Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Keeping appearances

Posted by Anonymous (as always, no relation to previous Anonymous posters. )

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?


Anonymous said...

I handed this over for my husband to read... he had a long afternoon with a parent who came to "talk to him" drunk. The child did nothing wrong, the letter home was note about how well they did in this last term and how much he enjoyed this child...
The whole staff knows of the situation. My husband, did not until today. He hopes that one day soon, this childs mom will have the courage that you are showing.
He asked to tell you, he is applauding you and wishing you well. Me too... and I'm going to throw out my doula mantra.
You make the best decision you can, at this time, in this moment... for you and your child(ren).
Do the best you can... I know I'm trying myself every day too. We all are. You aren't alone.

Stacy said...

I don't know you or your family but I have to comment here. Leaving your husband is the right thing to do. Staying with a man that drinks and puts your life and your children's lives in danger is not acceptable. Alcoholism is a disease and he needs help, but not from you. You need to walk away and stop enabling him. I feel for you. It sounds like you are an amazing woman - you've tried everything to help and it's time to move on. Give him the number of a treatment center and walk away sweetie! You can do it!

Anonymous said...

I cried throughout your post. With the exception of the jail time, you could have been describing my father. I grew up in a situation much like that. I, as a child, knew the phone number of the bar that my father hung out at and, when my mother was sick of calling, she had me or my younger sister call to beg him to come home. I carry the pain and the shame to this day. Most of my strongest memories from childhood include my parents fighting, my drunken father, and time spent in a bar room. Don't think of leaving him as destroying his life, think of it as saving his life and your children's perception of their father.

After what you've described I, personally, think the loss of a house and lifestyle (and, yes, family) might be exactly what he needs as a wake-up call. If you can get him into a treatment center then do that first. But if he refuses to go then you need to make the tough choice, for yourself, your children and for him, and leave him. It just might be the kick in the ass that he needs. If you allow him to continue... I'm afraid to think of what could happen to him. Or to you or your kids.

I don't know who you are, but you will haunt my dreams tonight. I wish you all the luck in the world with your decision.

Anonymous said...

This is the hardest step. May your journey into a new life with your children be as peaceful as possible.

It sounds as if you know what you need to do. Now might be the time to do it. Best of luck to you and your children.

Annie, The Evil Queen said...

I'll be praying for all four of you. Unfortunately, you are left being the strong and smart one for the whole family. The burden, as always, has fallen to you. But you can survive this step, as you have survived all that has come before. He has made his choice and you have made yours. And you will all live with the consequences, good and bad. But you and your children will be safe.

Anonymous said...

I had a hard time sleeping after reading your post and couldn't come back to comment until this morning. I think you are a very brave and strong woman. For sharing this and admitting about keeping up the appearances and for considering leaving.

You cannot change him. You cannot force him to stop drinking. Only he can do that (and not with the therapist he's been seeing). You shared so many "rock bottom" moments in your story that could have been the catalyst for him to get treatment and admit, honestly, about his alcoholism. But he didn't. He said he'd go into treatment for you this last time but that isn't going to stick.

So that was the rational side of what I have to say above based on alot of personal experience. Now for what I am feeling...

My fater is an alcoholic. The kind of alcoholic that you describe of your husband. He didn't drink 24/7 but when he did it always lead to toxic, unhealthy environment and an emotional rollercoaster. I remember as a small child sending notes to my parents begging them to stop fighting. Because even if you think you are keeping up appearances for your children ... they know. Children know. They listen when you don't think they are. They fake being asleep. They feel and sense the stress you are under. I remember stealing his beer and rye and pouring it down the sink. I remeber begging him to stop drinking. I remember sitting with him when he was drunk when my mom had reached her wits end and left him to sober up and didn't know that I knew. I remember feeling so sorry for him and so worried for him. I almost never blamed him. I blamed my mom. For years as a child I was so angry with her for not loving him enough so he'd not drink or for not making him stop. Of course I didn't understand but that is how my heart felt.

