Monday, February 22, 2010
Before I can tell you about today, I need to tell you about last Tuesday. Last Tuesday was my first day of sobriety. But before I can tell you about Tuesday, I need to tell you about what happened before Tuesday.
Looking back, it's obvious that I've been an alcoholic, or an alcoholic in training, for a long, long time. My parents tell stories about me as a toddler or preschooler, stealing sips of beer. I remember drinking a glass of champagne or wine with dinner as a young child (maybe age six or seven) and liking it so much that I wanted a refill. I know that at age seven I preferred my mother's tropical cocktail (Planter's Punch) to my own Shirley Temple. I remember at around age 13, our family had a leftover keg in our garage from a block party, and I drank one or two glasses a day from it until it disappeared.
The first "official" time I got drunk I was 14. Fuzzy Navels and tequila shots. My friend, who had driven us to the party, wound up putting a very dizzy, barely conscious me into bed, obviously disappointed by what a crummy sleepover guest I'd turned out to be.
College? Plenty of binge drinking, followed by throwing up and blacking out. Bad behavior.
After college, more of the same.
I took a break for a few years, when I was pregnant and had small kids.
But once the kids got old enough to go away for sleepovers, more binge drinking. No more throwing up, but plenty of overindulgence followed by passing out and nasty morning-after hangovers.
Fast forward a few years. My husband's diagnosis of metabolic disorder gave us a great excuse to drink daily: red wine is a key part of the Mediterranean diet! My frequently-used jest was, "My doctor told me a glass of red wine a day is good for me. I say two glasses are twice as good!" In reality, however, two glasses? That was by six o'clock. We quickly got to a level of drinking that meant we recycled three or four boxes of wine per week. I was keeping up with his every drink, sometimes surpassing him, and he outweighs me by about 150 pounds.
I stopped going to sleep. Instead, I blacked out. Many mornings, I'd wake up naked, but not sure if we'd had sex. I had to ask my husband what we had done.
But certainly, I'd told myself, I wasn't an alcoholic. I didn't miss work because of drinking. I didn't start drinking until at least 5:00 p.m. (of course, sometimes I'd sit staring at the clock, with a glass ready, for ten or more minutes). I never got a DUI. I never went to jail. I never hit my kids.
But I started to get sloppy. Over the holidays, I drank too much and was obviously drunk at my in-laws' house. I embarrassed my husband. And the week after New Year's, my husband and I had a sincere conversation in which we determined that we drank entirely too much, and that we needed to cut down.
What happened? He cut down, even skipped nights, drinking one or two drinks at the most. I, however, started putting my wine in coffee cups, or, more disturbingly, waiting until everyone else had gone to bed before starting to drink, and getting drunk.
And that brings us to Monday night. The husband went to bed around 10:30 p.m. As soon as he was in bed, I went to the kitchen and turned on the faucet, as though I were filling up the tea kettle. Instead of tea, however, I made myself a glass of bourbon with one ice cube. (The water running disguised the sound of me pouring the liquor into the glass, as well as the clink of the ice cube.) I took my drink to the living room and played computer games, sipping on the drink as I played. Soon enough, it was empty. By this time, he was fully asleep, so I didn't need to disguise the noise when I poured the second drink. This one polished off the bottle, and for a moment, I considered funneling the bourbon back into the bottle. I quickly dismissed this impulse, however, and put the empty bottle into the recycling bin (in the back, so it wouldn't be easily seen). The second drink went down faster than the first. And here's where it gets confusing.
I must have gone outside to smoke a cigarette. I had my coat on. I fell. I don't know if I tripped or if I passed out on my feet, but I went down face first onto the patio. I don't remember falling. I don't know how long I lay there before I got up. I remember seeing blood on my right hand. That's all I remember.
I somehow got my coat off, and got undressed, and put myself to bed. I wasn't quiet about it, though, and my husband woke up. He says it was around 3 a.m. He told me the rest of it. I fell down on the floor on the way to bed, then got up and fell down again. He asked me what was going on, and my answer was "floor." He got up and saw what I would see the next morning: my face was covered with blood, with my upper lip bearing the majority of the injury. My glasses were scratched, my nose looked broken (it wasn't), and I'd broken a tooth.
