Go Easy On You
This morning I delivered my children to their various destinations, returned home, pulled into the driveway and, as usual, sat in my car and watched the squirrels and birds feeding in my front yard. I know a lot of people curse squirrels for emptying their bird feeders but I simply adore squirrels and so choose to accommodate their "veracious" appetites. With the speed of ninjas and the precision of an old clock maker from Germany, half a dozen of the little critters sat ripping through a bag of sunflower seeds. It was raining and the random but rhythmic pattern of rain drops dancing on my car roof persuaded me to lay my head back and close my eyes. As I sat there listening to the rain, I thought it has been a long, long time since I allowed myself to give into such a moment and just Be. My mind went no where. Not to thoughts of alcoholism or broken marriages or lost dreams. Not to anger or resentment, longing or grief. Not to wishes or should-of's or if only's. All my mind allowed was the melodic tip-tapping of rain. I felt like I could stay there forever.
And then this song came on the radio.
It's tricky to put into words - without sounding overly dramatic or risk being accused of hyperbole - the degree to which marriage to an alcoholic will gut you. Being married to an alcoholic has done no less than destroyed who I once was. It's made me angry. Bitter. Resentful. It's made me mean, volatile and, at times, not very kind.
It's destroyed the essence of my being.
That's no exaggeration.
My marriage to an alcoholic has chewed up and spit out everything I once valued and held dear about myself.
It's not as though I haven't tried to resist the beast of his drinking. I've tried to change my expectations, redefine my life, grow beyond this marriage. I have tried and tried and tried. I have been trying for so long but I always seem to fall short. Fail. Give up.
And for that, I have come to hate myself. Faulted myself. Lambasted and chastised myself for being lazy, for procrastinating, for not being more committed, more focused, more disciplined.
This is what the alcoholic marriage does to you. It turns you on you. I read once that a snake will get so angry that it attacks its own tail. No one attacks their own "tail" like the woman married to an alcoholic. She blames herself for marrying him in the first place. She blames herself for not being "enough" for him to quit drinking. She blames herself for setting him off. She blames herself for not protecting her children better. She blames herself for buying alcohol for him rather than have him out on the street driving and she blames herself for not buying him alcohol when he ends up in jail. Or worse. She blames herself for what she did that she should not have done and what she did not do that she should have done. She blames herself for not being smarter or stronger or wiser. Even thinner. She blames herself inside out, upside down, top to bottom.
And then expects herself to fix it all from this place of blame.
Blame that is not hers to take anyway.
If I punched you in the face, are you to be blamed for your nose bleeding?
Of course not.
Owning blame that is not yours to own is toxic and destructive and corrosive. It picks up where his drinking left off. It destroys you as much as his drinking.
You are not to blame for his drinking or how it has been affecting you
You do, however, have to take responsibility for how his drinking affects you.
That may sound daunting and scary and intimidating but it's actually liberating. Because where blame is toxic, taking responsibility is life sustaining. Where blame is corrosive, taking responsibility is creative. And where blame is destructive, taking responsibility is constructive.
As Adele sang, her words took me out of my trance but it didn't deliver me to the same old tired haunts. For the first time in a long time, my thoughts weren't about blaming myself. For the first time in a long time, my thoughts weren't about hating myself and my life. For the first time in a long time, my thoughts were gentle. For the first time in a long time, my thoughts cradled my life like a new born baby. For the first time in a long time, my thoughts turned to nurturing and protecting and loving this life of mine.
His drinking will shatter your life and smash your soul into hundreds of broken pieces.
Pick those pieces up with gloved hands.
Not a pitch fork.