The relationship with my now ex-husband and I was not a fairy tale by any means.
When we began our relationship I knew he smoked pot, which I did not, and that he liked drinking, which I did.
Even though I was completely against drugs I somehow did not see the red flags.
He moved in with me shortly after we met and everything seemed like it always does in the beginning…perfect.
Later on my mom found an empty bag of cocaine right outside the back door of my house, when I confronted him he blamed it on a neighbor.
Of course I believed him.
It took me several years to realize that he also used cocaine.
We got married, bought a house and had 3 children.
The pot smoking stopped, but the drinking got worse.
The niceness wore off while the verbal abuse escalated.
In his eyes I was now ugly, with bad breath, stretch marks, angry, impatient, boring and many other things.
Even though I knew that they were lies they hurt to the core of my being.
As a child I dealt with the abandonment of my father, domestic violence and alcoholism.
My children were going through similar situations and and I was to blame.
Yes, you may be thinking that alcoholism is not my fault.
But I let my kids endure 15 years of uncertainty; they saw me cry too many times to count.I was becoming a crazy woman in their very own eyes.
I tried everything. From ignoring what was going on, to fighting, to screaming, to leaving. I even tried going out with him, hoping that at least we would have one thing in common.
We got drunk together a few times and many times the results were disastrous.
My children witnessed many of these drunken fights. These were the worse because my mind was clouded with the alcohol and I was a fool just like him.
I am so ashamed to admit how stupid I was; thinking that by joining him we would make it work somehow and the insults would stop.
Through the years we went back and forth a few times. I even filed for divorce once but rescinded when he convinced me that he was going to change.
During our first breakup I received God as my savior in a small church where my mom was involved.
He came around and acted like he was ready for God as well.
We were back together shortly thereafter.
The “honeymoon” was short lived. I had a miscarriage and he accused me of having an abortion. The drinking and verbal abuse started promptly, right on schedule.
Somehow I always convinced myself that God would make things better. I never blamed God for anything but I prayed that something would change. That he would change. Wasn’t God so mighty that he could make my dear husband stop drinking? Why was God not stepping in and do the miracle everyone at church promised me that was about to come?
I was so scared of leaving right before the miracle would happen that I stayed, and prayed, and worshiped God until I felt peace but I was not serene.
I always felt guilty. Did I pray enough? Did I pray strong enough? Was God punishing me for something I did before? Like most people I have a past; was I paying for my past mistakes?
Sometimes I felt I deserved to be so unhappy.
Sometimes I wondered if God stopped loving me.
Many times I wanted to give up on everything; me, my marriage, my children…everything.
I wondered what it would be like to end my life.
But the thought of my children always stopped me.
If they only knew how many times they saved my life!
Since God was not doing anything, I thought “the hell with it”, I will figure out how to make him stop.
So I searched online “how to make someone stop drinking”, Google, as wise as ever came up with ALANON.
I remember the first time I went to a meeting like it was today.
I had my notepad ready to take notes and learn how to make my husband stop drinking.
I would be so happy, he would become the best husband; our children would be so full of joy!
I could see our future in my head! Cinderella had nothing on me!
The meeting was held at 10:00 am in a Lutheran church close to home. I got there right on time but there was no one there from the group yet. The church secretary told me they may be running a little late, to just wait.
I was so anxious! I mean, what the hell are these people waiting for?
I was a woman on a mission!
I was going to write a book once I figured how to make someone stop drinking and I saw myself going on a book tour showing off my perfect husband.
After 5 long minutes, someone shows up. She is a cute elderly woman from Canada. She lives there but goes down to South Florida during the winter months. She welcomed me warmly and went about setting up the room for us. A total of 3 more people arrived shortly and they all take roles without anyone telling them what they needed to do.
It was like a functional family, something I have only seen in TV shows, and the occasional dinners at my uncle’s house.
Very quickly the room is setup and it looked like a kindergarten classroom, only with grown up slogans. There were all over the long table.
What the hell did slogans have to do with getting my husband sober?
It made no sense.
“Progress no perfection” – “One day at a time” – “The 3 C’s I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, I can’t cure it” –
and my least favorite one (at that moment)
“Let Go and Let God”
Through this screaming going on in my head I notice they do not have notepads, notebooks or pens.
They take out these little books and hand me some so that I can follow along their readings.
They explain that they will read aloud today’s page on each book and then discuss the message or whatever other insight we would like to share.
Then we start with the serenity prayer.
I have never heard of this prayer before. Inside of me I could feel a movement, it felt like a damn was about to break.
It was weird.
After so many years of not being able to make a decision, to doubt myself as a woman, as a mother and as a person; this prayer was telling me that sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t and that all I needed was wisdom to know the difference.
How would I know the difference? Was there a difference? What if I chose the wrong thing?
By the time we were reading the first book my tears started falling.
I can’t remember what was said on that room, that day. What page we read. What topics were discussed, or even their names.
All I know is that I understood I was on the right place at the right time.
In those rooms I was able to let my tears flow freely.
Among these strangers I found freedom to feel and respect my feelings.
I learned that it was ok to stay with him or to let him go.
Here I was able to share my own insanity and by sharing it I was able to purge it from my system and replace it with (what would you know) the slogans!
It was here where I confessed how wrong it was but how good it felt to smash a six pack of coronas on his truck.
They understood, they did not judge me like my friends and family did.
I was no longer alone.
These weekly meetings were my lifeline for years. It took me five years, working with a sponsor. Threading through the mush my brain had become, I learned to be gentle with myself. I learned to accept my past and let it go. I understood the real meaning with “Let Go and Let God”.
Mind you, this does not mean that I don’t go back to my controlling ways.
It just means that I have become more aware of my impulses, and sometimes I am able to “Let Go and Let God”. This is where the slogan “Progress not Perfection” takes over.
I have learned to forgive myself when I fail to let God do his work without my interference.
It’s a journey. It takes courage to let go. Let it be.
When our divorce became final we were already separated for 2 years. We both struggled with our separation but I think he had a harder time than I did. A few years later he confessed that he now understood that I was an amazing wife and that he screwed it up.
It took me longer to realize the areas that I screwed up and while I have not admitted this to him I know I will someday.
Meanwhile I am still enjoying the journey. I keep learning to love myself and be a better mom, wife and person.
If you are living with an alcoholic family member please consider ALANON. Alcoholism is a disease and it creates pain and destruction on it’s path.
You can restore some sanity, just like millions have all around the world.