Next morning, I woke up, aware that something was very wrong. I took inventory of my injuries with fingers and tongue. My front teeth were there. Good. But the next tooth, oh no. Was broken in half. My lip was numb, but everything else hurt. A lot.
My husband came into the room and discovered that I was awake. I'll never forget the look on his face, and the sob in his voice, when he asked me, "What have you done to yourself?" I tried to answer, to make up a story, but he already knew the answer. He wanted to take me to the hospital. I refused. He tried to clean up my face a little. And then he helped me get to the bathroom, where I took a long look at myself in the mirror, then collapsed onto the vanity. He helped me clean up more, then put me back in bed, where I was freezing and needed blanket after blanket. (I guess I was in shock or something.)
He ran me a hot bath, picked out some clothes, and took better care of me than I deserved.
While I was in the bath, he poured out the only liquor remaining in the house (1/3 of a bottle of vodka).
I spent the day resting, occasionally sleeping, crying a lot, and I asked for help. I called a friend who'd been sober for years, and asked her to take me to a meeting.
And that's day one. Today is day six. I've been to five AA meetings. I have not taken a drink since that night. I hope I never do again. I came very close to death that night. My blood is on the patio, only inches from four ceramic and terra cotta flower pots. I shudder to think how the whole thing would have gone if I'd fallen a few inches to the right.
I lied to my husband. My integrity? Non-existent. My self-respect? Right there with it.
I've got nowhere to go but up. I want to live in reality. I want to have integrity. I want to deserve my family's trust. I don't want to die because of alcohol.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Ante-script: My mother has early onset dementia. She is not yet 70 years old and her deterioration is fast, quiet, harsh, and ceaseless. Suicide is very rare among patients with this type of dementia (mostly because they haven’t the ability to plan and process the act) but we have a strong family history—her own father, in fact. Today my father took a gun out of her hand but I can't speak to how or why it was there. I am not there. I can’t be there. I am far away with three children—one is Daniel, my little piece of God. My sister is there, but for reasons never given, she wants nothing from me—I “breeze in” for visits. (Anybody else “breeze” anywhere with a special needs kid? Did I miss that workshop?) Anyway, this piece is almost a year old (2/09)—she visited us back then with the fully disclosed understanding that I would submit my observations to her doctor. Truly, as much as mothers watch our babies change in a year, so has this daughter watched her mother change, only in a backwards dying way. I will need to write on this again, so background information seemed only fair enough to offer.
I submitted my super (and completely un-) secret documentation of mom's visit to her doctor as directed. Or, rather, I emailed it to my dad and he submitted it because I just couldn't send all that crap directly to a stranger.
You see, I told on my mother. Laid out her secrets, one by one, day by day. I kissed her on both cheeks and now they will surely come for her.
It would appear that my mother is only able to function as a result of my father's constant vigilance and well-honed sense of I-Know-What's-Rightiness. It would appear that way because without my father, she is just simply un-able. Unable to what? Well, it's all right there in the document, and frankly, you should probably be on the lookout for a copy because my father is forwarding it around like one of those 'This is Cute' emails. And this, this horrid thing that is scraping my mother away from the inside out, is not cute at all.
