Control

I haven’t been active in the online support group for friends and family members of alcoholics I joined a couple of years or so ago for awhile – not since I began therapy.  But since my therapist has moved onto greener pastures, I’ve begun popping in and reading more often.  The last few days, I’ve been there quite often, and I’m beginning to feel a little better about how things are going.

It’s generally accepted that the spouses of alcoholics are codependent, and as such are desperate to establish some kind of control, both over their relationships and their lives.  Codependents tend to be the kind of people who feel the need to “fix” everything, while reluctant to ask for help themselves.  It took me a long time to recognize this in myself, but yes – I am guilty of both those things.  Gawd help me, the last thing I want to be is codependent, but I guess I am.

That control – or the lack of it – has been such an issue in my life has never been driven home as much as today when I took the dog for her morning walk.

Dixie is pretty darn strong and muscular for a 22 pound dog, and walking her is often an ordeal, especially if there are lots of people out and about, because she’s so excitable.  I can’t do much more than walk her around the block once or twice before taking her back home.

Using a harness is hard, because it gives her the leverage she needs to pull and yank me around.  A regular collar isn’t much better, and it makes me worry about the damage she could be doing to her neck and trachea.  So, I purchased a “head collar” – it has a loop that goes over her snout, and a strap that goes across the back of her head, just behind her ears.  When properly fitted, she can open her mouth, even eat while wearing it.  But she can’t pull, tug or try to run ahead of me when it’s in place, because she gets no leverage – it simply turns her head.  She has to walk next to me at my pace.

I wish I’d bought the damn thing three weeks ago when the trainer suggested it, because this morning was the first time we’ve made it around the block in less than half an hour.  She’s not crazy about having something on her head, but she’s getting used to it (and she loves all the treats she gets for walking alongside me), and I’m anxious to take her on longer walks when she has adjusted to it.

It occurred to me as I was getting ready for work today, that I was in a much better mood than has been usual after our walks and I realized why – I was taking her for a walk, rather than the other way around.  I was in control.

At first, I was upset with myself for feeling that way, then I realized that I should be in control in that particular situation.  I’m the human; she’s the dog.  I get to dictate the terms of our walk, not her.  My problem, as it is with so many of us married to addicts, is relinquishing the idea of controlling those people and situations over which we truly have none.

There is so little in my life over which I have so little control.  All I can do is control how I respond to it.

Well, that and how I walk the dog.

 

Advertisements

Dixieland

2016-07-24_01How can you resist a face like that?

Simple…you can’t.

I now have another shadow.  Dixie likes my alcoholic husband, and he seems more fond of her than he was of Snoopy, but she adores me and follows me everywhere.  I’m also the only person she’ll mind, which is both gratifying and frustrating.

We’ve been to two of our beginner’s training classes and she’s caught on very quickly to most of the things we’ve been taught.  Our biggest challenge remains leash training, but we’re working on it.  When I take her on our walks, we spend the first half going just a few steps at a time – if she won’t walk at my pace and pulls on the leash, we just stop – but she eventually gets it and does quite well, not getting excited again until we approach our house.

The trainer wants us to practice the “watch me” signal and give her a treat every time she makes eye contact and walks beside me, but I’d have to take an entire bag of dog food with me if we did that and we’d never make it home.  It’s the one thing I’ve not done exactly according to the trainer’s instructions.  I don’t want Dixie to expect treats on walks; the walk itself needs to be the reward and since the poor thing just loves being outside, I think it’s a good approach to take.

It’s just going to take a lot of work.  We knew that the foster family had a hard time adopting her out – we’d heard it’s because she wasn’t a puppy and is solid black, but I think I know the real reason:  she is very energetic, extremely excitable and loves to nip you when she’s playing.  That is going to be a hard habit to break her of, but I feel confident we’ll succeed.  She also still chews things – she loves paper – and we have to be careful what we leave within her reach when she’s out of sight, but I know from experience that will end as she gets older.