I wish my mom had left him. It would have been much better for us. My life would have been a million times different. And I wouldn't have had to learn her well-honed skills of "keeping up appearances" because we knew we couldn't tell friends and teachers about my dad's drinking. I rarely had friends over to my house as I got older. And now to this day I struggle with the same patterns. My husband doesn't drink but when we do have serious (really serious) marital issues, I have been well trained to keep up the pretty smiling face to the outside world while I battle what to do.

You need to do what you want to do. You are your own expert. But if you were my mom and it was 25 years ago, I'd have wished you would have our family could heal and be a positive environment and so that he could have that "rock bottom" moment and hopefully quit.

Please also consider checking out your local Al-anon chapter. They are everywhere and they have some excellent support groups for families of alcoholics.

I am sending much love your way...


Miguelita said...

I have no personal experience with this but I do have "family experience". My aunt left my uncle because he was an alcoholic. We didnt even know. He was always Mr. Fun Guy at family celebrations, laughing and dancing and teasing. He was totally blown away by her decision, but he straightened himself up and eventually earned her back. He never drank again.

I know people talk about "hitting rock bottom" but for your husband you have always been there to cushion his fall. That is what people do for people they love. But you know have have gone way beyond in trying to make things work. You are so brave and strong. The first step is often the worst step, but it will get easier. You can do it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am so very sorry you are having to deal with this. The previous comments are dead-on…about you trying to change him, cover for him…but you probably know that. What a horrible mask to always keep on...making everyone think you have the perfect family...when in reality it is a complete sham. I know, I was there. Almost in your exact situation (right down to the well behaved girl and boy...except mine were 2 and 5), minus the run-ins with the law (somehow, all the drunk driving he did never resulted in a DUI, i still can't believe it). He was a social butterfly type of drinker, just like your husband...the life of the party. I can remember going on the Disney Cruise and him drinking so much at one of the ports of call, that I didn’t even know if I’d be able to get him back to the ship. I poured all the alcohol down the drain many a time. Hid car keys in many places. Drove by bars to see which one he was at, if he’d left yet, etc. I’d start getting very panic-y on Thursdays, because it meant the weekend was almost here…and that was two days for him to binge, and me to worry.

I did it for 6 and a half years...then I couldn't ignore the signs (many things, including our first visit to the marriage counselor which was scheduled for 9am on 9/11/01…talk about a sign) that it was time to leave.

Eventually, after years and years, I had stopped caring. I didn't care that he probably wouldn't be able to keep his job without me waking him up. I didn’t care that without me to make him feel guilty, he’d probably start going out every single night. I didn't care that meant he probably would lose the big house we had just built. I just didn't care. I had nothing left in me. I didn't care if everyone in the small community where we live knew that he was a drunk and that I had lived in complete hell for many, many years. I dreamed of a life where I could sleep all night and not wonder where he was, how he would get home, when he would get home. I was a less that great mom to my kids because I was so exhausted from staying up worrying.

In short, when the fear of living my life like that for one more day became stronger than my fear of the unknown, that's when i found it inside myself to finally leave.

I told him I was done, and that night, moved into the guest room. I stayed in there for about 6 weeks, enough time for me to get the 401K money, rent a house, get a job, find full time day care, etc. It was from that point on, I started sleeping...all night. It was wonderful. I didn't care where he was. I didn't care how he came home...hell, because I was in a different room, I didn't even know when/if he came home. He tried everything. He even started taking antibuse (sp?), the drug that makes you violently ill if you drink. He promised me everything and I think he really meant it…but I was done. I’d been promised it all before. I didn’t want to break my family up and I knew nothing of divorce (or alcoholism, for that matter), since my parents were still together, but I knew it was time.

My friends say that's when "myname got her brain back". It was the first time in a long time that I started feeling strong. Not that it wasn't was. Hard, embarrassing at times, and very, very scary. But it was amazing how strong I was. I slept all night. I had stopped crying so much. I even stopped shopping all the time (I think that was my “addiction”). I didn’t have a need for it anymore.