She's been gone a week today and my anger is becoming soft and grief-y. Well, you would be angry too (maybe) if you had to hide food and tape containers shut and guard your kids' snacks and wonder why the autistic kid keeps bringing his empty snack bowl back for more crackers(vocab: perseverity/eating disorder--elderly onset) and double check the doors and gates left open and listen to endless lies (vocab: confabulation) and accusations that your Daniel stole her watch. And you would especially maybe be mad if you, somewhere in the back of your head, thought that When Mama Comes It Will Get Better. It was not better. It was her making kids cry at the twins’ birthday party because she wanted to Huuuuuuuug them. Like a very scary Grandma Clown. It was her ignoring her beautiful grandchildren unless they were packing graham crackers (vocab: apathy). It was her describing her father's death (suicide by gunshot, btw) to your children in lurid detail while you did everything but gag her to stop it (vocab: comportment and insight, executive skills). God save me, it was her wanting to pray over Daniel so that he might be healed. Healed. (See prev. entries regarding how he's glorious and I am a mess) I could not bear for Daniel to hear what she might say during this over-praying thing(No vocab for that, but boy, it pissed me off something fierce). It was her no longer able call a light a light or a bowl a bowl (vocab: agnosia).
It was her no long able to be her. I know that. I do
And here's the thing: For all that I did what was asked of me, for all that I checked and double checked and worded and reworded to drain every last drop of drama from it, for all that I swear up and down before you and God that yes, it sounds crazy, but yes, it did all happen, and finally for all that I only did it so that she might be treated and thus be Grandma, for all that, I ratted her out. Betrayed her. She is livid and bewildered (when she’s not talking about what a great visit we had). Her doctor is, as my dad says, "pretty shaken." Great. Just Great. I would like to speak to a manager please. Surely, there is someone in charge.
And also, can I get directions to the nearest Potter's Field on Mapquest?
But you must understand, I knew her when she was. When she was giving me her wedding dress as my own. When she was giving my biggest boy his first bath because I was bloody terrified of that red wailing wiggler. When she assured me that "twins are a good thing" and "we'll get through it." When she called me at the NICU when Fuzzy was intubated (5 years ago today). When she cooked and cleaned and ironed and yelled at me to "keep nursing and they'll be okay." All of these years before the first shadow and pall of autism—The mother of all “I want my mommy” screams. All this before that. And these, you see, are just the tip of the was's. Just the ones out in front in this one tiny bit of scribble. There are so many--God, how I do wish that had been my task, handling the was's and not the is's. Because then you would laugh and nod and think to yourself, "Oh, Daniel’s Mama’s mama, she was something else, that is for sure."
And she was.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
I know what I’m doing is wrong and that I’ve finally turned into a “statistic” but I feel like I can’t help myself. I’m your average, middle class, married working woman, two kids, nice house, church going, supportive family. Everything that should make me a “good” person. Here I am in the midst of a tumultuous affair with my next-door neighbor. Let me go back to the beginning…
I’ve been a good wife for the most part these past 10 years. Our marriage was never anything exciting but it was comfortable, solid, something I decided I just needed to be happy with. I never strayed all these years, though more than once I considered having an affair usually out of anger or frustration. Several jobs, two houses, and two kids later here we are at present day.
HE’s been there, lurking in my vision for quite a while now. Always a neighbor, never even allowing myself to think of crossing the line. Then this summer things changed, the world shifted. Suddenly I found myself flirting with him, albeit casually.
We live next door to each other and are the “outside” parents – the ones who are always outside with the kids, playing, laughing, and being the “fun” parent when we can. A little banter here, a little banter there. Suddenly I was in a whirlwind of having a crush on HIM. It was fun, harmless I told myself. But I found myself checking out the window to see if he and his kids were outside a little more frequently. My ears perked up at the sound of his truck coming home. I found excuses to be outside more and more and more.
I caught myself thinking about him here and there, imagining what a kiss would feel like, fantasizing about being wrapped in his arms.. Then that fateful night came. A neighborhood party. We hung out for hours, totally PG flirting. HE confessed HE wasn’t happily married. I could feel the tension between us. The interest. The desire. We finally walked back home and I wanted HIM to kiss me. It didn’t happen though we had some intense eye contact for a while.
Then two days later, a shot that rocked my world. HE was there. Just through Facebook at first. Sending an encouraging message, letting me know HE was thinking of me. One fateful day he popped up in a chat box on Facebook. I was sad and teary but he managed to make me laugh. Playing a chat version of 20 questions turned into him making a quick trip over to see me. The first time we had so obviously sought each other out. So friendly and neighborly. Numbers were exchanged and a few friendly phone calls followed.
