If you'd like to use this space to tell stories/secrets/confessions of your dangerous maternal mind, send me an e-mail and you too can enjoy the refuge of the Basement...
Appearances are so deceiving. We all think that most people around us are so much happier because they have the things we want - but in reality, I'm betting the very people we envy are envying us in return.
This is what my life appears to be:
I am a mother of 2 children. A girl, 6, and boy, 2. They are well behaved, have always slept through the night, and are the loves of my life.
I am a wife to a man who is a social butterfly. Everyone knows and likes him. He would do anything for a friend in need. He works a hard job and is a volunteer fire fighter. He makes sure his children get to attend and do every fun child oriented event around. He plays games with them and takes them for 4-wheeler rides in the woods.
I work 30 hours at my "real" job in 3 days. The other two days I work at our church for a bit and get to bring the kids with me. I am a very active member in three different community groups. We bring home a decent salary and have a large 4 bedroom, 3 bath home which we can heat with free wood from our 15+ acres of oak trees. I live in a quiet country setting with a dog, a cat, and a few other farm animals. I am an optimist. I take what is handed to me and I conquer it with a smile on my face. I can laugh at anything.
Here is what is behind the curtain:
The children are what I say above. Unfortunately - they don't have the mother they could. Because of what I mention below I am often too worn out to feed them a proper balanced meal, too depressed to get my butt in gear and do things like cleaning and laundry properly. It's all I can manage to play a game once a week. I let them watch WAY too much TV so I can have peace and just sit there with my ass on the couch. They get the short end of the stick because I'm often too pissed off or too depressed to be patient or guiding.And yet, they are beautiful wonderful children - despite me. Despite their father.
My husband is an alcoholic. I met him in a bar over 10 years ago - we had a whirlwind romance and married 16 months after our first date. I was never one of those wives who demanded her husband be home with her, or home when she got home. I was still in college with 2 years to go. What did I care if he was out with his buddies while I was in night class? It never occurred to me that perhaps a 31 year old man should be outgrowing a 21 year olds lifestyle. There has never ever been a week (okay, I take that back there have been at least 20 - but not more than that) in nearly 10 years of marriage that my husband has been sober more than 3 days.
When our daughter was born, I took care of everything. He works a different shift every week and needs his sleep after all. Babies scare him - he's afraid he will break them. We no longer went out together for the obvious reason. I wasn't going to be "one of those wives" though. I was too tired to do anything fun, so why shouldn't he go? That's what I would say to myself.
My husband's mother found out she had cancer and only 2 months to live when my daughter was 8 months old - the drinking got worse.
When my daughter was 3 1/2 she went to a fisheree with her dad. He was going to come back with the car and get me later since our other vehicle was broke down. 3 hours after he was supposed to be home a friend had driven the car home with him and my daughter. He was so drunk he passed out nearly right away. I was livid. I wanted to leave. He endangered my baby. His friends somehow made the irrational seem rational and I didn't pack my bags. Besides, I didn't have my car. From that day I was able to solve the problem by simply not allowing him to be in charge of her when I knew there would be alcohol around. Wasn't that a good fix?
I had the numbers to the local bars memorized. I knew to call an hour before he had to be home to give him time to "finish this one". I wasn't one of "those wives". I always called to make sure he got up for work if I wasn't home. A few times I even tracked him down to tell him to get home and get some sleep before he had to go in.
One day my husband totaled his truck. He "swerved to miss a deer". He got a ride home before calling the cops because he had a "couple beers". Do you know I believed he wasn't that drunk? I had myself fooled without effort. I look back, and it's a miracle he didn't get hurt.
We had several nasty fights. I remember many times hiding all the car keys so he couldn't storm off and head back to the bar. One time he almost ran over me as he backed out. My daughter remembers that to this day. I'll never forgive myself for letting that fight get into her head.
We decided to have a 2nd child. It takes forever to get pregnant when you find quiet things to do late into the night so your husband will just pass out on the couch and quit talking already.
The drinking slowed down. Things were better. I got pregnant. I had a mis-carriage. The next time it didn't take so long - he was only hanging out with his buddies 1 or 2 days a week now - a few weeks he even went a whole 8 days coming home right after work. I kept track secretly on the calendar.