I’ve come to believe the “puppy mill” thing was also a load of hooey.  The fosters finally confessed that they didn’t know for certain she’d been in a puppy mill; the trainer they had taken her to a couple of times said she exhibited some of the same behaviors as a puppy mill dog.  She certainly wasn’t abused, and is in too good of health for a rescue dog (our new vet declared her “perfect”).

I think she was just the product of an irresponsible owner who never had her spayed or registered and let her run loose.  She was finally picked up by a dog catcher, and since she wasn’t chipped or registered, she eventually went to a shelter where, for the reasons I listed above, was never adopted out.  She was slated to be euthanized when the rescue organization stepped in and placed her in the foster home where we eventually found her.

At any rate, I’ve got my work cut out for me with this sweet, wonderful, crazy dog, but I don’t care – in fact, I welcome the distraction.  I certainly welcome the unconditional love which has been, sadly, in far too short a supply in my life.

2016-07-25

Dixie

It’s been three years next month since I had the heartbreaking experience of sending my 13-year-old dachshund mix, Snoopy, across the Rainbow Bridge.  He was no longer a young dog, although he might have lived another three years if he hadn’t been so ill.  But he was very, very sick with no chance of getting any better, so I made one of the hardest decisions of my life.

Snoopy, a rescue dog we adopted when he was about a year old, was intended to be my younger step-daughter’s dog, but he became my dog.  I’m the person who cared for him, played with him, fed him, bathed him, cleaned up after him, gave him his medications when he needed them, and I was the one who took him on his final journey.  He was fond of my husband, who was tolerant of him (my husband never really wanted a dog), but Snoopy adored me and followed me everywhere – he was my little shadow.

I was so devastated by his death that it took me over two years to even begin think about getting another dog, and another six months to convince my husband that we should actually have another dog.  So, with the help of a Facebook friend who helps place rescue dogs, we began the search.

I wanted another dachshund or dachshund mix, and my husband refused a puppy – he did not want to go through all the mess of house training and all the chewing (Snoopy chewed everything that wasn’t red-hot or nailed down when we first got him).  I can’t say I blamed him, and I was not adverse to a fully grown dog that was past the puppy phase.  Unfortunately, most adult dogs that are up for adoption seem to be either adopted in pairs, or required to go into homes that have other dogs, and we didn’t want two dogs.  It’s been a frustrating few months.

But we have, at last, found our girl.

Dixie is a 2-year-old dachshund mix.  She was a puppy mill mommy whose owners had been raided and all of their dogs confiscated.  She went directly to a shelter and was scheduled to be euthanized when she was rescued and put in a foster home.  She’s been spayed and is working with a trainer, and according to her foster mother is one of the smartest, even-tempered, eager-to-please animals she’s ever fostered.  But because she is solid black and no longer a puppy, they have had a hard time placing her.

I saw the video of her that had been posted on Facebook and just fell in love.  She is a doll.

She’s also in Alabama, so when we go to Texas again in three weeks (my husband is attending a conference, and I am going to spend time with the kids and grandson), we are going to detour to Birmingham on our way back and bring the newest member of the family home.  I could not be more thrilled.

I know it sounds odd to be adopting a dog when I’m planning to leave my alcoholic husband and my future seems so uncertain, but she may be my saving grace in all of this.  I need some unconditional love in my life.

Resentment

I mentioned in my last post that things are not all peachy keen in Jan’s World.  I may have learned many things about myself and how I should handle certain situations, but I still haven’t learned how to deal with my resentment very well.

I took Friday off from work, and my husband came home at lunch, so I could do some Spring cleaning and he could do some yard work done he’d been putting off.  I have been very, very tired recently and everything I do is done in periods of activity and rest, or I cannot function in the evening, when my husband desires my attention the most.  He, on the other hand, is an A-Type and very much a “get everything done now and rest later” person, and my rhythm of work lately irritates him to no end.

At one point I was resting and he whizzed by and asked, “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing,” I said.  “I’m just taking a small break.”  (We really are talking 30 minutes or more of activity followed by a 5 minutes break.)

“Already?” It was not asked kindly.

“You know how tired I’ve been lately,” I replied, as neutrally as I could.

“You just need to get more exercise – that will bring your energy levels up.”

