Tag Archives: Alanon

Is there alcohol in heaven?

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Today has been a hard day.  No particular anniversary, minimal physical pain with the exception of that place that resides in my chest and harbors my heart.

My sleep schedule has been largely disrupted, but that’s okay, I am getting A LOT of work done.   What happens, however, is a crash and burn.    But it’s the best sleep next to anesthesia!  I am one who loves being knocked out.  LOVE it!   When my time comes to die, I hope to be wide awake, waiting for that light.

As I slept hard, and what feels comatose, my dreams consisted of people and places in my past.  People who have passed.   Normally I wake up, can shake off the initial pain (remembering… realizing…  reality) and be grateful that I saw their face, eyes, smile, heard their voice once more.  But not today.  Today I am lingering in a world that no longer exists.  My head knows this, my heart doesn’t want to hear it.

A friend, consoling me said “It doesn’t matter how long it’s been”.    I thanked her for that.   No, it doesn’t.    Last night’s dream still has me walking on shaky ground, many hours later.  I know I can’t go back, if I could, I would’ve by now.  Someone I need to walk through this day, embrace what is, be grateful for what WAS and is, and let it go.   But that’s much easier said than done, at least today it is.

I wonder, is there alcohol in heaven?    Hiss at me for suggesting such.  But when you’ve loved and lost someone who is or was an addict, there is some peace in knowing, their fight, their plight with their demons has passed.

We drove past a church where a service was being held for a young man who died of an overdose.    My heart hurt for his family and friends.   “His mother said there is some peace in knowing, it’s behind him”.  I nodded, thinking about what I said above.   Yeah, I said to myself, and I pray that it will carry her through the hard days ahead.

To grieve, to mourn is not anti God.  It is not a horrible thing to do, and while it is hard, for me, apparently today, it is necessary.   For those who have on occasion suggested differently or in a bit of kinder, less harshful words than “Move on”, I bid you, how the hell does one do that?

Last night I visited the past.   A past that ended tragically, but one that was also filled with immense love, memories, and some of the best times of my life.   Today I’m trying to get back to acceptance, beyond the pain of loss that revisits on occasion.   I know I will find my way, but right now?   Right now my heart hurts.  I am longing for acceptance, and soon.  I know why I’m feeling this way, I know that I have to face one of my own demons…. fear.  Fear of being hurt again.     But will I?

Missy Higgins “Scar”

The past is only a chapter, it doesn’t define me

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Last night, well the wee hours of the morning, I started working on my book.    I have steered clear of writing about things that I really feel need to be shared, if only to help another because  some of the things I would like to share would reflect badly on others.   Some things are better left unsaid sort of thing, but last night that changed.    I will not post names, I will not defame another, but I will share my experiences and some…some???   Clearly are by the harsh hand of others.    Perhaps it’s maturity, perhaps it’s part of my healing, perhaps I’m just a frigan bitch who wants to expose them!   🙂  Nah, I decided last night, however, that my loyalty should be to myself.  And if I keep the things that harmed me quiet, untold, that empowers them.  I am totally wanting to extinguish all!   But that cannot be done.   I can, and am, however, finding a proper place for it all.

Anyways, words flowed last night like a trout swimming downstream.   It was great.   I shared some in a blog, but in the contents of my draft I am really digging deep and wrote about some of the trenches I’ve been in.   Not for sympathy, not even for empathy, not for any other reason than to celebrate surviving, celebrate learning, knowledge, celebrate where I am today.   

I recall a moment in an Alanon Chatroom where someone was venting about their  “spouse the souse”, as he called her.   I sat back, listening, many were there listening, just validating his feelings, his thoughts, his frustrations.   I met some incredible people in the confines of that room.  I am still in touch with probably a dozen, and I consider them true friends.    Anyway, I was having a fairly good day, surprisingly but pleasantly.   But I digress….   When he was through venting, he thanked us all, and he felt better, we always feel better to blow off steam.     You know how God gives us what we need?  And when we feel bad, or sorry for ourselves someone is put in our path to help us understand that there are a lot worse off than you?   This is how it works for me anyway.  So a friend asked me how I was feeling, I shared.  The gentlemen who vented asked what I was sick with.  I explained to him that I was going through treatment, radical surgeries, for breast cancer(s).  And that my brother simultaneously was going through treatment for colon and rectal cancers.     I laugh at this now, I actually laughed at it at the time, the gentlemen venter was really quiet for a few minutes and then he writes “I have absolutely nothing to complain about, Thank you for sharing.     Hey, I didn’t want to invalidate his feelings or anyone else’s.  We all have struggles, we all have days where we would like to kill someone but where and how would we hide the body?   I realized that, after hearing what I was going through, it helped him compartmentalize his difficulties….   Oh my god!  I was the one that was worse off and that helped people move forward.  I say this because I found it comical then, and I still do.   Yah, things were pretty difficult then, but I was going through the motions, doing what needed to be done, not having the time nor energy to take it all in.   When in survival mode, it takes everything you have, every ounce of energy to get through the day.    There was no time for self pity, no room for bullshit, and no interest in sharing it with another, things were happening way too fast to conceivably share all that was happening.  I suppose some of it was also denial.  I am one woman who is very grateful for the gift of denial, if it is short term, that is.   When something traumatic happens, that numb period, tears, pain, but numbness I think is a gift.  We aren’t equipped nor can we consume excruciating pain for long periods of time.  Our bodies, our minds protect us from this.   A life of denial, well, that’s another topic entirely, and one that I’m not particularly keen on.   

So I wrote and wrote, the words flew off the tips of my fingers.  I wrote about things that I have rarely if ever revealed.   I wrote about a husband who physically abused me, and the next who verbally abused me.  I wrote about how little I thought of myself, and the feelings of self loathing then.    had and some still have to, forgive myself for.     When my head hit the pillow this morning around 6;30am I slept like a log, solid, uninterrupted for 6 hours.  Apparently it was cathartic!    Today I shared with my therapist some very violent parts of my past.  I have been seeing her for almost 2 years now, and I trust her, I like her, she is helping me.   I shared about what I had written about, the thoughts the memories that came flooding through me while writing, and I was sharing all of this pragmatically, without emotion, without feelings, I was sharing my truth.    How POWERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!     Then she said “I have time open tomorrow, I think we should meet tomorrow because with the holiday we are missing our next session.   I laughed, okay okay….  “We don’t want to lose momentum, Donna”…. so true, so true.   I found this funny.   “LoOk at me, LoOk at all my progress”….. “Yes, now come back tomorrow!”