My mother came to stay with us for 6 weeks a few weeks before my son was born. A week before he was born I got a call from the police station at 2am. I had to go pick up my husband as he had been pulled over for drunk driving. He blew a .011, just a fraction of a hair over the "old limit" (The state had lowered the BAC limit to .08 just a few months before). I was mad, but "he was barely drunk" after all. He had a prior OWI before I met him. Because it was more than 10 years before this one, this would count as his "first offense". He got a big fine, lost his license and had to get an occupational for 9 months.
A week later, my son was born. Things were "good" on the scale in my head for the next 9 months. My husband didn't stop at the bars - he only drank at home. "What's the big deal" with 2-5 beers at home? He's never been mean as long as I didn't confront him about his drinking when he had been drinking. In fact, he's a very happy drunk - annoyingly happy - just shut up already happy.
A week after he got his license back, it was a Thursday. He was on 2nd shift. I talked to him before I went to bed and said to come straight home after work - he said "of course". At 3am I wake up. He isn't in bed. He isn't on the couch. His truck isn't in the driveway. Bars close at 2am - he never stops further than 15 minutes from home. Something is wrong and I know it. I pace. I curse. I swear. I cry. The phone rings at 3:30. The caller ID displays XXXXXX Police. I fume. I answer and hear the news. I hear the words "I'm sorry, just shoot me? please." and I know he is still drunk - even after the 2-3 hours it takes to be transported and processed. Our only working truck has been impounded. He has to go before the judge in the morning and needs 700 dollars in bail money. I cry. It is at this moment I admit to myself that I am not married to a guy who just likes to hang out and gets caught up talking and having fun - I am married to an alcoholic. He swears he is sorry and is going to quit drinking. I hang up and dump every single bottle of alcohol and beer out in the sink and I make a nice big pile of empty containers for him to see first thing when he walks in that door. I call into work - I can't get there. I call a friend to take me 30 miles to get my car. I wait at home for another call from my husband. I take the 700 dollars out of the bank that is half of our house payment that should have cleared the bank, but for some reason hasn't. I wait for an hour in a tiny room with my children as my husband is released from jail. I am embarrassed beyond belief that I have my babies there to pick up their daddy. I wanted to make him sit there, but we would have to pay the bail eventually, and if he worked the weekend he could make up the lost money. I was so angry I couldn't speak. I couldn't yell. I couldn't swear. I didn't even have a tear left in my eyes by this time.
My anger was quickly put away to comfort my depressed husband. We would get through this. Life was worth living. "You take the good you take the bad and there you have..." We talked to our pastor. We made a deal with the DA. My husband started getting help from a well recommended psychotherapist. I have no clue what a psychotherapist does.
He quit drinking. He started talking. We were going to make it. He served his jail time - 4 weeks. He was hardly ever there because he worked so much overtime he was frequently working 70 hours a week plus an hour commute time to and from work. Me and the kids got to see him nearly every day when we drove him too and fro. After that, he moved in with his sister because I can't get him to work and back every day from home and he can't even get an occupational this time. He comes home about every other weekend.
Two weeks after he got out we were coming home for the weekend. He told me Dr. W said that he didn't have a drinking problem. He just needed to learn how to drink slower and not so much. "Well if the good dr. says... by all means you can have a beer with the neighbor or after mowing the lawn.", I thought. I didn't want to be one of "those wives" you know.
And of course, there have been a few incidence of being too drunk to watch the kids when asked, nights of thinking "just fall asleep and shut up already", lies of "I only had a couple". Broken promises. Money we don't have wasted. I believe he had been drinking nearly every day up until this weekend.
What the hell is wrong with me? How do I keep my head in the sand so well? As I type this I see how incredibly ridiculous this has all been. WTF?
I decided to leave him 2 months ago. I know where I will live. I know how much state assistance I can get. I know what I will take - most of the kids stuff, my rocking chairs, and my clothes. I will sleep on an air mattress and get anything else I need at goodwill if I have to. I just want out. I have been weeding through my stuff and getting rid of stuff I don't want to move. I have told him that I can't live like this. If he doesn't stop drinking I am leaving. He cries. He says he's trying. I buy it for another week. I hope for a little while longer. I put off the "plan of action" just a few more days.