Irritation flared in me – what did he think I’d been doing all day?  Was I sitting around eating bon-bons?  No, I was dusting and sweeping and vacuuming and scrubbing toilets and moving things on counters that always get wiped around and scrubbing behind them.  I was wiping down appliances and scrubbing baseboards and cleaning windows and vacuuming out the lint trap in the dryer so the damn thing doesn’t catch on fire one day.  I was organizing those places in the house where things tend to gather in a clutter and putting away HIS shoes that he leaves all over the house (he’s generally pretty good about picking up after himself, except for his damn shoes which everyone is always tripping over).

If this wasn’t exercise, I don’t know what it was, and it was making me more tired rather than more energized.  And because I was tired, instead of reminding myself he’d been working outside with my son (and ignoring the fact he was drinking while doing it) and wasn’t aware of what I was doing inside the house, I let out a small, rueful laugh.  I couldn’t help it – the “you just need to get more exercise” is his standard answer if I tell him I’m tired or not feeling well (I usually just let the remark go, or agree with him and move on to another subject).

“What was THAT for?” he demanded, stopping what he was doing.

“I’m sorry,” I said, stepping on my irritation, hard.  “It’s just that I have been exercising all day, and I don’t have any more energy.”

He grumbled something unintelligible and wandered off.  I could be mean-spirited here and add that it was probably to find a drink since he was quite drunk by the end of the day, but…okay, so I’m mean-spirited.  One can’t be all sunshine and daffodils ALL the time.

I guess what I’m getting at here is I don’t know how to deal with the resentment that came afterwards.  He feels that it is his right – his duty, even, as my spouse – to point out what he perceives as my bad habits, health-wise.  To take me to task, to, yes, nag me.  Yet I cannot talk to him about his alcoholism.  The subject is off limits, unless I want my home and marriage to become a demilitarized zone.  I don’t get to say, “You know what?  We’ll talk about my lack of physical activity when we can have a frank discussion about your drinking that doesn’t devolve into a screaming match about how horrible I am and we should just get divorced.”

I haven’t had much to say to him over the weekend and he’s in a pissy mood about it and I don’t much give a shit right now.  Once I can find it in myself to act like everything is just grand and he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread (and give him a blow job), HIS world will be all peachy keen again.  Bastard.

I guess this would be a good time to mention that my therapist has moved on to greener pastures and I’m left with the option of either having no one to talk to or starting completely over with someone else.

Sometimes life just sucks.

Drunk Behavior

Before recounting childhood trauma for the better part of an hour this past week, I told my therapist that my husband has three different behaviors:  sober behavior, “I’ve been drinking” behavior, and drunk behavior.

It’s been awhile since I’ve dealt with drunk behavior, and for the past few weeks, it’s mostly been sober/bordering on mild “I’ve been drinking” behavior.  Thus, I spent the better part of an hour recounting childhood trauma on Wednesday.

You know, you’d think after dealing with my husband’s alcoholism for the last 5 or so years I’d realize that it’s just not going to disappear.  But time and time again, I let myself believe that everything is just going to be all right.

Sometimes I feel like a fool.

Tonight is one of those times.

Nothing New

Except that I didn’t make it to the library this week.  My husband was out of town on business Sunday through Tuesday night and I took those days off just to be at home and relax in the peace and quiet, something I needed desperately.

He’s usually gone a lot in the summer, which is the “busy” season in his line of work.  Not this year, though, and he’s pretty much been in my face for the last four or five months.  Him being gone so much for business is one of the reasons I have been able to stay in this marriage since his drinking has gotten out of control and it’s been hard on me to have him home so much without any sort of break.  Fortunately, it looks as if he’ll be gone the last week of this month and maybe the first three of November, then again another week in December and one in January, as well.

As far as the alcoholism goes, there’s really nothing new.  He’s still drinking moderately and on the sly, although he came home from the grocery store with 2 bottles of wine and a small bottle of gin “as a present for me.”  He’s destined to be disappointed if he thinks I’m going to partake of any of it in the near future.