A few days later, I was doing my best to put my life back together and a rare warm late fall day we got to be outside for hours with the kids. Flirting was rampant though kept in check due to the presence of both our spouses. In an opportune moment, HE leaned over and whispered HIS email address to me and asked me to email HIM the next day.
Our work email exchange was/is ridiculous. Sometimes as many as 50 emails back and forth a day. Pushing for more information, teasing, flirting, challenging me. I had the opportunity to be home early one day and let HIM know. HE came over to “talk.” I was a nervous schoolgirl. Couldn’t hardly look HIM in the eye. Things got close, intense. HE said I had to make the first move; I started to and then hesitated. He pulled back. A moment later, HE dove in. The most amazing kissing of my life. All the while, I was thinking, “I am breaking my marriage vows right here in my own kitchen with my next door neighbor. Seriously? This is my life?”
More phone calls and emails. Such chemistry. A few days later things progressed. I stopped just in the nick of time. Who am I doing this? On my own couch with my own neighbor? More days passed. Hundreds of emails, more than a few phone calls. It was time to piss or get off the pot. I got off the pot. We started having sex – in MY bed – on a fairly regular basis. Whenever we could meet up and it was relatively “safe” from discovery. The physical chemistry is just overwhelming. He’s so appealing to me even though this is crazy and messed up.
Almost three months later, I’m obsessed, wrapped up in a web of mixed emotions. I long to be with him but know it’s virtually impossible. Relationship with husband is seriously on the rocks and essentially over. All that’s left is for me to tell him it’s officially over. Know I’m hurting him but feel like I can’t imagine a life with us together ever again. As much as I try not to think of a “future” with HIM, it’s getting harder by the day.
We avoid talking about feelings other than to tease each other. We both have said we’re crazy for each other. My marriage is/will be ending soon. Not so sure about his. Life is complicated. Now the question is, will I be happy being the other woman in his life if he decides he can’t leave yet?
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
I've had these words buried in me for years. After a recent postcard was posted on the Post secret website I have found myself choking to spit them out like a cat hacking on a hairball. If you have ever been a single mom you will get this. If not, take this as a plea from one woman to another.
I'm a suburban single mom. The choice to stay in our home after the divorce was easy. I felt it would be best for my kids. The schools are better here; the kids had been through enough. In other words while he moved on with a clean slate I remained at the scene of the crime. My neighbor actually asked pre-divorce who was getting the house. They wanted to know who their neighbor would be. I became the only single parent in my neighborhood and to my own detriment I carried on with a stiff upper lip. I might have as well developed the plague. I was not talked to but talked about. It will blow over, I thought. Ten years have passed it hasn't.
Here's where my plea comes in: married moms, be kind to me. I am just a mom like you. I am trying to juggle all the things your family does with half of the resources. I come home from work cook and try to help with homework, clean and do laundry. If I have a bad day I'm not able to tag team and get a break. It's just me. Just me to guide, feed and love these precious people I have been entrusted with. It's scary and hard as hell. If my child ends up on Dr. Phil someday it surely must be my fault. I am the custodial parent. I don't choose to be the only mom at the Cub Scout camp-outs; I just don't want my son to miss out on these things because his dad can't be bothered with them. I've yet to figure out if you find me a threat, or just a reminder that your dreams of happily ever after could fall apart in the blink of an eye just like mine did. Either way your cold shoulders hurt and they work. My son senses it and no longer wants to be in the cub scouts. It probably would have been easier to just sell my house and start over in the city where single parent homes are the majority. I wouldn't have had to hear from my mailman that it is confusing having “so many names” on our box since I chose to take my maiden name back. I wouldn't sit through an entire little league game with only a couple of the grandmas talking to me. We are all women, trying to navigate the rocks and holes life has scattered in our paths. Why not help each other along the way? In the end we will probably outlive our mates. In the nursing homes we are all single moms - some of us just got there sooner than others.