the role we play

Yesterday AH had taken the day off from work and went to look at some apartments. He called me at work just wondering about getting approved since the mortgage is still in his name and everything. I ended up asking him if he can hold off on actually signing a lease or applying until we have a chance to sit down this week and go over our finances. He agreed. Right now, I am still in such a state of fog, I’m trying to refocus on work since I was out last week and figuring out all the details of our divorce just seems to be too much right now. He agreed, which I was thankful for.

He agreed to pick the kids up from daycare yesterday, while I ran to Costco to grab a few things. I had told him I planned on going to an Al-Anon meeting at 7PM. He got home with the kids around 6 and told me he needed to run to the car dealership to grab his coffee mug, which he had left there that morning when they were working on his car. Mind you, the car dealership is not close and it’s actually almost right next to the kids’ daycare. This is something typical he has done all throughout our relationship. Always finding excuses for things he needs to go out to do. It’s like he has to get away from the house. I’m not sure if it’s so he can drink or what…but of course my thinking is, do you really HAVE to have your coffee mug right now? We have other mugs. He could easily just pick it up some other day. I could also tell that he had been smoking marijuana. So, I told him I needed to leave the house around 6:45 for my meeting.

Well, 6:45 rolls around he’s not home. I text him and say my meeting is at 7. He calls and is apologetic and says he thought I had to leave at 7. Even though I was really annoyed, I managed to bite my tongue and just tell him it’s okay. Just another example of him not listening or not caring enough to listen.

After my meeting, I was reading the Al-Anon Pamphlet “Alcoholism: A Merry-Go-Round Named Denial.” I’m sure I’ve read it before, but this time it really resonated with me. Essentially, it talks about how the other actors in the situation contribute to the alcoholism by reacting in certain ways. The role I played was the victim and by repeatedly chastising him when he drinks and criticizing him, it creates more and more guilt in him, which just leads to more resentment and denial. It actually makes a lot of sense.

Anyways, I’ve been thinking about the role I have played a lot. It’s hard for me because all of these years, I’ve blamed him for everything. But now I am starting to see how my actions have made things worse. I think I am also getting closer to being able to feel compassion for him and his disease. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still harbor tons of anger and resentment. But I think it was a good start when I bit my tongue and didn’t get into a huge argument with him because he made me late for my meeting.

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The background story

I met AH back when I was 22 and he was 24. I had just finished undergrad and he was living out here because he had been in the Navy. We actually met through friends and somehow, we hit it off from the moment we met. We met in the fall of 2003 and I had been planning to go off to law school in the summer of 2004. This was the same time he was finishing up his Navy service and he decided to stay with me, so he moved with me and while I attended law school, he started undergrad.

I started noticing drinking problems very early on in our relationship. Whenever he drank, he was unable able to drink just a few beers, instead drinking quite a lot. He also seemed to have to drink every single weekend, often drinking a 12-pack in one day. He also smoked pot frequently. I remember the first time he lied to me. He had gotten a phone call and told me it was a friend from back home (he was originally from the other side of the country). Later, when he was in the shower, I looked at his phone and saw that is was his marijuana dealer.

Life continued on through law school, our up and down cycle. We ended up getting engaged in the fall of 2007. After my 3 years of law school, I decided to attend another school to get an advanced law degree in tax law. This meant that I needed to move 3 hours away, but AH would stay in order for him to finish up his undergrad degree.

I moved in the fall of 2007 and AH got his own little apartment. The plan was for him to be finished up at the end of 2007. During this time, we would try to visit as much as possible on the weekends.

One particular night, he was visiting me, and he had left his email open. I noticed that he had emails from different porn sites he had signed up for. One of them was a chat site, where he had paid to chat with women online. When I saw this, my heart sank. Even though I knew he had drinking problems, I had never in a million years had any reason to believe he would/could cheat on me. I confronted him about this and his response was that he really wasn’t attracted to me and I “just wasn’t doing it for him.” Yep, can you believe it?

However, once again, in the morning, he was apologetic and told me how he didn’t mean what he said and blah, blah, blah. Of course, I believed him. So we continued on. At this point in our relationship, he was still a “functional alcoholic,” definitely not drinking every day, but whenever he did drink, he could never stop at just a couple.

He finished up his degree and moved back over and in with me in January 2008. I finished up my degree and we moved into a rental house together. AH had been able to get a decent job and was working in inside sales.