Fast forward to now. I almost can’t believe that was me. I am now married to a wonderful man, and while it’s not perfect (heck, we live paycheck to paycheck!), there is a sense of peace that I didn’t think I’d ever know. It’s so funny because I look in our pantry and see tons of liquor bottles in there (most given as gifts) and they just collect dust. It’s not that we don’t drink, it’s just that neither one of us have that insatiable drive to consume every last drop of alcohol in the house, like he did. I don’t have to ever wonder where my husband is or wonder when/if he will come home. I often can’t believe it’s my life…it’s just so, normal…what so many other people take for granted.

You owe it to yourself and your kids to get out of that unhealthy situation. You’ve given it your all (heck, you’ve given it more than your all) and there comes a time when you say this problem is bigger than you are capable of fixing. So easy for me to say, I know. How I wish I could show you a picture of your life without all this craziness…but unfortunately, only you know when it’s time and when you’ve truly had enough. When it’s time, you’ll find the strength…it’s in there, just waiting for you to tap into it.

Anonymous said...

I support you 100%. You are doing the right thing by getting out. I have seen two close friends go through very much the same scenario, and while it was very difficult for them to leave, it was the right decision. They and their children are much happier now.

I'm so sorry that you and your kids have been through such hell. And yes, you're right about appearances. Very deceiving at times.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I know what you are going through. If there is one thing I know to the very core of my being it is the effects of alcoholism on a family.

My grandfatehr was an alcoholic. My grandmother left him a few times, but always went back. She was with him as he died of various alcohol related diseases, attached to a tube in a hospital bed in their living room as he slowly suffocated to death. She had always lived your life, keeping up the appearance of normality while living in hell.

My mother followed in her father's footsteps. She has been an alcoholic now for about 27 years, most of my life. My mother and father decided to move to the burbs when my sister and I were very young so that we could "have a better life". What a joke. My mom was not cut out for SAHM-ing, fell in love with the town drunk who lived two doors down, took up his favorite passtime, became a drunk herself, and booted my dad out Christams Eve of our very first Christmas in our nice new suburban home. She was married to said town drunk in June the following summer. What followed for my sister and me was a childhood of fear and loathing and shame. We were wrecks, growing up around alcoholism. I swore I would never live like that, would never have that in my family.

Then I somehow fell in love with a drunk. Not intentionally, of course. I thought there was a good person behind the drinking. I thought I could help him. I thought that if I loved him enough... (this is what alcoholism in the family does to children's minds; it programmed me to be the enabler, like all those times I was the mom when my drunk mother couldn't hold it together). Looking back now, it's like I got involved with my step-father. Scary.

We were careless. I became pregnant. The pregnancy was hard, complications, bedrest, no sex. He left me (for another woman, one who apparently had no restrictions on f**ing) when I was seven months pregnant. I tracked him down, actually begged him to stay, forgave him, and he managed to be there for my son's birth, but he was horribly jealous, the drinking was worse than ever, and I had many moments of wishing he would just pass out already. Things were bad, financially, too. He couldn't hold down a job. So I supported us and his drinking, edured his jealousy and meanness because I thought I needed him around to watch the boy. I couldn't afford childcare and a mortgage, much less a mortgage and other bills, on what I made, but I made too much to qualify for any assistance. I realized that having him around was no good, but how could I make it without him?

Things went on like that until my son was about 9 months old. Then, in one of those I Just Want Him to Pass Out nights, I had unprotected sex with him, became pregnant again, and knew I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't have him leave me again, this time with two kids. Since I was the one who provided, I had to work and couldn't have a bedrest pregnancy again with no one there for me. So I had an abortion, for myself, for my family. It was the hardest decision I ever made, but making it set me free from my denial (read any literature on alcoholic families and you will see that we are all awash in denial, buried in it, every breath filled with it). I was forced to realize that if I am aborting this child because I can't trust this man, because he is too sick and useless to be a father, I couldn't continue the relationship. I would have to leave him. I would find a way to do it on my own. And I did.

