Everyone had an opinion on what I should and should not do in my marriage. It was kind of interesting how our families viewed our situation. My family gave me sympathy but encouraged me to stay and fix my marriage, to do whatever I had to do to make things right. Like I said they gave me sympathy for the hurtful things I shared with them, but in the end they put monkey on my back to fix it.
His family on the other hand were conflicted. Sense they were heavy drinkers they didn’t see anything wrong with the way he drank. Sense they never thought that I was good enough to be in their family in the first place, they pretty much thought that the reason he drank so much was because of the mistake he made in marrying me. As his drinking problems escalated they began to be concerned. I can even remember one time my brother-in-law telling me that he did not know why I put up with it. He even told me that he would not blame me if I left my husband.
Then my husband got sick. Alcohol had damaged his heart and he was given a few years to live. The doctors told him that if he did not stop drinking that he would not even have that. So he stopped. That changed everything. Again, both of our families gave me all the responsibility. My husband was self-employed and worked when he could. I was working and between the two of us we kept ourselves financially afloat. I took care of the kids, of him and everything else and at bed time I collapsed into exhausted sleep.
Then one day he told me that he could not take the stress of family life. He got a job in another city and moved away. Three months later he showed up for Thanksgiving and said that he missed us and wanted us to join him. I wanted to give our kids an opportunity to be with their Dad for as long as he had, so I moved. All of my friends thought I was crazy to do that. Our families were convinced it was the right thing to do. Our children were young and could not wrap their minds around the fact that their father had a terminal illness. They could not understand why we were moving and they had to leave their friends. That was the beginning of rebellious behavior that made my life a nightmare long after their father had died.
My husband had been sober about two years when I uprooted our family and moved to join him. I moved in December. In March I discover he was drinking again. Even after all of my years in recovery I had this little voice that said that maybe it really was my fault that he drank. After all he was a dying man that had been sober two years and three months later I joined him he started drinking again. Never mind that we had really only been apart three months of his two years of sobriety. Never mind that he had been drinking long before I found out in March. Never mind all that I had learned about alcoholism – I did not cause it, I can’t control it and I can’t cure it. Just like that I had been sucked right back into the chaos of his drinking.
Four months later he showed up at my work and invited me to join him for happy-hour after work. I felt like he had sucker-punched me, but I went anyway to see what he was up too. It was almost like he was trying to pick a fight with me. But I was not playing his game and that made him even more angry. He started to tell me how things were going to be from here on out. When I said I don’t think so he told me he wanted a divorce. I felt angry and I felt relief. I looked at him and said no problem and walked out of the bar. What I did not know at the time was that he had already rented and apartment and had the utilities turned on. You know what they say about alcoholism – cunning, baffling and powerful.
But you know what our families saw? Both of our families blamed me. In their eyes it was my fault that he started drinking again. They thought that I was the one that had ask for the divorce. To them I was a horrible person because I was divorcing a sick and dying man. Neither of our families ask me what happened. I was not even given and opportunity explain or defend myself.
I called my sponsor back home. She ask me if I was going to meetings. I hem-hawed around and told her I had tried but not any of them were like my home group. She told me to get my but back to meeting and work my program. Without the love and support of the people in my program I could never have gotten through that time in my life with any shred of sanity.
They told me to just keep doing the next right thing for the right reason. They helped me to always be aware of my motives and be honest with myself. They loved me when I felt the whole world was against me. There were many times my husband wanted me to engage in tit-for-tat behavior but I was able to avoid that trap because I had learned in my program that I did not have to react or engage in his unacceptable behavior.
I am not saying any of this was easy. There was nothing easy in my life at that time. There are just some hurts in life that you just have to live and hurt through, but thanks to my program I chose how I wanted to live through those difficult times. And I only had to live through it one day at a time. Some days were better than others. Because of the self-honesty my program requires I was able to look at things through the eyes of the Serenity Prayer and get the wisdom to know what was my responsibility and what was not.
My husband had also been in recovery and in the end he had two years of sobriety when he died. Thanks to both of our programs we had we did not hate each other when he died.