Monday, June 02, 2008

Just two or three nights a week

It's 11:30 p.m. as I write this. D is sitting in the dark on our back porch, full wine glass in hand, drunk. This is a little scenario that plays itself out in our house about two to three nights a week. Oh, he's not usually on the back porch. Usually he's in our living room, watching TV or listening to the stereo on headphones. But wherever he is, by about 9 p.m., he's drunk.

The rest of the week, D is normal, he's sober, and he's a great guy. He's sweet, he's smart, and most of all, he has been more supportive to me than anyone else in this world -- and I include my own mother and father in that. But if he doesn't get his drunk on two to three nights per week, he's not happy. It's obvious that he depends on it.


I wrote that on June 2, and here is is June 20. Things have not changed, except that tonight when he came home with a 12-pack and I asked him to defer his drinking to tomorrow night, on the grounds that I was tired of him going to an every-other-night drinking schedule, he put his beer away in the garage and didn't drink it -- but he has given me the cold shoulder all night, refusing to talk to me except for the bare minimum. He went to bed a little while ago, obviously still angry.

This anger stuff related to his drinking is a little unusual. Most of the time he's a congenial drunk. Usually I'm the one who's angry at him, for being drunk.

I have refrained from writing about this for a long, long time, but after reading Cecily's post at Uppercase Woman about "The Fear That Holds Me Back," (I love Cecily!) I realized I should just get it out there. Trying to pussyfoot around this issue has been one of the big issues keeping me from blogging. So often, something I want to write about the boys has D's drinking as a component somewhere in the story. I have hesitated to get into this subject at all in my blog. I don't want this to be a drinking blog, or an AA blog, or an anti-AA blog. I would like this to just be a chronicle of our wonderful little boys' beginning and their first years in life, and the life that I was living as I was raising them. But honestly, this has been a fairly significant part of that life, so trying to leave it out has been, yes, like trying to tiptoe around the elephant in the living room. Works okay except that you keep stepping in the pachyderm-size turds.

The other reason I have refrained from writing about this is that although this situation is definitely a problem, most of the solutions offered to me are likewise a problem. People have this notion that if you are married to an alcoholic, you should leave them, no matter what. Or give them an ultimatum -- me or the bottle. Something along those lines.

Real life is not so simple. Granted, I have largely plopped myself into this box, but it is a box that I can't see a clear and simple way out of. Back when I met D, I was 26, but pretty unschooled in the ways of the world. I really didn't know anything about alcoholics or what they were like. I didn't admit to myself that D was an alcoholic until after we had been married a while. The logical thing to do at that point, I suppose, was leave him. But it was complicated by the fact that I was wildly in love with him. Also, I had my own pretty big set of problems. My early upbringing sucked, to coin a phrase, and in my late 20's, I developed a nice anxiety disorder, OCD, a set of completely irrational phobias, and PTSD, all delayed reactions from my childhood. As so often happens, once I felt safe in a relationship (with D), I completely fell apart.

Well, he took care of me. He didn't kick me to the curb, though a lot of men would have, and he supported me emotionally, financially, whatever. I don't know what would have happened to me during those years if D had not taken care of me.

But I finally got effective treatment for my anxiety disorder, and now we have the boys. . . and now I worry about them, growing up in a household where Daddy is drunk so much of the time. The only good hope I have is that when they are old enough to lisp, "Daddy, why do you drink so much?" he will see the light and do something about it. D is a good guy, a conscientious guy, and he did not drink at all for the first month after we brought the boys home, because I was such a mess and he knew he couldn't take care of newborns while drinking. So I know he can do it when he wants to.

Anyway. That's the story. D has made it clear he's not going to AA or rehab or anything else, and I do not plan on going to Al-Anon because it seems to me it's not my problem to fix. Either D will do something about his drinking when the boys are old enough to notice it. . . or he won't. If he will not do anything at that point, I will have decisions to make. Right now, I have toddlers to diaper. And teeth to grit, sometimes.


Blogger Thalia said...

Oh Hetty, this is a brave post.

I hope D gets his act together, it sounds like you have so much together. I worry though that your suggestion of the catalyst for him is a bit much to ask of the boys - why will they ever know to ask why daddy drinks so much? If that's all they know perhaps they will assume that's just what daddies do. If you want him to change, I'm not sure it's via the boys, you might need to find another way.

Does D know he is an alcoholic?

Thinking of you.

1:59 AM  
Blogger bleu said...

I think that was great for being so honest. I also think that in life as you get older one of the things you learn is that life is really not very black and white, it is all these shades of gray. I am sorry for the struggles you are going through and I hope this talking about it can help at least let you feel more supported.

2:15 PM  
Blogger RM said...

I'm sorry you're going through this, too. You are *very* brave to mention it.

I spent the large part of my childhood enduring my alcoholic parents' behavior, so in my 20s I dragged myself to an Al-Anon meeting. Don't discount it until you've tried it out. The main focus is not to leave your spouse/parent/friend, but rather to discover "How to be happy whether the alcoholic is drinking or not".

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Franziska said...

I'm sorry you are going through it. I've been following your blog on and off since you first got pregnant with the boys. I hope that you, D, and the boys come to a place where you can all live and live well with whatever the solution for you may be.

6:00 AM  
Blogger chris said...

Oh honey, I'm sorry. This is pretty damn huge and you have enough on your plate.

No words of advice other than hang in there.

5:56 PM  

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