To make a long story short, in less than 24 hours after the procedure he a)proposed to me--almost as soon as I got home from the clinic as I lay in pain and puking on the bed (with a ring and everything, wonder where that came from? He probably won it in bar dice or stole it) and b) (the next morning) called me a murdering bitch, ripped my son from my hands and would not give him back, told me he was going to take him away somewhere and I would never see him again. Somehow I got my son back, made it clear that he was to leave and to force the issue I would call the police. He left. I heard from him a few times, but before my son was a year old, he had left the state and I never heard from him again. This time, I did not track him down. He abandoned his son, yes, but that was truly a favor. I think I always knew he would leave one day. Thank the powers that be he did not leave me with two.

It was hard after he left, but only financially. I took in a roomate who watched my boy for free rent. That wasn't the best situation, but compared to the alternative, it was heaven.

Now I am happily married to a different man. A responsible, wonderful man. Like a previous commenter, we have liquor bottles in the house, mostly untouched, and the occassional beer, but there is not the disease, the relentless drinking to get drunk, to dull everything except the anger, to free the venomous words. We live a blissfully normal life. We are broke most of the time, live paycheck to paycheck, but we are madly in love and so happy. Best of all, we manage with me a SAHM. Sure, it would be grand to live in a bigger house, but I envy no one. I am happy with what I have. I do not regret the decisions I had to make. I know that if I did not make them, I would still be in that sick relationship. My son would be repeating my childhood. I would not be happy and free from the demons of alcoholism like I am today.

And that is just my story. A friend of mine left her alcoholic husband. Since he was progressing from alcoholism into drug abuse and landed in jail, she has been fully responsible for soley supporting herself and four kids with no child support. She has no high school diploma. But she manages. Even with all her burdens, she is happier now that she is done with him.

So as difficult as it may seem, leaving is the best thing you can do. You must put aside his thoughts and feelings and do what you must do. Too long have you put aside your own needs and your children's needs for his. He cannot put you first. He cannot put you above alcohol. Not now. Maybe someday. But it is not your responsibility or duty or plight to help him through it, to help him get better. Either he will get better or he won't after you leave, but he definitely won't if you stay, constantly cushining his falls with your love.

And your kids. Let me tell you, growing up in alcoholism is bad, just bad. Even if you think you are protecting them, they know, they internalize it, and somethimes, as much as they wish to avoid it, they grow up to live it.

Anonymous said...

What a lot to bear. But you don't have to do it all yourself - there are places that can help you get everything you need to leave; you just need to ask for help. And you kind of already just did. Try your local Red Door Shelter - their workers and volunteers can help make everything just a little bit easier. I know.

Anonymous said...

The fact that you have planned out every step of leaving in such detail tells me that you are ready to go and just searching for the last push to get you out the door. If that's what you are looking for, I think it's time.

It must be hard to think of him losing the house, a job, because you don't call and wake him up, but the fact is if you continue to take care of him, he will continue his drinking behaviors and know that your children will learn how to do this. It will be hard on them in the beginning to adjust, but they will be better off, even if they have a healthy, happier mother and not the mom and dad they know at home today.

Lastly, please take care of you. You deserve happiness and peace in your home. You have tried to help him, now help yourself.

Anonymous said...

I don't have the same close experience with alcoholism that many of the commenters have. It sounds like they are speaking from wisdom. What support and strength they offer.

Your husband is living a lie. Leaving him helps to take the lies away. It may be the kindest thing left to do for him.

Anonymous said...

you *have* to take care of your kids and yourself. his priorities lie elsewhere, it's pretty plain.

I'm so sorry. I wish I could give you a really big hug and then help you get through that laundry list that will move you the hell outta there.

Anonymous said...

I applaud you...that you know you should leave.

Now you must do it.

And, if you have any choice in the matter, you need to find a place that is far away from him. If he is able to play on your emotions you might find yourself in a weak moment and take him back. You can't let that happen. It took however many years for him to become such an alcoholic, it is going to take as many years for him to recover.

Don't let him yo-yo in and out of the children's lives - it will break their hearts and keep you from being the mother you CAN be!

