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.


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.