Following therapy I reluctantly had to go to the Walmart.    I was dreading it, but I knew it would be much worse tomorrow if I put it off.   So in I went.   When I grabbed a cart one of the wheels was really messed up, it was sideways and not working.   A woman and her daughter came in behind me and said “Are there any dry carts?”  I replied “No, and don’t use that one, it’s retarded…”    The minute that word came out of my mouth I knew it was improper and inappropriate.  Seldom do I use this word.   My oldest sister was mentally retarded, I meant no harm, nor disrespect to anyone.  She said to me “What did you say?”  I said “I’m sorry, I was wrong in choosing and speaking those words”.   She said “Well, don’t think I’m lecturing you or upset with you.  Ironically I had just corrected my daughter for using that phrase when we were in the car, and then we walk in and you are using it.”   Between the three of us we decided the best way to describe the cart was a pain in the butt, broken, and unusable!

$180 later, and 10 bags lugged in and put away, I poured some eggnog and decided to read my mail.   The eggnog, settling like a gut bomb has me upset with myself that I chose this when I had healthy juice I could have opted for!   Live and learn, live and learn.

There were a few screaming kids in Walmart.   I always call this “birth control awareness day”.   But for the most part, I roamed around, got what I needed without interruption.   I did run into a neighbor whose husband was just diagnosed with Stage 4 Leukemia.   Ouch.   Cancer really does suck, ya know?

So, what is my message today?  Good question!  I think it is to embrace who we once were, the difficulties, the joyfulness that we have experienced, appreciate who we are today, at this very moment.    Forgiveness is the key to freedom.   I forgive others quickly, I learned years ago that doing so set ME free.  It was forgiving myself that I have had and still do have problems with.   Hey, I made some bad choices, I took some wrong roads, I have sat in shit and swam with stingrays…. I am who I am…  I am more than those experiences.  I am more than my name.  I am a result of 52 years of life, learning, lessons, good times, bad….

The older I get the less I feel the need to impress anyone, and the less I care about what others think of me.    The old adage “Walk a mile in my shoes” rings true, still, today.    Sometimes I forget that I don’t know what another person is going through.   I lose patience with them, if they cut me off in traffic or snap at me on the phone.   I need gentle reminders that we all have our crosses to bear.  We are all trying to find and make our way here, and it surely isn’t all roses.  By the way, I’m allergic to them, so let’s say “sunflowers!”

Today I am forgiving myself for putting myself in harms way.  I am forgiving myself for being in bad relationships, for allowing others to beat me down.   Today I am one with myself, the person I was then is unrecognizable to me now.   That is not a bad thing.  Of course that/those experiences are a chapter in my life, but no longer do they define me, rule me, or are part of my present.   They are compartmentalized, acknowledged but not dwelled upon.   Doing this work is rewarding.  When I can come home from grocery shopping, and still be humming?   Rewarding!  I am participating in making my life better, fuller, richer.   I am participating not only in my own life now, but in the world!

 

 

 

In celebration of he….

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He had red hair, fair skin and a multitude of freckle. When he was out in the sun, where he loved to be, he would get more freckles. His eyes were a beautiful shade of blue, both his smile and his laugh were contagious. He was kind, caring, sweet, and extremely humorous, he loved people, he loved life. He was 31 years old when I met him, and we lived together for almost a decade. We were engaged to be married, though that never transpired. He introduced me to culture of many types, he taught me that it is possible to start over, to open my heart and trust in another. He was highly intelligent, thus his wit, brilliant. He was the first man to touch my face, cup my cheeks in his hands and hold me until tears stopped and the last man I loved.

Some things aren’t meant to be. I fell madly in love with him, adored him. We shared laughter, belly rolls, tears that rolled down our faces from laughing so hard. We also cried together, once when our dog Molly was hit by a truck in front of my house, and died instantly. We rescued her from the humane society, she was a beautiful dog, they were the best of buds. Though he wanted I would not agree to another dog, so he adopted two kittens, Zoe &Chloe, whom I still have today. After a year I gave in and he got Brody, an Australian shepherd that was sometimes smarter than I was. He was an exceptional dog, stunning, snotty to other dogs (with the exception of his own breed and a few other dogs) I lost Brody this past January, he was 13.

I believe there are some things that we will never get over, time gifts us with the ability to coexist with pain, it doesn’t erase nor cure our broken hearts. I have learned that when someone you love passes, the love never goes away, in fact, it miraculously grows. At least I have found this to be true. Today he would have turned 50, we were both Sagittarius, I was 2 years and 11 days old older than he. Throughout our relationship his disease progressed, at times he was unrecognizable, then he would become himself again. We managed to come back from these times, though each bout would last longer, be more destructive than the last until he reached a point where I felt he was more disease than himself. Seldom and infrequently towards the end, I would catch glimpses of his old self, I would grab on, hold strong, hope that he would get better. He did not. He was an alcoholic, a binge drinker. He was a very sick man. He would go months without a drink and then would indulge himself to a point of oblivion, from his life, from me. He never promised to get sober, and he would call his drinking his “best friend”. Too many times I felt I was taking back seat to booze. It was almost like he had a mistress. It was powerful, it was awful, it was devastating and certainly sabotaging.

It got to a point where I had to choose, he or me. I chose me. Living with addiction takes on a world of its own. It robs you of those you love, almost like a body snatcher. I could look at him, see him, but I had to remind myself when we parted and I saw him out, it was an imposter. The man I loved drowned in alcohol and his fate yet, was to be determined. I told him I didn’t want to watch him kill himself, which happened four years and a half years after we parted ways. He died the day after his 46th birthday, tomorrow the 4th anniversary of his passing. I do not like to say “he killed himself” because what really killed him was alcoholism. But we blame them, its victims for not getting sober, not getting clean. He died a very gruesome death, cirrhosis. He died in the home of another woman, one whom he had been seeing for a few months. He told her no doctors, no hospital, no rescue, I guess he didn’t want to go what he had gone through a couple years before when he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and cirrhosis.

Though our lives were worlds apart, I always kept track of him, I wanted to know where he was in the world. Until he died I didn’t realize that I was hoping he would get clean, get better so we could find our way back together. I always hoped and prayed that he would find sobriety, he never did. The day after I learned of his death, learned by googling his name and finding his obituary, I went to his parents. They live outside of Albany, NY in a small quaint town, the town, the home in which he grew up. I was angry with them for not calling to tell me he had died. As I was walking into their house, each step closer to the door I realized, to his parents, I was long gone,but for me, I never left. Miraculously some addicts do go into remission, into recovery but not without a total transformation of their thoughts. It is cunning, it is baffling, it is one deadly awful disease, far too many inflicted and more affected. I hate addiction, I hate what it does to people, I hate what it did and is doing to people I love, I hate what it does to any of its victims, their loved ones. I hate what it takes from them, I hate what it takes from their loved ones, I hate what it took from me.

I used to think “If you loved me, you would stop drinking”. I know now, his drinking had absolutely nothing to do with me, but it certainly affected me negatively. No addict asks or seeks to be one. Why would anyone wish such awful disease on themselves? But it is hard to remember that when one is in the throws of the addiction, when you look at them, visually see the person you love but their actions, their choices, their reality is not recognizable. Why are they doing this? Why are they destroying their lives, hurting others, casting loved ones aside for what? For fluid? For alcohol?
You don’t have to drink, do drugs to have it rip apart your world and have you living a chaotic insane existence, you just have to love someone who does. The consequences of addiction go well beyond the addict.

