup, the well vodka there is $3 a drink, that’s why.  He had two drinks with his lunch.

I honestly did not want to know that.  How long will it take me to train my brain to not. Effing. CARE?

Messed Up

Well, therapy was…interesting.  Apparently, I’m quite fucked up.

What’s more frustrating than anything is that my counselor – I found out she’s not a therapist after the fact – was far more interested in my childhood than the matter at hand.  Was my childhood crappy?  Yup, in quite a few ways, but it wasn’t horrific.  Well, not all of the time, anyway…I have plenty of happy memories.

She seemed regretful when our hour came to an end, and said – this is a direct quote – “I feel like I could talk to you for six hours and barely scratch the surface.  You definitely need to be here.”

I can only imagine what she’ll say when she finds out about my first marriage.  Ye gods.

But that’s all in the past, dealt with and gone – the alcoholism and disintegration of this marriage is happening NOW.  It’s what I intend to concentrate on and attempt to resolve; for now, she can keep her paws off my childhood.

Getting Help, Getting Out

Well, my therapist appointment is this afternoon and I’m actually looking forward to it – although the depression has lifted for the moment, I have no way of knowing if and when it will return.  I want to see if I might need some anti-depressants for the short term, simply so I can continue to move forward.  There’s so much I need to do!

I’ve also been talking quite a bit with my sister-in-law (her husband is my husband’s brother), who went through all of this with her ex-husband.  She has been an amazing source of support, and I don’t know what I’d do without her.  She has been 100% behind my decision to seek therapy, which is going to be difficult for no other reason than my husband will hate it.  Well, let him hate.  If we’ve said 2 dozen words to each other since Monday, I’ll eat the baby blanket I’m knitting. 😛

One of the things my very wise SIL has stressed lately is the need for me to get the hell out of the house and do things.  And she’s right; like the spouses of many alcoholics, I’ve become marooned in my own marriage – cut off from the outside world.

It’s all well and good to tell me to get out of the house, but to do what? I wondered.  We live in a small, slowly dying, city.  There are things to do in Cleveland, but that’s an hour away.  Out of desperation, I began Googling “knitting groups podunk ohio.”  There have been knitting and craft groups here, but they all seem to be defunct; the emails I’ve sent out have either bounced back as undeliverable or gone unanswered.  Then, many pages into my Google search, there came a link…to my local public library.

I feel so incredibly STUPID for not thinking of this sooner.

Our local public library is on the small side, but it’s excellent – it even has a small art gallery that showcases local artists’ work.  My youngest son spent a great deal of time there between the 6th and 10th grade; he was not only active in many of the clubs and activities for young people, but a member of their Teen Council – teenagers who helped plan the activities, as well as approve new literature and publications for the Young Adult section of the library.

One look at their calendar was all I needed – they have a monthly Knitter’s Meetup (I missed September’s, I’m sorry to report), but have a reading group that discusses a different book every month, craft classes for adults, lectures, even a monthly “cooking club” that focuses on a different ingredient, and everyone brings a dish containing that ingredient (this month it’s pasta).  I’ve signed up for several, including the cooking club.

They also offer free, online courses for various things – they’re called “Gale Courses” – and I’ve signed up for one on how to start your own business that begins next week (after this, I’m going to be all over the digital photography classes, of which there are many).

And, do you know, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I’m feeling happy.

Maybe I won’t ask for those antidepressants after all.