You can be strong - you must be strong. You are their mother - protect them and keep them, and yourself, safe. You can do it.

Go now! Don't wait anymore! No time will ever feel or be "perfect".

I wish you all the luck in the world! And the strength of so many!

Kristi said...

I am struck at your story and my heart aches for you.
I hope you get the resolution you need and soon.

Anonymous said...

Your story was very hard for me to read. I grew up with both an alcoholic mother and father who divorced but kept coming back together, only to split up again. As soon as I was old enough, I moved in with my grandparents. As a child, I craved normalcy, craved the family life I dreamed my friends had. As an adult, I now have a "normal" life. We aren't well off, we don't own fancy cars or a great house, but we love each other and we work through our struggles together. My husband and I have our own problems but I have never had to lay there in the dark wondering when he was coming home the way I did as a child. What I'm trying to say is, leaving is the very best thing you can do for your children. And you may be very surprised once you announce it to your friends and family how supportive they will be. And if they aren't, then don't make them a big part of your new life. Your husband needs to fall as hard as he can and even then he may never get well. My mother has never recovered, even after being homeless and living in her car she has found a way to drink. The most important thing is for you to take care of yourself and your children. Children always know more about the situation than you think they do and they develop fears, knots in their stomach, they may not even be able to tell you about. When you leave it all behind you, wash your hands of any guilt, you will be a better, stronger, happier mother and your children will not grow up wondering how they can make mommy happier, how they can make daddy act like a daddy, etc. I wish you the very best luck and I am praying for you and your family. Also, I know you are very busy and things are hectic but you will find some of the best support and friends ever at a recovery group for families of an alcoholic.

Anonymous said...

As a child of an alcoholic father, I tell you this.

He's put your life and the lives of your children in danger. And unfortunately, in his capacity, he can only think about himself.

I'm all for second chances, but that doesn't mean you need to be married to him for those to happen. You have to decide what's better (particularly as an example for your kids) - you taking him back all the time or you saying this isn't right and I'm going to do something about it.

When my dad died, I resented my mom for years because she always kept him around - always took him back.

So know that your decision, while it is hard and leaves you in a position where you working your guts off to provide for your kids, will, in the long run, serve THEM and YOU well.

Anonymous said...

You must be exhausted. Keeping up with life, worrying about the kids, worrying about him.

I am glad to know that you realize you must get out. It is the best thing for you and the kids, even though it will be difficult -- because who knows what you will witness if you don't go. What your kids will witness, too.

I wish you peace and strength as you work through this.

nonlineargirl said...

It is so hard to leave a bad situation, because no matter how bad things are you are invested. You've put energy into this relationship and may feel that leaving it means admitting defeat. That is not the case. You need to do what is best for yourself and your children. You have given your husband many chances to do the right thing. If he can not or will not, you can not be responsible for picking up the pieces when things go bad.

My heart goes out to you. I have been thinking about you since I read your story. Please know that people (in the real world and in the blog-world) care about your safety and happiness.

Anonymous said...

I am a child of an alcoholic. My Dad is "recovering" and has not had a drink in almost a year. He was a single father most of my life. For a while he married a woman that enabled him to drink and drink to the point it was down right scary. During that time he hit me twice (never before or after that marriage).

He is an amazing man. Incredibly smart considering how much he has drank in his lifetime. He would do anything for me and paid my way through university (plus way more guilt money but that is a post of its own). I love my Dad. He is all I have and I unconditionally love him. That was not always the case.

Growing up I tried so hard to be perfect. I thought if I was just smart, pretty, popular, etc ENOUGH my Daddy would not drink anymore because I was GOOD ENOUGH. I cannot tell you how impossible this was and what it did to my self esteem.

I swore to myself that I would NEVER marry a man like my father. I didn't and thankfully my daughter will never feel the anguish, despair, lonley that I felt, especially as a teenager.

Please consider your children. They totally believe that they are at fault to some degree. No matter what they tell you, they blame themselves (as you do to some degree as well).

By staying you re saying to them and yourself that you are ok with this behaviour and somehow, you are responsible for his drinking.