I think of him daily, I talk to him much. Some days I can smile, today is one of them, I am grateful, today I am granted peace, acceptance. At least I know the disease doesn’t have him anymore. As strange as this may sound, he is safe, he is alright, he is at peace. He is no longer controlled by the disease of addiction. I am grateful for this. I will always love him, I will never forget him, and I prefer to look to the good in him, in us. I have no regrets. Though I don’t think I would choose to do it all over again, no regrets. I wished then and still wish now that the ending would be different. I did everything I could, and then some, and ultimately had to learn to love myself more than him, I had to save myself and say goodbye to him. I choose to not think of the painful times. If I in anyway implied that our life together was perfect, that was certainly not the case. Living with addiction is something I wish on no one. I do know I am a better person for having known him, for having loved him, for accepting his love. He was a wonderful person who got lost in the vortex of addiction, sadly like far too many others.

I smile today, and will light a candle, wish him a Happy Birthday. Though he will never be 50 I will always acknowledge the day that beautiful soul came into this world. Happy Birthday Jim…. Happy Birthday. And tomorrow I will acknowledge when that beautiful soul left this world.

Change.. not “the change”, but making changes within

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Yesterday I had alone time, driving for a few hours. This is time I usually talk to God and whip out my microphone to sing with whomever is blaring from the radio or cd player (always outdoing them, I might add). I love adventures, and this was to some place I hadn’t been in a while. Unexpectedly it was quite emotional as I realized I hadn’t been in this “neck of the woods” since my youngest sister’s funeral several years ago. Places we shopped, ate, where she once lived, worked, good memories and painful ones. It triggered a crying jag that lasted 2 hours. Though it proved to be quite cathartic, it was nonetheless painful.

One of the subjects I thought of yesterday was change, self discipline. Many years ago I had adopted a dog we named “Miss Mollie”. She was very alpha, so we decided to take her to dog school. Well, our beautiful Mollie the Collie mix didn’t do well. She was rescued, we were her third placement home. She found a great home with us, she was spoiled rotten, but she didn’t do too well in dog school. It wasn’t Mollie’s failure, but ours. Training a dog takes discipline, self discipline, changing the way we did things, and sticking to that. We failured her. Sadly, Mollie lost her life to traffic but it wasn’t because she didn’t listen to us, it was that she did. Perhaps if we had been able to, as a couple, work with her on her home boundaries… perhaps this, perhaps that… yada yada ying ying. Anyway, she went running across the road to greet another dog. Jim yelled “Mollie No, stop” and she did, just as the truck came bellowing down the hill. Thankfully she died instantly.

When we were in dog school we would argue afterwards. The instructor said Mollie needed to know we were alpha, not her. Jim didn’t want to discipline and wouldn’t oblige or help with the training, and I wasn’t committed to changing the things in MYSELF to grant her stability. Yesterday I was thinking about how difficult it is to make changes. To not only be disciplined but be self disciplined in doing so. As I said earlier, we failed and we ultimately failed Mollie. Ain’t nothing we can do to change the outcome of that situation, but what I did learn from that was, I can and do commit to making changes within myself. I truly do try to be the best person I can be, which means growing and learning from all experiences. As I have said on numerous occasions, my journey through cancer was nothing I would wish on anyone, but I wouldn’t trade my personal growth for the world. With all that said, I can, with rigorous perseverance, make changes within myself. I am always challenging myself albeit word games, painting, patience or pride. I have also learned that I cannot do this or give this to another person, that is up for them to do. “Hands off”, give those I love the dignity to make their own decisions, change whatever and/or if ever they feel the need to make changes on their own. I can cheer them on, I can make suggestions, but the only one I can ultimately change is myself. The only one I am responsible for is myself. Amen!

Pain is a great motivator for change. While chatting with a girlfriend the other night, we were discussing her regret of leaving an abusive marriage because her ex changed after she left and became a better man. My comment back to her was “If he hadn’t lost you, he probably wouldn’t have changed”. I believe some of us are “transients” so to speak, to help ourselves and others grow, whether it be through a successful relationship (notice I didn’t say perfect) or one that is failing or doomed to fail. I sometimes wish I had found “the one” and been with the same person for 30 years or more. That didn’t happen for me, and that is okay. Firstly, because of what I just described, I’m not convinced there is only “one” person for us, or to share our lives with. I DO know, however, that there are soul connections and what I would want is one of substance, and depth. I am not shallow in my thinking or my actions, I would not fare well with someone who was. I know fellow schoolmates who have been married to the same person for 30 plus years. But…I have had 3 long term relationships, thus three different lives really. I have grown and become a better person from all of them. That saying about “people come into our lives for a reason, a season” I believe is very true.

It isn’t easy to be in a relationship, it takes work. It isn’t easy to make changes to yourself, as the older we are the harder it is to break the habit, look in the mirror and take responsibility for ourselves and our decisions. For some, it seems almost impossible for them to find comfort in change of any sort, even if for the good. Change is inevitable, and it is healthy, and more times than not, it is necessary.

So in lieu of all this talk, I decided to make a change to the way I would normally have handled yesterdays “triggers”. Instead of driving home via the way I went up which triggered so many emotions, I opted to go another way, through another state to spare myself of further pain. This, my dear friends, is progress for me!

What do you need or want to change about yourself? Are you looking into the mirror or pointing a finger at another? I suggest the mirror and drop the hand or fingerpointing, as for every finger you point at someone, there are three pointing back at yourself.

Here’s to change (holds up iced tea/lemonade, toasts), to leading healthy productive lives, and feeling good about ourselves and the choices we make.

May you not be fearful of the mirror, and may your fingers rest comfortably in the pockets of your own jeans. Have a great weekend everyone! Hugz & love to you all! D

Running on empty…

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I believe the past few years of “running on empty” has caught up with me.  My body feels spent.  Sleep aids though administered, are not working.  The past few nights I have been awake until 5am, thus I awaken at 1pm today, 2:30pm yesterday.  Considering it gets dark at 5, it surely doesn’t leave much room to indulge my body with the healing light and warmth of sun, thus Vitamin D, on my tired soul.    I feel like an awful mother to the dogs.  While Brody hasn’t minded the extra sleep, I try to bring them out for a few minutes, let them run wild and crazy.  Today I plan to take them for a ride, and hopefully spend more time outdoors with them.