This weekend we went to a concert. We arrived to tailgate at 1pm. I had already told him I wasn't babysitting him this year and if he didn't make it in, it was too bad so sad see ya back at the truck. I didn't baby-sit. I didn't count beers. I didn't disallow shots. I had fun and let him do whatever. I lost him at 4pm. At 6:30 we went into the venue to get our seats and I put his ticket in the gas cap door like I said I would so he could get it when he stumbled back. At 11pm we got back to the vehicles and his ticket was still there. He never made it back to the truck. Something was very wrong. I walked the lots looking for him. I talked to security. I stopped at the make-shift sheriff station. We waited for an hour. We were told we had to leave. The cop said "he's a big boy, he got himself lost, he'll get himself home". Brilliant! I felt better about leaving his sorry ass there. We stopped at the medic station on the way out just in case. I learned he had been taken via ambulance to the hospital at 8pm because he was so intoxicated. His BAC was a 0.4 (50% f the population would be dead at that level). I became frantic. I called the hospital. He had been there, but wasn't anymore. They refused me ANY information because of the privacy laws. A few calls later someone finally let it slip that he had been transferred to another hospital but wouldn't tell me where. I went back to the campsite, had a few beers myself so I could get some sleep. In the morning I called 5 hospitals and the police several times. I only lost control of my emotions for a few minutes. I'm a pro at this kind of crisis by now. Finally, at 12:30 I got a call from him wondering where I was. Apparently he thought I knew where he was and he was ticked that I wasn't around to get him. He got a ride from a hospital an hour away (apparently all the local ones were full with idiots of his own kind) back to the campground. He got in the car and said, "hi". I said, "hi" and we drove off. I couldn't speak. I had no words. I didn't know where to start. An hour and a half later I had to pull over. I had to say something and I knew it could get bad enough that I better not be driving. I asked, "So what the hell happened?". He replied, "I got drunk. I did shots and that's all I remember. I'm sorry, I'll go into treatment if you want."
That's it. One little tiny "I'm sorry". My husband was missing for 16 hours because he's a fricking idiot and that is what I got. I didn't waste more energy on it - I knew I am leaving one day. I knew it didn't matter what came out of my mouth. I couldn't tell him I want a divorce though. Not with 2 hours left to drive. I just couldn't deal with that at the moment on top of everything else.
But after all this crap, all the planning, all the figuring, I can't get over one hump. I can't figure out just how the heck to say "I'm leaving". He will have lost his whole life when I leave. He can't afford the house alone. It was his dad's and means more to him than anything or anyone (except Mr. Bud Light of course). It's in a state that we will never get what we owe for it because he has never finished a home improvement project in 10 years. He can't legally drive to actually stay in it and take care of it. I'll be collecting child support which is a huge hunk, 25%, of his salary. He'll never be able to do all the things he wants to with the kids. From that day forward my children will have to live with the fact that their mother left their dad because he can't put them in front of alcohol - and what will they think about him in the future?
I know none of these things matter. I know I will be fine. I know I can do it. I know the kids will adjust and be better than if I stay. I know I can't raise my children in this environment any more. I know it's not going to change even though he has vowed to stop drinking forever this time. I know he has to suffer his consequences for his decisions and I need to come first. I know these things. But there is that one stupid little voice in my head that thinks I need to stick by him, to help him get better, to take care of him because he has a disease and can't take care of himself.
I know there are great groups out there for people in my situation, but I honestly can't find time with working 40 hours, commuting and chauffeuring 15+ hours a week with 2 small children and a house to run. Right now the plan is to get my loan from my 401k to afford a divorce and apartment. I need to get a P.O. Box. I need to open a new bank account. I need to find a lawyer to draw up papers. I can't put it off - and at the same time I can't find the strength to get everything in order so that the next time he takes a drink I can have him served with divorce papers and have a clear conscious.
All the while, pretending that it's all okay. I need to make everyone, including my husband and kids, see we are a happy family of 4 with a beautiful house and everything YOU dream of while I dream of being a single mom, in a cheap apartment, getting government assistance to help pay the bills, with no family around or friends who are just my own. It's a bit ironic isn't it?