WHAT TODAY ME WOULD TELL ME 15 YEARS AGO
I started blogging because when I first realized the Beast my husband's alcoholism is, I felt there was no raw, honest place for me to turn. Utterly alone at 2 am the first time many years ago that my soul bore the wrath of my husband's anger, I remember the clunky keys of an old keyboard and PC as I typed "married to an alcoholic," "alcoholic husband," "wife of alcoholic" into the search bar. Nothing of significance or comfort came up.
So I decided I would be of significance.
I would be comfort to women such as myself.
And yet, the comfort I offer is unreliable.
Sporadic activity of blog posts only to be followed by long silences.
The truth is, in some ways I have nothing to offer women who are at just the beginning or even in the middle of this path. Not because there is nothing to say: there is plenty to say. But because I don't know that what there is to be said can be heard by women who who are only a year or two, five or even ten years into life with an alcoholic husband.
Things I know so clearly now; things that seem so obvious as to leave me feeling a bit stupid weren't actual that clear or obvious five or ten, 15 years ago. I fear there is a trajectory a woman must follow, like one's school years, and what there is to learn in 12th grade, cannot be learned in kindergarten.
That said, I will try.
I will say to you now what I would say to the Me of long ago. What I probably wouldn't have heard but would have been the truth.
Nothing is getting better. He is only getting worse. A LOT worse and by default, so are you. You don't feel it yet. His anger has yet to become your anger. His wrath has yet to become yours. But it will. As night follows day, it will. And then you will look back and curse yourself for being so stupid, so nearsighted in your vision of your own future. I wish I could get you to leave him. Yes, I do. I wish I could compel you to leave him now, even though you've only been married a few years; even though he still makes you laugh; even though you have babies at home and even though you still make love. The smartest thing a woman married to an alcoholic can do is leave him before it's necessary. But you won't. I understand. There is no way to convince you the man before you now will become a monster you barely recognize. So what to do? Start now making all (ALL!) your choices and decisions about YOUR life. What job you take or don't take. What education you pursue or don't pursue. What money you save or don't save. (Save money! That he doesn't know about! PLEASE! It sounds deceitful and dishonest but you'll be glad you did. YOU WILL!) Live your life with an eye toward one day you might have to live your life on your own. You can still stay home with your children, if that's your choice, or work part-time or take time off to have a baby or whatever your plan is. Just don't stay there! After 20 years of marriage, if I had only taken ONE college course a semester, I'd be a much better place than I am now. Create the life of YOUR dreams. If he comes along, great. If he gets sober, better! But if he doesn't (and people fault me for saying this but good chance, he won't), your life is still intact and moving forward and reasonably whole. Think of your life as your kingdom. And an attack is on the horizon. But you have no weaponry. What would you do? Why you'd fortify and reinforce and make strong your castle walls, of course. Now. Today. And then tomorrow. And then the next day. These are all you castle walls - time. You must protect and fortify and make amazing use of Time. This time. Right now.
That's what I would tell the Me of 15 years ago.