I have several doctors appointments coming up this week.  If I’m not up to driving I’m sure my mom will bring me, and lecture me all the way about taking better care of myself! lol.   Nah.  She stopped by yesterday with an apple pie and one for my neighbor who just lost his woman friend to cancer.  Apparently the dogs and I were sound asleep.  Being the furocious watch dogs that they are, they didn’t hear her come in.  This isn’t normal as Miss Tiger Lily has one loud mouth of which she cranks the volume dial when she hears someone or something outside.  This evokes Brody, who is now hard of hearing, to put on his cape of protection and bark as well.   Though unsure what he is barking at, he follows her lead and seeks eye contact with me to ascertain that I am witness to him protecting me.   My mom didn’t wake me up as she figured I didn’t get to sleep until early morning.  It is happening far too much.

My pain level today is high and my attitude poor.  I stayed in my jams all day long.  Fortunately for the animals my nephew will be here in a few minutes, which they will be thrilled with.  I swear, Brody loves Ajay Dylan more than he loves me!

I am dealing with things the best I can, as they come up, I realize my “care factor” has taken a downward slope.  I have conceded with my primary care provider to see a new psychiatrist, thus start up counseling again.    Joy.   “Fatigue makes cowards out of all of us”.    I had stopped therapy over a year ago, after hospitalization for serious infection.  I just didn’t have the energy to go back, and at that point I realized…I know what I need to do, so its up to me to do it.  It always comes back to acceptance and changing the only thing or person I have the power to change….myself!    I have a plethora of kind hearted caring friends who offer support and help when I need it.   I know I am truly blessed and am immensely grateful for this.

I’m withdrawing myself from an unhealthy situation that has left me exhausted.   Why is it those who need help the most often don’t get it?    Then again, some do not feel like they need any help…. god bless them!   Until the day I die I will be seeking and improving upon myself.   I’m so far from perfect, but the good news is, I have given up ever trying to be so!   I am grateful for my ability to look into a mirror and see more than the external reflection.  I am grateful that I can, for the most part, look deep within myself, see my flaws (or most anyways) and make a choice to change things or not.   It wasn’t therapy as much as it was 12 step groups of Alanon that taught me how to look within.  Having to take a fearless personal and moral inventory of ourselves, I shall share with you, the first time I did this there was nothing fearless about it.  I was so frightened to do so!  Now I find it rewarding and gratifying to see the changes and growth within myself.  There will always be things for me to improve on, Lord knows I won’t live long enough to fix them all!  And I also believe that, for whatever reason(s),  some things aren’t meant to be fixed.  I find it sad and equally frustrating that some do not have the ability to look within, but today it is easier to recognize those things, situations to which I am powerless.  Also, who am I to judge anothers abilities or inabilities?  Slipping on the robe of judge is slippery territory, I prefer to put on the robe of trust and faith, allow God to work his miracles.   I remind myself that although I cannot change or sometimes help others or a situation, I can take action which in turn makes me feel better…I can and do pray for them!

There is relief and peace that comes from knowing yourself and not being fearful of “owning what is mine”.    This frees me up of self doubt, and as a friend pointed out to me last night which really helped when I was stuck in between my head and my heart… there is no rationalization in irrational behavior, so stop trying to find it!   Eventually I figure it out.  I remind myself that what someone else thinks of me is really none of my business, and in order to obtain and sustain peace and serenity that I aim for daily, I can walk away knowing I’ve done my best, all with good intentions.  I do not need to prove to anyone who I am…  Talk about freedom!

I’m sure I have shared this in previous posts…I love the show “Criminal Minds”.   It is a vigilant reminder that not everyone has my/our best interest at heart.   Some, disguised as allies possess evil with desire and intent to cause harm, some unwittingly.  I naively believed that we all look after one another… so not true!  Self perseverence and protection came late in life for me, and it came with a lot of hurt and pain.    This show reminds me of such, and keeps me safe from childlike naivity that left my door wide open for harm.   Also, just because someone says my teeth are green, doesn’t make it so, nor do I have to prove to them or anyone else for that matter, that their beliefs are false.    It isn’t my job to do so, nor do I have the energy for it.    Trying to do so is wasted energy and would engage my own need for control.  Who needs it?

Today I am so very grateful for the tools that I learned in Alanon, the many friends I have who are there for me, who care for me and show me that I must be doing something right in order to have this many friends in my life!

 

Whitney Houston

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Last night I stopped at a local store to pick up some snacks to bring to my uncles.   This place is like a soda/beer distribution place.  Anyway, my eyes caught the glimpse of a man who was in the hospital just months ago with liver failure due to alcohol.   Typically he will say Hi, this time he didn’t.  There is “bad blood” so to speak between us, as his association with Jim was one that I knew would be trouble, and it was.  Anyway he disappeared into the beer cooler, came out with a case of beer underneath each arm.  I wasn’t surprised, even though I heard he was sober, I was however saddened.   How can anyone watch the  insanity, destructive manner that an alcoholic or addict displays and doubt that they aren’t sick, but weak?  Would a healthy man give up his home, wife, children to go sit and drink?  Would a healthy woman leave her children, let her life fall apart, all for the sake of beer? liquor?

I thought about this a lot last night.   Once angry at this man for being a bad influence on someone I loved very much, and someone whom addiction controlled, I have long since been praying for him, and his family, for his health, mental, physical and spiritual.

Tonight its all over the news that Whitney Houston has died at the young age of 48.  A woman who has been struggling painfully and whose struggles have been in every newspaper, rag magazine, and more.   I sometimes feel sorry for “famous” people that they aren’t allowed to go through their struggles without public scrutiny.  I know I wouldn’t want that for myself.   Still, as I say that, I was reading the articles, some of them anyway.   This absolutely stunning, beautiful and enormously gifted young woman who was destined for greatness, and then years later a woman whose struggles with drugs was not only plastered on the front of every magazine, newspaper, or hollywood gossip tv show, but was evident in her face, the darkness under her eyes.  Her eyes, once filled with life, shine and beauty later revealed dulnessl, sadness and withdrawn.    I don’t know too many people who would wish this upon themselves, or even their worst enemy.   At one point she had gotten her act back together, looked like the beautiful and talented Whitney Houston that most of us loved as she sat on the stage of “Oprah”.  Later it was “revealed” (rolling my eyes here) that she and Oprah had had it out afterwards.   Now we sit here at the time of her passing, shaking our heads, some shedding tears…what a tragic ending to a beautiful life, I say this assuming it was somehow related to drugs or alcohol.  Not necessarily an overdose, but something that manifested physically throughout all the years she was using.   Most alcoholics do not die of cirrhosis, but of heart failure, or physical manifestations that have been created by the overuse and abuse of alcohol.

I remember how angry I would get with Jim, and at times how ridiculously naive and foolish when I thought “if he loved me” he would give up drinking.   Love doesn’t have anything to do with it.  The good news is, some find this as their bottom, or a beginning.  A chance to start over, get help, save their marriage, their ass, their home, etc., but many do not.