Your children will always love their Daddy. He will either make it or break it. YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE for what happens to him if you stay or go (especially if you go).

Just some things to consider. You can contact me through my blog if you need an ear to listen and not judge.

gingajoy said...

kristen is right--leaving him may *not* preclude a second chance, but he needs a bit more of a shock to the system it seems.

more to the point, you need to get some balance and joy in your life by distancing yourself from this--you've done all you can, but you are being eaten up by this burden. this will make *you* a better parent too (hopefully).

doing this might be a great gesture of love--he can't go on like this, and after all--he is a grown man, NOT one of your children.

You know all this, of course. I know I would be as much in a dilemma as you are. Hang in there. We are all supporting you as much as we can.

Jezer said...

I've been there, only we weren't married (living together) and there were no children. I know exactly what it feels like to wake up alone at 3am with a missing SO. That happened several times. I distinctly remember calling the morgue one morning around 6:00 after a night of waiting and wondering. We eventually split up, but not because of the alcohol. Had we stayed together, gotten married, and had children together, I don't know how it would have ended. But I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have been pretty.

But like I say, there were no children. Although the scenarios are so, so familiar, your situation is much different from mine. I can say that I've known people who have changed, people who have overcome alcoholism. I think there is hope for your husband. But in the meantime, you have two children who are in danger.

I think leaving will do two things: It will get your children in a safer environment and it will give your husband the kick in the butt that he needs. I think that in the back of his mind, he thinks you will stay and support him no matter what, because you have.

Here's how you get over that hump: You go apartment shopping, and find one you love. You make all the necessary arrangements to move, get the help/support of two or three people whom you trust, and set a move-out date. If it were me, I would move my belongings out ahead of time while he was out. I would make sure the kids were not present and I would have a support person nearby when I told him. Don't spend a lot of time at that moment "talking it out." Keep it short and simple and clean. Make sure he understands the reason why you're leaving. Arrange a time later to meet up and talk, if that's what you want to do. Let this be an opportunity for him to see what is at stake and either make a decision to straighten up or not.

One thing that always haunted me, though, was that I had always been there to "take care" of my guy. I worried that he would hurt himself in a car accident or by alcohol poisoning. I think you know that that is a possibility, but I hope you will release yourself from any responsibility for his well-being. He is an adult, and your most important responsibility is to your children.

I am thinking of you and praying for you. My hope is that he will realize that he must make a change and that after a time, you will be able to rebuild your marriage and family. If that is not possible, though, by leaving you are taking the first step toward building a safe and healthy life for you and your children.

Redneck Mommy said...

I am so sad for you.

He will have lost his whole life when I leave. No, he lost his whole life when he repeatedly lifted up that drink and swallowed.

By leaving, you may allow him and you to find it again.

Good luck. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

SUEB0B said...

Yes, yes, Al-Anon. They will help you so much. You will find others who have been through the craziness and who will not judge you. Please go. They can even help you get there if you need a ride. Good people.

Anonymous said...

For the sake of your children, I hope you have already left your husband. It is hard, but it is something you must do. Hopefully, it will be the wake-up call for him -- his true rock-bottom. I am yet another child of an alcoholic father. Your story is too familiar. I wish my mother had kicked him out long before she finally did. Many previous commenters have hit the nail on the head. What they say is completely true about what your children are experiencing. Get out now while your children can still recover and have somewhat normal lives. You obviously know what you need to do, and good for you. Please, please, please take the words of the children of alcoholics to heart and do what you need to do. Don't wait.

Hang in there! You will get through it and come out so much better in the end. It may take a few years, but there will be a point when you look back and you will know, without a doubt, that you did the right thing to leave.

Anonymous said...

YOU are not responsbile for his alcoholism, even if you have enabled him.

BECAUSE you enabled him does not mean you are obligated to do so.

REMEMBER: without you, the demise of his 'life' - the house etc - may have happened earlier. there is no way for you to know.

YOU CANNOT save him. you can only save yourself and your kids.