He did have to have a tooth pulled a little over a week ago, and developed dry socket.  He doesn’t understand why, since he no longer smokes and never drinks from a straw.  I have opted not to point out that heavy drinking affects the ability of blood to clot – no reason to poke a hornet’s nest when things are reasonably calm on the home front.

Therapy was interesting this week – we did, indeed, discuss my mother.  I did cry, because it brought out some hurtful things, but like I told her at the beginning of the discussion I’m no longer angry about those hurtful things.  Being angry and resentful over things long in the past, that I had no control over, doesn’t do anyone – especially me – any good.  While those events certainly helped shape who I am, they don’t define me.  And something good came out of all of it – I learned a lot about how NOT to parent from my mother.

And on that note, I’ve opted to reduce the therapy sessions to every other week for the time being.  We’ll see how it is in January and February, which are, historically, a bad time for my manic-depressive, alcoholic husband who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Obla Di, Obla Da

Life goes on, indeed.

The last week has been interesting.  I’m slogging my way, slowly but surely, through the book my therapist recommended.  It’s not the most engaging thing I’ve ever read, and I told her that.  She said that was fine; it’s definitely one of those “take what you need and leave the rest” types of things.

My husband is still secretly drinking, but he’s also trying hard to “maintain” so things have been more or less pleasant the past week.  He didn’t go to his SMART Recovery meeting on Wednesday, but he’d had a rather painful dental procedure that afternoon, so it wasn’t like he just skipped because he didn’t feel like going.  When I told my therapist that I wasn’t sure what his continued attendance was accomplishing when he’s still drinking, she shrugged and said it can’t hurt – maybe something will stick eventually.  And heaven knows he probably needs to get out of the house as much as I do.

On that note, I attended my first activity at the local public library on Tuesday, where we placed blue painter’s tape in whatever way we like on a small canvas – about 8″ x 6″ – and then painted the spaces in between.  There was also colored glitter available, and since I have a great love of dark green and gold, that’s what colors I ended up using.  It was quite fun, and I signed up for October’s adult craft class, too.

Last night, I went to the knitting group at the library and even though there were only four of us in attendance, I had a good time.  All of the women there were my age or there about, and we spent a lot of time getting to know each other, since it was the first time attending for two of us.  I also found out that while it’s officially on the library calendar for the first Thursday of each month, they actually meet every Thursday – some weeks just a few people show up, and some weeks attendance is quite high.  I will go back next week!

One lady, whom I really liked, works part time at the library and said she intends to attend the “Adult Coloring Hour” next Tuesday.  I think I’ll do that, too.  It sounds intriguing; it’s being introduced as an excellent way to de-stress, so they’ll be piping in “soothing” music.  I have no idea what that may be, other than fairly certain it won’t be Metallica or AC/DC. :p

I’m so glad I thought of the library.  It’s going to do me a world of good to get out of the damn house a couple of nights a week, even if it’s just for an hour or so.

I haven’t paid any attention to my course on how to start a small business this week at all, but I only have three classes to become current (and I can get through a class in under an hour in most cases) so I’ll do those over the next few days.  My husband is driving to Louisville, KY to visit a client on Sunday, returning Wednesday, so I’ll have a few days to myself to get some things done without having him hang over my shoulder.  Hopefully, he won’t get hammered driving either there or back this time.  It will be interesting to see if he takes his stashed vodka and tea with him when he goes.

Because my husband is trying so hard to “maintain” and things were undramatic at home this week, I ended up talking to my therapist about what appeared – to me, any way – inconsequential things.  She asked about how holidays are at our house, and told her about the large Thanksgiving dinner I cook, the massive decorating we do for Christmas and how I tend to go all out with gifts for our adult kids.  It’s something I enjoy, though, not anything I do out of obligation.

I know what she’s getting at – she’s trying to get a sense of whether I’m one of those people who feels responsible for everyone having a “magical” holiday season.  Nope; while I may be a “people pleaser,” I don’t feel the need to kill myself in order to make everyone else happy.  At any rate, since things are going more smoothly at home for the time being, she wants to talk more about me, personally, next week.  We’re going to start with my mother.

I wonder how much Kleenex she has.