Long gone for me is the anger, the rage that once ruled me when I was with an active addict.  Life gets complicated, but quick.  It gets insane, and things roll out of control at the speed of lightning.   The negative affects this has on themselves, their family, their friends plays out like dominos.  Clearly, no matter what Whitney Houston died of there are many mourning.  I’m confident that there are family or friends who are left with the lingering sadness and frustration, the humility of knowing…they couldn’t “save” her from herself.   She walked through hell with her addictions, as does any addict.

I am not “pro addicts”, I hope that is not how I sound.  My heart goes out to her family, friends who have to live with the reality of her passing, and most second guessing if they could have helped.  The “if only’s” run parallel and steady with the grief process.

I have many friends who have gotten clean and sober.   Some arrogantly will slam others who are still using, but most?  Most are so damned grateful to be one of the “chosen few” who survived that they aren’t judging another, but basking in the beauty of their lives.

Surely one thing we have learned over the years with the access to the internet, television, magazines, media is that..no longer are addicts stereotyped as dirty, unkept street people who drink out of a paperbag.   Here is a very sad example of fame, fortune, incredible talent, and yet she was not exempt from addiction.

Recalling when I started to really grasp the disease of alcoholism, how enormous, powerful and destructive it was.  It was at that moment that I placed additional words at the end of some of my shares.  “I have been affected by the disease of alcoholism and addiction…. and I’m very grateful I haven’t been afflicted with it”.

“One moment in time”…. you shared and spread so much  joy and enjoyment to so many.  Thank you Whitney Houston.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYFHAvULvJ0

Rest in Peace Whitney Houston, rest in peace

 

Working on acceptance

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Today I am doing the tedious and left brained task of last years taxes.  This is never any fun for me, but it needs to get done.   As I am sorting through the many receipts it has been taking me back to the past year.  I shed some tears at some, and others made me laugh.  I remind myself to “keep walking, keep walking” through all of this.  This helped me get thru the last year.

When I think about Jim’s death I sometimes am still shocked.  But last night I forced myself to read my journals from before we split, what had been happening, up to about a year later.  I was raw, emotionally exhausted.  But even then I knew my powerlessness over his decision to drink.  I worked through a lot of anger in that first year.  Reading some entries brought me right back there, and I realize how far I have come, how much I have grown since.  For me I saw our ending as his “leaving las vegas”.  I really did.  Conversations that we had, things he was doing, saying.  I was very pleased to find an entry that he had told me “I do love you and I always will”.   No matter where he is.  And I have to believe that he is in a better place now.  I have to believe that.   I am finding some acceptance by believing that.   The disease doesn’t have him anymore.  He is finally free of the obsessions, the chaos, the immense aftermath he has left behind.

I am so grateful for the time we had together.  I am grateful for what he brought into my life, taught me, gave me.  I’m just really sad that his life ended the way it did, and the reason why it ended.  And I’m crushed that I will never see him again.  The finality of death is so cold.  Yet for those “believers” and those with faith, I’m sure it isn’t the emotional turmoil that I feel.  The disease doesn’t have him anymore.  He is not crazy trying to live his life around the disease.  His life is not in any disorder anymore, he is at peace.

My mom and I decided to plant wildflowers under my “tree of life”.  When my ex husband and I moved in here back in 1988 we planted a small (5″ high) tree that came from the land we owned.   Over the years I have watched that tree grow into the beautiful stately tree that it is.  At times in my life when I am struggling I go and sit under that tree, meditating, praying, reflecting.   The ashes of our furry kids that passed are buried/scattered around that tree.  I sit sometimes and read quietly underneath it, or lay on the ground with Brody and look up at all the interwoven branches.  The larger trunks for me signify relationships, the smaller ones anywhere from acquaintances to strangers whose life has crossed over into mine.  This is MY tree of life.  I have watched this tree survive cold long hard winters, and flourish in the spring and summer.  Amongst all the storms it still stands, more beautiful than ever.  It serves as an example to me of how I want to live my life, how I have lived my life.  I have lived in this house over 22 years.  I really have grown mature here.   Sometimes of late and past I have wanted to sell it, to run from it, as there are so many memories that did not end happily.  I remind myself that this does not take over nor invalidate all the good.  Quite the contrary.  It is those very memories that I cling to and think about to help me turn this pain into gratitude.  And I will do it.

I feel so fortunate that I had worked through my anger at him the year after we parted.  And that I involved myself largely with AlAnon, learned about the disease of alcoholism, addiction, and started to recover myself.  The faces of alcoholism do not stop with the alcoholic.  I have worked hard on myself, my wreckage, and yet there is so far to go.  But then I remind myself, this is not a race, this is life.  My life will play out as it is supposed to.  All I can do is my very best, and I do that the majority of the time.

The purpose of the wildflowers under my tree of life is because Jim loved to garden.  He loved his yard.  He surprised me one year with wildflowers he had planted around our greenhouse.  Some of those still come up today.  Every year he would plant more wildflowers.  He thoughtfully planted them where he did so that when I looked out the kitchen window that is what I would see.  So wildflowers is what I have chosen to plant under my tree of life, in honor of his memory.

In a strange sort of way his death has helped me get HIM back.   Critics (and those who have commented negatively about my sharing) may call this sick.  But he isn’t self destructing anymore.  I am grateful for this.  So in a strange sort of way, the chaos the rollercoaster has stopped, I no longer have to detach from his actions.  I can just simply be one with my memories and find some peace in knowing he is okay.

Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries.  This I have learned.  I can only do my very best.  As a person who strives to grow, to be the best person I can be, to learn from my experiences, I have learned that some you just have to walk through.  That the lessons are unknown, the strength that you dig for to get you through turns into faith, and while your heart is battered and hurting, your self confidence in knowing your own strength rises.

Today I am grateful for my life, for my lessons, for my losses even, as they serve to remind me of all that I have been fortunate to have in my life, and all that is really important to me today.  It isn’t about material things.  It isn’t about suffering or feeling only happiness.  It is about being able to get through whatever is put in front of you by doing your very best.  Today I am doing my very best.  When I lay my head on my pillow tonight I will celebrate this day and look forward to another.

Today is the first day, of the rest of my life.  The players have changed, and even the scenery, but the birds are still chirping, the sun still sets and rises… my life must go on.  I take with me on this journey however short or long, a lifetime of love, wonderful memories and valuable lessons.

Ignorance & Anger

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Yup, another negative post.  Sorry.  Thank you for all who have messaged, called, etc.  This IS a hard time for me.  A very hard time.  I really appreciate your support.  I will get through this and yah I’ll be stronger for it…. how do you spell neanderthal?  rolls eyes

I am starting to hit the anger stage of grieving.    This needs to happen but I’m finding that if I spend more time alone than with others, it’s much better for all of us.  Still, on the occasion where I have seen someone and told them what happened I have received some pretty ignorant, cold remarks.

So I thought I would write a few things of WHAT NOT TO SAY when someone has lost someone they love.  I’ve added an excerpt on addiction too.

