There is a Japanese proverb that says, "First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes the man."
When you are the wife of an alcoholic, first the drink takes (your) man and then the drink takes you. The anger and hatred and resentment you feel toward the drinking and him and his behavior eventually becomes anger and hatred and resentment you direct onto yourself. It's hardly rational but it's true. It starts slowly, insidiously. You barely recognize it until one day...
You wake up and it's ten or 20 years into your marriage and you're angry and volatile and overweight and under-employed and hopeless and your house is a disaster and you yell too much and you know it's all because you are married to an alcoholic.
But you try to fix you anyway.
You try to eat less and yell less and exercise more and organize your house and map out a financial future and all these things that you know you should do - you can do - but each day seems to bring no relief, no change, no great metamorphosis of your life or being.
I've hated my life and self with a depth and ferocity I never, ever imagined. Pre-alcoholic marriage, I liked myself frankly. I was pretty happy with the life I had and the future I envisioned for myself. I enjoyed being me.
Then I married an alcoholic.
Being married to an alcoholic does a lot of things to your soul but perhaps the most damning and toxic is it polarizes your sense of being and place in the world. You come to view everything (Every! Thing!) through the myopic lens of life with an alcoholic husband.
How could I have been so stupid? How did I let my life get so far gone? How is it I let myself get 60 pounds overweight?!
And it is from this place, these questions of damnation that I have spent years trying to fix myself and my life.
I was getting ready to fold laundry and decided to watch a video on YouTube. I told myself I would put on whatever video was first up. I often watch "how to change your life" sort of videos so knew it was going to be something along that line. When I opened up the YouTube app - there was Tony Robbins.
I don't have anything against Tony Robbins other than he's a little too obvious, too cliche for me. I've moved past the mainstream self help guys and gals and like to find the more obscure or not-so-obviously-for-me-but-they-turn-out-they-are-for-me sort of videos. But I did say, the first video and so...
I clicked "play" and what do you know? When the student is ready, the teacher appears. Tony Robbins said exactly what I needed to hear as I folded underwear and cursed king size fitted sheets. (who can fold those damn things?!) He said, to paraphrase,
"Find what IS working in your life. Maybe your finances are struggling but you have a great relationship with your kids. Maybe you and your kids are struggling but your marriage is strong. Maybe your marriage is not good but you are thriving at your job. Find that ONE thing - and everyone has it - that IS working in your life."
Wow. So obvious but so easy to miss.
I do have a good relationship with my children. I have amazing friends. But whenever someone would point this out to me, I would discount it. Count myself a failure despite being close with my children and having amazing friends. It's not that I believe my children or friends are not worthy of praise: rather I viewed their place in my life as a testament to the great people they are - not as testament to anything I was getting right about my life.
What is right about your life? About you? Of course there is something! I promise there is something! That fact that you are married to an alcoholic and reading this blog and searching for way to survive the alcoholic marriage says you're a fighter. Someone who refuses to accept the defeat an alcoholic husband and marriage is all too willing to hand you.
There is still plenty I want to "fix" and change about my life and myself but it's freaky how liberating and empowering finding the right, the good, the what's-working in your life is. It's like a brown paper bag was pulled over my head the day I married an alcoholic and I have been fighting it and flailing at it ever since until now.
I was getting ready to fold laundry and decided to watch a video on YouTube. I told myself I would put on whatever video was first up. I often watchto "how to change your life" sort of videos so knew it was going to be something along that line. When I opened up the YouTube app - there was Tony Robbins.bins.ins.ns.s.