Once again, in the fall of 2008, he left his email open. Again, I found some username and passwords to some porn websites. This time, one of them was a messageboard where escorts (prostitutes) posted ads and users would leave reviews of the escorts. I looked up AH’s username and found that he had left a review of an escort and the type of service he received was oral sex.

When I confronted him about it, he initially told me that he had not left that review…he was just fascinated by the site and in order to stay a member, he had to post something, so he had copied and pasted the review. I remember plain as day that we had this conversation on a Saturday during college football season. I then left to drop our dog off at the groomer. As I drove back to the house, I just couldn’t get rid of that nagging feeling. So, when I got home, I told him I wanted to see his bank statements (we still had separate accounts at the time) and his phone records, so I could verify that this had not happened. And then this is when he admitted to me, that yes, he HAD posted that review and yes, he had visited this prostitute.

At this point, our wedding planning was well underway (wedding was set for August 2009). I had told NOBODY about his issues with drinking and of course, this porn/prostitute stuff. He agreed to go see a therapist and get some help for himself. Of course, I’m the one who found him a therapist who specialized in addiction. AH saw the therapist for awhile. I later found out he basically lied to me about what the therapist had said.

And so we continued on…at this point, my codependency was in full force. Me often counting how much he had to drink and being an undercover spy to make sure he wasn’t visiting prostitutes, etc.

We got married in August 2009 and headed to Puerto Vallarta on our honeymoon. Another vacation that I never really got to enjoy because I was just stressed out by how much AH was drinking. We had DS in December 2010.

At this point, AH actually was doing very well at as his job in inside sales, making a great living. However, many of the people he worked with tended to drink heavily and “happy hours” often included numerous shots, etc. It was never a situation where AH would just go have 1 or 2 drinks. I can also count endless events, such as weddings, where I know he drank too much and should not have been driving.

On January 17, 2013, I was on Facebook and noticed that AH had left a comment on a photo of a girl he knew from high school. His comment was “smokeshow,” obviously meaning she was hot. This prompted me to log back on to the escort messageboard to check his username. And when I did, I was shocked.

I had not been on the board in probably at least a year (because AH swore he would never do any of the escort stuff again.) But now I saw that he had posted a couple more reviews and just the day before, he had posted an ad looking for “asian massage parlors” that accept credit card. I could not believe my eyes. Well, I started chatting with him, asking about this stuff and then a slew of lies followed. First he told me that he had let a friend use his username, but he wouldn’t tell me who the friend was. I finally got him to allow me to reset his email password, so then I could actually log into his username on the site to check his private messages.

Before he did this, he managed to delete everything out of his email. However, I logged into his account on the messageboard and saw that he had been conversing with a certain escort, talking about paying her with a visa cash card or something to that effect. He still claimed that it wasn’t him until I told him that I had contacted Yahoo and was going to get all the emails in his account restored. Well, then he finally came out and admitted the yes, he was the one who posted those reviews. However, he was adamant that he had never received anything other than “happy endings.”

Of course, I was devastated. He came home, and I told him to leave. After he left, it was just me and my 2-year-old DS. Again, nobody knew anything about what was going on with us, so I felt so alone, with nobody to call. I ended up calling AH and he was sobbing, saying how he had ruined his life and lost everything. I told him to come home so we could talk.

That night, we had a long discussion and the truth came out. He admitted that he had been to see the prostitutes a handful of times, receiving oral sex. He also admitted that he had been drinking behind my back often. He told me that the therapist he had seen previously had told him he had a drinking problem, but AH had lied to me and not listened to him. AH told me he admitted now that he had some serious problems, but was willing to do anything he had to do to save his marriage and not lose us. For the first time in our entire relationship, I felt like I was seeing the real AH for the first time.

I was hopeful after this because AH had finally admitted he had a problem – yea! We got into marriage counseling and started seeing individual counselors. It’s kind of a blur, but the basic story is that this started the up and down process of “sort of” recovery by AH. I now know AH was not really committed to recovery…he was just saying whatever he needed to say to keep me. Over the next couple of years, AH stopped going to therapy, started drinking again and the same cycle continued, but by now my codependency was worse than ever.

I gave birth to DD in May 2014. AH continued on in “fake” recovery. In July 2015, there were 2 weekends in a row that he drank and then an incident when I thought I smelled beer on him and then later found beer cans in the garbage. At this point, I was just exhausted and tired of dealing with all of this. We had a long talk and AH admitted that he had never really committed to recovery and now he was really ready to do so. He started attending more meetings and posting on Sober Recovery.