-No sense crying he drank himself to death

-Well he chose to live his life this way and now he is paying for it

-Why haven’t you accepted it yet?

-He left long ago

While a couple of these had good intentions (or I hope they did) they are still very hurtful and cold.  I wrote an earlier post on scarring in the heart and that we do NOT know what is in another persons heart.

If you aren’t involved in a 12 step program or alanon you probably won’t GET that we detach with love, we do not hate, we do not stop caring, we do not create crisis, we keep our own side of the road clean and let others clean up their side.

I do not need anyone’s permission to grieve.  I do not need anyone’s sarcastic or rude comments.  I swear, do people even THINK about what they are saying? 

I’ve been told that I’m a sensitive person.  Over the years I have learned to “harden” up, I had to, because if I didn’t I would be crushed by the cold reality of many things.   This is NOT depression, this is NOT me looking for attention, this IS ABOUT MOURNING AND GRIEVING.

And yes, he was an alcoholic, he DID in fact drink himself to death, do you think I do NOT know that?  Do you think his survivors do not know that? Really?  Do you have any idea how excruciating it is to watch someone you love self destruct?  If you do not, I hope you never do.  How would you feel if you had just experienced a tremendous loss (and that is only to be defined by yourself, not anyone else…. JUDGEMENT SUCKS) and someone said something cold and invalidating to you?

The majority of people who have heard and approach me are very kind and understanding.  They have been with me thru the split, they remember the happy clean Jim.   It is sad, and those that are left behind are left to find acceptance of a senseless death….

I really wanted to belt someone yesterday.  I mean BELT them.  I lean to being a pacifist, I do not like violence, but yesterday my patience had run short and I am raw, vulnerable.  I am doing my best.

If you don’t know what to say to someone, say I’m sorry.   Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are talking to, and be aware that you do not know their pain or their loss.    In many ways when someone self destructs by disease or mental illness, it is MUCH harder to accept than someone who has died of cancer.  Why?  Because with cancer the person hopefully has done everything they can to save their life.  It is a travesty when someone young dies, PERIOD.   When an addict  or alcoholic dies (and if you are still of the mindset where the stereotype addict or alcoholic is always a street bum….. start paying attention!  There are functional alcoholics, addicts all over, and I’m sure someone you know is one and you may not even know it) their is the ADDED pain of knowing this was a senseless death.   Addicts or alcoholics who die of the disease are criticised, judged mercifully… “They threw their life away, it’s their own fault”… etc.  And I’m not even talking about my jim here.  I’m talking about in general.  ALCOHOLISM and ADDICTION IS A DISEASE.  A sometimes fatal and deadly disease if left untreated.  If you EDUCATE yourself on the disease you will learn that many times the person doesn’t even know they need help because the disease itself convinces them they don’t… that there is nothing wrong.  Not every addict/alcoholic will survive.   In fact, if they do not seek help, they will die.  It is NOT about their lack of willpower or poor character.  They are sick.  Very sick.  And they will leave behind a very hurt and painful past that their survivors will have to walk thru. 

That is not saying that you should allow manipulation, lies, and much more shit from the addict/alcoholic.  Perhaps if they bottom they will get help.  Enabling is not a good thing and most enabling is done out of love or sympathy.  Just because someone lays down a border and tells the alcoholic, do not cross this line doesn’t mean that they have shut off their emotions, feelings, or HOPE. 

What is life without hope?  And I have learned that hope changes.

There is NOTHING you can say or do that will take anothers pain away when they are grieving.  But there IS things you can say that will make it worse.

And now I’m going to jump off my soap box and get ready for class.   Again, my love and thanks to those of you who have so kindly “understood” and offered your support.  Thank you so much.

I pray that his parents and brother are surrounded with kind, loving and understanding people.  The last thing they need is to deal with another persons ignorance or lack of compassion.

I am powerless over Alcohol (Step 1)

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One of the saddest and most difficult things for me to accept about loving an alcoholic is that you do not come first.  A friend and I were discussing this tonight.  Everyone who is close to me knows, by far, that Jim was the love of my life.  I cannot say the same about him because  he chose alcohol over me, over our life together.  His first “love” was alcohol.  Do I believe he loved me?  No doubt.    We had a nice life together for several years, he was very very good to me for several years, as I was to him.  People to this day still talk about how he was when we were together, how happy we were, and he on numerous times told me he was happier than he had ever been in his life.   For many years I believe Jim tried to keep the alcohol at bay.  I know he did.    In his mind he thought  he could control it.  Clearly he could not.   The amount of alcohol he could and would consume was more than I care to share and in many cases, more than I could imagine.   I believe that he wanted “normalcy”, but there is absolutely nothing “normal” about addiction.  The disease is always at work.  If not with physical cravings then with the insane thinking, manipulating and canniving to plan their next “fix”.    

 For years in alanon I had read and heard about “progression of the disease”.  For example, if an alcoholic stops drinking for 20 years and starts again, he picks back up where he left off.  It doesn’t start from scratch.  And the disease continues to progress.  This I saw with Jim.  In fact, as it was unraveling I wasn’t the only one who was in shock about how quickly and strongly it came.  Cunning and baffling is how alcoholism has been described.    Every addict or alcoholic is different, has different strengths or weaknesses that the disease uses.  Many will not make it.  My Jim was one of those.

By the time I asked him to leave I would estimate that the person I was living with, the person I watched slowly self destruct was at that time 90% disease, 10% Jim.  Even if they are not “drinking” for a few hours or days, the disease is very hard at work.   The thinking of an addict, the manipulation, the lies is a way of survival.  Nothing comes before the fix, nothing.    They will do whatever is necessary to defend their “friend”.    What would make an intelligent kind family man cast his family aside?   Trash his relationship, job, credit, and more?   Would a mentally healthy person do this?  NO.   The disease of alcoholism is living high and wild inside of many.   I’ve known some people with sobriety in the double digits who go back out.  How do you explain that?  Insanity, insidious, deadly.    We are not talking about a weak person who lacks willpower.  However a addict or alcoholic who does lack willpower will probably fall faster than one who doesn’t, but again, who knows?  There are so many variables. 

The faces of alcoholism do not stop with the alcoholic.  Those who love them are affected in many ways.  For me I started to change the way I did things…. but it was over a period of time so I really didn’t see it, or perhaps I didn’t want to see it, until one day a few months before we parted, I looked in the mirror and didn’t even recognize who was looking back at me.  I had become foreign to myself.  Twisting and turning in ways that I didn’t know at the time I had any choice in… I was not a victim, I participated in this.  I had to accept that.  Victims are helpless.  I wasn’t helpless .  In the end I also realized I had more love and concern for him than I did for myself and that is a recipe for disaster.