Well, this lasted about a  month and then he relapsed. He was also smoking marijuana nightly and sometimes in the morning and during the day on the weekends. Since July 2015, he has only been able to make it no more than 1.5 months without drinking. I was exasperated because in my eyes, he really wasn’t trying to do everything he could to really recover. He didn’t have a sponsor, wasn’t working the steps, and wasn’t willing to give up marijuana.

At the end of January, he was attending a work function and was arrested for DUI. No longer could AH say that he’s “not like the others in AA..he’s not out getting DUIs and stuff like that.” I thought maybe after this, he would really clean up his act and realize he couldn’t just white knuckle recovery and do it himself. Well, nope. This produced no change really…2 weeks later, he wasn’t going to more meetings, quitting smoking pot, or working on getting a sponsor.

Even though he hasn’t been drinking regularly for the last few years, even when he isn’t drinking, he has been difficult to be around. He is really unable to handle stress and gets agitated very easily and will sometimes be in a bad mood for no reason (sulking, pouting, silent treatment.) When I ask him what’s wrong, he just says nothing.

Finally, on February 25, 2016, I woke up and just had the worst feeling. There wasn’t any specific incident that prompted it, but I decided to tell him (via chat) that I think we should just end things. I wasn’t happy and wasn’t sure I could ever be. Deep down, I know that in doing this, I wasn’t really ready to split up…rather I was hoping again, that this threat would get him to start really working the program. Well, he got angry and agreed.

So, here we are now. I broke down and told my family about everything (with the exception of the part about the prostitutes. I just can’t let that part out yet.) They have been very supportive. I’ve also been back in Al-Anon and have been reading, reading, reading. I’m starting to understand the part I have played in prolonging his drinking and I am finally committing MYSELF to recovery.

So, that is my story. Even though it’s all in the past, I’m viewing it as the beginning of my new life.

just bleh

So, last week I was supposed to have been on a vacation to Mexico with AH. Obviously, I didn’t end up going, but it was nice that I had been planning on taking those days off from work anyways, so I didn’t have any commitments. But now, I’m back to reality, sitting here in my office with TONS to do and that same feeling I am used to feeling so often…an enormous sense of overwhelm and not knowing where to start.

I spent the morning reading Sober Recovery and also working on a post for this blog of my background story. AH took the day off from work and called a bit ago because he was getting ready to go look for some apartments. He was a big apprehensive because we don’t have anything legally in writing. He was also unsure of if he can qualify for an apartment with the mortgage still being in his name.

So, now that it appears we are really moving forward with this, here’s my list of things I need to figure out/do:

  1. Draft the petition for dissolution. (I’m lucky in that I’m an attorney, however, I don’t do divorce law. I was going to have someone else represent me, but a friend of mine said he is willing to help me do everything behind the scenes. The only issue is that he was supposed to send me the forms, but he is taking forever.)
  2. Draft the temporary orders. In this, we need to lay out visitation, child support, and possible maintenance?
  3. Look into getting my own health insurance (this is going to suck.)
  4. Figure out what to do with the house. If AH isn’t going to be on it, then I will have to get help from my dad to refinance.
  5. Figure out realistically how much money I need to be bringing in each month to support myself/kids.
  6. Look into getting SoberLink set up. I will require AH to do the breathalyzer during his visitations with the kids to make sure he is not drinking around them.

I’m sure there’s more, but it always helps me to lay out a list of what needs to be done. Now time to eat some lunch and get moving on work.

 

The Awakening

I found this on Sober Recovery. It seems to fit where I am at right now perfectly. By Sonny Carroll.

There comes a time in your life when you finally get it…when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out…ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying, blaming and struggling to hold on. Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.

This is your awakening…

You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to magically appear over the next horizon.

You realize that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings, and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you…and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are…and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions.

You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself…and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.

Your stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you – or didn’t do for you – and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.

You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and everything isn’t always about you.

So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself…and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties…and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.

You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with.

You learn that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for you next fix.

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.

You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry.

Then you learn about love. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not mean lonely.

You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.

You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.

You learn that your body really is your temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drinking more water, and take more time to exercise.

You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.

You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you deserve, and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen.

More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.

You learn the only thing you must truly fear is fear itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms.

You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.

You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people…and you learn not to always take it personally.

You learn that nobody’s punishing you and everything isn’t always somebody’s fault. It’s just life happening. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.

Then, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than you heart’s desire.

You make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind.

Finally, with courage in your heart, you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.