I do believe that the more intelligent a person is, the more the disease of alcoholism uses that.   The justifications, the denial, the rationalizations.  My Jim was a highly intelligent man.  Which was quite the contradiction to see him allow this in his life.    I’ve heard that the 12 step program is very hard for an intelligent person…  I believe that.  The ways in which the disease used Jim’s intelligence was baffling, sickening.  I truly believe that once Jim had committed himself to the lifestyle of drinking (which was about 6 months before we parted), the progression came so fast that he had no choice after that.  That is not to say that he didn’t have choices, but the disease works in a way that psychologically, he didn’t see that he did.  The disease lied to him and taught him how to lie, steal and cheat.    I remember getting furious that he would lie about something so stupid “Does he think I’m an idiot?” I would think, and sometimes I would engage in an argument with him to let HIM know that I knew he was lieing.    Engaging with an active alcoholic or addict is about as helpful as pouring salt into an open wound.   And besides that, the entity if you will behind the lies and deceit is not the person, it is the disease channeling thru its victim.  

It is a living hell to watch someone you love struggle with addiction.  No matter how much you love them you cannot do it for them, they have to do it for themselves.  The survival statistics are frightening.  There is NOTHING funny about alcoholism or addiction.   Alcoholism is a very serious and deadly disease.  Alcoholics Anonymous is NOT a fashion show, coffee club, social hangout or a cult.  It is deadly serious business with deadly serious consequences.  

The destructive path and patterns can force loved ones to make hard decisions.  The decision to ask him to leave was long overdue for me.  There was more disease than there was evidence of the man I fell in love with.   And this is the kicker…Glimpses of him would come, there would be moments, a few days even that my Jim was present, but then he would disappear again, into the disease.  I realized one day that I t00 was an addict .  I was addicted to waiting for my Jim to “return”.  He was my fix.  But the fixes became less and less available and the consequences of staying became larger and larger.  I didn’t ask him to leave out of lack of love, quite the contrary.  I asked him to leave because I did love him and I didn’t want to participate in him drinking himself to death, to which he did.

I have been affected by the disease of alcoholism.  I am still working on the wreckage of my past.  Jim was afflicted by the disease of alcoholism.  He has left behind a barage of people he had hurt, unpaid debts and more.  I have had 4.5 years to detach and really separate the man from the disease.  It was something that I tried very hard to do when we were together.  Today I see clearly how strong and powerful the disease of alcoholism is, and I do and always will love the man he was, yet I hate the disease.  I am powerless over alcohol, my life had become unmanageable. (AlAnon/AA Step 1)

Cunning, baffling how this beautiful man who loved life, family, friends, enjoyed helping others, was so intelligent and full of what he would say “useless information” (smiles) allowed this to happen to him.  But the reality is, many do not make it, the disease never gets arrested and the person we love disappears into a shell of a body.  This disease is like a body snatcher.  It takes over the persons entire body, choices, their everything.  It is so confusing and painful to see as on the outside you can still SEE the person you love, but in the case of my Jim, he wasn’t there, and if he did come out at times the pain and guilt he felt inside kept him going back to the booze.

Yes, loving an alcoholic is very difficult.  For me, I had to learn to detach from him, pray for him.  When I heard things, rumors of what was happening in his life I sometimes would literally vomit.  Some people found humor in his drinking, and the antics that the diseased used to keep him in it.  For me, it has been hell.  You learn to detach with love and move on, so to speak.  But I don’t think you ever get “over” it, as with loss  you grieve, you move on, but it never is fully gone.  Hopefully we can turn it around as a celebration of their life, and move past the pain, the grief, the loss.   Death by alcoholism leaves behind many tears of those who loved them.   Letting go of the “what if’s, letting go of the anger, the disappointment the hurt and accepting that this life was taken in a way it didn’t have to be, and yet…. it is what is.    I will never understand alcoholism, but I do know from experience, its a very sad and insidious disease.  For those who have lost addicts/alcoholics who do not understand that, their healing will come hard and slow.  This IS a disease, a deadly disease.  I never stopped loving my jim.  I never gave up hope or stopped praying for him.  There is some relief in knowing that this awful disease does not have him anymore.  He is finally free of it, or that is my prayer now.  Hope Changes.

In love with a binge drinker

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14 years earlier

I strolled into work this day like usual.  Another day, another dollar… but something was different, I could feel it.   As I was making a floral arrangement I looked up to see someone looking at me.  Immediately my eyes focused on this man.  Beautiful red hair, blue eyes, tye dye socks, sneakers, and a string of hemp around his neck that held a green healing stone along with several other colorful beads.  .   He had the most welcoming, beautiful smile I had ever seen.  He exuded so much joy, sunshine, and happiness.  Where did this man come from?   Unbeknownst to me my employer had hired temps for the fall foliage season  Was it really that sunny of a day, or was he the sunshine?  His smile, his presence brightened any room he walked into.

The first day he kinda smiled and just observed the lay of the land, so to speak.  The next day he walked over to the floral counter where I worked.  He shared that he was going thru a difficult transition (divorce).  He was starting over here as a transient from Lake George.  Looking for gainful employment.  Was in AA and had so much gratitude for this one day.  I listened, offered some sharing of my own, and we instantly became friends.  I too was in a 12 step program, AlAnon.  I too was going through divorce, a difficult transition.   I was 33, he was 31.

A few weeks later, after weeks of flirting with each other, he came over to me, smiled and said “when are you going to have me down for dinner?”  I quickly replied “I don’t cook but I have several kinds of cereal!”…. he responded with a wonderful grin on his face “I’ll bring the milk!”     October 8th was our first “date”.  We sat on my couch and shared about our lives.  He held my hand, as we shared with each other about our lives.  He shared that he had been in trouble with the law due to drinking.   He touched my face with the back of his hand, and then cupped my cheek into his hand.  Both of us felt like we had known each other forever.  We had much in common.   Six or seven hours later, when we realized how late it was, or early (lol) he left to go catch a few hours sleep before meeting with his lawyer in NY.  After he left I laid in my bed reliving every sentence spoken.   Something huge had happened that night.  Out of the blue it came.  For the very first time in my life I realized why everything happened the way it did in my life.  Everything aligned, painful things that I had experienced fell into a groove of acceptance, uncertainties were resolved.  It was the most incredible powerful night of my life.   If I never saw him again, that wouldn’t have changed.  Still wouldn’t today.

When I looked into those beautiful blue eyes I knew this man was going to be significant in my life.  The anticipation of being with each other at night was unlike anything I had ever experienced.    He felt the same.   Kismet, love, lust… this was a powerful combination.  A few weeks later his address changed to mine.   I wasn’t yet divorced, though I had been separated for 2 years from my exhusband and I had asked for a divorce a few months earlier.     My hand fit perfectly into his, my shoulders into his.  As he shared of his past problems with alcohol I  wasn’t afraid.  For me, it was a miracle to both of us that we had found each other, life was good, we were going to be okay.  Together we could conquer the world!  Our relationship grew, everyday got better and better.   Not only did we “fit” physically but spiritually we were aligned, and emotionally we connected on a level I had never experienced before in my life, and doubt I ever will again.  Our goals, morals, standards, dreams were one in the same.   We adopted a dog from the humane society, he named her “miss molly”… an instant family in a small house in a very small community.  He started a new job (a place where I had worked for several years before), and encouraged me to teach painting at the local school after a call from local schoolboard member.  We planted gardens in our yard, we camped and canoed at his family’s camp in NH, we went on long rides and he showed me places I had never seen as I did him.  One day we decided to go for a long drive and find a place to camp overnight.  It was so cold, I believe it was early December, we laid in separate sleeping bags, cuddling, and he showed me how eskimos kiss by rubbing his nose over mine.  Smiles.

I met his parents at Christmas time.  They came to the house, did not stay long, but they gifted me with this huge beautiful plant.  Before they arrived he had picked out a painting I did that he thought his mother would like, it was a country scene on an old barrel stave that he had sanded up for me.  Our christmas tree was beautiful.  It was decorated with popcorn and cranberries strung together, and we made decorations ourselves.  As if to shut off our pasts, we wanted to start anew with each other.  Another commonality was we didn’t have a lot of money, but it didn’t matter.  We defined wealth and richness in our love for each other, in our home, in our furry animals, family and many friends.  One of our favorite things to do on the weekend was to take the jeep into the woods, pack a lunch and just drive.  We went through streams, swamps, rocks, dug up some wild violets and fiddleheads and transplanted them back in our yard.  Sometimes we would bring back a rock to commemorate the day.  We frequented the movies weekly.  Friday nights were movie night.    He loved to pick out movies like “Alien Resurrection,The Cell” because he said “you sit really close to me and bury your head in my chest!”.  We loved going to the movies.   And he was right, I was afraid and freaked out at some of the movies, so I DID in fact bury my head in his chest. 

As with any new relationship, or when you begin living with someone you learn things about them, and you learn your differences.  One day we went to the local video store to return a video that he had forgotten to grab that morning to drop in the box.  There was another day charge on my account.  I was digging for the money when he said “We’ll just pay the late free when we rent another movie’.  I remember saying to him “I don’t work that way… I pay for things as they come up”.    Looking back on it years later I realized this was one of the first changes I made without much thought.  The changes were so small and gradual that I either wasn’t cognitive of them happening or I had abandoned my beliefs and ways because it was easier(?). 

Many months later I went away for the weekend to spend time with my two sisters in Wolfeboro, NH.  He was encouraging me to go, told me to just go and have fun.  I ended up having one of the best weekends of my life….Mt. Washington, shopping in North Conway, eating meals and reminiscing with my sisters… life was good.  I decided to come home a day early to surprise him.  I couldn’t wait to see him, to see Miss Molly and my boys (Sam & Pickles). My cats absolutely loved him.  Sam was a cat that only liked 2 people in the world-me and my sister Darlene.  But he quickly became Jim’s cat.  His coloring matched Jim’s, the reds/oranges.  Smiles.  Sam would actually lay on his chest and rub his head on Jim’s beard.  He had never reacted like this to anyone, and he was almost 10 years old.  I drove in the yard and he and Molly weren’t home.  Within a few minutes I heard the jeep bombing down the road and into the driveway they pull.  His face was beat red, but this wasn’t unusual for a red head when exposed to the sun.  He was surprised but happy to see me.  I thought I saw a flash of fear in his eyes, and I couldn’t quite figure out why until we got close to each other.  He was drunk.  Everything came crashing down on me.  The bubble had burst. 

That night I slept in the spare room, he slept in our bedroom.  In the middle of the night he came into the room where I was, sat down on the bed, rubbed my back and started to cry.  I cried too.  I told him I had lived with active alcoholism before, I didn’t want to again.  And very innocently and naively and in hindsight I will include ignorantly I said “I thought you were happy”.   “I am, I am happier than I have ever been Donna, this has nothing to do with you or us.  I can’t help myself, I just can’t.”  Never once did he say he would quit, or promise to quit.  He didn’t say he had a desire to quit.  The next day I met one of my dearest friends in the local park.  I was crying, as I told  her what was happening, that the man I had fallen in love with had fallen off the wagon.  My all or nothing thinking told me I had to end the relationship, yet how could I say goodbye to this man?  He had some quirks, he was absent minded, he was irresponsible in ways, but he was the kindest, sweetest, most loving and supportive person I had ever met.  We nurtured each other, we loved each other.  It was that day, talking to Janice that she said to me “Why Donna does it have to end?   When was the last time you went to AlAnon?” It was that day that I realized, oh my god, I had forgotten all about program, and so had he.  We thought that together we were bigger than that, that it wasn’t necessary… NEVER had we been so wrong in our lives  We started going back to meetings infrequently.  Hours, days, weeks of conversations, discussions, happiness again…  We somehow grew closer from this.  A couple months later he sold his jeep, paid the landlord 5 months worth of rent, and surprised me with my first studio.  A few months later when he went away to CT for training it happened again.  “I’ll call you when I get there, I love you”…. And when he called his voice had that added element of excitement in it.  Later when he called I could hear the slurring in his words…   Reality has a way of slapping you in the face when you realize you are in love with a binge drinker. 

I had been involved with AlAnon on and off because of involvement with alcoholics in my life.  I was familiar with daily drinking, but I had never quite seen nor did I have experience with binge drinking.   I was, however, a recovering bulimic, I tried to relate to the build up that I felt when I would binge.  

We continued to enjoy each other, our life was pretty good with the exception of his biannual binges. I knew when they would be coming as his whole body language changed.   He would get this firey look in his eyes just before he would binge.   I don’t know how to explain it, but it truly was present.   Inside of this man was a craving, a need he could not control for longer than 4-5 months.  When I felt a binge coming on for him, which over the years progressed from biannually to quarterly, I would try to control the situation by talking to him in advance about it.   I had read about the dangers of binge drinking, the damage it does to your liver, to your body.  I would share this information with him.  This effort proved futile, though he would listen to me.    “I know Donna, I know”.  When he returned home from training and drinking, I would be angry with him, and hurt.  Again and ignorantly I would say things like “if you loved me, you would stop drinking”.  It would take us a few days to get back to where we were before the binge, but we always managed to do so.  Over a period of this happening I started to feel resentful.  During one of his away trips / binges my cat Sam became very ill, and I had to make a choice whether to put him down or not.  Jim was unavailable to me, not only was he away, but he was in his own little world unreachable by phone.    When he arrived home, I had put Sam down, and was extremely angry and hurt with him.    Somethings you can forgive but they stick to your insides like flesh to the bone.   I would express my concerns, and worked hard on his guilt.  (Later I learned how this behavior only contributed to his drinking).  He listened, he offered no excuses, nor promises.    He said to me “Booze is my best friend, Donna.  I can’t live without it”.   In hindsight, he never spoke truer words to me than those.